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Saving for souls: Sending a missionary out can be cheaper than leaving them at home

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  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Jan. 4, 2013 4:09 p.m.

    Dennis is right on. 18th birthday (adulthood, not kids any more) or high school graduation -- whichever comes last -- you work, either paying rent & board to live at home or move out. My 18th birthday came with some nice gifts (I've forgotten), some cards and a rent bill. Lasting impression. There are NO expenses having an able bodied adult living in your home after age 18.

    And at $400/month, which is 10k, kids of working age (age 12 or younger) can certainly save enough (in six or more years) to support themselves on missions and leave enough to get going with school before or after.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    Jan. 3, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    Just send the kid if they want to go for the right reasons and balance your checkbook. Don't send them because it's purported to be cheaper, that's like finding a financial babysitter for them instead of the real core reason.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Jan. 2, 2013 2:27 p.m.

    When I had two children on a mission at the same time, I just didn't have the money. I paid what I could and kept paying into the ward missionary fund for an extra year until both of their missions were paid in full. With missionaries going at age 18, they will return and go to college with two extra years of maturity. That is a real advantage for them. They'll be better students, learn more and be better prepared for the world of work after they graduate. Long term, the younger age will be a real plus for them.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Dec. 30, 2012 2:36 p.m.

    Monthly costs for my 18-yr-old Senior in High School:

    $100 - I pay for his car insurance as long as he keeps a clean record, because it is more convenient for him to drive to his many activities than for me to take him. And, he is the taxi driver to take his sister where she needs to go.
    $100 - Gas for the car my son uses.
    $200 - Food, both at home and school lunches - No, I don't pay for all his lunches. He gets what the basic school lunch costs. If he wants to eat pizza or hamburgers and runs out of money, he takes his lunch or pays out of his PT job earnings.
    $50 - Cell phone, so he can be available to us when we need him.
    $50 - his share of basic utilities, mostly electricity for electronics, gas to heat water for showers and wash clothes
    $50 - Incidentals

    We are well beyond $400 per month. His older brother, now on a mission didn't even eat much, and we are saving over having him at home. The Senior wants to go right after graduation in June. Yippee!!!

    Wouldn't have it any other way.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Dec. 30, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    Hutterite and Others:

    Your analysis of young people is pathetic. Our church leaders have over and over said the most valiant souls have been saved for the last days. If our young people are "lazy" and "pampered" as you claim, it is no fault of their own but of the parents and grand parents that have served as their examples. On the other hand, I see young people doing amazing things. I think the mission age being lowered to 18 and 19 is because our generation might have not been ready spiritually for this task while our young people today are ready in the eyes of our church leaders. I think we need to get off of their backs. Think of all the problems facing our country today from the fiscal cliff to the wars to the economy to the debt, it isn't their fault, it is our fault.

    These young people WILL make the BEST missionaries ever...Hide and watch.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Dec. 30, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    @don'tfeedthe trolls.....I don't think you understand what a troll is. It's not just someone who disagrees with you or the LDS perspective. Sometimes is someone who's been there, done that and has a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad, that may prove that something may not be what it appears.

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    Dec. 30, 2012 7:33 a.m.

    Frankly, the growth and maturity my son has gained on his mission is worth all the money I could muster. No amount of college could have done that for him. Even though I said earlier that we are essentially breaking even with him being gone, I was referring to only the cash flow during the two years he is gone. Sure, his career will be delayed by two years and he will miss two years of salary that he could have made but now his goals are higher than they were before he left. I wouldn't be surprised if the present value of his future earnings will now be higher even after missing two years of work.

    The bottom line for me is that I couldn't care less about the financial aspect (more cash flow, less cash flow, opportunity cost of lost earnings, higher tuition when he returns, etc.) This amazing growth experience is a steal at $400 per month (plus incidental expenses, of course). This article only points out the obvious and that is that there are at least some saved expenses for not being at home. Big whoop. I think everybody knows that.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 6:00 p.m.

    @Don't Feed the Trolls

    Your comment criticizing my analysis is virtually without merit unless you explain how changing my assumptions would alter the result (which you have not done).

    Lifetime earnings (after the two year mission period) are irrelevant and should be held constant in this type of analysis because they will not vary substantially. And if you are suggesting we should tax-effect everything (like the cost of the mission net of charitable deductions and the two years lost wages) it will make the analysis more complicated without changing the result, so I chose not to take that route.

    Please supply your alternate analysis for me to critique.

  • Don't Feed the Trolls Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 5:18 p.m.

    I don't have a lot of confidence in a CPA, Fred, who only looks at gross earnings, instead of net after expenses, nor one whose financial comparison only looks at two years verses a lifetime of net gains.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 3:07 p.m.

    @Dadof5sons,Hutterite and Dennis

    "Sorry your wrong. You paid for his education? That is commendable but as I said earlier when they finish their missions the purse strings are cut."

