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A Different Perspective


I posted several weeks ago about my Glamping Budget expectations, but I have been putting some thought into it think I want to change my perspective.  Before you jump down my throat, hear me out.

I wrote the budget anticipating income from two part time jobs, a small amount from child support and adoption assistance for the twins.  But two things, one of my part time jobs has thusfar been unreliable in producing hours (like 3 weeks with no hours) and two part of this move is to let me get on my feet, build a consulting business and save for the future.

So, since our overhead is going to be SUPER low, I have been thinking that I should budget my percentage rather than by actual number.  Ok, I don’t actually have a plan yet, but what are your thoughts.

It would look something like this I suppose and as any income came in it would be divided up based on these percentages.

Saving – 35%

Debt – 35%

Living – 20%

Giving – 10%

A little more of my thoughts on this:

Saving – when our Glamping time is over, I have to have a substantial amount of money to get us into something new, whatever and wherever that may be, having this savings is very important.

Debt – obviously need to pay off debt, big time!  So don’t want to slow down on that, but this would balance paying on debt with saving, and using percentages would leave no question of what to do on months I earn more, which I hope will come soon.

Living – In an ideal world, I think you are supposed to be able to live on 30-40% of your income, right?  Because our rent/utilities are going to be covered for the time being, I think we can live on significantly less, in fact, I’m wondering if we could live on less than 20%, but this seems safe for now.

Giving – I know many would say don’t give in the situation you are in, but frankly, we have been given so, so much that I cannot, cannot NOT give, so this is staying.

So with my regular income the last few months being right around $2,000 per month that would break down as:

Saving – $700

Debt – $700

Living – $400

Giving – $200

Breaking things down this way, really tell me I have got to get more work!  But aside from that, what are your thoughts on budgeting by percentage rather than by actual number? 



  • Reply TENN |

    The living number seems low. Based on your previous post this number would have ~$1600 with many fixed costs. Unless the $1600 number was for three months? Storage and insurance alone accounted for $250 of your budget. Does the $400 include food?

    • Reply Hope |

      I don’t think I was clear…I was using the $2000 to give an example, not as actual numbers. The thought behind this post was that all income would be broken up into percentages and then allocated based on the percentages.
      Bills would then be paid based on due date/priority, etc, savings would start to grow for whatever the future holds and then we would live on the rest.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    Where did you get the idea you were supposed to be able to live on 30 – 40% of your income.

    Here in Canada, income taxes and other payroll deductions (employment insurance, socialized pension, socialized health) take about 30%, and ideally you should save 10%, so that means you should live on no more than 60% of your income.

    I know that your housing cost should be about 30% of your income, maybe that’s where you got that number. But I can’t imagine living on less than 50% of my income unless I was an executive getting a super large income.

    • Reply Hope |

      You may be right, I’m not sure why I had that in my head.
      My thought is that since my income is variable and not necessarily scheduled, that any monies I receive would be broken up by these percentages and thus I would start saving for whatever is next, pay bills based on due dates and priorities and live frugally on the remainder.
      Rather than allocating so much to living and not focusing on savings.

  • Reply Walnut |

    I assume the first few months of the “giving” budget will be instead aimed at back rent and other payments you owe? At times in the past when my ability to give cash has been low, I always stepped up my time spent. It seems like you’re in a better position right now to give of your time than of your cash.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Walnut,
      Yes, I give back ALOT of time, maybe too much right now. But that will turn this coming week as I really buckle down and focus on work as this move gets put behind us.
      I just know that so much has been given to us and we are so much better off than many. I know everyone looks at us through this blog as impoverished and ‘homeless’ but we are SO RICH in so many areas and truly don’t feel ‘poor’ in so many respects. I guess that is one reason I really feel the need to give back as I can.

      • Reply Walnut |

        So your ultimate goal is to foster/adopt more kids right? Every dollar you spend on something other than to securing your long term future puts you one more month away from that goal. You have an amazing heart and the value of your heart, time and love to a future foster child is worth SO MUCH MORE than $200 per month donated.

  • Reply Janelle |

    The living percentage seems low, particularly with 5 people. Also, I understand the desire to give back, but right now it seems you’re in a pretty precarious position to be doing so. But rather than gut that completely, I’d consider reducing it to 1% and reallocating the dollars to your living expense percentage.

    • Reply Hope |

      I can definitely appreciate this perspective. And I appreciate the compromise of lowering the percentage for the time being but still giving me a bit of flex when the need arises. Definitely something to consider.

