Friday, June 12, 2009


Do not spend money for that which is of no worth... 2 Nephi 9:51

Artyom was an Armenian man, approaching middle age, who lived in southern Russia with six or seven other men. They had come to Russia to work and send money home to their families, because there were no jobs in Armenia.

When we met him to speak about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he was at home from his job in construction, and relaxing. To relax, he smoked cigarettes and drank. Now I knew something about cigarettes - with all of the second-hand cigarette smoke in Russia, I figure I became an expert on brands available in Russia. I always feared the cheap Russian brands, especially the unfiltered ones - and I always felt a little bit relieved when someone pulled out a pack of Marlboros or Parliament. His alcohol was also relatively expensive.

His apartment, on the other hand, was certainly not an oasis - eight construction workers in about 700 square feet.

Artyom explained to us that he was very rarely able to go back to Armenia to see his family, since he had to save as much money as he could to send back to them.

"More important to me than anything else are my family, and my health." Said Artyom.

I'm not sure Artyom realized at the time how much better off both his family and his health would be without the expensive liquor and cigarettes. But as I've thought about it, we all have similar habits that are very damaging to our goals and priorities.

For any budget, these are the best expenses to drop first. Go through your expenses, and try to find any items similar to these:
  • Excessive amounts of food that is unhealthy and expensive - fast food, soda and other unhealthy snacks
  • Expensive television packages that just add more excuses not to interact together as a family
  • Purchases of inappropriate movies, books, music or other media
  • Anything contrary to the Word of Wisdom, of course
  • Overly expensive clothing
These are the types of items where spending less will actually lead to a better standard of living - and should thus probably be the first things to go when building a budget.

The way money is spent is a good indicator of where one's real priorities are.

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