    You can have your opinions, and every kid is different (and needs his own plan). I am happy, however, to compare the results of my philosophy (of helping my children achieve their worthy goals even at my own personal sacrifice) with your "cut the purse strings" philosophy.

    My first two sons are 27 and 25 years old. One is a mechanical engineer and the other has his masters in IT Management. They both married nice LDS girls and have purchased their own homes. My youngest is studying electrical engineering at a top university.

    My youngest is competing with a lot of students from different countries, and many of the students, particularly the Scandinavian ones, receive free educations at our universities paid for by their home countries. These kids, along with all the Chinese kids in his program are going to go back to their home countries and compete against us. If all American parents have your attitude, rather than mine, we are sunk as a nation.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Dec. 29, 2012 2:07 p.m.

    @toosmartforyou....I'm guessing that the kids that can't apply themselves to move into the real word should start looking for something in the "trades". Plumbers, masonry, electricians etc. etc.
    Not everyone is meant for college. Spend your time in the 12 years of public education not preparing, (like the rest of the world does) for later in life you're a bit stuck. Few want to admit their kids can't cut college.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    Well, Hutterite and Dennis.....in this economy just where are the jobs one can get that will pay enough to cover living expenses? And what of going to college----that's hardly free. What you are asking for is a society of under-developed and non-skilled workers that are living in poverty, or college graduates that are heavily in debt and still have little prospects of s decent job with regards to pay. What did you do when you were 19? And what was the state of the economy, as compared to what it has been the last 5 years?

    I think it's better to help our sons and daughters get an education and if possible or necessary work while they try and achieve that. A mission will serve them well over a lifetime. Just running out after high school isn't a guarantee of success or being a great employee. Those skills are not dependent upon with whom or where you live. I'm glad Dennis paid for his own education----but have those costs stayed flat over the decade? Hardly. Things are harder and less available now, but not unreachable with parent's help.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Dec. 29, 2012 12:23 p.m.

    @woolybruce
    Well as one who has two kids serving one year apart on serving in a foreign mission on serving in the states. The cost of the one over seas to send out 1,200 dollars the state side 1,480 to send out the 200 on a debit card my son who has been out a year has never spent a dime of that money. Same with my other son same thing. Care packages for the over seas elder your right 70 to 100 dollars to send. All in all my sons worked before to save as much as they could one worked in the woods setting chokers logging the other was a manager for a car dealership and paid for his first year. I really think parents need to teach their kids to work hard and pay their own way for as much as they can.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Dec. 29, 2012 12:12 p.m.

    @cpafred
    Sorry your wrong. You paid for his education? That is commendable but as I said earlier when they finish their missions the purse strings are cut. If the chose not serve the money that I set side for their mission does not go to them in any way shape or form. They are out the door and on their own. That ten thousand goes to my mission fund for my wife and I.

  • Allen#2 WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 12:08 p.m.

    I had a co-worker who used the money he had saved to pay for his mission, later regretted serving a mission, felt he would have been better off had he NOT served a mission, and no longer attends church.

    A mission has similar results that serving in the military has. Many become more spiritual while others leave the church.

  • woolybruce Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 29, 2012 9:57 a.m.

    As with all financial advisers they seem to be missing the reality. $2000 to send a missionary out? Really? How about $3500 to $4000 in the more reality. And then they are only including $400 per month. Well there is the $200 that is supposed to be in a debit card. Who came up with that idea? Giving a teenager a debit card with a never ending $200? And while the Parent is financially responsible, while on a mission, the parent can't have direct contact with the kid. Shouldn't the real rule be a 0 balance debit card and if an emergency happen the parents be contacted by the Mission President or such? This is a financial disaster as currently constituted. And if the kid is overseas, watch out for the month $70 care packages that contain $15 worth of stuff. While the kid as at home there is some control, but while on a Mission, he is a Mission, and none of that can be challenged.

  • Allen#2 WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 9:28 a.m.

    I agree with Hutterite and Dennis...except we never felt our children had to move out and support themselves 100 %. It definitely costs LESS for a parent to NOT have a child on a mission unless the children go to an expensive college, have an expensive automobile, and are not frugal.

    We know a family whose eldest child got 3 scholarships for college but the next two got none. The eldest graduated from college, got a job after college, lived at home after college until marriage and voluntarily helped support the 2nd child on a mission. The 2nd child worked while attending college before and after the mission.

    The 2nd child's mission initially cost over $ 500 per month and had increased to over $ 700 per month by the end of the mission. Fortunately, there were relatives of the family who paid about half the cost of the mission.

    Since we believe serving a mission is a privilege, we started a savings account to help 5 of our grandchildren serve a mission and have added to each account and the savings account that parents had started for the others.

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    Dec. 29, 2012 8:56 a.m.

