My family immigrated to South Africa after the First World War seeking employment opportunities. I was born shortly after the Second World War. The post war years were extremely difficult and my parents could barely afford to live in a boarding house in a small mining village on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Due to the food shortages, my mother had to queue for coupons which were then exchanged for basic food items. This was the setting for my first lesson on the need to budget and save, as related to me some ten years later by my mother.
We were then living in another mining town and my father often had to work late. As my mother and I were sitting in the kitchen waiting for him to come home for dinner, I had the chance to ask many questions on various topics and I loved to listen to all that she had to share with me. I later came to appreciate these moments as quality time shared with her.
We were talking about the limitations of having very few shops in town for buying meat, groceries and vegetables and the need to resort to the local farmers and a ‘Concession’ store for our food, and also the fact that we had no refrigerators in which to store food or milk, when she said :
“Every time I talk about milk, I think of the time when we lived in the boarding house with Mrs Thomas and the milk man came and you needed milk, but I never had a tickey (three pence) to pay for it. So I went to ask Mrs Thomas if she could help me out until Dad got paid at the end of the week. Thankfully she loved you and was willing and able to help!
“I will never forget the feeling of helplessness nor the embarrassment of not even having a tickey for a pint of milk for your bottle. But it taught me a lesson - and that is why I want to share it with you, my son, so that you will always remember to make sure you have saved some money for when the milk man comes in difficult times. Now I save and put money away and yes, it might be called budgeting for the hard times too, but it works. Who knows, you may also be able to help someone who has no milk, like Mrs Thomas did!”
I have always remembered this experience and the lesson and feelings shared with me that night. The First Presidency has said: “We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt.
“If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts.” (See: All is safely gathered in: Family Finances)
As I have listened to the words of the prophets and apostles on the subjects of tithing, budgeting and saving for a rainy day, I picture receiving this cherished lesson from a wise and loving mother as a young boy, and I can testify of the valuable instruction and untold benefit which it has been to me through the decades of my life and how I have repeated it to my own children that they too may be the recipients of her wise counsel and the blessings of instruction from a loving grandmother, in the implementation of divine principles in their lives, as I have done in mine.