I have struggled with whether or not I should write this blog for a year now. I don’t have any problem being honest, but I don’t want to place a guilt trip on others either. So, please hear me when I say that this blog entry is not meant to make you feel guilty. It is merely for accountability and for me to show you exactly where your money goes.
Last summer, I was able to return home because of the generosity of those who sent in extra funds when I was living on my last dollar. The money that came in provided more than I needed. I was able to pay all of my bills for the end of the school year, buy a plane ticket back to the state, and pay my German bills for the summer. I returned to the States with nothing but a tax refund and a bit of left over support in my account.
It was very hard for me to justify returning to the States. The plane ticket cost about $1,000, I was still responsible for German bills, and I knew that I would be tempted to spend more money if I was at home. Staying in Germany could have saved me about $2,000. However, TEAM was very clear that I had to return for the summer. They considered my two years at BFA to be two different terms. I had to fulfill fundraising quotas before being allowed to fly back to Germany. So, I spent the money to fly home.
While most of my money was spent in a justifiable way, I still struggled with temptation. Money went toward traveling to see supporters, gas to get to church, and restocking on basic needs that could not be easily filled in Europe (aka-cheap clothes). Yet, there was always a specialty coffee to buy, a meal out, a movie with friends, and that piece of clothing that I really didn’t need. I struggled.
I have become accustomed to a simple life in Germany. Don’t get me wrong, I get hit with bills that most Americans aren’t used to paying all of the time. However, the temptation to spend money on what I don’t need does not exist for me there. In order to prove that simple life style and to show you where your support goes, I have included my budget below. The only disclaimer I have is that some needs have kept me from being able to stick to this budget. Things come up in my life, like they do in yours. I’m not perfect. There have been unfortunate times that I have missed tithing, been late on a bill, etc.
Budget based on a $1,500 monthly paycheck:
$600- Student loans
$150- Tithe/Small Group meals
$100- Utilities/Insurance/Garbage/etc. (I pay for different things each month, but the cost ends up being about the same)
$50- Coffee, meal out, unexpected bill, etc.
Every mission agency seems to handle money differently. The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) has me raise $7,500 as a cushion fund before leaving and between $1,000 to $1,800 a month. All of the money goes into my personal mission account. From there, TEAM takes out about $1,800 a month. $300 goes toward my health insurance and towards TEAM for taking care of my affairs. The rest gets put directly into my bank account. From there, I pay my student loan bills and then watch the exchange rate for the best time to draw out money. The exchange rate can mean between 10 and 40 euro for me.
Like other mission agencies, TEAM has me raise the cushion money for multiple reasons. I can purchase plane tickets, gifts for supporters, or other important things and submit paperwork for a reimbursement. This would be for funds outside of my monthly paycheck. However, the cushion amount ends up becoming my backup fund for the monthly support money that I lack. Since I haven’t brought in more than $1,200 in monthly support, I have drained that cushion pretty quickly in the last couple of years. This doesn’t bother me too much. I will do whatever it takes to be at BFA. I’m only looking for my needs to be met, not my wants. However, this financial model has become very stressful at different times during the year.
The personnel department at BFA doesn’t like the struggle that I have been going through each year to make it to the end of the year and to find a way home. TEAM doesn’t want things to become this stressful for me either. If there is anything you can do to help, please pray about it. My bare cost to be at BFA every year is about $25,000 (including the $7,500). It would only take 70 people giving $30 a month for me to be able to reach this goal.
Ideally, if 75 people gave $100, I could have my start up cost. Then, I would only need about 50 people to give $30 a month. For the amount of money that 2 people spend on eating dinner out, you could support a missionary who is involved in the lives of several families who serve in 53 countries. Imagine how far your dollar could go!