Pay what you owe and you'll know what's your own.
I wish to speak to you about temporal matters.
As a backdrop for what I wish to say, I read to you a few verses from the 41st chapter of Genesis.
Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, dreamed dreams which greatly troubled him. The wise men of his court could not give an interpretation. Joseph was then brought before him: “Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
“And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
“And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed. …“And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
…“And I saw in my dream … seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
“And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
“And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: …
“And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, … God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
“The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. …
“… What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
“Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
"And there shall arise after them seven years of famine;
“… And God will shortly bring it to pass” (Gen. 41:17–20, 22–26, 28–30, 32).
Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.
President Faust would not tell you this himself. Perhaps I can tell it, and he can take it out on me afterward. He had a mortgage on his home drawing 4 percent interest. Many people would have told him he was foolish to pay off that mortgage when it carried so low a rate of interest. But the first opportunity he had to acquire some means, he and his wife determined they would pay off their mortgage. He has been free of debt since that day. That’s why he wears a smile on his face, and that’s why he whistles while he works.
So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings.
We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed.
I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression. I am a child of the Great Depression of the thirties. I finished the university in 1932, when unemployment in this area exceeded 33 percent.
My father was then president of the largest stake in the Church in this valley. It was before our present welfare program was established. He walked the floor worrying about his people. He and his associates established a great wood-chopping project designed to keep the home furnaces and stoves going and the people warm in the winter. They had no money with which to buy coal. Men who had been affluent were among those who chopped wood.
I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people. In March 1997 that debt totaled $1.2 trillion, which represented a 7 percent increase over the previous year.
In December of 1997, 55 to 60 million households in the United States carried credit card balances. These balances averaged more than $7,000 and cost $1,000 per year in interest and fees. Consumer debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 16.3 percent in 1993 to 19.3 percent in 1996.
Everyone knows that every dollar borrowed carries with it the penalty of paying interest. When money cannot be repaid, then bankruptcy follows. There were 1,350,118 bankruptcies in the United States last year. This represented a 50 percent increase from 1992. In the second quarter of this year, nearly 362,000 persons filed for bankruptcy, a record number for a three-month period.
Modern-day prophets have pled in plainness for us to avoid "get-rich-quick" schemes if we would avoid the heartaches of financial bondage. Perhaps we have not said enough about the fact that too many of us, in our moments of dreaming of grandeur, plant the seeds of economic disaster. Then at a later date when much is lost, we blame those who participated with us. It is difficult to be of good cheer when self-deceit is our companion. When we willingly expose ourselves to the winds and storms of fraud and scam, we should not be surprised when we come down with deficit disease. Over the years of listening to those who have suffered heavy money losses, I have heard many in desperation declare, "I was taken." Often my heart, mind, and the Spirit have prompted me to share, "Yes, you were taken by yourself." We all need to be encouraged to lift up our heads and see where our thoughts and undeclared priorities are taking us. Self-deceit permits us to blame others for our failures.
Not everyone is married to a financial twin, and that’s not necessarily a problem. There are several ways that you and your significant other can become more compatible, and ultimately more prosperous, when it comes to money...
“In my ideal plan for couples, they would have a meeting every week on their finances,” said Karen Altfest, a financial planner who runs the New York firm L. J. Altfest & Company, with her husband, Lewis. “That way, they are in sync with each other’s goals.”
INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE Spend it — time and money — together. Go on dates. “What that does is enliven the marital foundation,” said Gary S. Shunk, a Chicago therapist who specializes in wealth issues. “It’s a kind of investment into the heart and soul of the relationship.”
Think of it as dollar-cost averaging your marriage, where you make small investments over time. If you wait until retirement, it could be too late.
Melanie Schnoll-Begun, a managing director in the Citigroup Family Office, worked with a couple that waited too long. The husband had amassed great wealth for the family, and his wife kept a beautiful home. But once the husband retired, “they found out that over the years they grew so far apart that they didn’t have enough in common,” she said.
“They had this magnificent wealth, and it was the building of this wealth that ultimately led to their divorce.”
MAINTAIN SOME INDEPENDENCE Pooling resources is important, but so is maintaining a degree of financial independence. Carve out some money for both partners to spend on things that make them happy. And when paring back, it’s essential that each person make sacrifices.
RUN A HOME LIKE A BUSINESS Make a budget and keep track of earnings, expenses and debts. And structure your business as a partnership; when it comes to making big financial decisions and setting goals, do it together. “When they are making the decisions together, they really have ownership of those decisions and any results of those decisions,” said Mary Ann Sisco, national wealth adviser at JPMorgan's private wealth management division. “Even if you have negative results, you tend to weather the storm better.”