What's Your Biggest Stingy Regret?

There’s a blurry line between frugality and outright miserliness, and everyone comes to their own working definition of how far one can go to save money without crossing that line.

J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy comes clean with some of his greatest regrets, such as trashing the tithing envelopes at church and keeping the “free” return address stickers sent by charities without making a donation.

I always fight through pangs of guilt whenever the pet store asks me to donate a buck to some dog charity when I buy dog food, which probably means I should just start donating to cleanse my blackened heart.

What’s your biggest money regret?

5 Things I Kinda Feel Bad About [Budgets Are Sexy]

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  1. wrjohnston91283 says:

    I don’t feel bad about keeping and using free return address stickers. I didn’t ask for them. It would be wasteful to throw them out.

    • Taed says:

      Same with me. I love to get those occassional coins and even dollars.

      • stevejust says:

        dollars? I generally recycle unsolicited junk mail without reading them. I wonder how many dollars I may have thrown in the recycling bin.

        • RandomHookup says:

          I learned long ago to just go ahead and open all my junk mail. At work, I’ll catch the occasional dollar if someone is trying to get me to complete a survey.

        • quail says:

          Don’t forget, some people send checks that look like “junk mail”. It’s not just the rebate people. When I got a deposit back from a utility once, it came looking like a piece of junk mail. Even though they don’t get to keep the money (unclaimed funds have to go to the state at some point), they do get the interest for the time they hold onto the cash.

        • craptastico says:

          JDPowers just sent me a dollar to fill out a survey about a new car purchase i made a few months ago, and i think i remember them doing it the last time i bought a new car 7-8 years ago. it was a nice new crispy one too.

    • slim150 says:

      plus whenever you do give money you get put on the “list” and you will get letters from everyone asking for money.

    • golddog says:

      I work in the nonprofit sector. Those labels are specifically designed to guilt you in to giving. They have an extremely high cost overhead. Any charity that can afford to roll like that doesn’t need/deserve your money. It’s kinda like hard copy spam.

      • jesusofcool says:

        I too work in the non-profit sector, and therefore, I understand the value of occasional direct mail to target audiences.
        That said it makes me sick to see orgs that use guilt through address stickers or dollar bills to get people to care. Like you said, any charity using strategies like that isn’t using their funding wisely.

        • giax says:

          Everything I get unsolicited in mail gets used (unless it’s really creepy). Sometimes I donate a few dollars if it’s for an animal or wildlife association, but not really for other causes.
          Address labels, post cards, wall calendars.. last week I got in addition to the address labels two notepads, a calendar and a dream catcher.

          • 99 1/2 Days says:

            Why animals over people?

            • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

              Some people feel that animals are helpless and that people are not.

              I’m a sucker for anything that helps kids.

          • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

            A dream catcher? What the frack?

            I mean, I do have one. A real one, made for me by a native american ex-step-mother more than 13 years ago. But I can’t imagine sending such a thing for a charity guilt-gift. Much less what a terrible piece of knockoff, Chinese-made crap it must be to be affordable for that purpose.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        I had one that sent me some really nice stickers and a nickel. Then they begged for the nickel to be sent back.

        WTF? That’s stupid.

    • Fight Back Against David Horowitz! says:

      I got a ton of these return address stickers for a while, and like you say, I didn’t ask for them and had no interest in the cause, but I used them.

      I just moved and I’m hoping some charities will take a renewed interest in me…

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I don’t either. They get used and I don’t have to buy / make address stickers. I know they’re using all the money people donate to make those things and not to go to the cause. The Humane Society sent me a ton of stuff five years ago, trying to guilt me into donating, including calendars, address stickers, datebooks and even an umbrella. I wasn’t working at the time and didn’t have anything to give anyway.

      The umbrella finally broke last year. It was a really good one!

    • chaelyc says:

      Exactly. If there were a way to ask them to stop sending them THEN I’d feel bad, but as far as I know there’s no way to stop them from coming so I might as well put them to good use.

  2. iMaNcOoL says:

    He feels bad about not tithing 10% of his income to the church? Is he out of his mind? I’d be interested to find one person who, in these tough times, can afford to simply give away a staggering 10 percent of their income.

    Forget about the fact that the Catholic Church is probably one of the most corrupt organizations out there and unless the money goes directly to local charity causes based out of the local church itself (which I bet it does not), his money is probably going to support lobbying efforts against birth control, gay rights and to help cover up the actions of a whole slew of child molesters. Sickening!

    • balthisar says:

      Well, if he’s a so-called “good Catholic” then those are probably things he’d not go against supporting, with the exception of the child molester part.

    • Riroon13 says:

      And welcome to the first Christian-basher of the day.

      Hate much?

      FYI, it’s not just the Catholics that believe in the 10% tithe. Also, you would be amazed how many financial ‘miracles’ come to those who give an earnest tithe or donation to their church.

      And if you are not a church goer/ believer, certainly there is some cause out there that you care about, some culture, sick person, animal, whatever that is worse off than you are. Are you suggesting we give nothing to any causes? The Bible says that where a person’s money (‘treasure’) is, his/her heart is also. Even if your heart isn’t in the church/Christ, certainly you do donate some money to something bigger than yourself, I would hope.

      I should note the ‘staggering’ 10% is actually a pretty good investment if you believe the Bible’s promises that our gifts will be exponentially returned to us. You can Google some good examples of financial miracles that have happened to regular folk (not just Catholics or name-it claim-it blab-it and grab-it televangelist followers). It works.

      • Alvis says:

        A fool and his money are soon parted.

      • iMaNcOoL says:

        Financial miracles? So you donate in the hope of the Church being able to make you rich one day? Call me skeptical, but the chances of that happening are less than the odds of hitting the Powerball jackpot.

        This is the exact problem with any religious-based donation. The church is absolutely guilty of stringing a carrot in front of the masses and promising that by being good and opening your wallet that they’ll get the carrot… sometime down the line. From the egregious behavior of priests in the Middle Ages writing literal “tickets to heaven” for large benefactors to the fact that the Church holds out vague promises of miracles, the whole thing is one giant racket. Call me crazy, but a so-called top servant of God doesn’t need a dozen mansions, a priceless art collection and a whole city-state to run.

        I fully support donating to worthy causes and helping out those in need, but by giving to the church, you accomplish neither.

        • ConsumerMan says:

          God does bless those who give to him with sincere intent. He does NOT promise great wealth to those who give (so no, I don’t think that by giving my 10% that I’m somehow obligating God to make me rich someday), but he does promise that you’ll receive blessings. I’m a more grateful person because I tithe, and have learned to get by so that I can pay the Lord first.

          You needn’t believe it, of course, but I think you ought to be able to respect the sincere individuals who make the choice to give; and to give them enough credit to know that they aren’t just simple idiots who have been brainwashed by an evil conniving priest-class.

          • veritybrown says:

            This! I find it ironic that in a location where readers tend to be people who want to make their OWN best choices about how to spend their money, if a person mentions that they are spending their OWN money in a way that certain readers disapprove of, they are then figuratively crucified for doing so.

            People who contribute a portion of their income to a cause (whether that be tithing to their church or providing immunizations for kids in Africa or supporting an artist who makes icons out of poop) usually feel that they are getting some kind of intrinsic (but probably not monetary) benefit from it. Do you really want people with a different value system than yours telling YOU how you should and shouldn’t spend YOUR OWN money? Then maybe you should stop telling people how they should and shouldn’t spend THEIR OWN money! Last time I checked, the purpose of this site was to give people the information they need to make their OWN decisions.

            • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

              Right, because the Church is all ABOUT people making their own decisions. ROFL.

              • veritybrown says:

                Actually, mine is. Which is why I have no problem with you believing (or not believing) whatever the hell you please, as long as you don’t push it in my face.

                • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

                  If pushing it in your face = saying something on a bloc comment, then having dinner = reading recipes online.

            • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

              Look, honey. I am not telling you to sell all you possess, give it to the poor, and follow me. Someone Else said that about Himself, and He is the one who you supposedly love and worship.

      • KillerBee says:

        As a recovering Catholic, I can tell you that there is no requirement to give any percentage of income, at least in the US. Any rules for donations went out the window generations ago. Anyone who tells you different has no idea what they are talking about. You give what you feel is appropriate. No more, no less.

        • colorisnteverything says:

          Exactly. My family is mostly Catholic, but my sister and I were raised evangelical. I know of several evangelical churches that not only “suggest” you tithe, they will look at your tax information to verify that you are. Now, that, IMO, is disturbing and why I am no longer an evangelical.

