June 28, 2019 Update: The cost of missions will increase to $500 a month effective July 1, 2020. See this announcement from the Church on the cost increase. The information below is accurate until July 1, 2020 and I will update this article at that time.
Many readers wonder: how much does a Latter-day Saint mission cost? The current monthly cost for a mission for young men and women in 18 countries* in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia is $400 a month. That comes out to a total of $7,200 for 18-month long missions for sisters, and $9,600 for young men who serve two-year missions.
Mission costs are standardized for young people in these 18 countries*, but the cost varies for senior couples and for young people outside of those countries. If you live outside of those 18 countries, please see your bishop or other Church leader in your country find out the current cost of a mission to find out the current cost of a mission for you. For senior missionaries in the United States, the average cost of a mission for couples who do not live at home is approximately $1,500 per month. Mission costs for senior missionaries range from $800–$4,000 per month (which includes expenses for housing, utilities, food, and transportation), but about 80% of all missions cost less than $1,800 per month.
Missionaries are expected to pay their own expenses while on the mission. When my parents were young, each missionary paid his or her own actual living expenses. So a mission to Japan, for example, could have been much more expensive than a mission to Argentina. In 1990, though, a new program was announced to equalize the financial responsibility for each missionary. Now, all young missionaries pay a flat monthly rate into the Church missionary fund. Each missionary, then, is allocated what he or she needs for the expenses in that mission. This approach has reduced the burden on the missionary, and his or her family, who may have been assigned to work in a more expensive area of the world.
The monthly allowance missionaries are given is designed to cover food, lodging, transportation, and other mission related expenses. Missionaries are asked to bring extra personal money for additional items they would like to purchase such as souvenirs. Church members around the world are asked to invite their local missionaries to meals to help reduce the overall cost of the missionary program. Click here to see the estimated cost to get ready to go on a mission, with info about clothes and other supplies you’ll need to buy. Click here if you need some ideas for earning and saving money for your mission.
Young people in the church are encouraged to save money throughout their childhood and teenage years to pay for as much of their own mission as they can. Parents, family, and friends may also contribute financially to pay for a missionary’s expenses. See this article about the Church’s online donations website that lets you contribute to specific missionaries in your ward and around the world. Missionaries who cannot save the required funds may also obtain assistance from their home ward or stake, though personal and family sources of funds should be exhausted first. In some cases it may be better to delay a mission for a time and earn more money to pay for your mission rather than to rely heavily on others to fund your mission. The Lord expects that sacrifices, of both time and money, will need to be made in order to serve a mission. You, or anyone who makes such sacrifices, will be richly blessed by the Lord for doing so.
Supplemental Financial Assistance
For many countries, if authorized, there is supplemental financial support available from the Church. If the missionary candidate cannot be supported fully from personal, family, ward or branch, or stake or district funds, then a request can be made for this financial assistance. Missionaries are asked not to request this special assistance until they, their family, and ward or branch and stake or district have committed themselves to provide all the financial support they can.
Whether in the US or elsewhere, the lack of finances should not stop a worthy individual from serving a mission. If you’ve done everything in your power to save for a mission but still don’t have enough, have faith that the Lord will open the way. Make an appointment to talk to your bishop and he will help you figure out the details and make a plan to cover the costs of your mission.
Source of Funds Section of Mission Papers
When filling out the mission application form, missionary candidates are asked to indicate the source of the funds that will pay for their mission. They are asked how much money will be contributed per month in support of the mission from: Self, Family, Ward or Branch, and other sources. So be prepared to answer that question.
Do all that you can to save for your mission. Start saving at an early age so that you can serve a faithful mission for the Lord and not be a financial burden on your family. The Lord will bless you many times over for the sacrifice of time and money you make to go on a mission.
*Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.