Monday, March 25, 2013

Tipping Your Restaurant Server... Not Optional

Tipping Your Restaurant Server... Not Optional


This article will be written to educate the every day restaurant diner, and may be insight for those that are considering going into restaurant work.

OK, so you may or may not know this. But here it is. I worked in the Full Service Restaurant Industry as a Busser, Host, and Server. I was a server for over 5 years. You know what stereo types permeate EVERY restaurant I worked at in TWO states? You know what most servers believe without any doubt? It may or may not be true, but here is what MOST servers believe:

The worst tippers in the world are: Christians. 

You know what's REALLY sad? The Christian servers believe it too! Did you know that Sunday Afternoon is the MOST hated shift of all servers, even those who have NO religious affiliation and do not go to Church? They don't care about Sunday or not Sunday. It's the people they must serve they want to avoid. 

Here is the expectation of servers around the country, because I've worked with servers who have migrated throughout the country. If you serve a group of "Church People", which in their mind are the worst kind of Christians, you can expect this:
  • Large Parties full of people that are:
    • Loud, Obnoxious, Rude, Demanding, Special Needs, Special Requests.
  • Waters all around! Not because they are healthy people, because they are cheap!
    • For those who aren't cheap there may be some Tea and Lemonades maybe a few Sodas. No alcohol or drinks.
    • Note: This isn't bad, but consider that alcoholic drinks are a large part of the bill for most Non Christian Tables... Many times people order multiple and pay per drink, unlike your free refills.
      • Maybe you should consider that when figuring your TIP percentage
  • A BAZILLION separate checks. "This party of 18 needs 20 separate checks", some of them want to split their own items onto two different CC's.
    • This means TONS of time at the computer trying to figure out what went where, and for whom, because you moved 16,000 times during the evening. 
    • Oh, and can you split that desert into three and put it on mine, that girls down there, and the other guy's check WAY down there? 
    • Really!? Can't someone just buy the silly desert for the other two?
    • IN FACT, Separate Checks almost always goes hand in hand with bad tipping. Both come from the same mentalities. 
  • REALLY BAD TIPS!
    • 10% IF the server is lucky
  • The whole time the server is wondering how his other tables, the ones who will actually pay him, are doing because your special needs are taking up all his time.
I have to tell you, I'm a believer and I CRINGE at the idea of serving a group of Church People from MOST churches around the country. Especially if they are from any of the denominations. They are the worst, statistically.

At the end, I'll talk about a few stories gone right and wrong. 

Origin of Tipping

First of all what is a TIP? Wiki explains it's current usage:
tip (also called a gratuity) is a sum of money tendered to certain service sector workers for a service performed or anticipated. Such payments and their size are a matter of social custom. Tipping varies among cultures and by service industry. In some circumstances, such as with U.S. government workers, receiving of tips is illegal.[1]

T.I.P.S. (To Ensure Proper Service)?


Snopes informs us that the idea of the word "TIPS" having it's origins as an acronym for To Ensure Proper Service, or other variations, is not true to the origin of the word. Snopes tells us the true Etymology:
Tip is an old word, and it has nothing to do with either acronyms or the act of attempting to influence quality of service. Although the word has many meanings, both as a verb and as a noun, the use of the term as it applied to monetary rewards to servants dates to the 1700's....Tip slipped into the language as underworld slang, with the verb "to tip" (meaning 'to give to' or 'to share') being used by shady characters as part of the then current argot of petty criminals. 
Although this may not be the origin, it still has a certain ring to it that sound right. You are getting service and you are paying of it. What kind of service do you want?

There are a variety of positions that are, the USA, known as "Tipped Positions". This article is primarily about Tipping Servers in a full service restaurant setting. A tip in a restaurant situation happens when you are presented your Bill of Sale for the items you purchased. I ask you to stop for a moment and ask yourself this question:

"Why did I go to the "Full SERVICE Restaurant" and not to the "Fast Food" place?

The food is often better prepared at a full service restaurant. But let's walk through the experience of both for a moment.

Fast Food:



  • You stand and stare at the menu, order what you want from a person who is likely still in high school, or just out, who may or may not get your order just right. (Or you do the same thing from your car and take your chances it's right before you drive away)
  • If you went inside, you went and filled up your drink, grabbed your tray of food that is now ready, and found a seat somewhere, unless of course it's lunch time on Saturday and there ARE no seats and then you just stand there hoping someone gets up and you get there first. 
  • Then you either deal with a dirty table and ketchup spots, or you flag some person down with a towel to wipe it, or you just do it yourself with your handy Wet Wipes! 
  • Now you are either by yourself and have to leave your stuff to go get your refill, or you are dealing with kids in the play room and have to go get it... you see my point... 
  • Ooops... I forgot to get napkins and ketchup, and that silly little sauce packet for the nuggets! Up, and down, and up and down and up again... Whew! This is exhausting, next time I'm going to a Full Service Restaurant! 

Full SERVICE Food:



  • You report to the desk and give your name to be seated. Sometimes, if it's slow you are seated right away. If you are silly you went during peak hours like the rest of the throngs of people and you wait an hour first. (Go between 2-4pm, before 11am, or after 8pm if you want to seat faster!)
  • You are seated and presented with menu's and told your server will be right with you. A man/woman approaches your table, introduces him/her self and asks to take drink orders. 
  • As you are peacefully, comfortably, seated, taking your time to read over the menu with no-one behind you in some line waiting impatiently, your drink is being gathered and brought "All By Itself", imagine that! Most of the time there is some other wonderful little treat being brought to you too, bread and butter, chips and salsa, etc. You know who is doing that? Your server!
  • You order, usually with minor or major changes to the original item. Your server writes it down, repeats it back to you, and then reviews the order again on before submitting it to the kitchen.
  • He/She brings refills, brings condiments, anticipates your needs, asks clarifying questions. He has memorized (or carries a good copy of) any specials or "Need-to-knows". Carefully guides you when you are undecided or have an allergy or special need. You expect your banker to know why a fee occurred  and so you rightly expect your server to take his job seriously and know some things about the menu for you. 
  • If you ordered multiple courses the server, and his assistants, clear things from your table to make room for more. They bring fresh silverware if needed. 
  • (Meanwhile, they are doing the same things for between 3-8 other tables!) How well do YOU multitask?
  • When all is done you pay the bill. On the TIP line you write:
    • ?????????????

Behind the Scenes


Here's what you don't see, besides what I just described. In most restaurants around this country the servers are paid LESS THAN minimum wage. The average pay for a server in most restaurants in most states is about $2.13/Hour. How can that be? How can you earn less than Minimum Wage. Isn't that why it's called Minimum? See Wiki's Min Wage Doc. It has a list of all the states that do this.

Well, it's legal, and it's called a TIP OFFSET WAGE. It barely pays the income tax withholding's after declaring the tip income. The employer figures YOU the diner are paying their server their income, so they don't have to pay them the true minimum wage. They pay them $2.13 and you pick up the rest! So out of that 10% you left them they don't make much over Min Wage.

But wait, there's more! In most restaurants the server has assistants who help. Bussers, Food Runners, and Bar are almost always tipped by the server to make their jobs easier. Part of your tip is going to the bartender, even if you didn't order a bar drink. Some places also require tips to the "To Go" person or the Host/Hostesses. In general it's typical for the server to have to tip out about 3% to the Busser, 1% to the Bar, and 1% to the Food Runner. Percentages may vary, but you can figure about 4-6 percent of what you leave that server will go to people other than him/her. Sometimes it's a percentage of sales and sometimes a percentage of tips received. So you left the server $10, they walk away at the end of the night with $6, or less.

Because of this, YOU are the primary source of income for servers in the USA. NOT the employer. That 4-6 table section is the servers business and storefront. You are the patron. Think of the server NOT as an employee of the company, but more like a contracted business person. They are there to provide a service to you. You came for a reason.

Behind the scenes, the server is filling salt and pepper shakers, condiments are being refilled and restocked, floors are being swept, tables cleaned, reset, and benches brushed down. Bread and Butter is being cut for you. Lemons and Limes are being hand cut by the Servers, not the cooks. Soda machines are fed by heavy soda syrup boxes. Those are being reloaded by the servers and bussers. Communications is being had between the chefs and servers to get your special needs done right. Orders are being placed into the computer while 15 things are going through their head.

"Did I get that? What else do I need to do? Why do I feel like I"m forgetting something? OH shoot! I forgot to put that order in before going over there, it's already been 5 minutes. I put THIS order in 20 minutes ago, why isn't it ready yet? The cook dropped it and had to start over?! WHAT?!... " and on and on the thought go. It's thoughts racing from moment one to the end. That's why MOST servers go out for a drink after, to calm the brain down.

Some servers in a family casual restaurant make $15,000-$30,000 per year. Some servers in higher end restaurants make $30,000 - $50,000 per year. Some servers in Fine Dining (and ultra Fine Dining)(that means LOT'S of extra service steps for the server to remember and do) make upwards of $50,000 - $80,000.

9 times out of 10, that money comes from you, not the restaurant. You, and 10 other tables choose to tip badly, or not at all, that server goes home with nothing to show for it and mouths to feed at home. Most servers live not check to check, but day to day. Literally tonight's tips are gas to get home. If you paid less than $30 per person (before tip), the likelihood is that your server is living this day to day lifestyle. Your tip may be the difference between them eating tonight or not. And no, most restaurants do NOT give their employees free food. They may get 20-50% off, but they can't afford even that most of the time.

Most servers have no benefits. No medical, dental, vision. No paid vacations. No 401(k)'s. If they do have something, it's meager and practically worthless. Few restaurants offer any benefits to servers, those that do take them away the moment they average less than 30 hours a week for a while.

At the end of the night, they must take ALL the credit card receipts and add them up on a calculator, first all the totals, then all the subtotals and tips to make sure it all matches. All the CC's they run add more work to their night. Split checks causes a TON more work at the end.

Standard's


  1. It is considered standard in the restaurant industry, among servers, to TIP 20%. 
  2. Anything less than 20% means they did something wrong. 
  3. If you leave 10% you are insulting them. 
  4. If you leave a Penny it's like you called them cuss words and slapped them. 
  5. If you leave nothing but a Bible Gospel Tract, you are just one of those Christians they hear so much about. They won't read it. It will go straight to the trash. Think about, do YOU like to read those? I've never seen one that was fun to read, have you? There are a few that are cute. But they are all too heavy handed, and turn most people off before the message is truly delivered. 


Christians' Standards

Christians should leave AT LEAST 20% in all cases, and go up from there!

No Christian should EVER tip less than 20%, even for bad service! Why? Because it's not about YOU! It's about your witness to and for Jesus. Jesus will deal with them. Romans 12:19 tells us that it is God's duty to avenge you. If you feel you were down right wronged, purposefully treated badly, because you were a Christian, turn the other cheek!

First of all, did you do or say anything that could have led to that service? Servers are usually thermometers, they are reading back to you what you are giving them.

Second, maybe they have had their fill with Christians and you are just another one. They saw you pray over the meal, heard you talk about church, saw your necklace, bracelet, convention badge, etc. And they've had enough of "Your Kind". You may be reaping the rewards of past Christians "efforts". Your bad tip now confirms what they already know about you!
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
In a great short article on this subject Olga Hermans points out that our unintended behavior has a direct impact on the world around us. People could be rejecting Jesus by OUR example and what we do, say, and how we behave. Tipping is not about your experience, it's about leaving an impression that will carry someone into eternity.

Matthew 10:8 tells us that we have freely received and we should freely give. For God so loved the world that HE GAVE...(John 3:16)

Christians SHOULD BE the most generous people on the planet. We don't give to get, although God's Word promises that we will reap what we sow. Gal 6:7 The purpose of accumulation is distribution. God blesses us, Spiritually, Physically, and Financially, so that we can GIVE to the world around us. That giving causes the world around us, the receivers of our giving, to be thankful to God! 2 Cor 9.

Tips aren't about you, it's about eternity. Do you want to be guilty of being one of the ones who showed a person that Jesus is a stingy, rude, demanding god who doesn't love them? Or do you want to be "guilty" of loving too much, showing too much grace, giving too much. Do you want to be the one that makes someone say: "Maybe there is something to this Christianity, that persons brand anyway... I wonder where they go to Church?"

Tracts

On this note, let's talk about tracts. It's very common for business people to leave a business card. Some insurance person leaves their card, hoping that if you need insurance you'll call him. Some MLM person leaves their card hoping you'll buy their product. Do you know what they all know that Church People don't? Impressions! No business person leaves their card after having been rude, loud, obnoxious, and leaving a bad tip!

Yet Christians do this ALL THE TIME! How do we expect people to "buy" what we have to "sell" when we act this way? It's amazing. Also, most bible tracts are heavy on identifying sin and light on preaching grace. They are the source of jokes and ridicule in most restaurants. In fact, I don't know one person, ever especially not a server, that was led to Jesus though a bible tract. I'm sure it's happened. I'm sure it's possible. God will use anything he can to reach someone at just the right time.

However almost everyone I've ever met that was saved, was saved through one-on-one witness or through anointed teaching in a church service. It's usually not that heavy handed one-on-one witness you see on streets either. It's usually a friend reaching a friend, and talking like friends. It's not scripted, there are no hand outs, it's just loving someone into the Kingdom of God.

If you want to leave information with them, ask them to your Church, or in any way communicate with them that you are a Christian, BUY their attention! "What's in it for me?" is what every business sales person has to ask himself about his client. If I don't tell them what's in it for them, they will never buy this product, despite ALL it's features and benefits. Why should they buy? That's the question you want to ask about them. Sure YOU know it could help them, but if THEY don't see any value, they will not buy.

Am I selling the Gospel now? Kind of... yes. I'm asking for your attention, you are "Paying Attention". People only "PAY" attention when it's worth their time to do so. They will PAY attention when they see value in doing so. You want to buy that attention from a server?

I know of one man who would come in and lay out $20 into the servers hand with this statement. "I just want to let you know I'm not a cheap skate. That $20 has nothing to do with your tip, that will still come at the end. I just want to let you know that we appreciate you."

That get's servers attention. However, it may also put undue pressure on the server to try to preform to a higher level and may add more stress. It could be viewed as coercion or blackmailing or being too pushy. I don't advise tipping before like that, but I tell it to make a point. Good tipping does buy their attention.

I advise NOT leaving tracts; EVER! 

If you want to leave something that they could follow up on, leave a business card with a website to your favorite ministry, unless you have a ministry of your own and leave that card. Make sure the ministry website is high quality, full of Faith and Grace. Any good ministry website will have information about getting saved and going to Church, but it won't BEAT them over the head with it either. The website, TOO should be written with: "What in it for them?" in mind.

If you want them to contact YOU with questions since YOU are the point of contact, leave your email or phone or website. Leave a personal, hand written, LEGIBLE, note on the back of the card thanking them. Make SURE it's carried with a LARGE tip!

What SHOULD I do as a Christian?


  • Be EXTRA kind and attentive. 
    • STOP talking EVERY TIME they come to your table and give them your full attention.
    • Please and Thank You go a long way
    • SMILE, are you GLAD you are saved?
  • Ask for special things at one time, don't make them run to your table 50 times. 
  • Ask them if what THEY need to make this go smoother for you and them? 
    • "You tell US when YOU are ready or how this would be easiest for you?"
    • Especially important on big parties.
  • Don't ask for split checks! Really?
    • If you MUST split checks, encourage your party to split as few ways as possible and leave bigger tips for all the extra work that entails. I've had it take me an extra 30 minutes to split, process, and close out split checks for large parties. You want to make they do all that work, pay them extra for it. And make SURE your party does so. Take the leadership role and explain what being a witness means and that they had better leave 20+% or else!
  • Leave MORE than 20% How much more? 
    • More if they did over and above
    • More if YOU cause them more work
    • More if you asked for special things, modified an order, or asked for split checks. 
    • Split checks should really cause a 50% tip.
    • Large Parties should be extra. 2% per person over the standard 20%
    • Are you about to leave a tract or card? BUY that attention! 

