Sound Financial Advice

A drawing of a dollar sign

With the holidays behind us we now look toward the future.  Many of us make goals for the upcoming year (I am purposely not using the word “resolution” because it seems that we make and break those pretty easily).  In a world of financial turmoil, I feel inspired to write a few words of financial advice, taken from the teachings in the scriptures.  I don’t claim to be a financial expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I like what I have read and I believe it–so if you want professional financial advice seek out a CPA or a financial planner.  However, I humbly invite you to read my thoughts below and decide for yourself if they have value for you or not.

Avoid Debt

Debt is a monster sometimes.  I have witnessed first hand some of the devastation of debt and the inability to meet with the demands of the interest you accrue as a result of poor debt planning.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin has said:

Remember this: debt is a form of bondage. It is a financial termite. When we make purchases on credit, they give us only an illusion of prosperity. We think we own things, but the reality is, our things own us.

Some debt—such as for a modest home, expenses for education, perhaps for a needed first car—may be necessary. But never should we enter into financial bondage through consumer debt without carefully weighing the costs.

We have often heard that interest is a good servant but a terrible master. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. described it this way: “Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation. … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” (“Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts”, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 2004 General Conference)

In other words, debt is a big challenge and something we should probably avoid.  In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, “And again, verily I say unto you, concerning your debts—behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.” (D&C 104:78). The Lord Himself has commanded us to pay our debts–what higher recommendation do we need than that.  It is easy to get credit today because credit-giving is a profitable business, especially if you only make minimal payments and pay a lot in interest.  The scriptures actually admonish us in a few different places to make sure that we pay our debts (see D&C 136:25; Mosiah 4:28; and Psalms 37:21).  Pay your debts, avoid getting into debt, and you will be a happier person!

Pay Tithing

Heavenly Father actually has given us some very strong and simple financial advice when He commanded us to pay tithing.  In Malachi we read,

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:8-11).

Tithing has been a law even from the time of Abraham (see Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:4–10; and Alma 13:15).  In our time, the Lord has been explicit to explain that tithing is a tenth part of all our increase, annually (see D&C 119).  In other words, we give ten percent of all our increase to the Lord.  I love the blessings promised in Malachi to those who pay their tithing–and I have personally witnessed those blessings in my life.  I feel that the Lord has prospered me and has helped me to meet all of my financial obligations because of the Law of Tithing.  Pay your tithing, be absolutely and completely honest with the Lord in this law, and you will be a happier person!

Money Power

Some people look at the problems of the world and despair that money is the root of all evil.  However, money itself is only a tool that can be used appropriately or misused depending upon the person who possesses it.  The scriptures actually say, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10).  In other words, it is when we let money be the object of our obsession that it becomes a problem.  In the Book of Mormon we are counseled to seek first for the Kingdom of God (see Jacob 2:18-19) before seeking for riches.  This helps us to put money in its proper place.  I like how Jacob states that once we have obtained a hope in Christ then we can seek for riches in order to bless the poor and uplift the afflicted–in other words, money isn’t meant to make us richer financially but in order to enable us to bless the lives of those around us.

One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon regarding finances is pretty straight forward and profound: “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy” (2 Nephi 9:51).  In other words, we need to exercise wisdom in the expenditure of our labor and our money–so that in the end we are still serving God and bringing in worth.  Seek first to establish the Kingdom of God, spend your money and your labor wisely, and you will be a happier person!

There are a couple of more thoughts that I could share on this subject, such as the value of generosity, but I feel that this post is long enough.  Money does have great power in this life but it shouldn’t be the center of our obsession, in fact, it shouldn’t even be a major goal in and of itself.  We need to keep in mind the admonition we have received to avoid debt, pay our tithing, and spend our money wisely and it will help us to be better people.  Have a tremendous week!

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