  • Reply Klm |

    I agree with Walnut here. It’s great that you want to keep giving. I think everyone knows that you are a generous person (almost to a fault, I’d say!). But I don’t think you have this in your financial budget– I mean you had to stop payment on your last rent check. Please consider giving if your time and talents, rather than your money. You can always “make up for it” in the future when your finances are more stable.

    • Reply Marzey doats |

      I like this idea. Why don’t you treat the money you want to “give” as a debt that is accruing. Kind of like a pay it forward thing. Honestly, I think it is a little disrespectful to be using the money you are saving on rent to be giving to someone else. Your hosts are giving that momey to *you* to get *you* on your feet. It isnt right for you to take that and give it to someone else. Anyway that is how I would feel as your host. Always wishng you the best of luck!

      • Reply Hope |

        I understand your perspective. I am very grateful that our hosts do not feel that way. It is actually something they know about me very well.
        I am definitely open to reconsidering how much I ‘give’, but it is important to me to give. Nothing helps keep things in perspective during both good and bad times as reaching out a hand to help others.
        Currently, I am a volunteer volleyball coach, robotics team coach and help a couple of non-profits, so I am happy to give my time. But there are times, when just being able to buy another mom a cup of coffee and listening ear would be nice. So I will revisit my percentages, but since we are being SO BLESSED…well, I think I’m beating a dead horse, aren’t I?

    • Reply Hope |

      I know you are right as far as our current financial perspective. I will definitely reconsider the percentages and their allocation as we move into this situation in a couple of days.

      • Reply Mia |

        Save the church donation separately. If you don’t need it when the time comes, then you’ll have a nice lump sum to donate all at once 🙂

  • Reply Shauna |

    Your giving needs to be in time and talent right now. I know if I gave someone money to help get them on their feet, I would be flummoxed to find they were giving it elsewhere. I think giving 10% is awesome when you can actually care for your family. But you are very talented and giving of your time and talents is far more valuable than $200. Can you tutor at an ESL program or literacy program, help with animals at a shelter, sort food at a food bank, work on IT for a non-profit? Most of those can also be done with your kids. And the value of those things far exceed the $200 you can budget for giving right now. Once you are settled in a better situation, you can start working your way up to giving 10% of your income. Best wishes!!

    • Reply Hope |

      Hey Shauna,
      The actual money numbers were more example than actual numbers, I think that has thrown everyone. It was actually just a way to allocate income as it comes in.
      We do give back ALOT of time, it was a requirement for each of us this school year to give back 10 hours a month, we easily exceed that every month with all the volunteer work we do – train dogs at the humane society, docent at the historical colonies, technology for non profits, babysitting kids in foster care, coaching sports and robotics team and the list goes on.
      I will revisit the percentage allocation as we move into this next phase of our lives.

  • Reply Katie |

    I think the amount for living expenses is unrealistically low. You need a budget, but it really should be based on actual numbers, not percentages. The fact is s family of 5 with 100K/year income still has some of the same expenses as a your family with your income (which you’re putting at 24K/year). I think trying to adhere to the numbers you’ve outlined is setting yourself up to fail.

    • Reply Hope |

      The numbers were more for example than as a real budget. I just think that allocating all income by percentages and then applying appropriately will get me closer to where I need to be…especially savings wise. Make sense?

  • Reply T |

    You just stop paid a rent check because you don’t have enough money to feed your kids, you are behind on other bills, you won’t pursue your ex for child support and you are *thisclose* to being homeless. With 4 kids. And you still plan on giving away money? And not applying for corporate jobs with benefits?

    Whatever Hope.

    This site needs a new contributor who is grounded in reality. NEXT.

    • Reply Hope |

      I have been applying and interviewing and travelling all over the country looking for corporate work, willing to give up alot to take a job…I have not gotten one and it’s not for lack of trying.
      Pursuing my ex would do NO good when he was unemployed…thankfully, he is not and has given some money EVERY week for the last month.
      You see a VERY SMALL part of my world, very small.
      My kids are strong, healthy, happy and well fed. They’ve never gone without eating or without anything they need. They enjoy many activities, sports and an abundance of attention from their parents.
      Do we live in a mansion no, do we want to no…I don’t want to clean one. Could I have made different decisions, earlier on, yes. But hasn’t every failed at some point. I am VERY GROUNDED in reality, I am the sole provider for 4 children, the sole housekeeper, the sole chauffeur, the primary educator and the sole cheerleader. I wear many hats and if you met my children, you would say that I am rocking this reality.
      So yes, it’s a hard time financially, it probably won’t be the last, but we are good and continue to make progress and move forward, I am sorry you can’t see that.

