I recently completed the Self-Reliance: Personal Finance course provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this post, I’d like to share a little about my experience.
Maybe you’re on the fence about whether to accept the invitation to attend one yourself. Maybe you’ve heard about it but aren’t exactly sure if it’s something worth your time. Well, let’s dive in and see, shall we?
What is Self-Reliance
“Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family.”
Self-reliance isn’t just about canned food and water storage, though it definitely does include that. The vision of self-reliance includes the eternities. Regardless of which Self-Reliance Path you take, you’ll be covering the twelve self-reliance principles laid out by the Church:
- Exercise Faith in Jesus Christ
- Use Time Wisely
- Be Obedient
- Manage Money
- Work: Take Responsibility
- Solve Problems
- Become One, Work Together
- Communicate: Petition and Listen
- Show Integrity
- Seek Learning and Education
- Stay On Task, Receive Ordinances
The paths vary a little bit in the order and presentation of these principles, but they are all included in each path.
There are four paths in the new self-reliance program.
- Find a Better Job
- Personal Finances
- Education for Better Work
- Starting and Growing My Business
I was invited to a Sunday devotional where the stake presidency and stake self-reliance coordinators explained the paths and how the self-reliance groups worked.
I’m going to be completely honest: I didn’t want to go.
My husband and I had paid off all our debt using Dave Ramsey’s debt-elimination plan. We were saving for a down payment. My husband was gainfully employed and we didn’t feel prompted to have me work outside the home. We both have bachelor’s degrees. Why did the ward council feel prompted I should be given an invitation to attend?
But attend I did. My Law-of-Moses obedience kicked in and I acted on my leaders’ invitation and went. I wasn’t told which path to attend, but by the end of the devotional, I decided to join the Personal Finances Path.
Personal Finances Path Overview
The Self-Reliance: Personal Finance Path is a 12-week curriculum led by a facilitator in a small group setting.
The facilitator may or may not have prior experience with the subject matter. He or she will have had only a few extra hours of insight into the program than you. He or she will have the exact same book as you. The point is: don’t expect the facilitator to be an expert in the path you’ve chosen. That’s not the point, and you’ll see why soon.
With the book as your guide, the facilitator will become main time-keeper and designated conductor for each week’s group meetings. Lasting two hours each, you and your group members will dive into 12 spiritual foundation principles that show how self-reliance is a principle of salvation. If you choose the Personal Finance Path, you will also cover debt assessments, budgeting, debt elimination, insurance, investments, and many other topics related to personal finance over the 12 weeks. The book has great definitions, examples using probable situations and figures, and discussion questions that bring out helpful personal experiences from group members. You don’t need to be an expert to facilitate or attend these meetings – you just have to be teachable.
As you go through the chapters, you’ll settle into a pattern of personal pondering time, large discussion questions, small group discussions, videos, and pen and paper activities. Another big mainstay of the self-reliance program is action partners.
Action partners are like accountability buddies but so much more. You are supposed to reach out to each other during the week about your commitments, yes, but you’re also supposed to cheer each other on, share questions, and continue the group experience outside of the classroom.
I made some very dear friends as we rotated through our action partners. These women are not ones I’d probably ever have the privilege of knowing otherwise even though they are in my stake.
I think it’s important to note here that even though I was blessed to make some new friends via the action partner system, we never discussed actual facts and figures. There really was never an opportunity to and all of my group members respected privacy and didn’t ask probing questions. I thought the curriculum did a phenomenal job of keeping personal finances personal while still creating an effective support system.
So, after 12 weeks (3 months!) what results are we seeing?
My husband and I were able to get on the same page about our current and future financial state through spiritually conducive conversations.
We were comfortable with discussing finances before, but this course motivated me to learn more about the gospel principles associated with self-reliance. As I shared the content of our meetings with my husband, we not only spoke about dollars and cents, insurance and retirement but also about time management and prioritization, service and promised blessings.
Strictly financially speaking, we have reviewed our spending habits, put our “future selves” higher on the financial priority list, and adjusted our retirement plan. We both feel more confident making these decisions and we are more unified.
I feel more bonded to stake members.
When you serve in a calling, you tend to bond with those you serve with. Though none of us were set apart to attend this group (even the facilitator was an assigned group member, not set apart) we shared personal experiences, wins, and trials. We got to know each other over three months even though most of us were practically strangers beforehand. Having these relationships with others in my stake has strengthed my testimony of stakes.
“For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.”
My Honest Review
I highly recommend any of the Self Reliance Paths. The curriculum is inspired and having regular group meetings with action partners really helps you meet your goals.
It would have been nice to have my husband join me, but with 2 kids at home, it just wasn’t feasible. If you can go with your spouse, do! But if you can’t, don’t let that stop you.
I’m grateful for a bishop’s inspired invitation to attend the Self-Reliance Devotional. I’m grateful I didn’t let such a wonderful opportunity pass by.
Check out my post about how to earn and save money by clicking here.
Do you have experience with one of the Self-Reliance Paths? Share your experience below in the comments.