I don’t know when I first bumped into the concept. Probably sometime in my 30s. I called it “The Party Tithe”: 10% of my income totally for fun.
I got it from Deuteronomy 14:22-26 in the Bible. God is talking:
You must set aside a tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year. Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the LORD your God.
Now when the LORD your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the LORD your God has chosen. When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want—cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household.
—New Living Translation
I don’t approach Biblical commandments in quite the way that a Jew 2000 or 3000 years ago would have approached them. But I sense they teach a few basic principles.
- While charity and sensitivity to the needs of others is vital, there is no reason for us to live under a drab burden of grit-your-teeth selflessness. There are times and places to celebrate, to have fun.
- From a Christian perspective: the celebration itself is a form of religion. It is to be a reminder, as God says elsewhere (Deuteronomy 8:18), that He provides our ability to make wealth. He delights in blessing us.
- By way of implication from what I read in Deuteronomy 14:22-26 and what I believe about these ancient laws (that they are no longer binding): The “Party Tithe” doesn’t have to be spent all on food and drink, nor does it have to be spent all in one place or all at one time, but . . . you shouldn’t “waste” it through foolish, dribbling purchases throughout the year so that you never truly get to enjoy what a great amount of wealth you really have!
- Be purposeful about it. Be cognizant of what you are doing. If going out to eat at a fancy restaurant . . . or buying a special dress . . . or upgrading your cell phone . . . or getting a fancy car . . . or whatever you do by way of spending your Party Tithe: make sure you consciously acknowledge that this (whatever-it-is) is as a result of the Party Tithe. This is fun stuff. This is joyful. This is conscious and purposeful.If you’re a Christian or an observant Jew, consciously acknowledge your gratefulness to God for granting you the ability to make that money and to enjoy it in the manner He has enabled you to enjoy it. . . .
Sarita and I tend to be savers rather than spenders. So this insight has helped us to a certain degree. Every now and then it has helped us realize we really do have money simply to enjoy life.
But, honestly, most of the time we prefer to save.
Now—just a week or two ago—I bumped into the concept of . . .
The “Wealthy Living” Account
. . . a bank account into which one places one’s Party Tithe.
The person who recommended it to me—a member of Garrett Gunderson’s staff—said Sarita and I should decide on a particular percentage of our income (somewhere between 3% and 10%), and set up a system that will automatically fund the account every time we get paid.
The key, he said, is automation. “You shouldn’t have to think about it.”
So that’s what I did this morning. I set up our “Wealthy Living” account.
Sarita and I get paid twice a month through automatic payroll deposits (in different banks!). So I’ve set it up that the portion of my salary that equals our agreed percentage from both of our paychecks will automatically transfer from the main checking account in my bank to this new “Wealthy Living” account.
Because it’s a new practice (though an old conceptual commitment), I transferred the equivalent of 13 payments (to cover the first 13 paychecks we “missed” so far this year), then scheduled a transfer for July 16th, and then on-going, automatic, twice-monthly transfers that will take place every 1st and 16th day of the month.