The Party Nobody Came To

“Will you all help me clean the house and get ready for a party we’re having tonight?” Mom asked one Monday afternoon as we returned from school. Since our parents entertained regularly, Mom’s request didn’t seem unusual. So we vacuumed, dusted, and straightened the house. Dad got out the round tabletop, and we set the table with our nicest dishes. With all the hustle and bustle, we didn’t think about family home evening, which we usually held on Monday evenings.

In the kitchen, Mom was busy cooking several special dishes that she usually made for company.

“Do we get some of this for dinner, too?” I asked, hoping there would be more than enough for the guests. “Who’s coming, anyway?”

“You’ll see,” Mom answered. When everything was ready, Dad disappeared. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. When my brother went to the door, there stood Dad. “Hi,” he said. “I’m here for the party. Let’s get started.”

By this time we were all gathered around the front door watching Dad. He saw that we didn’t understand. “I’m here for a party,” he repeated. “One just for us.”

That evening was just like the ones my parents usually enjoyed with their friends. We ate Mom’s special dinner and used our best dishes. Then we cleared the table and played games until bedtime. Best of all, we felt important and loved.

Since then, whenever our family reminisces about memorable times, someone always says, “Remember the night we had the party when nobody came?”Nancy Thomas Davies, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mortgages Don’t Have to Be Eternal

You know how much you had to borrow to buy your house, but do you know how much that mortgage is really costing you? Probably more than you imagined. For example, let’s suppose you took out a loan of $80,000 at 10 percent interest, and you plan on paying off the loan in 30 years. When you multiply your monthly payment of $702.06 by 360 (the total number of payments), you end up paying $252,741 for your home. That means you spent an extra $172,741 on interest!

You can lower this expense if you cut down on the number of years you finance your home and increase the amount you pay on the principal of the loan each month. Following are several ways to do this. Each example assumes that the original amount loaned was $80,000 and that there are no prepayment penalties. In most examples listed, the final payment is less than the regular monthly payment.

  1. 1.

    Make two principal payments each month instead of just one. To each month’s installment, add the principal portion of the payment whose payment number is twice the current payment number on your amortization schedule. For example, add the principal of payment number 2 to payment number 1, the principal of payment number 4 to payment 2, and so on. You will pay off your house in fifteen years. If your initial loan is for $80,000, you will save about $86,201.

  2. 2.

    Make two principal payments each month until payment 45 in your schedule. After that, add $75 of additional principal to each payment until you pay off your mortgage. This lets you retire your loan in twenty years, four months, and you will save $64,564 on the same loan of $80,000.

  3. 3.

    Make two principal payments each month until payment 63. Then pay $100 additional principal each month. You will pay off your loan in nineteen years, two months, and you’ll save $70,678.

  4. 4.

    Make two principal payments each month until payment 104, then add $200 additional principle to each payment until payoff. Your mortgage will be paid in sixteen years, eleven months, at a savings of about $81,169.

  5. 5.

    Pay $10 additional principal each month the first year, $20 the second year, $30 the third year, and so on until payment 108. Then pay an extra $100 principal with each payment. You will finish your payments in twenty years, nine months, and you will save approximately $58,750.

  6. 6.

    Add $10 principal each month the first year, $20 the second year, $30 the third year, and so on until payoff. You’ll pay off your mortgage in nineteen years, nine months, and save about $62,000.

  7. 7.

    Pay $15 extra on your principal each month for the first year, $30 the second year, $45 the third year, and so on until payoff. Your loan will be paid in seventeen years, nine months, and you’ll spend $74,156 less on interest.

  8. 8.

    Add $20 of principal to each payment the first year, $40 the second year, $60 the third year, and so on until payoff—which will come in sixteen years, three months. You’ll save about $82,774.

  9. 9.

    Pay $25 extra principal each month the first year, $50 the second year, $75 the third year, and so on until payoff. You’ll pay for your house in fifteen years, one month and save about $89,340.

No matter which method you choose, you must make it clear to the lender that you are adding additional principal to your monthly payments. Many payment coupons include a blank space in which you may indicate payment of additional principal amounts.

The payoff periods and the amount of interest you save will be proportional to the original amount of your loan. Whatever additional principal you can pay on a consistent basis will save you a great deal of money on interest and will shorten the life of the mortgage.Kimo D. Wood, Church Real Estate Division

Seeing Is Learning

When I was called to teach the Sunbeams, my husband and I had two toddlers and we were trying to manage a tiny farm. I had no teaching experience, and there were fourteen children in my class. The task seemed impossible.

But as I went about my new assignment, I realized that using visual aids in my lessons would make all the difference.

When I made stories and concepts as real as possible, the children learned more, paid closer attention, and behaved better.

One of the first things I tried is something I call “story walks”—and the children love them. First, I read the story out of my manual, then we act it out, using our imaginations and simple props such as saplings from fence rows, empty birds’ nests, flowers, nuts, and butterflies. At other times, I make props to go along with a story. For example, I made a duck pond with aluminum foil and toy ducks and a make-believe oven from a cardboard box.

I find many props in my own children’s toy box—especially when I decide to use “grab bags” for the children to touch and feel objects or when we play a guessing game.

If I can’t find props myself, I borrow them from friends, neighbors, and my students’ parents. I often tell them what I need and explain exactly what I plan on doing with each object, as well as how much I enjoy working with the children. (This has also provided me with great opportunities to do missionary work.) Once I borrowed a real bird for my lesson “Heavenly Father and Jesus Created Birds and Fish.” One of the girls in my class had never seen a bird up close before. She was fascinated.

Making some of my props has helped me increase my talents and discover strengths I never knew I had. At the public library I have found craft books or books on visual aids that have taught me how to make what I need. For example, I’ve brushed up on my origami in order to make ducks and birds for my lessons. I hang the birds from the ceiling on straight pins and thread so they look as if they are flying. At the end of the lesson, I give each child a traditional Japanese paper crane to take home.

I have used a tape recorder for my lessons, too. When class members hear a recording of my husband reading parts of the lesson that feature a message from Heavenly Father, Jesus, or a Church leader, the message seems more real to the children—and they love it.

These same principles work for all ages—even teenagers. One sixteen-year-old told me that a substitute teacher gave her Laurel class the same lesson they had heard the week before. The girls were bored until the teacher took a toy cow and a milk pitcher out of her bag. It gave the story a whole new twist.

So let your imagination soar. It takes only a little extra effort to come up with ways to make your lessons alive and interesting. Both you and your students will love the difference.Christine M. Boylan, Wyoming, Michigan

The Relative Pages

We are friends with our relatives—and we owe much of our closeness to our family directory. It helps us to be more aware of our extended family and makes it easy for us to contact one another on special days.

On one side of our directory we list the birthdays and wedding anniversaries of all my grandparents’ descendants, along with their spouses—now consisting of three generations. We note the year of birth of all children (so we can keep up with how fast they are growing), and when more than one family shares a surname, we list the initials of the parents’ first names after the child’s year of birth. On the other side of the directory, we list phone numbers and addresses of all adult family members.

We print the directory, double-sided, on colored card stock for durability and “findability,” and distribute it to all adult family members. Several of us also make a reduced copy for our planning books or purses. One aunt who is never without her directory says it has saved her more than once when she has been out of town and needed a family member’s phone number or address.

It took some effort initially to gather the information for our directory. But now we just have to keep track of births, marriages, deaths, and address changes that have occurred since our last printing, then make the necessary corrections before we print a new edition.Jo Ellen Ashworth, Salt Lake City, Utah

[photos] Photography by John Luke