Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is Everybody Nuts?

The news is in: this will be a great year for retailers. Credit card use is up about 14% over last year, if I recall the news correctly. Spend, spend, spend, getting heavier into debt - is everybody nuts? With Iraq, Katrina, Rita, massive spending on all fronts, national and private debt out of control - the last thing we should be doing is spending like crazy. If ever there was a time to save and prepare for the future, this is it. But almost nobody is saving. This is a good time to listen to the prophets, live within your means, save aggressively, and prepare for the future. It doesn't take a prophet to see that rough times are ahead - now that we're so close.

So, have a merry but low-cost Christmas! And get out of debt.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

One can always hope a few LDS will have heard their Prophet's voice and gotten prepared and out of debt!

Brian Duffin said...

My initial Christmas purchases will be made on my Visa, but paid off before the next billing cycle. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the rewards points I earn. :-)

Anonymous said...

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

captveg said...

One can always hope a few LDS will have heard their Prophet's voice and gotten prepared and out of debt!

Reminds me of something Elder Vaughn J. Feathersone said to a Ricks College audience in the late 90's. I don't know the exact talk or anything, so this is from memory and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Anyway, he mentioned food storage, and almost as an aside said that the faithful will have their food storage at the Second Coming, but the unfaithful will come to their doorways and seek mercy. What shall the faithful do? As good Christians they should share their storage.

Up to this point things sounded pretty status quo. The next part was what made it stick in my mind: He said, paraphrasing, "Then those that were faithful will experience the same miracle as the Widow of Zarephath, who had her food multiply when she did not deny the Lord's Prophet the last of her storage. And those that were unprepared will perish."

Needless to say, this struck me as a bold thing to say, as well as something that does make sense.

Now, as to the original thought of Jeff's post - consumer debt will not be changed, at least in general. Too many toys and too much freedom from responsibility. My personal vice of film collecting (I have 450+ DVDs) is surely not 100% burdenless when it comes to my financial situation, but I am not in debt and I will refrain from getting into debt if I see that occuring (which has happened before - I've put myself on several months of "DVD purchase withdrawel" a couple times).

There is a balance to be had between being completely void of financial responsibilty and being completely void of self-interest satisfaction in times of plenty. Even with these disasters, overall this is still a time of plenty in the USA. While no one should get into debt like we are seeing within the national average, no one should refrain from buying and reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince either, if you catch my drift.

In any case, prayer and personal meditation for the individual should allow for proper application for each circumstance.

Ian said...

I agree Mormanity. I don't have much in the way of savings, but we usually pretend that we don't have our tax returns. We usually end up spending it by the end of the year due to emergencies and tuition. We don't have a years supply unfortunately. It's hard to save too much when you are making $30,000 a year.

It still amazes me to see people who make about the same as I do spend, spend, spend. I am barely making in being a cheapskate. :-)

John W. Redelfs said...

Are the Latter-day Saints any less materialistic and focused on the worship of money than the greater culture around us? If so, what is the evidence?

If we would spend less and save more, we could discourage the raging lust for "stuff" that so many of us suffer from. We would have more to bail out family members when they get into financial trouble through no fault of their own. We would have more to contribute to relief efforts such as those that followed Katrina and the recent tsunami. We would be better prepared financially to serve missions when we retire. But perhaps more importantly, our children wouldn't grow up spoiled rotten like so many of us did.

If it is a sin to waste time, is it a sin to waste money? And when we buy stuff we don't really need, are we wasting money? Maybe the Lord expects us to repent, do you think?

J White said...

I'd like to hear some suggestions. We always make a real effort to keep out of debt with Christmas. One income in the DC-Metro area is always a challenge. What do you do to deal with the temptations of going into debt for Christmas? I have my own ideas, but would be curious what others have to say:

For example ... There's the perceived expectations that because another family member has more discretionary income than you, that you have to match it. I personally don't buy into this at all. For us, this usually becomes an issue when going in on something together. I simply make it clear what I *can* offer from a budget, not how much I can pay off later.

Then there's the general trend of doing what your Mom/Dad did (or buying what they bought) ... because well, it's tradition, right?

My wife's family is large enough that they pick names out of a hat (sort of) as to who gets who a gift and that keeps things more reasonable. But my family is free-for-all and it's difficult to make/ask the family to change just because it's tight for us. Anyone have a success story in that venue?

And the biggest for me ... not being a grumpy ogre when you see the *agreed upon* budget being blown because something was cute becuase "I thought of So-and-so, when I saw it".

I tend to make some of the gifts (woodworking) for our kids and use scrap wood as much as possible. My wife and I trim ourselves down/out of the budget as well if need be.

Also, we live near our relatives now, so we can hold back with our kids (and need to in order to avoid real excess at times) becuase the others will be getting them something.

Not trying to be a troll here. Some suggestions for rubber-meeting-road as opposed to more re-statement of the general principle/problem would be appreciated. We have ways of dealing with the I'm-getting-debt-for-Christmas problem, but I'm interested in hearing suggestions and success stories from others.

