As I stated before, since we started out as full-time missionaries our finances have changed drastically. We are now in the “Missionary Finance World.” That means we are living on a few different variables than before. Here are three:
Living on Support – Living on support means that churches or individuals have chosen to financially support our family as we minister in China. People give and we receive. This is humbling in itself. I had given to missions since I was a teenager and now I was on the receiving end.
When raising support, we figured a certain number that we would like to raise and when we have that much coming in we consider our support to be at 100%. The interesting thing I learned about support is that every month it is different. It is hard for a missionary to say that he is at 100% because each month his support is different. One month he might only bring in 90% and the next month he brings in 105%.
We have supporters who faithfully send in every month, we have supporters who send in every three months, supporters who send in at random intervals and random amounts. We have had churches that had to decrease their support amount because of financial hardships and others churches that increased their support because of financial blessings. We have new churches take us on and to my knowledge we have only had one church drop our support (because the church closed).
There is no right or wrong way in this, it is just the reality of living on support. We are thankful for all who choose to have a part in supporting our ministry.
Living on an Exchange Rate – Wether we pay with a debit card or use cash their is an exchange rate involved. Exchange rates change daily. When you get used to a certain exchange rate and then you realize that it has changed for the worse, and you get less money in the exchange than before, it’s frustrating. A missionary can actually loose or gain a percentage of his support based on how much the exchange rate changes.
Living on Cash – Before we left America, we could pay for almost anything with our debit card. We could easily track our expenses online and know exactly where our money was going. Since moving here that has changed because most of our daily expenses are paid in cash. Of course our bills that are based in America our mission board helps us pay or we use online bill pay, but the everyday expenses and cost that are China based, we use cash. Some of the nicer places accept our debit card, but not many.
Therefore, we have adopted using the envelope system. We made a budget that we try to live by and we have adjusted it over the past several months. At the beginning of each month we withdrawal the money that we will spend that month from an ATM and place a specific amount in each envelope based on the category. Then whenever we need to spend the money, we just take it out of the corresponding envelope and write down what we spent it on and the new amount in the envelope. The system isn’t perfect and there are months we go over and have unexpected cost, but we have emergency funds setup to help with that. This helps us see where we are spending money and to be good stewards of our support.