Mormon Channel Blog

    Self Reliance: Financially Responsible Families

    April 4, 2015

    Help teach your family to be financially responsible

    Bryan Sudweeks is an associate teaching professor of finance at Brigham Young University. In this article, he shares his thoughts about how to have a financial vision as a family.

    We know that “where there is no vision, the people perish”[1] and that “with increased vision comes increased motivation.”[2] How can we increase our vision of our finances and better motivate ourselves to live consistent with what we know we should do?

    Our finances can be viewed in two main ways: either with an eternal perspective or the world’s perspective. An eternal perspective states that our finances—or how we manage our personal and family financial resources—is simply part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A worldly perspective is any perspective that takes God out of the analysis. Which perspective we take will make a big difference in how we manage our finances and our lives.

    For example, we have been commanded by prophets and the scriptures to be financially wise. “Prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. … Provide for [your] own needs to the extent possible. … [Pay] your debts and have a financial reserve.”[3] Whether we view these statements as commandments of God or as simply wise things to do will make a great difference in our motivation.

    To help us catch the vision of wise money management, we must answer the question, “Why should we learn about managing our finances?” I have chosen to answer this question from four different perspectives, as multiple perspectives may give us a deeper and more complete answer.

    From a spiritual perspective, the ultimate purpose of everything God does is to bring us to Christ. If God’s work and glory is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”[4] and “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Jesus Christ],”[5] then the purpose of all God does is to bring us to Christ. C. Max Caldwell said:

    “Whatever the problem may be in a person’s life—failure to pay tithing, breaking the Word of Wisdom, casual church attendance [or, I’d add, poor financial habits]—[the] real issue is faith in Jesus Christ. If we can help people obtain the gift of faith in Christ, good works will follow. The end purpose of any law of God is to bring us to Christ. And how well will the law work? It depends on what we think of the Author of the law.”[6]

    From a temporal perspective, managing our finances helps us learn to be wiser stewards over the things God has blessed us with. Joe J. Christensen said: “Our resources are a stewardship, not our possessions. I am confident that we will literally be called upon to make an accounting before God concerning how we have used them to bless lives and build the kingdom.”[7]

    From a family perspective, managing our finances helps us keep our priorities in order. David O. McKay reminded us: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”[8] We show our faith in God and are examples to our family as we pay our tithes and offerings first, before other expenses. We show our priorities as we put the Lord first through sacrifice, service, hard work, and church and temple attendance. We will be disappointed in life if we gain the riches of the world and lose our spouses and families.[9]

    From an individual perspective, we all have divine missions to perform here on earth—“our divine nature and destiny.”[10] Managing our finances can help us learn the lessons and develop the skills needed to accomplish those missions. Gene R. Cook said: “I bear testimony of the fact that if you keep the commandments, He nourishes you, strengthens you, and provides you means for accomplishing all things necessary to faithfully finish your divine mission here on earth.”[11]

    M. Russell Ballard counseled: “We never will have balance in our lives unless our finances are securely under control.”[12] Managing our finances is simply part of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must come to realize the importance of our finances and understand why we must do better. As we do these things, it can be a great motivator to helping us catch the true vision of our finances and apply that vision in our own lives and in the lives of our family members.

    [1] Proverbs 29:18.

    [2] Tad R. Callister, “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 53.

    [3] “All is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances” [pamphlet, 2007], 1.

    [4] Moses 1:39.

    [5] John 14:6.

    [6] “What Think Ye of Christ?” Ensign, Feb. 1984.

    [7] “Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgence,” Ensign, May 1999.

    [8] in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116.

    [9] See Matthew 16:26.

    [10] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129.

    [11] “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Mar. 1986.

    [12] “Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 20.