The point of organized religion is not to help you save money, but there are a lot of ways in which it can do just that. Whether you celebrate your religion in a church, a synagogue, a mosque, or a revival tent — or wherever else you feel is right — you’re going to benefit in ways that affect your finances and that may not be immediately apparent in our secular age.
Before further discussion, let’s acknowledge that you’ll likely be asked to donate to your place of worship. You should wary of any requests that can damage your finances. The traditional standard of giving, especially in Christian churches, is a tithe, or 10 percent of your annual income. (Hey, even a free yoga class will be followed up with a request for donations.)
So if you’re donating to your organization, how does it help you save money? In short, religion tends to embrace higher, more virtuous things than material goods and conspicuous consumption. It emphasizes the values of thrift, hard work, sharing, and good deeds. Here are a few concrete ways it helps you save money:
- Religious groups provide supportive communities to their members.
- Attending services gives you the opportunity to unplug for a while.
- Many religious organizations provide cheap activities and events.
1. A Supportive Community
In active congregations, religion is more than just the aspect of worship. It’s the community and the people in it, many of whom are ready to help you when the you-know-what hits the fan. It’s nice to think that life is all sunshine and rainbows, but chances are that some difficulty will enter your life.
Easing a burden with the help of a religious community is a gift. But if you never show up, that gift can never be given or received.
Helping others, building bonds, and being connected to the lives of your neighbors are all inherently good things that are reinforced through religious practice.
Coincidentally, those good things will usually take you off the path of money-burning activities. If you’re going to visit a sick member of your congregation, you’re not spending that time shopping. If you’re at home reading to prepare for a study group, you’re — get this — at home reading.
2. Unplugging for a While
Then there’s the fact that simply going to a house of worship on a regular basis compels you to leave your computer and (hopefully) your phone behind. You can unplug not only from work but also from the barrage of marketing that we are all targeted with every time we go online. Sacred spaces are sacred partly because they keep the busy world at bay.
3. Inexpensive Activities
And after your worship service, if you’re inclined, you can participate in a whole community of people doing things like volunteering, hosting covered-dish dinners, and reading texts in group study sessions. Such activities are often free or carry a low cost that benefits your chosen organization.
Sure, you may be asked to cook something for a potluck dinner; but the cost of making a cake or a plate of deviled eggs is minimal. And if your group is full of good cooks, you may enjoy a better dinner than you could manage on your own — all for the price of your signature mac and cheese.
While you’re standing around talking over delicious brownies, you may find that a person in the group has a solution to a problem you’re facing — or that you have a way to help them. That is all a part of religious activity, and at the very least, it can’t hurt.