J White said...

I'd like to hear some suggestions. We always make a real effort to keep out of debt with Christmas. One income in the DC-Metro area is always a challenge. What do you do to deal with the temptations of going into debt for Christmas? I have my own ideas, but would be curious what others have to say:

For example ... There's the perceived expectations that because another family member has more discretionary income than you, that you have to match it. I personally don't buy into this at all. For us, this usually becomes an issue when going in on something together. I simply make it clear what I *can* offer from a budget, not how much I can pay off later.

Then there's the general trend of doing what your Mom/Dad did (or buying what they bought) ... because well, it's tradition, right?

My wife's family is large enough that they pick names out of a hat (sort of) as to who gets who a gift and that keeps things more reasonable. But my family is free-for-all and it's difficult to make/ask the family to change just because it's tight for us. Anyone have a success story in that venue?

And the biggest for me ... not being a grumpy ogre when you see the *agreed upon* budget being blown because something was cute becuase "I thought of So-and-so, when I saw it".

I tend to make some of the gifts (woodworking) for our kids and use scrap wood as much as possible. My wife and I trim ourselves down/out of the budget as well if need be.

Also, we live near our relatives now, so we can hold back with our kids (and need to in order to avoid real excess at times) becuase the others will be getting them something.

Not trying to be a troll here. Some suggestions for rubber-meeting-road as opposed to more re-statement of the general principle/problem would be appreciated. We have ways of dealing with the I'm-getting-debt-for-Christmas problem, but I'm interested in hearing suggestions and success stories from others.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some of us need to "bury our weapons" deep in earth. When the Anti-Nephi-Lehis repented of their sins and were converted, they fortified themselves by leaving their weapons of war deep in the ground. It might be a good idea for some of us today to "bury" the credit cards to avoid temptation.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some of us need to "bury our weapons" deep in earth. When the Anti-Nephi-Lehis repented of their sins and were converted, they fortified themselves by leaving their weapons of war deep in the ground. It might be a good idea for some of us today to "bury" the credit cards to avoid temptation.

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for a Prophet that can give such wise counsel. Keeping out of debt will bring many blessings to he who does and a Prophet's voice is much needed in these troubled times.
It certainly speaks to the truthfulness of the gospel that a living Prophet of God gives such wise and unpopular counsel.

Anonymous said...

Forget credit cards. Some of us need to bury our weapons, too!

ghettooutlaw said...

A few thoughts on this topic:

The way to stop financial joyriding is to arrest the chauffer, not the automobile. - Woodrow Wilson

Budget: telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. - C.E. Hoover

Riches serve a wise man but command a fool. - English Proverb

These quotes and many others can be found in Larry Burkett and Randy Southern's book The World's Easiest Guide to Finances. This is one of the best books I have ever read on personal finance. It is educational and entertaining. I highly recommend it.

annegb said...

The church now accepts credit cards to buy the church magazines. I think they can be a useful tool in today's world.

Not that I use them wisely, but still...

why me said...

America is a capitalist society. Capitalism is about buying and selling goods on the market.

Today's capitalism is guided by consumerism. If people do not consume and buy, the system takes a tumble.

At this moment, there is pressure to buy and to purchase commodities. It is ingrained into the consciousness of men, women and children...the more a person has the better the person will feel about herself or himself.

In order to get out of the system of self-interest and greed a person will need to ditch one of the fundalmental tenets of capitalism: profit.

And this is not possible unless the entire economic system is overturned.

Anonymous said...

I am also grateful for the prophet's counsel to get out of debt and save a year's supply of food. We are young college students with two small children, we have a credit card that we pay off every month, two cars with no car payments, almost a year's worth of gross pay in the bank, a year's supply of food and other necessities, and enough clothing to clothe our little boys for several years to come (power yard-saling!). It gives us great peace of mind and is a far cry from the worry that existed when we were many months from having credit cards paid off, had a car loan, no savings, etc. It can be done.

I would suggest reading Approaching Zion, The Tightwad Gazette, Your Money or Your Life, and any book you can find on voluntary simplicity.

Ian said...

One thing we do when we get our tax returns is that we put it all on our debt. If we have any left over, we put it directly into savings.

Anonymous said...

This year's tax return will go to as many months of tithing as it will cover (pre-paid tithing - what a concept!). Then the rest will go to what debt we have.

Anonymous said...

You last two guys are way to generous with your tax dollars. Why not adjust your deductions so YOU can keep your money instead of Uncle Sam getting interest on it, and then giving you a big refund at the end of the year?

Anonymous said...

Why not adjust your deductions so YOU can keep your money instead of Uncle Sam getting interest on it...?

Because I am right at the point that I receive a refund from the federal government but break even with the state. Any adjustment in my favor with federal will cause me to owe with state. Its hard enough to pay taxes much less have to write a big check at the end of the year on top of it.

Anonymous said...

This blog has been dead for three years now.