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Homeownership: Still the American Dream?

Is Home Ownership Still the American Dream?

Home ownership is at the lowest level in decades in the United States[i], and many industry pundits lay the blame squarely on millennials.  But is that fair?  Or even true?  Let’s examine this.

How did home ownership become equated with the American Dream?

The term “American Dream” was first coined by James Truslow Adams, an American writer, in his book The Epic of America published in 1931.  At the time, America was caught in the grip of the Great Depression.  Millions of families had lost their homes and found themselves homeless and starving.  The American Dream describes an ethos that folks desperately wanted to believe at the time that hard, honest work would result in financial security, the ultimate symbol of which was owning one’s own home.

We have found, however, that not all folks who work hard ever achieve financial security, or for that matter own their own home.  As faith in the traditional ethos fades, fewer Americans own homes, and the trend toward not owning is still growing.

Will it come back?

Traditionally families bought their first homes in their late 20s or early 30s, so we are looking to millennials to begin buying homes; but they are not – at least not in the numbers necessary to stabilize homeownership rates.  While many pundits posit that the reason is that millennials only want to rent in urban areas, Uber to work and walk to a coffee shop, there is really something else at work here.

Millennials are getting married and starting families later in life than their parents did, so they have less reason to buy a home early.[ii]  Add to this a decline in the belief that real e state is always a good investment, since many millennials watched their parents struggle to keep their homes during the Great Recession, or lose them altogether.  Moreover, because of low starting salaries, massive student debt[iii] and the lack of dual incomes, they have less ability to pay for a home early in life.

If we recall Econ 101 in college, we remember that the demand curve in the supply-and-demand model is driven by two factors: the desire of consumers for the widget and the ability to pay for the widget.  Homes are no different than any other commodity that way.  With less desire than their parents to own a home for multiple reasons, and less financial ability to jump into the market, it isn’t surprising that millennials aren’t buying at the same rate as previous generations.

But is this a wise move on their part?  If you can’t buy a home, then of course the decision is made for you.  But if you can buy a home, should you?

While watching their parents lose everything in a severe recession understandably made folks question the traditional wisdom (that homeownership is always a good investment), new regulations and lending safeguards make the financial crisis very unlikely to happen again, at least to the same scale.

Some folks have noted that it is much more expensive to own a home than to rent, and that it true – at first.  But tax deductions make up some of that difference for most folks.

Further, rent goes up, while mortgage payments do not – at least if you have a fixed-rate mortgage.  Property taxes and insurance go up over time, but usually at a much slower pace than rent, and they are only a small part of your monthly housing cost.  And with homeownership, eventually your mortgage is paid off and your payment disappear. *

Finally, there is the principle of leverage.  When you home appreciates, you are not only making money on the money you have invested in your home, but on the money your lender invested as well.  This simple principle will double or triple your return on investment.  You cannot leverage your savings accounts, and most folks can’t leverage their investment accounts, either.

Mortgaged real estate is the only real leveraged investment available to the average Joe.  The sooner you buy the sooner your monthly payments begin paying down your mortgage rather than paying someone else’s, and the sooner you eventually pay off your mortgage.

Still, owning a home is really not for everyone.

  • If you have to stretch to the very limit to buy a home, it may not be wise, because the first emergency could bury you financially.
  • It costs about 10% of the purchase price of a home to get in and out, in real estate commissions, title fees, etc. If you don’t plan to stay at least three years (or more, depending on the appreciation rate in your area) it may not be wise.
  • If you are likely to move for any reason within the next three years you should probably not buy a home. (Although I have clients who buy a home in their destination area a few years before they move.)
  • If you love to travel and want to spend your money there, the responsibilities of home ownership may not be for you.

However, if you want the stability of knowing you can never be forced to move, want the satisfaction of creating your own home exactly the way you want it, and want to build wealth over time with the greatest certainty, consider re-thinking your negative thoughts about the American Dream.

Casey Fleming, Author The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage (On Amazon)

Mortgage Advisor, C2 FINANCIAL CORPORATION

My Blog: www.loanguide.com

Facebook: C2 Financial Corp.

Facebook: The Loan Guide Book

Follow me on Twitter for interest rate updates: @TheLoanGuide

[email protected] NMLS 344375 / BRE 00889527

[i] Tuttle, B (2015 July 28) U.S. Homeownership Level Drops to its Lowest Level Since 1967, retrieved from http://time.com/money/3975212/homeownership-rate-record-low/

[ii] Davidson, J. (2014, November 12) What Everyone Gets Wrong About Millennials and Home Buying, retrieved from http://time.com/money/3551773/millennials-home-buying-marriage/

[iii] Notte, J. (2014 December 11) Why Millennials Aren’t Rushing to Buy Homes, retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-will-millennials-buy-homes-if-they-dont-know-their-credit-scores/

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Personal Vision: Part 2 – Vision Boards

Your Vision is in hand, but now what do you do with it? This is how to take your vision from paper, to action items.