      • Reply Klm |

        Well, to be fair, we only know what you tell us. I didn’t know you were traveling all over…. Last I knew some jobs didn’t work out and you were going to work on your business. I didn’t know your ex was pitching in. Posting regular income/expense and debt updates might help.

    • Reply Anon |

      I agree wholeheartedly with this comment. I am astounded that Hope continues to be a blogger on this site. I’m so close to leaving the site for good because I am so agitated every time I see a post from Hope that tries to justify poor life decisions. There are so many excuses, discrepancies, and appalling actions. Yes Hope is a kind, loving mother and person. Yes she has had some bad luck and hard times. But her story does not belong on this blog. Those who support her can follow her on her personal blog and for the rest of us who are truly interested in practical, appropriate, and worthy content, we can find a new blogger to join Ashley that is worth following.

  • Reply Judi |

    I think I am going to be in the minority but I think it’s a great idea for you to give (to anyone who is reading yes I’ve followed hopes story and know the details). Making giving a priority during debt repayment helped us live below our means consistently, allowed us to maintain a positive attitude of gratitude during the debt payment and kept us focused on financial wellnes (investing in people vs things). Good for you hope in raising yourself above your current situation. You’ll get there and I’m glad many have helped you on your journey!

    • Reply T |

      Giving during debt repayment could be justified. Giving during near homelessness while unemployed is complete irresponsibility. It’s stuff like THIS that made her father stop helping. He finally realized that it would *never* end.

      • Reply Hope |

        We are NOT HOMELESS. Please don’t insult homeless people by comparing what they go through with what we are doing. They are very, very different. And if you don’t recognize that, then there are much bigger problems in society than even I know.
        As for my father…well, I’ve already responded to that one in another comment.

      • Reply Judi |

        Hope is talking about giving money to charity! I hardly think that calls for personal attacks. If you don’t like her story don’t follow it. If you don’t like her budget, instead of hostile statements that don’t help anyone, make an outline of how you think she should budget with reasons why you would allocate the money in a different way. Seriously, I’m surprised Hope shares anything with how quickly people attack her over any detail she shares. Hopes story isn’t the saintly narrative that we all expect of a contrite person who worships Dave Ramsey, but it still has value. This is personal finance and we all travel our own road. I gave to charity when we were barely making ends meet, and it helped me really budget because I didn’t want to take money away from others (it was the first part of the budget to be dropped if we went over). Now we’re out of debt and excelling financially.

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you, Judi!
      As I meet with a group of single moms every couple of weeks, we have all found that when we commit to helping others, we have a more positive outlook on life in general. Not to mention, when things are hard, the best way to ‘shake the funk’ is to get involved in someone else’s life and lift them up…thus our group.
      Stepping outside ourselves, however that happens, changes our perspective and encourages us to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  • Reply ginsue |

    i agree with others that you should be focusing on cleaning up the mess that you are leaving behind at the apartment complex. as for giving, you are just too cash poor to give actual money. like others have said you have plenty of time and expertise so give in those ways instead. the reality of the situation is that you are homeless. i know that you have tried to put a good spin on it but that is the cold hard reality. all debt payments should be bare minimum until you are in a new home. your living expenses are way too low since you were spending $400 just on food. what about gas, insurance, phone? once again your numbers make it seem that you are living in some kind of la-la land. i have to say that i feel sorry for your father, i’m sure he feels powerless because here you are once again in a homeless situation and he can not bail you out this time.

    • Reply Klm |

      Dude, no need to drag up personal stuff. That’s harsh. There’s plenty of room for criticism, constructive or not, without your supposed pity for her dad.

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        Agree. Plus, having read her personal blog he really is no saint, IMO.

    • Reply Hope |

      Feel sorry for my father…you have no idea how much bile rises in my throat at that statement. I have chosen to forgive and forget the past, but make no mistake my father’s lies to me contributed GREATLY to where we are right now.
      And the cold hard reality is that we are NOT HOMELESS, we have a unique and wonderful housing opportunity that in reality many pay thousands and thousands of dollar to experience. Other than my rent now and one other bill, we are not behind on anything. And our cost of living is going WAY down.
      As for my dad “bailing” me out…I have supported my family by myself for almost 10 years now with my consulting business. The only reason we were in a house he owned for 4 of those years was due to his insistence and supposed desire to go into real estate, yada, yada. I am SO over people saying that. I could have EASILY gotten a different rental house at that time. And probably would have moved away from this expensive area. But I will not revisit that. But PLEASE leave my dad out of it.

  • Reply Kerry |

    I think you are trying to obfuscate your finances as a way of not dealing with them and also as a way of not paying attention to the BAD readers.

    But I agree with Shauna–you have no money to give. You’re essentially homeless. You have little money coming in, and the situation is dire. At this point, forget about playing Lady Bountiful and take care of your own.

    • Reply Hope |

      I have no idea what ‘obfuscate’ means. Believe me, I am dealing with my finances as I do every single day as the sold provider, sole decision maker. There is no hiding from them as much as I would like too sometimes.
      As for money coming in…I have two part time jobs, child support for the littles and adoption assistance for the twins…and as of Friday, my cost of living is going WAY DOWN. Things are looking up, way up for us.
      So what I am trying to do is figure out how to capitalize on this room to breath and make the BEST financial decisions with the money that comes in.

  • Reply anon |

    I would go by number, not percentage. The reason being, you need to account for the bare minimum it costs for you to live. The percentages are pointless if you’re not making enough to cover your expenses. And, if you make a lot of money one month, does that mean you’re suddenly going to spend extra on food? No, you should be using that for debt and an emergency fund. Some line items are fixed costs and it doesn’t make sense to adjust it with income fluctuations. I think maybe going by percentage makes it easier for you to accept your low income, but I think it’s allowing you to ignore the problem. You had a bare bones glamping budget of nearly 1600 a month (plus laundry costs), not accounting for debt or savings. So how do you expect to get by on only 400? Also as far as giving, I think you should change your mindset. Why not “give” to your children by giving them a strong financial future? Why not “give” to yourself by taking care of you and your financial obligations? Your kind heart is an amazing quality, but I think sometimes you’re so focused on helping others you forget to help yourself. Think of how good it will feel to give back when you truly can afford it. Don’t feel guilty– you are allowed to accept help without feeling obligated to pay it forward right now. You are worth it. You can pay it forward when you’re able to. Right now you owe creditors and your former apartment, and it’s just not fair to help others by withholding this money you rightfully owe in favor of giving it away. So why not look at paying your obligations as giving? You say you cannot not give but the reality is, you just don’t have the money to do this. This gift of glamping is an amazing blessing in your life and I feel like you’d be squandering it by further digging yourself into debt.

  • Reply Mya |

    Hi just looking at your minimal budget and going off your wants and needs my suggestion would be to do this. Forget about percentages for now. Pay minimums only on your debt until you have more money coming in. At least this way you are maintaining and not falling behind. Saving and necessities should be a priority. You have to feed, house and clothe 4 children as well as yourself. Saving because you will eventually need to move out and do not want to be gaining anymore debt in your precarious position. As for giving that is your personal choice. If you feel you have to give even a nominal amount is a great contribution but it shouldn’t be above what is necessary for you to survive until your finances improve.

  • Reply Jay |

    You seem like a very kind and compassionate person. But I have to say that your #1 priority has to be doing a budget post camping and finding out how much money you need to support your family, then creating a REAL plan to get yourself there. Lookup SMART goals(its really helpful for me)

    I know that you say that you have traveled looking for work but its time to be totally honest with yourself. Finding full time work(from what you have written) does not come out high in your priority list. Why do I say that if it sounds harsh? Because of many of your comments. The Church secretary position didn’t sound fulfilling, the out of town job didn’t sound appealing, a position that required you to work from an office required a new wardrobe, etc etc Plus you have booked so many activities and homeschooling that a full time 9-5 job really doesn’t even seem feasible. Even resurrecting your consulting business did not seem like it was because you felt it would be the most profitable way to support yourself, it was because it fit in with your lifestyle(that’s just based on your comments).

    You can argue with the blog readers, but that’s not really my goal. I really hope things do work out for you and your kids, and good luck. This has to be an extremely trying time and the last thing you want to hear is criticism I’m sure – but you really need to get a plan or else you are going to find yourself in this same position time and time again.

    You seem like a very kind hearted, loving, giving, caring person. This is just about finances, which is unfortunately a big part of life.

    • Reply Parul jain |

      I have been following Hope’s story right from the beginning and this is by far the best constructive feedback I have seen for her. It is very easy to go Anon and be rude and harsh. I am all praises for Hope for being so strong and calm in her journey and putting it all out there. and I do understand her struggles as a single mom. It is so so difficult to find a support system as a single mom. But what Jay said is so right.

  • Reply Ginger |

    I’ve got to be honest, Hope. I’m a little confused by your post. You asked for reader feedback, and when they give you their opinion, you get angry and/or start justifying your numbers.

    While some readers have been a bit harsh, I think most of the feedback has been on point. At this time, you just don’t have the resources to give back as much as you would like. I love that you have a big heart and want to give. I know that is how you were raised and is the lens in which you go through life. That’s great. I just think you can’t do as much as you would like right now. Once you have no debt, a full emergency fund, a home with a sizable down payment, THEN help others out.

    But please do not dig yourself further into the hole you’re already in. People who are financially successful have realized that they need to fully and forcefully make their own way before they give back to others. I know you already give back in other ways, and that is enough for now. Your kids need you to fully provide for them before you give away to others, and paramount of everything is stable housing. You’ve been a trouper through this whole experience, and have managed to make lemonade out of lemons with your housing situation. But realistically, you are very, very close to being homeless. I know it doesn’t feel that way, but it’s the truth.

    Despite being financially necessary right now, your housing situation is a great opportunity to quickly shore up your financial base given that you have no housing costs. Use this time wisely by make great strides in your savings goals. If you skip financial tithing and put that to a house down payment, you’ll be that much closer to your dream of taking on more foster kids.

  • Reply Mindy |

    While I appreciate your willingness to share your story and some of the difficult choices you are facing, your posts often leave me utterly confused….by your choices, by your writing, and by your responses to those who respond to your posts. A few points for consideration…

    *This post is to explain your changed perspective from dollars to %. Instead of basing the % on actual figures, you used “examples” rather than actual numbers. Why? You need a budget based on actual projected income and actual projected expenses (which, as I recall include some hefty laundry fees unless you’ve worked something out there.) If you have this, use it for your posts. If you don’t, figure it out. I realize there may be variables, but geez louise, it seems like a lot of confusion could have been avoided here had you not used random #s.

    *It’s my understanding that you WERE looking for corporate work, but decided against that in favor of rebuilding your personal business because you can’t be away from your children the amount of time that a corporate job would require. This post suggests that you are still going all over looking for corporate work. Which is it?

    *You refer here to yourself as the sole chauffeur . I thought you bought one of the older boys a car and contributed to gas expenses for him. Is he not assisting with shuttling siblings to activities to allow you more time for work? Or perhaps his driving privileges limit passengers based on age at this point? I know this may vary from state to state

    *Debt – On the one hand it seems like you are behind on a lot of bills, then you say it’s rent and one bill. I know the comparisons to Ashley can be frustrating, but one thing she consistently gets right in her posts is clarity. We can fairly easily follow along with what she owes, to whom, and how much progress she’s making on each goal. I have no sense of how deep in debt you really are and sometimes wonder if you even have a handle on it.

    *The giving. I admire your desire to give back in light of all that you’ve been given. But why do you place so little value on your non-fiscal contributions? Have you ever tried associating a dollar amount with what you and your family do? Maybe then you would see that you are already doing enough for this season in your life or that the value of your time is much more than you would be able to donate in cash.

    *It seems like you have had to have some difficult conversations with your children – about giving away stuff for which there is no room and pets that you could no longer afford – but have you had a conversation with them about what they really need and want? I’m not saying abdicate your responsibility as a parent to make choices for your family, but is all that they are giving up (namely stability) a fair trade off because you want to give up time with them?

    *”I don’t know what obfuscate means” – really? You couldn’t take two seconds to look it up? I’m not sure if that comes across as more lazy or petulant to me.

    *The “don’t jump down my throat comment” – If you don’t want the feedback, don’t post. Sometimes I feel like the readers are more invested in your success than you are. You always seem to have the best of intentions, but your inability to think things through is cause for concern. It leads to constantly changing plans of action – we’re going to buy a house, we’re going to move, we’re going to stay, we’re going to live in a camper – I’m getting a corporate job / I’m getting a part time job / I’m going to rebuild my business – that seem to be more driven by you than what life is throwing at you. I don’t know if this is your standard operating mode or a reaction to the stress of your situation, but it would seem to make forward momentum difficult. As someone who has been in human services, for 20+ years I read your posts and think “someone get this woman a case manager STAT”. I don’t know who in your life might be able to do that for you, but if there is anyone (perhaps a former colleague as I seem to recall you were in human services previously) please reach out to them. With a little more focus, I think you can do great things.

    Thank you for your willingness to share your journey with us. Best of luck!

    • Reply debtor |


      I haven’t posted in a while. Please take the time to really think about what Mindy just posted. She raised some valid points. It’s hard not to get defensive when some of the other readers say things that are just attacks but I think Mindy raised a lot of their concern in a non-confrontational way so try to digest this.
      I’ve said this before – your biggest problem is follow-through. Make a plan – ANY PLAN – and stick to it. Yes, you have had some unforeseen situations come up but if you had been a bit more stable, you would have been able to adjust the plan in one way or the other to accommodate it. it just feels you are always on to the next big plan and spend so much time coming up with them but not doing.
      To answer your specific question, I think percentages work only when your income is at a point that it covers your basic needs. It doesn’t sound like you are there yet. For now you need hard numbers and then maybe you can use the percentage method for anything that comes in over you base budget.
      Like someone said, I don’t see why you don’t value your time. Is giving $10 to the red cross or any other place more valuable than teaching an adult to read? Why then do you feel like you are lacking if your donation is not in cash? I don’t think you have to be rich to give, but you should at least be able to pay rent. Even the poster upthread that giving kept her on track mentioned that it was the first thing to go when her finances go down.
      Hope, you have done SO much, have been through SO much but don’t let that make you feel entitled to feeling sorry for yourself. You are setting examples for your kids now and establishing THEIR money habits. I really think you should find a job for the meantime if consulting is not working out so great.
      Finally, you would avoid a lot of misunderstanding if you posted more financial info. Are you cautious of posting in public? I don’t think anyone has an idea of what your entire debt situation looks like (do you?) and what your income looks like. You post these dramatic posts about how you couldn’t pay x or y and when people assume that it means you are in dire straits you get upset/offended. Can you see the disconnect?

      I really want you to get out of this and with college looming for the twins I think it’s high time you stuck with one thing!

  • Reply Denise |

    You are not Robin Hood and this isn’t Sherwood Forest. It isn’t okay to steal from the rich to give to the poor and so you have no business giving financially until you repay the landlord that you stole a month’s rent from, as well as your other debts. I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but there are other ways to do good work (e.g. donating time and knowledge) without giving out money that you, frankly, don’t have.

  • Reply Hope |

    First off, I truly appreciate the considerate, thought out responses to my question about whether changing from a line item budget to a percentage based budget was a good idea. Based on the responses, it seems the answer to that simple question is a no.
    My thoughts were that since 1) my primary focus after tomorrow is to build my business so am anticipating a pretty steady positive change in my income level, 2) my income is/has been and will probably continue to be pretty variable due to the nature of the work and 3) I do have alot of control over what I output right now since my overhead will be very low that dividing the income based on percentage and then allotting it was a good move to keep me on track.
    Obviously, from the comments, the only thing readers focused on was that I wanted to designate a small percentage of my income as giving. I felt led to do this based on two things primarily 1) as a Christian it is what I have been taught and believe is in direct line with my faith ( I will not turn this into a sermon on that, if you are a Christian you will be familiar with this concept, if you are not, you would not agree at all.) and 2) We have been given so, so much, not just in these past few months of need but in general. While our bank account wouldn’t meet the world’s standards for being rich, we are, we truly are in all the ways that matter. We are joyful and happy and excited about this adventure.
    We move tomorrow. I will read back over the constructive comments and firm up my plan for this stage in my life next week. Thank you for those who have been kind and really given me some points to think about rather than attacking me.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      Slightly off-topic, and perhaps a bit nitpicky, but as a non-Christian I found your presumption that non-Christians wouldn’t understand or agree with giving to be offensive. It really came across as snotty and judgmental. Christianity doesn’t corner the market on generosity. If you were talking SPECIFICALLY about tithing, then you should have been more specific. (And, it’s possible that other religions have tithing under a different name.)

      • Reply CanadianKate |

        As a Christian, I agree with Jen and Mindy (below).

        Hope: It is acceptable to state that this is your personal belief and where it comes from, but to assume that people who don’t share your beliefs cannot possibly understand sounds condescending and a bit close-minded.

        In your focus on Christ, you are missing entirely that tithing 10% is not a Christian commandment but a Hebrew one. As a Christian you are not bound, or limited, by that commandment. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Jesus said (Matthew 6:21), perhaps you are called to accept the blessings of your host, and put the extra money into your calling, your children, until you are on your feet again.

    • Reply mindy |

      “I will not turn this into a sermon on that, if you are a Christian you will be familiar with this concept, if you are not, you would not agree at all.” What the hey diddle diddle? Why go there? That statement seems to be a rather unnecessary assumption about this blog’s readers.

    • Reply Shosh |

      Hi hope,

      Wow, I was raised in full style Evangelical rhema aka Kenneth copeland style church and let me tell you you come over completely arrogant when you say as. Christian you will be familiar with this concept,
      if not you won’t agree at all. Ok

      Let’s address this 1. You have not paid your rent that’s called stealing,also you felt quiet justified in doing so 2. Where has the lord provided financesfor you to pay rent, as you believe in Tithing which is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.

      The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

      The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

      but having said that you are get housing in RV for free or Glamping you need to understand that morally you can’t do the right thing biblically wrt Tithing until you have met you obligations which in the case of you payinhback rent you which have clearly not done.

      Which leads to.
      “Render unto Caesar” is the beginning of a phrase attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads in full, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.[Matthew 22:21]

      Taking that mean meet you obligations, saving some monies for unexpected times and when
      you can and feel the push to do so ONCE ALL OBLIGATIONS ARE MET AND NOT A MOMENT BEFOREHAND then by all means available do so

      Please note that you assume that non Christians won’t agree , Wow Hope just ignorance and assumptions that have me hoping mad. I will end this and say that I am not seeing a realistic plan on getting out of debt. You have as others have commented had other opportunities for jobs not matter how trivial or small
      and immediately put your own roadblocks on your path, you need to be realistic and stop tithing until you have six months of monthly income saved and if the lord doesn’t understand then maybe he isn’t your lord and you need a new path

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        Wow – that was a really interesting explanation of where tithing comes from. Thanks! So many times we lack the knowledge to put things from holy books into historical context.

  • Reply Barbolarb |

    Hi Hope,
    My family has had variable income at different times, and the best way we found of budgeting was using a prioritized list of next month’s expenses. As income came it, I put it in the envelope for that expense (both of us were waiting tables and a lot of our income was cash tips). We covered the bare bones basics first, and went as far down the list until the money ran out. Helped us keep the lights on and food on the table, but also some savings going on too. I locked in our concrete numbers (the fixed expenses that wouldn’t change no matter how much money we made, and while we got out of debt our food and recreation were treated like a fixed expense with an allocated amount) Our list ran something like 1. Rent $800, 2. Food $250, 3. Power/Water/Insurance $350, 4. Student Loan/Credit Card Minimum Payments $250, 5. Giving $50, 6. Killing debt payments: As much as humanly possible. For your situation where you want to use this time to bulk up your savings I’d add it in front of item 6. I found it extremely gratifying to fill up those little envelopes one at a time and was really motivated to throw every penny at killing our debt, so I couldn’t wait for the part of the month where I got to toss money into that envelope.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      This seems like a very sensible approach to budgeting with a variable income.

      Another method Hope could use is to apply her percentages to any surplus income that’s above her family’s basic needs.

  • Reply Kiki |

    Constructive criticism is not “attack” Hope, I honestly think it would be good for you to resign from Blogging Away Debt. The dialogue between you and your readers only seems to create stress in your life. To me, it seems to be an obligation in your life for which you just don’t have the time or desire. I think it is time to live a quiet, non-public life and work toward what needs to be done. You can understand why readers become frustrated! Lots of heartfelt advice is given but not received well. I completely understand that you are going through a difficult time, and I sincerely hope that God (I am a commited Christian too!) shows the path He wants you to take. But there is one thing to keep in mind, Hope! The plan may be something that you DON’T want to do! It may be taking the job that requires you to give up homeschooling. It may be a job where you have to wear “corporate clothes.” It may be a job where activities, such as gymnastics, will have to be curtailed.

    Hope, I sometimes feel that you are making a list of what “works for me” and showing that list to God. I always get this feeling that you are fighting and striving against something, but I don’t believe it has to be that way. There is a plan for your life, and God wants to show it to you!

    Best wishes in all that you do.

    And to other readers: Please do not be offended by my comments. These are the personal convictions that I have, and I believe that Hope is of the same persuasion.

    PS I also think that it is OK to cut back on some of the monetary giving at this time!

    • Reply CanadianKate |

      Again, apologies to those who do not use the Gospel as their guide in life. Please skip over my post if you feel there’s no place for Gospel in a financial forum.

      Kiki’s comment made me reflect on last week’s scripture lesson’s (Act 9 Saul’s Conversion and John 21)

      Saul truly believed he was doing what God wanted. It wasn’t that he was unfaithful, he was dogmatically following what he believed was right for him. It took God knocking him down literally to show him the way.

      In both passages, the key people (Paul and Peter) are warned that what they will do for God will not be easy nor what they would choose for themselves. Acts 9:16 and John 21:18.

      If we are to apply these words to Hope, it is still very hard for her to know if she is on the right path or not. Only God will be able to show her the way. I believe strongly that she is responding to God’s calling to care for children.

      Personally, I’m not sure the way she is responding to that call is the correct way, though. Like Saul, she may have the right goal (serving God) but be doing it in a way God didn’t plan.

      Or I could be wrong, and these trials are also part of God’s plan.

      I certainly do not expect that her life will ever materially reflect the abundance God wants for her. Hope realizes and accepts that as well. As for non-material things, I see the abundance of blessings in her life, and rejoice in her ability to see them, even now.

      I also see an over-abundance of stress and worry I don’t think God wants for her. I wonder if God might be trying to get her to let go, and let others serve her. She’s doing that by accepting the glamping option, but there are other times she makes “doing it all herself” the goal, instead of accepting help so that she might serve God’s calling for her more fully.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      FWIW I’m not offended. What I find offensive is when someone makes derogatory sweeping assumptions about those who don’t share the same beliefs, or believes that they are superior to the non-believers.

  • Reply BJB |

    Hope, I admire the energy you’ve devoted to giving your kids a “normal” childhood. I like your goal-based plan. I just have one suggestion: Start by figuring out how much money you HAVE TO HAVE to cover the essentials (food, necessary transportation, whatever applies to your situation). These are the things you CANNOT do without. Then apply your percentages, but only to whatever money is left after the essentials are covered, based on your own priorities. If you don’t fund the necessities upfront, you will be forced to rob your other accounts and defeat your goals.

  • Reply Ashley |

    One thing I might mention is to try to get back to living on last month’s income. That made a HUGE difference for us with our variable income. We ended up using it for living expenses, but we’re slowly working to get it back (in addition to our “normal” emergency fund, which we’re also trying to build up). It’s just another source of savings, but then it makes it pretty easy to budget at the beginning of the month regardless of whether you’re dealing with percentages or actual numbers. Just a thought since it was really helpful in our family.

  • Reply Malady |

    I’ve been attempting to get to living on last month’s income Ashley, after seeing your success with it. It is a challenge to get there at first, and I’m about to move so that has made it more difficult. But, post move that is my first priority.

    Hope, I used to work for the Government here in Australia. Volunteer hours here are rated as being worth $20 per hour for unskilled work, or $45 a hour for skilled labour (machine operator, teacher, trained chef for example).

    Perhaps it would help you to work out the monetary value of what you are already giving, and then adding that as an in-kind cash contribution to your budget, so that you can see within your budget how much you are giving?
    I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t dictate that only cash was an acceptable form of giving – the story of the talents springs to mind.

  • Reply WR |

    There’s an undertone to that generous giving amount. It seems to make Hope feel better about herself because there are people worse of than herself, so her situation can’t be that dire. I agree with other posters that giving can wait and there is more to giving than money. But giving seems like a crutch to Hope, to keep her head in the sand about her own situation. That’s harsh but we all have our blind spots when it comes to understanding our motives.

  • Reply Mia |

    Some of you a very abusive.

    Hope you are well mannered, patient and graceful in dealing with them. Much better than they deserve. Stay strong.

  • Reply Victoria |


    I think what ppl mean is that while you aren’t living-in-the-back-of-a-car homeless, you only have a roof over your head due to the charity of others. You can’t afford to rent a suitable property for your children. You owe past rent and there’s no saying that your landlord is rich. Maybe they would like the choice of giving money to charity, which they can’t because you haven’t paid your rent.
    Same with the food stamps. They’re supposed to feed you when you can’t feed yourself. Not give an allowance to homeschool, gymnastics, not get a proper job, give money away. I’m in the UK and I pay tax that feeds people. Great, happy to do it. But I don’t pay tax for someone to pay for something that I can’t afford because I’m busy paying tax. You seem to be taking money/charity because you feel better placed to spend it, regardless of why it was given to you in the first place. That’s selfish. Maybe I’d like to keep my tax and give it to a charity I believe in, and not yours.
    There has been some really good constructive criticism on this post but this blog is starting to feel a little like a practical joke. How long ppl will keep reading when the ideas and situations in your life become ever more preposterous.

So, what do you think ?