Stories

Kenneth Copeland Ministries

When I worked Ruth's Chris Steak House after the 2007-2008-2009 West Coast Believers Conventions there was one common thing I heard from the servers. I had the honor of serving someone in a leadership role there and they were extremely kind, pleasant to be around and serve, and left extravagant tips. Nearly all of the attendees at a KCM Convention are givers and have a givers heart. So hundreds of them descend on the restaurants it's a sight to behold.

I would hear from servers over and over all week, did you SEE that tip I got from table 23? I didn't do anything all that special. These are really cool people! I can assure you that givers get attention, and leave positive lasting impressions. What do you think those servers think about Jesus?

Jesse and LeRoy

I may get the details wrong, but the essence of this story goes like this: Jesse Duplantis and a friend (I believe it was LeRoy Thompson went out to eat. This server was GOOD. It was slow and she went out and got them a newspaper because they asked if there were any in the back maybe that someone had brought and left. She talked about her schooling and other things.

They started a give-off! At end of the meal, Jesse said "I want to help you with that school..." or something like that Well he takes out cash from his pocket and starts laying out $100 bills. LeRoy says, "Oh no you don't I want to help too, so HE starts laying out $100 bills." Well then they pull out their check books when they run out of cash. I don't remember right, and couldn't find the story being told, I'll keep looking for it, but I want to say it was in the $10,000 plus range that she walked out of there with that night.

Some religious nut will say that story is about extravagance and greed... HOW?! That lady got her need met because two men who love Jesus gave! Jesus gave his best for you, couldn't you give your best for him!?


Pastor's Intervention

I attended a ministry meeting at a local restaurant. It was led by the pastor. Some 20 plus people were there. At the end, someone started to ask for a split check and the Pastor stood up and said: "No. Don't split anything. You bring the check, the whole check, to me. Now, you all pay ME and I will pay her."

This saved that woman from an hours worth of work trying to split items for people at different parts of the table, run, deliver and then close all of those credit cards, then tally them up on a calculator receipt at the end of the night.

Jr High Desert Fest

There have been enough stories earlier of what NOT to do, but here is one that I felt needed to be said. One church, who is generally accepted as a great (and large) church in the area, wanted to treat all their Jr High kids to desert. So instead of buying the deserts in bulk and serving them at the church, wise idea, they brought 80+ kids into a Full Service Restaurant  Tied up some 20-30 tables and 6 servers for nothing but desert and made those servers stay an extra 3 hours past the time they would have gone home. Then it was paid for on one check, but only left a 15% TIP. This was a "What NOT do to" moment.

Church leaders. Consider the people who will NOT likely want to visit your church after pulling a stunt like this?

Personal Life Story

One day, I was tired, working two jobs, 60 hours a week. I was feeling foggy and disoriented. The managers were seating me when I told them not to because I needed a mental break. I had a four table section but one was a bad seat, no one wants to sit there so it hadn't been sat most of the night. I didn't see them for a longer time than it should have been. Drinks were late getting to them and refills were long between. Food came out on time, but I don't remember why, something was wrong with it. They got by far the worst service I think I've given in my career, and by this time I'd already been serving 5 years I was NOT new. If I were them I'd want to leave nothing, complain to the manager, and maybe never come back. Worst of all, I smiled, did my best to catch up with them, but secretly resented them for being there at the table that no-one sits at, because if that table was empty I would be caught up, but instead I was falling further and further behind.

Do you know what they did? They left me nearly 25% and wrote on the ticket: "My Jesus really love you, it's going to be ok." (or something like that). I nearly broke down and cried when I saw it. I felt horrible, not only for the service I gave, and their experience, but because of how I had felt about them. Their giving did more, by the work of the Holy Spirit, that night, than anything they ever could have said negative would have. It melted by hard heart, and I returned to work the next day on a mission to serve Jesus twice as hard for my customers the next day. I don't know that I'll ever see them this side of heaven, but I will take this time to say publically... THANK YOU Table 81!


Conclusion

Ask yourself...

  • Who do I live for? Me? Them? or Jesus?
  • What kind of wake do I leave behind me when I have visited someone's life?
  • What kind of Jesus do I represent? Who do people think my Jesus is after meeting me?
  • How will my actions, needs, requests today impact the servers life?
Then stop for a moment, the next time you are at a Full Service Restaurant. Look around. 
  • Ask yourself what that person is doing? 
  • How many tables are they serving? 
  • Jesus said he came not to be served, but to serve. How you can YOU serve the server? 
  • What look do they have on their face? Worried? Mad? Sad? Happy? Fake Happy?
Have questions about anything I said here? Want to share your story? Comment Below!


I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!


N2 Good SuccessDarrell G. Wolfe
Blog: http://n2gs.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/n2goodsuccess
Twitter: http://twitter.com/n2goodsuccess

See Also:
Books by Darrell G. Wolfe: Amazon.com/author/darrellgwolfe 
Book Suggestions from the N2 Good Success Amazon Store
Brand and Product Offerings from N2 Good Success Zazzle Store
Other Blogs and Sites by the Wolfe Family: http://wfconceptions.wordpress.com/ 



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The Following are hits I found in my research of what others have said on this topic:

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Michael Hyatt's Tips to Blogging Success and what you can learn from them for YOUR everyday life.

Michael Hyatt's Tips to Blogging Success:

  1. Blog Consistently
    1. 3-5 Times a Week
    2. If you take a day, post that too. "I'm taking the day off today"
  2. Make it about the audience
    1. Stop writing about YOU all the time, talk about THEIR NEEDS.
  3. Get Involved In Social Media
  4. Find Your Voice
    1. Write, Write, Write some more..
    2. Try new things...
    3. Find Your Grove
    4. Do it enough, experimental enough until you find it
      1. You'll eventually get to the place where it sounds like you.
      2. You want to get to the place where people say: "I feel like your just talking to me, like we're sitting over a cup of coffee" THAT is you voice!
  5. Take Time... You'll hit a breakthrough/inflection point, keep digging.
    Tips for Building a bigger audience faster, mistakes:

    1. Don't Fail to get Email Addresses!
      1. He uses Mail Chimp
      2. Build an Email Newsletter List
      3. Sign up should go on the TOP RIGHT corner of the blog. That's the PRIME realestate. Use an incentive of value! Use old posts that are valuable. 
      4. Use apple keynote to create a pdf.
    2. Don't be Inconsistent
      1. Whether it's 5-3-1 times a week, stick to it! 
      2. State Intention 
        1. (Ex Once a week)
        2. (Put it on the calendar!)
        3. (Sit Down and Write)
      3. Create a Template! His looked like this:
        1. GREAT Headline
          1. Not too cleaver
          2. Simple, clear, about them!
        2. Opening Story
        3. Opening Image (get it from a photo site, or make your own!)
        4. Make a list! Make it solve a problem!
          1. Bullet/Enumerated
        5. Summary and closing questions for comments!
        6. Your template may be different, but have one!
      4. Lone Ranger Mentality
        1. You are NOT in this yourself!
        2. Network with others, writers, authors, other bloggers who are trying to build THEIR platform!
        3. Be Intentional! and Network
      5. Obsessing over the technology!
        1. Learn code if you so desire. But don't let the technology distract you from writing which is the REAL purpose!
      6. Perfectionism, stop it!
        1. Have WOW! But don't try to be so perfect that you procrastinate to nothingness! 
        2. You probably know enough to get started! You don't need to know the end game before you start, you'll figure it out as you go!
        3. Don't give up because it's not where you want it to be, keep working it!
      7. Don't be too focused on the numbers!
        1. Looking at your stats all day will distract you from writing. Stop it!
        2. Maybe look once in a while to see if you are being effective, but don't drown in there. 
        3. "It's not a good time right now" Just do it!
      8. Don't Quit!
        1. People often quit before their inflection point!
        2. Keep Showing Up
      9. The only way you sell today is by permission! Sales is not, and cannot be, about you forcing yourself on other people. Be true, authentic, and meaningful to them!









    Have questions about anything I said here? Want to share your story? Comment Below!

    I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!


