An Honest Discussion About Finances

We try not to talk about money on here, but a very real part of being a missionary is that you have to raise personal support in order for your family to do what you do. It’s a humbling process because our culture teaches us to put on a grin and act like we have more than we do. Not healthy. This email went out to friends and supporters this month, and we know that everyone reading this cares about our family in some way, so we’re posting it here, too.


It’s time for me, Chris, to be humble again and fill you in on the state of our  family’s financial support. Short version: it’s not good. If you hate people asking for your money (aka begging) just stop reading now because that’s all I’m writing about this month. The Rolling family is officially poor, and we need your help.

I’ll start out with the numbers: for the first 9 months of this year we averaged $1174 in support each month. In October we lost our longest, most dedicated supporter to the tune of $250 per month. Apparently there is some sort of recession on and our friends had to make a difficult financial decision. What that means in practical terms for us is that we will now average about $924 in support per month if everything else stays the same. In October $1005 came in, for example (we haven’t received November support yet).

It turns out we’re below the poverty line if we were living in the USA. In Haiti, of course, we’re living very comfortably on a relative scale to most of the locals. However, neither measure should be used to determine what income a particular missionary family ought to have. I would like to tell you some of our expenses. Off the top is Olivia’s school which is only $70 per month. However, we reimburse Clean Water for Haiti $150 per month for fuel and vehicle wear and tear for transportation to and from school each day. After that, we only have $704 per month for everything else. Everything else includes tithing, anything to do with entertainment, clothing and shoes, and all the expenses we have whenever we travel to the states or Canada. We have been traveling back twice per year, but that is unlikely to happen more than once per year anymore. Traveling includes airfares for the children, gas and vehicle maintenance and insurance while we’re home (we still own the old camper van), plus food. We don’t have to pay for medical insurance because we have no medical insurance. It works out pretty well as long as we don’t get sick – major medical expenses will have to come out of pocket.

Completely disregarded at this point is our retirement plan. We ought to be putting $500+ per month into our retirement plan. Five years ago our support was at around $1800/month and we had no kids and we used whatever we could to put into the plan. At this point, the mutual funds we have are valued at $30,000. I’m 38, and I would like to retire at 65. My wife informs me that we won’t be retiring in Haiti, but rather a different country where we can grow old in peace so we need to keep that in mind.

We would like to have an income of around $2000 per month. That would give us enough money to meet our expenses, keep something in savings for emergencies, save for vacations, and put money away for retirement. Would you be willing to help put us on track?

I want to say a few things about being poor. I don’t mean truly poor, when you can’t feed your family or send your kids to school. Being moderately poor, where you don’t eat out, think really hard before you make a purchase, and use things for many years before replacing them is a good thing. Wealth can all too easily act as a barrier to humility and a barrier to living to our full potential as Christ’s servants. I’m glad we’re able to raise our children in a way that’s separated from North America’s pervasive consumerism/consumptionism/materialism. In fact, I like being poor so much that we’ll keep doing this work in Haiti even if our support coming in drops even further. We’ll make it work.

~ Chris

Our family sends out a monthly email to friends, family and supporters. We know there are a lot of people that read our blog faithfully, but haven’t ever been extended the invitation to receive those emails. If you would like to get them please email Leslie at and ask to be added to the list. There is also updated donation info on the sidebar.

This entry was posted in this is life by Leslie. Bookmark the permalink.

About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

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