Today, I’ll share a few principles of financial management that are taught in the Book of Mormon. Over the next few days, I’ll consider a few other questions about money, including the relationship between pride and wealth, the importance of caring for the poor, and the dangers of economic inequality.
Here are some principles I have learned from the Book of Mormon which are relevant to personal and family financial management:
- Don’t spend more than you earn. Sounds simple, right? But how easy is it to break this fundamental rule of resource management? After King Benjamin taught his people the importance of caring for the poor and needy among them, he emphasized the importance of being realistic about their limitations: “See that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27). As Elder Robert D. Hales taught, the three most loving words in the English language may be “I love you,” but the four most loving words are “We can’t afford it” (“Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually,” General Conference, April 2009).
- Spend money on things that really matter. Paraphrasing Isaiah, the prophet Jacob said, “Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy” (2 Nephi 9:51, Isaiah 55:2). Jacob’s pronouncement applies to more than money, of course, and includes our time, our energy, and all of our capabilities. We have finite resources. We should use them wisely, not throw them away.
- Pay tithing. Jesus shared with his disciples the words of Malachi, including this dramatic passage: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say: Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (3 Nephi 24:8, Malachi 3:8). The principle is simple: God, who has given us everything we have, requires us to return a portion of our income to Him. That portion is His property, not our own. It is our choice whether to return to Him what is rightfully His or whether to retain it. And if we do demonstrate our faith by paying tithing, He has promised to “open…the windows of heaven, and pour…out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (3 Nephi 24:10, Malachi 3:10).
- Care for the poor. Just as our tithing rightfully belongs to God, some of our money rightfully belongs to people less fortunate than ourselves. If we are able to meet our own needs and still have money left over, we have an obligation to share with people who don’t have enough. “The spoil of the poor is in your houses,” said Isaiah in a passage quoted by Nephi (Isaiah 3:14-15, 2 Nephi 13:14-15). We ought to consider whether we are doing enough to help people less fortunate than ourselves.
Today, I will consider these four principles of financial management as I review our family finances. I will ensure that we are living within our means, spending money wisely, paying a complete tithing, and giving appropriately to the poor and the needy.