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We are accountable as stewards over earthly blessings, which the Lord has provided.¹
-Quentin L. Cook
I believe that God wants us to prosper. He wants us to be successful in our careers, in our relationships, and in our families. I believe He wants us to live free from worry and become financially independent– to achieve these things He has made numerous blessings and opportunities available.
God also wants us to be good stewards of the things he gives us and to use these blessings and privileges to care for others, namely our families and those in need.
We have been given so many opportunities in this life to further our education, to learn, to work and obtain high paying jobs and have wonderful careers. I don’t buy into the old adage, “Money is the root of all evil.” Money is not evil. In fact, money has no morals. What money becomes is determined by the person holding it.
With these wonderful blessings that our Heavenly Father has given to us also comes the responsibility of being good managers. We are called to be good stewards of these blessings. We are to use these blessing to help others, care for our families, build God’s kingdom and enrich our own lives.
We are stewards over our bodies, minds, families, and properties. … A faithful steward is one who exercises righteous dominion, cares for his own, and looks to the poor and needy.²
-Spencer W. Kimball
So how can you be a good financial steward? Here are six ways to be better stewards of your money:
1. Know how much money you make
I could have easily used the word budget– which is pretty much a fundamental part of all things personal finance– but I wanted to approach it a little differently. Before you can actually make a budget, you should know what you have to work with.
If you do not know exactly how much money is coming in each month, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to discipline yourself to spend less than that amount.
Know how much money is coming in each month and build a budget based on that amount. Make sure you allocate every single dollar of your income and know exactly where it is going.
2. Keep track of your expenses
Being a good steward of your money requires paying attention to detail at all times.
It’s one thing to write it all out and create a good spending plan before the month begins, but you can’t just stop there. You need to track your expenses as you go to ensure you are staying within the guidelines you created. If you don’t know how much money you have spent and exactly what it has been spent on, how are you supposed to know how much more is available to spend?
Keep a detailed record of what you are spending your money on. This will prevent you from overshooting your budget and spending more than you make.
3. Pay off your debts
Being in debt is slavery– you are a slave to your creditors. Get out of debt as fast as you can.
Nothing says mismanagement quite like large debt payments, 24% interest rates, late fees, $600 car payments, repossessions and wage garnishments. These are all things that can happen when you have debt.
Get out of debt so you can build savings, have an emergency fund, save for your children’s college and your retirement, and pay off your home mortgage early. It will be much easier to accomplish these goals if you have control of all of your income. Your income is your greatest wealth building tool.
By eliminating your debts, you will remove a great burden and be relieved of the accompanying stress. The obligations of being in debt and being a financial slave to others will weigh you down and drain so much of your creative energy. Becoming debt-free will open the door to more opportunities in your career, in your relationships, and in helping others.
I am convinced that it is not the amount of money an individual earns that brings peace of mind as much as it is having control of his money. Money can be an obedient servant, but a harsh taskmaster.³
-N. Eldon Tanner
4. Always be learning
The best investment you can make is in yourself. You get paid for what you know.
Get an education. When considering a college degree, find something you are interested in and passionate about and get a degree in that field. Get a degree in something that is directly applicable in the market place and that you can monetize immediately upon graduation.
There are so many opportunities out there to enhance your knowledge about whatever particular job or career you have. Always be looking for ways to improve yourself and add value to your customers, clients, and even your employer. These improvements will lead to higher salaries, better jobs, and more opportunities.
Continue to look for ways to better your circumstances. If you are in a position where you feel your growth is being limited, or you are not able to utilize all your talents and abilities, or you do not love what you are doing, don’t hesitate to search for something different. Always be putting yourself in a position that promotes growth, learning, and greater opportunities. Do not settle for less than you are capable. Find something you love and desire to be excellent. Always be learning.
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.⁴
5. Use your wealth to bless your family and others
One of god’s great commandments is to love others. Loving others is one of the greatest things we can do as human beings.
We shouldn’t just help others because it is a commandment, but because it is the right thing to do and it makes us feel good. Put yourself in a position financially that will allow you to be a giver. Having a selfless, giving spirit will open the doors to more opportunities for prosperity.
Part of loving and caring for your family is being a good manager of your money. By properly budgeting, saving, and being financially prepared your family will enjoy greater blessings and find greater peace in their lives. There are so many wonderful things you can do as a family when you have an abundance of financial resources available.
6. Enrich your own lives
This is very important. Sometimes you have to be selfish and do things for yourself. Whatever it is that makes you happy, do more of it.
You cannot overlook the importance of enjoying your life. This world is a gift from God. There is so much this world has to offer. Get your finances in order so you can fully benefit from this blessing.
One day when we look back on our lives, we will remember the people we loved, the places we visited, the things we learned, and the experiences we had and the people we had them with. These are the things that matter– the things that truly enrich our lives.
The blessings we enjoy in this life come from a loving Heavenly Father. He wants us to be happy. He desires for us to prosper. Being a good steward of these blessings and opportunities will only cause greater blessings and opportunities to be given to us.
¹Stewardship—a Sacred Trust; Quentin L. Cook, LDS General Conference, October 2009
²Welfare Services: The Gospel in Action; Spencer W/ Kimball, LDS General Conference, October 1977
³Constancy Amid Change; N. Eldon Tanner, General Conference, October 1979
⁴Stanford Report, June 14, 2005; Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Address 2005