“Tips for Managing Money,” Ensign, Aug. 1987, 55
When we were newly married and my husband was still in school, we struggled to make ends meet. But I felt our financial situation would improve once he graduated and we started living in the “real world.”
Unfortunately this didn’t happen. Though I want our family to be free from debt; to work monthly on our food storage; to take advantage of sales; to save for missions, college, retirement, and emergencies; and to help those in need, we seldom have enough money for all of these things. Even with the best of planning, unexpected expenses seem to put us further and further away from our financial goals.
Still, we have found some ways to stretch our dollars. Our most important practice comes from Malachi 3:10: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Mal. 3:10] Paying our tithing is the first step in the Lord’s plan of financial well being. The second step is giving a generous fast offering.
Next, we work out a realistic budget. We have found it is unwise for one spouse to handle all financial matters because he becomes the “bad guy,” for always saying “No, we can’t afford it,” and the other partner the martyr, for never getting to spend any money. We plan our budget together so we agree on how we will use our resources.
We want to have a savings account so we are prepared for emergencies, so we found we need to include savings in our budget. In a financial planning seminar we attended, my husband’s elders quorum president said that he saves money through payroll deductions; if he never sees the money, he doesn’t miss it. We have found it works well for us, too. (If payroll deductions are not available at your company, you can deposit some money into your savings account immediately, so you’re not tempted to spend it on other things.)
Once our budget is in place, we make a goal to stick to it. One way I restrain myself from making unplanned purchases is to ask myself: “How much money is in the checkbook? Do I want it or do I need it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I don’t buy it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I do buy it? Will I regret this purchase tomorrow?” By the time I answer these questions, I know what my decision should be.
When our budget won’t stretch any further and a special day is approaching, we often give gifts of service. For example, one Mother’s Day when I was seven months pregnant, my husband gave me a closetful of freshly ironed shirts—his. For my birthday a few years later, he promised to do the dishes every Sunday for a whole year. Besides being economical, these gifts are often appreciated more than a store-bought present.
Because my three children are small, I do not work outside our home. I do, however, contribute financially by teaching piano lessons a couple of afternoons a week. I have friends who also work part-time to supplement the family’s monthly income. Some teach piano as I do; a few type in their homes; one is a substitute teacher; others sell various products through home demonstrations; and several babysit. Using creativity, we have found ways we can add to the family income without spending large amounts of time away from home.
Believe it or not, our financial challenges have brought us blessings. They are teaching us to work together and to have self-discipline—traits that will help us even when our financial situation improves.—Sally Hancock Seil, Lubbock, Texas