“Chapter 4: Managing Financial Resources Wisely,” The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual Religion 150 (2017)
“Chapter 4: Managing Financial Resources Wisely,” The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual
Many people are concerned about their finances. Many are worried about having the necessary financial resources to provide for themselves or their families. Others may not understand the importance of being honest in their financial dealings because they see others seeming to prosper by being dishonest. Help students understand the importance of paying tithes and offerings, how to avoid debt and save for the future, the need to be honest in their financial affairs, and how to work together as a family to budget resources. When we faithfully keep the Lord’s commandments, we will prosper in the land (see 1 Nephi 2:20). Help students understand that this promise does not mean that those who are experiencing financial hardship are neglecting to faithfully keep the commandments, or that keeping the commandments will prevent all financial hardship. Financial hardship is a reality for many faithful Saints. As with all of the Lord’s promised blessings, prosperity will come in His time and in His way to those who are faithful. This promise of prosperity refers not only to material goods but also to personal and family blessings.
Paying tithes and offerings brings blessings.
Avoiding unnecessary debt and saving for the future helps keep us free from financial bondage.
Being honest in our financial affairs shows our personal integrity.
Counseling together as families helps us decide how resources should be used.
In managing our finances, paying tithing should take first priority. Invite a student to read aloud the following account by President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918):
“My mother was a widow, with a large family to provide for. One spring when we opened our potato pits she had her boys get a load of the best potatoes, and she took them to the tithing office; potatoes were scarce that season. I was a little boy at the time, and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came out and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’ … He chided my mother for paying her tithing, called her anything but wise or prudent; and said there were others who were strong and able to work that were supported from the tithing office. My mother turned upon him and said: ‘William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper and to be able to provide for my family’” (Joseph F. Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, 48).
What lessons can we learn from President Smith’s mother about the importance of paying tithing?
Ask a student to read aloud the second statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley under the section “Paying tithes and offerings …” in the student manual.
In what ways, other than increased wealth, might the Lord bless us when we faithfully pay our tithes and offerings?
Explain that when we pay tithing we show our faith, love, and commitment to the Lord. The tithing funds are carefully monitored by the First Presidency and are used to build the Lord’s kingdom here on earth (see D&C 120).
Show students a coin that is of the smallest value in circulation where you live.
How can a coin of such small worth be of value to the Lord?
During His earthly ministry, the Lord observed a widow paying an offering. Invite a student to read Luke 21:1–4 aloud. Explain that a mite was the smallest valued coin in circulation in Jesus’s day.
What does it mean that the rich men gave “of their abundance” but the widow gave “all the living that she had”?
Why is our attitude in giving more important to God than the size of our gift?
Share the following scenario:
Steve was enrolled in school. He had a part-time job and no debts to worry about. However, when he received his paycheck, he found that he did not have enough money to pay for his rent and also pay his tithing.
What counsel would you give Steve?
Help students understand that we pay tithing because we have faith, not because we have money (see the statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin under the section “Paying tithes and offerings …” in the student manual).
Ask a student to read aloud the statement by President James E. Faust under the section “Paying tithes and offerings …” in the student manual.
Invite two students to take turns reading Malachi 3:8–12 aloud.
What do you think it means to “open … the windows of heaven”? (Answers may include both spiritual and temporal blessings.)
Do you consider tithing a gift to God or the payment of a debt? Why?
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Pay your tithes and offerings out of honesty and integrity because they are God’s rightful due. …
“Paying tithing is not a token gift we are somehow charitably bestowing upon God. Paying tithing is discharging a debt” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Like a Watered Garden,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 34).
In what ways can we be blessed spiritually when we pay tithing?
Who or what do you think is the “devourer” spoken of in Malachi 3:11?
Explain that the devourer can be an obstacle in our lives that tends to eat up our resources, such as costly accidents, health concerns, and attitudes on spending. Sometimes the devourer is rebuked by the consequence of our actions. The Lord can teach us how to avoid or overcome those challenges.
In what ways does paying our tithing help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? (Invite students to read D&C 64:23 to find the answer.)
Invite two students to take turns reading aloud the following statements. Ask students to listen for the blessings given to those who pay tithing and why many of these blessings are of more value than money.
President Heber J. Grant (1856–1945) testified:
“I bear witness—and I know that the witness I bear is true—that the men and the women who have been absolutely honest with God, who have paid their tithing, … testify to all the world of the blessings of God that have come to them by the fulfillment of this law, and that God has given them wisdom whereby they have been able to utilize the remaining nine-tenths, and it has been of greater value to them, and they have accomplished more with it than they would if they had not been honest with the Lord” (Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, Apr. 1912, 30).
President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982) of the First Presidency taught:
“The payment of tithing is a commandment, a commandment with a promise. If we obey this commandment, we are promised that we will ‘prosper in the land.’ This prosperity consists of more than material goods—it may include enjoying good health and vigor of mind. It includes family solidarity and spiritual increase” (N. Eldon Tanner, “Constancy amid Changes,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 81).
Invite one or two students to share their experience with paying tithing and how obeying this commandment has strengthened their faith in the Savior.
