Putting the Lid on Cash Flow

Cash has a tendency to disappear before it has done all it needs to do. Being short on cash can create headaches and problems.

We solved our cash problems when we began to use “the jar” to help us. We put enough cash in the jar to take care of our basic cash needs—incidentals from the grocery store, lunch money, and school supplies. We included a pencil and a ledger sheet to account for money taken from and returned to the jar.

When cash is taken from the jar, the family member writes down the date, how much he or she took, and what it was spent on. When change is returned to the jar, the family member writes down the date and how much he or she returned. We appoint a jar custodian to periodically add or subtract the totals since some of our children are not old enough to do that for themselves.

The jar is a proven method for keeping cash readily available around our home. It complements our efforts to teach family members responsibility; the ledger in our jar encourages us to account for the cash we spend. When we see where the cash goes, we can find ways to improve our family spending patterns.

The presence of the jar reminds us that everyone is responsible for the overall success of the family. The money is shared. Each family member does his or her part to contribute, and everyone thinks carefully before spending cash in the jar. Within the limits of the family budget, the jar makes cash available to all family members and acknowledges that the family is a unit working together toward common goals.Merle L. Keller, Salt Lake City, Utah

Better Home Evenings—Plan on It

Our best family home evenings have been those we’ve planned beforehand. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to get the family together during a hectic week to do the necessary preparation. The result can be a hasty, uninspired lesson and a focus on refreshments.

The solution for us is to use a planning sheet. The headings in the left margin call for the date. Other headings can indicate the names of those who will offer the prayer, lead the song, present the lesson, prepare refreshments, and arrange the activities; items needed; things to discuss; special assignments; and planning for the next week.

If each heading is listed in order, the planning sheet serves as an agenda as well. We post the planning sheet and refer to it during the week. Planning ahead for family home evenings is easy to do, and the rewards of doing so are immediately apparent.Joan P. Pearce, Whitley Bay, England

Home Movies—Starring Our Ancestors!

Recording family pictures and stories on videotape is an exciting way to prepare family history. We can capture ancestors’ life stories, hear their testimonies, and see how they handled their trials on an easy-to-view and easy-to-reproduce videotape. Not only can we develop a kinship with our ancestors, but we can feel their influence in helping us with our own problems though we are generations apart.

Gathering: Collect pictures and stories. I found that when family members learned of my videotape project, they willingly shared information with me. Remember to handle others’ mementos with care and to return them promptly. Organize this information into life stories. Include faith-promoting incidents, thoughts, feelings, and testimonies from journals and letters. Include funny incidents, too.

Narrating: You might consider writing the narrative for the videotape from these stories. If so, choose one person to narrate the story, but use different narrators to record direct quotes or dialogue in stories. Let parents, children, grandchildren, or friends record their memories of family members. Include music when appropriate.

Using visuals: Match pictures with the narrative. Use one picture for a short paragraph and several pictures for longer paragraphs. Where no family pictures are available, use pictures from the library, from books and magazines, or take your own. Whenever possible, take horizontal slides with a 35 mm camera. Number the pictures and slides as you correlate them with the narrative. Label pictures and slides with a “P” or “S” before the number. Write the number and a brief description of the picture next to each paragraph in the wide margin. Draw a line from the number to the exact place in the narrative where the picture is to appear.

Also prepare any written material such as a title page or credits. Use the character generator on your video camera, or hand-letter your signs.

Videotaping: Practice several times before doing the actual videotaping. If you have a professional do the technical work, arrange with him or her to match each picture with the narrative.

With the availability of home video cameras, it is possible to do your own videotaping. It takes two people, and you will need a cassette tape recorder, a slide projector and screen, a plain background for pictures, and a video recorder.

  1. 1.

    Prerecord the voices of any family members who cannot be present at the actual taping. Also, if you are using music, have it available on cassette tape. Place the cassette tape recorder near the video camera so you can clearly record the taped narrative or music at the proper time.

  2. 2.

    Set up the slide projector and screen. Be sure slides are arranged in numerical order.

  3. 3.

    Place a plain piece of cardboard on an easel for use as a background for pictures—or cover a box with plain paper. When you need to photograph only one person in a group photo, mask out the others in the group with a piece of plain paper. An oval or a square hole cut in the paper will allow you to focus on the one face you need.

  4. 4.

    Now, you are ready to begin. Videotape your family history in chronological order, beginning with music and the title, then continuing the history using narrative, pictures, and slides.

When a picture is used, tape it onto the plain background with the narrator sitting close to the camera so his voice will be clearly recorded. The person running the camera focuses on the picture and gives the signal for the narrator to begin. He focuses the video camera on the picture until the narrator finishes his part.

Slides are recorded the same way, with the slide appearing on the screen in a darkened room as the person running the camera records the slide and narrative together.

I spent weeks gathering information and days recording the videotape of my family history, but it was worth every minute of my time to see the stories of my ancestors come to life on television at our family reunion. The expressions on the faces of my relatives were reward enough—and they all wanted copies.Verlean D. Brewster, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Little Golden Bean

My wife and I wanted to teach our children the principle of giving genuine, unselfish service. So one night in home evening, we announced that we were going to begin a program called “el frijolito de oro”—“the little golden bean.”

We gave each of the children a plastic container with a lid and told them that for every act of service they performed spontaneously for a family member—without anyone asking them to do it—we would give them a little bean to put in their container. We explained that during our next home evening, we would count the little beans. The person with the most beans would receive special recognition.

The results were remarkable! We didn’t have enough brooms in the house—everyone wanted to sweep! And we didn’t see a single toy out of place during that entire week. We began to wonder if we would have enough beans to get through the week!

During that week, my wife broke her foot. She had to have a cast on her entire leg. The doctor said that during the first three days, she should have absolute rest and that she should keep her leg elevated.

This, of course, gave more opportunities to serve. And it helped us discover how much the children were coming to understand the beautiful principle of service.

On one of the days when my wife was to have complete rest, she wanted to sit in the living room. Just as she got settled, Betito, one of the youngest of our children, ran and brought a chair for her to rest her leg on. Next, he brought a blanket and put it on a chair. Then he lifted her leg onto the blanket.

Caressing his head, my wife said to him, “Go to the cupboard and get two beans for this beautiful act of service.”

But instead of going to the cupboard, Betito looked up to his mother and said, “Mamá, I don’t want any beans. I did this because I love you very much.”Félix Alberto Martínez Decuir, Nuevo León, Mexico

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff

[illustration] Illustration by Brent Christison