In addition to spiritual well being, our church focuses a great deal on temporal well being and, specifically, preparedness.
We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.
First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. . .
Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. . .
Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. Wisely we have been counseled to avoid debt as we would avoid the plague. President J. Reuben Clark fearlessly and repeatedly counseled members of the Church to take action.
“Live within your means. Get out of debt. Keep out of debt. Lay by for a rainy day which has always come and will come again. Practice and increase your habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1937, p. 107). We should have displayed in a prominent place President Clark’s description of interest:
“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies. … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, p. 103).
It is so easy to allow consumer debt to get out of hand. If you do not have the discipline to control the use of credit cards, it is better not to have them. A well-managed family does not pay interest—it earns it. The definition I received from a wise boss at one time in my early business career was “Thems that understands interest receives it, thems that don’t pays it.”
Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.
Thanks to the examples of our parents and wise counsel such as this from church leaders, we have always done our best to be savers (though it hasn’t always been possible), and we have stored a little food in case of disaster or financial difficulties. We don’t however, have anywhere near enough food, and our savings account is nowhere near the level where we’d feel most comfortable.
This idea of preparedness and self-sufficiency has been on my mind a lot lately, and McH and I are making plans to increase our own readiness and ability to take care of ourselves. The goal is to have a year’s supply of food stored up and six months worth of salary (primary job salary, not including the consulting – that’s the part that’s paying for food storage, the wheat grinder, going into savings, etc.) If everything holds as is (which, of course, it may not) we should be able to reach these goals by the end of 2009. I suspect we will meet our food storage goal before our savings goal, but we shall see.
I know there are others out there who have done or are trying to do the same thing. As I said, we have always tried to save and put a little food back at a time, but now we are in a place where we can do it in larger quantities, and much more quickly, so I am looking for ideas and advice. What have you done? What has worked well? What hasn’t worked well?
For those who may just be starting to think about such things, I would recommend visiting this website for some basic, starter ideas and information.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt is baking bread from freshly home-ground wheat!