    N2 Good SuccessDarrell G. Wolfe
    Blog: http://n2gs.blogspot.com/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/n2goodsuccess
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/n2goodsuccess

    See Also:
    Books by Darrell G. Wolfe: Amazon.com/author/darrellgwolfe 
    Book Suggestions from the N2 Good Success Amazon Store
    Brand and Product Offerings from N2 Good Success Zazzle Store
    Other Blogs and Sites by the Wolfe Family: http://wfconceptions.wordpress.com/ 



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    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    FICO, Credit Building, and Credit Cards

    FICO

    So, I'm still hearing a lot of people say things that are not true, don't make sense, or are just plain bad advice. Credit building is not rocket science. Yes, the formulas and math behind them actually are akin to rocket science math. But some of the basic things the average person needs to know are actually quite simple.
    If you want to build credit without paying interest or creating debt read on, or just skip to the bottom to the conclusion. 
    I'm sure you've seen this funny video on TV:


    I wrote a post previously about FICO and Credit Decisions, now I want to bring in the focus a little to some basics. The very first things you should know is that THE company that creates your credit score is FICO (the Fair Isaac Corporation). It was started by Bill Fair and Earl Isaac. It is now THE leading credit scoring company on the planet. FICO is the most used credit scoring platform accounting for over 100 BILLION scores sold to date.
    Fico.com Excerpt: Engineer Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac found FICO — with an initial investment of $400 each — on the principle that data, used intelligently, can improve business decisions. (1956)
    There are other credit scoring companies that exist. Some, like Vantage Score, are making major headway into the field. However, for the time being, FICO remains the most used score on the market. When you apply for a Credit Card and you get a decline/approval letter in the mail. The score shown will most likely be a FICO score.

    So, where is the first place you should go to find out how to manage your credit score? Why not ASK the ones who create it!? They created a website just for you, the consumer. You can read all about the who, what, when, where, and why of your credit score. It's not exhaustive, but it is thorough. 
    http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/articles/
    It's important to monitor your credit on an on-going basis, not just once a year. Because not only could Identity Thieves destroy your credit in a matter of hours, but mistakes, errors and forgotten cell phone bills can too! If you are restoring your credit, and disputing items, or paying off old items, you want to SEE those items update on your credit. You do not want to wait a year after paying off an old bad debt just to find out that the company never bothered to report that you paid them off.

    If you want to monitor your credit without paying for it, there is a new site has just come out that is GREAT and FREE! It is, http://www.creditkarma.com/. Ok, what's the catch, why is it free? Because it's the only site, first site at least, to be paid for not by your membership fee, but by ad clicks. The ad's are actually beneficial to you, and they give you a rating of how likely you are to get a product based on your score before you apply. HOW COOL IS THAT?! Downside? You only get one report, therefore one score. So if you want ALL three credit reporting agencies you still have to pay for that somewhere through an "Identity Theft Protection" service, such as http://www.lifelock.com.

    What do YOU need to know about credit? 

    There are a lot of things that go into credit. Consult a credit adviser for YOUR particular situation. The advice I give here is for demonstration of the basics, do with it what you will. 
    Here are some basics. There are five components to a FICO score. The image seen here is adapted from FICO's website and gives a breakdown of the categories. FICO scores are based on complex mathematical formulas and as such are fluid. There is no such thing as A + B = C with credit.When you affect one thing it could change the dynamics of the others. Therefore no two people would have the EXACT same result because no two people have the EXACT same creditors and credit histories.

    FICO Chart
    Many people ask me: "If I apply for this __XYZ Credit Product__, how will that affect my score?" If anyone tells you an answer other than "That Depends" they are clearly ignorant. I've heard so called advisers tell people "Oh, it will go typically only go down a few points..." While that may be true much of the time it may not be. A person with no credit history of any kind, that obtains a credit card, may find that adding something to nothing will cause their credit score to go up. A person with substantial positive history that does one application may find their score totally unaffected. The only thing applying does for a credit score is that it shows up as an "Inquiry".

    Does that mean that if I get declined it will hurt my credit? Maybe yes, Maybe no. Your credit reports do not know that you got declined. They only know that someone inquired on your behalf. It could have been declined, approved, or maybe you didn't like the rate so YOU declined THEM. All they know is that the bank inquired (asked about you). MANY inquiries can be bad, just a few not so bad. Not all inquiries are the same. There is NO SUCH THING as a hard pull/soft pull. Just those that count and those that don't count. See FICO for definition.

    What doesn't count for me? 

    In short almost everything you've been told does. Cell Phones, Rent, Utilities all mean just about nothing to your FICO score. The only time those will show up is if they go to collections. So, by all means, pay them on time and don't let them go to collections. That will prevent credit issues. But your payments on those won't build your credit score with FICO.

    Also, people are out there telling you to go buy a $300 TV on your credit card and make payments on it for 6-9 months to build credit. This advice is WRONG. Don't do it. And it's ultimately bad (at best not great) for your credit.

    What does count for me?

    Payments on Credit Products. Credit Cards, Department Store Cards, Loans, Auto Loans, Student Loans, Mortgages, etc...

    Aren't Credit Cards Evil?

    I'm going to give this advice to those who want to start from scratch or rebuild from scratch. This assumes you either have nothing on your reports in recent history, or you've paid off all old items, or your bankruptcy is finalized and you now want to start over. I give this same advice to anyone who wants to build from scratch. Much of this info will be good for the advanced credit builder to know too. This is MY PERSONAL opinion. It is based on years of experience and research and I believe it whole heartedly but it is just that, my opinion. Do your own research and verify what you need to before using it. 
    So, you want to build your credit. Get two credit cards. Not one, not three, two. I know what you are thinking, credit cards are what created my (or others I know) debt problems in the first place. Well, yes and no. Yes they can be a tool for debt. No they don't have to be a tool for debt. A hammer is a tool for breaking glass jars or building furniture. It's the hand of the holder that guides it. Credit Cards are a tool, nothing more. Your problem has been perspective.

    The banking industry actually studies and classifies credit card users. There are two primary categories. There are debtors and transactors. When debtors see $100 in their checking and $100 available on a credit card they see $200 to spend. When transactors see $100 in their checking and $100 available on a credit card they see $100 to spend and multiple tools to use based on the need. They could use checks, ACH, debit cards, cash, or credit cards... but it's all about the same $100. Debtors view credit cards as borrowing tools. Transactors view credit cards as transaction tools. It's all about mindset.

    FYI: the banks actually don't like debtors. People who put a large balance on their credit card and make payments on it forever are the banks LEAST favorite credit card user, but most common. Sure the banks makes interest off of you. But they loose more money from debtors than transactors through charged off/collections accounts by leaps and bounds. The interest you pay is making up for losses. Transactors actually make the bank more money. Stores pay banks every time you buy something. The banks make more money from that than they do from interest. If you make one purchase and pay on it for six months you aren't buying new things and therefore aren't making the bank money. You are also MORE likely to stop paying on it and go to collections. They would rather you buy things, pay it off, not pay any interest, and buy more things. THAT is the real money in credit cards for banks, and those people get lower rates and better rewards for being wise credit card users.

    In fact, the credit card is a powerful tool for the debt free! Credit cards are the only credit product in common use that a debt free person can use to build credit with and never create any debt or pay any interest. In fact if you create debt or pay interest on a credit card; it's proof you are not using them right in the first place.

    FICO and Credit Cards

    Credit Cards actually help you in all categories of your credit score, but most especially the top three. I'm pasting this chart again, so that you can take a closer look.

    FICO Chart
    1. Payment History - 35%
    2. Amounts Owed - 30%
    3. Length of Credit History - 15%
    Credit Cards have a direct, controllable, impact on 80% of your credit scoring categories. 90% if you factor in that limiting yourself to 2 credit cards and choosing other products to boost your score from time to time is the best way to go, and 100% if you factor in that old credit is better than new. Here's the way to work it. If you want to see how your credit compares against all the variety of catagories go sign up for a free Credit Karma membership and click on "Credit Report Card". 

    Payment history

    Payment history means one thing, and only one thing. How you made (or didn't make) payments on credit products. On your credit report, depending on how you get it they all "LOOK" different in format, there will be information regarding your payment history. The only thing that it shows is three things.
      1. No Data/Not Available/No Activity: These all have a neutral effect on credit. If nothing was due and nothing was paid, this will be the result. It may look like an empty box, a "/" forward slash, or a "N/A". 
      2. Positive Payment History: This just means that something was due and something was paid. It will be indicated by: "OK" paid as agreed, or a check mark, or "CUR" for current". The more of these you have the better your credit is. 
      3. Negative information. If you are late by less than 30 days this will not effect your credit. However if you are late you may see: "30", "60", "90" days late, or "COL""CO" for collections, or "CHG""CH" for Charged Off. The more of these you have the lower your score will be. 

