In recent years, I've tried to increase my charitable giving. I do a decent amount of giving--we both do--but I thought my goal this year should be 10% of my gross income. That's the traditional "tithing" some have observed--or claimed to--through the centuries. Tithing per se isn't something I learned from my own religion, although we certainly have deep traditions of charity. I just like the idea of a full 10% of my gross income going to help those less fortunate than I.
With that said, this is tough!!! First of all, I'm cheating. I decided, lame though this is, that money put into my nephews' college accounts should go against the total. Yes, it's my family, but it's not my obligation, strictly speaking, so I'm going to count that--this decision came after I realized how tough it is to spare so much money.
Part of the problem is that 10% of gross works out to something like 17% (or one-sixth) of my net paycheck. Still, that's right, because I should get the extra ~7% back next year when I do my taxes. Even so, it's a heck of a hit. And no, this doesn't count gifts to friends or support for political organizations. This money can only be used for real charities--which equates to IRS-recognized charities that I feel I should support (like God's Love We Deliver, the American Cancer Society, the USO, the March of Dimes, Long Island Gay & Lesbian Youth, etc.).
Don't get me wrong. I don't regret this. I love giving to good charitable organizations, knowing that my money is helping good causes, but this makes my cashflow kind of tight. I may make it to true tithing this year, but I'll have to see how the rest of the year goes before I can be sure if I'll pull it off! For the people who make it a regular practice, well... good for them. As I said, this isn't easy!