Religion and Finances

Pookah now takes the opportunity to remind all humans of the divinity of cats. Offerings of small tasty birds and delicious fishes will be accepted between the hours of 12:00am and 11:59pm.

Many religious works contain advice about finances. Much of it, from what I have read, is quite sound and good advice that will serve anyone well. Religion, however, is one of “those” subjects that can raise quite violent feelings in faithful and non-faithful adherents alike.

I’m not going to advise you on what aspects of your religious obligations are good, bad, or other. It’s not my place. It’s between you and your religion.

What I will advise on is how to get out of debt (Pookah Finances 101) and how to pave the road to your own financial success (Pookah Finances 201). So please bear this in mind: You are free to use or ignore this advice as you see fit.

Tithing/Donations: Cut the cash outflow. If you’re in debt, you can’t afford it. Ending up needing financial support from your religious organization harms you, your religion, and the people relying on your religion’s collective efforts. If you really *must* give, donate your time. Help out some of your fellow faithful with home maintenance, car repairs, yard care, or babysitting. Donate some time to helping keep up your religious sites, temple, church, altar, other place of worship.

Religious Subscriptions: Many local (and national) religious organizations distribute publications – what’s happening in your faith. These are important so that you can stay connected with your fellow faithful both locally and abroad. They also tend to come with a subscription cost that you are expected to pay. However, if you are in debt (Pookah Finances 101), this is a drain on your resources. You can’t eat the subscription, use it to clothe your family, and it sucks as shelter. See if you can trade in your services – perhaps as an editor or proofreader – in exchange for a few months off the subscription fee. If you have children, see if they can help with packaging and distribution. It might even serve well as a family Saturday event. The goal is to reduce the monetary outflow so that you can get out of debt. When you reach Pookah Finances 201, you can *consider* going back to funding a monetary subscription.

Sunday Clothes: Okay, I’m showing what religions I’m familiar with. Many faiths expect you to wear certain types of clothes – usually of a nicer variety – during attendance of ceremonies. If you are handy with needle and thread, or a sewing machine, you have here an opportunity: Donate some of your sewing efforts to maintaining the ceremonial attire of your priests, singers, or other uniformed attendees. If you need appropriate attire, try shopping around thrift stores, or even ask your local religious authorities for advice on where to acquire appropriate attire.

Expense of Ceremony: Some faiths require purchase of incense, candles, or other items used in the practice of that faith. These can get expensive, and are difficult for someone like me to advise you on. Let your local religious authority know a bit more about your situation. See if they can advise you on a good course of action. Maybe you can trade your work for some of these items, or maybe you can get a price reduction until you get back in the clear. This is a case where you are going to have to swallow your pride, smile about the taste, and ask for another serving. It sucks. I know. I’ve done it.

Here is the basic idea: Replace your money costs with goods or services. Maybe you got a really killer deal at the grocery store, and have ended up with more canned food than you could possibly use in a year. See if that extra will make an acceptable donation. Maybe some of your fellow faithful participate in Habitat for Humanity – and so can you. Extra practice building someone else a home means you will be better trained to keep your own place in good shape – which will reduce your maintenance and repair expenses. Just about anyone with two legs and two arms can serve meals and bus tables. Serving at a soup kitchen was both an eye-opening experience for me and brought home, pointedly, just how important it is to help someone else make it through another day. (Later on, when I was financially stable, I bought a $20 cookie from that soup kitchen bake sale. I knew that $20 would feed roughly 50+ people who were trying to pull themselves up out of the gutter. Best. Tasting. Cookie. Ever.)

When you get out of Pookah Finances 101, and are into Pookah Finances 201, start adding back some expenses — IF YOU WANT TO. You may find that the greater personal involvement in your faith is more fulfilling, and more useful, than simple cash expenditures.

Greater personal investment in scritching Pookah’s chin is more fulfilling.

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