Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Author: Stance Studies on the Family (page 3 of 33)

Living up to Expectations

I remember the first reactions I got from my Laurel class advisers when I told them I was going to Brigham Young University.

“Oh my goodness you are going to go down there and be married within the first year!”

Name: Camille
Age: 23
Year in School: Junior
Relationship Status: Single

Now, I understand that I am not ancient. I also understand that I still have some time until I graduate; however, I think it is important to discuss the problem of trying to live up to expectations.

I remember what went through my mind after my Laurel advisors said that. I became convinced, as they apparently were, that I would get married quickly. I mean, it was BYU, right? Isn’t that the way it goes down there? I had decided that I would be married by 20 and would have a child at either 21 or 22. That didn’t happen, but I am grateful for the course my life has taken because it led me to serve a full-time mission and I wouldn’t give that away for anything.

So here is my key piece of advice: turn your expectations into goals. Live up to your goals—your goals—and focus on that. Don’t let others determine what the “correct” course is for yourself. I wish I could remove the idea in my mind that a successful life means getting married early. That isn’t the case. Marriage is ordained of God— that is true—but everyone’s time is different. My time to get married wasn’t at age 20 like I thought it was. My time at 20 was to be walking the streets of Italy talking to people about Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and a restored church. I love everything about that. But yet, I have friends whose plans were to get married at 19, 20, or 21, and I love that too.

If there are any expectations you should live up to, it is the expectation that God has for you to become like Him. That is your potential; that is my potential. And eventually marriage will play into that potential, but remember that success in life is not measured by the societal expectation of marriage timing. I know many successful and happy single people that are in their upper twenties. Now, I would say to my Laurel class advisers, “I may not be married, but I am happy.”

By Camille Baker

Rats, Hurricanes, and Cleaning Checks

Yes, I grew up in a clean home; however, it wasn’t my mom’s or dad’s desires to have a clean home that made me a clean person today. In fact, while growing up, I had one of the messiest bedrooms out of all my siblings, except maybe occasionally one of my brothers would out “messy” me. My dad would even use a hurricane scale to rate the messy level of my bedroom.

“That’s definitely a hurricane class six in there!” He would say.

So, I bet you are curious to figure out why I’m such a clean and tidy person today. Well, I would like to think that throughout my high school years I got better at putting clothes away and keeping a clean room, but mostly the big change happened when I finally moved out of my parent’s house. The move out to college, for most college-bound students, isn’t always a smooth one. I think a lot of college students choose to “find themselves” by setting their own rules (now that they aren’t under the roof of their parent’s house); one of the most common expressions of these rule changes, at least in my experience with roommates, is that of cleanliness.

“You can’t go out with friends until your room is cleaned!”
“Once you clean your room, then you can take the car.”

We have all heard one adage of this simple request to clean. And yet, how much of it sticks and turns into habit? If someone is constantly prodded and coerced into cleaning, does an appreciation or desire of cleaning grow? I’d say probably not.

When I moved into my first apartment in Provo right before my first semester, my mom and I spent the good part of four hours deep cleaning my room and my bathroom (and may I mention that a razor blade was even used to scrape hardened nastiness off things—I mean really people? That’s gross). Let’s quickly revisit that number: FOUR HOURS! How many college students do you think spend four hours (even with the help of another person) cleaning their room they are about to move into? Especially with the preconceived notion that a “cleaning check” happened prior to their moving in. I’d say the number is fairly slim.

Okay, so the apartment is as spotless as possible and I’m moved in. That’s good enough, right? I mean, the first cleaning check isn’t for two months! And I just spent four hours deep cleaning, remember? Let’s pause; can you take a second and wrap your brain around that. . .two months without cleaning. What? Two months’ worth of rings around the toilet; two months’ worth of dirty water build-up in the shower, two months’ worth of toothpaste spit on the mirror and in the sink; two months’ worth of hair build-up on the floor (you know what I mean ladies)—Can you picture it? Now, what would you think if I told you that is the norm in college life?

