Recent studies show one in four American workers is seriously distressed about his personal financial situation. Add to that the uncertainty of the economy and there becomes an increased need to improve personal and family financial management.
Richard W. Ebert Jr., the director of Employment Resource Services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says, “Financial problems are a source of much unhappiness and are certainly a major factor in family and work difficulties. Unresolved, they can lead to crushing debt and divorce.”
Knowing this, leaders of the Church have counseled its members for decades to prepare for hard times by avoiding financial problems and becoming more economically stable. Recently, the senior leadership of the Church published the brochure All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances to help members manage their resources.
The brochure advises families to “prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve. If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts.”
The brochure is available on the Church Welfare Services Web site at www.providentliving.org. The Web site also provides the following guidelines for families to become more financially responsible:
1. Avoid debt. Learn self-restraint by spending less money than you make and saving money to purchase what you need. Avoid debt except for vital needs, education and the purchase of a modest home. If in debt, try to pay it off quickly.
2. Use a budget. Keep a record of your monthly income and expenses. With this information, set up a family budget. Establish how much you will save, how much you will spend for food, housing, insurance, utilities, etc. Reduce what you spend on things that are not necessary.
3. Teach family members early the importance of working and earning. Children should be responsible for the decisions that affect their own money and face the consequences of their bad spending. As your children mature, help them understand the family financial situation, budget goals and their individual responsibility within their families.
4. Work toward home ownership. Improve the home you acquire so you can use the accumulated equity for a better home if you decide to sell it.
5. Appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program to avoid the significant debts place upon families when they are uninsured.
6. Involve yourself in a food storage and emergency preparedness program. Planting and harvesting a garden annually can help the family budget and encourage food storage.
7. Build a reserve. Accumulate savings little by little and use it for emergencies only.
The Web site also provides a number of financial tools to guide families and individuals in the decision-making process. These tools can help determine — based on an individual’s own income — how soon loans and debts can be paid off, how much to save for retirement, how much to save to reach a specific goal, and the monthly payment on a new home.