How This Site is Different

Dave Ramsey, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, commented, “Personal finance is more personal than it is finance: it is more behavior than it is math” (KNBR, May 23, 2007). Learning about personal finance requires more than learning the language of finance and math, and more than just a change in spending habits—it requires a change in behavior. The three characteristics that make this course different from other courses on personal finance, detailed below, can help effect this change in behavior.

First, we take a different perspective on personal finance. Perspective—the way we look at things—influences our financial self-reliance because it directs the choices we make. Concerning perspective, the historian Will Durant wrote, “We need ‘to seize the value and perspective of passing things. . . . We want to know that the little things are little, and the big things big, before it is too late; we want to see things now as they will seem forever—‘in the light of eternity’ (The Story of Philosophy, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1927, 1).

Our perspective in this website and these manuals is unique. It is that personal finance is not separate from our Christian lives; rather, personal finance is simply part of our Christian lives, part of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. This perspective is based on four key principles:

  1. Ownership: everything we have is God’s;
  2. Stewardship: we are stewards over all that God has blessed us with;
  3. Agency: the gift of choice is one of God’s greatest blessings; and
  4. Accountability: we will be held accountable for the choices we make, including our financial choices.

In this course, our perspective on personal finance is based on a long-term view, on knowing what truly matters. This perspective will guide you as you make financial choices.

Second, we take a principle-based approach to personal finance. Unlike investment theory, investment vehicles, and financial assets, principles never change. A sound understanding of the correct principles of personal finance will act as a compass to guide you as you work toward achieving your personal and family goals. Richard G. Scott commented:

"The inspired statement, 'I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves,' still applies. The Lord uses that pattern with us. . . Your consistent adherence to principle overcomes the alluring yet false life-styles that surround you. Your faithful compliance to correct principles will generate criticism and ridicule from others, yet the results are so eternally worthwhile that they warrant your every sacrifice" (Richard G. Scott, “The Power of Correct Principles,” Ensign, May 1993, 32).

In this course you will learn how principles relate to every aspect of your personal finance. Understanding correct principles makes it easier to follow and apply the things discussed in this book and website to your personal lives.

Finally, we take an application-based or hands-on approach to personal finance. We learn best when we use the things learn in our daily lives. It is not enough to know what to do—we must do it. Accordingly, the final difference is that we apply the things learned in this manual in the creation of your individual or family Personal Financial Plan.

To help you apply your learning, we offer a companion website (http://personalfinance.byu.edu), which includes Power Point presentations, learning tools, and personal finance manuals compiled and developed by the faculty and staff at Brigham Young University. These tools will help you set goals, create a budget, work toward getting out of debt, evaluate different investments, buy a house or a car, invest wisely, save for retirement, and more. You will also receive extensive instruction for developing your own Personal Financial Plan, including helpful examples of completed financial plans and how they can help you achieve your goals. I believe that changing your perspective, learning the principles that support successful financial management, and applying this knowledge through the tools we’ve provided will increase your financial literacy and help you achieve the goals that are most important to you and your family. Best of luck to you as you begin this journey toward increased financial self-reliance.