(Okay, you’re right. I’ll take a break from being a cynic and recognize that there are still people out there who are clean people. Okay, break’s over.)
Let’s return to the topic.
I’d like to illustrate my opinion by telling a few personal stories of instances I’ve had with my roommates throughout my time in college housing.

One summer day, I had gotten back from work around 5:00 p.m. to walk into a messy apartment. My previous plans to relax for the night were thrown out the dirty window as I realized I wouldn’t be able to relax in such a messy place. So, I began cleaning; I had been cleaning for about an hour when one of my roommates walked in while I was dusting the living room. She stopped and asked, “Do we have cleaning checks tomorrow?” There was a bit of worry in her voice as she asked. I replied with a “nope” and turned back to dusting. She looked perplexed at me and asked, “Well, then why are you cleaning?” HA! As if the only reason I could possibly think to clean the apartment would be that cleaning checks were the following day. I smartly replied, “I’m cleaning because our apartment is gross.” I admit, it might not have been the most prime choice of words, but I think I’ll just blame the fact that I was probably in shock.

In general, cleaning checks will mostly be at the end of every semester. There are the occasional times I have had a mid-semester cleaning check, but that’s only ever happened to me once. Now, with these cleaning checks, I have been the one (and I mean the only one) to do the cleaning. There were maybe one or two times when one of my roommates would pitch in a bit, but that was usually it. And let’s also mention that I am a full-time student, part-time employee, and single, so I try to keep my social life as alive as possible. So, it’s not like I have loads of time I can fork out to do all the cleaning. Multiple times I would get back from class at night, eat, and then clean the apartment, sometimes until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

This brings me to another story. In preparation for one of my cleaning checks, I texted all my roommates to remind them when cleaning checks were (one of the efforts I would make to encourage my roommates to help me out with the cleaning). This time, one of my roommates actually replied and said she would clean the bathroom. What a blessed miracle that was to hear! I got home later that night to start cleaning, and I walked into the bathroom to see what (if anything) got done. It looked just like I left it earlier that morning. So, I texted my roommate and asked what she did. She replied that she had cleaned the bathroom. I didn’t quite believe that because the bathroom didn’t look clean, so I asked, “So, what did you actually clean?” She said she went to clean, but we didn’t have any cleaning supplies (um probably because I use them up so frequently from actually cleaning). So, she said she just rinsed out the shower and the sink and then took water and a rag to the toilet.

Excuse me? Doesn’t that just mean she turned the shower on and let the water run? Yeah, I definitely feel like that cleans the grime up really nicely.

What I don’t understand is why she wouldn’t go buy more cleaning supplies. To me, that is the most logical solution. Plus, it would have been nice to have someone else buying them for a change, since I am the only one to ever not only take the time and do the cleaning, but actually dish out money to purchase the cleaning supplies. It has taken a lot of practicing patience and love to not ask for repayment for the time and money I consistently spend on cleaning and even more patience and love to not complain about it to my roommates’ faces. Let’s just say my mom is accustomed to my frequent venting episodes.

As I have dealt with messy roommates, I have learned to keep to my room. My room is my safe place, or as my family calls it, my “sanctuary.” A sanctuary is some place we feel comfortable and at home. Well, my room is my sanctuary. I clean my room often; everything has a place and is in its place. It’s nice to be able to shut the door and close off any view of the explosion that lies beyond. Now I understand more about the hurricane rating my dad would use. I think it’s safe to say my roommates are consistently at a hurricane class eight. And yes, that is even messier than my hurricanes growing up.

One thing that confuses me most of all is the boyfriend situation—Don’t worry, this relates; I promise—So, my roommates are dating people. (Yes, and I’m not. I know. Don’t rub it in.) One thing I always keep asking myself is this, “Don’t they know? Don’t they know what they are getting themselves into! RED ALERT! Your girlfriend is a slob! The only reason you think she is clean is because I’m cleaning!” Sometimes I think about telling them how messy their girlfriend is, like I’d be doing some great public service, but I don’t of course.

