What I learned about financial independence as a Mormon missionary

By Ben Luthi

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 23 2013 9:00 a.m. MST

My haircut was not what I was expecting. After that, I worked feverishly and ended up reaching fluency within about six months. From then on out, I felt more comfortable and had more fun. It became second nature to me. With your finances, “fluency” means your nature has been changed. You’re no longer stumbling around trying to grasp what’s going on and getting frustrated with your lack of control. You have solid goals and you’re working toward them like a well-oiled machine. You no longer stay awake at night worrying about your debt and your future.

There are more important things in this life than money.

One of the best things about my experience as a missionary was I only had one thing to focus on the entire time — serve others and try to help them come closer to God. We did a lot of random service, and were advised to never take money for it. One time we were talking with an elderly woman who said she had a hard time getting around her garden anymore, so we offered to come and pull weeds for her. Another time we met with a guy who had a large cherry tree that needed to be pruned. We spent an entire afternoon helping him, then sitting back and eating cherries and talking about life.

My brother, who served a mission in South Dakota, chopped up bloated cows to feed a lion at a wildlife refuge. A friend who served in Mongolia helped gather frozen dogs after winter ended to give to needy families to eat. We worked our hearts out for two years and never received a cent, and it was so worth it. We established lasting relationships with amazing people and had experiences that prepared us for life. It taught me that when you serve others, you serve yourself more than you could by doing anything else.

What are some unique experiences you’ve had that have taught you valuable lessons?

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