What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Finances?

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

9 thoughts on “What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Finances?

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    1. Though maybe not your intent, this statement is false doctrine. Read into topics like “The Law of the Harvest”, “Entitlement”, “Welfare”, “Work”, “Agency”, “The Plan of Salvation”. You’ll quickly catch my drift.

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      1. I think the Lord has been clear that we have an obligation to share with those in need, whether we think they deserve it or not. (See Mosiah 4:16-26.) As you point out, He has also taught us to work hard and practice principles of self-reliance. I don’t think those two obligations have to be in conflict. I think we can be committed to a strong work ethic and fulfill our duty to care for one another. Hope that helps.
        Paul

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    2. I completely agree. I just wrote a blog post on this same topic which will publish tomorrow. I think we should all recognize when we have something that another person needs more than we do. Thank you for the comment!

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      1. I am not opposed to sharing and helping those in need. We are commanded to do so with a willing heart. I found issue with the word choice of it being a “right” or “entitlement”. No person has a right to money or temporal goods.

        Those in need of those supplements, being physically and/or mentally capable, need to work their hardest to get away from needing it as soon as possible.

        I appreciate your calm demeanor and understanding what I was trying to get at. I am looking forward to your upcoming post you mentioned.

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          1. I like your “Impart” article. It was well done and contains good info. But I would like to hear your thoughts on money being a ‘right’ for someone. That was my only disagreement from number 4 of this article. It’s the word choice that makes it incorrect, not the meaning you are trying to get across.

            Here me out. I’m not bashing on you. I think you are doing a good thing here with your blog.

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          2. Thanks for the comment and for the question. I’m glad you enjoyed the “Impart” article.
            I reread paragraph number 4, and I still stand behind what I wrote. I genuinely believe that some of the money we’ve been given belongs to God and that some of it belongs to people less fortunate than ourselves. I think that’s what Isaiah meant when he said, “The spoil of the poor is in your houses.” I think that God has given many of us more than we need because He expects us to give some of it away.
            I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be thoughtful about how we give. Certainly using our resources to help others develop skills, find work, and become more self-reliant is beneficial. But I think it’s also possible to be too careful. Sometimes, even when we can’t know for sure that what we are giving will be well-used, we ought to give anyway. I would rather err on the side of generosity.
            Thanks again for the question.
            Paul

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