Strong families, communities, and nations practice profound principles of stewardship with regards to finances. This is a post about family finances, but the principles apply to communities and nations. In their book titled Fundamentals of Family Finance – Living Joyfully within your Means, E. Jeffrey Hill and Bryan L. Sudweeks, professors at Brigham Young University, share the “Why? What? How?” of the importance of family finance.
According to the authors, the “Why’s?” fall into four categories: (1) Spiritual – to bring you to Christ, (2) Temporal – To help you become a wise steward, (3) Individual – To accomplish your divine mission, and (4) Family – To return with your family back to Heavenly Father’s presence. Under the “What’s?” the professors list four important principles upon which the stewardship perspective is based. (See pages 4-6.)
Principle 1: Ownership
The Psalmist wrote: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1). … Nothing you have is your own – it is all God’s. Therefore, you should not feel proud because of the things you acquire.
Principle 2: Stewardship
Because God owns everything, you have a responsibility to use your resources for His purposes….
Principle 3: Agency
Your financial stewardship enables you to make choices…. The blessing of agency is an unconditional gift from God. The choices you make with money are at the heart of mortality’s test…. The way you use the gift of financial resources shows what you truly believe and how much you really love God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Principle 4: Accountability
The Lord counseled, “For it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity” (Doctrine and Covenants 72:3). The first three principles outlined above are God’s gift to you. The fourth principle of accountability, if followed wisely, can be your gift back to God. You will be required to give Him an account of your stewardship over the blessings you have received.
The “How’s?” teach us how to understand and apply the “Why’s?” and the “What’s?.” Having an “eternal perspective” helps in knowing “how to apply family finance principles.” The authors wrote, “You must build your financial house upon the rock of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, prophets, seers, and revelators – Christ’s representatives on the earth – have given clear financial guidance.” (See pages 6-11.)
1. Pay the Lord first in tithes, fast offerings, and other contributions.
2. Create, use, and update a budget.
3. Minimize and eventually eliminate debt.
4. Prepare for emergencies and build a reserve.
5. Invest early, consistently, and wisely.
6. Protect yourself and your family through adequate insurance.
7. Share finances as equal partners in your marriage.
8. Teach your children and family about finances
The authors ended the first chapter in their book with a summary. They asked their readers and students to remember: “With every dollar you spend, you choose which perspective you will take – either the eternal perspective or the world’s materialistic perspective.,” They explained that “managing your finances is part of living the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greater your motivation will be to obey the commandments and get your financial house in order.” They concluded with the following statement:
Understanding the why’s what’s, and how’s – the doctrines, principles, and applications – of family finance is critical. With an eternal perspective, we can be laying up for ourselves true “treasures in heaven” (Helaman 5:8) while simultaneously planning for our careers and supporting our families (page 11).
I appreciate how the authors taught the doctrine, principles, and applications of family finance. Money cannot buy happiness, but the wise use of family finances can bring security and peace of mind as well as show the Lord that we love Him.