We should use the financial resources with which we are blessed to perfect ourselves and build up the kingdom of God.
This unique way to help family members understand their part in helping with the family budget was suggested by Dr. Dwayne Belt of the Brigham Young University faculty. You may wish to use some of his ideas or adapt them to the needs of your family:
“I had told the children to sit in a circle on the floor to prepare for a special activity during our family home evening. To their astonishment, I gave each one a large bundle of one-dollar bills. My wife and I also had a bundle.
“‘All of this money together is the amount earned each month in our family,’ I said. ‘Tonight you are all going to help Mom and Dad spend it.’ …
[Note: It might not be practical to have this much real currency in your home. You may want to make paper bills the same size and color as your currency, and if possible place at least one real bill on the top of each bundle.]
“For some time my wife and I had felt that one of the important things we should teach our children was the wise use of money. Although we felt the children should not be overburdened with concern about the family budget, we believed that a better understanding of our financial responsibilities and goals would contribute to the harmony we desired in our home.
“‘You need to know that there are some things we are required by law to pay and some that we have promised to pay,’ I explained. ‘After these things are paid, there will be other things we need and must pay for, and then we can use the rest of the money as we wish.’ …
“Tithing was quickly agreed upon as the most important thing we have promised to pay, followed by other Church donations. Each person counted out his share and handed it to me.
“‘We have always paid our tithing first, even when we “owed” only $9.00 a month, and we have always been blessed for it,’ I reported to the family.
“So we continued on down the list—taxes, social security, insurance, house payment, utilities, and many others. The children looked distressed as their piles of money began to get smaller.
“Occasional questions arose about things such as retirement funds. These were discussed in an attempt to help each one see the reason for these kinds of programs.
“‘In our family,’ I said, ‘savings comes under the list of things we have promised to pay. We have promised ourselves that we would save regularly to prepare for missions, college, or family emergencies. To help us keep that promise to ourselves, my employer pays some of our money to our savings account each month.’
“When we had exhausted the list of things required by law and promises, we moved to other things we needed. Food was mentioned first, followed by clothing and medical care.
“Soon we began to mention a few things we would like to do or to have, and as families often do we found that we had too much month left at the end of the money. Long before our list of needs and wants was exhausted, the piles of one-dollar bills had disappeared.
“The children stared in disbelief. My wife and I smiled knowingly.
“Some of the comments were:
“‘What do you do at Christmastime?’
“‘I didn’t realize how fast we spend the money you make, Dad.’
“‘Boy, it must take a lot of time to figure out the budget and pay the bills each month.’
“‘It’s all the dozens of little things that really add up.’ …
“‘You sure have to plan ahead.’ …
“‘Is it wrong to buy things we don’t actually need?’ one of the children asked.
“‘It is not wrong to have and to enjoy many of the beautiful and wonderful things in the world,’ we told her, ‘as long as we keep two things in mind: First, our desire for material possessions should always be secondary to our desire to serve the Lord and our fellowmen. Second, acquiring luxuries should always be secondary to acquiring necessities.’
“‘That was fun,’ one of the children said, ‘but what does money have to do with the gospel?’
“‘We have been told that our Heavenly Father gives us no temporal commandments,’ answered Mother. ‘Everything he tells us to do is for our eternal good. And every part of our life, including handling the family income, is part of living the gospel.
“‘We hoped that this activity would remind each of us that we should use our resources toward perfecting ourselves and building up the kingdom of God.’
“‘Now, what can each of you do that will help you or our family to make better use of the financial resources with which we are blessed?’ I asked.
“That evening the following commitments were made:
“I will keep track of what I spend for an entire month and then make a priority list for using my allowance.
“I am going to be more careful about the little things I buy that I could get along without.
“I’m going to try to save $100 from my allowance and baby sitting by the time school starts next fall.
“I’m going to pay my tithing the very first Sunday after I get my allowance, without fail.
“I’m going to make a plan for saving enough from my allowance so that I can buy a new dress every three months.
“I will try even harder to make only one trip a week for the family groceries.
“With an occasional reminder, our family have noticeably made sincere attempts to use our financial resources more wisely since this experience.
“We will never forget the night we helped ‘spend’ the family income.” (“They All Held the Money,” The Instructor, May 1970, pp. 158–59.)
It is generally recognized that one of the leading causes of friction in marriage, often leading to divorce, is the inability of the couple to wisely handle the family income.
In order to use family finances wisely, the husband and wife must each understand their own responsibilities for the finances and be committed to living within a budget they have both agreed upon. If a couple has not already done so, they could spend an evening planning a detailed budget and outlining the responsibilities they will each have for their finances.
Any married couple can profit from an evaluation of their financial practices. Even if they have already established a budget, they could take an evening to review it and make necessary adjustments.
Matthew 6:19 (Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth.)
1 Timothy 5:8 (If any provide not for his own.)
Doctrine and Covenants 75:28 (Obliged to provide for own family.)
Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 (Prepare every needful thing.)
See also “Family, Managing Finances in,” and “Money” in the Topical Guide.
“Count Your Blessings,” Hymns, no. 241.