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            Second Baptist Church, Houston, the megachurch down the road from me. I’ve heard this from several members and prospective members (they actually ask for the information as part of the membership process). I asked them point-blank; I e-mailed several of their high-level officials. A couple of them wrote back, but did not confirm or deny that they did it. I wrote back asking for a meaningful response, and was ignored. This tells me that they not only do it, but are afraid to admit it.

            • GearheadGeek says:

              They know if you’re asking, you probably aren’t tithing.

              Mega-churches mega-irk me. They’re much more often home to financial shenanigans than are churches with outside organization.

        • MamaBug says:

          Parochial schools that you are a member of their parish usually do require some kind of tithe. Here’s the breakdown: If you are a member of that church and send your kid to their school, you get a cheaper tuition. This is because they expect the tuition break to be made up in tithes – and i know some churches that WILL check to see if your check is in that offertory basket (after the tally) and if you haven’t given a certain percent throughout the year, they will back-charge you for the tuition break (that a non-parish member doesn’t get).
          Hell, their school, their rules. I think it’s bullshit – especially after being sent to them for 10 years. My kid’s doing just fine in public school, and it’s between me and God what I drop in the basket.

          • Rachacha says:

            I send my kids to a Catholic school (because the education experience is better than the public schools where I live) and here is the breakdown on tuition
            Non-catholics pay full tuition
            Catholics who don’t go to church pay full tuition
            Catholics who go to church on a regular basis (aka weekly or almost weekly) pay a significantly reduced rate. You could place your donation envelope in the collection basket empty if you want, they just want to make sure you are going to church to further your child’s education.
            This likely differs from each school or region

            • MamaBug says:

              it probably does. The church I’m referring to where I read this in their school handbook is down in Baton Rouge. This is when I was considering sending my daughter there (she was 3ish, I was looking ahead) not because i wanted to her to go to the Catholic school, but because it seemed like a better alternative than the public school we were zoned for. I thought that it was horribly crass and elected to deal with the public school system.
              We’ve since moved to Alabama, and our school isn’t doing too bad- she’s only in kindergarten, though. If I ever get tempted to send her to a parochial school, though, all i have to do is call up my wonderful memories of my own experience….and find another alternative.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Well, you drank the koolaid, like a good Catholic, good for you. But history FACTUALLY bears out that tithing started when Catholic priests were basically political heads, and it was used as a way to keep the poor complacent, and permanently in, their miserable status. “Live poor, that’s what God wants, your reward is in heaven!”- Bernie Madoff would be so jealous of how well a scam has worked for centuries.

        • UncleAl says:

          Actually, if we’re being FACTUAL, tithing is one of those Old Testament things that the Jews started before the Catholic Church even existed. From a research perspective, you really don’t have to go much further than the Wikipedia article on the subject to get the references.

      • Balaenoptera says:

        If its exponential, does that mean if you give .1 of your income, you’ll recieve the value of .01 back?

      • sendbillmoney says:

        Just because something good happened to a tither does not mean that it was the result of the tithe (or the shiny happy pure motivations of the tither). Correlation does not equal causation.

        If you’re going to credit God with intervening in the lives of those who “give an earnest tithe or donation,” that prompts some pointed questions when a devout non-tither doesn’t benefit from divine intervention. “Sorry, Jimmy, you’ve been good about praying and I’d have loved to cure your cancer, but I was busy delivering a ‘money miracle’ to a longtime tither in Glendale.”

        P.S. You might want to reread Matthew 6:2.

        • AlphaLackey says:

          Indeed, “read Matt 6:2″ is my standard response whenever I am faced with any public solicitation of charity.

          If it comes in the form of a “would you like to donate $1 to (cause X)”? at a point of service sale, I can also go with “If you will, I will”.

      • Portlandia says:

        Really, so giving to the Catholic Church is like playing some cosmic slot machine. Just keep blindly plugging money in and one day you will hit your big jackpot?

        Just because people that tithe happen to have had some great financial windfalls doesn’t mean the two are correlated. It simply means they needed to have some affirmation of their faith and they will assign the reason for their windfall to the work of God as a way of saying “hey, all that money we tithed came back to us just like the bible said there must be a God”

        So, just because we believe two random occurring events are correlated doesn’t mean they are.

      • Conformist138 says:

        “Good investment” “financial miracles” “It works” etc are phrases that make the whole thing sound like the world’s most pathetic lottery. At least Powerball prints the odds of winning and a pay-scale for the accuracy of your picks.

        I would hope that anyone who tithes with those motivations (getting a return on the “investment”) would be noted by God as unworthy of receiving his blessings.

        It’s funny that many religious people cite God knowing your true heart while often attempting to “win” God’s favor through lip-service and ritual motions. Giving 10% of your income to a church in an attempt to stir the goodwill of a deity is no different than writing down “spells” and burning special candles. If something good happens, you thank your superstition of choice. If something bad (or neutral) happens, you either blame yourself for not “doing it right” or outside forces of “evil” tampering with your rightful rewards.

        Hearing of good things happening to people who practice your particular brand of magic just feeds the confirmation bias while you find some way to explain away the failures (again, other people do things incorrectly or are being cursed).

        I know people who believe they will go to hell if they have not been baptized or if they have not said a special prayer “accepting Jesus Christ into their heart”. I also know people who can’t seem to make a single choice about their own lives without consulting special stones or cards. I sometimes button-mash when my wireless adapter is screwing up on my laptop and I swear it totally seems to be the only thing that fixes the problem. I see no difference between any of us. Well, except I’m only worried about paying for a new computer if I break this one while others worry about being tortured for all eternity for not getting God’s secret handshake just right.

        • citrus538 says:

          “Giving 10% of your income to a church in an attempt to stir the goodwill of a deity is no different than writing down “spells” and burning special candles.”
          Just FYI, the whole reformation thing was supposed to do away with that kind of “giving”. . .

          There are still some who give with that kind of attitude, but that’s not really the point of giving.

      • kmw2 says:

        This is a peculiarly American, modern, and wrongheaded understanding of the reason for tithing. It’s not a karmic investment, it’s part of the injunction to do good works and is based in the need to build community. Frankly, the whole prosperity gospel thing strikes me as just a little bit creepy. Why doesn’t anyone actually read the Bible anymore except for atheists?

      • jesusofcool says:

        I’m a lapsed Catholic partly because I didn’t want my money or my faith going to anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage conservative political causes I am strongly against.
        So you know some of the stuff people are saying here has got to be radical because I’m about to defend the Catholic church.
        The Catholic church is not the only church throughout history that corruptly took money for building temples or for leader’s pockets rather than charitable works. Pretty much every religion has a history of that, because when you grant certain people with certain powers, some bad eggs are going to take advantage of that.
        As for a tithe, in all my years in the Catholic church, I never saw someone kicked out or refused because they didn’t give. I’m sure it happens, in lots of churches, in lots of religions.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        Yes, I give to the ASPCA whenever I can afford to. My donation helps feed hungry animals. I’d rather my money go to saving animals than helping the church fund mission trips so they can go tell African tribesmen they’re all going to hell. Charities & churches are two completely different things. Money given to churches only goes to line pockets and further the spread of silly fairy tales that teach hate, prejudice, superstition, and ignorance.

        Charitable donations are worthwhile. Church donations are a waste of money.

    • Megladon says:
    • BytheSea says:

      Srsly. My parents give the equivalent of half my rent (in a really expensive city) to fund abstinence-only education and missionary efforts in Africa. And they whine about how much of their retirement they lost in the stock market.

    • ldub says:

      As someone who was raised Catholic and attended 12 years of Catholic school and (while not Catholic any longer) who is very familiar with Church doctrine and practice due to family connections and my profession I have to tell you: the Roman Catholic church does not mandate or even strongly encourage any sort of “official” tithe amount. Under Church law, Christians are not required to tithe, as that is an Old Testament law and Christians are not obligated.
      Now – some fundamentalist and/or evangelical churches DO strongly encourage a tithe of 10%. Perhaps those are the churches you are thinking of?

    • thrillcook says:

      Come on consumerist followers it’s 2010 who has the contact info for an EECB for Jesus?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        WIN

        • thrillcook says:

          Thank you mystical person I have never met in the internets, you have satisfied my self worths by your comment. Bless you.

          (seriously how creepy are blessings from strangers?)