    The ONLY positive thing that comes from this is "CUR" or "OK" that means something was due, something was paid, all was well this month. You can get 12 of those a year. If you make two payments in one month you still only get ONE "OK" for the month. If you make a $25 payment on a $300 balance you get "OK". If you make a $1.50 payment on a $1.50 balance you get "OK". The MOST you can get in the way of positive information from  one credit account is 12 "OK"'s per year. 

    MYTH: "Carrying some over to pay a little interest builds credit"
    FACT: Paying your balance BEFORE your statement cuts shows nothing due, therefore you get an "N/A" on your statement, possibly. Waiting until your statement cuts, produces a "balance due". Paying it before the due date avoids interest AND shows "payment made" or in other works the "OK"/"CUR" that you wanted. 
    So, instead of carrying a balance on your card. Go out once a month and buy a $1.50 Dr Pepper or a $5 cheeseburger  Wait until you get the statement and then PAY IT OFF IN FULL BEFORE THE DUE DATE. 

    Amounts Owed. 

    Amounts owed on credit cards is a tricky one. This may play out differently on true loans, but on "OPEN" or "REVOLVING" accounts (any and all accounts that you can use and then reuse again are considered open/revolving accounts), FICO actually wants to see you are using LESS not more. In general the FICO formula looks at the total amount you have in "Credit Limit" and the total amount you have "In Use" and comes up with a percentage.

    If you have a $300 Credit Limit and you have a $250 balance on your card you are at: 83% Utilization. You have used 83% of your credit limit. If you followed the advise MANY are getting out there this is exactly what you did. You got a $300 card, bought $250 worth of stuff and made payment on it for months/years. This was exactly the wrong thing to do.

    FICO says the LOWER your utilization score the better, except for 0%. They want to see SOME usage, but less is more. Someone with a 5% utilization will score better than someone with a 90% utilization. However someone with 0% utilization may appear to not be using the card and therefore not be able to demonstrate they CAN use one effectively. SO getting a card and putting it in your freezer may be a good way to stay out of debt, but not a great way to build credit.

    Instead go out and buy that cheeseburger once a month and then pay it off. That will produce the payment history you need WITHOUT violating the utilization/usage requirements.

    See these articles on this topic:
    • Credit Karma on Utilization
      • There are three easy ways to lower your credit utilization. The easiest way is to make credit card payments more than once a month so that your balance never gets too high. If you have more than one credit card, another good way to lower your utilization is to use multiple cards each month. This will result in various cards with low credit utilization rather than one with high utilization. Lastly, you can try to increase your available credit. If your income has increased, if you've maintained an amazing credit history, or if you have little debt, it doesn't hurt to ask for a credit limit increase. Just remember that this can sometimes result in a hard inquiry on your credit. If you lack excellent credit, try opening a secured credit card and adding to its security deposit over time.
    • MSN Money
      • Lenders like to see a big gap between the amount of credit you're using and your available credit limits. Getting your balances below 30% of the credit limit on each card can really help; getting balances below 10% is even better.
    • CreditCards.Com
      • Forget the old 30% idea Start by throwing out the old notion about 30 percent usage being OK. FICO, the company that originated credit scoring and is still the largest provider of such scores, has long advised score-conscious consumers to be far more stingy about credit use. The company had told people to keep it to 10 percent or less, says Anthony Sprauve, spokesman for myFico.com, FICO's consumer website.
      • According to FICO surveys, credit scoring "high achievers -- those with a score north of 750 -- they're using an average of 7 percent of their available credit," Sprauve says. "I think 20 percent, for a lot of people, is more realistic. I would rather talk about that as a realistic goal that they can attain, rather than something that might feel like a stretch and out of reach." 
      •  Read more: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-limit-utilization-ratio-use-charge-1267.php#ixzz2NrRymUMO Compare credit cards here - CreditCards.com 
    • Market Watch
      • Most credit experts, including the credit bureaus, will advise you to keep your credit utilization under 30% of the total limit. But here's a secret: Make sure you do it for each card. If you exceed that threshold on one card -- say you use 70% of that limit but only 10% on another card and nothing on a third card -- you're under 30% of the total limit, but you'll still get dinged for using so much of the limit on the first card. How much of your limit you use in any given month can turn the tide on your card. If, for example, you max out your American Express card every month but pay it in full, you can still get slammed for hitting your limit. The credit card companies don't report if you've paid off your card; only how much you spent.

    Length of Credit History. 

    This is actually a very short thing to describe. The older your credit products are, the better. This is especially true with open/revolving accounts. The reason your score goes down, sometimes, when you go closing cards is because the AGES of your cards are being averaged. Having a 20 year old card and 18 year old card is better than having a 1 year and 3 year. If you MUST close a card and replace it with a new one go ahead. Try to stick to three at most at any one time.

    There could be good reasons for doing this. Maybe the old card has no rewards, the company is lousy or even went out of business. You hate their customer service. It is what it is. So if you decide to get a new card, great. First, get the new card. Keep it for a year or two, then close the old one. Averaging a 15 year/10 year/2 year is different than averaging a 13 year/8 year/1 month card. So give the new one time to grow before closing the old one.

    Bottom line, 20 years from now, try to have two cards that are between 15-20 years old.

    Conclusion


    So, after all that talking the advise is actually pretty simple. Get two cards. Go out once a month and buy something(s) for LESS than 10% of their credit limit, maybe even just a soda and/or cheeseburger. Then wait until you get your statement and pay it off in full before the due date.

    If you are young and/or just starting out there is NO REASON, as far as your FICO score is concerned, to buy a bunch of stuff. Buy one thing, and pay it off every month for the rest of your life.

    And that's how easy it is. Building credit, without debt or interest.

    Other Options?

    (Note: is this ALL it takes? No. The more history/experience you show with a variety of products the better. But if you want to keep things simple do it the way I show above.)

    What if you want to go a step further? If credit cards are the only product to build credit with that can have no interest or debt, are there other low cost options?

    Take out a loan, pay on it for 6-9 months and then pay if off.

    I talked to a lady who had a ton of cash and liked to pay cash for cars, but wanted to keep up her credit. She went out and bought a car with a loan. Paid on it for 6 months and then paid it off, she did this every 2-3 years.

    I've seen several people who had collateral (cash/car/house/etc) take out a loan, put the loan money into a savings, and set the loan to auto pay from the savings. Literally the loan money is just paying itself back. They may take out a 5 year loan, let it auto pay for 3-6 months and then add a little money to make up for interest and pay it off. JUST, to keep their credit going.

    Rent vs Own

    Things like this can do wonders. Are you renting? Why? You are paying someone else's Mortgage! Pray about it first, God may have plans to move you half way around the world tomorrow. So don't buy until you are where you know you are supposed to be. But, instead of buying someone else's house for them, buy your own. I heard one mortgage man say: Rent from the bank. We'll keep your house payments the same for the life of your contract, and in 30 years we'll give you the house for free!

    They even have 15 year mortgage out there now. I know many people who bought homes with mortgage payments $100's per month less than they could afford in their budget, just so that they could afford to make regular extra payments and paid them off in ten years instead of 30. It can be done with planning. One chap I know paid his last house off in 10 years last month. Just bought a condo for $675 month on a 15 year note. He's renting it out for $1,300/month and putting all of that on the note. He'll have it paid off in 5 years, if he adds a few bonuses/tax returns to that also, could be faster.

    Don't buy the biggest place you can afford. Buy a place for MUCH less than you can afford, pay what you can afford, plus occasional extras and you'll have it paid off in no time.

    BTW: 

    Mortgages CAN be easier to qualify for than cars, depending on the person, history, state, and type of mortgage loan. ASK, you may be surprised. I was declined for a Credit Card months before I was approved, barely by the Grace of God, for my home. It CAN be done. If God has given you the go ahead, it  REALLY CAN!

    Have questions about anything I said here? Want to share your story? Comment Below!

    I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!


