Before reading this brief article, please take a moment to read "A Guideline Budget: How Do You Compare?" on Gathering Little by Little.
If you do much reading on financial planning, or any reading on budgeting, you will probably find a similar breakdown of how to allocate your funds. I find the comparison in the article to be quite interesting.
I also find it eye-opening. Did you notice that nowhere in the "guideline" was there a line item for "Church" or even "charitable giving"? Even if you looked at the miscellaneous category as that kind of spending, it would only be 8% of the budget (at most).
Recently, Wes wrote an article on this blog that I hope you will go back and read. Sometimes faithful Christians really have a struggle with their attitude towards money. The reason is quite simple: we either give like we should and stay deeply in debt (or just waaaay behind the "Joneses"), or we live like everyone else without giving anything but a token to the Lord.
Christians need to remember that, in our "budget meetings," the Lord doesn't just come first. What? Isn't that what we always say? Write down what you make and put "Church" or "Giving" as the first item on the list? Yes, we should do that. God shouldn't get the leftovers, He should get our first "fruits."
However, that's not the only place God should be in our budget meetings. The Lord shouldn't just come first on the piece of paper or on the spreadsheet. He should be in charge of the meeting! Every decision, from the debt reduction to eating out, should have our spiritual lives in focus.
When we do that, we will adjust our "percentages" accordingly.