Are Mormons richer, poorer, or statistically the same as everyone else? I have no idea. If you do, I?d love to hear it. (Update: A reader just pointed out a great graph from the New York Times that answered this question for the USA). What I do know is exactly how being Mormon is impacting my personal finances, so I’ve decided to write an entire series on the topic. We’ll cover topics ranging from the donations we are expected to make, to surviving as a single income family, to maintaining a year’s worth of food in our basements (yes we actually do that). I hope you enjoy.
Thought I’d kick the series off with the subject that has been top of mind for me recently. Next week, I graduate from business school and along with my wonderfully framed diploma, I will also begin receiving a monthly bill asking me to start paying off my sizable student loans. Ahhh debt, how we love thee.
For the past several hundred years, Mormons have been taught to stay out of debt. It’s drilled into us. Our prophets and leaders talk about it all of the time. The only exceptions for our debt aversion are to finance a modest home, an education, and maybe a first car. All other debt should be strictly avoided. And the debt we do have, we are counseled to pay off as quickly as possible.
This doesn’t mean all Mormons follow that counsel. I know plenty of fellow Latter-day Saints who have fallen into the debt trap. Bankruptcy rates in Utah are among the highest in the US. It’s just so hard to say no to things we want sometimes, that we convince ourselves that we can afford things we really cannot.
However, there are a lot of Mormons who do try to follow this counsel. My parents are some of them. They made some serious financial sacrifices in order to pay off our house as soon as possible. They’ll tell you it was the best thing they’ve ever done, but they worked very hard and went without a lot of other luxuries in order to achieve it.
My wife and I have decided to try and follow their example. As we go off into the real world and start earning income again, we’re basing our goals around getting out of debt as fast as we can. You are all invited to the party when we make the last payment in a few years. Just don’t judge us if we are hosting that party in a cramped apartment with outdated furniture. Paying off debt doesn’t always come cheap. 🙂
…..Don’t forget to leave comments sharing your thoughts on debt. I’d be happy to get into discussion on interest rates, the value of debt, the difference between good and bad debt, or whatever else floats your boat. Just drop a line.