    N2 Good SuccessDarrell G. Wolfe
    Blog: http://n2gs.blogspot.com/
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    See Also:
    Books by Darrell G. Wolfe: Amazon.com/author/darrellgwolfe 
    Book Suggestions from the N2 Good Success Amazon Store
    Brand and Product Offerings from N2 Good Success Zazzle Store
    Other Blogs and Sites by the Wolfe Family: http://wfconceptions.wordpress.com/ 


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    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    Tithe: A study



    TITHE

    Simply put tithe is 10%. The key verse to look at when discussing the tithe is Malachi 3:8-12. God says here that not tithing is equal to robbing God. It is interesting to note that this is the only place in the bible God offers man a test or trial of his goodness. Go ahead, God says, test me… try me out… see if I’m faithful to my Word. God knows that money is tied to core matters of the heart. Jesus said that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34)

    ~Gross VS Net~

    What about this 10%? Is that gross or net? Malachi also answers this for us. Bring in the WHOLE tithe. Deut. 14:22 tells us to tithe on all your increase. All means All and that’s All All means.  For a moment consider what you are really asking in this question. Should I give God 10% of the money I made before or after the government took their cut, and I sent some to my 401K, and I paid for medical deductions, etc etc… Does the government come first or does God? If God is first, that means first. Before anything is removed, God is first.

    ~Law~

                But that is old covenant law, we are not under the Law? Right? Yes we are not under the law. No tithing is not limited to the law. Actually the tithe predates the law. Genesis 14:20 shows us that Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek after being blessed by God through Him. The law didn’t come until Moses who is a distant descendant of Abraham.  Moses did not come for well over 400 years later.
                In fact Hebrews tells us that Jesus himself receives our tithes. (Hebrews 7:8) The only thing Jesus ever commended the Pharisees on was paying the tithe. (Matthew 23:23)

    ~God First~

                In case you still felt there was room for doubt let us take a look at the very first sin. Genesis Chapters 1-3. God places Adam and Eve in the midst of a vast and fruitful planet. He plants a Garden in the east with instructions to then take the seed and reproduce the Garden on the rest of the planet. He blesses them with Dominion and Authority.
    All they put their hand to will prosper. He asks one thing in return. He reserves one tree and its fruit. He asks for this to remain His and His alone. This is Adams tithe. He is to take its fruit to God and God alone. He is not instructed not to touch it; that is Eve’s twisting of God’s words. He is instructed not to eat it.
    Essentially, one could determine through looking at the commands given later in scripture, God’s plan was for Adam to bring him the fruits of this tree as tithe, offering, and love. God would fellowship and commune with Adam over this and take time to instruct him in matters of life. Truly God didn’t mind Adam knowing the difference between good an evil. He created and wanted Adam in HIS own image. God wanted Adam to learn from HIM and not through his own experience of good and evil.
    Had Adam left the serpent, stopped Eve from talking to him (since he was there with her), and gone to God… Adam could have asked God about good and evil and He would have told him. Not tithing is always a matter of not trusting God to meet EVERY need, want, and desire. Not tithing is saying: “I’ll do this on my own… for myself... I’ll be my own provider.”

    ~God’s Lease~

                Jesus makes this interesting comparison regarding mans lease over the things of God. God the Father, in this story, is likened to a vineyard owner. He sent servants to the vine dressers who turned to beat and kill them. Then He sent his own Son, who was also killed. Jesus tells us that they will be thrown out, and God will lease the vineyard to others. (Matthew 21:40-42)
    Adam’s first sin is touching that which belonged to God. God created this planet for mankind. He didn’t need a planet. In fact, He has many of them. He created this earth for man. The tithe is man’s mortgage or lease on the planet. This gives man the rightful use of this property. God is the landowner or Leaser. Man is the renter or leasee. When a man or woman fails to bring God His fruit first he is in danger of breaking lease. God serves notice that only curse and death will follow this course of action. Why?
    This lease agreement is an agreement of blessing. To remove yourself from the blessing is to enter the curse by choice. The entire planet is under the curse due to Adam’s disobedience. It is the flow of the world’s system. What is the curse? It was placed into Adam the ability to bless this planet. To be fruitful, multiply, fill up, and subdue.
    Satan has no creative power. All he can do is twist that which God created, just as he became twisted. So then, whatever the blessing does, the curse twists. It was now the curse that would steal, kill, and destroy. Satan has no magical ability to be the thief that steals, kills, and destroys as Jesus warned in John 10:10.  All he can do is to get you to cease co-operating with THE BLESSING and begin to operate The Curse instead. Then he gets you to do things that cause sin, and death through sin, to come into your life. Anytime that the curse is present things will get out of order. The opposite of THE BLESSING will result.
    If the blessing is fruitful the curse will take your fruit, kill your fruit, or twist your fruit into becoming a source of death instead of a source of life. It the blessing multiplies and adds to your life than the curse will divide and take away. If the blessing fills up your life with good things, the curse will remove good things and/or add bad things. If the blessing causes you to prosper and be a subdue, always living as the head and not the tail (Deut 28) than the curse will cause you to become the subdued. If you are being ruled/controlled/subdued than it is the curse working. If you are being ruled by food, drugs, alcohol, or other “vices” than it is the curse working.
    But it doesn’t have to be overt sin. Most of the employees of companies I’ve ever met, heard, or heard of are being subdued by the company they work for. Slavery is alive and well in the USA it just takes the form of being a “slave to the job”. If you don’t work and you take money from the government, either social security or welfare or any other type of money you end up telling people you are on a “fixed income”. Who fixed it? The curse did. You are being ruled by the government and your circumstances. That is the state of a person living in a curse. Anytime you are not the one in control, the curse is active. Unless God is working through you to control a situation the situation will control you. Blessing or curse, you choose. (Deut 30:19)
    It is the blessing, through contact and contract with God, that shields and protects you from the curse. Jesus redeemed us from the curse (Galatians 3:13). It is His blood that keeps us redeemed. He permanently reestablished a covenant between God and Man. This covenant is between God and Jesus so it cannot be broken. It is entered through believing in and on Jesus. Once entered, however, there are terms and conditions.
    Obedience is not about earning God’s protection from the curse. Obedience is about participating in His protection from the curse. I can warn you about the dangerous oncoming traffic but if you fail to heed my warning and walk out into the highway anyway, you could, and probably would, get hurt. God’s commands are to help us do good things that bring life and avoid bad things that bring death.
    Obedience will bring greater degrees of the protection of the blessing. Failing to love your brother may not keep you from heaven when you die, although it could progress to that. However failing to love is a failure to obey and it will cause the curse to operate in your life. So it is with the tithe. It is a connector to God’s ways of doing things. It connects you to His blessing. It is a heart matter, ultimately tithe connects your heart to God’s in a way few other things do. The tithe connects you to trusting God for ALL your provision. By tithing you say in action: My GOD, not my job, provides for me! Failure to tithe is failure to trust. God’s not asking you to give so he can take 10% from you. He is asking you to give so he can bless the 90% and bring more to you by increasing the 90%! I don’t have to tithe, I get to!

    ~Promise of Blessing~

    What is God’s promise if we obey him in bringing in the tithe? God says that he will open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessing we cannot contain. This is the same blessing he gave Adam in Genesis 1:28. It is the same blessing then given to Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20. It is the same blessing listed in detail for us in Deut 28.  The curse is listed there also, but it says right there that it only comes as a result of disobedience. God’s heart and passion is to bless us. Only when we disobey are we forcing ourselves to enter and live under a curse. We leave the protection of the blessing and engage in things that bring curse into our lives. God can’t be blamed for that.
    What happens to a person who fails to pay the rent? I can tell you. I once chose to pay my car note instead of my rent. I thought the car was more important. I ended up living in that car for about 6 months, with a wife and child. Did God want me to live in a car? No He didn’t. Was it His will? Was He trying to teach me something? Was He trying to humble me? No. I was living in a car because I chose not to pay my rent. I chose not to participate in the agreement I had with my “land-lord.” Bad things don’t happen because God willed them. It has not once ever, in the history of mankind, ever, been God’s will for bad things to happen to you. Bad things only happen to you because of your choices, or someone else’s. Even seemingly un-chosen things, like disease, only exist because of mankind’s disobedience.
    God isn’t out to cause bad things to happen to teach you a lesson. He laid it out plain and simple.
    God gives us a clear choice in life. He tells us that there are blessing and cursing, life and death. Then He gives a hint, which is His choice; “Choose Life” (Deut. 30:19). Sounds like a no brainer, but this choice often means obeying God when it doesn’t feel like it’s good. Tithe is a major area for many, but it brings the Blessing.

