What is the American Dream to you?
I used to think of it as owning a home, having a good job, and raising a family. I don’t think I’m far off by thinking that’s what many of us think it is. Perhaps the conventional thought is the house has a white picket fence with a 2-car garage as well?
But is that what we are actually aiming at these days?
My big issue here is owning a home. We’re all hearing about financial institutions doing bad because of mortgages. So what is happening to the people who buy homes? Foreclosures!
Why foreclosures? Could be that people bought too much house than they could afford with too little down?
The way I see it, when you’re buying a house with say zero down or even 5% down when will you actually own your home? This has become a major problem for people.
In my opinion it’s no longer the American dream to own a home. That’s an illusion.
Today’s American dream is to appear like you own a home. It’s become more important to look like you have a great big home. Who really owns these homes? The banks!
If there’s anything to learn from all of the recent financial bruhaha it’s that most people have to re-think what owning a home really means!
- An interest only loan or an adjustable APR will not help you own a home. You’ll get to move into one but you won’t own it.
- A modest home is OK. You don’t need a McMansion!
- Put down as much as you can when you buy a home (remember when you really needed 20%, aim for that). This way you start off owning a good piece of it.
- Homes are to live in! Perhaps flipping a house is profitable for some. But for most people a home should be where you live not where you speculate.
- Just because you make enough to cover the cost of the mortgage it doesn’t mean you can actually afford the home! So many other things have to be considered from taxes to losing a job to how much savings you have to home repairs, and so much more.
I’m ranting a bit so I apologize.
It just seems that there’s so much talk about how banks and such are so greedy that we might be forgetting that it’s people who are living in these homes. They had a bit to do with all of this as well. Some people probably got genuinely swindled and some came on hard times. I understand this. But many people were just greedy and wanted as big a home as they could get without considering if they could afford it.
I’m going to go a bit further.
The American Dream has turned into consuming as much as you can. At least that’s what corporate America wants.
One of the biggest measures of the economy is GDP, Gross National Product. This is driven by us buying more stuff. When we buy less stuff then the economy stagnantes. But is it really a fair point to judge the economy by how much stuff we buy? What’s the end goal?
We can only buy so much stuff without going into debt and I dare say we’re in enough debt already. How much more debt can we handle without bursting?
We need a new measure. Maybe we need to look at quality of life instead of a dollar figure put on our economy. Think of it. How many times can we upgrade our personal technology? We can only get so many computers and flat-screen TVs. How quickly can we really upgrade or cell phones? But when we don’t do these things, even if we’re already saturated, then Chicken Little runs around saying the economy isn’t doing well.
But how happy are we? What is our life like? If we have to work 2 jobs or put in overtime in order to afford all this stuff and their upgrades then is that a good life? Is that a dream to aspire to?