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

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Published: Friday, Dec. 28 2012 11:40 a.m. MST

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Charlotte, NC

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.


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.

Idaho Falls, ID

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.


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.

Montesano, WA

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.

Montesano, WA

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.

Farmington, UT

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.

Harwich, MA

@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.


@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.

Don't Feed the Trolls
Salt Lake City, UT

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.


@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.

Charlotte, NC

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.

Harwich, MA

@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.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

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.

Allen, TX

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.

Sugar City, ID

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.

Plano, TX

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.

Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

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.

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