How I made over a $100k/yr. Experimenting with Tithing
How I changed my life, saved my marriage, and made a little moo-lah on the side.
Last year I made $104,162.06.
The guy whose pregnant wife considered leaving — because he couldn't hold a job or hold onto money.
The guy whose good friend suggested welfare because it would help with the food shopping. (Mayyyyy-be… “good friend” is an overstatment.)
The guy always weighed down with a blanket of discouragement in the dark corners of Loserville.
Of all people.
Not a joke. Not a dream. This guy who was previously months behind on the rent was now a six-figure earner.
My Introduction to Tithing
I’d like to say that this turnaround was largely my own doing:
- I finally figured out what to do
- I read some great book by some great (and very rich) author and the paragraph on page 54 prompted me to re-evaluate my life and priorities.
- The threat of my wife about to leave with my two children (one small, the other really small, like, still in the belly small) prompted me to finally get my act together.
It was none of that.
Now keep in mind I was trying. I REALLY was. But “it” just couldn't seem to stick. The money couldn’t seem to stay. I couldn’t stop the job from leaving. I was pretty bad at this trying thing.
When I finally got my answer it came in response to prayer.
I forgot to mention: I was and am a born again Christian.
And when I got ready to pray for an answer I went straight to God…
…the Man upstairs.
…the Most High.
…the “I AM” Himself.
I opened my Bible and went to a passage in Malachi.
Here’s what it said,
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! (Malachi 3:10 NLT)
My response: “Sooooo…let me get this straight…You want me to start tithing?”
“I have NO money as is, and You want me to give money away??!!”
I looked down at the page:
“Try it! Put Me to the test!”
I’d like to say that I immediately took the leap of faith — I went all out and immediately began tithing. I’d like to tell you that I somehow knew this was gonna work and was willing to make the sacrifice.
But here’s the truth:
I shut that passage, went back under my blanket of discouragement in loser-ville, and tried to figure something else out.
Me?! Tithe (or “give money away”).
It would be a couple of weeks (ahhh….maybe like two months) before I finally decided to try this “tithing experiment.”
And my life was never the same.
What is This Tithing Thing? 🤔
Now before we go into my story, lets delve into “tithing thing.” Tithing is defined as:
“a one-tenth part of income, paid as a contribution to a religious organization.”
So for example: if your gross income was $1000 your tithe would then be $100.
“Ahhhhh….I see,” said the blind man.
Tithing has its its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In fact, tithing is very big in Jewish culture. When the word “tithe” is used it is the Hebrew word “maaser”(pronounced mah-as-ayr‘).
English is read left to right, Hebrew is read right to left.
The Hebrew language is a language of root words. Prefixes and suffixes are added to build on the meaning of the root word.
So in this word the first letter mem (מ) conveys this meaning:
Changing a verb into the noun of that word
For example: adding mem (מ) “to preach” (verb) turns it into “preacher” (noun).
Now taking away mem (מ) from “maaser” we’re left with “aser” which means rich.
So another way of interpreting this is:
The “rich” is in the tithe.
Or with “maaser”:
The one tithing becomes rich.
As I did my research — tipping my toe unto this walk of faith — it seemed like there were a couple of people who benefited from tithing. Let’s look at the prominent:
John D. Rockefeller
Yup. Mr. Standard Oil himself.
In case you don’t know: John D was the richest American…ever!
At his peak his wealth was 1.5% to 2% of the U.S’s GDP. And his philanthropy equated to hundreds of millions of dollars (billion adjusted for inflation). But before he was the Michael Jordan of giving (yes your “airness” )he learned how to give at an early age.
His giving began with his first job as a clerk at age 16, when he gave 6% of his earnings to charity. By the time he was twenty, his giving exceeded 10% percent of his income. Much of it going to church related activities. In fact, he considered giving as part of his “financial plan”:
“I remember clearly when the financial plan–if I may call it so–of my life was formed. It was out in Ohio, under the ministration of a dear old minister, who preached, ‘Get money; get it honestly and then give it wisely.’ I wrote that down in a little book.’”
Hmmm…so tithing worked out pretty well for him.
Chantel Ray is a multimillion dollar real estate entrepreneur. But before that she was a youth pastor making $9/hr.
She was also using credit cards to survive.
After “surving” like this for a couple of years of this she was $10,000 in debt and her cards were maxed out.
One day she heard about tithing. Like many of us (including me) she said, “Yeah right! I can’t do this right now. Maybe when I start making some money.” But after months of fighting things continued to get worse and she took the leap of faith. Her first tithe check was $30.
The next day she received a refund check of $300.
She continued to tithe…a close family member felt led to pay off her debt.
She continued to tithe…within a few months she got a better paying job.
She continued to tithe, in fact, she increased the amount. She began a new career in real estate, was the best salesperson, and eventually started her own firm.
Then there’s Mr. Rich Dad Poor Dad himself. To be honest: I was shocked about this one. He said,
“As far as tithing goes, we continue to donate a large percentage to charitable organizations. It’s important to give. As my very religious friend says, ‘God does not need to receive, but humans need to give.’ Also, the reason we give is because tithing is our way of paying our partner — God. God is the best business partner that I’ve ever had. He asks for 10 percent and lets me keep the other 90 percent. You know what happens if you stop paying your partners? They stop working with you. That is why we tithe.”
Even Tony Robbins remembered the day he became truly rich. It was a day he gave:
What I Learned from My Tithing Experiment
Before we continue listen to this:
- I’m not saying if you tithe all your debts are gonna be paid instantaneously.
