Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prophetic Counsel

With all of the financial troubles and the crisis that our nation and world faces, I was reminded of a very moving talk from President Hinckley (I highly recommend clicking on that link and reading his talk, particularly the second half). I was on my mission when he gave this talk and I remember it very vividly today because his statement was so clear and sobering. I was in Ciudad Obregon at the time. It resonated through me, and to this day I can still hear him saying, "there is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed."

Many in the world (sadly even within the church) felt the need to completely disregard his prophetic advice and continued on in their posh and luxurious lifestyles. I look at my generation with sadness that we don't measure up to our grandparents generation. Bryce Carter showed me a book, I believe by Tom Brokaw, where Brokaw called our grandparents generation the "greatest generation". After seeing how people behave today, I couldn't agree more. Today we have such a "me first" generation that focuses on instant gratification, temporal pursuits, and ignoring all accountability. I hear way too often, "it's not my fault". Thanks to my less than stellar generation, savings accounts have been just a neat thought, and people racked up the debt beyond what they could control. Many people purchased homes beyond their capability to pay for. Families went into insane credit card debt, felt they had to have the really fancy cars, all the designer clothes, the big house in the trendy, coveted neighborhoods. The past ten years truly have defined the phrase, "keeping up with the Jones".

Well, that entire decade of frivolous spending and lack of savings has caught up with the world. That bubble has finally burst, and we face some challenging times because of it. Had people only listened to President Hinckley, we would not be in this mess we are in today.

My biggest complaint about this whole situation, is that nobody is taking any responsibility or accountability. The government wants to bail out all those greedy homeowners that overextended their finances, and by so doing are bankrupting the entire nation. Rather than let the market correct itself and allow those who made these mistakes suffer the consequences, our entire nation, and world for that matter, is now going to pay the price, both financially and emotionally. Granted there are some exceptions to this, but by and large, the VAST MAJORITY of people who have foreclosed should never have purchased the home to begin with. Just because the banks were handing out loans like candy does not justify their actions. These people should have seen what they truly could have afforded, bought accordingly, and not have gambled on their interest-only loans. So, my frustration is that society wants to blame everyone and anyone but those truly responsible- the greedy consumer and greedy banks.

I don't understand why the family of four needs the 3500 sq. ft. house, or the $40K SUV's, or why the wife has to wear the $150 jeans, or the husband needs the 60" plasma tv. The list goes on and on. My dad's parents raised 10 kids in a two bedroom house that was probably 1000 square feet (anyone in my family know for sure what size it was). They did just fine with that situation. How have we as a generation gone so far astray? In regards to these people that have lost their homes, the general attitude toward them is that this is the end of the world for them, and we have to do whatever it takes to help them stay in their home. Hogwash! They can go rent an apartment and still be fine. I have rented an apartment for the last 11 years of my life, and I am happy with life. Yes I do hope to one day own my own house, but unlike them I will not bankrupt my future to get into one. Lisa and I are hoping to buy one next summer AFTER we have saved enough for a down payment.

In short summary, I am so grateful for our Prophet today and the inspired leadership that he provides. The prophet and apostles truly do speak for the Lord. If we could follow President Hinckley's advice from 1998, we would be so much happier and more secure as a society and people. And for those of you who refuse to believe that even the Mormon community is guilty of what I complain of, go check the numbers, the studies and the facts. Salt Lake City was ranked by Forbes magazine as the most vain city in the U.S.A, and Utah (up until very recently) led the nation in bankruptcies per capita. I will be interested to see if our generation can rise to this challenge we face and if we shape up. I hope we can live up to the legacy left by our grandparents and get out of this awful mess we are in. In the mean time, Lisa and I will be cutting back on the unnecessary stuff and trying to build our savings account.

13 comments:

Kent said...

Sadly, I am one that is learning the lesson the hard way. I am old enough to retire and I am very tired of my job. I would like to dedicate my time now to serving a mission to working in the temple. I can't because I am working hard to pay off my debts.