One final story happened to me recently. I have long tried to keep my apartment clean and tidy to avoid any kind of gross growth or infestation. (Yes, I’ve had to purge a past apartment of something that was growing larvae in my roommate’s food—ew, let’s stop thinking about that.) The last thing anyone ever wants is to live in a place that is so messy and dirty that you start having, heaven forbid, a rat problem. Well, one of my roommates recently bought two pet rats. Yep. That happened. In all my efforts to avoid a rat ever making it into one of my apartments, my roommate welcomed two in. Needless to say, one of these a black ratdays my sanctuary won’t just be my own room, but my own apartment: larvae free, hurricane free, and yes, rat free too.

By Camille Baker

R: Living your Religion in Marriage

Photo by Sarah Wells http://www.freckleblossom.com/

 

 

Getting married is hopefully the best decision you’ve ever made, but like any major life change, it comes with a lot of transitions. Even if you come from the same religious background, it is likely that you and your spouse will have some differing views and traditions when it comes to religion. (Read more on merging traditions in the first installment of this series.)

My husband and I were both raised in a similar way, with religion being a top priority in our families’ lives. Despite that, we have had to learn how to make our religious practices work in our marriage.

Here are a few things we’ve learned

  • Talk about it. We had to sit down and discuss what religious practices we wanted to carry into our relationship. We decided which things were a priority to us, and what we would start doing now so that we could have well-established traditions for when our children are born.
  • Set a time to be spiritual. This could be every day, every week, or whenever you decide is best for you. We have loved setting aside time every day to study and pray together. It’s a quiet time when we can reflect on what is most sacred and important to us, and in which we can remember what is truly important. No matter what you and your spouse do during your spiritual time, setting aside time for it will ensure that you can have time amidst a busy schedule.
  • Involve friends and family. Just because you are married now doesn’t mean you have to exclude friends and family. My husband and I have loved having a weekly religious discussion group every other Monday night with four other couples in our apartment complex. We keep it fun and always have a treat and game to go along with it.
  • Lift each other. One of the best things about being married is that you have another person to encourage you. Never nag or criticize your spouse when it comes to religious habits. If you know he or she can be better, show your spouse! Treat them how you want them to be and that’s how they will act.

As my husband and I live our religion together, we feel closer together and find meaning in our marriage. As you find what works best for your new marriage, you will find that having religious traditions you can do together will increase the spirituality of your relationship and help you to be closer.

By Mckenna Clarke
This is the third post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition

A: Articulation Makes all the Difference in Marriage

couple-1838940_640In addition to merging traditions, articulation is another important aspect of the transition to marriage. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines articulation as “the action of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type.” Articulation can create some of the most beautiful conversations in a marriage, but it can also create some of the most destructive conversations in a marriage. A husband or wife can form a mixture of words to express their undying love to their spouse; a husband or wife can also form a mixture of words to express their frustration or anger with their spouse’s shortcomings or honest mistakes. A spouse holds the greatest potential to not only lift up their spouse but also to hurt them and put them down.

The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a nice concept but is not true in reality. Sometimes I poorly express an idea or concern to my husband, leading to an argument that is simply a huge misunderstanding. Before relaying a vital message to my husband, I try to remember to think through what I am saying, and what it really means. It is necessary to bring up concerns and have difficult conversations in a marriage, but these things can be done tactfully. Think about what you are going to say and how that will make your spouse feel. Even concerns and requests can be made in an uplifting manner. Build up your spouse with a compliment or praise before trying to make a compromise on a specific subject. For example, I tell my husband how fashionably he dresses before asking him to put his clothes away when he changes instead of throwing his clothes in a corner; I tell him that this will help keep his fashionable clothes in good condition. Take a deep breath before thickly laying down all your personal frustrations that might otherwise come off as frustrations toward your spouse.