- You’ll become the world’s first trillionaire.
- Or you’ll become so rich Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet are going to hit you up for a loan.
I’m not saying that at all.
In fact, when I started tithing I don’t remember walking down the street, having a random stranger ask me “Are you Mike,” me saying “yes,” and them saying “The Lord told me to give you this duffle bag of money! Take it please!”
Didn’t happen to me.
But there were a couple of things I DID learn that did lead me out of Loserville (where I was running for Mayor), did put some more money in my pocket, and got my wife to stop looking at me with eyes of “where-did-I-go-wrong.”
1. It Taught Me the Value of Priorities
When I decided to tithe it was with me saying, “God gets this first.”
So the obvious question is “what’s next?”
My finances were in shambles not only because of its lack but because of its LACK of stucture. It was never “this first, then this, then this” and so on. It was “who the loudest person screaming at me for money?” Whoever it was got paid first.
I was mismanaging my money and couldn’t get ahead.
It is a universal law of life: until you can manage less you won’t be given more.
You wouldn’t give a new baby a T-bone steak to eat, nor would you let your 4 year old drive you to the store. So in the same way, why would anyone be given more money if they can’t handle the less they have?
Because I had no financial management in place: less money had my head in a tailspin. Why would I be given more??
What tithing did was that built that up my management/priority muscle. You know the let-me-get-my-act-together-and-start-managing-things-better muscle.
There was a landmark study of 5,444 tither and non-tithers. The study found that tithers were better off financially than their non tithing counterparts:
According to the author:
“People that follow biblical principles of giving also are much more likely to be wiser and more careful in their spending…It is important in preaching and teaching on finances and generosity to help people realize that generosity leads to greater financial freedom and stability, while not giving frequently leads to greater indebtedness and financial bondage.”
The late bilionaire Sir. John Templeton had this to say about tithing and money management:
“I have observed 100,000 families over my years of investment counseling. I always saw greater prosperity and happiness among those families who tithed than among those who didn’t.”
2. Money seemed to be coming in
I couldn’t explain it — when there should’ve been less there was more.
Not a lot more…but definitely more.
Take this example:
My father left my mother and I when I was 13 years old. It would be 20 years before I saw him in person again.
While I don’t want go into the specifics of us meeting again, here’s where it got interesting. About the time that I started my “experiment” it was near Christmas time. I was thinking about how much it would cost for Christmas gifts for the kids. Out of the blue a check comes from him to help with gifts for them.
Now you could say he was older, maybe a little remorseful, and wanted to be a grandfather to them. Those are plausible reasons.
But you mean to tell me ALL OF A SUDDEN he felt the desire to be charitable. All of a sudden he wanted to be a good grandparent — word on the street was he wasn’t that good to his other grandchildren. What were the chances THAT thought would pop into the head at THAT time.
Yeah, I know. It’s a stretch. But it was instances LIKE THAT that seemed to be happening a lot.
In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the character Old Honest poses this riddle to the innkeeper Gaius:
“A man there was, tho’ some did count him mad, / The more he cast away, the more he had.”
Gaius solved the riddle:
“He that bestows his Goods upon the Poor / Shall have as much again, and ten times more.”
The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey — completed in 2000 — is a survey of about 30,000 people in more than 40 communities across the U.S. It measured the giving habits of Americans. They found that people became wealthier when they gave.
Check this out:
Let’s say there were two identical families: the only difference was that one family gave $100 more than the second, that first family would earn $375 more.
Here’s another one: Tyler Ward decided to put giving to the test. He and his wife put 8–15% of their paychecks into a special bank account. The money in this account was then given to needs, causes, churches or an occasional act of kindness throughout the month.
With the help of personal finance app he tracked incoming money and outgoing money. He found that his ROI was 610%.
Meaning: for every $1 he gave $6.10 of unexpected income came back.
Say what you want — but there’s something to be said about giving and receiving.
3. The Giving was making me a better person
Over the course of the “experiment” I learned to like giving a lot more.
Before I’d grit my teeth and shell out a dollar, now it was actually starting to bring me joy.
Consequently, it made me a better father and husband. When you learn to give your money away giving time, love, affection, and etc is a breeze!
And…there actually some science behind this. Who-da-thunk-it!!
In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland told 50 people they’d be receiving about $100 over a few weeks. Half of the people were asked to commit to spending that money on themselves, and half were asked to spend it on someone they knew.
Before they gave any money they brought everyone into the lab, performed functional MRI scans to measure activity in three regions of the brain associated with social behavior, generosity, happiness and decision-making.
Those who had agreed to spend money on other people tended to make more generous decisions throughout the experiment, compared to those who had agreed to spend on themselves. They also had more interaction between the parts of the brain associated with altruism and happiness, and they reported higher levels of happiness after the experiment was over.
In other words: one act of generosity led to other acts of generosity. And the generous act led to more happiness.
The tithing was changing me as a person and I didn’t mind it. I needed the change.
In the end it wasn’t just tithing that cause this if-you-don’t-believe-in-God-this-will-cause-you-to miraculous 180 in my life. It was a host of factors:
- I got a better job
- I worked hard.
- I became more abundant in my mindset
- I was lead by the hand by the big Man upstairs (and smacked upside the head a couple of times).
But I would be wrong to discount the benefits of tithing. This experiment has proved to be life-changing.
Dear reader, I don’t know your situation. But if it is anything like mine, let’s try something different and see what happens.
Interested in More?
If you want to discover more ways of Tithe-hacking, check out my site. Also if you’re interested in some killer wealth building strategies. Check out my ebook: