5 Ways You Can Tithe When Money Is Tight

    It’s no secret that for several years now, our country’s economy hasn’t been doing so well. I’m sure that many of you have seen worry on your parents’ faces as they try to make the household income stretch to cover all the needs of your home and family. Thankfully, we serve a God who wants to provide for the needs of His children, but what about tithing when we don’t have much (or any) money?

    Tithing is a biblical principle taught in both the Old and New Testaments. One of the most famous verses involving tithing comes from Malachi 3, verse 10.

    “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’”

    God is telling the Israelites that if they’ll bring 1/10 of their livelihood to the temple to help build God’s kingdom and provide for His people, then He will pour out blessings on them until they’re full to overflowing. In Luke 6:38, Jesus seems to confirm this message from Malachi.

    “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

    Tithing is an important principle in God’s kingdom and it’s also meant to be a sacrifice on our part. It’s how we help fund ministries at our churches and how we contribute to provide, not just for God’s people, but for anyone who finds themselves in need. Money isn’t the only way we can tithe though; check out this list of 5 ways you can tithe when money is tight.

    • Go through your closet. Do you have clothes you don’t wear anymore? Check to make sure they’re clean and in good condition, then take them to the Goodwill or to your church if they have a ministry that helps clothe the less fortunate. My husband and I recently gave away tons of clothes and jackets to a local church ministry. Don’t just give away stuff you think is ugly or doesn’t fit; give away stuff that’s still good. You’ll be amazed at what a blessing it is to provide something nice for someone your age to wear.
    • Go through your pantry. If your family has enough food and it won’t be a burden on your parents to replace what you take, then load up a couple of grocery bags with food (stuff that you’d want to eat!) and donate it to a local food bank or church food ministry. Many parents in our own cities are worrying right now about how they’re going to feed their children tonight. Your donation could change that.
    • Work for your church, for free. Could your church use some help keeping the bathrooms clean? Could you spare an hour to run a vacuum through the church sanctuary? Could you organize a group of people to provide a free car wash in your church parking lot? A little bit of help goes a long way, so offer to do some cleaning, typing, etc. at no charge.
    • Give sacrificially of your time. We’re all busy. If you’re anything like me, your time is very precious to you and very tightly scheduled. Consider taking some of that precious time and donating it somewhere. I’m going to start soon by donating my time to read stories to children at the local library. How can you give sacrificially of your time?
    • Tithe against fear. Is there something you’ve wanted to do for your church, but you’ve been too afraid? Well when you don’t have cash, it’s the perfect time to give God your fear and do that thing He’s put on your heart, but that you’ve been too afraid to step out and do. What better way to honor God than to refuse to be ruled by fear? Give God 10 percent more trust and see how He’ll use you to bless your church.

    Girls, understand that if you get an allowance from your parents, it honors God when you tithe on that. Our tithe (whether it’s cash, time, clothing, etc.) should always be the first thing we deduct from what we have. Your tithe should never be an afterthought; tithes don’t come from “whatever’s leftover.” We honor God when He give Him the best of ourselves and what we have.

    Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord – Leviticus 27:30.

    What are some of your ideas for tithing when money is tight?

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    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit for more on her work. You can also connect with her on and


    1. I must say, I’m kinda annoyed that PI calls all of these things “tithing” Tithing is giving money to your church. Not just clothes or other things. Rather, these things should be called serving. I would also say, that whether or not money is tight, what comes first, a command from God in the Bible, (such as tithing) or making sure we have a little in our wallets. Just like the woman in the Bible who tithed her 1 coin, when that was all she had. Her priorities were straight. Proverbs 11:24

      • So true! God also said he would provide for those who gave what they had! But it is really the thought that counts. God will understand that you are doing this as a tithe, if you really put your heart into it being a tithe. But if your purpose is serving, then God will see this! 😉

        • Hello! It is very inspiring to see fellow Christians trying their hardest to give and serve, but I agree with mmaxim. We must follow commands according to how God commanded them, not our thoughts and feelings (who are we to redefine God’s commands?). We can’t change tithing from money to objects and possessions, just like how we can’t equate murdering humans to killing animals. God defines His laws, and to tithe is to give 10% of your earnings to the church, and in America, earnings is usually money. (Back in the OT, earnings came in the form of produce, animals, and possessions, hence why people tithed items. But today, earnings are money. Tithing is a statement of faith that we are provided for by God, not money. It’s not service and charity, which is another command.) Thank you for reading! Please feel free to question and comment!!

        • Actually it isn’t always the thought that counts. Remember the story in the Bible of the man who was told by the Lord not to even touch the Ark of the Covenant…Well, it was falling from the handles and was about to hit the ground, and the man reached out to try and catch it, and God struck him down right there. He had his heart in it, he had good intentions, but he was specifically commanded by God not to touch it. Tithing 10% of everything we make is a command from God. If we go about it the wrong way, knowing that we are supposed tithe 10% of all our money we make, then we are in essence, disobeying God.

      • I’m super late on this, but I thought I’d receive alerts when someone replies? Maybe that’s a setting I need to mess with.

