Right now, experts can’t agree as to whether we are in, approaching or safe from a recession. Opinions vary greatly. What is a recession?
The definition is: two consecutive quarters of declining GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
What is GDP? GDP measures the value of the final goods and services produced in the country. But let’s define it a little differently.
What would the definition be for an individual or family? Two consecutive quarters or in other words, 6 months of declining household domestic product. Household domestic product goods and services could be defined as goods and services you can provide to members of your household.
Goods and services at home may include some or all of the following:
Food: Is your family eating the meals you have traditionally served or are you changing eggs and bacon breakfasts for oatmeal? Have you eliminated chips in school and workplace lunches? Are you experiencing withdrawal as you eliminate sodas or energy drinks?
Clothing: Do you find yourself shopping for clothes at a thrift store? Are you asking friends and family for clothing their children have outgrown? Are you borrowing a dress for the prom rather than purchasing one?
Hygiene: Have you switched to the cheap toilet paper or least expensive shampoo and deodorant?
Furnishings: Are you shopping for household items on Free Cycle or a neighborhood online marketplace?
Lessons: Are you able to provide music lessons and/or art classes for your children or yourself?
Driving: Do you still volunteer to drive the kids from church to camp? Do you still take those Sunday drives to the lake or the mountains just to get away?
Have vacations turned into staycations?
If your habits have changed in any of these areas and you can identify with standing in the grocery store and debating how to create a casserole out of pasta or rice for the fifth time that week, your family is experiencing a recession. The goods and services you are able to provide for your family have decreased, a recession.
Do not let the “experts” tell you not to be concerned. When your buying power decreases, and you are forced to change your lifestyle it’s time to ignore news reports and become the financial expert in your own home.
What can you do now?
- Listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. You will have to change the way you look at spending so ask for help. God has commanded us to get out of debt and to save for future needs. We are encouraged and even commanded to prepare spiritually to be prepared for times of distress. We must remember the commandments we may see as temporal, are spiritual to Heavenly Father.
“Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal….” Doctrine and Covenants 29:34
- Make the decision to begin and then do. The first step to moving forward and creating a better situation is always the commitment to begin and then moving forward.
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.” Doctrine And Covenants 9:7–9
- Examine your budget.Record all ongoing household expense and list them on a spread sheet or even in a notebook, but record them. It’s not just about utilities and house payments but also credit card payments, subscriptions such as TV, insurances, car payments, college loans, tithing, etc.
Next, on your phone or in a notebook record every penny you spend for the next two weeks. Have each of your children do the same. Do not try to make changes yet. Keeping a record will help you understand your habits and where you can begin to make changes.
- Add columns to your spread sheet for the categories of expenditures the past two weeks.
- With all this information at hand it is time to involve the family. Hold a family home evening to explain the changes your family will be making and why.
Begin by reminding your family that using your money wisely, your faith in Christ can increase and pave the way for future blessings.
One of the best ways to help your children understand the importance of the changes you will be making is to get out the cash. Pull out a game that uses paper money and begin. Count out the money you earn each month. This will seem like a fortune to your family. Begin with your monthly expenses and remove the money needed for tithing, the rent, then the amount needed for utilities, then insurance, etc. After all your fixed expenses are paid it’s time to look at those non-fixed expenses beginning with the items necessary to survival such as groceries and non-food essentials. Remove the money from your income pile and it will soon become evident that changes need to be made. Having a visual reference will help children understand why sacrifices are need.
Discuss what expenses that are currently fixed such as cell phone, subscriptions, TV, etc. could be reduced or eliminated.
“If we like luxuries or even necessities more than we like obedience, we will miss the blessings which He would like to give us.” Spencer W. Kimball
- Follow up. The easiest way to follow up and continue to focus on changes is to go to an envelope system. Determine how much you will need for groceries and place that cash in an envelope. Continue with an envelope for gas, lessons, clothing, entertainment, all the items you added during the time you were recording expenditures. You may have to leave some envelopes empty until you can reduce expenses in other areas. Remember, the faster you eliminate debt the faster you will be able to add back some of the things you are now reducing or eliminating. Make debt a priority, most of your payment in probably interest and interest payments are just throwing away your money.
- There are only two ways to successfully budget and avoid or eliminate debt. You can reduce expenses, or you can increase income.
You have identified areas you can reduce so it is time to discuss how to increase your financial resources. Hold a garage sale. Consider your skills and how you can monetize them. Do you have a roto tiller you could use to till a garden spot and make some extra cash? Do you have a skill, sewing, cooking, budgeting, art, survival skills, piano, you can teach to home school families? Those homeschooling their children often receive money for enrichment classes. They could spend it with you.
Don’t forget the kids. Get them involved babysitting, selling handmade items, detailing cars, mowing lawns and so much more. We have kids in our family who have sold homemade bread, cinnamon rolls, jewelry they made, held a babysitting Saturday at their home allowing parents time for Christmas shopping, and hosted Saturday craft days for kids. There are many ways.
Trust that the Lord will care for your needs as you work to do all you can.
“Just do the very best you can each day. Do the basic things and, before you realize it, your life will be full of spiritual understanding that will confirm to you that your Heavenly Father loves you. When a person knows this, then life will be full of purpose and meaning, making balance easier to maintain.” M. Russel Ballard: “Keeping Your Life in Balance”
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