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longing for the mormon lifestyle

October 4, 2007

okay, first let me just say that there is so much about mormonism that i disagree with (starting with later day saints getting touchy about being called mormons) but one thing stands out in all my conversations with mormons, ex-mormons, and missionaries.

and that is the lifestyle

and i’ll have to ask you to translate lifestyle very loosely with me

for instance, latter day saints prefer their women folk to stay home and raise the children.

i do not have anything against women working and i would never make such a sentence mandatory, but this is a gift i would dearly love to give my wife.

she loves her kids. she’s great with them. but she hardly has any time to be with them just as mom

unfortunately, being an ex con, my options are somewhat limited, and i am further handicapped by the fact that both of us fed into the notion that 2 incomes were better than one back in the beginning of our relationship

by which i mean we have racked up a 2 income debt (3-income debt is closer the truth) and it weighs around our necks like an anchor.

another mormonism i like is the never-ending pantry . . . being stocked up with an abundant supply of foodstuffs, paper goods, clothes, etc . . . so that they are ready against lean times (like me losing $12,000 from my annual salary this year)

i know this is the ideal, rather than the actuality in many cases

but i’d give much to get there

i’d like to have more time to spend with my family myself. working retail hours coupled with a 2 hour commute means i see my kids off to school and i see them off to bed and that’s about all i see them.

i am almost never home on weekends

my wife and i are like two ships passing in the night

sometimes we are like two ships on two totally different oceans in vastly different time zones

here’s the rub ::

none of the latter day saints i’ve talked to has been able to tell me how to achieve this state.

i suppose most of them start young and work up from there

(never underestimate the value of good planning in the beginning of any endeavor!)

but does anyone know how to do it when you’re an ex con who’s married with children and saddled with a hefty mortgage?

we are at the point where we are seriously considering selling the house (though it needs so much work as to make that plan all but prohibitive – we aren’t getting all our debts paid out on time as it is, let alone have enough in savings to replace the carpet and paint the walls)

we are even seriously considering filing for bankruptcy – though that will be more than seriously a last resort.

we really don’t want a handout – we want a WAY out

i’m willing to bust my hump and do the work – whatever it takes – but honestly i don’t even know where to begin.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2007 02:16

    Being a Mormon and living that lifestyle isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. My family was mired in debt, poor as hell, unable to scrape by most of the time, and still had to meet all the obligations of church membership. The time I spent with my parents was almost all church time, and that wasn’t fun at all, man. I saw other parents playing ball with their kids or going on real vacations or hanging out and having a barbeque . . . we never got any of that.

    On the other hand, I woke up one morning deep in debt, my girlfriend had just lost her job and my $15/hr. wasn’t going to cut it. So, I quit my job (and left all the benefits, including health care) and started a business. It was crazy, it was risky, it was ill advised.

    I’ve never been happier.

  2. October 4, 2007 08:20

    yeah, i definitely don’t want th church-obligation side of things

    as for the balls-deep in debt part, well, we’re already there.

    i do want the working for myself happy side, but when you have a kid with cancer just up and chucking benefits isn’t really an option.

    and the only business i would be capable and interested in starting would be a restaurant and that requires considerable starting capital.

    well, that’s not strictly true. i know religion. i could do like L Ron and start a church . . . but then i’d have to worry about fools coming over and jumping on my couch.

  3. amy permalink
    October 4, 2007 17:47

    we should talk. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tony and I are in debt, but its probably manageable, and if I were to work, we could eliminate it in less than a year.

    I don’t know about mormon from anything. But I don’t work, I stay home with my son. We only have 1 and I’m sure that makes a difference too. But there comes a time where you have to decide what is more important.

    I have a fully stocked pantry that will last a month with no replenishment, that costs me less than 200 a month to replenish as we use it. I do that because I’m paranoid and was raised around my grandparents, who had both lived through the depression.

    As I said, I don’t know from mormon. But if you want to hear the hard parts…I’ll give them to you.

    Short of windfalls, no new cars. ever. Baby step pay off any credit cards and never use them again. Cut off all non-essential utilities (cable, satelite, (this doesn’t include internet…I love my internet, would die without it…but i could care less about tv), if you have cell phones, get rid of your house phone or the cell phones…either or.) Put your other bills on budget, and turn up the dial on your thermostat.

    Once upon a long time ago, I made 22k a year plus bonuses. And we scraped by. And I couldn’t figure it out. And then one day I sat down and realized that the 2nd car payment, extra insurance, day care, before and after care, clothing upkeep, wear and tear on vehicle etc…basically left me with enough money after the bills created by me working, I had just enough money to pay the cable bill.

    And I don’t watch television.

    so that made it easy for me. I got rid of a car, i quit working. I homeschool my kids. And i’m happy.

