Sunday, June 7, 2009

After Breakfast

I have only thought about this post since the talk was given. A few years ago I happened to see one of my brother's right after conference. I never knew to come to conference with questions until he said he expected a talk to answer What should he do with M.H.'s ministry? which is code for his rental house. This was a completely new and foreign concept at the time. This year as I thought what answers do I need, the only thing I could thing that was pressing me was how to arrange my finances to comfortably pay for my husband's MBA.
I expected a vague answer, I have had a hard time understand this principle that my brother taught. Boy was I surprised when the first thing I heard gave me my answer. You see we slept in, and although I heard President Monson's opening address, I wasn't really paying attention because I was eating breakfast. I am sure I can't relate the feelings of shocked when I heard Elder Hales give me a much more complete answer than I ever expected. I think this talk was overwhelming for some, for me it was liberating to hear "just stop". He lays out everything I want to accomplish with my money.
To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.
Then he said,
Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17). Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement. Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed, less worthwhile if our family does not have everything the neighbors have. As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford...
Until he said this I never realized looking at my neighbor's new car longingly was coveting. Luckily for me I few months ago I stopped looking at new Outbacks thinking why I don't I have one of those. Oh because I can't afford one without a car payment, and I have a perfectly good outback that is paid off. Ok, seriously when he said we can not covet, I realized in all things I covet. Growing up as a kid this seemed like a far off sin, like murder, but seriously I've started to realize how this effects the majority of people every day. I've sincerely tried very hard to stop looking at other people's things. I think its helped in my family finances. No longer am I thinking what is wrong with us that I don't have money to go buy all the latest summer clothes. Or how come I'm not getting a master bathroom in my next house. I'm rambling, so moving on. Just know I found it liberating to hear someone tell me stop coveting, sometimes we need reminders of what we already know.
He goes on to teach two questions we should ask.
1. Can I afford?
2. Do I really need it even if I can afford it? Does it provide any spiritual benefit to my family?
I've started to apply this all the time. Not just in big purchases, because not only can you be pennywise and pound foolish, but you can be penny foolish.
I have an example of both since I've heard this talk.
I realized how much stuff my family has, and have been able to get my house in better order. But its really helping. I've realized although it keeps my son happy temporally, my son does not need something everytime we go to the store. Not only does he not need it, but am I hindering him because of it? If he gets something even if its only a buck or less am I teaching him to be self entitled? Then upon thinking, I took it one step farther. Do I get myself something that is not needed by the family everytime I go to the store? Is my child just a child, or is he learning from me? I don't really know the answer to this question, but I have definitely started to delay some seemly cheap little purchase.
Now pound foolish. Elder Hales said,
Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we may want to ask ourselves, “Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?” Truthfully answering these questions may help us avoid excessive debt and other addictive behavior.
First of, I truly believe teaching your children, and yourself, in short family, myself, to live with in our means is an eternal principle. So I recently read about this family and all the fun they have had over the years at the vacation property. They started small, originally it had no dwelling, then they (the parents and children) lphysically built a little log cabin, they have slowly upgraded over the years. So when I came across some vacation property, I was sorely tempted to buy. I thought that it has eternal value, and significance, think of all the years we will use it. Houses will come and go, but vacation property you can use for your entire life. I can take my children, and then their children. I was really selling myself on the idea. Then a thought popped in my head, everything in its needed time. I'm trying to put my husband through grad school, not shopping for vacation property. In a few years shopping around for vacation property wouldn't be a bad idea, I do think it has eternal value and significance, but not at this season of my life.
So this may sound weird but this was my favorite talk from conference.


  1. awesome talk! thanks for your intake.

  2. I'm glad that you learned something from this talk and feel "liberated." I heard this talk and cringed. Micah and I don't have a lot of regular expenses. We rent cheap, no children, no car payments, all our furniture was gifted to us, etc. Still, we are not exactly living frugally. We both work so finances are not tight and we spend. We buy movies. We go out to movies. We have stopped shopping for any groceries other than breakfast food because we eat out any other meal of the day. We SPEND. I need to learn something from this talk and I'm not yet willing to. Ugh.