        Anyways, mmaxim, I never thought about the point you made about the Ark. It’s very interesting! I guess it’s true that while Jesus does look at our hearts, it’s only to check our intentions when we obey, not when we disobey. So the heart part only matters when we tithe (are we tithing out of faith or are we tithing to glorify ourselves like the Pharisees?). The heart part doesn’t matter when we disobey with good intentions because the very fact that we disobeyed is enough. Sin is sin, no matter your rationalization. This was very edifying. Thank you. 😀

    2. Great ideas! My favorite was donating the food to those that don’t have anything. However wouldn’t that be considered community service? In my mind it’s more of a tithe if it’s money. God specifically said give 10%, and that he would bless you for that. If you gave money, if you were tight on money, then God would make sure your needs are provided. However, it IS the thought and time put into the charity, as well as the meaning. Maybe God is trying to open my eyes to new ways and ideas, to tithe with meaning! ;P

    3. Thanks Jenn for that great article! I wasn’t sure what tithing was and how I could tithe without money, but now, I see, that I give my time and some of my possessions that I don’t use to others!

    4. If you don’t get any money, you can’t tithe anyway, since tithing is giving 10% of your money. However, tithing isn’t the only kind of giving God finds honoring. These are great ways to help out and serve God–especially when money is tight. I’m trying to make something, sell it, and donate the proceeds since I have more time to make it than I do money to donate. I’m not done yet, so I don’t know if it’ll work, but as long as it sells for more than $3.10, it’s more money than I put into it and I’ll count it a success.

    5. Hi, there! Please spare me a moment. I would like to point out that giving away possessions, time, service, etc. is commanded, but it is not commanded by the tithing command. When we are commanded to tithe, it is specifically 10% of our income. On a basic level, it is to provide money for your church for ministry, outreach, missions, and salaries (yeah, your pastors and elders depend on your tithe! Num. 18:21 is where the Levites needed tithes because they performed priestly duties instead of typical careers that brought home the bacon). On a spiritual level, it is to tell God, yourself, and others that money isn’t what sustains you. You have more faith in God than in money, so even when you’re broke, you know God won’t fail. Also, God gave you the money, so you’re submitting yourself to Him by admitting that the least you can do is to return 10% of that to His body of saints (the church).

      After you’ve USED the money (on clothes, for example), you can’t donate it as tithe because the church can’t use that to support its employees (at least not very well), which is one of the main reasons for tithing! Same goes for food, time, and fear. All those are things we do under commands to give to the needy and trusting in God, not tithing.

      • I agree. After my dad left, my mom struggled to find a part time job, and even with that income money was tight. She called up an old pastor friend and asked what she should do. He told her to continue to faithfully tithe out of obedience to God. She did, and God *did* provide for her needs. And eventually that part-time job became a full time job! So even when money is tight–if you have an income, you have to tithe it. And you have to tithe your gross pay, not your net pay. Because God is the one who provided the job and sustains you to show up to work and do what you have to do. Nevermind the taxes, it’s still your paycheck for the work you did.

        To not tithe is disobedience, and disobedience has consequences. How those consequences manifest varies from person to person. My ex boyfriend went through a period when he didn’t tithe because he had too many bills/expenses. Things only got worse for him. I can’t help but wonder if God would have turned things around if my ex had trusted Him and tithed. (I’m sure he tithes now–this was years ago.) Anyway, if you do some research you can find out what happened to the Israelites when they didn’t tithe.

        I’m sure the major question here is “But why must it be money?” Well, look at how tight-fisted we are when it comes to money. Also, that money is (or SHOULD BE) put to good use by your church. At the end of the year, we always get a financial report to find out how the money was spent. And yes, tithes and offerings are tax deductible.

        • wow what a great response! It’s so true that God blesses you more abundantly when you tithe- I promise it’s worth it!

        • Wow. Thank you for such an encouraging, personal response. It’s always so amazing not only to read about God teachings but also to see them applied so faithfully in real life. And it’s awesome to see how God came through in the long run. Praise be to His name! 😀 It gives me hope to persevere. Thanks again!

    6. These are WONDERFUL responses, and yes tithing means giving money to the church. BUT I think what Jen was getting at is that if you literally have no money (such as an allowance or job) You can still give of yourself through your time, or other things you believe could be of use to others. However, if you do get money it’s important to tithe. 🙂 I promise God will bless you beyond your wildest dreams if you give much when you have very little! This happened to me in my life, and God sees your sacrifice.xoxo

    7. Thank you Nicole.

      Girls, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to comment before now, but Nicole is correct. My intention in this article was to address the principle (or what is at the heart) of tithing for those who literally have no money.

      Remember, some of the girls who frequent Project Inspired are very young teens who may not receive an allowance or are too young to get a job. They still want to obey the Lord like we do, but don’t have the ability to tithe money. In which case, I believe it pleases the Lord greatly to see the actions of a heart that wants to be, as the Bible says, a cheerful giver even if they aren’t giving money.

      • Hello Jenn,

        Thank you for your well-intended article. I’m sorry that we got so caught up in the biblical logistics of it all. While that is very important, your point is still appreciated and should definitely be applied in obeying God’s command to charity.

        Also, it’s awesome that such young girls are already so involved in trying to encourage and be encouraged amongst other sisters in Christ. 😀 If they’re too young to have income, then that simply means that they have nothing to tithe with, which is fine. Of course, Christmas money and such can still count if they really wanna drop that check into the box. Anyways, thank you so much for clarifying. And I completely agree that we should seek to be charitable no matter how broke we are. Haha.

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