The first hint of the philosophy that would become “Self-Reliance” was presented by Ralph Waldo Emerson as part of a sermon in September 1830 a month after his first marriage. Emerson wrote on “individualism, personal responsibility, and nonconformity.
The concept that a person could have control of his future was totally new. “Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family.”  Self-reliance embodies temporal well-being through: education, health, employment, family home production and storage, and family finances. Meeting the needs of a family is a joint project shared by all family members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established a welfare plan in 1936. The purpose was designed “to do away with the curse of idleness and abolish the evils of dole.” Independence, industry, thrift and self respect are emphasized with the goal to help people help themselves. Over the years, this initiative has been developed to encourage people to be responsible for themselves, both temporally and spiritually. As people become self reliant they are better able to serve and care for others.
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has been licensed to create an interfaith version of the Self-Reliance Curriculum developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church) in order to pilot the Empowerment+ initiative in London to counter extremist radicalization. The initiative will be carried out at St. Mary’s University. The curriculum is intended to be inter-faith and will provide theological background for other religious traditions as well.
Church doctrine teaches that each person has the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve problems and work to be self-reliant. They have an element of control that can be achieved through inspiration and laboring with their own hands.
As a part of self-reliance, the responsibility to manage family finances should be shared between spouses with an attitude of trust and openness. Careful financial management will provide security and promote family well being. The financial stewardship success map includes five steps based on personal faith, unity with spouse and a commitment to self-reliance as a foundation.
The steps include paying tithes and offerings, protecting your family from hardship by establishing a growing emergency fund, eliminating debt, saving and investing for the future and continuing to give and bless others in need. As an individual gains fulfillment, he develops the motivation to share talents and gifts in service for a neighbor. The neighbor in turn is also equipped to reach their own fulfillment resulting in the betterment of a community.
Learning to live within your means and avoid debt is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. In order to do this, the first step is developing a budget and sticking to it. Budgeting requires you to distinguish between wants and needs. It requires discipline and patience.
What do you do when expenses exceed money?
Cut back on optional items like convenience foods; eat at home more; rent a DVD instead of going to the movies or stay home and play an old fashioned board or card game for entertainment. Shop thrift stores for clothes; check out books from the library instead of buying them; organize your trips carefully to cut down on driving expenses. Set aside some money each month in saving.
Save your change to begin building an emergency fund. Add to it each month with a goal of one month’s income first. Once that is accomplished, work on additional savings to accumulate 6 months income saved.
Should you be in a serious bind, ask family members to help out. Then consider other resources that may include:
• Government and private agencies
• Nongovernmental organizations
• Non-profit organizations
Each community has an emergency program listing contact information on all these organizations. A little searching will help you.
The recently released work/study program helps people to process through the twelve principles of self-reliance during a three month course that meets weekly. Assignments include focusing on how money is earned and spent, recording each day’s income and expenses. Focusing on expense categories helps a person to be aware of where money is going. Students select action partners who help keep one another on track.
Interested in being a part of one of these classes? Contact an LDS Ward near you.