Like all Christians, Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Ten Commandments, however, remain imperatives for our everyday lives. As such, I’d like to share ten commandments that you should follow when it comes to your money. While not essential to your salvation, they are essential if you want to become financially independent.
1. Thou shalt not make money thy god
Those who focus on making money for the sake of having it will never be satisfied. Additionally, the things that matter most in life end up taking the backseat. I think one of the reasons we have the law of tithing is to remind us that money is just another thing that God gives us in this life. Loving it more than Him then is the ultimate insult.
2. Thou shalt not worship thy stuff
Americans have a stuff problem. We buy it until we run out of room, and then we buy more, spending even more money to keep it in a storage shed. Go through your house and take inventory of your stuff. If there’s anything you haven’t used in years or know you can live without, get rid of it. Put it up on Craigslist, take it to the D.I. or Goodwill, whatever. Just get rid of it.
3. Thou shalt not use credit cards in vain
I’m a big fan of credit cards. I’ve earned thousands of dollars worth of rewards with them over the past four years. But if you aren’t ready to use them responsibly, you shouldn’t have them.
If you use or plan to use credit cards, remember the following: Buy only what you can afford and pay off your balance in full each month. Live on a budget to avoid the trap of overspending. And credit cards are not for emergencies; that’s what emergency funds are for.
4. Remember to pay thy God first and thine own self second, and keep thy savings holy
Like all commandments, the law of tithing is an opportunity to receive blessings from God. Not everyone has dramatic, Ensign-worthy experiences with paying tithing. But God has promised those who tithe that He would “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). While I haven’t seen all the blessings God has given me over the years for being a full-tithe, I know He’s kept His promise.
After you’ve paid your tithing, make saving the next priority. Most people just save whatever is leftover at the end of the month. But when you start thinking of your savings as an obligation rather than a surplus, I promise you’ll end up saving more. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account to trigger at the beginning of each month, then leave it there until you need it.
5. Honor the law of compound interest, that thy retirement may be long upon the land
The earlier you begin investing for retirement, the better. Not only will it make it easier to create the habit, but you’ll be giving the law of compound interest more time to do its work. Business Insider illustrates the law clearly, showing that to have a million dollars at age 65, you’d only have to save $109 a month starting at age 25. Wait until age 35, though, and you’re looking at $345 a month. Wait ten more years and, at age 45, you’re looking at $1,157 month.
If you haven’t begun saving for retirement or you’ve only done so half-heartedly, the best time to start taking it seriously is now.
6. Thou shalt not kill thy relationships in the pursuit of money
Providing for your family is an essential part of being a parent. Your family needs more than financial security, though. If you find yourself working so much to provide for your family that you rarely actually spend time with them, it may be time to reevaluate your goals.
The same goes with your relationship with God. It’s not so much a matter of whether you’ll be punished for not spending time with Him. Rather, you’ll miss out on sacred spiritual experiences along the way. My favorite talk on this subject is Of Regrets and Resolutions by President Uchtdorf. Another is Where is the Pavolion? by President Eyring.
7. Thou shalt not leave thy family unprotected
If you have a family, nothing can destroy its financial security faster than losing your ability to earn income. I often see GoFundMe posts on Facebook about families who needs financial help because someone died or became disabled unexpectedly. Each story is utterly heart-breaking.
Try to avoid putting your family in that situation by getting adequate life and disability insurance. Hopefully you won’t need it. But if you do, it’ll save your family a lot of heartache.
8. Thou shalt not steal from thine own self
Invest in yourself and grow your wealth, but do it wisely. In college, I did customer service for a multilevel marketing company. I can’t count the number of times I spoke with distributors on the phone who continued to pay $60+ a month for products they didn’t need. In a many cases, they admitted they were living paycheck to paycheck and some were even on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet they kept buying the company’s overpriced snake oil because they were told things would take off. Get-rich-quick schemes and gambling offer hopes of high reward, but the vast majority of people who try them end up losing big time.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness
In our society, stuff is equated with wealth. But in reality, many of the people you meet who drive shiny cars and go home to a nice, big house aren’t wealthy at all. Instead, they’re up to their eyeballs in debt, living paycheck to paycheck to fund their lifestyle.
Don’t try to look like someone you’re not. Focus on saving for large purchases and use debt only as a last resort. And if you do earn a lot of money each year, know you’re not immune. Just do an internet search for “bankrupt celebrities” to see how easy it can be to lose it.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s life
This is the commandment I struggle with the most. It’s easy to get a little green with envy when you see someone who has something you don’t. Of course, that attitude doesn’t solve your problem. Instead, it’s important that we accept our lot and find ways to earn more money to make sure we can continue to work toward our financial goals.