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We have spent a significant amount of time together during this course working on goals and learning about budgets, credit, debt, insurance, investing, retirement, and other important subjects. These topics are critical to self-reliance and getting our financial houses in order. However, there are two more important areas that we have not yet discussed; these topics are often left out of traditional personal finance courses; however, they are critical to a complete course on personal finance. The last two sections in this series discuss learning to give and deciding to decide.

We all wrestle with learning to give. This section will discuss our covenantal obligations to share with others. Someone has appropriately said, “We make a living by what we get, but we build a life by what we give” (as quoted by Thomas S. Monson in “A Gift Remembered,” New Era, Dec. 2001, 4). Any discussion on giving takes us back to the first section of this series where we discussed the key principles of personal finance. An important part of learning to give is understanding those key principles.

Principle 1: Ownership: Everything we have is the Lord’s. Because everything we have is His, our material blessings in life should not be seen just as privileges, but as responsibilities as well. These things are not really ours: they are on loan.

Principle 2: Stewardship: The Lord does not simply give us things: He makes us stewards. We must remember that we will someday have to give an account of our mortal stewardships, including our financial resources, to a loving Heavenly Father and His Son.

Principle 3: Agency: The Lord gave us our agency, the right to choose. Agency is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. We should use it well and choose wisely.

Principle 4: Accountability: We are stewards over what the Lord has blessed us with, and we have agency; the way we use that agency is our test in this life. We have been given the right to choose between different courses of action, and we will be held accountable for the choices we make.

Once we understand and internalize these pillars, giving becomes easier. We also come to understand that giving is not a one-time event, but a Christ-like attribute. Elder Mark E. Petersen wrote the following:

Instead of taking from our fellowmen, we must learn to give—to be good Samaritans in very deed; to share with our less fortunate neighbors, and in reality show love for our fellowmen. So He said: “. . . remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support.…And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me.” (D&C 42:30–31) (“Honesty, a Principle of Salvation,” Ensign, Dec. 1971, 72)


This section focuses on the following four questions to help you understand the principle of learning to give:

  1. Do you know what the scriptures say about money and giving?
  2. Do you understand the principles of wise giving?
  3. Do you understand why we should give?
  4. Do you understand the basic principles of wise giving?

Because God shares freely with us, we should be willing to share freely with God’s other children. From another perspective, learning to give is an important part of personal finance.


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