  4. October 5, 2007 06:21

    well, it’s not about mormon so much as it is about the lifestyle. i tossed that in because they’re the ones i know who consistently support that lifestyle (but as cvRick pointed out, there are a lot of caveats to embracing the whole philosophy)

    i know what is important to me.

    achieving that is what is tripping me up.

    we have already cut up the cards and are paying them down. unfortunately, we bought the new cars a couple years ago and are still saddled with the payments. my wife’s we could sell and get enough to pay it off.

    mine would be harder, but my payment is the lower of the two anyway by about $250 per month.

    @ $400 a month, i’ve got our groceries pared down to about the bare minimum. With two grown adults and 3 kids on the cusp of teenagerism we go through food. my own pantry could get us through an extra 3 weeks at this point if i depleted it (which we’ve had to do twice since i got demoted)

    short of that windfall you mentioned, i think selling the house is going to be our only option

  5. amy permalink
    October 5, 2007 15:25

    This may seem counter productive…

    but do you by any chance have enough equity in the house to pay off all your bills?

    if so, it might make more sense to take out an equity loan (at about 6 or 7%) pay off all the other bills and cut out most of your interest. and then pay them off that way, and pay nothing but the mortgage and equity…

    something to think about anyway.

    Oh, and when i said our debt was manageable, I wasn’t including the mortgage. We owe about 180k on our house…and about 30k in general debt (but no car payments…) I don’t typically think about the mortgage because that comes out of his pay before i ever see it. So i don’t count the things I don’t see myself paying every month (if that makes sense).

  6. October 5, 2007 15:54

    been there, done that, twice. cant re-fi the house for another few years

  7. amy permalink
    October 5, 2007 23:02


    I wasn’t so much meaning refinancing, so much as like an equity line of credit or something similar.


    You seem to have a grip on it though. Don’t let it get you too down. There is at least a plan there for you to get out of it.

  8. October 6, 2007 00:28

    yeah – if we can hold out long enough for that plan to come to fruition.

    thanks for all the good advice. the piece i most want to take is the part about my wife staying home with the kids just because it IS more important

    and i want to take rick’s advice about starting my own business . . . except i’m not sure if he was really advising it.

  9. amy permalink
    October 6, 2007 03:08

    hard to say. I think if you have the drive for it, it can certainly work out.

    Hopefully it all works.

  10. October 6, 2007 07:54

    :mrgreen: -brave face

  11. October 8, 2007 00:04

    You don’t have to be brought up in the church to learn how to save and work hard and reach your goals! My husband and I joined the church 2 years ago and we were in the same boat you are. Now we are doing good! Here are some of the things I have learned.

    1. Put God and family 1st. Read to your children every night (scriptures are always good)

    Make a date with the wife. even if you don’t have money to spend, take a friday night and set aside time together.

    We have something we do in the church every Monday. It’s called family home evening. Sometimes it’s a scripture lesson, sometimes we go bowling, or watch a family movie together, or play board games. But we do this EVERY Monday. The kids love it and it’s nice to have family time set aside every week! Also we have family prayer. Praying together will strengthen you!

    2. Finances. The LDS church believes the people of the church should be self reliant. You work hard and you teach your children the value of work. The LDS church also feels it’s members should have ZERO debt. If you can’t pay for it don’t buy it. Pay off your smallest bills first and work your way to the big ones. Try to pay over the min. (if you can) Do NOT take out a loan for the equity in your home. It’s really just creating more bills. It will take time but you CAN do it!

    3.Food storage.
    Start small. We started with a 72 hour kit. Flash lights, batteries, matches, water, dried nuts, beef jerky etc.
    When things are on sale buy food in bulk, but only buy things your family will eat! Also keep things handy like shampoo, toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes.

    4. Start a savings account. Or keep a safe at home. Even if you only save one dollar a week, it’s a start!

    Good luck to you, I hope things work out.

  12. October 8, 2007 00:12

    ty for the encouragement.

    i totally agree on number two. at the moment that is my greatest goal. self reliant and out of debt.

    number one is the hard one to scrape out time for. or rather to schedule the time since my wife is a wake up before dawn 9-5er and i’m a don’t get home til after 10pm retail slave.

    still we seem to manage in little ways.

    hopefully someday soon we can manage in bigger.

  13. October 11, 2007 04:56

    I just recently saw on t.v. an ad by Kevin Trudeau selling his new book about cutting debt. I don’t recall the name of the book, but I do know he said that it is pretty easy to cut debt in half in like 24 hours time. Maybe it’s hype, maybe it’s true. The book was like 20 bucks or something. You might want to google it. If you can eliminate most of your debt, that might solve the bulk of your problems.

    As for church obligations, there aren’t many, especially if you grow your hair long, wear a beard and refuse to wear a dress shirt and tie to church, then you’ll have a minimum of obligations as you’ll never receive a church calling! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. October 11, 2007 12:58

    I’ve certainly got the hair and the crazy eyed stare

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