          • RayanneGraff says:

            Seriously, how wierd are you for getting creeped out by a stranger innocently complimenting your post on a completely OPEN comment board? Remove the broomstick & take the damn compliment, jeez.

            • thrillcook says:

              Woosh!

              • RayanneGraff says:

                That’s the sound of a sarcasm-based joke going over my head, isn’t it?

                D’OH!

                • thrillcook says:

                  yes, like all of our friends here who place their beliefs in “mystical people/person” I was not actually needing his/her “approval” to make it through my day.

                  but do you remember reading about the internets in that book, he really does know all.

    • quijote says:

      Most people could probably afford to give that much. It’s just a matter of making sacrifices.

    • gman863 says:

      I wonder if the Catholic Church has any money invested in the NAMBLA Facebook friends list?

    • JANSCHOLL says:

      I give 10% of my income to charities. NONE are religion based, none are political and all are child or animal based. My motto is Bless the beasts and the children. I however am not afilliated with any church. Even after my husband was forced to retire when his company went bankrupt, I have still found a way to donate. It will be harder this year because of large medical bills, but I will give back. Because I can. And remember, your time is also worth a great deal to many charities.

      • tiz says:

        hopefully you’re not donating to HSUS or PETA.

        i don’t really donate that often, and i don’t really feel bad about it either, simply because there’s NO WAY to know where your money is actually going.

    • Lis de fleur says:

      This is why I’m a Unitarian Universalist, we’re strong supporters of gay rights, reach out with interfaith missions to all people, and teach sex education to our youth to replace what is lacking in the education system.

    • Anonymously says:

      How is the Catholic Church “probably one of the most corrupt organizations” and what other corrupt organizations are you comparing it to?

      • Tallanvor says:

        Any organization that has spent years trying to cover up child abuse allegations and protect pedophiles is corrupt to their core. I don’t care how much good they think they’ve done over the years, the fact that they’ve done this is reason enough that they shouldn’t exist.

        • Anonymously says:

          http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/plante.html

          First, the available research (which is quite good now) suggests that approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor (i.e., anyone under the age of 18). There are approximately 60,000 active and inactive priests and brothers in the United States and thus we estimate that between 1,000 and 3,000 priests have sexually engaged with minors. That’s a lot. In fact, that is 3,000 people too many. Any sexual abuse of minors whether perpetrated by priests, other clergy, parents, school teachers, boy-scout leaders or anyone else in whom we entrust our children is horrific. However, although good data is hard to acquire, it appears that this 4% figure is consistent with male clergy from other religious traditions and is significantly lower than the general adult male population which may double these numbers.Therefore, the odds that any random Catholic priest would sexually abuse a minor are not likely to be significantly higher than other males in or out of the clergy.

          http://www.zenit.org/article-9560?l=english

          The most recent law — John Paul II’s letter of April 30, 2001, issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) — states that “a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue by a cleric with a minor under 18 years of age is to be considered a more grave delict, or ‘delictum gravius.'”

          So what I gather, while there have been sexual abuse cases, the percentage of cases is not abnormally high, and the Vatican has a zero tolerance policy on the issue since 2001. It seems to be in the process of reform and not corrupt to its core.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            But everything they did in the hundreds of years BEFORE the decree in 2001 is A-OK.

            Especially the parts where they *COVERED IT UP.*

            I don’t care if the catholic church has a higher, lower, or similar incidence of child molestation than any other business. Most businesses don’t protect the child molesters from the law.

            • Anonymously says:

              No, it’s not OK, but you can’t change the past. Since abuse allegations tend to take quite a long time to surface, I believe in 20 or 30 years the data will show amount of corruption and abuse within the Roman Catholic Church has improved dramatically.

              (Btw, you wear your bias a little too openly by referring to the church primarily as a business.)

          • Fine Material says:

            See the Pew study that the church itself commissioned. The number is more like 15%. Child rape is a integrated part of Catholic culture. Fact.

    • minneapolisite says:

      The Catholic church is one of the only Christian churches that does not require a tithe. Please don’t bash something you don’t understand.

    • tanyaandkarl says:

      Tithing 10%?
      Sure–where the Church is the only social welfare program for the “less fortunate”–you better kick in at least 10%.
      Where I live, there’s another corrupt organization that’s taken that “job”.
      Try ignoring demands for money from those folks, and you WILL see armed goons at your door.

      And to those that say you’ll get your money back seven times–why bother?
      Just say a Novena; problem solved!

    • EBone says:

      Next time you start something, give me a heads up so I can make popcorn. This thread is great entertainment.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      I’m an atheist, and I enjoy not giving one red strawpenny to any stupid church :3

    • banmojo says:

      Gosh, this is a hard one to reply to.

      On the one hand, I believe in Jeshua, His gospel saving grace and His teachings/life example, and I support the person below who points out that tithing is really a community building endeavor, and in its original form was how the priests/rabbis were paid for their work.

      On the other hand, historically when I have paid tithe, I have given the check directly into the hands of my pastor, telling him how it was earmarked to be spent. I would then follow up and ask for proof that my ‘tithe’ was spent correctly. In some cases, the new instruments that the kids used in church were the physical proof, as well as the new church hymnals, etc.

      I support missionary services, but only ones that I have personally investigated and ‘approve’, but otherwise my ‘tithe’ is going to support my local church and church school, if one exists where I live at the time.

      My preferred protestant denomination as a rule frowns on my method of tithing, and I respect their pov, but I have far too much personal experience of seeing church leaders misuse funds, and I could care less about replacing a fully functional building with a new, (wholly unnecessary) one, just so that the local church college brochures have prettier pictures to recruit more students in order to make the local church leaders wealthier.

      I already lose 50% plus of my collections due to patients not paying their bills or insurance companies not paying for services I’ve already offered, and I do so happily, with no regrets, as MY service back to my community. Most MDs I know do the same, which is WHY THE US GOVERNMENT HAS NO RIGHT TO GET INVOLVED IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MD AND THE PATIENT, AND WILL ONLY SERVE TO MAKE THINGS WORSE FOR ALL OF US IN THE FUTURE, MARK MY WORDS. Within 20 years, EVERYONE’s healthcare in the states will be of a far far lower quality than it currently is, and we will have 50% plus of our MDs coming from outside countries. Pathetic. nObama didn’t even ASK doctors to be a main componant those who helped write the health bill – how arrogant and foolish he is!!!

      • Shadowman615 says:

        Not to get off on a completely off-topic rant or anything…

      • SOhp101 says:

        Two things:

        1. As a person that actually pays for services when I go to the doctor, I will be welcoming universal healthcare (i.e. the government getting involved between the doctor and patient) because I’m the one who has to pay higher prices just because some random person decides to skip out on the bill.
        2. If an insurance company does not pay for services you’ve already offered, you need to sit down with your office manager or medical billing agent because they’re the ones that typically aren’t filing claims correctly. It’s not rocket science but there is a lot of bureaucracy involved so if he/she doesn’t take the right steps then you don’t get paid. Get mad at who you decided to hire instead–that at least will be a little more productive than getting mad at Obama.

        My biggest money regret? Satellite TV. I know it’s easy to watch tv on the internet but when you live with someone that isn’t so computer savvy it’s hard to convince them to change.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          What’s interesting here is that the poster indicates that there’s a problem getting the private insurer to pay the bills, but is upset that there will be additional regulations in place to ensure that the bills get paid.

      • jessjj347 says:

        Why do you think there will be more foreign MDs? They already have a lower chance of passing the USMLE (I know people who would say it’s because those people are less driven/qualified to begin with). Also, many people who can only get into foreign medical schools, end up going to dentistry school instead ;)

      • psm321 says:

        You mean like these guys? http://www.pnhp.org/

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      At the church I used to go to…they would have a separate envelope for the missionary missions, and one for the church building fund and little envelopes for donations toward sending the kids to a sister church in the southern states to see how other churches celebrate the Lord.

    • dijo10 says:

      I always tithe 10% to the local casino. Usually on a monthly basis. Usually with a smile on my face.

  3. NydiaGeben says:

    The catholic church? Please, after all their criminal nonsense, any other business would be shut down.

  4. Bodger says:

    Tithing? As soon as the Catholic church (and all the others) take a vow of poverty and divest themselves of all their belongings and give the proceeds to the needy then there is no cause to feel bad about not giving them the cut they demand. Anyway, who was it that wrote that little gotcha clause into the bible anyway? By any chance did the writers stand to profit from scaring the true believers into coughing up the protection money?

