The Words of the Carlson Family

Getting Started

Paul Carlson
January 2004

This article is about growing up. In a practical fashion, as in getting a job, moving out, and forming a household. This article is offered primarily to our new Blessed couples.

Americans are sometimes accused of being too pragmatic. This author is firmly in that category himself -- just ask his wife. Still, Americans dominate the world these days, and that didnít happen by accident. Practical knowledge helps a lot.


Our growing BCs are in a complex situation. Some want to marry early, while others intend to wait many years. Their parents, too, are uncertain. Should our young folks wait until they have a college degree and a solid career? They might fall for some non-member classmate in the meantime. Should they start a family sooner, even without enough money to support a child? As it turns out, if everyone agrees, sooner is often better.

Rather than spend their whole lives in the same dinky village, modern kids are usually out on their own by the age of twenty. Trouble is, these young Americans often make the same mistakes, and land in the same difficulties, as millions did before them.

Popular culture has a lot to do with it. Practical advice remains unspoken, and unrealistic expectations are fostered. Not everyone can become a dot-com founder, or a sports-playing millionaire, fresh out of school.

The credit card companies know this. They set up tables in Student Unions, and hand out their plastic to college students by the thousands. All too often, after a spending spree, parents end up bailing out their indebted offspring. Hopefully the right lessons are learned.


Every new couple starts from scratch. It may look daunting, but itís a well-trodden path. White collar or blue, any sane employer will appreciate a polite and reliable worker. I wouldnít turn down a parentís largesse, but thatís not always in the cards.

In my case, at first we Carlsons lived at a church center, then rented a single room from another family. Next we split a bigger apartment, and later, rented a place of our own. Finally we bought a condo. We live in an expensive region, and were fortunate to get help with the hefty down payment from my parents.

These days you canít do anything civilized without credit. To begin, get a Ďsecuredí credit card. You send that bank $500 or so, and thatís also your credit limit. (You get the money back later, plus interest.)

After about 18 months, if you donít mess up, your personal credit is established and youíll get a flood of applications. Pick only one or two cards; those without annual fees, and maybe that offer some type of bonus.

Be frugal with your money. Use a Ďno feeí Saving and Loan or Credit Union rather than a huge, greedy bank. Borrowing to pay for daily expenses, or to make donations, is always a terrible idea.

There are only so many ways to divide up your monetary pie, and the pie itself grows all too slowly. Itís important for a couple to agree on finances, and to know exactly what theyíre spending and why. Itís amazing how many so-called adults donít balance their own checkbook, or look over those credit card bills.

Start small. Donít be afraid to shop at the Goodwill store, or to buy used cars and appliances. Buy with some written guarantee if possible. If you can deal with fellow church members, so much the better. Just donít give them any cause for hard feelings.

Please donít get ripped off. Knowing an honest auto mechanic is crucial. Ask for recommendations. Be very careful with Internet transactions. Check out Clark Howardís radio show and web site, Consumer Reports magazine, and other available resources.

Wives, especially, place good common sense over emotional loyalty to your friends. Our members are famous for trying wonder businesses and miracle cures. Such as: tachyons, eloptic energy, and magnetic items; plus miracle soaps, herbal pills, or cards. No member has ever done well with those flaky outfits, especially in the long term.

In the past, a few con artists have collected Ďsympathyí money by pretending to be escaped UC members. Opposite this, Mormon Utah is a long-time haven for Ďinsiderí swindles. Who would doubt a fellow Saint?

Our members are more naïve than sneaky, and letís fix the former before anyone gets tricked by the latter.


Men and women have different needs and priorities. They communicate in what amounts to two different languages. Here, John Grayís "Mars and Venus" books are very informative.

Many churches require premarital counseling for engaged couples. Topics include relatives, sex, and money. Also, spelling out their plans. Potential disagreements can be handled long before they spark trouble. For Unificationists, our matching tradition alters this equation somewhat.

For our strictest members, counselingís secular implications make it unattractive. I think everyone could benefit. Not from endless years of Psychiatry, but a few sessions with an experienced Marriage and Family Counselor.

What do your relatives want? Which, if either, grandparents will you live near? Hopefully youíll get along with both sets. From our perspective, the number of deprogrammings (outside Japan, anyhow) has dropped to near zero. The main reason? Grandchildren.

Itís true: men want more sex. Wives should understand this -- and the husband must know sheís not always ready. Not to mention, what happens after squalling babies enter the picture.

Disagreements about money are nearly universal. Who will do the family bookkeeping? Men are often more pragmatic, and thatís a bad word for Unificationists. He might want to buy more stuff, or save up for retirement, while she insists they "put their money in the Bank of Heaven" instead.

Tithing is a vital tradition, and itís not to be put off. No wise leader makes unrealistic demands, and even a Ďwidowís miteí is important. There is anecdotal evidence that families who tithe have much better fortune regarding employment.


We are now in the official Age of Settlement, and UC members are buying property. Is that a good idea? Nobody objects to your owning a toothbrush, and even a car.

What about a house? Depending on where you live, and your credit score, mortgage payments vary widely. Itís said, "Either youíre paying the landlordís mortgage or your own." Our Rev. Thompson cautions, "Just donít let the house own you."

What about starting a business, or making capital investments? Unless you have extraordinary talent, thatís just about the only way to make a lot of money. Robert Kiyosakiís "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" books explain this well.

Investments are risky, and demand a huge amount of your time and attention. Many Unificationists rent out homes, and run successful restaurants or franchise shops. By now, most have partners and employees reliable enough to allow some time away, for vacations and Providential activity.

Christians such as Larry Burkett offer sound, moral advice. In the future, as our movement expands, we Unificationists will build our own financial networks and consumer power. At the far end of life, weíve just now established a national cemetery.

As children enter the picture, and even though itís distasteful, we must record our wills and medical Ďpreferenceí documents. Many states have passed horrible, doctorís orders Ďpull the plugí laws. Few people even know about them. The ongoing Terry Schiavo case (in Florida) isnít the only one . . .


At our Bay Area Family Church weíve held several Old and New Couple dinners. Frank and wide-ranging discussions were the order of the day. Itís amazing how many practical ideas, and words of wisdom, our elder couples have gleaned over the years.

Unselfish sacrifice is good. As an added bonus, itíll help prevent your kids from getting spoiled. Keep in mind that, in a material sense, you cannot offer what you never had in the first place.

Therefore, go right ahead and become prosperous.

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