    We crunched the numbers as well and we are breaking even with our son on a mission. There has been no difference in our spending whatsoever. They money we send for mission costs offsets the money we would have spent if he had been here. The mission is essentially free.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Dec. 29, 2012 7:08 a.m.

    Hutterite... I agree.
    Our namby pamby culture has decided that 19 year olds are still kids. They're not. If your kids didn't work hard enough in school to get a scholarship or at least a partial scholarship, too bad. Get out of the house. There are no "worthy" goals to be attained living by the shirt tails of mom and dad. You're right vegaspam, this went out in the 80's. The reason it went out is baby boomer parents stopped parenting and placing expectations of excellence on their children. I went to college because I got a job and paid for it. Very simple. Today's generation, and I've hired dozens of them have very little work ethic, less ambition, and all want something for nothing. Imagine sending these kids out to the mission field and the headache it give mission presidents. It's time to start "parenting" not long term "babysitting".

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 10:29 p.m.

    On an overnight trip we took when I was a coach we asked athletes to pay $30. We had parents say they can't afford this. I always countered with this argument. If your child stays at home and doesn't go on the trip are you still planning on feeding him? Is he likely to have his lights on his bedroom while he stays? How about use your car? Maybe, he'll want to go on a date an want $20. Well, if he is with us, we plan on feeding him two to three meals, he won't be using your car, leaving the lights on or asking for money. I suspect it will be a wash financially if you figure it out. But he will having a great experience with us on this trip (hopefully)...

    I think this is analogous to the mission situation but on steroids so to speak. The cost of the mission won't be that great when you think that child will still have to be fed, clothed, etc. Plus the experience of the mission will likely be life changing in a beneficial way which is hard to put on price on that.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 10:22 p.m.

    In all likelihood going on a mission will be more "expensive" than if a child stays home. But in reality, it won't be the $400 more like some people think. It is likely in this economy most children ages 18-24 will live at home for most or all of that time. It is likely this will cost the parents money. I don't think people need to fear financial destitution to send their children on missions is what this article is saying because if they stay home they are still going to cost parents money most likely.

  • guitarboy South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 10:16 p.m.

    cpafred understands the concept of opportunity cost.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 8:00 p.m.

    @Dadof5sons
    "Plus it is so much cheaper to send them out and have grow up doing that than have them out anywhere else."

    I think it is a bit of a generalization saying it is cheaper sending a son on a mission than having them out anywhere else. I think it depends on each child. I was poorer by $12K for the cost of the mission and the increased cost of college tuition (due to inflation) as a result of him serving. In addition, the mission cost him approximately $130K in permanently lost salary (versus what he hypothetically would have earned) by graduating two years later than originally scheduled.

    @Hutterite
    "How about they move out and get a job? That's pretty cheap for all concerned."

    I hope you're kidding. Kicking kids out on their own may work for a few, but if your kids have worthy goals (as many young people do) and we can help them reach their goals and become prosperous adults, shouldn't we do that? Isn't that better for our society and our future economy?

    @JRJ and Orem - I agree, but this article was about financial costs/benefits, not non-financial aspects.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 7:47 p.m.

    We have been going through this and we are going to break even. The cost of having our sons at home is pretty close to $400 a month. The article is right on. I would gladly pay double that for the experiences they are going to have. It really is life changing and will set the tone for the rest of their lives.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Dec. 28, 2012 7:23 p.m.

    Oh good grief! You go on a mission because you have a personal conviction that it is what you should do. As for the financier who thinks that most parents spend more than $500 / month per child to have them at home, all I can say is he needs to spend more time with the average American.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Dec. 28, 2012 7:10 p.m.

    It costs to send a young man out before he enters the MTC is right at close to one thousand dollars. Then it is five thousand per year. Or four hundred a month no matter were you go. I don't know the cost for sisters. So if any knows those costs it would be helpful to know as well. For clothing for one of my sons was eight hundred dollars a bike because that is all they use for transportation five hundred dollars. An no he did not have a bike before. So that right there is 1400 start up cost. Then the 400 per month. I save more in food costs per month. Plus it is so much more cheaper to send them out and have grow up doing that. Then have them out any were else.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 6:58 p.m.

    My mom couldn't afford to send me on a mission and now I'm glad I never went. It would of been a total burden on her financially and I'm a firm believer that not every young person should go if they truly do not want to go. I had mixed feelings about the whole idea.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Dec. 28, 2012 6:57 p.m.

    I have two sons out at the same time not a big deal. As for being cheaper. Then living at home yes to a degree. My oldest turned 19 a few months after high school so he left right a way my other son turned 18 on the day he graduated. And was working six days a week ten hours a day to pay for his. Mission that all changed for him in October and he put his papers in that month. And left right a way. As for college. All my boys plans are after missions military and use the GI bill to pay for school.sorry but my financial obligation ends when they come home from their missions. No living at home get a job what ever. And don't ask for money. Purse strings are cut.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Dec. 28, 2012 5:07 p.m.

