Gasoline costs more than $4 a gallon. Food prices are rising. Home foreclosures are increasing.

Surrounding us are messages trying to entice us to spend or put on credit all the latest gadgets. Credit card offers arrive in the mail almost daily. It's easy to get now and pay later — sometimes much later.

Does this sound like a recipe for disaster?

With financial pressures increasing, it's more important than ever to have a sound family financial plan.

At the April 2004 general conference, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "In spite of the teachings of the church from its earliest days until today, members sometimes fall victim to many unwise and foolish financial practices. Some continue to spend, thinking that somehow the money will become available. Somehow they will survive."

Elder Wirthlin quoted President J. Reuben Clark: "Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation. ... Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night ... whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you."

On the Web site providentliving.org, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has updated the "Family Finances" channel to include the "All Is Safely Gathered In" pamphlet and an online financial course titled "Peace in Your Hearts."

In "All Is Safely Gathered In," these basic tips for financial well-being are listed:

• Successful family finances begin with the payment of an honest tithe and generous fast offering.

• Avoid debt, with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for education or other vital needs.

• Use a budget — keep a record of your expenditures and determine how to reduce what you spend for nonessentials.

• Gradually build a financial reserve to be used for emergencies.

• Teach family members the principles of financial management.

For more family finance tips and information, go to providentliving.org and click on "Family Finances." Featured are quotes and talks from church leaders, online financial calculators, family finance lesson materials and other resources.

rwalsh@desnews.com