~by Annelise

There are many women in my circle of interaction who are in the throes of severe financial duress.  After praying, fasting and begging the Lord for this cup to pass, relief has been slow. Couples have been stretched to the limit, children have been caught unawares, and the faith of good people is being tried. In my conversations I’ve caught glimpses of their suffering:

“We prayed to know if this was a good investment. We thought we felt the Lord’s approval.”

“I didn’t even know we had an interest-only loan. I guess I didn’t understand what I was signing.”

“My house is being auctioned today on the courthouse steps.”

“My husband just told me we haven’t been paying our property taxes or mortgage payments for the last six months.”

“We took the money out of our retirement to pay for college and weddings. How could we pay for one child’s education and not the others’?”

“Sometimes I wish I could shop at the same stores I used to. I wish I didn’t have to move into a rental. Sometimes I wish I had my old life back. I know I sin in my wish.”

“We have been out of work for over a year. Our savings is gone. Will retirement even be possible?”

“I haven’t worked in 20 years, who is going to hire me?”

My heart aches as I listen to my friends’ suffering. How can they start over at 45, 55, 65? How can I help?

I guess the first thing I can do is listen. I can help them network. I have already spent dozens of hours scouring craigslist for jobs and affordable housing. I can remember that tomorrow it could be me. I can make sure that other parts of their life are easier by providing childcare or inviting them over for dinner or a game night to relieve stress. I can increase my fast offerings. In short, I can “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” And when my trial of faith comes, I can allow them to return the favor.

Years ago, I found myself unemployed and living off of savings. I was in a new town and far from family. I took a multifaceted approach to finding a new job. The first place I visited was the LDS employment center. They matched my skills to current job openings and I sent out my résumé to a few potential employers.  Next, I contacted my alumni association and found an online job board for graduates in my field. Third, I went through the yellow pages and circled every job I thought I’d be good at or like.

You’d be surprised to learn that I actually found the job of my dreams via the yellow pages. After circling the jobs I thought I’d be good at, I started calling businesses directly and asking for a job. One company invited me in for an interview the next day. A part-time job at that firm led to a full-time position which led to a management position and I was happier at that job than at any previous workplace.

Recently, I found another great resource for individuals and families who would like to increase their personal finance skills. With the help of several professors at the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, Bryan Sudweeks provides a free online course to aid people in improving their personal finances. The material outlines how to buy a house, how to get out of debt, and how to make (and keep) a budget. This course is designed for the novice and experienced financier and everyone in between. While this course relies heavily on principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this course would be helpful to any household.

One quote from the website that I really appreciated was that “wealth is not a sign of righteousness.” I love my friends, I know they are good people who love God. Financial difficulties may plague them for a lifetime, but that will not change my affection for them. I know the Lord will bless them, if not financially, then spiritually. Just like Lehi in the Book of Mormon told his son Jacob, I’d like to say to my friends “Thou knowest the greatness of God; and He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” I also need to prepare my heart to be as Job’s for the times of hardship that currently abide and will inevitably come my way, so I can declare with Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

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Editor’s note: Following are more resources that could help with financial management and the job search.

Being Savvy about Financial Matters: BYU Women’s Conference presentation handout on financial management

On the LDS Employment Resources link listed in the post above, be sure not to miss the Job Search Tip Sheets if you are in the mode of looking for work.

LDS Employment Resources also has links to myriad websites (not Church-affiliated) with information and resources on the following topics:

Indeed.com — find listings in the area where you want to work (available in multiple countries). Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com are other online job search sites.

If you are going to post electronic an résumé, this Newsweek article might be of interest about how to increase the chance employers might find you.