    • iMaNcOoL says:

      Totally agreed. I’m not a Catholic but when I see the ornate priceless masterpieces and buildings owned by the Church, it sickens me think that they were all built and commissioned by extorting money from the so-called faithful in the hopes of getting a fast ticket to heaven.

      Oh yeah, and by killing some people along the way.

      • evnmorlo says:

        To be fair some of the items are bought by self-aggrandizing donors. See “The Wire” where the dockworker and police unions are competing to place their expensive windows in a church.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Not only that, but other groups ape the Catholic church to give themselves the look of respectability and age. I used to work for a studio that made a set of large stained-glass windows for the “Church” of Scientology cult, for example.

          The simple plain fact (pun halfway intended) is that all churches are obliged to appear materially successful. Being poor and struggling means that you don’t have the favor of the Divine.

  5. gearguy says:

    I feel bad for not leaving a tip for the inn keeper at a wonderful bed and breakfast. I didn’t realize the tip left in the room was collected by an outside cleaning contractor. I will have to make up for it when I return this spring.

    I also feel kind of guilty about not subscribing to Consumer Reports.

  6. DH405 says:

    If they sent me return address labels, that doesn’t obligate me to direct my donation dollars to them. I choose my donations based upon the efficiency of the program and it’s ability to create actual change.

    As for tithing? Yeah, right. Even if I were a religious person, I’d be able to see through that scam. Some “Pastor” wants 10% of my 35k/yr, while he’s living in a mansion. Not happening. (This is an actual case of a nearby pastor. Want to see his house? http://bit.ly/9r2hCc )

    • Xin says:

      Oh good lord!

      makes me feel worse about keeping my money to and barely able to afford my craptastic apartment

    • MamaBug says:

      that sickens me!!! My teeny tiny church that my family and I go to has a congregation of about 25 (on a good Sunday, including kids). I know my money goes directly to upkeep, and specify it as so.

  7. Gulliver says:

    This guy is an idiot. If he feels bad about all this, there is a simple solution. Change it.
    1. Not tipping a tattoo artist when he made $8 an hour. You mean getting the tattoo was within your means, but tipping was not?
    2. Nickles sent by St Judes. So what, I don;t owe St Judes anything. I choose to give my money elsewhere. If their model for charity is to pay me 5 cents to get a gift, they won;t make much off me.
    3. Return labels. Again, I did not ask for them, and if it is a cause I believe in, I will attach them to any envelope I send, and create awareness of their organization
    4. Tithing? You mean the bribe the church is asking of you to get into heaven? I guess it takes money to get there. This is one of the most disgusting things done in churches. As for the specifics of the catholics, he should talk about the taxes they do not pay, and the political stands they take, and the systemic criminal behavior condoned from the pope on down.
    5. Thank you letters. This is just laziness on your part. I think minimally if you send a thank you email or phone call you are fine. I don;t care what Miss Manners types think. When I send a gift, I do not do it for the thanks.

    • HollzStars says:

      Tattoo artist making 8 bucks an hour :S Mine is 100 an hour….pay for quality!

      But I do agree on the tipping. It’s a must for tattoo artists, just to show your appreciation.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You know what irks me? Mailing thank you letters for the thank you letter you received for the gift you sent.

      At some point you just have to stop the thanking!

    • craptastico says:

      thank you notes are nice just to acknowledge that you received the gift. if you get something in the mail they may now know whether you actually got it unless you send them a thank you note. obviously if you tell them thanks, or if they physically handed you the gift than you’re covered

  8. mrscoach says:

    I must say, for those who think all money given to their church is for lining pockets and buying masterpieces. Do you even bother to go to budget committee meetings? Do you look at financial reports put out? If your church doesn’t put them out find another congregation to join.

    I know how much of my church’s offering goes to overseas mission work, how much to building maintenance, how much to the ministers, how much to local missionary work, and how much for disaster relief. I know I am leaving out a few categories, but you get the idea.

    I do not give to be saved, I give because I am saved. As one minister put it, “Works because of grace, not grace because of works”. I WANT to help others, I’m not guilted into it.

    • Shield Ramrod says:

      I truly appreciate your pointing out to folks that there is a huge disconnect between the local church and the pontiff’s monstrously rich surroundings. I think that your statement “I give because I am saved” is a beautiful way of illustrating what many consider truly following Christ.

      You must be frustrated by the crass investment strategy others voiced here; I doubt you consider it a transaction that you’ll be rewarded because you’re doing the right thing. I sense you do the right thing because you believe it is the right thing.

      I know nothing of your church or beliefs, and I possibly disagree with some of them – but I have the utmost respect for your motivation. I appreciate your posting.

      • energynotsaved says:

        Without a doubt, that was the nicest comment post I’ve read in our beloved blog in months. Thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful, and kind response. You made my day.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      It’s also going to pay the legal bills and settlements to the thousands of people who were knowingly molested by their priests, the money to transfer pedophile priests from church to church as they were found out, and the money to support said pedophile priests while they lived comfortable lives for years and died peacefully in their beds. I’d rather donate my money to a non religious organization for charity, thanks.

      • mrscoach says:

        I’m not catholic, none of my money goes toward their legal fund. My local church has no legal problems at all.

    • minneapolisite says:

      Most of the beautiful cathedrals and artwork was paid for / commissioned by royalty or extremely wealthy parishioners. Please don’t bash something you don’t understand.

      • minneapolisite says:

        Woops I replied to the wrong post. But MrsCoach, thank you for your message–it’s right on! :)

      • iMaNcOoL says:

        Actually, a good part of the masterpieces housed in the Vatican were commissioned by a line of Middle Age or Renaissance Popes- the Sistine Chapel, for example, being commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV and the famous fresco was painted by Michelangelo for Pope Julius II. And exactly where, pray tell, did these “servants of God” get the money to support a horde of artists and craftsmen for several decades?

        The answer is simple- from the same place that the Vatican gets money to pay legal bills, settlements and hush money to protect the pedophiles that are quietly shuttled around and protected without facing any consequences for their acts. If any charitable organization was caught doing this for their employees, you can bet that their 501(c)3 status would be revoked.

        I wasn’t aware that the Catholic Church doesn’t officially require a tithe; I was going on what the writer of the article said. However, you can bet that a good fraction of whatever gets collected in a Catholic church gets divided up as it moves up the food chain and a good amount ends up in the Vatican.

    • DeathByCuriosity says:

      Well said! This is so awesome and very true.

  9. one swell foop says:

    It says something, not good I’m sure, about me that the thing I regret most hat relates to money is that I didn’t buy that Armani Collezione jacket. It was only $900, normally $1400, and it would have cut my finances too thin. No way was I willing to put an unnecessary purchase like that on a credit card, but I wanted to. That jacket would still have looked great ten years down the road….

  10. emptyV says:

    I once said, “no habla english” to a group of girl scouts….I’m white, and look nothing like a hispanic person…thought it was funny @ the time, but my wife was pi$$esd that I did’nt get her any cookies…

    • Anri says:

      There are plenty of white Hispanics. See Argentina & Spain especially.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      You sound exactly like my old boss, who thought it was a regular hoot to mispronounce Spanish names on purpose.

    • Extractor says:

      I refuse to buy girl scout cookies since the unit only get about 50 cents a box so I donate a $5 bill to their club. That way its like selling 10 boxes of cookies.

      • quail says:

        I’m not certain as to how the Girl Scouts operate, but with the Cub Scouts and their popcorn sales you couldn’t donate directly to the troop. It’s in the way that they’re set up, funds had to go to regional and back out to troop or pack. Ignorant, yes. But BSA wanted their cut of everything. If we had someone throw us $10 as a “donation” we had to buy the popcorn with the money if we wanted to see any portion of that money get back to us legally. The popcorn bought from the ‘donated’ money would then go to a woman’s shelter or a church charity and the like.

        My short time with BSA as a pack volunteer taught me that BSA is not what it was when I was a kid.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          BSA is exactly what it was, and has always been. It is a religious organization which cannot tolerate anyone who does not believe in Abraham’s god and is not a “good heterosexual.”

          On top of that, despite having always claimed to teach morality, the BSA integrated Scouting with as much relish as the South integrated schools.

          Fortunately, Scouting in the civilised world moved at a much faster pace than the BSA.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        I don’t understand why that seems to be such a surprise to people, or that it is off-putting. Cookies cost money to manufacture and distribute. Nobody is getting rich off of them, and certainly nobody is going to bake them at their own expense with no incentive. The profit is distributed between the the individual group and the local council/central organization which provides support services for the groups.

