LDS/ Mormons: Borrowing to Get Ahead—Is It Worth It?
I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately: the economy, jobs, all the PhD’s and M’s that don’t have work, the history of companies being built by low-education people, youth, our students, other students I/ we know, my children, etc.
And especially, the youth in our church (my wife works with the Young Women), of which not very many make it from baptism to Relief Society. There are many problems, but one that I’ve really thought about recently is “education”. Most of the young women who stay in the Young Women program the longest drop out by the time they get into the second year of high school. And, the smarter they are (or better said the better the grades they get), the more probable that they’ll drop out.
I’ve noticed a few problems with the youth and getting ahead:
1. Faith becomes less and less a factor as time goes on.
2. Many school teachers encourage the youth to do something that conflicts with the gospel/ church, and they often do it. The youth put the counsel of their school teachers over the counsel of their church leaders.
3. They often accept the praise of their school teachers (and fellow students) over the praise of their church leaders, fellow youth, and even parents.
4. BIG ONE: and here’s what’s wrong with the world. Everyone borrows to get ahead! Why is Europe in trouble? Why is America in trouble? Everyone’s been borrowing money to get ahead.
Let’s say there are four children (Abe, Bob, Cal, Dan) of average intelligence. If they all pay to learn, they’ll all probably continue to learn at pretty much the same pace. Ouch–that doesn’t help, does it? So they keep paying, until Dan has no more money and the pressure with his family has boiled over into problems (of course, that could happen with any one of them…). Now, Dan is out of “the race”, unless he can find another way. The other three keep paying, until Cal has no more money and is out of it, unless he can find another way. Then Bob finally has no more money and is out, so Abe wins! All he had to do was spend and borrow more than the others, which increased the distance between him and his competitors!
Will Abe continue to study now? Probably not much, but he doesn’t have to… (Why are some Asian students often smarter in 9th grade than at university graduation? Because they’re so tired from winning earlier, they can’t go on strong anymore.)
What will Abe do now? What does he win? Does he win money, a job, a happy career, a guaranteed great life? Nope–none of that. He just wins getting into a school, where it might… start all over again!
Or let’s say that at the end, Abe wins the top job. Now he becomes as many professionals–hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get the top-notch education, and in debt for 20 years (if things go well).
So let’s say Abe stays on top… When he graduates, he will go to work for… Aaron? Adam? Likely not! He will go to work for Bob, Cal, or even Dan–if they are able to get a loan to start a company.
Another question–when everyone is moneyless, who will buy products? Buy on credit? Or was all that work and money spent on “winning”, not worth it?
But since everyone else is trying to borrow too, if you don’t borrow, you’ll get left behind. Is that so bad? Are there no other options for “success” in life? Are there no other skills–work, relationship, communication, creativity, etc.–that can compare with “studies” or a university degree? Would it be wiser to invest in these skills? Many countries now have plenty of people with graduate degrees who are unemployed and collecting state money.
There was a pretty faithful girl from a pretty faithful family whose greatest dreams and goals when she grew up were to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. She could likely pick her husband without much problem, and they would be willing in a moment. In just a short time, she went from that to staying at school till 9pm three times a week, and studying all day on Saturday. Why? So she could get into a better college—not in a few months, but in OVER a year. Not only is it impossible for her to attend any Young Women activities now, the family is going into debt to pay for these extra preparation classes.
Sure, that is great “planning ahead” and “being prepared”. But as with other things: at what cost? Will it be worth it? Is this what all the time and money should be put towards?
Yes, women have been encouraged to get an education/ prepare for the future. But I feel the church leaders have stressed this too much.
Here’s an example of what can happen when it gets out of hand: sex exchanged for school loan payments. Dana goes to an expensive college, graduates, and gets a job at $30,000 (not bad for starters). She looks at her $100,000 debt, and figures out that that’s going to take over three years of straight work to pay it off. Ouch. That usually also means a nosedive in her style of living. Whoops, the math isn’t working! So she turns to other “assets” to pay off her debt. (Do an internet search on “sugar daddy college university debt sex” and read more about this situation and the plenty of websites popping up to meet this “need”.)
When we bought our first car, I was very worried about what would happen if something happened to me and I couldn’t work (especially at my cushy job—that’s as in “physically not-very-demanding”, not “high-paying”), or if we didn’t have money one month to make a payment.
So, please consider, very carefully, whether what you’re investing your money, time, and effort in—not just buying—is worth it or not.
I’d love to be smart and spiritual, and for my children and others to be like that, too. But I see too many who go into debt and lose their faith because they put “getting ahead” ahead of everything else, including the commandments and church.
I’ve always said, “Better the dumbest guy in heaven, than the smartest guy in hell.”