Many of the things we are paying for have long ago been worn out and discarded, yet the debt remains. We are working hard at rectifying the situation, but it would have been so much easier to live within our means.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Melissa Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Preston said...

sorry I first posted as melissa oops! anyway,
It is funny how frustrating things have become. In my view it is definitely okay to by the big tv or house, but only as you say if it does not affect your savings and life. Miss and I have saved and paid cash for all the things we have bought. It feels really good to not be in debt. I have paid cash for all of my school and it is definitely a blessing, even though it has taken me longer to get done. Poeple need to realize that you should only take on good debt. The prophet said school and a house(within your means).

AJ said...

Cody,
Good read! I impulsed bought a book called "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey a few weeks ago and it was the best impulse buy I have ever made. As I'm getting ready to graduate with my share of student loans, I was looking for something to help me stay on track with a budget since I tend to splurge on frivolous crap. His counsel is right in line with the church's about debt and borrowing etc (it is even faith centered). I suggest you check out his stuff on daveramsey.com or subscribe to his podcast on iTunes or something. Free of course.

AJ said...

Oh yeah. Check out www.mint.com for a free financial organization site akin to quicken. It charts where your money goes and allows you to set up a budget.

Becky said...

You know, I've been thinking a lot about this topic lately and I couldn't agree with you more. I think it's really sad that so many of us trick ourselves into spending because we "deserve" it. Although I am pretty frugal and careful with money, I'll be the first to admit and could definitely do a lot better. Thanks for your thoughts!

Deon said...

This topic consumes me as of late. Beautifully written, Cody. Thank you. You and Lisa will do just great. I too am grateful for the examples of those before me who I now wish I would have listened to more. I have been reading a lot about how faith and fear cannot co-exist. We need to take comfort, as you state, in following the prophets. In so doing, we will have what we need.

Brian said...

"Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us." (2 Nephi 28:7)

Need I say more? I agree with you that we have racked up so much debt because we can't live without something. Needs and wants. What is the difference between the two? People have borrowed more than they can afford and now will suffer. Good. Hard lesson to be learned.

Now, what is wrong with a 3500 sq foot house, expensive vehicle, cloting, etc? If you can afford it then no problem. Sure, your grandparents raised 10 kids in a small house. Do you think they ever wished they had something bigger? I bet they did. But the point I think you were trying to make is that they stayed within their means and a 2 bedroom house was that. I think that's what you meant. Right? I see no problem in having expensive and nice things if you aren't going into debt. We are here to enjoy life and enjoy the things that are given to us.

The Hunsakers said...

You can see this lack of accountability in schools. More and more the parents don't expect their kids to be held accountable. The students says it isn't my fault and the parents back them up. What happened to the day when the kid did something wrong and gets called in the principal office and punished, and the parents take the kid home and punishes him some more? Instead the parents come in and expect their kids to get off scot free. The lack of accountability is getting worse.

Karen, Mackay, Easton & Kallie said...

so mackay only wants a 50" tv for the basement so i guess he is in the clear right? as for the whole mormon thing...i COMPLETELY agree with you because almost every single home in my subdivision and the one below us that is in foreclosure are by stupid grad students who were in our ward who thought they could live the high life on selling security systems...should have seen their cars...more than $40 grand...

GreenEva said...

Amen :)

Carter Family said...

"The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw. Beware of liberal overtones though. Anyways, I agree. The problem is that people attribute the "Keeping up with the Jones'" to a mere "increase in the standard of living." People EXPECT the big house and the nice car. They call it the "standard of living." And when the "standard" is not being met, who do they whine to? The government. They whine and complain that they have been cheated out of the american dream. It also makes me sick how Obama always refers to this situation of the "Haves and the Have-Nots" as being unfair. PA-LEASE!!! Oh well, good post.
Bryce

The Eliason Family said...

I couldn't agree more! Very well said!