Guest Post: President Monson and Mormon Soul Searching on Debt

By W. Lyle Stamps

Today’s Wall Street Journal features a front page “editorial” from President Monson. Okay, it isn’t an editorial, but a story on the rising level of debt & bankruptcies in the United States, with a focus on Utah, and particularly, Mormons.

President Monson’s April General Conference address is quoted, regarding the “appalling” practice of home equity second mortgages and that “interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies.” This has led the WSJ to conclude that Mormons are doing some “soul searching,” as Utah’s bankruptcy rate is twice the national average.

In honor of keeping debt down and y’all not scrambling to buy a WSJ subscription, I’ll excerpt and comment on the Utah and/or Mormon parts of the article.

Why do bankruptcies happen so often in Utah? (from neighboring West Chester, PA) says that “Utahns often get married early and have the largest families in the nation on average.” That amounts to “a lot of young parents with modest incomes looking for big homes and cars,” resulting in a median mortgage payment for a Utah family of 45.3% of the families monthly income. Now, take out 10% for tithing, and 25% for taxes, and Utah families have less than 25% of that monthly income available for food, car payments, vacations, education and/or student loan payments, etc.

Perhaps most interesting are the short stories of two Utah families.

First, Benjamin Franklin Baggett leads off with a cautionary tale. Mr. Baggett borrowed heavily on credit cards. This started with paying for his honeymoon and then using the cards to keep up with the “Smiths,” when he bought a house in the pricey Harvard-Yale area of Salt Lake. He filed for bankruptcy, is now divorced and sold this home.

Second, the Jason and Amy Woodworth family. When they graduated from the UofU in 1994, they had two children and $60,000 in combined student loans. Add $15,000 in credit card debt [for a video camera, DVD, stereo, etc.], and they eventually had to move into Amy’s Parent’s basement. Happily, they brought their spending under control, and while 5 years in a parental basement is quite a sacrifice, they now have 4 children, a modest home, and are paying down their remaining $45,000 in student loans and $7,000 in credit card debt. Of course, for better or worse, [for both their children and literature lovers everywhere] this required Amy to start writing Mormon novels to supplement the family finances.

One consistent meme throughout the piece is an argument over whether easily obtained credit is a good or bad thing. Some say it is good because credit is now available to just about everyone; it has become “democratized.” Others feel that this is just another evil empire, this time one of debt, that is keeping down the poor.

What can we learn from this national exposure?

First, you’d better be prepared to talk about this with your neighbors; esp. if you live around a lot of non-LDS folks who read the WSJ.

Second, the Prophets and Apostles have continually emphasized that we must live within our means. Mr. Baggett got in trouble, because he “came to rely upon credit as part of our income,” even though it was actually a drain on his family income.

Third, while we can’t comment on the reasons or propriety of his divorce, mounting debt and bankruptcy should be treated as large flashing signs reading “Warning, you are putting your eternal marriage in extreme danger.

While I could say more, that’s what y’all are for, right? However, I’d like President Monson to get in the last word:

“It is essential for us to live within our means.”

‘Nuff said.

W. Lyle Stamps received his J.D. from the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University in 2004. He received a B.A., with honors, in Political Science from BYU in 1999, and a Masters degree in International Relations from BYU in 2001. He was a White House & Senate Judiciary Committee intern and speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese. He has practiced law in the areas of human rights, antitrust and securities litigation.

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52 thoughts on “Guest Post: President Monson and Mormon Soul Searching on Debt

  1. In an business ethics class in the BYU MBA program in 2003, we were assigned to discover the roots of high bankruptcy in Utah and find ways to create financial literacy and awareness to the rising generation to reduce the possibility of bankruptcy in the future.

    Much of the consensus attributed two factors to high bankruptcy in Utah.

    1) Substantial charitable contributions from a majority of state residents (i.e. tithing) and the fact that when banks qualify applicants for loans, they don’t factor in charitable contributions as a fixed expense going out of the pockets of the applicant. Hence, Utahns on average qualify for mortgages, loans, etc. that are much higher than their disposable income relative to typical residents outside the state of Utah.

    2) (And I don’t know if I buy it) A higher instance of entrepreneurialism in Utah, hence a greater willingness to take financial risks.

