Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Great Housing Lie

Sample American McMansion style house (not the iFreebies house)
Being raised in a middle class home in America you always heard certain sayings; "You can be President when you grow up", "Study hard so you can get a good job", and "You should do better than your parents did".  Well these sound great.  Good sound advice for young Generation X.  The problem is they all have traps in them.

Never did somebody tell you the long shot odds at being President and the large piece of your soul you would surely lose along the way.  Nobody ever said, get a good education and start your own business so you don't get stuck in the rat race.  Doing better than your parents was always viewed as making more money and having more stuff.  That last one really sticks with me now looking back in my mid-life.  The iFreebies family has easily surpassed the jobs, income and material items  our parents.  We have all the toys and certainly "win" in the ultimate category.... that American sure-fire sign of success... how big is your house?

Seems not that long ago, just a generation or two, the American dream was to get married, buy a house, have kids and work your whole life to pay off that first house.  If you had more kids than bedrooms no big deal.  Just double them up, or stack them in whatever rooms you had and everybody was happy.  Somewhere along the way though that became absurd.  The new norm became get a house, have kids, get a bigger house.  Get a promotion, get an even bigger house.  Keep moving up house size until... who knows where it ends... and heaven forbid a housing crisis!

Looking back we fell right into the trap.  Actually that's not true we jumped gleefully head first into the trap.  We got married, borrowed as much as we could and bought a house.  Had a couple of kids, got some promotions and bought a bigger house.  Had another kid, more promotions and yet an even bigger more expensive house.  More promotions and we needed a vacation property.  Who doesn't after all.  Have the property, need the toys.  We did that too.  We deserved it.

Then we woke up.  One day while on the career treadmill we realized we were spending all of our time working to pay for stuff we didn't have the time to enjoy because we had to work non-stop to pay for it all.  What a realization.  Stuff isn't all that important.  Problem is we are so far in the trap now it's not an easy escape.  As your lifestyle creeps higher it is harder and much more painful to dial it back.

So what would I do different?  If I had that time machine I would tell my younger self to hold off buying that first house.  Save for several more years and buy a property we could afford and stay in for the rest of our lives.  Would my younger self listen?  Probably not, but I'd like to think so.

So now here we are at the start of our new journey to financial freedom and we need to start seriously dialing things back.  Will we downsize the house?  Time will tell but as we get more serious about this journey it will always be top of the ledger as the biggest monthly expense.  What would you tell your younger self about buying a house?

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