Managing Financial Resources Wisely

The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual Religion 150, (2004), 15–20


Introduction

Many people are concerned about their finances. Many are worried about having the necessary financial resources to provide for themselves or their families. Others may not understand the importance of being honest in their financial dealings because they see others seeming to prosper by being dishonest. Help your students understand the importance of paying tithes and offerings, how to avoid debt and save for the future, the need to be honest in their financial affairs, and how to work together as a family to budget resources. When we faithfully keep the Lord’s commandments, we will prosper in the land (see 1 Nephi 2:20). This promise not only refers to material goods, but also to personal and family blessings.

Principles to Understand

  • Paying tithes and offerings brings blessings.

  • Avoiding unnecessary debt and saving for the future helps keep us free from financial bondage.

  • Being honest in our financial affairs shows our personal integrity.

  • Counseling together as families helps us decide how resources should be used.

Teaching Suggestions

Paying tithes and offerings brings blessings.

In managing our finances, paying tithing should take first priority. Share the following account by President Joseph F. Smith:

“My mother was a widow, with a large family to provide for. One spring when we opened our potato pits she had her boys get a load of the best potatoes, and she took them to the tithing office; potatoes were scarce that season. I was a little boy at the time, and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came out and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’ … He chided my mother for paying her tithing, called her anything but wise or prudent; and said there were others who were strong and able to work that were supported from the tithing office. My mother turned upon him and said: ‘William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper and to be able to provide for my family.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, 48).

Ask: What lessons can we learn from President Smith’s mother about the importance of paying tithing?

Have students read the statement from President Gordon B. Hinckley on page 24 of the student manual that begins “I do not say …”

Ask: In what ways, other than increased wealth, might the Lord bless us when we faithfully pay our tithes and offerings?

Explain that when we pay tithing we show our faith, love, and commitment to the Lord. The tithing funds are carefully monitored by the First Presidency and are used to build the Lord’s kingdom here on earth (see D&C 120).

Show the students a coin that is of the smallest value in circulation where you live.

Ask: How can a coin of such small worth be of value to the Lord?

During His earthly ministry, the Lord observed a widow paying an offering. Have a student read Luke 21:1–4. Explain that a mite was the smallest valued coin in circulation in Jesus’s day.

Ask:

  • What does it mean that the rich men gave “of their abundance,” but the widow gave “all the living that she had”?

  • Why is our attitude in giving more important to God than the size of our gift?

Share the following case study:

Steve was enrolled in school. He had a part-time job and no debts to worry about. However, when he received his paycheck, he found that he did not have enough money to pay for his rent and also pay his tithing.

Ask: What counsel would you give Steve?

Help students understand that we pay tithing because we have faith, not because we have money (see the statement from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in the student manual, p. 24).

Have a student read the statement by President James E. Faust on page 24 in the student manual.

Read with the students Malachi 3:8–12 (Scripture Mastery, Malachi 3:8–10). Ask:

  • What do you think it means to “open … the windows of heaven”? (Answers may include both spiritual and temporal blessings.)

  • Do you consider tithing a gift to God or the payment of a debt? Why?

Share the following counsel from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Pay your tithes and offerings out of honesty and integrity because they are God’s rightful due. …

“Paying tithing is not a token gift we are somehow charitably bestowing upon God. Paying tithing is discharging a debt” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2001, 41; or Ensign, Nov. 2001, 34).

Ask:

  • In what ways can we be blessed spiritually when we pay tithing?

  • Who or what do you think is the “devourer” spoken of in Malachi 3:11?

Explain that the devourer can be an obstacle in our lives that tends to eat up our resources, such as costly accidents, health concerns, and attitudes on spending. Sometimes the devourer is rebuked by the consequence of our actions. The Lord can teach us how to avoid or overcome those challenges.

Ask: In what ways does paying our tithing help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? (Have students read D&C 64:23 [Scripture Mastery] to find the answer.)

Share the following two statements and have the students identify the blessings given to those who pay tithing and why many of these blessings are of more value than money.

Elder Heber J. Grant, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, testified:

“I bear witness—and I know that the witness I bear is true—that the men and the women who have been absolutely honest with God, who have paid their tithing, … testify to all the world of the blessings of God that have come to them by the fulfillment of this law, and that God has given them wisdom whereby they have been able to utilize the remaining nine-tenths, and it has been of greater value to them, and they have accomplished more with it than they would if they had not been honest with the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1912, 30).

President N. Eldon Tanner, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, taught:

“The payment of tithing is a commandment, a commandment with a promise. If we obey this commandment, we are promised that we will ‘prosper in the land.’ This prosperity consists of more than material goods—it may include enjoying good health and vigor of mind. It includes family solidarity and spiritual increase” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 119; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 81).

Invite one or two students to share their experience with paying tithing and how this commandment has strengthened their faith in the Savior.

Avoiding unnecessary debt and saving for the future helps keep us free from financial bondage.

Write on the board: In what ways can being in debt limit our freedom?

Divide the class into four groups and assign each group one of the first four statements by General Authorities in the “Avoiding unnecessary debt …” section on pages 24–25 of the student manual. Ask each group to find the main point of their assigned statement.