  2. Lyle, I too noticed this article in the WSJ this morning. I think the most salient point I got from this article is: too many young LDS are thinking they need to buy the plasma TV and the new minivan and the $200,000 house by the time they are 25. The best advice is that of Pres. Monson, which is that you’re not going to die if you have to live in a small house and drive a 8-year-old car for a few years until you can afford the more expensive stuff. I grew up in an 700-square-foot 2-BR house sharing a room with my younger sister. We both did just fine.
    P.S. — Send me an e-mail if you ever want to practice your Spanish or Portuguese.

  3. the $200,000 house by the time they are 25

    Unfortunately, looking below that amount won’t get you much of a house in SLC.

    I think that another reason might be the expensive housing market in Utah compared with the relatively low wages.

  4. The article sounds problematic if both the examples they use are people who went in over their heads for consumer spending. (And writing novels to get out of debt is an even more ludicrous example; you might as well play the ponies.) I agree that people should live within their means, and that careless spending can be toxic for a marriage, but most bankruptcies are caused by catastrophic events, medical and otherwise. When society exposes families to more financial risk, like ours has been doing, more bankrupt families is the result.

  5. I just did a MLS search for Salt Lake County. There are 1576 homes for sale under $200K and 607 homes in the $150K – $200K range. I don’t think the price of housing in Utah is the issue. I live in a nice older area of Bountiful. The average house size is above 2000 sq. ft. and houses sell for $175K.

    President Monson stated in his talk that yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities. This is the root of the problem for many. I realize as stated above that some banruptcies are the result of catastrophic events – medical, etc., but there are too many people that live beyond their means. Often times, impulse buying leads to paying for items that are sitting at D.I. or in someone else’s house while payments are still being made to the credit card for that item.

  6. Mark Simmons, could you explain how your class reached its consensus that charitable contributions were a major factor in Utah bankruptcies? In the SL Tribune bankruptcy articles a few months back, an examination of bankruptcy paperwork showed that a surprisingly small fraction of the bankrupt had made contributions such as tithing. I think it was only about 15%. In other words, tithing had no bearing on 85% of Utah bankruptcies, except in that lack of observance of that principle may have closed the windows of heaven to some in a time of need. Did your class have some data that contradict the Tribune’s finding, or was the consensus built on a plausible theory that everyone accepted?

  7. John Fowles,

    Salt Lake is actually a housing bargain right now. According to Consumer Reports, the average home price there is $176,200, and based on historical price/income ratios a home in the area should be $162,800. By contrast, in Oakland (which reputedly has terrible schools and an unacceptable murder rate) the homes should cost $285,900 based on avg. income, but in actuality they cost $411,300 on average. The median price for a home in Bay Area as a whole is now $622,000.

  8. Good comments all.

    Greg: The same meme was also on MSNBC/Good Morning America a few months back. Consumer reports can list SLC as a bargain; but relative to wages [as Sr. Fowles noted] and the emphasis on single-incomes among LDS folks…that translates into very high housing costs. The CR report is only measuring gross average housing prices; not cost of living/local wages. Further, this is only likely to get worse as the UT population grows & more empty nesters retire to Utah, with higher incomes, and buy up more homes. Consumer Reports itself will make this worse…as bargain hunters swoop down on the Utah market and start buying investment properties. That’s my guess. While housing & tires are different; I’m buying the tires CR suggests as the best bargain; and am having to wait because the manufacturer is backordered.

    RS: Spot on re: the conflation of want with need and compulsive spending. However, note that an MLS search is giving you asking prices. Which, if the housing market is hot…is going to be a price floor, not a price ceiling. Further, how many of those homes did you look at in any detail? As discussed in the T&S threads re: women, education, working moms, etc. even more important than sq. footage is the school district and what the neighborhood is like. As I recently bought a home (albeit in the Philadelphia area), my wife refused, absolutely refused, to even look at homes that were in neighborhoods she considered less desirable. If you have heard that male gay couples are making some inner city neighborhoods safe again…it’s true. They are willing to take risks that young couples & families simply won’t. Frankly, from my limited Utah home searching knowledge…most homes were very overpriced, having tripled in price over the last 12 years; and most new construction is for established, not starting out, families.

