Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Theoretical Budget Proposal

Here is a draft budget proposal for what it might look like to live with the guidelines from the Order of St. James. Its not perfect and some of it is not even filled in. But there is $8000 left unallocated in the end. So there's plenty of wiggle room.

Monthly Yearly

Housing Allowance
Health Insurance


Continuing Ed

Travel Expenses


Total Income 62,729

Monthly Yearly
Auto Fuel 150 1800
Insurance 63 756
Service 200 2400
Taxes 6 72
Saving 100 1200
Auto Total
519 6228
Blessings Tithe 294 3532
20 240
42 500
Dates Weekly 80 1040
Anniversary 17 200
Birthdays 8 100
Dates Total
105 1340
20 240
Food Eat-out 25 300
Groceries 400 4800
Food Total
425 5100
Household Haircuts 15 180
Computer 15 180
Maintenance/Repair 40 480
Operations 40 480
Postage 9 108
Yard 10 120
Household Total 129 1548
Insurance Disability 13 154
Home Owners 42 500
Life 38 453
Medical - Church 1000 12,200
Medical 167 2004
Insurance Total 1260 15311
Medical Dentist 33 400
Doctor 20 240
Medicine 30 360
Medical Total
83 1000
833 10,000
433 5,200


Utilities Landline 30 360
Cell 30 360
Electric 60 720
Gas 100 1200
Water & Sewer 30 360
Utilities Total
250 3000
83 1000

Grand Total 4496 54,239


Brandy said...

I notice how the loan/debt column is blank. What might this look like for a person who has an inordinate amount of student debt (cough.... me...cough).
Wouldnt it be more financially responsible to pay off interest-accumulating debt before one disperses of such a high percentage of money to those in need?
Just something I have been wondering, thinking about.

Tom Arthur said...

We had some good conversation about this today. Here's where the conversation is heading:

1. Debt would be a major priority. It might even be a requirement to get rid of all debt to fully join the order.

2. The first priority for anyone in debt would be to get rid of the debt; thus, the excess would be spent entirely on debt.

3. The community of the Order would help individuals continue to make wise decisions about money so that the debt is not kept. One individual said today, "If I don't have a group like this, I'll always be in debt and never pay it all off. I'll just keep buying more and more stuff." In other words, a group like this is a major source of support to help individuals get out of debt. Thus, when one is out of debt, they would then have the opportunity to begin giving that excess money to something else. What that something else is, is still way up in the air (is it something determined by the order, by the church, or by the individual?).


Nick said...

After receiving the initial email for this Order, I wondered why the salary would be set at the minimum for pastors. Why not go with the living wage in each specific region? There are probably a lot of places online that will tell you the living wage for your area, but here is one calculated for Durham: http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/results.php?location=20700

I would assume that you could figure out additional kids by looking at the difference between "Two Adults, One Child" and "Two Adults, Two Children." You could also check this site's numbers against other sources.

Tom Arthur said...

Nice website. I was looking for something like this but couldn't find anything. Thanks for passing it on.

Connecting the salary to the minimum conference salary had a couple of reasons behind it:

1. It was a simple easy way to set a number. You've shown us another simple easy way to do that too.

2. It was regionally based.

3. It presents a potential renewal movement toward a more British Methodist way of doing salaries.

4. It was never meant to be a proposal for poverty, but rather a proposal for simplicity (or at least more simplicity than we UMC pastors are used to living). As your website points out, this proposal is way above a living wage. It will be good food for thought. The proposal was just that, a proposal. Those interested will be determining what this order might do next year within the spirit of this proposal.

Thanks for the input, Nick. Come join us.


Anonymous said...

So far this year, my family's out-of-pocket medical bills have been more than $4,000.

When my son was in an auto accident, it cost us $1,500 out-of-pocket to fix the car. We could have gone without a car, but that would have made working difficult.

I'm the first to acknowledge that my family could simplify and scale down, but the proposed budget does not appear to account for the kinds of financial emergencies that make the life of people on low incomes so tenuous.


Tom Arthur said...

Dear John,
Thanks for the thoughtful questions. First, they're good questions and questions that our group is aware of and is reflecting on.
Second, the theoretical budget here has $8000 in it that isn't allocated to anything. It also has $1000 allocated to vacation. Thus, take out vacation and you've got $9000 to move around as any particular family sees fit. One of those line items is "savings." There's nothing inherent in the proposal that says a family can't save a cushion of some sort.
Third, those who are currently discussing this have reflected on whether the Order itself might help with these kind of emergencies.
Fourth, the main thrust of this proposal is a community of individuals who are gathering together to hold one another accountable to living simply, giving and receive hospitality, and evangelism. Thus, the "mark" of simplicity is couched within a discerning community that could discern that one's emergency situations this year warrant spending more than the "anchor" minimum conference salary.
Fifth, we don't know what to do about college for kids. We've got some serious work to do with that one but some initial thoughts can be found under the post on college: http://orderofstjames.blogspot.com/2008/04/kids-college.html.
What do you think?

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your thoughtful effort to develop these ideas and respond to questions.

I'll be watching from time to time, although likely not as a full participant.