There are many ways to develop the art of articulation, but one last piece of advice that I will share is to learn from others and their mistakes and triumphs. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, or any person that you trust how he or she has achieved effective communication in marriage. Different methods work for different people. Keep working until you have found the method of communication that works for you and your spouse.

Language is a beautiful blessing from Heavenly Father. Language is what allows nations and people to learn from each other, to grow, and to thrive. Learn from your spouse, grow with your spouse, and thrive with your spouse. The art of articulation is learned through a lifetime of practice; but don’t give up, because the best things in life come through lots of challenges and lots of practice.

 By Elizabeth Hansen
This is the second post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

I’m not Lucky, I’m Blessed

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Sometimes I can hardly believe my good fortune!

I have food to eat (more than I need), clothes to wear (more than I need), a roof over my head (more space than I need), friends who care about me (can never have too many of those), a church to belong to (keeps me humble), stores to shop at (definitely more than I need), and a family of my own (I’m open to more grandkids!).

Some might say, “Wow. You are really lucky.”

But I prefer to say, “Wow! I am so blessed!”

What’s the difference? Gratitude. If we think all good things came from luck, then there is no reason to show gratitude to anyone. But I am positive that every good thing in my life is a gift from my Heavenly Father. He has showered me with an abundance of goodness. Does this mean I have everything I want? Am I rich? Have all my troubles disappeared?  Unfortunately, no. I do not have enough money to go to New Zealand, I haven’t been clothes shopping in months, and I would be thrilled if I could buy a new car. But I don’t need the latest and greatest to be happy.  I can be content with what I have.

No, I’m not lucky. I’m blessed.

By Phyllis Rosen

 

M: Merging Traditions

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A lot of the struggle that comes with married life is the transition from being an individual to being in a family setting where traditions are foundational. Growing up is chock full of traditions, and these traditions shape you as a person. Since no two families have the same traditions, clashing can happen when your foundational traditions don’t line up with your spouse’s.

Here are some things to consider when merging your traditions:
  1. Explain to each other those traditions that have been most influential in your lives and why you would like to continue practicing them. Think about the effect your family’s traditions had on your life and rate them on a scale from neutral to highly beneficial. Talking about this with your spouse will solidify feelings you have about these traditions, and indicate to your partner how you feel toward them. This discussion will help you to ease the merging of your traditions without having a potentially destructive argument when things don’t pan out as you expected.
  2. Make new traditions. If you and your spouse don’t agree on a certain tradition, your best course of action might be to create a new one for just your family. And who knows? Maybe you’ll like this tradition better than the one you grew up with. It’s always good to take a minute to re-evaluate your traditions and tweak them to better suit your needs. Also, I’ve found that compromise is always a good way to go in your marriage; not everything can be just the way you are used to. Now that you are a ‘we’, you have to look out for your spouse and make sure you are accommodating their wants and needs as well.
  3. Remember that no amount of traditions is too many. Just because you’ve established the amount of traditions your family had doesn’t mean you have to stop there. You can have as many traditions as you want, as long as you can handle them. For example, my husband grew up memorizing hymns to sing as a family as they drove to church each Sunday, whereas my family didn’t do anything like that. Even though there was no compromise that needed to be made because there weren’t any conflicting traditions there, we can still add it to our tradition list. Small traditions like that can benefit your family greatly, so don’t leave them out just because your family never did anything like them.

There are many ways to merge traditions in your new family. Just be sure that however you go about doing it, you’re not being insensitive or stubborn. Go into your new family with the mindset that a lot of things will be different, and that’s okay— keep your mind open to new possibilities that will enrich and enhance your life. But with all this change, don’t forget the experiences you had with your family traditions that made you who you are today. Those memories will always be priceless to you, and no amount of change or compromise should take those away.

By Caroline Averett

This is the first post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E with you, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

4 Steps that Got Me into Family History

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Getting into family history usually takes overcoming one of the greatest obstacles around: the sheer difficulty of an unfamiliar, complex endeavor. It can be a little daunting, but here are some ways to ease into family history work.