    I suspect that if we were to sit down with a calculator, pencil and piece of paper, there are a great many things that would be way too expensive to do or to invest in. Personally, I can't see how people can afford Cable or Satellite TV. Nor can I comprehend how people can afford cigarettes. It all comes down to priorities and interests.

    I think the article was trying to point out that before we discount a mission that we recognize that not going on a mission can also still cost money. Personally, if they so choose, I would prefer that my sons, especially, serve missions and I'm willing to help them do so. Of course I hope that they have savings that they can use, but I'm certainly not going to not help out if their savings come up short. It's a tough economy.

    And in conclusion, not all young adults who live at home are lazy, burdens to the household budget. A great many work, contribute around the house and care for parents in their declining years.

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Dec. 28, 2012 4:32 p.m.

    A parent needs to see the overall picture of what "cheaper means. It's not just financial. I was sooooooooo grateful to have sons in the mission field when they were most vulnerable to the pressures of life, the excitement of being on your own, girlfriend situations, decisions of what to do with life, etc. For those of you who don't know, a mission lines you up to look at life before partaking. Watching people suffer through their decisions and attempting to make changes certainly gives some valuable insight to your own future. Learning to love each other will help all missionaries learn what is really important. Yes, those years are definitely much more than a monetary consideration.

  • Craigo Ivins, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 3:58 p.m.

    "The age limit for women was lowered from 21 to 19."

    Shouldn't this sentence read "The age requirement was lowered from 21 to 19" ??

    I thought the "Limit" or oldest that someone could go was 26.

  • gottscheer Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 3:35 p.m.

    I really don't think these numbers add up. I suspect if you add in the initial costs of going on a mission it's not as cheap as they say it is. Looking at the numbers I would bet that it cost more like $6,000 a year to keep a missionary out. It depends on the country your in. There is a lot of work and sacrifice to send a missionary out on a mission. Let's not give people false hopes of how much it will cost. Most of us don't make six figure salaries like these guys do. Most of us have cars and houses to make payments on and illness comes into the equation. Most of the families I know have had to sacrifice a great deal to send their sons and duaghters on missions. Reading this article you would think it was simple and easy.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 2:21 p.m.

    This article is at best incomplete and misleading.

    Let me explain with a tale of two sons.

    I saved for my sons' college educations and had the full amount put away by the time each graduated high school. Son #1 did not go on a mission, graduated college within 4 years of high school graduation, and got a job earning $65k/yr.

    Son #2 went on a mission, came back, graduated college, and got a job with a starting salary roughly the same amount as son #1. I paid a lost less (for the mission versus tuition) for the 2 years while son #2 was gone, but while he was away the cost of tuition inflated at a greater rate than his college savings earned, and he permanently lost 2 years wages ($65k times 2).

    So from a strictly financial perspective, the mission was a LOT more expensive than continuing school, graduating and beginning work.

    The only way a two-year hiatus would have been financially beneficial was if I had not saved the tuition by graduation (and thereby had two more years to save while #2 was gone). But I had #3 coming up behind #2, so that was not an option for me.

  • PAC12Fan South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 1:58 p.m.

    As much as my teenagers eat, leaving lights on, car insurance, etc, them leaving on missions will mean a pay raise to me. I have two leaving in the next 14 months. I must be getting old.

  • Bifftacular Spanish Fork, Ut
    Dec. 28, 2012 1:57 p.m.

    LOL. Good one Hutterite. Kids don't move out and get jobs because it is too darn painful on their doting parents. The same parents that made sure their kids had rides everywhere, same parents that allow their teenagers to sleep in until noon. Kids are fragile and must be treated as such.

  • AZRods Maricopa, AZ
    Dec. 28, 2012 1:47 p.m.

    hutty-not enough eggnogg this year? Yeow!
    I suspect that many of these young people that this story applies to are still in high school, hence they are still at home.
    For those in college, I say let them live at home as long as they are actively pursuing an education or working to save money for a mission.
    It's pretty tough for a young person to save when they are paying rent and expenses.

    For me, just the thought of my sons being on their missions was a great source of peace and comfort to me. I always felt that for now, they were where they needed to be. I never worried...too much over their safety or well being. Once they got home I was more anxious with what they would do now after their mission such as relationships, educations, jobs, cars etc etc.

    Turns out, in large part that due to their missions, they know very well how to save, how to budget, how to study and how to work hard.
    Truly the best two years of "our" lives.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Dec. 28, 2012 1:43 p.m.

    Hutterite: Your comment reveals your age. Things have changed, greatly, from when this was done regularly ending in about the 1980's.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 28, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    How about they move out and get a job? That's pretty cheap for all concerned.