“Creating a Divinely Inspired Budget,” Ensign, September 2019
My family’s finances were the least of my worries when the Church’s self-reliance course on personal finances was introduced to our stake. Despite that my husband and I were going to college, we both had good jobs, we weren’t in debt, and we had a budget. We were fine, financially speaking. Or so we thought.
Our stake leaders encouraged all couples to try the class, so my husband and I went, not expecting to gain much.
We were immediately humbled upon taking the first lesson—there was more to finances than we’d thought! More importantly, we learned that Heavenly Father wants to be involved in our personal finances.
Here are four things we learned in the personal finances course that helped us create a divinely inspired budget:
In the Book of Mormon, Amulek taught:
“Cry unto [God] over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
“Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase” (Alma 34:24–25).
The first thing we learned in the personal finances course was how to counsel with the Lord about our goals. We asked ourselves where we wanted to be in five years and what changes we had to make to reach that vision. The Lord inspired us to know what changes were best for our family.
Before we could plan, we needed to be able to know how we spent our money. For a month, we tracked what we spent by writing down all our expenses and organizing them in categories (tithing, mortgage, entertainment, and so on). At the end of the month, we looked at our expenses and evaluated our spending habits by asking ourselves these questions:
Were there any surprise expenses?
Is there a category we could add?
Is there a category we could cut back on?
What did we learn?
Once we better understood our spending habits, we used that information to make a budget. There are so many ways to create a budget! It can be as simple as writing down your plan on a piece of paper and taping it to your refrigerator, or it can be as complicated as creating a spreadsheet on your computer. We decided to use a budgeting app on our phones. After we made our budget, we kept track of our spending and tried to stick to our goals. We continued to pray to the Lord frequently and listened for inspiration from Him.
A budget is a plan, not a rule book, and sometimes plans don’t work out as they should. A couple of months into our new budgeting lifestyle, we had to pay for a lot of car maintenance. Our budget was blown, but because we’d been faithfully sticking to our budget in previous months, we had some extra money to pay for those large expenses. Just as with spiritual matters, Heavenly Father understands when we make mistakes, and He will continue to bless us as we keep trying our best.
My husband and I have drawn closer to the Lord in perhaps the most unexpected way—through our finances. As we continue to strive to do better in all aspects of our lives—including our finances—the Lord will have greater influence in our lives, and someday He will bless us just as the faithful servants in the parable of the talents were blessed: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).