 

Start by Indexing

Indexing is a great way to start because it is a well-defined task. All you need to do is figure out how to read old handwriting and enter that information in the program. Furthermore, it will give you a good basis for finding your ancestors later, as you know very well which letters are likely to have been confused and incorrectly entered by someone that indexed the record you seek.

Research a Particular Family

Start with a family that is easy to research. If you have the option, research one of your ancestors that lived in the US in the 1800s. Online records are abundant for such ancestors. And don’t even worry if they have been researched before. It is probably better if they have been anyways.

This approach will help you familiarize yourself with how to find records (for example, notice the different spellings of your ancestor’s name from record to record), how to evaluate records (learn tips for evaluating records and see how they compare with your family; you may even find something that was missed before), and how to love doing family history work (see the next tip).

Find the Human

Focus on finding the human—not just records—when doing family history. If you only see text on pages, family history can be dull, but discovering insights into your ancestors’ lives is likely to be fascinating. Stories are especially valuable finds. One of my favorites is about my great, great grandpa Andrew. He made it to Utah as a seven-year old boy, and was asked if he had crossed the plains on foot. He responded that he had not; he had ridden his stick horse. With research I found that, later on, he was a great horse rider that managed to stay atop a wild, bucking horse, he bought a car and was determined to tame it as well, and he was very disappointed when he became older and his grand kids managed to beat him in a foot race.

Do It with other People

The final step that got me into family history was an expression of interest in family history by a cute girl I want to impress. This is certainly the best way to get into important and challenging things, as little can beat the motivational power associated with it. But you don’t need a cute girl or boy to motivate you; doing family history work alongside other family and friends can be a great motivation.

As I do it with my mom (and the cute girl) I find that we can bounce ideas off of each other, take advantage of each other’s strengths, correct each other on occasion, spend less time wondering why our search gave us no results, and overall just have a blast as we interact with each other and tackle together a great task.

By Austin Tracy

Easy Plant-Based Meals That Won’t Break the Bank

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Meal planning, right? We’ve all been there. Finding healthy, easy, and relatively inexpensive meal ideas isn’t for the faint of heart. As a vegan and gluten and soy free college student, I’ve come to find this out first hand!

Here are a couple of general principles I follow to keep my meals as cheap as possible:

 

  • Shop out of bulk bins as much as possible. Often items cost much, much less this way. Buying out of bulk bins is especially convenient when buying some ingredients for a new recipe that you don’t have on hand already. You can get just the amount you need, and then next time (if the recipe turns out, that is) you can stock up if you choose.That keeps the trial and error process of finding go-to meals as cost effective as possible. Some of the best bulk bins I’ve found are at Winco and Sprouts.

 

  • Use dried spices instead of fresh ones. Whether a spice is dried or fresh when it goes into a recipe often doesn’t significantly, if at all, alter the taste of the recipe. Buying dried spices can be cheaper and much more convenient. I don’t know about you, but when I have bought fresh spices here and there, I use a tiny little bit and then the rest goes to waste. Also, the jars of dried spices often have equivalency information so you can be sure you’re putting the right amount into your recipe.

Luckily, I have found a few good recipes that vegans and non-vegans alike have enjoyed, so hopefully some of these will ease the struggle for you just a bit. Besides being delicious, each of these recipes and meal ideas is also healthy AND easy AND relatively inexpensive. Three for three. The following are five recipes that I hope will be beneficial to you and your family:

 

Lentil Brown Rice Salad

This is a family favorite that makes a nice, light spring or summer meal when paired with a fresh green salad, cooked veggies, grilled or baked chicken if you aren’t vegetarian, or even grilled tofu if you are vegetarian. I’ve even eaten this as a stand-alone lunch before.

