Couple sitting at table doing finances, one is visibly shocked

Two Lessons to Help You Become a Provident Provider

If you struggle to live debt free, these lessons may help. 

In today’s world, it has become increasingly easy—and often necessary—to go into debt. In fact, according to a study by Experian, young adults saw the greatest increase in average debt in over a decade between the years 2019 and 2020. However, many of us struggle to know the best practices for overcoming debt.Thankfully, in his talk “Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually,” Elder Robert D. Hales uses two personal experiences to illustrate practices that can help us live more providently.

“The four most caring words for those we love are ‘We can’t afford it.’” —Robert D. Hales

Photo by Joslyn Pickens

First, Elder Hales shares that one day early in his marriage, he saw a beautiful dress in a store window and urged his wife to try it on. Although she adored the dress, his wife explained that they just couldn’t afford it. Through this experience, Elder Hales learned that “the four most caring words for those we love are ‘We can’t afford it.’”

Second, Elder Hales tells us about an experience that occurred later in his marriage when he and his wife were more financially stable. He wanted to buy his wife a fancy coat for their wedding anniversary to show his appreciation for her. However, Sister Hales wasn’t sure when she would wear it and asked if he was buying the coat for her or because he wanted to prove that he was a good provider. Elder Hales realized that his motivations were more about proving himself and decided not to buy the coat.

As we try to navigate our finances, Elder Hales suggests we learn to say to each other, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!” This advice may seem overly simple to today’s young adults who face the unique challenge of overcoming debts of unprecedented sizes. However, Elder Hales’s experiences teach us that sensible communication and honest self-reflection will help us conquer any financial hardship.

Read more about the temporal and spiritual aspects of becoming a provident provider in Elder Hales’s talk Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually.”


—Liana Sowa, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights

Read more about budgeting in E. Jeffrey Hill’s devotional, “Money Matters: Living Joyfully Within Your Means.”

Watch “Self-Reliance: Everybody is Lifted” to learn about how principles of self-reliance can help you and your family. 

Create your own plan to be more self-reliant using this worksheet. 


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