    Jonathan Green: Yeah…writing novels seems sketchy. However, this family apparently gets about 5k in royalties currently. So…they made it work; almost all others probably couldn’t. However, I’m afraid that if you want to pull out the “catastrophy” cause as the root bankruptcy problem; you’ll want more facts. While I can’t pull anyout right now either; that seems fairly partisan and most folks that claim as much (on the left) seem to be met with equally persuasive evidence (on the right) that medical costs, etc. aren’t a big cause. That being said; while at Guard duty this weekend, I did give some bankruptcy advice to one middle-aged female soldier who was going to file for bankruptcy because of medical bills she said her insurance company should have, but didn’t, pay.

    Geoff: E verdade. It’s true. Not buying the new car, or even any car, if not _necessary_, would alleviate lots of problems. Elder Monson (or is it President?) specifically mentioned couples that want to have “two cars.” I thought that was subtle, yet significant. Why does a family need more than 1 car? Sure, it requires more coordination, planning and sacrifice; whether through only 1 parent working or though car-pooling/1 spouse driving the other to work; but it can and should be done. Thanks to that talk and my wife, we recently sold our 2nd car (my doing) and didn’t buy a new hybrid toyota highlander (her doing). So…sometimes she has to take me to work, so what? It saves us about $500/year in auto insurance, plenty in gas, and $300 less in monthly car payments.

    Mark: Your class sounds fabulous. Is there anything else from the class that you can share with us? Frankly, I’d like to get some good answers because I’ve had one too many snooty non-LDS associates point their fingers at me and say “y’all file for bankruptcy, y’all don’t practice what you preach. hypocrites.”

    John M.: Did the Tribune study show they weren’t paying tithing at all; or just not paying at the time they filed for bankruptcy? Yes, I’m splitting hairs, but my guess is that most church attending Mormons pay tithing…and then stop when they begin experiencing financial problems. Wrong solution of course; but if they weren’t LDS (let’s say), that extra money the banks/mortgage companies ‘think’ they have, but don’t, would/could have been plowed into making the mortgage/debt payments and avoiding bankruptcy/foreclosure. However, maybe the iron law of wages exempts tithing? I.e. Mormons only spend as much as they earn after tithing? Somehow, I doubt it.

  9. Lyle: Um, did you go to the link? The whole point of the CR chart is to compare local housing prices to local wages. Appreciation has barely kept up with inflation over the last five years in SLC. Especially in comparison with the current price/earnings ratios in metropolitan areas, Salt Lake is a bargain.

  10. Greg: My bad. I looked at the link; but read it too quickly. The language describing the chart is less than clear on a quick read. However, the “affordable” for whom question remains? For those that get 100% of their net income? Or 90% after tithing? For two income families? Or one income families relative to wages?

  11. Lyle: CR explains that “affordable” is based on historical ratios of home prices as compared to income. Obviously, the higher the home price to income ratio, as compared to the historical baseline, the less affordable the market is.

    I don’t think I understand your other questions. They have nothing to do with whether or not Salt Lake homes are affordable as a historical or comparative matter.

  12. Greg: We are talking about different terms. You/CR are using the “historic” ratio definition. It’s nice to know that the SLC market is ‘affordable’ when comparing history and current wages and home prices.

    However, I’m just talking plain “whether or not someone can qualify for the loan and/or make the payments” common sense ‘affordable’. Whether you have two income earners, or one, has everything to do with whether a home is ‘affordable’ or not; regardless of wage-price ratios, comparativity, etc. Similarly, whether one has charitable contributions of 10%, or more, or less, is also an ‘affordability’ factor.

  13. Lyle: You’re entitled to your own definition of “affordable.” I was simply pointing out that Salt Lake is quite a bargain under any objective metric (comparable cities, inflation, price/earnings).

  14. Brother Lyle, I found the Tribune articles.

    Tribune Samples

    “Seeking to learn why Utah has the highest rate in the nation for personal bankruptcy filings, The Salt Lake Tribune analyzed 1,053 randomly selected bankruptcy cases filed during the last six months of 2003 and first six months of 2004 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Utah. The sample was taken from a total of approximately 21,092 filings, giving The Tribune’s findings a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.”