1 ½  cups cooked brown rice (cooked in veggie broth)

1 cup cooked lentils*, cooled

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

⅓ cup sliced green onions, including tops

1 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tsp fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Combine rice, lentils, tomatoes, onions, and parsley in medium bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients in small bowl; add to rice mixture and toss. Chill. Makes 4 servings.

*To cook lentils, combine ½ cup dry lentils with 1 cup water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain.

 

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Another family favorite! Quinoa is packed with nutrition and is a complete protein by itself, so this salad can be a well-rounded meal by itself since it contains unrefined carbs, protein, vegetables, and a little healthy fat. Again, this can be paired with salad, other veggies, lean meat or tofu, or eaten by itself.

1 cup raw quinoa

1 ¾ cups water or veggie broth

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 tsp grated lime zest

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

¼-½ cup diced red bell pepper

¼-½ cup diced cucumber

1 roma tomato, chopped

¼ cup fresh cilantro

2 green onions

⅓ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water or broth, and 1 Tbsp of oil. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, and 1 Tbsp oil.

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Add beans, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle with the lime mixture and toss gently to coat.

Serve warm or chilled. Makes 4 servings and 6 cups total.

 

Baked Potatoes

A baked potato bar is a great way for families to eat together while letting family members personalize their own meals. Some of my favorite toppings as a vegan are salsa, green onions, and guacamole. For non-vegans, sour cream, cheese, and butter are some additional options. Chili or leftover chunky soup or stew are other tasty toppings. A simple green salad really compliments these well, and feel free to add meat or tofu to round out the meal, if desired.

I usually follow this aluminum foil oven baking method from “The Kitchn” website.

 

Tomato Basil Cream Pasta

Some people live on Ramen noodles their freshman year of college (and for the duration in a lot of cases– let’s be real); however, I lived on this stuff. It’s quick and easy, and you can substitute ½ to ¾ a can of plain diced tomatoes for the fresh tomato called for in the recipe for convenience. Bulk bins are a great place to look for affordable prices on cashews.You could use whole wheat or brown rice pasta to make this very healthy, or you could even swap out pasta for quinoa. Add a cooked or raw veggie on the side and you’ve got a complete, hearty, nutritionally balanced meal!

Here is the recipe.

 

Easy Vegetable Curry

This goes together so quickly and so easily! It has a very mild flavor, as far as curries go, so don’t be scared if you’re weary of strong flavors. This goes great over rice, quinoa, or even pasta. Because it’s a vegetable curry, no additional vegetables are required to make this a complete meal–bonus! As always, a side of lean meat would be a healthy addition for non-vegetarians.

Here is the recipe.

 

Happy cooking!

By Samantha Bullock

 

Why Go to Church?

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By Phyllis Rosen

There are many people who ask themselves this question every week. Sometimes they can’t seem to think of a reason they ought to attend church. But they come up with plenty of reasons to not go:

  •                 The kids are a handful…I don’t even hear what’s being said!
  •                 I’ve heard the lessons before, there’s nothing new.
  •                 The teachers are boring.
  •                 I’m tired/sick/grumpy/hungry.
  •                 I don’t have any friends.
  •                 It’s too far away.
  •                 It starts too early /it starts too late/it goes over lunchtime.

Although I’ve experienced each of those feelings, it’s not enough to keep me from going to church.

I learned a valuable lesson ten years ago when I returned to Nebraska for my high school reunion. I went alone. (No sense dragging my husband 700 miles to talk to people he doesn’t know.) I spent the night in my hometown, planning to drive the forty-one miles to church the next morning. Somehow, I forgot to set my alarm. When I woke up it was less than an hour until church started. I raced to get ready, skipping everything but the essentials, and drove as fast as I dared to the chapel. The entire drive I felt an overwhelming urge to get to the church. I arrived just as the sacrament hymn was starting.

As I sank into the pew (can you sink into the pews?) I was overcome with relief and with a great sense of belonging, as if I had arrived home. I can’t really explain it, but I knew in that moment that being in sacrament meeting, partaking of the sacrament, and feeling the Spirit of the Lord was a source of peace and goodness in my life.

