Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family Freedom Day: My Parent's Financial Legacy, by Brian Ricks

"We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. . . . If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts."
—The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances, Feb. 2007, 1 .

In the late 1980s, my parents had a comfortable home and my father had a high-paying job as a corporate attorney. Even though their life was very stable, my parents felt inspired that they should follow the prophet’s counsel to get out of debt and immediately pay off their modest mortgage. In order to reach this significant goal, everyone in the family had to sacrifice; we went on fewer and less-expensive vacations, cooked more meals at home instead of eating out, and found creative ways to patch our clothes instead of buying new ones. Through these lifestyle changes, and help from the Lord, my parents were able to pay off their mortgage in half the time that they had thought possible.

Not long afterwards, we understood why it was so important for us to follow the prophet’s counsel to get out of debt. My father lost his job and my youngest brother was hospitalized. Neither of these problems had quick solutions. A local employment slump meant my father did not find another job for several years. My brother remained in the hospital for almost a full year. My parents' decision to pay off our debts proved to be a double blessing. First, in a period of financial struggle, my parents no longer had to deal with a mortgage payment. Second, our family had learned a lifestyle of frugality that would last for a long time.

To commemorate the blessings of the Lord, my parents
decided to celebrate a family holiday called “Freedom Day.” Every year on the anniversary of becoming a debt-free family, we celebrate by playing games and having a special meal. My parents take this opportunity to recount the story of how they felt inspired to immediately heed the prophet’s counsel, how the Lord blessed them in their efforts to pay off their mortgage, and how being debt-free blessed them in the economically turbulent decades that followed.

Through this simple family holiday, my parents found a way to teach their children how to heed the words of the prophets and live the principle of frugality. Even though all of us children are now grown up, my parents still call on "Freedom Day" to discuss the events which this family holiday commemorates. Now that I am an adult, I realize that our Family Freedom Day was also how my parents showed consistent gratitude to the Lord for the miracles, temporal and spiritual, he has worked in their lives. As all of us children are now in a period in our lives where debt can be very tempting, my parents' reminder and legacy of fiscal principles has been a major blessing, and I look forward to when I can celebrate a Family Freedom Day with my own family.


Ronda Hinrichsen said...

What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

John said...

Fantastic on so many levels but mainly for the example of "straightway leaving their nets". What a great family tradition to start.