Monday, January 13, 2014

How the Wealthy Should Spend Their Money

"That parish has tons of money; they should be sponsoring our ministry."
"He just bought X when he already has this, that and the other thing!"
"How can she justify spending thousands of dollars on THAT?"

I get frustrated by comments like this. To me, they indicate the complainer thinks that people with X amount of money are wasteful and frivolous. I hear (whether or not it is intended) an undertone that suggests the speaker would never misuse wealth or squander it on luxuries. Maybe I'm just being defensive because I know I live in the lap of luxury.

We have clean water, hot and cold, and indoor plumbing.
We always have plenty of healthy food.
Our home protects us from the elements.
We have health care.
Jeremy has a job where he can work with dignity and integrity.
We live in peace and safety - no land mines, no soldiers.

Talk about wealth. And those, which millions around the world may never have, rarely cross my mind as blessings. There are many more, of course. Here in America, most people (though certainly not all) have access to what I've mentioned so far. But we're way beyond that.

We go out for fast food, sometimes just because it's convenient.
We own a car.
We send Peter to gymnastics every week.
We have Internet access in every room in our house.
We have our own washer and dryer.
We're living in a 1700+ square foot house - and there are only four of us.
We use air conditioning in the summer.
We own books, computers, games, music, and videos.
Jeremy and I each have a cell phone; we never run out of minutes.

The list could continue for quite some time. So when people complain about how the wealthy aren't using their money for the betterment of society, I feel uneasy. I don't want to face the reality that I am, undoubtedly, wealthy. We enjoy all sorts of unnecessary comforts and entertainment. As I write this, I imagine some readers offering reassurance - "You're not wasting your money. All things in moderation. Don't be too hard on yourself." And I don't feel guilty about what we spend, but I am often mindful of the balance between enjoying our blessings and sharing our wealth with others. 

I suspect "they" - the wealthy - are mindful of that as well.

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone"
John 8:7


  1. This is great. I know we are definitely "wealthy" by the standards of people in other countries. And even some people in our own country. A good reminder when our budget is so "tight" this year with two in Catholic high school. Thankfully, I'm married to a man who is a total believer in traditional tithing, so we willingly put that into our budget each and every paycheck. And I know we've been blessed in countless ways for doing that, even in months where it was really hard to write that check and give it away.

    1. Yes, traditional tithing is a wonderful way to develop the right attitude toward our wealth. And God so often responds in kind when we are generous!

  2. Nice post. The comments remind me that before we were married, my husband and I did not do 'the traditional tithe'. In fact it was not until we got to the finance section of our marriage prep book that we looked at our budget and said, "Hmmm, we DEFINITELY have some room for improvement". Now every week giving the 10% does not seem like a big deal at all whereas before it would have.

    1. It is wonderful to be able to look back at life and see how God helps us grow!