There has never been a time when prudence or provident living has been more essential than today, says Elaine L. Jack, general president of the Relief Society.
"While many live in affluence, there are many women and many families who work hard to barely makes ends meet," she said in a Church News interview. "In either situation it is an obligation to make best use of and appreciate the bounties of the world created for us by the Lord."As fall sets in, thoughts are turned to the harvest and the canning and food storage that comes with it. These home production skills remain at the foundation of thriftiness, but provident living also includes such things as resisting debt and conserving energy, Sister Jack said.
"We cannot confine our thinking about provident living only to canning, sewing, `making over and making do.' Conditions in the world are changing. What was once the wisest way to prepare for the future may no longer be enough.
"It is provident to resist impulsive credit buying. We are bombarded with `easy credit' offers by mail and telephone and television commercials. We live in a fast food society – the foods are fast but not always economical or nutritious."
Increasing understanding about economical living is necessary and possible, she said. "Learning to buy wisely, knowing quality and values of merchandise, being informed about trends in economy all have a bearing on living in accordance with the teachings of the gospel.
"Being aware of the need to preserve and conserve the environment is increasingly important. We can recycle waste goods, guard against pollution of water and air, avoid the unnecessary spending of the earth's resources.
"The security that comes from wise spending, in any sense, brings great rewards both temporally and spiritually."
Learning to work and reaping the blessings that come from hard work is an important part of provident living. According to the Church videotape, "Applying Welfare Principles in Our Lives," self-reliance and provident living are the result of work and are basic to all other welfare practices.
For the John Sheffield family of the Kaysville 1st Ward, Kaysville Utah Stake, there are many factors to being provident. "One main reason is the financial reward you get," he said. "Your money goes further and you are able to use it on things you would really need.
"And having a garden helps the children learn to work," he said. "The bonds of the family are strengthened by that type of an activity as well."
His wife, Tina, agreed: "I grew up on a farm and sometimes it seems hard to teach our boys how to work since we live in the city. If we didn't have our garden, then all they would know is how to do small chores, like making a bed. In life people have to be able to really get in there and work hard and this helps them learn that they can accomplish tasks that are sometimes difficult. It's important to teach children good, honest hard work."
Steven and Annette Dickman and their five children work together to stay within their family budget. Members of the Layton 24th Ward, Layton Utah East Stake, the Dickmans watch for grocery sales and buy in bulk when possible.
"We have a budget, and it's really important if we are going to keep a balance in our shopping. We have struggled some months, but that makes us aware that it's important to stay in line with our grocery budget as much as we can.
"It's a challenge for me, when those dollars are so precious, that we are not buying wasteful things in terms of our nutrition. We avoid buying junk food or impulse shopping," she said.
Sister Dickman also plans menus and shops specifically for those meals.
"When we go with a list, that helps us be more organized. Planning a menu also helps us make sure we are eating nutritious meals."
Priesthood and Relief Society leaders throughout the Church continue to emphasize provident living and self-reliance as part of the Lord's plan today.
One of the goals of Welfare Services is to help individuals and families care for themselves, according to the Church Welfare Services Resource Handbook.
Self-reliance comes through literacy and education, career development, financial and resource management, home production and storage, physical health, social-emotional and spiritual strength and emergency preparedness, the handbook states.
In an April 1986 conference address – featured on the videotape – Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales said, "The welfare program requires that we develop self-reliance and live providently.
"Provident living requires us to develop proper attitudes – a willingness to forego luxuries, to avoid excess, and to fully use what we have – learning to live within our means.
"The Lord's real storehouse is indeed in the homes and the hearts of His people. As the members of the Church follow the counsel to become self-reliant, they represent an immense pool of resources, knowledge, skills and charity available to help one another."