"We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. … If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts" (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances).
Pay Tithes and Offerings
Successful family finances begin with the payment of an honest tithe and the giving of a generous fast offering. The Lord has promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out great blessings upon those who pay tithes and offerings faithfully (see Malachi 3:10 and Isaiah 58:6–12).
If our tithing is the first obligation met, our commitment to this important gospel principle will be strengthened and the likelihood of financial mismanagement will be reduced.
On fast day, we go without food and drink for two consecutive meals, if physically able, and then give to the bishop a fast offering at least equal to the value of the food not eaten. If possible, we should be very generous and give more. The bishop uses the fast offerings to care for the poor and needy.
Spending less money than you make is essential to your financial security. Avoid debt, with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for education or other vital needs. If you are in debt, pay it off as quickly as possible. Some useful tools in becoming debt free are a debt-elimination calendar and a family budget worksheet.
Distinguish between Needs and Wants
We must learn to distinguish between wants and needs. We should be modest in our wants. It takes self-discipline to avoid the “buy now, pay later” philosophy and to adopt the “save now and buy later” practice.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) taught: “All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” (“Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Liahona, May 2004, 42).
Getting—and Staying—out of Debt
We should avoid debt. There is nothing that will cause greater tensions in life than grinding debt, which will make the debtor a slave to creditors. A specific goal, careful planning, and determined self-discipline are required to accomplish this.
President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982) taught: "Those who structure their standard of living to allow a little surplus, control their circumstances. Those who spend a little more than they earn are controlled by their circumstances. They are in bondage” (“Constancy amid Change,” Liahona, Feb. 1982, 46).
Use a Budget
Keep a record of your expenditures. Record and review monthly income and expenses. Determine how to reduce what you spend for nonessentials.
Use this information to establish a family budget. Plan what you will give as Church donations, how much you will save, and what you will spend for food, housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, insurance, and so on.
Discipline yourself to stay within your budget plan. A budget worksheet is a useful tool to help you with your plan.
Refer to page 7 in the pamphlet One for the Money for a budget worksheet.
Build a Reserve
Gradually build a financial reserve, and use it for emergencies only. If you save a little money regularly, you will be surprised how much accumulates over time.
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) taught: “Set your houses in order. If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts” (“To the Boys and to the Men,” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 66; October 1998 general conference).
Teach Family Members
Teach family members the principles of financial management. Involve them in creating a budget and setting family financial goals. Teach the principles of hard work, frugality, and saving. Stress the importance of obtaining as much education as possible.