Monday, June 08, 2009

Dollars and Sense By Daryl Hoole

Meridian Magazine I couldn't let this article pass by without sharing it! Great ideas on how to be thrifty and practical with managing money on a tight budget!

Dollars and Sense

By Daryl Hoole

A clever magazine article was captioned, “How to Help Your Daughter Marry Money.” The answer: “Teach her how to manage money wisely.”

Financial security is more about how you spend than how much money you earn.
– Blaine Harris

Being a good steward in general has been addressed in this column a number of times, but this article is specifically about being a good steward over our financial resources. Regardless of our income, it is prudent to conserve our family's possessions through good financial management. That is the way to get ahead and also be able to share with those less fortunate. Following are a few reminders.

Be a smart consumer . Here are some ways to get the most from your money.

* Shop sales—and remind yourself: It is only a bargain if you need it.
* Shop quality. Quality usually pays off in the long term.
* Shop quantity. It is usually a savings to purchase items in bulk.
* Shop from a list and stick to the list to avoid impulse buying.
* Use coupons.
* Purchase only things you need and have room for.
* Charge no more on a credit card than you can pay off each month. A credit card should be used for convenience, not for credit.

Economize in the kitchen. An old saying asserts, “Some women can throw more out the back door with a teaspoon than their husbands can bring through the front door in a wheelbarrow.” An exaggeration, still the expression may contain a kernel of truth. Here are some thrifty ideas:

* Avoid waste
* Cover leftovers before storing in the refrigerator and use them within three days.
* Serve small portions to children (they can always have a second helping).
* Avoid feeding the garbage disposal.
* Do not tell your children things that are not true such as threatening them that if they do not eat, children in Africa will starve. Your children are smart enough to realize that what they do or do not eat has no direct effect on what children in Africa do or do not eat. However, it is true that there are hungry children in the world. Your children should learn to show thankfulness for their food and respect for those who earned it by not wasting it.
* Bake your own bread. Loaves of bread from your oven cost only about 35 cents each, and are generally enjoyed far more by those who eat them than purchased bread. Once you know how to bake bread and get the process down to a system, it doesn't take much time. (See “Leaning on the Staff of Life” for bread baking tips and recipes.)
* Serve cooked cereal as opposed to packaged cereals. A serving of oatmeal costs only 10 cents, plus the milk and brown sugar. Often the preparation is as easy as adding hot water.
* Can or freeze garden-fresh fruits and vegetables. Shop from produce stands along the road or farmers' markets in your community.

Be good stewards—take care of what you have .

* Keep possessions clean and maintained. If they are broken repair or dispose of them. Neglect can cause accidents. For example, house fires can be caused by accumulated dryer lint.
* After use, return possessions to their rightful places. Most things are broken, crushed, stepped on, run over, or lost because they are not where they belong.
* Avoid sun, rain, and wind damage to possessions by keeping them properly stored.

The old maxim remains true: A stitch in time saves nine.

Learn to do it yourself, depending on whether you want to save money or time. For example:

* Do minor household repairs.
* Maintain a vegetable garden.
* Make your own cleaning solutions.
* Cut family members' hair.
* Restore or refinish furniture.
* Make slipcovers, window treatments, etc.
* Specialize in handcrafted gifts.
* Create your own greeting cards.
* Make eating out a special occasion, not a default dinner.
* Learn to paint and wallpaper and even lay tile.
* Look for clothing that does not need to be dry-cleaned. You might want to consider washing and ironing shirts and blouses rather than sending them to a commercial laundry.
* Exchange services with others, such as baby sitting, in return for hair or nail care.

Many resourceful moms have discovered they can stay home and save more than they can go out and earn. There are no childcare or transportation expenses. There are fewer temptations for “lunching out” and shopping, and your taxes don't go up. Studies have shown that families who have two working parents eat dinner out more often. Both spouses are too tired to cook after a day at work.

Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Beware of the power of advertising. There is a reason why advertisers are willing to pay large amounts of money for a brief spot on television, a small feature in a magazine, or an eye-catching display in a store—these ads are cleverly designed to whet consumers' appetites and result in a sale. It requires a strong resolve regarding needs and wants to resist being tempted to buy more than you need or can afford.

The practice of thrift is not outdated. We must discipline ourselves to live within our incomes even if it means going without or making do. The wise person can distinguish. . . between basic needs and extravagant wants. Some find budgeting extremely painful, but I promise you, it is never fatal.”
–Elder Marvin J. Ashton

Learn to be content with what you have. While it is good to be ambitious and industrious and try to improve our lot in life, it is certainly not good to be envious of others and thereby become discontented with what we have. The Tenth Commandment admonishes us, “Thou shalt not covet.” Closely related to coveting is being discontented, desiring more than we can have.

It can bring contentment in life to realize that we do not have to have “everything” to be happy. It can bring even greater contentment to accept the fact that we do not have to give our children everything--not even everything we had as a child. We can instead help them to have happy times through whatever resources are available to us.

Three women—a mother, her married daughter, and the daughter's friend—were chatting. The daughter was lamenting the fact that she wasn't able to provide a swimming pool for her children. Her life as a child had revolved around the family's pool. She loved to swim, and she felt her children were missing out on so much. Her mother said, “Do you know, all the time you were swimming I was feeling bad that you didn't have an orchard and a hollow to play in like I had as a child. My happiest hours were spent climbing trees and hiding in the hollow.” At this point the friend added, “What I enjoyed most as a child was riding my bike up and down the quiet street we lived on. But I've felt disappointed for several years; I can't allow my children to do that because the street running past our house is so busy. But just now I've come to realize how fortunate my children are. We have a wonderful backyard with an orchard and a hollow.”

In conclusion, please consider the following lines:

C B A's of Dollars and Sense

You may think that I have it backwards,
going from C to A,
But let me explain my reasoning
for managing money this way.

CONSECRATE one tenth to the Lord
And a portion to save and invest.
If you make these your priorities—
You'll be blessed to manage the rest.

Draw up a BUDGET and stick to you plan.
Be thrifty, be prudent, and share.
Don't confuse your wants and your needs.
Be grateful, be honest and fair.

AVOID DEBT as you would a plague.
Make interest your friend, not your foe.
Except for a home, education, or car,
Paying cash is the smart way to go.

Consecrate, Budget, and Avoid debt,
C B A—by way of review—
And when you take care of your money,
Your money takes care of you.

By Phyllis White

Daryl will be participating at BYU Education Week, August 18-21. For the time and place, please consult next month's column or the Education Week Program.


Scorchi said...

Wow. All that is really good. Thanks for sharing so much of it!

Jenny said...

That was a great article! I should read it three times a day to keep myself focused. I like the part about learning to be content with what you have. I have been coveting everyone else's new couches lately.