Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

This year the Deseret News shifted its focus to six core areas of editorial emphasis: the family, financial responsibility, care for the poor and needy, education, values in the media and faith. Today we look back on ten of the 10 best stories we did this year about financial responsibility. » Read best of: The family Care for the poor Education Values in the media Faith

10 Regaining Control
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

To manage your financial future you have to take control of your money and work the steps that bring financial freedom.

That's the lesson learned by three Utah women who have undergone a yearlong financial/education makeover courtesy of Deseret Media Companies' "Imagine a Happier You" campaign and its partners.

Read the full report here: Regaining Control

9 College students and debt
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Parents by the thousands are pondering if their children can make the transition towards financial independence as high school graduates head off to college and missions and jobs. Financial experts say the road to monetary independence is best conquered in baby steps. It takes practice and real-world experience.

Read the full report here: College students and debt

8 Mortgages from the Bank of Mom and Dad
Dan Lund, Deseret News

Mitch Sandall and his wife Kelley learned it doesn't matter how low those interest rates go if you can't get qualified for a mortgage. Instead, they got a loan from the "bank of Mom and Dad."

Such arrangements can be win-win, where the child gets a loan they couldn't get from a bank (no credit score in Sandall's case) and the parents get a good return with even low interest rates.

Read the full report here: Mortgages from the Bank of Mom and Dad

7 Self-Employed Struggle in Bad Economy
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Jessica Bronson's hair salon is in her basement in West Valley City. There is no rent, no transportation costs and she can keep an eye on her kids.

And with less money coming in through her husband's work, her business helps the family get by.

Businesses like Broson's are vital to our economy. Census Bureau data says 99.6 percent of all businesses in the United States have fewer than 100 employees and there were 21.1 million self-employed businesses in 2009. In Utah in 2009 there were 176,338 self-employers with $6.3 billion in sales.

Read the full report here: Self-Employed Struggle in Bad Economy

6 The Foreclosure Next Door
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Foreclosures seem to be everywhere. In Utah, for example, there were 6,567 forclosures in the third quarter 2011, ranking the state 6th in the country.

The process to foreclose and get a home resold is a long one, said Gaynell Instefjord, associate broker at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Sandy, Utah. She said the fastest it could happen is seven months — but it could take a lot longer depending upon the bank and what it is willing to do.

Read the full report here: The Foreclosure Next Door

5 Roughing It
Joey Ferguson, Deseret News

A growing number of young adults are doing all they can to avoid personal debt, researchers say.

An August study from New York-based Auriemma Consulting Group, said millennials, or the demographic following generation X and born between the 1980's and early 2000's, are the most averse toward credit cards. Only 26 percent say they frequently carry a balance, an 18 percent decrease from 2007.

Read the full report here: Roughing It

4 Walking Away
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

After economic reverses and fallout from the national housing crisis, Alan Smith was underwater, owing more on his home mortgage than what it was worth.

Zillow, a real estate website, estimated that 28.6 percent of all single-family homes were underwater in the third quarter 2011. In Utah it is about 20 percent.

Brent T. White, a University of Arizona law professor and author of "Underwater Home" thinks homeowners in similar situations should act in the same "ruthless economic manner" as the banks and walk away from their home.

Read the full report here: Walking Away

3 Shrinking the American Dream House
Michael De Groote, Deseret News

As people look to buy a new home, or remodel, the new trend is to scale back and eliminate expensive wasted space. This sentiment is expressed by popular architect and author Sarah Susanka's "Not So Big House" series of books.

That flies in the face of a trend set in motion in the 1960s: bigger, bigger, bigger.

The average new single-family home in 1970 had 1,500 square feet. By 2007 new homes had burgeoned to 2,521 square feet. But the trend may have reversed. The latest 2010 figures have dropped slightly to 2,392.

Read the full report here: Shrinking the American Dream House

2 Hiding the Truth
Deseret News photo illustration

You may think you can keep your children in the dark about your finances, but experts think it is probably a bad idea. First off, children are are, as Susan Beacham, the CEO of Money Savvy Generation says, "brilliant detectives." They sense something is wrong, and what is worse, they are likely to blame themselves for the mood in the home. Secondly, they will resent being kept in the dark.

Read the full report here: Hiding the Truth

1 Getting out of debt
Ravell Call, Deseret News

When Howard Curth's wife died he felt devastated by her death and crushed by medical expenses. So he reached out to a debt relief agency. No one discussed other financial options, like credit counseling, debt management programs, negotiating with his creditors himself or even bankruptcy. Instead, to rid himself of about $5,500 of unsecured debt, he paid $1,000 up front and let them take nearly $200 from his checking account each month. "I should have known better," said Curth. "I was trying to be proactive."

Read the full report here: Getting out of debt