    ~THE Blessing~

    The blessing of God is the power to get wealth, among other things. It is the power to prosper: spirit, soul, body, mind, financially, socially, etc… In all areas of life, the Blessing invades and creates fruitful environments. The blessing on Joseph saved two nations from starvation. (Genesis 41) The Blessing on Isaac caused him to sow during famine and reap a 100 fold return. (Genesis 26) The Blessing was on Jesus who multiplied fish and loaves for over 5,000 men plus women and children, on two occasions. (John 6 and Matthew 15). Over and over God used blessed people to provide for others. Hebrews 11 lists a hall of fame full of people that obeyed God and operated under the blessing.
                The tithe connects you to the blessing. The tithe is only the beginning. God also promises special blessings for those who gives to the poor (Proverbs 19:17), and He has a special place in His heart for those in need. (Deut 10:17-19) We say that those who give to these classes of people are sowers. S.O.W. = Strangers, Orphans and Widows. In Philippians 4 we learn that giving to an anointed ministry doing the Work of God in the earth connects us to their anointing and increases our account with God.

    ~Heavenly Accounting~

                This brings up another interesting point to consider when tithing and giving. We have an account with God. Jesus referred to it when He talked about storing treasure in heaven. Paul referred to it in Philippians 4. In banking; a checking or savings account is known as a “Demand Deposit Account”. This means you have placed money in deposit there but expect to be able to place a demand on that money at any time. This is how it is with God.
    We add to that account through every act of obedience and giving to God. We place a demand on that account by asking and believing. We place our treasure there through giving and sowing of our time, talent, and treasure. Jesus told a rich young ruler in Matthew 19 that he should give to the poor… the young man didn’t stick around to hear that there was a 100 fold return on that investment. There is no way to ever drain the heavenly account you have because it is increasing beyond the earth’s capacity to use it. This is why God said he could open up the windows of heaven and pour out the blessing which you cannot contain. It is however, available for use at a moment’s notice and with the demand slip called Faith.

    ~Obedience~

    Tithing may be hard at first. I had given off and on throughout my life. When I had rededicated my life to Jesus as Lord and Savior in 2002, I decided that I was going to take Him seriously for the first time in a long time. In my studies I found in the Word that tithing was not optional. I started by giving ten percent of what I had. I noted that within the first month I went from constantly negative in my accounts to having a little left over. I thought that this was quite remarkable.
    I noticed that on months I did not tithe, the devourer came and what I thought I kept I lost. Those months I did tithe, things just went smoother. I later went on to learn about tithing on my gross income and not my net. This required more thought, because I actually had to look at each paycheck to determine what I had made before taxes and deductions. This had the side benefit of knowing what was really happening on my checks and taking control of it. I found out that I could put money in my 401K and less would go to taxes. Essentially I could pay myself instead of the government. I learned this, in part, because tithing on the gross made me think about what I really made and where it was going. I also started to increase in income. I got better raises. I found money in the oddest places. I also found it easier to stay at one job longer. In one instance I really needed money to register a car and God brought more than enough just a week before it was due. Tithing will not always be easy. But it doesn’t belong to you anyway. It is God’s. Make up in your mind right now that tithe comes first no matter what. It comes before food, bills, everything.

    ~Challenges to Obedience~

    For some people that may not be possible. Suppose you are a woman who has just learned about the tithe and you want to obey God. Your Husband (Or wife if you are a man) is not in agreement with this. Find something to give. If you get an allowance, or certain amount to spend for groceries, tithe on that. If you have $5 in your pocket, give some of it to God. Start where you are. You could even challenge the spouse. “We do this for three months. And if we are not better off than we stop.” Many have given this challenge to faithless spouses to have the spouse then say at the end of three months: “Whatever it is… keep it up!!” This is the one and only area God said to test Him in, so test him, let it be a test-imony for your spouse. But you MUST have their agreement or it won’t flow well. If they don’t agree, than tithe on the things you can tithe on. If you are given no money at all to use, tithe your time or talents. Whatever your situation, God knows your heart. Start with what you have. Show yourself faithful and God will do the same. This is a heart matter more than a letter of the law matter.

    ~Proper Tithe~

    There is actually more to tithing than dropping money in a bucket. God actually lays out a method to the tithe. You could say it comes with an instruction manual. This is found at length in Deut. 26:1-15; Specifically in 13-15.
    13 then you shall say before the LORD your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”’
                This was written to the physical people of Israel. What application does this have for those in the new covenant who are the spiritual Israel?

    ~Remove the Tithe~

    First of all we must remove the tithe! This means don’t wait until last minute, after the bills are paid and hope there is some left over to tithe with. The tithe comes first before anything else is paid for or paid on. One great way of doing this, and something I have been doing for a while now, is to actually set up a separate account for the tithe and offering. If your payroll department will allow split direct deposit you can have 10% or more automatically sent to this special purpose account. You won’t even have to think about separating for yourself. You can write a check, take out cash, or use your card, however you normally give from this account knowing the money has already been separated unto God for the work of God in the earth.
    You may want to try doing 12% or 14% as the direct deposit will only use after tax money for the percentage. If you are tithing on your gross you will need a higher percentage to come out right. A little too much is good too because tithing is the starting place of giving not the max. You may want to allow this account to build up so that you can use the excess as an offering amount. Maybe the church has a building project, or maybe you will meet someone God wants you to reach out and bless. You have already set yourself up to participate by letting this account build up on the side. Although most of the big banks don’t have “free accounts” anymore, you could just as easily use a smaller bank, credit union, or online bank for this account, most of those are still free.

    ~Obey God~

    We also see that the tithe must also be accompanied by obedience to other areas of God’s Word. Walking in strife, unforgiveness, or any other area of sin will cancel out the benefits of the tithe. Again looking to Jesus’ words to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:23); He said you ought to have done these (tithe of the first fruits of all their increase) without neglecting the other more weightier matters (Justice, Mercy, and Faith).

    ~Don’t Eat It~

                Do not eat your tithe. This will come as a hard saying, but yes the tithe comes before groceries too. This means you cannot allow a tight month to dictate to you whether or not you will tithe by saying: “Oh well, things are really tight this month… we cannot afford to give this month… God knows our hearts… He understands… we’ll just start again next month.”
    This sounds logical but it is certain death to next month’s finances. Saying this is exactly the same as saying: “God, we don’t really trust you to meet our needs, which includes feeding us. We believe you religiously, but not in practical matters where it counts.” Acting in fear, which is what not tithing is caused by, always connects you to the curse and you will find that next month will be tighter than this month. I know from personal experience that when you feel like you cannot afford to tithe; the truth is you cannot afford not to tithe.

    ~Confess the Tithe~

    This passage also shows us the most important and most overlooked matter in the tithe: Confession. God is not just asking for us to put money in a bucket. That alone doesn’t connect you to the blessing. In fact you can put 10% of your income in a bucket and still not see any blessing, or not get the full effect of it. Tithing is a covenant matter. It connects you to the covenant of blessing. You didn’t get married without using your words to connect you to marriage. You said some things.
    If you open a checking account you will sign a document saying that you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions. Confessing your tithe to God is a way of connecting you to His blessing through tithing. Say some things about it. You may even want to take communion with your family, which is another covenant rite. Take a few minutes together either before church or on pay day and talk about the tithe. You could say something like the following modern version:
    “Jesus; thank you for your sacrifice! Thank you for the cross. Your blood and broken body redeemed us from the curse. Thanks to you we are free from the bondage of sickness, disease, poverty, lack, sin, and death. We were once under a curse which rules the world’s system. Thanks to you, Jesus, we are free! We accept everything you redeemed us from and redeemed us to. We plead your blood over our household. We say we are blessed going in and blessed going out. We are blessed in our bodies and in our bank accounts. We thank you for using us to be a blessing to countless others. We declare divine encounters this month. The windows of heaven are open to us and we are free from the devourer. Thank you. Glory to God!”
    Then pray some. Praise God. Sing some songs or worship. Adore Him. Do this every payday, if not more often. This time of confession, prayer, and praise will open up your mind and thought life to meditate on his word and promises. When disaster strikes and the enemy attacks you will have spent time building inside of yourself a fortress of trust in God. You will be able to say like Paul: None of these things move me (Acts 20:24)! His promise is a land flowing with Milk and Honey. He tells us that land will require faith and fight ([1]). It will not be given to us without a fight. There will be enemies to our progress and increase. We will move on in faith. From time to time people will come along trying to move us off of our land and rightful place. We must stand strong in faith. Temptations, trials, and other distractions will not move a true tither, connected to the covenant of blessing. The money could drain and houses fall down and the tither knows, as God did with Job, that double is coming!