    “Of the 182 bankruptcy filers who reported charitable giving within the year prior to filing, a majority [68%] reported tithing to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

    Given that 87% of bankruptcy filers in their sample did not tithe in the year preceding filing, I found the Tribune’s headline announcing

    “Charitable giving, tithes may complicate Utahn’s finances”
    to be deceptive, as was this bit: “Among the LDS population, pressure also exists for active members to tithe a tenth of their incomes to the church. About 13 percent of Utah bankruptcy filers reported tithing in the year prior to going broke, with 12 percent of those reporting tithes to the LDS Church.” The tithing/bankruptcy connection is so firmly rooted that we are supposed to see it even right when we are looking at numbers showing no connection.

    The real lesson from the Tribune articles is similiar to one from Senator Bennett in his recent Times and Seasons piece. The Senator said that Utah is a conservative, Republican state on the basis of demographics, not religion. Similarly, the basis of Utah bankruptcies is low-income families with children. Nothing complicated or mysterious about it. (I’ll leave it for someone else to piece together Senator Bennett’s thoughts about the Republican party and the Tribune’s research on bankruptcies.)

  15. John: Thanks for finding the article. I agree; it is almost deceptive. I had to read over your post twice to understand. Of course, I misunderstood Greg’s post too, because ignoring individual variables, SLC is a real bargain; so maybe it is just me. 🙂

    I put in a call to the BYU prof that taught the class mentioned above; so maybe he will make an appearance. If not…”Low income, large families” sounds like the most explanatory causal variable. President Monson’s piece seems to be that it doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be like that.

    So…perhaps let’s turn the conversation another direction:

    “How can I, as an individual, both live within my means and contribute, by action or omission, to others living within their means also [i.e. how can I help defeat the keeping up with the Jones’ theory]?”

    Sadly, I’m not sure I’m a good example. I tend to be an early adaptor; and emerging technology tends to be pricey. So, while I can feel good in my “green” heart because my family drives a toyota prius, perhaps I’m being a bad example because we drive a fairly new car, with neat cool s$xy technology which could create envy in others. Or is decreasing our personal consumption in order not to be a family/variable “to keep up to with” simply not realistic or useful?

  16. This might seem like an odd question, but I am wondering if there is anything we can do to encourage others to live within their means, aside from talks and lessons, etc. In other words, are there elements of LDS culture that contribute to this problem that we, as Saints, can work on?

  17. I was just reading articles on personal finance at One item listed to reduce our household spending was “turn of the TV”. TV drives our desires for consumption. I’m sure those with small children have seen this first hand, assuming you let your kids watch TV. Our daughter knows many commercials and uses the phrases from the ads when trying to coerce us into buying a particular product.

    So my advice for those that have trouble living within their means – drop the cable/satellite service.

    It would help if people actually knew the financial condition of the “Jones”. Sure they have two nice cars, take great trips and their kids have the cutest clothes from Baby Gap, but how much debt do they have and how easily do they sleep?

  18. Welcome T&S readers. Note to Kaimi: Como se dice “Fair Use” and “Derivative work”? End Scoff.

    Julie: Glad to see we were thinking in the same vein for once 🙂

    RS: Good point. While I don’t buy the “seeing is buying” theory as a true causal relationship; it is hard to argue with the logic that you can’t “lust” over a material possession that you don’t know exists. Yet…how does that square with window/comparison shopping in order to get the best deal? Presumably, such would increase material desires also; although the purpose of finding the best price for a specific _needed_ item, or budgeted _want_ item, might eliminate the secondary effects?

  19. In #4 Jonathan Green wrote: “When society exposes families to more financial risk, like ours has been doing, more bankrupt families is the result”.

    Can you please explain this better. By society do you mean “free market” or “the state”? I’m part of society and I don’t think I’m exposing families to more financial risk. Also why do you think risk/bankrupcy is a causual relationship? Does risk case bankrupcy?

