Keepin’ up with the Jones’

I’ll never forget this day in 6th grade. I was the new kid at an El Cajon, California middle school. It was a December day, not too long before Christmas break. I was paying careful attention to the teacher staring at Mr. Hotty, Aaron P. He had nice perfect penmanship. I was smitten.

And then I got my first note of the year.

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I wasn’t “cool,” but oh did I want to be a part of that crew. So I checked that I had GUESS jeans and socks. I might have had them, I don’t really remember. What I was willing to give up to be a part of that crowd: my dignity, my integrity, and probably my favorite scooter.

Is it really worth it?

What is it that makes us so willing to reach beyond our capabilities for material items that really don’t matter? What makes us think this has little effect on our families?I know of 3 families that are in the process of divorce right now. All of them are due to selfishness. Three of these marriages are in considerable debt, to the point where it is tearing their whole family apart. All of these families have had to take drastic measures to try to reduce their debt.

It scares the beejeezus out of me. Dan & I have some debt, mainly from credit card use when we were young and stupid, and then our student loans. Student loans will be paid off in time, and it was for a good cause. We’ve both been highly educated and are in positions to make the money we invested in our education. And we *love* what we studied and what we do.

The credit cards are a whole other story. Ask me what’s on my Citi card, and I can barely tell you. I know some of the major purchases, but there’s a lot that I cannot account for in my mind. The charges are valid, it’s not like my cards were stolen or anything. But why was it that I *needed* those new pants? Why did I *need* a 6th suit? Really. . .I’ve been guilty of the “So-and-so has it, so I need to get _____.” It makes me sick.

When you think of it, the same voice that spurs on excessive spending, is the same voice that pushes one to eat, drink or be merry to excess.

Mosiah had some words about this:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

Sometimes working your way out of issues means humbling yourself. Sometimes it means you have to clean out those closets, and get rid of the ungodliness that exists there.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke about this in 2004’s General Conference. He 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. Far too often, the money hoped for does not appear.Remember this: debt is a form of bondage. It is a financial termite. When we make purchases on credit, they give us only an illusion of prosperity. We think we own things, but the reality is, our things own us. Some debt—such as for a modest home, expenses for education, perhaps for a needed first car—may be necessary. But never should we enter into financial bondage through consumer debt without carefully weighing the costs.

May I suggest five key steps to financial freedom for your consideration.

First, pay your tithing. . .
Second, spend less than you earn. . .
Third, learn to save. . .
Fourth, honor your financial obligations. . .
Fifth, teach your children to follow your example. . .

I’m a new mom, and I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t know it all.

How did you learn financial restraint? How are you teaching your children financial restraint? Please comment as I’d love to hear others’ opinions on this.

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About jaimeanne

I'm me. Graphic designer extraordinaire, urban master teacher of social studies, former adjunct professor, high school principal, and now most importantly-- Mom to the cutest little girl ever. I try to live by the quote, "Work like you don't need money, Love like you've never been hurt, And dance like no one's watching." I believe in Christ, and sometimes I'm just trying to figure out what He wants me to do. This blog chronicles that journey.
This entry was posted in Children, Church, Education, Family, Life, Money issues, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Keepin’ up with the Jones’

  1. Kipluck says:

    That note made me giggle. I got teased a lot because most kids knew/could tell my clothes were from DI up until high school (which is finally when thrift stores were sorta cool… DANG IT! Just a few years too late!) but I never got a note like that.

    Honestly, I just learned by example… sometimes by BAD example (woah… yeah, that was dumb of him to buy… etc)… I just never grew UP with money, so I never thought to spend it. Oddly, my family DOES have money now… just not when I was little. So I think my little brother and I grew up COMPLETLEY differently.

  2. I never had a pair of guess jeans. I remember when they first came out that they were $84! And I also remember that they fell apart quickly!

    My family had no finanical restraint, so I sort of learned it in reverse–enjoy now, pay later doesn’t work because you get deeper and deeper in debt. My mom still says that she will probably have to work until the day she dies. . . .

    My husband’s family was very frugal, so we can learn from their good example. It’s been a good balance. I try to listen to his wisdom in this area, even if I’m not sure I really agree. We save a good bit, and we have a budget for what we do spend. I think that we could enjoy our money a bit more, and save a bit less (while still saving something), but I’m okay with his cautious approach. He is very generous.

    One of his strategies that seems to work because it doesn’t cultivate that trap of being overextended is to go conservative on the big items and the weekly budget. For example, our mortgage has never been anywhere near the maximum of what they tell us we could borrow. Once you have that mortgage, you are stuck with it. Same with cars–we drive them for close to 10 years, and pay cash if possible–that way we don’t have that monthly payment tying us down.

    But, then we splurge on “off-budget” items quite frequently, such as great vacations, a new computer or TV, a fancy dinner out, or something along those lines. The reason that works better is that it’s not a monthly expense and you don’t become used to it, so if the money isn’t there, you don’t spend it, but if it is available, you can splurge and enjoy it.

    Okay, I’ve written a mini-post here. I may collect my thoughts and repost them on my blog and link here and see if I can get you some more suggestions.

  3. smartmama says:

    What a great opener- I used to really hit my youth hard on spending their money on those things that are of worth in life- I am a big one on stewardship, prioties, and perspective, I am really grateful for a dad who drilled financial resposibility into us- the rule was never put anything on a credit card you don’t have the $ in your account now! And the best things in life don’t cost money- My dad was in the Air force so he didn’t make a ton. We always lived comfortably and had alot because of my parents wise management. I don’t keep a strict “budget” I just try to always be conservative- I am bargain queen thanks to my dad.

    Growing up we put all our $ in savings (after tithing)- my dad deposited it in the bank and we didn’t withdraw it without a plan discussed at family council (I don’t believe in turning young kids loose with $ – they still lack higher reasoning- i believ in building to that but counseling alot over their spending as they grow). we didn’t blow it on candy, toys etc) The things my dad taught us–We max out our Roth IRAs yearly, max 401ks, Do quarterly deposits in 529s to prepare for college expenses (although I expect them to get scholarships as my parents expected of us) we keep savings we can’t touch (cds), we have thus far (bought our cars with cash- yes they are used)- and never had debt besides a mortgage. YEs after that there is tons left for the newest stuff- but i sleep well at night. We were very lucky to come into our marriage both done with grad school and in the black. I also think you have to know your financial priorities (decide as a family) for us it is 1- nice house because that is where we spend our time and I want ti to be a place my childrena nd others love to be (homes are also wealth preserving assets- so wise long term investments) 2- educational opportunities/time with family/developing talents etc (these things last and will go with you. 3- cars (not as nice don’t have to be new), toys, entertainment, going out to eat (this stuff is generally depreciative and you don’t have much to show for it) so its lower on our list. we also try to do things beyond tithes and offerings in other charitable areas (if not $ then time, services,etc)- because we want or children to grow up understnading how good they have it- and how 100$ jeans aren’t that important when people are starving!

    sorry thats long- but it is a subject i am passionate about- I am so grateful for my parents wise counsel and example- it has really helped us!

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