Let's just get this straight. Signing a 30 year mortgage is the scariest thing I'll ever do? Signing that loan is the most "powerful" thing I'll ever do? Signing that loan is the "bravest" thing I'll ever do? It's the height of my "self belief"?
Watch this commercial, which you've probably already seen on TV.
That's not going to work for me.
In fact, it really bothers me. And it should bother me. It should bother all of us. It should unsettle us. This is the lie being peddled to our college graduates and our young professionals - the idea that buying the "dream home" beyond our means is the most important thing we'll ever do - the capstone that goes on top of everything else. The embodiment of "The American Dream."
Think about it: this commercial just told us that taking on an unreasonable amount of debt IS the American Dream.
My husband and I bought a house just over a year ago. Our first house. We are like so many other people - we had to sign a 30 year mortgage because the 15 year option was impossible.
We got a nice, small house. It was in pretty good shape, but we had the usual first home surprises: termites, replacing the HVAC system, repairing broken plumbing here and there, etc.
One by one we've taken care of those things and have done our very best to pay cash when we can.
Now there is a baby on the way. He'll be born in the next month. In fact, as I sit here typing this, he's kicking me in the bladder (sweet little baby). When we began preparing his room and realized that it would mean giving up the piano room/office I'd been using, we thought a little further down the road - to the possibility of little Tullock kid #2. When that happens there will be no "guest room" in our house. There will be no "piano room." There will be only our bedrooms, Robbie's attic office, and the one big room that is kitchen, dining, piano, and TV space.
I can't tell you how many people in our circle of friends and family have referred to this house as "Your Starter House."
At first my husband and I accepted this nickname for the house. We thought, "Yeah, we'll probably move in about 5 years. Maybe when the second child is on the way. Or maybe after the second child is here. But we'll definitely need a bigger, nicer house then."
A bigger, nicer house . . .
Why do we need a bigger house?
. . . That's my husband's little attic office. It looked really big before we put all of the stuff in it. In fact, our whole house looked really big before we put so much stuff in it.
Do we need a bigger house or a simpler life?
We need a simpler life.
We need to give each other permission to change our cultural expectations.
For the record: There is no "perfect" person to marry. There is no "perfect" job. There is no such thing as protecting yourself from want by surrounding yourself with things. There is not a "cure all" for fear anywhere in any of the things we own or make or do.
We could afford a bigger house if my husband stayed on the road with his job all year instead of just half the year.
But I love my husband and he wants to be a part of our family's life. He works so hard so much at this point that I can't imagine him being away more often or working harder. I can't imagine him doing that and still being happy.
We could afford a bigger house if I always kept two jobs like I used to.
But I would have to drag my own child to both jobs with me. And if I didn't take him with me, I'd miss his bedtime at least 3 nights a week, and I'd never get to take him on weekend trips. I would always be giving my weekends to someone else's children. I already do that with all of my week days (and let's not pretend that teachers don't continue to work for other people's children when they get home at night).
No. None of those things are the answer.
The most beautiful things in life are small and simple.
So Robbie and I no longer call our house "The Starter House." We call it "Our House."
We plan to live here as long as we're meant to live here. We plan to slowly pay it off. In the mean time, I have left my second job in preparation for the birth of our child, and Robbie plans to keep the baby at home 2 days a week when I go back to work next fall. He'll keep his current travel schedule so that we'll only miss out on his company several months out of the year instead of all of the months every year.
And we've given some stuff up.
We've downgraded some things.
Because living with less is better than living "with much" and being heart-poor and soul-sick within our family's life.
Did You Hear That?
I said - living with less is better than living "with much" and being heart-poor and soul-sick within our family's life.
I will not "buy in."
I will not "buy in."
I will not "buy in."