  11. energynotsaved says:

    When I was married, I rarely did things for myself. I looked frumpy. My hair cuts weren’t nice. I never got my nails done. Because I didn’t value myself, my mate didn’t value me, either. I deeply regret not taking care of myself.

    Now that I’m divorced, my nails are done, my hair looks great and I do value me.

    • craptastico says:

      i don’t see what hair cuts and getting your nails done has to do with your value of yourself. if you paint your own nails it’s because you don’t think you’re worth spending the $20 on? that’s pretty weird to me. what about just saving the money for something that’s not easy to do yourself?

      • wimom says:

        I kind of agree on the saving the money and doing the nails myself. Although I am married, we can easily afford me to have my nails dones as often as I want, but I don’t want to spend the money on something I can easily do myself while watching Mad Men. Massages, good hair cuts, and top notch coloring, on the other hand, are a necessity! I have never understood why people pay to have their nails done. I did it once and they filed so hard it hurt. What am I missing? I am being serious.

        • Anri says:

          Fake acrylic nails are a lot easier to get done professionally.

        • energynotsaved says:

          I have weak nails. They are awful. I never figured out how to care for them. (My mom filed hers, but I don’t remember ever seeing anything else. I never learned. It never dawned on me that I was missing that part!)

          The mani part really isn’t my primary objective (although they do look better). Now, the pedi part! For me, it is a mini-vacation. I love it. I can’t imagine a better use of $35 dollars ($28 + tip.). It is my monthly treat to me.

          Silly way to spend time and money? Not to me. I’ll cheerfully eat PB&J three times a week for the rest of my life if I get to have my mani/pedi.

    • carlathecommander says:

      Good for you. I did the same thing. Dropped the husband and 67lbs. Now I get my hair, nails and toes done. Money well spent!

  12. Segador says:

    It never, never pays to buy cheap tools. Craftsman, etc. may cost more, but you’ll never buy another tool. Also, if they break, just walk into any Sears and they replace the broken tool, no questions asked.

    I can’t even count how many times I’ve hated the cheap-ass tool I was holding. Buy quality.

    • jeffjohnvol says:

      Poppycock sir. I have Milwaukee power tools, but I also have some Harbor Freight tools that I use without regret. Any handtool that I have had from harbor freight that may have broken, they replaced it no questions asked.

      It all depends on how often you use it. I can buy a 4.99 set of screwdrivers for the cost of one Craftsman straight slot.

    • microcars says:

      Bravo sir. I hate having tools that either break while I am using them or are made to a sloppy tolerance. I know a guy who cannot resist buying cheap tools. He has shelves full of different sets of wrenches (what a deal!) but what is fascinating is that he has to pick and choose from different sets to get the 14mm open end wrench that actually fits properly.

      Also- my time is worth something and I really don’t have the time to go back to some place like Harbor Freight and return a cheap tool over and over again. But if your time is not worth anything – hey return them and get a new cheap tool.

      Its like buying a cheap car with a 100K mile warranty. My neighbor got a KIA several years ago and it was ALWAYS at the dealer with “warranty work”. They rarely got to use it and they did not drive far when they did as they feared it would break down and leave them stranded -again.
      (note: KIA has gotten a lot better since then, I know)

    • KyBash says:

      I agree about cheap tools, but it’s been my experience that Craftsman are just cheap tools with high price tags. As far as their replacing them, forget it. I have a 50-foot steel tape that the rivet fell out after less than a year. They would only replace it with a 25-foot measure worth about 15% of what I paid.

      Absolute best way to get great tools is machinist’s tools at yard/garage sales after someone is fired/retires/etc..

    • stottpie says:

      ughh, i recently had to buy a 30 dollar wrench from sears, simply because i couldn’t find it anywhere else.

      needed a 17mm ratcheting wrench with a hinge. it’s a great tool though…. but 30 bucks!

  13. TommyTutone says:

    In Kyiv, Ukraine, I was in a bookstore and saw a Russian copy of ‘Settlers of Catan’, a very popular board game. It was I think $30 US and I already had a copy at home so I passed on it. Wish I had it now for the Russian cards and rules for a novelty.

  14. oldtaku says:

    This is how all these scams work (stickers or tithing). They are purposely calculated to prey on your guilt and societal pressures.

    Don’t give in. You should be giving the money to good charities instead, especially if you’re feeling guilty for not being a sucker. Suckers giving in to their tricks are what keep them going with this crap in the first place.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Look at it this way. If it wasn’t profitable (in the weird sense that a charity considers itself productive) for it to send free stickers to strangers, they would stop doing it. The chance that you might keep the stickers is already factored into the cost of doing business, so to speak.

      Of course, if they were serious, they’d let their good results be their best marketing strategy, and I’m not talking the kind of results that show on the bottom line of the annual report.

    • nocturnaljames says:

      like those “cat jugglers”

  15. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    Oh for pete’s sake. Glad to know the predictible everyone-mock-the-faithful! has begun.

    Do any of you who are crapping all over tithing even go to church? Do you have the slightest idea what you’re talking about?

    Some churches are clearly addicted to money and power; but those are hardly the norm. If that describes your church, find another one. But don’t act like every congregation exists simply to shake down the gullible.

    My humble little Lutheran church simply asks that we give what we can, and if we can’t give much money, we give in service. The end.

    This is hardly high-pressure or extortionary, but this way we somehow manage to pay the pastor and secretary enough to live on, pay the utility bills, pay the expenses for a dozen or more outreach ministries, pay for a week of free Vacation Bible School in the summer that half the neighborhood uses as free babysitting, keep up the building and grounds, maintain our musical instruments, occasionally buy new hymnals, contribute thousands of dollars a year to a dozen worldwide charities….I could go on and on. My point is that our church is able to use its members resources to do God’s work in the world without bullying or coercion; we give of our resources WILLINGLY and JOYFULLY because we believe in the good that comes of it.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Yes. No one wants you to give if you can’t and not more than you are comfortable with. If you don’t believe in the cause, don’t go. If you are worried about corruption in your church, then why are you attending still?
      I used to go to a church where our pastor ALWAYS asked for help in the office or painting our new addition. My father used to dedicate HOURS of his free time to accounting (he is an accountant) and asked for nothing in return because that was his way to give. My aunt used to dedicate at least two whole days a week to painting and her (now ex) husband used to spend his free time (which was precious because he was a cop) fixing things around the church. I used to work on the worship team singing. However, when I found out that the pastor came in as my uncle was working to fix something and helping my aunt slave away painting and refused to help with a plumbing issue that had come out of nowhere because he was busy tooling around on his motorcycle and had just stopped by to pick something up from his office, things started to unravel.

      That is why my family stopped going to that church. We wanted to give, but not when the pastor himself kept asking for more help and more money (rather than hire a maintenance worker). You don’t HAVE to stay at that church.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      we somehow manage to pay the pastor and secretary enough to live on, pay the utility bills, pay the expenses for a dozen or more outreach ministries, pay for a week of free Vacation Bible School in the summer that half the neighborhood uses as free babysitting, keep up the building and grounds, maintain our musical instruments, occasionally buy new hymnals, contribute thousands of dollars a year to a dozen worldwide charities….I could go on and on.

      I certainly hope you go on. Because to this atheist it looks like you are happy that the lion’s share of your contribution goes to nothing better than perpetuating your church building, organization, and payroll, and the pittance left over gets parceled out to a dozen faceless charities that also have buildings, organizations, and payrolls to maintain. How much of your money actually gets to the needy? Do you even know? Is it more than a few percent? More than even one percent?

      Did Jesus advocate giving to organizations, or did he actually perform acts of charity personally? What do you think is more Christlike… putting an envelope with a hundred dollars in it in the offering plate every week, or using that hundred dollars to buy a week’s worth of basic groceries for a hungry family? What about paying the rent on a cheap apartment on the poor side of town for an ex-con trying to rebuild his life after being put in prison on unjust drug charges (yes, there are many such apartments around here)? How about paying the utility deposits so a homeless single mom can move out of the shelter and actually start paying rent with the earnings from her McDonald’s job? Paying for a couple of tanks of gas and some dry cleaning to allow an unemployed person to get to the next couple job interviews in decent clothing? Paying for day care so a dropout parent can finish their GED and be able to attend trade school? Buying books for the local public library? Hiring the strong-looking guy holding a sign on the street corner for day labor, because his sign says “will work for food” and you think he deserves a little more self-respect? How about paying for a weekly session with a psychologist for a battered woman… abused child… depressed man?

