When it comes to financial planning, there's something we all have in common no matter our economic circumstances.

"Everybody has an opportunity to do the best you can," said Craig Israelsen, associate professor at the BYU School of Family Life.

According to Israelsen, a family should ideally set aside 10 percent of its income as savings. For some, that can be difficult, especially when uncontrollable circumstances such as health problems or job loss arise. However, it's important for families to save what they can in those situations even if it's technically not enough to make much of a difference.

"If we're doing the best, within our own sphere of influence, we really can experience peace even if the numbers aren't working out," Israelsen said.

Financial security, he added, is decided by the individual. Israelsen referred to a quote by writer Og Mandino: "True security lies not in the things one has but in the things one can do without."

Said Israelsen: "If we fill our lives with a whole bunch of wants, then we're going to have to have a lot of money to meet that definition of security. Security is really a function of coming back and defining what we want to do with our life."

Israelsen pointed to other principles that can help lead to successful financial planning:

HONESTY: A spending plan, or budget, is equally as important as saving, Israelsen said. He suggests developing a plan, writing it down, posting it where it can't be avoided, and accurately recording and subtracting expenses. "When you hit zero, stop," he said. "It forces us to be honest with ourselves."

GENEROSITY: The "spirit of generosity," according to Israelsen, empowers people to solve their own problems, even if they can't give financial assistance. "They can be generous in other ways.... It gets their mind off their own problems, and they begin to see themselves as a helper, not helpless," he said.

GRATITUDE: Israelsen suggests changing how we look at money. "We're caretakers," he said. "We don't own this stuff.... If our resources are part of our stewardship, I think it changes how we look at them."

HOPE: Saving money, even if it's just a small amount during difficult times, helps create the "positive energy" that comes from making progress, Israelsen said. That, in turn, leads to hope. "When people become hopeless, they start to do things that are really expensive," he said.

[email protected]