One of my daughters commented a few weeks ago about a statement made by her nine-year-old daughter. My granddaughter had written something to the effect that “I am a math genius,” and my daughter’s comment was “This makes me so happy!” I was actually a little jealous and wished I could claim that I was a math genius.
I know enough math to accomplish the tasks required of me. I can add, subtract, multiply and divide without much problem. Fractions, decimals, and percentages are a little more challenging for me but doable. One of my classes this semester is Introduction to Algebra and Finance, and I am concerned about doing well in it. My first lesson was learning addition and subtraction facts up to 15+15 and the multiplication tables up to 15x15. Since I learned up to 12x12 in grade school and have maintained most of the knowledge for more than sixty years, I did not have much trouble regaining proficiency in them; however, I was challenged with learning the higher numbers but completed the assignment correctly and under the time limit.
My second lesson was on rounding numbers and estimating answers, and I was able once again to regain that information without too many problems. This lesson also included learning to make a budget on an electronic spreadsheet for my income and expenses for one month five years from now. This assignment was very difficult for me because I did not know anything about doing spreadsheets on a computer; it was also a very traumatic assignment for me. I worked on my spreadsheet for several hours one day and saved it, but I could not find it again. I was very frustrated because I thought I would have to do all the work over again. My husband knew how to find it, and my son helped me to submit it for my lesson.
My current lesson is on decimals, plus doing another spreadsheet with current income and expenses. I reviewed how to change fractions to decimals and decimals to percentages. My daughter came to visit and helped me set up my spreadsheet. I am feeling fairly confident with decimals and percentages, which is a good thing because I am the lead student this week and have the responsibility to lead the discussion in our Gathering. I am comfortable doing it, but I am still concerned about the current spreadsheet assignment.
In addition to relearning old math concepts, learning new ones, and learning how to do spreadsheets, I also am required to read a book about handling finances and then write a book report on it. There were nearly ten suggested books, but our city library had only two on the list. I checked out both books and proceeded to read the book with the fewest pages. I was intrigued by the title of this book – The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason – and found the story interesting; however, I realized that I was not learning any new principles. Since I am supposed to report on what I learn, I decided to read the second book, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman. I think I purchased this book several years ago but cannot find it among my books; I wonder if I gave it to my son when I gave him some books on finance.
This book has many new ideas that I had not considered previously, especially not in connection with finances. Have you ever thought about how you feel about money? However you feel, the author says your feeling comes from your first experiences with money. If you grew up in a home where there was never enough money to pay the bills or to buy food, you may be afraid of investing your money in the stock market. Both my husband and I grew up poor, but we have different feelings about money. Even though I understood that we did not have much money, I never felt insecure about it, probably because I grew up on a farm and always had enough food to eat. I am not sure how my husband feels about it; I just know that he lies awake worrying at times like this when the stock market is falling while I sleep like a baby. The book has numerous other interesting ideas about our relationship with money as well as solid counsel about managing finances. I have now read most of the book and need to get serious about writing the book report.
I was somewhat surprised when I read pamphlet titled “One for the Money – Guide to Family Finance” because the pamphlet and the book have similar language – such as showing respect for your money and learn how to manage your money before it manages you. This pamphlet is based on a talk titled “One for the Money” https://www.lds.org/ensign/1975/07/one-for-the-money?lang=eng given by Elder Marvin J. Ashton in the April 1975 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nearly twenty years before the book was written. In his introduction Elder Ashton made this statement: “How important are money management and finances in marriage and family affairs? May I respond, `Tremendously.’ The American Bar Association has indicated that 89 percent of all divorces can be traced to quarrels and accusations over money. Others have estimated that 75 percent of all divorces result from clashes over finances. Some professional counselors indicate that four out of five families are strapped with serious money problems.”
Elder Ashton then suggested twelve points to help each of us manage our money better. His twelve points are: (1) Pay an honest tithing, (2) Learn to manage money before it manages you, (3) Learn self-discipline and self-restraint in money matters, (4) Use a budget, (5) Teach family members early the importance of working and earning, (6) Teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend, (7) Teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare, (8) Make education a continuing process, (9) Work toward home ownership, (10) Appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program, (11) Understand the influence of external forces on family finances and investments, and (12) Appropriately involve yourself in a food storage and emergency preparedness program.
I suppose I can tie all these things together by sharing an approximate statement by my son. He mentioned that his eleven-year-old daughter was not interested in learning math but suddenly became very interested and was doing well in it. He wondered if her turn around came when he suggested that she needed to learn math or someone would take her money and she would never even know it. Since she is very interested in money, investments, etc. this could have been her motivation. I encourage all my readers to learn as much math as possible as well as to learn to manage your money before it manages you. Above all, please remember that relationships are more important than any amount of money