Write on the board: In what ways can being in debt limit our freedom?
Divide the class into four groups, and assign each group one of the first four statements by General Authorities under the section “Avoiding unnecessary debt …” in the student manual. Ask each group to find the main point of their assigned statement.
After the groups have had a chance to discuss the statements, invite one representative from each group to go to the front of the class for a panel discussion. Ask the following questions to the panel of students and instruct them to refer, when possible, to the statements in the student manual.
What are some good financial habits we should form in our lives?
What does it mean to “be modest in your expenditures”?
Why is it easy to get into debt and hard to get out of debt?
What are acceptable debts?
In what ways can debt limit our freedom?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 104:78–80 aloud. Then list on the board the principles and counsel of the Lord regarding debt.
Why do you think this is important counsel regarding overcoming debt?
In what ways can these verses help you avoid getting into debt?
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Heber J. Grant:
“If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham , 111).
Instruct students to turn to the debt-elimination calendar under the section “Avoiding unnecessary debt …” in the student manual. Invite a student to read aloud Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s explanation, which precedes the calendar. Ask students to note on the calendar that when debt 1 was paid in July, the monthly payment for that paid-up debt was added to the payments on debt 2 in order to eliminate debt 2 sooner. Invite students to explain the pattern as it continues on the remainder of the chart.
Write the word honesty on the board. Ask students to explain what the word means to them.
How does being honest affect our relationships with others, such as our parents, spouse, colleagues at work, and friends?
Explain that being honest with others reflects how we follow the Lord. The Lord has called us His covenant people. This is because we are willing to make and keep covenants with Him. He has commanded us to deal honestly with Him and all others. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency:
“While I was serving as Area Supervisor in South America, a most unforgettable experience happened in Montevideo, Uruguay. I wanted to change some money because I was living in Brazil at the time, so Brother Carlos Pratt took me to a money exchange house in downtown Montevideo. He introduced me to one of the officials, and the official said they would change $1,000. I did not have $1,000 in cash and had only a check drawn on a bank in Salt Lake City. The exchange house had never done business with me before. In fact, they had never seen me before and could not expect to ever see me again. They had no way to verify if I had $1,000 on deposit in the bank upon which I had drawn the check. But they accepted my check without hesitation—based solely on the fact that I was a Mormon and that they had previously done business with other Mormons. Frankly, I was both grateful and pleased because of their confidence” (James E. Faust, “These I Will Make My Lambs,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 36).
In what ways does our individual honesty affect other people’s opinions of not just us but also the Church?
How is dishonesty a form of selfishness?
Invite students to share experiences that exemplify honesty in financial affairs.
Share the following statement by President N. Eldon Tanner:
“The ideal of integrity will never go out of style. It applies to all we do. As leaders and members of the Church, we should be the epitome of integrity” (N. Eldon Tanner, “Constancy amid Changes,” 82).
Why do you think personal honesty is one of the requirements for a temple recommend?
Draw three columns on the board and label them Father, Mother, and Extended Family. Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite students to listen for the expectations for each category and to list them on the board.
“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).
Explain that in providing for the necessities of life, a plan showing how much money is earned and where that money will be spent can be very helpful. Such a plan is called a budget.
Why is it important that both partners in a marriage participate in a family budget?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–94) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to look for additional insights to add to the lists on the board.
“In the home, money management between husband and wife should be on a partnership basis, with both parties having a voice in decision- and policy-making. …
“Management of family finances should be mutual between husband and wife in an attitude of openness and trust. Control of the money by one spouse as a source of power and authority causes inequality in the marriage and is inappropriate. Conversely, if a marriage partner voluntarily removes himself or herself entirely from family financial management, that is an abdication of necessary responsibility” (Marvin J. Ashton, One for the Money: Guide to Family Finance [pamphlet, 1992], 2–3).
Ask students to turn to the budget activity at the end of chapter 4 in the student manual. Explain that whether we have a large or small income, we can benefit from learning to budget our resources. A budget helps us plan and evaluate the money we take in and spend. Ask students to begin an estimated budget using the budget sheet in the student manual. Counsel them to keep their budgets confidential. You may want to list a sample budget on the board, with examples of income and expenditures typical for your area.
For “Income,” instruct students to list their anticipated income for one month in the “Planned” column. This may include money from various sources, such as jobs, savings accounts, and scholarships.
For “Expenditures,” ask them to estimate anticipated expenses in the “Planned” column. Encourage them to include Church donations and savings for future needs and emergencies.
For “Income,” invite students to record their actual income for one month in the “Actual” column. For “Expenditures,” ask them to record their actual expenses for one month in the “Actual” column. This will help them keep track of what they spend.
Maintaining a budget will be a challenging assignment, requiring students to keep daily records. It will likely take more space than provided on the student manual budget sheet. Students may want to keep daily records in their class notebooks or study journals and then use the budget sheet in the student manual to summarize their income and expenses at the month’s end.
At the end of the month, students should compare their expenditures with their income. After they total their actual income and expenditures, they will be able to examine what they actually need each month and also expenses they need to reduce. Wise budgeting means balancing income with expenditures and spending less than one earns.