  20. Daylan: I’m not sure if Jonathan was making the following claim; but some folks have suggested that health care costs result in alot of bankruptcies, and since the government doesn’t pay for medication or hospital/doctor costs…it is ‘societies’ fault. Just a guess…

  21. In reading about personal finance it seems that increased financial pressure is due to a few main categories

    1) Increased housing expenditures – The average home size in the US has grown tremendously. While I don’t have the stats at hand I believe the avg home size in the 1950s was like 1300 sqft and 2000 sq feet today. As one example, my wife and I move to a little house in Provo during our last year of school. It was a cute little brick house, less than 800 sq ft with a basement (2/3 of the basement was rented). I met the owner of the house next door (who moved a few years ago to have a house with a garage). He had raised his family in the house (4 kids?) which was smaller than ours (650 sf with a basement, added on when his kids were teenagers). When my wife and I were looking at homes, we couldn’t even really consider anything less than 1500 sf with a 2 car garage. Small compared to my parent’s and in laws, but much larger than either of their first homes. Even my dad, as a new doctor, only bought an 1100 sf home (which he paid 10k for i believe).

    2) Increased medical expenditures. Even with health insurance, medical bills are expensive on even normally occuring procedures. Treatments and medical knowledge is much greater than it has ever has been. There are so many things we can do today. And they all cost money. Much more money than we have ever spent. Have an accident or something else, and it is very easy to run up 50k in medical bills

    3) Increased consumer spending. Sure there has always been stuff to buy. But now we have the democratization of luxury. For only a little bit more we can pamper ourselves. We may not be able to afford the house in bel air, but we can afford the expensive sofa to furnish our tract home. I love Pottery Barn, C&B, Rest Hardware etc. But do you really need that extra special item? Marketers have made a killing selling near luxury or down market luxury to the rest of us. As this becomes normal, we have more items to spend our money on, and spend more for each item. Why get dove soap when you can get the body scrub and louffa (sp?) for just a few dollars more. We want these feelings of comfort that come with luxury, as we are all stressed to meet the financial requirements.

    Sure there are other factors, like Increased education. More people go to school for longer with more expensive tuition for decreased results. When only 10% of people went to college, a degree meant more. INcreased cost, decreased returns.

    When all these factors combine, you get a perfect storm of increased bankruptcy. The facilitator is the increased availability of credit. While a boon and a blessing, it can be the rope that allows us to climb out of a pit, or hang ourselves over it. When my wife and I were buying our home we were never told you can’t afford that home. We were presented with zero interest loans, NEGATIVE amortizing loans, loans that were for 6 or 7 times our annual GROSS income. When my parents bought their first home even though he was a doctor with a real job and everything my grandfather had to cosign!

    The problem with this is there is no one solution. It involves (i think) changes to institutions, government policies and a lot of individual restraint (go monson). Lets hope we can all do this, because we are getting into an epidemic of consumer debt that doesn’t just affect the poor, but the bottom 99% of american society.

  22. To Julie’s question about what we can do: Quit consuming more than we need, and fight the temptation to buy something simply because we can afford it. Someone may see your example and follow it.

    z.B: I had a counselor who told me once that my beat up ’95 minivan was one reason he convinced his wife they could do without a new car. “If Hermano B. can drive that old clunker . . .”

  23. Mark: Thanks for the personal example and story. I feel even more guilty now; enough not to buy the new xbox when it comes out…but probably not enough not to get a new desktop computer.

    Jay: Nice diction; I like the perfect storm reference. Your list of factors is a nice addition; esp. re: housing sizes and cost. While family sizes have decreased, on average, even in Utah…child raising has changed substantially. Private schools seem to be the order of the day (at least here on the east coast); they certainly cost. Also, many folks seem aghast at the notion that more than 1 child would live in the same room. The days of siblings sharing a room seem to be over. While I fought alot with my brother, sharing a room together, and I longed for the day when I would have my own…I think it was a net benefit. I’d personally like to do the bunk bed deal with 2/room (when I have kids); but…I don’t know if my wife will buy into that.

  24. Wow- does Mark speak German? and does he think everyone else knows what z.B. means? Try i.e. in this gemischte crowd- it gets more comprehension.


  25. There’s a lot I don’t understand about this topic, but it seems the focus is on consumption and large families. What about the fact that wages are so low?

