“Living within Our Means,” Ensign, Feb. 2001, 69
Although the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord, He entrusts a portion of His wealth to each of us. Elder Joe J. Christensen, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, explained: “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” (“Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgence,” Ensign, May 1999, 11). Whether our portion is great or small, we can be responsible caretakers as we apply righteous principles.
Many families find it helpful to develop a budget. The first considerations when budgeting are tithing and Church contributions. Paying an honest tithe is crucial to helping build the kingdom and is our greatest financial protection, for the Lord has promised that when we keep this commandment, He will “open you the windows of heaven” (Mal. 3:10). Fast-offering contributions help us fulfill our obligation to “impart of [our] substance … to the poor and afflicted” (D&C 105:3).
The Lord may open the windows of heaven in many ways. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) explained, “He can give us better salaries, … more judgment in the spending of our money, … better health, … [and] greater understanding so that we can get better positions” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 212).
After budgeting for necessities, including savings if possible, the next considerations are the nonessentials the family has deemed desirable.
One of the most valuable ways to use our resources is sharing them with others. C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) wrote: “If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, … they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them” (Mere Christianity , 67).
Few things erode happiness more quickly than debt. In some cultures, debt is becoming both more available and more accepted. But as Church members, we have long been advised to avoid unnecessary debt. The hunger for worldly goods must be bridled just as any other appetite. Applying the pioneer motto “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” can help us live within our means.
Jill Johnson of Sandy, Utah, tells how the Lord blessed her family: “As newly married college students, we had carefully budgeted our meager monthly income. Then the landlord raised our rent by $15. We prayed for a blessing. The next day our old car broke down beyond repair. We wondered why we had these trials all at once, but the loss of the car turned out to be a blessing. With help from family and friends, we found we could manage without a car. The money saved on gas and oil was $15 a month. Sometimes we are blessed for obedience in unexpected ways.”
The Lord is concerned with our temporal and spiritual welfare and will help us as we strive to care wisely for the gifts He has given us.