Money is important. But your “why” behind your money is almost more important. Infact, It is more important.

I want money for a few reasons, I want to provide for a family I hope to have, I intend to use money to create a foundation to increase financial literacy in Utah, I want to be involved in Scouting and christian missionary work. There are reasons to the money. “Money for the Sake of Money” isn’t happiness. As I talked about in an earlier article, Experiences bring happiness, not “Plastic Crap”.

Many friends of mine have come to me asking, “How do you figure out what you want to do?”

Here is my answer.

How I Chose Financial Planning

I went to a small school, graduated from high school with an associate’s degree, then moved to Brigham Young University (BYU) studying Computer Science. I thought it was what I loved. My whole family works in computers, Dad, Brother, Little Brother. I’m different. During 2 years as a service missionary and proselyting minister for Jesus Christ to the wonderful people of New Zealand, I learned a thing or two about myself. This insight is a blessing. Jacob Johnson is a people man, he loves working with people, helping them, teaching them, breaking down their big ideas into pieces, which he then builds up into good points. Ideation, Maximzation, Includer, Communication, “Woo”-factor. When I jumped back into school, the answer wasn’t computer science. Quick talks with people sent me to try global supply chain management, marketing, and financial planning. Marketing people I interviewed all hated what they did, unless they were in charge of their work or ran their own firm. Supply chain was awesome except I don’t want to travel 6-10 months a year, not in the ropes for having a family. My old ballroom dance partner’s father was a financial guy. He loved his job. Dude from my girlfriends work did finances. Loved his job. Everyone I talked to that worked in financials loved what they did. Private firm, big company, RIA, Broker/Dealer, Insurance agents, 9 co-workers, 1 co-worker, 80 co-workers. They each loved it. They also did what I thought was great. They taught, they did technical work, they moved around, they left the office to visit and help, they weren’t stagnant, they were involved in the community, they were happy fun loving people; the people around them were happy.
The signs were enough. I knew where I belonged. So, I packed up from BYU and moved over to Utah Valley University (UVU) where tuition was $20 more expensive and the Financial Planning program has topped the charts since it’s been around with three times as many students as any other program in the U.S. only 400.

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This Should Be On Every Vision Board

How a Vision Board Got Me There

I’ll be honest, My vision was in pieces on my phone, in my wallet, papers on my desk, notes in other odd places, bits of my memory. AKA it was a disaster. I finally straightened out my vision board.

Purpose of a Vision Board

Vision boards connect actions with goals. Sometimes we are doing the right things, but it’s getting us no-where because it isn’t connected to our vision. Sometimes we have a vision, but no actions connected. The vision board is the intersection. It’s a logically and conveniently placed object that contains our current dreams and goals.

Daily as you consider the actions you will take, consider your board. Do they align with your goal? If not, 1) remove it from your to-do list, 2) add a new goal to your vision board, 3) do it anyways and wonder why you’re still where you’re at.

Nightly as you review what you’ve done. Consider your progress on your vision. Did your actions connect? Do you need to adjust any of your dreams?

Basically, the vision board removes waste, and focuses your efforts. Efficiency.

Creating A Vision board

Remember your vision statement you made in A Personal Vision? Whip that bad boy out, and read it. I’d recommend making reading your final vision statement daily as part of your confidence building routine. That should be a good base to start off. What is written on that that ties to things you want to achieve. Is a degree part of that? Is starting a company, changing industries, going to the gym, starting a blog, selling to 20 new clients, getting 3 computer monitors, etc on that?

Consider 5 areas:

  1. Financial – Where is my money going, how will I make it, how will I manage it.
  2. Physical – Fitness, eating, outdoor activities
  3. Social – Friendships, spouses, old friends, building a business network
  4. Emotional –
  5. Intellectual – reading books, developing your business skills, utilizing your brain, how do you waste time on your phone.

Also, Consider your Big Rocks. What are your responsibilities and titles? Parent, CEO, Small Business Consultant, Teacher, Brother, Minister, Soccer Coach, Student, ETC. What are the big visions you have for them?

Where to put it

It goes wherever you will see it the absolute most. Mine is right by my bed. Blue tape boarder, with pictures taped inside it. Maybe it needs to be in the kitchen on the fridge, or by your front door (though it can be hard to make it personal there)

Vision Board - Draft #1
An Early Version of My vision boards – Painters Tape and Photos

Areas of My Board – Money Gets Everywhere!

