“Without the assistance of that Divine Being … I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail.”

Abraham Lincoln

Making Sense of Your Personal Budget

by Darrin Lythgoe

Latter-day Saints have been counseled to stay out of debt, and having a budget is a good first step toward achieving that goal. Sticking with a budget takes a lot of discipline, but the rewards include security and peace of mind, to name a few. What’s more, starting now will get you ready for the future, when expenses will be larger and decisions will get tougher. So get with the program! Your wallet will thank you, but the blessings will be more than financial.

Getting on Track

Following these steps should get you off and running in no time flat. Don’t forget to write everything down!

  • Decide on the time frame your budget will cover. Most adults choose a month, because they have monthly bills, but it’s up to you.

  • Figure how much money you will earn over that time. Do you get an allowance? Do you have a job? That’s your income, so add it up.

  • Make a list of everything you know you will spend your money on. Tithing should be right at the top. Do you buy your own lunch? If you drive, are you responsible for putting gas in the car? Other necessities might include clothes or school supplies.

  • If you’re saving for anything important—like a mission or college—figure that in too. You might want to open a separate bank account.

  • Now it’s math time. Subtract your regular expenses from your income—can you handle it? This will tell you how much spending money you have for things that maybe aren’t so necessary. Use it wisely!

  • Leave some room to breathe. In other words, save some of your spending money for expenses you didn’t plan on. If nothing comes up, you’ve got that much more saved for next time.

Making Your Budget Work

If you have a solid plan and a healthy commitment, these tips should make sticking to your budget a piece of cake.

  • Pay your tithing before anything else.

  • Never borrow money, even from friends. Being in debt is like being in chains.

  • Try to avoid “impulse buying.” Take time to decide what you want before you get to the mall.

  • When shopping, look for the best quality at the lowest price. Check prices at more than one store to make sure you get the best deal.

  • Search for cheaper alternatives. Go to a matinee or a bargain movie.

  • Make what you have go a long way. Say, couldn’t those sneakers last another month?

  • Watch for sales and hunt for coupons.

  • Wait to buy something until you really need it. Ask yourself, “Can I live without it?”

  • Keep a record of what you buy and how much you spend. If you do, next month’s budget will be that much easier.

  • Put your extra money in a bank account, and take out what you need only when you need it. You will reduce the temptation to spend and perhaps you’ll earn some interest at the same time.

Common Sense

You don’t need to be a millionaire to realize the value of these suggestions.

  • Don’t gamble. That includes betting on sports events or anything else.

  • Don’t leave money lying around where it might get lost or stolen.

  • Always count your change, and make sure you get a receipt.

  • If it seems too good to be true, steer clear. It probably is.

  • Always save something for a rainy day.

  • Be willing to share with those who aren’t as fortunate as you.

  • Most importantly, don’t let money ruin or control your life. Money is necessary, but keep it in perspective. Your faith, your family, and your health are much more valuable.

Biker Supreme

My name is Mardi Datakasi, I’m 16 years old, and I go to Mt. Barker High, where I’m in year 11 and study maths, (Australians use the plural), English, chemistry, modern history, geography, drama, Australian studies, and biology.

I am currently the state champion and third in Australia for BMX (bicycle motocross) racing. I just returned from Holland after competing in IBF championships, where I came in sixth. This was a great experience and an opportunity to meet people from other countries, as there were 32 countries competing.

My day is very long. I get up at 5:30 A.M. to arrive at the chapel for seminary at 6:15. That’s a 20-kilometer trip. We finish at about 7:10. I eat breakfast, then go to the local fitness center and do my morning training for BMX, which includes weights and swimming. At 8:30 I leave there and walk to school. After school I train on my bike and do my homework. Every Monday and Thursday night I work at the Meadows take-away (fast-food restaurant) and get home about 10:30 P.M.

On weekends I race BMX bikes and go to church. I have just completed my third year of seminary and am a Laurel.

A Dream Come True

In addition to their regular youth conference activities—speakers, games, and dances—youth from the Jonesboro and Tucker Georgia stakes put on a carnival for 200 handicapped and underprivileged participants. The youth spent the morning of the carnival setting up booths and preparing for their guests. When they arrived, each visitor was assigned a youth host for the day. There were no losers at the “Carnival of Dreams”—each game was designed so that everyone would walk away from any game they played a winner. At the testimony meeting following the carnival, several youth shared experiences and expressed their love for their special visitors.

Sibling Artistry

Like most brothers, Rex (below, left) and Troy Biggers share lots of things: belongings, family, school, and friends. But these brothers share something even more impressive—a talent for art. Troy recently won a national competition for a painting he did of retired basketball star Michael Jordan, which will hang in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Brother Rex is no stranger to winning either. His painting of TV commentator Rush Limbaugh won Best of Show in their town art festival.

Both boys are active in their Aaronic Priesthood quorum in Leesburg, Florida, as well as in Scouting and music. They have been asked to submit a painting of their house, one of the first in their town, to the Leesburg Historical Society Museum.

Fouled Out

When Clare Morris’s English literature teacher assigned the class to read a book that contained offensive language, she wasn’t sure what to do. Clare, who lives in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England, was especially nervous about reading the book aloud in front of the class, which she knew she would be called on to do. Clare knew it was not right to read the book, but she also knew that her teacher was strict and might not be understanding about Clare’s convictions.

Finally, Clare approached her teacher and told him she would not read the book. When the teacher asked her why, Clare told him some of her beliefs. The next day the teacher announced that the class would not finish reading the book because it was offensive to some students.

“I know that this book isn’t used in the curriculum anymore, and it makes me happy that I have stopped other people from going through what I did,” says Clare.

Sowing Seeds of Service

After devastating forest fires that ravaged much of northern California during the summer of 1993, the youth of the Chico First Ward, Chico California Stake, were ready to take action to help re-forest the area surrounding their homes.

Picking up shovels, gloves, and an attitude of love and service, the Young Men, Young Women, and their leaders planted 1,500 seedlings on a Saturday morning. Although the work was exhausting and took lots of patience and team work, the group was glad to know that the mountains they love will again be green because of their efforts.

One of the Girls

Jennifer Johnson, 15, of Arvada, Colorado, is confined to a wheelchair and is deaf, but thanks to the help of friends, family, and ward members, she often feels just like “any other kid.”

Jennifer was born with spina bifida, and has had more than 25 surgeries in her short life. Recently, “News for Kids,” a nationally syndicated television program, featured Jennifer going through her classes at school and working at home with her sister Julianne to accomplish their chores.

Jennifer, a Mia Maid, loves going to church and attending Young Women activities. With the help of many, she’s attended YW camp for the past two years, which has been a real treat for her.

She also gets along well at school. “Kids sometimes make fun of me and tease me,” she says. “But I want to be treated like any other eighth grader.”

Team Player

Jared Womack, of Franklin, Idaho, knows what team spirit is all about. After managing the Preston High School football team for five years, he received his letter in the sport. Jared also plays basketball and is a great example of good sportsmanship; he is always cheering for his teammates on the basketball team and finding ways to serve those around him.

“That’s just Jared,” says one classmate.

Although Jared has Down’s Syndrome, he is able to participate in school activities and hold an after-school job at a local grocery store. Jared is active in his priests quorum and blesses the sacrament regularly.

Photography by Craig Dimond