      Do you seriously think we take your hymnals seriously? Do you really think God cares about whether you sing to him in common or simple meter, using ancient Greek doxologies or Negro spirituals? Do you think he cares whether or not you plant azalea bushes on the south wall? Do you imagine that he thinks the felt-and-construction-paper collages of little lambs produced by seven-year-old VBS students during one week in the summer are important?

      Yes, Christ said “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” But he also said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Therefore give to man, not to the Church. The Church is not God. Your suffering brother manifests God to you.

      Isn’t it ironic that I’m the one who has to tell you this? I don’t even believe in God. I don’t give a flying f–k about whether there is a God or not. Unlike you I don’t need a God to order me to help someone who is suffering. I do it because we are both human and I am in a position to help.

      • perfectly_cromulent says:

        i think this reply was a bit harsh. i don’t know what this person’s church is like, but it sounds very much like mine. and guess what? we DO many of the things you’ve listed, and more. we are told just how much of the church’s money goes to these things. plus, there are many other efforts, like some that you have listed, that don’t take money, just personal time and energy. our VBS runs off of volunteer work, no one gets paid for it. if a construction paper collage of lambs helps one more kid understand a bible story, i could only imagine God would be pleased.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          You know what, I believe in happy children learning happy stories by doing artwork as well. I call it primary school. I could care less what some invisible friend thinks about a made-up story. To me your church is a pure waste of time, energy, resources, and human potential, steals the bread out of the mouths of the hungry, and blames the “sinner” for his poverty.

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            nd lng th sm lns, blv m bggst rgrt s th tm nd mn wstd fr thrt yrs n th chrch ndr th nfndd mprssn tht b dng s wld b “rght wth Gd” nd g t Hvn ftr d. Wrst gddmnd ( mn tht ltrll) nvstmnt vr md.

          • veritybrown says:

            And because YOU despise religion, OTHER people shouldn’t spend their OWN money (not YOURS) in harmony with their religion-based personal value systems? Do you really somehow not understand that when you go around preaching your “religion sucks” philosophy at the slightest opportunity, you are no less obnoxious than those who go around preaching their religion-based philosophies at the slightest opportunity? Or do you think that because your beliefs are “true” and religion is “wrong,” you have the right to preach about it? Mmm–hmm, thought so….

            • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

              This may come as a complete surprise to most people on this site (LOLMAO), but I do not have a problem with being obnoxious to prove a point. And apparently neither do you. “Mmm-hmm, thought so” my ass.

              When you get a minute feeling all superior for having supposedly told me off, I suggest you note that the whole ostensible purpose of this blog is to help people not waste their time and money on useless garbage. In the final analysis, people are of course going to make their own choices. The difference between your church and my non-existent “beliefs” is that I am FOR people making their choices and you are AGAINST it.

              • veritybrown says:

                Considering that you absolutely NOTHING about my religious beliefs, your opinion of them is about as significant as the opinion of an NFL quarterback on which brand of maxi-pad is best. Worthlessly uninformed opinions are usually frowned on here. But if you choose to go on making an obnoxious fool of yourself, I guess that’s your own free choice.

              • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

                You’re all for people making choices, right up until they make ones that you feel are silly, stupid or unworthy. We got it.

                Is this “silly Godbotherer” meme on the Consumerist bingo card, yet?

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Is that the one where he kills all the children for the sins of their fathers, or the one where he orders genocide on a scale that would never again be encountered?

      • Foodie92 says:

        Of course, individuals in need should be helped. I would think that most Christians would know and believe this already without your having to point it out. Though, at times, organizations are more effective than individuals in meeting needs. This may be the case when the need is so great that a collective effort is the only way to meet all needs present. For example, the earthquake in Haiti generated far more need than one individual could have managed. Additionally, there are times when organizations can arrange access to remote places that individuals would have great difficulty reaching without help. Organizations can also help spread out available resources, so the greatest number of those in need can find some sort of relief. Also, some non-profits/charities invest money in medical research; this has the potential to help a lot of people. As an individual, I obviously can’t undertake medical research in my basement.

        I agree wholeheartedly agree that the most efficient way (i.e. greatest percentage reaching needy individual) for an individual to help another is directly. This principle is why I donate directly to elementary schools and scout troups instead of buying the crap in the fundraising catalogs.

        I also wholeheartedly believe that charitable organizations and churches can help people, when I as an individual, cannot.

        Obviously, everyone will never totally agree on religious issues. The best we can hope for is to respect each other in our differences. I try to think about someone’s intentions. Is someone giving money to a church, so the church has enough money to serve the community? Solid intentions. Is someone giving to the church because they think they will get rich? Shaky intentions. Is someone refusing to see the good in others’ intentions because of personal bias? Shaky intentions. When I think about someone’s intentions, I find I am much more tolerant even when I disagree.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          That’s a decent point about the power of organizations to do things that can’t be done by individuals working alone. I respect that.

          What I don’t respect is churches, or any so-called “non profit” charities, that spend time and money on looking like God favored them with prosperity. Permanent organizations trying to justify their permanent existence rather than ad-hoc associations dedicated to specific problems. Churches that exhort sacrifice had better be the model of that behavior themselves. I find it hard to credit that churches care about the poor when the cost of the fresh flower arrangements in the sanctuary every Sunday could cover food for a small family, for example. When people are without homes, to have a slick, beautiful building dedicated to worship is a slap in the face to humanity.

          I’m looking at other religions, too. Recently I was disgusted to view a video of a woman pouring milk over a statue of a Hindu god. It was easily enough milk to feed a couple of starving babies that day. I visited a very imposing mosque while I was in the Emirates. A square foot of the intricate marble and glass work probably cost more than what I get paid in a day… a square foot of the massive, seamless, handmade carpet was probably worth my take-home pay every two weeks. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, and not that it wasn’t beautiful enough to make my heart sing. Such works of art are an end in themselves. But let’s not flatter ourselves that our religions are charitable organizations when these things belong to them.

          • Foodie92 says:

            I donate money to an organization that funds a medical clinic for women and children in poverty. In the waiting room at this charity, they sometimes have a flower arrangement to make the place look inviting. Does this rob them of their charitable identity? I don’t think so. Part of completing their mission is reaching out to those who are scared and making them feel safe and comfortable when they’re under duress. Your surroundings can affect how you feel.

            Same principle with a church. The message that many churches preach, whether you agree with it or not, has brought joy, hope, and peace to a lot of people. If beauty can help attract people who draw inspiration from the message to the message, then I would argue that it’s not a waste. I don’t see it as a “demonstration that God favored them with prosperity,” rather I see it as a symbol of welcome. In my own home, I often buy flowers when I have guests because I think they’re beautiful and welcoming. Does this make me an uncharitable person? I don’t think so.

            Not all churches have ornate buildings, by the way. Some meet in very simple aluminum-sided buildings, warehouses, or even barns. In general, I think we need to be careful about categorizing churches as “this way” or “that way.” There are many churches made up of many different people with many different intentions. I think it is quite unfair to characterize all churches negatively when not all are guilty of the “sins” we’re talking about.

            It’s true that some churches invest in their buildings. This is often a good thing. When a community has a weather-related crisis, for example, churches often become shelters and places of refuge. Many churches are built with the intention that a part will be a permanent community center.

            Surely, there is excess at times. I certainly would never support a church that doesn’t make missions a priority, although I don’t think investing in beauty is necessarily a waste or automatically makes churches uncharitable. Sure, that flower arrangement may have cost 0.0001% of the budget, but a much larger percentage may be distributed to any number of causes or directly to those in need.

            I am not Hindu or Muslim, and I don’t find meaning in the examples you’ve described. However, I understand that someone probably did, so I’m withholding judgment. As for the Hindu example, you saw it as a waste. The woman performing the sacrifice probably saw it as deeply meaningful. Perhaps she was revitalized spiritually and was inspired to go perform good deeds. Perhaps she was inspired to go feed starving babies…perhaps more than the sacrifice itself could have fed. With the mosque example, again, I don’t see investing in art as necessarily a waste. I don’t see it as a slap in the face to humanity; I see art as a very integral part of humanity.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        I’m sorry that your religious experiences were so negative for you, and even more sorry that they seem to have left you filled with such rage and bitterness that you are unable to understand the actions and motivations of others through anything like a rational lens. That screed of yours goes much farther to illustrate your way-out-of-proportion hate and fury than it does to make anyone think about whether the money they give to their church is well-spent, which I gather was your intent.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Hate and fury, to remind you of your Christian principles and duties? Guilty.

          • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

            Seeing as you don’t believe in that silly Sky Fairy stuff, why the hell is it you responsibility to “set ‘em straight”? Does this add value to your life?

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Really? Because this person seems to be taking a very pragmatic and rational perspective on charity, all the while using bible scripture to justify their position.

          It seems more likely that people of religion rarely understand what the ideals of that religion really are.

          • Foodie92 says:

            Actually, there were some problems with what he (presumptuous pronoun, I admit) said, which I discussed in my reply to him. He even admitted that I made a good point about organizations sometimes being better than individuals in their ability to help people. My response was pragmatic and rational, even though it was intended to be oppositional to what the original comment said. Being faithful or faithless does not dictate your ability to be pragmatic or rational.

            Objecting to what the original comment said does not imply that someone doesn’t understand the ideals of their religion. They may have understood the argument and had objections to it.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        You’re the coolest kid in class, then. Much more hip then those silly sky fairy believers. Gold star to you. Can you go away, now?

    • pastthemission says:

      I’m really glad you made this point. Several of my sister’s friends are Lutheran ministers and the tithing is what helps them EAT.

  16. Big Mama Pain says:

    Deferring my student loans so much in the beginning, even though I could have made some kind of payments. They’d be paid off by now!

  17. Noadi says:

    So instead I should throw away the free address stickers I didn’t ask for if I’m not going to donate? At least they aren’t being wasted. I do give to charity but a mailing has never swayed me to do so, I pick the charities I give to based on other factors than their ability to market.

    Being an atheist means not only do I get to sleep in on Sundays, I don’t get asked for tithing so no guilt there.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Agreed. There are about 100,000 causes I think are admirable, but a few I really and truly can and will donate to. These are the ones that mean the most to me. I donate to programs which help disabled people through hippo therapy, programs which allow students to walk to school in the morning and teach them how to bike safely (cyling is my favorite thing on earth) and also believe strongly in breast cancer charities, which is why I did the 25 mile ride this Saturday for breast cancer. I do a lot of charity rides, which is great for me and the charity and I usually donate more when I am there – $5.00 in the donation jar does a lot of good if everyone does it.

      • Wrathernaut says:

        Hippo therapy?

        Do they use actual hippos?

        • colorisnteverything says:

          No, horses. Hippo = Latin for horse.

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            Greek. Hippos. Latin is equus, or caballus if the horse is low-quality. it raises fewer eyebrows if you use the spelling “hippotherapy” or the alternative term “equine therapy” (although that word unfortunately raises the mental picture of mentally ill horses).

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              As an interesting sidenote, a hippodrome is where they would host chariot races. Basically a B.C. version of NASCAR.

              But they raced horses, not hippos. So the name ends up being rather disappointing.

          • Shadowfax says:

            It’s not all that far off. Hippopotamus is Greek for “River horse.”

  18. NHpurple says:

    I didn’t realize that you should tip ski instructors for the all day programs where the parents go off on their own to ski. It wasn’t like I was able to do it more than once every couple of years.

  19. rdm says:

    I don’t think that I have ever regretted being stingy. I have regretted (over and over) being to careless/generous when it wasn’t warranted.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      As my psychotherapist once asked me, then what do you think you’re paying for that you’re not getting? Maybe by giving too much to other people, you’re being far too stingy with yourself. If you spent on yourself what you think other people owe to you, how much happier could you be?

    • wimom says:

      Thanks for your comment. I never thought about it enough to put it into words, but I feel the same way that you do. I have a hard time saying no and we live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in our pretty affluent town, so we get hit up to buy things constantly–people drive their kids to our neighborhood, etc. Recently, a 20-something black man came and tried to sell me over priced magazine suscitpions while I was trying to play outside with my kids. When I told him no, he just flat out asked me for money. He really played up the trying to empower black youth and although nothing he said made sense, I jsut wanted him to go away so I could get on with my day. I paid him $4. It still annoys me that I gave him a penny. I looked online for the organizations name and it is a scam. I would have felt better about myself today if I would have been more stingy. That is going to be my goal more often.

  20. NHpurple says:

    I didn’t realize that you should tip ski instructors for the all day programs where the parents go off on their own to ski. It wasn’t like I was able to do it more than once every couple of years.

  21. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    My biggest stingy regret is not to pay out of pocket for college when I was unable to get a student loan. At least I could have got started, and then figured out how to continue.

  22. pixiegirl says:

    I use the free address labels that are sent to me. I didn’t ask for them they *chose* to send them to me. If I wanted to donate to them I would have done so. Also when I see a charity piss away money on stupid things like sending out “free address labels” to random people to guilt them into donating money to their charity, it has the exact opposite effect on me it really turns me off.

    I don’t’ have any stingy regrets, If any thing I can say that I regret spending too much on things I don’t really need but want.

  23. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Getting a free breakfast buffet at a motel I didn’t check into.
    Using a coupon on a date.
    Finding a minor excuse not to leave a good tip.

    • Copper says:

      At least give 5% of your bill. The server usually owes that much or more to the host/bartender/busser. One Friday night two weeks ago, I had a couple who sat at my table for 3 hours and racked up a $70 drinking bill between them and their two friends. The woman left me 2 quarters after telling my boss how wonderful I was. I had to pay the bartender to serve those customers. I hope they don’t come back.

  24. Blow a fuse? I can fix that... says:

    I try to live by the “buy quality, cry once”-principle. Yet, I will every once in a while cheap out, and almost without exception, I end up regretting it.

    • JollyJumjuck says:

      Buying quality does not ensure satisfaction, but buying cheap almost guarantees dissatisfaction.

  25. jeffjohnvol says:

    Once, I had a 3 hour layover, and waited to turn in my rental car so I could leave the airport to go to a fast food joint to avoid a $10 burger. I left a $50 pair of sunglasses in the car and lost much more than what the burger would have cost.

  26. El-Brucio says:

    A lot of stores will sell merchandise for 25-40 percent off near the end of whatever season it happens to be as they try to free up space for new merchandise.

    There have been a few times where I’ve wanted something that I was willing to pay full price for, but decided to wait to see if it goes on sale, only to have them sell out well before it reached that point.

  27. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Not marrying the girl of my dreams. Of course I might have ended up divorced with half my stuff and nothing to show for it so there is that.

  28. Aeirlys says:

    Last year I broke my Always Overbuild rule when buying a new computer. Now I’ve got a 1 year old, obsolete machine, when investing a bit more would have bought something that would be viable for a lot longer.

    • gman863 says:

      Before you trash it (especially if it’s a full size desktop or tower), have a geek friend look at it. You may be able add memory, remove crapware programs and possibly upgrade the CPU at the fraction of the cost of a new PC.

  29. jennleighh says:

    I just regret being penny-wise and pound-foolish, like when I buy a small quantity of something or buy inferior quality to satisfy my immediate need for a low price, then invariably end up replacing the item shortly thereafter.

  30. venomroses says:

    Ugh, don’t feel bad about those return address labels….

    I donated once to a friends charity bike ride, over 1 year ago, and now i get those labels from totally different charities that I have never donated too.

    It actually kinda creeps me out, because I moved this past year and left no forwarding address to any charity and recently got some new labels sent to me!

  31. gman863 says:

    My biggest regret is not becoming stingier with money and smarter on things that really matter years ago. Specifically:

    * “Free” address labels and most charity TV ads are DESIGNED to guilt you into donating. Treat these as any other ad. The National Lampoon nailed this approach years ago with a satire ad featuring a car dealer holding a gun to a dog’s head and the caption, “Buy A Car NOW or the Puppy Gets It!”

    * You CAN haggle on pricing! Although it may not work in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, most retailers will make deals on larger purchases – especially clearance, floor samples or scratch and dent. I beat down a $600 ceramic top range to $285 (dented on the side nobody will ever see) at Best Buy a few years ago. Last month, Lowe’s had a discontined bathroom vanity display model reduced from $158 to $89. I simply asked the guy at the pluming desk what the best price would be if I took it home today. His first response dropped it by two-thirds to $30.