There are many reasons I go to church. But for me the most important reasons are these:

  1. Partaking the sacrament gives me a chance to reflect on the week and renew my commitment to do better the next week.
  2. Singing the hymns (when I actually pay attention to the words) fills my soul with love.
  3. I get revelation for my family during lessons or talks. Really.
  4. I receive the blessings that come from obedience.
  5. I need the messages there to sustain me during the week.

Not every week has inspiring talks and stellar lessons. But over a lifetime, being there and listening to the messages and the Spirit has shaped me into the person I am. Each week I add another layer to the armor of God, and slowly but surely I become a better person.

 

 

Budgeting: Where the Real “Adulting” Begins

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Photo by Investment Zen

 

Budgeting is a fairly new development in my life. For years my financial planning was based on guestimation and knowing when my next paycheck would come through. I got by, but things completely changed for me two years ago when I took a family finance class. Since I’ve started budgeting, I have found a rewarding feeling of financial responsibility while still being able to do the things that I love. People make “adulthood” sound like the worst fate that you could ever face, but being financially responsible is an extremely rewarding experience that comes with more freedom than many of us have ever had. If you’ve never budgeted, please, please, pleeeeease try. I promise, you won’t regret it! Here are some ways to help you get started.

Make a plan. Take the time each month to estimate your income: how much you make per hour multiplied by how many hours you anticipate working (when I’m not sure, I like to estimate on the lower side because then it’s like a bonus if I earn more than I budgeted). Once you’ve got that, list all of your expenses. Some things are easy (like rent and insurance payments), but others are trickier. How much do you think you spend on groceries? What is an acceptable amount for you to spend eating out each month or going to the movies? Budgeting bums some people out, but keep in mind that this is your budget. Figure out how much you want to spend eating out a month, but also figure out how much you want to save so you can go crazy on your birthday. It’s all about staying organized so YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO not about keeping you tied down. If you find that your budget was totally impractical, then rearrange some things. It’s a living, breathing document, not something that’s set in stone.

Plan for every dollar to go somewhere. While I was growing up, my financial mantra was to spend as little as possible so that I could save as much as I could. My first inclination in budgeting was to figure out how much I needed for my expenses and then to save everything else. This isn’t the worst way to handle your money, but it’s a hard way to live. I would feel guilty about any purchase that wasn’t 100% necessary to my survival. In my family finance class (shout out to Jeff Hill from BYU’s School of Family Life), I got some great advice that has helped me not get frustrated in my budgeting attempts. The first piece of advise is to assign a category for every dollar that I planned on earning. This meant that I would plan to pay my rent, my insurance, and my groceries, but I would also plan to pay into my savings account, into my eating out category, and into my travel fund, just as if they were other bills. Once I had an assignment for all of my money, I felt so much better. I could spend money on whatever I wanted, guilt-free, so long as I planned for it. Being responsible means more than just hoarding everything you can to stay on the safe side; it means realizing how much you have and working within that boundary.

Plan for the unexpected. I think we can all relate to the frustration that comes when we take the time to make a plan, but then things do not go according to the plan. I have definitely felt this while budgeting, but Dr. Hill taught me a solution that is simple and makes everything so much better. He encouraged us all to make a miscellaneous category on our budgets. It is too hard to plan on every expense that will come your way in a month. Unexpected things come up: your roommate’s birthday, your car’s oil change, or your dream coat goes on sale (just buy it now, it’s an investment). Since it’s impossible to plan for everything, just plan on making a miscellaneous category. By creating a miscellaneous category that you never plan to spend, you give yourself a cushion that allows life to happen. You can buy a birthday cake, take care of your car, and get that coat without feeling like a failure.

I love budgeting! It is such a simple thing, but it makes a huge difference in my day to day life. I sincerely hope that you give budgeting a try. It is 100% worth the effort!

 

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