  26. Annegb: Wages are an important factor; good point. However, this is largely not a factor that families have direct control over to the extent they do over their purchasing and consumption. Yes, families can choose to pursue an education, start their own business, etc. However, wages in Utah will remain low for a very simple reason:

    an overabundant supply of educated workers vs. an all too small job base

    The solution? Well…it will get tiny rocks (larger than the one’s kaimi will get for his plural marriage suggestion though) thrown at me; but if LDS women didn’t work outside of the home…that would free up a whole lot of jobs.

    Note…this is _not_ my personal opinion.

    Sidenote: Any who wish to enter the hallowed halls of BYU Law school; don’t even be caught thinking this. It equates to a permanent “do not admit” being placed on your file as it is considered to be sexist and likely to hurt the feelings of the female law students.

  27. While low wages are a factor – low is a relative amount. The problem in the US is not that wages are low per se (they are way high compared to world wages), but the disparity problem is huge in the US.

    Neiman marcus has record profits, walmart suffers.

  28. Lyle brings up an interesting point re 2 income families. While I wouldn’t necessarily limit the scope to women in the workplace (call it single income instead), I do recall their being a study on this. Anyone have better recall than I? It was basically related to the lowering of wages based on 2 income households.

  29. low-income families with children. Nothing complicated or mysterious about it.

    The solution to the low wage problem in Utah is to move out of state. If more people left, those remaining would make more money.

    I admit that it is tempting to suggest that everyone should move their 4 child families into 650 square foot homes and take public transport.

    Interesting thoughts, though.

    But there is a reason I’m not living in Provo, and it isn’t because I don’t like mountains.

  30. It’d be nice to afford a 650 ft. home.

    It’d also be nice if my debt was due to plasma TVs and expensive sound systems. Instead I have a 1978 Sony given to us by my in-laws when they bought their Plasma TV. In fact, all the nice stuff I have is gifts from my in-laws. My debt is mostly due to many, many car repairs (I had a job that had odd hours and required commuting for a long time) and not being able to make enough to buy college textbooks (even after all the tricks of using library copies, sharing with friends, etc. textbooks still eat up a huge chunk of income every semester. Plus college loans.

    So, please – don’t assume college students with families are debt ridden due to over anxious material desires – sometimes stuff just happens. It seems many posters are just a bit wee too anxious to condemn anyone with debt past a certain point.

  31. I agree with Ivan. I live in a lower middle class neighborhood, with struggling families. They don’t have a lot of extras, but if you have sick kids and the car breaks down, that can set you back a couple of years.

  32. Stephen: Yes. Excellent suggestion. If only the Saints would disperse, and act to ‘leaven’ the whole of the country (or world!); instead of just Utah. While I didn’t choose Philadelphia for low housing costs (Please, don’t go on about cheap housing in Texas, my friend Dan Ure has already regaled me with the fine house he bought for under 200k there); it did get me a job with decent pay and decent hours.

  33. Daylan Darby asked what I meant about increasing exposure to risk. Relevant reading is extensively quoted here with commentary and a nice graph here. As for factors affecting bankruptcy, the study that found that half or more are due to medical causes is here, with a summary here.

    Ivan brings up a good point: sure, some people use credit cards foolishly, but a lot of debt and bankruptcy occurs because it’s a tough world out there, and bad stuff happens.

  34. If only the Saints would disperse, and act to ‘leaven’ the whole of the country (or world!); instead of just Utah.

    Lyle, I don’t know how you haven’t seen this, but most of the people here in the “bloggernacle” live outside of Utah. And those who do live there have no reason to disperse from such a beautiful place.

  35. Actually, Jordan, z.B.=e.g.=”for example”, while d.h.=i.e.=”that is”.

  36. Jordan: As I’m sure you have seen; those in the ‘nacle are not _representative_ of the Saints in general. Perhaps the fact that they live outside of major populations of Saints is why we turn to the ‘nacle for increased fellowship to begin with? Actually; those in Utah do have an excellent reason to disperse…to be a light to the world and preach the gospel; which can be done far more effectively outside of Utah. Simple statistics.

  37. A third of U.S. saints live in Utah, so if half of them moved to other parts of the country, membership in the rest of the country would increase only 25%. Dispersion has its advantages and purposes; having a home base does also.