    * Direct help (“Paying It Forward”) is often the best form of giving. I’ve adopted injured cats that otherwise would have been put to sleep (they’re now fine and think they own my house). If you’re not into pet adoption, volunteer a few hours each month with non-profit group. Your time is a valuable donation.

    • Anonymously says:

      I gave money to these two kids at the grocery store who I was sure were scam artists, but I figured there still was a chance it their sob-story was true. Hopefully they didn’t use it for drugs and end up OD’ing or something.

    • Disappointed says:

      Agreed! Donating your time is the absolute best way to help a cause you believe in. You’re doing something concrete that you can see the results of firsthand, instead of just throwing your money into some black hole.

      Personally, I have more time than money, so I volunteer.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Noble in all respects, but those left over kittens are due to “puppy mills” so the more kittens you “donate”, the more space these mills have to produce more kittens.

      • gman863 says:

        My “rescue” cats were exactly that. Former pets who were abandoned and, in many cases, sick. They either found me or were referred by a friend; no shelters or “puppy mills” were involved.

  32. Mr Sytry says:

    Cheap Motels have always been mine, not so much the filth as the noisy neighbors. For God’s sake, make your move before 3 AM.

  33. energynotsaved says:

    Since this has evolved a bit, I would like to mention two great sites: http://www.charitynavigator.org and http://www.ministrywatch.com/.

    I know there are a couple other sites that evaluate charities. Perhaps others will know of them and post.

    There are a lot of bad folks out there. As you will find, there are also a lot of great groups trying to help. Be wise with your money. Give according to your own beliefs and ideals.

  34. Anonymously says:

    I was in a Christmas gift exchange and the person who I got wanted me to donate money in their name instead of giving them a gift. I just kept the money and lied about donating it.

  35. RandomHookup says:

    Cheap condoms…

  36. peebozi says:

    I donate to Santa Claus. He works all year for one day and he doesn’t charge anything for all of his work. He employs elves and doesn’t charge us one cent. And I’ve never heard the elves complain about working conditions, health insurance benefits or annual COLA (in full disclosure, I’ve never heard of the 6 year old chinese girls working in sweat shops complain about work conditions, lack of health insurance or their COLA).

    Therefore, I am going to continue donating to Santa Claus…and possibly Zeus.

  37. StevePierce says:

    Phil,

    You are right to withhold that $1 at the checkout line. You likely haven’t researched the charity and until you do don’t give. You don’t know how much of that dollar is going to fund raising, and how much is going to the charity. I have seen these deals where as much as 85 cents of every dollar donated goes to teh fund raiser and not the charity.

    I make sure I first check to make sure the charity is legitimate, and not a similar sounding name. I research to see what percentage of money goes to work and what goes for overhead. If it has more than a 5% overhead I won’t donate.

    Also these small donations usually don’t make it to your tax return so you lose the tax benefit. If you write a separate check for the charity, you are more likely to claim it on your return. Trying to find that $1 or $2 donation and the local pet store receipt when you are doing your taxes, well it doesn’t happen very often.

    So while you may feel a tinge of guilt, you should realize that it is the right thing to do for your home budget and it will help you make sure that worthwhile charities are benefiting from you kindness.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  38. PhilFR says:

    Two words: Dollar Sushi

  39. carlathecommander says:

    Buying a mobile home when I could have purchased a condo, before the housing boom.

  40. Keter says:

    It wasn’t so much stinginess as it was broke-ness, but I wish I had argued harder with my husband about waiting to buy a bigger refrigerator (we were using a half-size one) until I had saved up enough to buy a really nice one. The one I ended up was a bare-bones model and while it works fine, it requires constant bending, stooping, and digging to get to anything. I really wanted a refrigerator with drawers, and still do. I’m going to be stuck with this one that I don’t like very much – and the daily annoyance – for a LONG time.

  41. heart.shaped.rock says:

    Buying a lower-priced GM car instead of the more expensive import. The amount of money I’ve spend on repairs since the 36k warranty expired nearly equals the price difference between the two cars.

  42. RayanneGraff says:

    The only thing I truly feel guilty about is not being able to donate to animal charities on a more regular basis. I feel bad keeping the ASPCA address labels w/o sending a donation, but I’m just hurting for $$$ so bad right now.

    Tattoo artist tipping- I always tip for my body art, and I’d feel bad about this too. You ALWAYS tip your artist/piercer.

    Thank you notes- eh, I always say thank you when I’m given the gift, and if the giver is so snooty that a verbal thank you isn’t enough, then that’s THEIR problem, not mine.

    Tithing- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….oh, that’s a good one, oh man….BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA XD

    I am a militant atheist. The day any church sees one bloody CENT of my money will be the day I get robbed by a christian mugger who throws the change from my wallet into the church donation box. Tithing is a foolish waste of money. It makes me sick to think of how much money is given to churches to help fuel the spreading of silly fairy tales and intolerance when it could be better used for medical & scientific research. There’s a mega-church here in Oklahoma City whose pastor lives in an honest-to-god(no pun intended) MANSION. We’re talking 3 stories, 20 rooms, olympic-sized swimming pool, european sports cars, etc. I bet his ‘flock’ sure feel good about tithing whenever they drive by his COMPOUND every sunday to go listen to him preach about humility, sacrifice, and generosity. Makes me fucking sick.

    I honestly can’t believe people actually give money to churches. How ridiculous. I’ve always wanted to start my own church though, just to get free money from superstitious people.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Yes. Make a bunch of incorrect assumptions and small-minded accusations about a practice that you have never engaged in and haven’t the slightest understanding of. Makes a valuable contribution to the conversation every time.

  43. Get A Amberlance says:

    My biggest regret is when I was married the first time, my ex and I sold the house and split the profit. I had an opportunity to buy my own house, albeit a modular home. It was perfect for my two children and me. I passed up the chance because of all the “red tape” the R.E. agent didn’t want to bother with. It would have secured my outstanding credit at the time.

    Now I’m remarried and stuck on a mortgage (that wasn’t mine) that is more than the value of the home–Thanks, Recession!. My credit suffers today because my debt-to-income ratio is too off-balance.

    My advise? If you have maintained excellent credit on your own, don’t let ANY circumstances interfere, no matter how challenging it might be. These days you won’t get it back :(

  44. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Buying cheap stuff, like furniture, as opposed to saving a bit and having something that will last. Well, I did buy my TV cabinet at Target and it’s pretty good for a prefab thing. Looks nice too. I usually go to the flea market and look for something a little better–I can paint or refinish stuff if necessary. Sometimes I’ll get something less nice to use in the interim, but I won’t / can’t spend a lot on it.

    Instant gratification usually means you end up with junk that you have to spend more to replace.

  45. pyehac says:

    Buying a bicycle from Walmart. I found out the $150 24″ bike I bought was actually a 26″ bike, even though I was able to mount it and try it out in the store with no problems. Since I hacked away at the seat post to lower it (I put a thicker, wider seat) I can’t return it. And it can’t shift gears smoothly. I’m just waiting until something falls off (like what other people said online) or I get enough money to justify buying a better bike from my local bike shop.

    (the ironic part about it, is that I bought my first bike from my LBS which was $100 more than this bike, but it was a 20″, so could learn on it – when I looked at the bigger bikes there, I wanted to avoid paying the $4-500 for those bikes and now I’m going back to my LBS to get a quality bike)

  46. DJ Nihil says:

    I regret not being able to make donations to non-profits I like, but I can’t even afford to live by myself, nor eat more than once a day, much less afford entertainment.

    If I could donate I would, but I can’t. And I tried giving blood, but I haven’t been able to for the last 4 years because I have psoriasis.

    As soon as I can donate again, I plan to.

  47. Tedsallis says:

    1991-92 somewhere in there. I attended Dragon-Con in Atlanta for the first time. I was flush with cash and told myself that I would buy one really significant yet undervalued book this trip, Giant Size X-Men #1. Current book on it at that time was around 200-300 bucks. I saw several copies in great condition at around that price but was unable mentally to offer the little less that might have made me pull out my wallet so I went home minus the book. Nowadays you can’t even touch one for less than a 1000 bucks. These days I’m much more comfortable with throwing out a lowball offer.

  48. PortlandBeavers says:

    Someone told me there was a not-too-expensive neon sign of my first name at an antique store. There must have been a bar of that name or something. It was when I first started at my current job and they weren’t paying me a ton. Man, I wish I had bought that thing.

    Trying to get a second summer out of my old car after the A/C broke. The first summer was mild but this most recent one was infernal. I got through it but won’t do it next summer, that’s for sure.