In Charge of Your Charge Card

Weighted down by the struggles of being a divorced parent, I turned to credit cards to handle some of my money problems. But my debt had become a significant burden by the time I could earn a teaching degree and start a stable career. Unable to progress financially with that burden, I finally decided to follow Church leaders’ counsel to get out of debt and stay out. More than 20 years later, I still enjoy a debt-free life. Though individual circumstances vary, many of us have the means to pull ourselves out of the debt trap. Following are two practical ideas that helped free me from credit card debt:

1. Toss the temptation. I cut up and threw away all my credit cards except the one with the lowest interest rate. I stored it in my bank safe deposit box for emergency use only.

2. Plan your payments. Next I reviewed my monthly budget to determine how much money I had available to pay off debts after my necessary expenses were covered. Then I determined the various interest rates and amounts owed per card. I paid the most I could afford on the card with the highest interest rate and the highest debt first, paying the minimum monthly balance on the others. Once I paid off the first card, I concentrated on the next-highest debt, continuing the strategy until all were paid. At times I felt discouraged, but I made a chart to track my progress. Others may find it best to consolidate all credit card debt to one low interest rate. Whatever plan you choose, persevere until you accomplish your goal. In my case, it took about 18 months.

Being in debt once kept me from fully enjoying my life with my children. However, with the help of the Lord, we exercised the self-discipline, faith, and patience necessary to achieve our goals. The results have netted years of increased financial security and peace of mind—blessings that have more than compensated for anything we could have purchased with a credit card.

Jackie Vineis, Peavine Mountain Ward, Reno Nevada North Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Be Wise, Memorize

During my service in Primary, I endeavored to help children memorize the Articles of Faith [A of F 1:1–13]. This experience prompted me to look for ways that could help my children memorize the Articles of Faith at home. The following are some ideas my husband and I used to help our family memorize the Articles of Faith as well as the Ten Commandments.

First, we decided to recite an article of faith before family prayer each morning. We rotated the order daily and used a word clue to remind us of the content of the article of faith for that day: (1) Godhead, (2) Adam, (3) Atonement, (4) principles, (5) laying on of hands, (6) organization, (7) gifts, (8) Bible, (9) revealed, (10) ten tribes, (11) we claim, (12) subject to kings, and (13) honest, true.

Then we decided to add the Ten Commandments in rotation with the Articles of Faith each morning. It takes us 23 days to review all the Articles of Faith and the Ten Commandments, and then we start over. After we have finished memorizing them, we discuss the meaning of each. Some families may want to learn scripture mastery passages to help children prepare for seminary or missionary service.

We have been surprised at how these morning experiences have helped our children remember sacred truths. Recently, our home teachers asked if we knew the thirteenth article of faith. To their surprise we all rang out each word without hesitation. Now that we have incorporated this into our morning devotional, we don’t allow ourselves to part without repeating at least one each day.

Alice Miller, Fishers Landing Ward, Vancouver Washington East Stake

Family Home Evening Helps: Two Favorite Family Home Evenings

Some 25 years ago, several Latter-day Saint families invited my husband and me, along with our infant daughter, to share a family home evening. Not yet members of the Church, we loved what we saw, heard, and felt that evening. When we were baptized, we couldn’t wait to start our own family home evenings! Six children and two grandchildren later, we continue our Monday-night observance.

We have a strong conviction of the importance of family night. What other ideas have helped us to faithfully hold family home evening? A couple of our family’s favorite traditions stand out:

Our “picture plan.” When our children were too little to read and write, I helped them make family home evening “picture plans.” As each child had a turn to conduct, we created a simple chart with hand-drawn pictures or symbols representing the assignments for the song, prayer, lesson, activity, and refreshments. Our little planners were so pleased with their efforts and made sure everyone saw their carefully prepared schedule posted prominently on our refrigerator. When it came time to begin, the little one in charge had rehearsed the plan so many times throughout the day that he or she could conduct the entire evening.

Our missionary culture night. While our son was serving a mission in Russia, we periodically held family “Russian night.” Borrowing materials from the local library, we reviewed articles, pictures, music, and maps of the country. We also enjoyed trying recipes of authentic foods. Though our son was far away, we experienced a small part of his mission and culture on Monday night with our family at home.

Little did we know so many years ago how an invitation to family home evening would be the start of blessings we continue to enjoy today. We have shared many happy evenings together—many more than we can list. From firsthand experience, we know that holding regular family home evenings is key to a family’s success.

Jill Malczyk, Utica Ward, Utica New York Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker