How Does It Work?
We manage God’s money, not our own. All money that comes into our hands is given by God for us to manage thoughtfully.
Everyone has operational costs. Of course, we all have necessary living expenses. Our operational costs are the money we take out of the wealth God has given us to cover our own needs.
There is more to the story. God intended more for the wealth he’s given us than to simply cover our own wants and needs. There is a much bigger story going on.
Before we get to the nuts and bolts, it’s important to understand what we’re trying to accomplish. If you haven’t already, check out our core beliefs to understand our foundation.
Our primary goal is to find an objective finish line for our spending, and to answer the question, “How much of the wealth that God has given me do I really need?”
Break It Down
We start by breaking down the entire US population into percentiles based on household income. For example, someone living at the 65th percentile earns more than 65% of all Americans. For a full explanation of the breakdown, check out our methodology.
Why percentiles? The idea of a finish line is not new, and countless Christians have been using a finish line of some sort for years. In most cases, this tends to be a flat dollar amount. By translating that dollar amount into a percentile, we can account for several variables like growing family size, or inflation.
A family of 3 living on around $4,800 per month translates to about the 50th percentile (out of 100 families, 50 would spend more and 50 would spend less). If that family had another child, $4,800 might be a little tight. However, a family of 4 at the 50th percentile translates to about $5,700, allowing them to maintain the same standard of living for their growing family.
Choose a Finish Line
Example finish lines using the income calculator:
(Family of 2)
(Family of 2)
(Family of 4)
Next, we choose one of those percentiles as the finish line for our own spending. For example, you might decide your family is going to live on the income that the 55th percentile of Americans are living on, or $79,929 per year for a family of 3.
Use our interactive finish line calculator to see what that might look like for you.
An objective limit. By limiting our spending to an objective benchmark, we prevent our lifestyle from expanding as our income increases.
Adjusted annually. Each year, as new census data becomes available, household incomes tend to go up a bit (with inflation). Therefore, our finish lines go up a little bit as well.
Give the Rest Away
Everything over our spending finish line, we use to bless individuals, radically impact our communities, and complete the Great Commission.
As we set more and more money aside, our eyes are opened to the many ways God is calling us to act.
You can find tons of examples here.
Personal Relationships. We find ways to personally bless the people in our sphere of relationships, such as those experiencing difficulty or suffering.
Community. We find ways to tangibly address the needs of our neighborhoods, our towns, or our cities.
Great Commission. Christ’s final command was to make disciples of all the nations. We find ways to directly support Christ’s mission to spread the gospel to all the nations.
Have More Questions?
What if I have significant debt? This is a common question, and a good one! We recommend ignoring any debt when first picking a finish line. Afterwards, use any income above your finish line to pay off debt quickly, instead of giving it away. Once your debt is paid off, that income is freed up to give away. Read more here.
How does tithing fit into all this? The short answer is that all of our money is broken into two categories: money we use on ourselves, and money we use for God’s kingdom and others. We generally consider our tithe to our local church to come out of the money set aside for God’s purposes. Read more here.