    ~Offering~

    You may also want to consider in addition to your tithe a set offering amount every month. Many long time tithers have gone on to make a 20% or more their minimum. 10% to the church and 10% to ministries and work of God elsewhere. God blesses giving. If you aren’t there yet you could start with $5. Choose, through prayer, a place you want to begin sowing/giving to. Maybe there is a minister that you learn from that isn’t at your church, sow the $5 into that ministry. Maybe there is an orphanage or elderly home that you feel a strong attachment to. Find a place to start, let God lead you.
    Suppose you feel that having too much is a bad thing. It isn’t, God wants to overflow your cup according to Psalms 23. But suppose you do. You see the world hurting and feel bad for wanting too much. Go ahead and believe god for a $1,000,000 a year. Then live on $50,000. That leaves you $950,000 a year to meet the needs of other people. Who told you that you had to keep it? That way you are GIVING 95% of your income and living on 5%! How’s that for Godly math? According to the pattern God shows in the bible, you would not be able to do that long without seeing a significant increase in your income. Go ahead, believe God for TOO MUCH. That is the only way you can participate in meeting the needs of others. That is the principle of 2 Corinthians 9:8. Have too much so that you can have to give.

    “Our purpose for accumulation is distribution!” Pastors George and Terri Pearsons.

    Now don’t take this to mean that you should go give your entire paycheck away today… God may require obedience but He also requires wisdom. Faith comes in the form of seed. You start with the faith you have and work it. Like a muscle or plant, time and patience will cause it to grow. Start where you are, give what you have to give, and watch it multiply over time. Challenge yourself to give more over time, according to your faith. Romans 12:2 says to take time to renew your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve God’s will. This includes His will in the area of Giving. Verse 3 tells us to not think that we are beyond where we are. We should not think we are higher or lower than we are, but judge ourselves soberly. This way we can operate at the level of faith we have, practice it, and push through it like working weights in a gym. This causes us to know where we are in our faith walk with God and it allows us to know where the next level is too.
    If you work 10 pound weights and they are hard at first, work them awhile. In time you find the weights become easier to lift. Soon you can work 20 pounds, then 50. So it is with God. You may find that committing to tithe takes all the faith you can muster. Soon it becomes easier, then routine. Eventually you don’t question it or even think about it, it’s just natural. At first you may find that sowing an extra $5 is hard, but as you pray God begins to show you that you spend $20 a month on random things you don’t need and maybe even didn’t want that much. Maybe the whole $20 is spent on one thing or several things.
    Over time God will ask you to push yourself in this area of giving. Over time he will ask you to set goals for your giving. Just like working weights in a gym; the goals will seem tough at first and become easier over time. I know one man who committed to giving in every church service he attended, even if it was just $1 he gave every service. Soon he was giving Sunday and Wed and special events. He progressed to a set amount, say $5 each service. Last I heard he was sowing $100 each service and was looking to increase that. His life and business has increased exponentially over time and there is a direct correlation between his increase in giving and his increase in life at every turn. The increase in giving always came before the increase to his financial life.
    Decide for yourself where you are in life. Pray it out. Remember that there is no condemnation in God (Romans8:1). So if you feel bad for not being able to give what you want to, you are on the wrong track.
    2 Corinthians 9:7 says:
    7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
                So pray it out, find what you have peace about in your heart, not your head! Give cheerfully. Every time the offering basket comes by your hand, even if you are not giving in that service, you may even want to practice saying: “I LOVE to give!” It will help build inside of you the heart of a giver.

    ~Where does my tithe go?~

                This will make the hair of some pastors’ neck bristle: Wherever God tells you. As we see in Deut 26 the confession of the tither is that the tithe was given to the Levite (Pastor/Ministries), Stranger (people who either don’t have or don’t know about their covenant with God and therefore can’t fend for themselves), Fatherless/Orphans and Widows, together make up the class of people who also can’t fend for themselves and need special help. In Israel, and the way the society was structured by God in Israel, the Church/Synagogue was the primary, if not only, source of help for these classes of people. If your church is strong in the areas of helping strangers, orphans, and widows, it may be appropriate to give all your tithe to your local church and allow them to further distribute that money to the needs of others.

    It is clear from the order that the ministry actually comes FIRST in line for who should be benefiting from the tithe. But if your Church, for whatever reason, is not currently engaged in helping the strangers, orphans, and widows, it could be completely appropriate to divide that tithe and send some to support the ministry of the Word and the rest to other ministries, groups, organizations, etc that do these other functions. Over the years I’ve had two jobs at once sometimes, and therefore two sources of tithe.

    Watch this video about one such ministry that operates on days outside of Sunday: The Joseph Storehouse:

    Sometimes Giving to one ministry will help you impact others. Because that ministry goes on to distribute to those in need. Here is another such case:


    One day I had my tithe all ready in the form of cash, being a server at night at the time. I was ready to put it in the envelope and send it to the basket and I got the distinct impression I should not. At first I started to rebuke the devil who would block me from tithing… but I heard God say: “No, it’s My Money, I’ll decide where it goes! Hold on to it until after service and I’ll send you to someone.” Well this was interesting, and I had a meeting scheduled with a man who was in ministry himself outside of Church and I thought to myself “Well of course, it’s got to be for his ministry.” Well, as it turns out, that man wasn’t able to make it. But as I sat in the building after service praying about this word from earlier in service a fellow member of the congregation who I knew from the usher team walked up to say hi, as he often does. We talked about recent events and he shared how God has been using him outside of the four walls on Sunday to do ministry down in the most poor areas of Fort Worth doing street ministry and prayer with the people there. They even started a midweek church that he helps. He didn’t have the finances or the official training, but he was a doer of the Word and not a hearer only and he began working down there. Well people are getting healed, and saved, and crime has already gone down. He’s gotten death threats from the crime bosses because the young ones he’s getting saved aren’t working for them anymore, but he’d protected by God and working with what he has. Immediately that Word rose up in me: “Sow into this man’s ministry.” I told him briefly about how God prepared me that morning to give to someone he would bring across my path and that God had just told me he was the one. I was able to give him what God had told me to lay aside that morning. I was a conduit for God’s work. Strangers, Orphans, and Widows were being ministered to. I heard Kenneth Copeland say, many times: “God WILL tell you to give, but he may not tell you to give to this ministry. Find out from God where you are supposed to be sowing and sow there. That will bring the blessing to pass in your life.
    The point? Where does the tithe Go? Religion tells you that it always must go to your Church. I submit to you that it goes wherever GOD tell you to put it, it’s HIS money. It will always be to support Ministry of the Word, or to support those in need.  

    ~Reminders~

    So remember, tithe is not optional, giving is a connection to the blessings of God. Giving causes increase in your life. Tithe on your gross income, put God first; secure your lease and connection to the blessings of God. Fill your heavenly account. Remove the tithe immediately and separate it from your other money. Walk in obedience in other areas of life. Don’t eat the tithe. Confess the Word of God over your giving. Finally pray about what God would have you to do in order to participate in giving. Pray about how much, and where it should go, and how much over and above your tithe.

    The preceding was adapted from a chapter of my book “Banking Basics for Believers”.



    [1] Joshua 1, 1 Timothy 1:18 & 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7






    Have questions about anything I said here? Want to share your story? Comment Below!

    I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!


    N2 Good SuccessDarrell G. Wolfe
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