After the groups have had a chance to discuss the statements, have one representative from each group go to the front of the class for a panel discussion. Ask the following questions to the panel of students and have them refer, when possible, to the statements from the student manual:

  • What are some good financial habits we should form in our lives?

  • What does it mean to “be modest in your expenditures”?

  • Why is it easy to get into debt and hard to get out of debt?

  • What are acceptable debts?

  • In what ways can debt limit our freedom?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 104:78–80. Then list on the board the principles and counsel of the Lord regarding debt. Ask:

  • Why do you think this is important counsel regarding overcoming debt?

  • In what ways can these verses help you avoid getting into debt?

Share the following statement of President Heber J. Grant:

“If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet” (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [1969], 111).

Have students turn to the debt-elimination calendar in their student manuals (p. 25) and read Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s explanation, which precedes the calendar. Ask them to note on the calendar that when debt 1 was paid in July, the monthly payment for that paid-up debt was added to the payments on debt 2 in order to eliminate debt 2 sooner. Ask students to explain the pattern as it continues on the remainder of the chart.

Being honest in our financial affairs shows our personal integrity.

Write the word honesty on the board. Ask students to explain what the word means to them.

Ask: How does being honest affect our relationships with others, such as our parents, spouse, colleagues at work, and friends?

Explain that being honest with others reflects how we follow the Lord. The Lord has called us His covenant people. This is because we are willing to make and keep covenants with Him. He has commanded us to deal honestly with Him and with our fellowman. Share the following experience of Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“While I was serving as Area Supervisor in South America, a most unforgettable experience happened in Montevideo, Uruguay. I wanted to change some money because I was living in Brazil at the time, so Brother Carlos Pratt took me to a money exchange house in downtown Montevideo. He introduced me to one of the officials, and the official said they would change $1,000. I did not have $1,000 in cash and had only a check drawn on a bank in Salt Lake City. The exchange house had never done business with me before. In fact, they had never seen me before and could not expect to ever see me again. They had no way to verify if I had $1,000 on deposit in the bank upon which I had drawn the check. But they accepted my check without hesitation—based solely on the fact that I was a Mormon and that they had previously done business with other Mormons. Frankly, I was both grateful and pleased because of their confidence” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1980, 53; or Ensign, Nov. 1980, 36).

Ask:

  • As members of the Church, in what ways does honesty affect more than just us?

  • How is dishonesty a form of selfishness?

Invite students to share experiences that exemplify honesty in financial affairs.

Share the following statement from President N. Eldon Tanner:

“The ideal of integrity will never go out of style. It applies to all we do. As leaders and members of the Church, we should be the epitome of integrity” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 121; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 82).

Ask: Why do you think personal honesty is one of the requirements for a temple recommend?

Counseling together as families helps us decide how resources should be used.

Draw three columns on the board and label them Father, Mother, and Extended Family. As you study the following statement from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, have the students identify the expectations and list them under the correct category:

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

Explain that in providing for the necessities of life, a plan showing how much money is earned and where that money will be spent can be very helpful. Such a plan is called a budget.

Ask: Why is it important that both partners in a marriage participate in a family budget?

Read the following counsel from Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to look for additional insights in his statement to add to the lists on the board.

“In the home, money management between husband and wife should be on a partnership basis, with both parties having a voice in decision- and policy-making. …

“Management of family finances should be mutual between husband and wife in an attitude of openness and trust. Control of the money by one spouse as a source of power and authority causes inequality in the marriage and is inappropriate. Conversely, if a marriage partner voluntarily removes himself or herself entirely from family financial management, that is an abdication of necessary responsibility” (One for the Money: Guide to Family Finance [pamphlet, 1992], 2–3).

Suggested Student Assignments

  • Have students turn to the budget sheet on page 31 of the student manual. Explain that whether they have a large or small income, they can benefit from learning to budget their resources. A budget helps us plan and evaluate the money we take in and spend. Have students begin an estimated budget using the sheet in their book. Illustrate as you explain by filling in a budget on the board with sample entries for each column. Urge students to keep their budget confidential.

    For “Income,” have students list their anticipated income for one month in the “Planned” column. This may include money from various sources, such as jobs, savings accounts, and scholarships.

    For “Expenditures,” have them estimate anticipated expenses in the “Planned” column. Encourage them to include Church donations and savings for future needs and emergencies.

    Encourage students to record their actual income for one month and to write it in the “Actual” column. Also, ask them to record their actual expenses for one month to see what they spend. This will be a challenging assignment, requiring the keeping of daily records. It will likely take more space than provided on the student manual budget sheet. They may want to keep these detailed numbers on a separate sheet of paper and then use the budget sheet in the student manual to summarize their income and expenses at month’s end.

    At the end of the month, students should compare their expenditures with their income. After they total their actual income and expenditures, they will be able to examine what they actually need each month and also expenses they need to reduce. Wise budgeting means balancing income with expenditures and spending less than one earns. (You may want to list a sample budget on the board, with examples of income and expenditures typical for your area.)