Tips for Managing Money

When we were newly married and my husband was still in school, we struggled to make ends meet. But I felt our financial situation would improve once he graduated and we started living in the “real world.”

Unfortunately this didn’t happen. Though I want our family to be free from debt; to work monthly on our food storage; to take advantage of sales; to save for missions, college, retirement, and emergencies; and to help those in need, we seldom have enough money for all of these things. Even with the best of planning, unexpected expenses seem to put us further and further away from our financial goals.

Still, we have found some ways to stretch our dollars. Our most important practice comes from Malachi 3:10: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Mal. 3:10] Paying our tithing is the first step in the Lord’s plan of financial well being. The second step is giving a generous fast offering.

Next, we work out a realistic budget. We have found it is unwise for one spouse to handle all financial matters because he becomes the “bad guy,” for always saying “No, we can’t afford it,” and the other partner the martyr, for never getting to spend any money. We plan our budget together so we agree on how we will use our resources.

We want to have a savings account so we are prepared for emergencies, so we found we need to include savings in our budget. In a financial planning seminar we attended, my husband’s elders quorum president said that he saves money through payroll deductions; if he never sees the money, he doesn’t miss it. We have found it works well for us, too. (If payroll deductions are not available at your company, you can deposit some money into your savings account immediately, so you’re not tempted to spend it on other things.)

Once our budget is in place, we make a goal to stick to it. One way I restrain myself from making unplanned purchases is to ask myself: “How much money is in the checkbook? Do I want it or do I need it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I don’t buy it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I do buy it? Will I regret this purchase tomorrow?” By the time I answer these questions, I know what my decision should be.

When our budget won’t stretch any further and a special day is approaching, we often give gifts of service. For example, one Mother’s Day when I was seven months pregnant, my husband gave me a closetful of freshly ironed shirts—his. For my birthday a few years later, he promised to do the dishes every Sunday for a whole year. Besides being economical, these gifts are often appreciated more than a store-bought present.

Because my three children are small, I do not work outside our home. I do, however, contribute financially by teaching piano lessons a couple of afternoons a week. I have friends who also work part-time to supplement the family’s monthly income. Some teach piano as I do; a few type in their homes; one is a substitute teacher; others sell various products through home demonstrations; and several babysit. Using creativity, we have found ways we can add to the family income without spending large amounts of time away from home.

Believe it or not, our financial challenges have brought us blessings. They are teaching us to work together and to have self-discipline—traits that will help us even when our financial situation improves.Sally Hancock Seil, Lubbock, Texas

The Sun—Our Friend and Foe

Our sun, the center of our solar system and essential to all life on earth, gives us light, heat, and even food. Nothing is more exhilarating than a beautiful sunrise or a brilliant sunset, and by the certainty of the daily sunrise and sunset we gauge our time and plan our lives.

Yet the sun, so fundamental to life, can be a lurking, slow-acting enemy. Too much sun can cause skin cancer.

Although ultraviolet rays, which do the damage, are only a small percentage of the sun’s total output, the harm they do is accumulative. Skin cancer often appears in the fifth decade of life after years of extensive exposure to the sun.

In addition to cancer, the sun can also cause premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. No one is immune to sun-related skin damage, but prime targets are people with blond, light brown, or red hair and those with pale, ruddy, or freckled skin. They have less of the protective pigment substance, melanin, in their skin. Those who spend a great deal of time in the sun, those who have been severely sunburned in their childhood, teens, or twenties, and those whose relatives have had skin cancer are also at high risk.

Protection from the sun is the best method of preventing sun-caused disease. Wearing a hat can eliminate about half the harmful ultraviolet rays, and covering arms and legs with light colored clothing also helps. Remember that snow and water reflect sunlight and that rays can penetrate even three feet below the water. And the higher the altitude, the less atmosphere there is to filter out ultraviolet rays. Fair-skinned people are at greatest risk during the middle of the day—from 10:00 A.M. until 3:00 or 4:00 P.M.

Commercial sunscreen preparations are good protection for anyone who must be in the sun for work or recreation. These lotions contain chemicals that block the passage of ultraviolet rays. Manufacturers have standardized the amount of effective blockage with a numerical system that gives users varying degrees of protection; a number 15 preparation gives the maximum amount. As with any cosmetic, it is wise to check the contents before buying sunscreen to make sure it does not contain substances that will irritate your particular skin. Then try it on a small spot before using it on large areas of the body.

Use of a number 10 to 15 sunscreen, on the face and especially on areas not normally exposed to the sun, is recommended for at-risk people whenever they go outdoors for extended periods of time—even in cloudy weather. Remember to reapply the sunscreen after swimming or exercising.

For people over forty, it may be too late to prevent skin cancer, so it is important to know the visual symptoms. Most skin cancers can be safely and completely removed if you detect them early and consult a physician immediately.

What do you look for? At any age, any change in the skin’s surface should be closely watched. Caution signs are moles that grow, change color, or become flaky or inflamed; sores that do not heal in the normal length of time; pimples that persist, especially if they bleed when the area is washed or touched; changes in size, texture, or color of birthmarks; constantly chapped lips; scaly or discolored spots or bumps that appear suddenly and remain; or any other unusual condition of the skin, such as crusty or itchy spots.

These should be brought to the attention of your physician or dermatologist, who will order a biopsy—a microscopic examination of a tissue sample—if there is any possibility that the condition is malignant. The doctor will then suggest one of several methods of eliminating a cancer or pre-cancer condition. Common methods are chemical freezing, surgery, or X-ray irradiation.

Fortunately, with early detection and care, there is now a 95 to 100 percent assurance of completely curing the most common forms of skin cancer. But even more significant is that they probably can be prevented if informed parents begin to take care of their own and their children’s skin early enough in life.Zina Coe Alves, Sacramento, California

“There’s Nothing to Do” Game

On long summer days our children often complain that “there’s nothing to do.” We found a solution to that problem: with the children’s help, we choose various activities, then write each activity on an index card. (Watching television is not one of the choices.) When a child wants something to do, he draws a card, then must do what’s on that card. Here are some examples:

  • Color

  • Make a present

  • Read a book for twenty minutes

  • Tell someone a story

  • Eat a popsicle

  • Practice piano or singing

  • Weed the garden

  • Organize your sock drawer

  • Take your brother to the park

  • Memorize a Bible scripture

  • Draw your own maze

  • Cook something

  • Play with play dough

  • Clean the bathroom mirror

  • Memorize one Article of Faith

  • Count your money

  • Pick up your room

  • Draw a picture for someone

  • Work on Scouting

  • Have a water fight outside

  • Write a letter

  • Rest and think for ten minutes

  • Eat some fruit

  • Sweep the kitchen floor

  • Play a game on the computer

  • Build a fort with blankets

  • Listen to cassette story tapes

  • Build something with blocks

  • Do crossword puzzle or word find

  • Look at photo albums

  • Ride your bike around the block

  • Talk or sing into a cassette tape

The cards can be modified for winter activities, and a different set of cards can be prepared listing appropriate Sunday activities.

Since we started this we rarely hear “There’s nothing to do.”Janine Miller Lund, El Paso, Texas

[illustrations] Illustrated by Lapine Overy