  38. John: Good point. I was just suggesting the move folks leaving Utah would decrease pressure on the housing market & increase pressure to increase wages…which are both complaints folks have raised in relationship to debt, bankruptcy & utah.

    re: home base. yes, that is a need. However, from an organizational behavior standpoint; the Churh has long since passed the point where it needs to have such an overwhelming base. after building a base and solidifying doctrine & belief, spreading out is the next logical step. Albeit, OB is a mortal science and maybe not part of the divine design.

  39. Yeah, Jordan, I was just showing off with the “z.B”, which is a lot shorter than “for example” and more apt than i.e. as Dan points out.

    And if the ‘naclers don’t know it now, why not expand their world a bit?

    And now for something completely different:

    For those, including me, too cheap or not interested in a subscription to the WSJ, the article that started this whole thing is on the “front” page of the Deseret News this morning, at

  40. Hey, Dan, I’m all for a good z.B. After all, I spent the majority of the last 10 years completely immersed in all things German.

    I was more pointing out for camaraderie sake the fact that we are fellow German speakers because I am always tickled to meet others.

  41. I’ve quoted this before, so forgive if you’ve already heard it, but it bears repeating.

    I read a book (actually, I read the words, but I didn’t understand most of it) by two guys who wrote for the Wall Street Journal, don’t remember the name or theirs, but at the beginning they put the results of a study they’d done. If people did these four things, they would eventually get ahead, not rich, but they would get ahead.

    1. Graduate from high school
    2. Get married and stay married
    3. Never quit a job without having another job (always be employed)
    AND The piece de resistance:


    I preach those four things to every young person I know. I’m seeing that in my friends and neighbors, even the ones who have struggled their entire lives to pay the bills and feed their kids. The crunch eases as you get older, well, maybe until you get that terrible disease and have to give the government your house to pay for health care.

    But, guys, it’s good advice. Well, you all probably do that.

  42. So, please – don’t assume college students with families are debt ridden due to over anxious material desires – sometimes stuff just happens.

    I surely agree with you, and wish you well.

    But one of the reasons wages are so low in Utah is the fact that the state’s population is growing faster than its employment base.

    As for the guy who spent $200,000 for a house in the metroplex, what was he thinking? He could have bought 2500 square feet in Plano First Ward for $150K … though if he has to commute to Dallas, Richardson is even cheaper and closer and the schools are still well above national average.

  43. Mark Simmons,
    If you factor in how much LDS people save by not smoking ($200/month) and not drinking ($100/month) then we save month by paying tithing. Lenders don’t factor in a LOT of things. They look at your gross income and other debt payments. They don’t care if you are paying hundreds of dollars for health insurance (even when it is right on your paycheck stub).

    Jonathan Green
    Yes, often a catastrophic event happens, but it is usually the straw that breaks the camels back. If the family has no debt, or very little debt, then a new $5,000 medical bill can be managed, or a temporary job loss can be managed. But if your entire income is fixed debt payments, then you can’t handle the “emergency” that comes along.

    Two Income Trap
    Has anyone read the book The Two Income Trap? By having women in the workforce people use the wife’s money for fixed expenses. It actually puts the family at greater risk, because if either spouse loses a job, they can’t meet the fixed expenses. It is far ‘safer’ to have a smaller mortgage, smaller fixed expenses and use the second income to play. Because if one job is lost, you can still make your mortgage. However, who really chooses to buy less of a house, in a worse school. Women want to provide these things for their children.

    I have been “housepoor” and had a mortgage that was 50% of our net income. I wouldn’t recommend it normally, but in our case, since our house value went up more per month than our mortgage payment, I felt like it was worth the risk. Managing money is requires some training and some talent. I cringe sometimes when I hear people make naive statements about finances, but it is difficult to know how to advise people financially if they don’t ask you to.

  44. Currently our mortgage payment is 27% of gross income (not including bonuses) and 37% of net income. We find this managable only because we have no other debt payments.

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  46. Jebać Collina, ćpuna i kurwiarza. Nasza Alicja jest bardzo fajna, mam nadzieje że jej nie zostawi samej z dzieckiem.Report this comment as spam or abuse

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