Now you might say, Jacob. This isn’t financial. YES IT IS. If you don’t have mastery of your vision and actions, you will never have control of your finances. It doesn’t make a difference if you make $25,000, or $250,000. I know people in both who are millionaires, I know people in both who still live paycheck to paycheck.

Every single task I do that makes me money is somehow connected to my vision board. That’s how simple it is.

Control your actions, create your vision. Utilize it daily. Happiness will ensue.

Share with me a picture of your vision board, or a copy of your vision statement and I’ll feature it in an article! Email me on my contact page or Here

-Jacob Johnson

Jacob is a crazy Vision Board wielder who also dabbles with small business review software, and financial counseling at UVU. He is an avid supporter of financial education and loves to work with event groups to get finances incorporated. Want me to speak or teach a class? Ask me Here

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Money and Happiness: Experiences VS “Plastic Crap”

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Artist: Crystal Johnson

Have you ever had the thought, “I wish I had something to look forward to!”? When that thought occurs, what are you really wishing for? Are you hoping for a fun experience, or are you hoping for a new toy?

A Trait of Happy People

Happy people buy experiences, not objects. “[A] wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”[1] Throughout your life, people will say anything to get you to buy their product. They try to lure you in by telling you their product is the latest trend, or the item most worth your money. When these thoughts come, remember that your money is your tool to living the life that you want to live.

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Experiencing Dinosaurs: I’m the Kid in the Blue Soccer Jersey

Some Professional Opinions

“If you’re a materialistic individual and life suddenly takes a wrong turn you’re going to have a tougher time recovering from that setback.”[2] Materialistic people who turn to shopping or other types of spending are “likely to [experience] even greater stress and lower well-being.”[3]

Individuals who focus their life on financial success are more likely to have problems adjusting to life and also are likely to have lower well-being.

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Klondike: Bobsled Competition for Boy Scouting
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Experiencing Canoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Importantly, it affects our satisfaction with life. Ed Diener, Happiness expert and psychology professor at the University of Illinois said that “[materialism] is open-ended and goes on forever—we can always want more, which is usually not true of other goals such as friendship”.[4]

Basically, Spend your money where it counts. Material things are a necessity, but moderation can help you to live a more fulfilling life.

Need, Want, Luxury.

There is a simple scale called: Need, Want, Luxury. You need transportation to and from work. You want to drive a car. A luxury  for me might be to drive a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage (okay, weak sauce, but that’s the car I want to drive. That baby gets like 42 MPG!) (Okay, it may not be a luxury topping out at about $8,000).

You may be able to fulfill your need with public transportation to work, maybe you live close enough to school or work that a bicycle will do. The Important part is that your basic needs are fulfilled.

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My Needs Are Filled: Everything Extra is Icing. Don’t Let Icing Distract You From The Cake

After that, your money is Discretionary. Carl Richards, of Behaviour Gap, asks if we really do connect what is important to us and how we spend our money.[5] What is most important to you? Why do you spend the way you do? Do your spending habits come from your community, your parents, or others? That’s probably a strong source of where your money discontentment comes from. How will you change that?

Spend money on things you value, but also on experiences. Valuable experiences can often seem to be counter-intuitive when considering the cost. I recently got a gym membership. I have a free gym at my school, It’s just as nice or nicer than the gym my membership is at. Why would I pay when I have a free gym? It’s worth paying for that membership because of the experience it is with my two childhood friends. The three of us go and have a good laugh, some good lifting, and a friendship that pays me not in money, but in physical health and friendship.

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Volunteering with Hot Air Balloons

 

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   Competitive Ballroom Dance

Science and Money-Happiness

You will be happier if you spend money on things you can experience, but people “still choose to spend their money on material items because they think they’re of greater value.”[6]

Experiences have the power to make us happier. According to researcher Mr. Killingsworth,

“Minds tend to wander to dark, not whimsical, places. Unless that mind has something exciting to anticipate or sweet to remember.” Doctoral Candidate Amit Kumar’s research showed “when you can’t live in a moment, they say, it’s best to live in anticipation of an experience. Experiential purchases like trips, concerts, movies, et cetera, tend to trump material purchases because the utility of buying anything really starts accruing before you buy it.”[7]

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Boat! (Or Getting Stuck)
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 Touring New York
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Pyramid On Top of a Mountain
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Visiting an Indian Reservation
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Removing 400 Cubic Yards of a Forest at a Women’s Shelter in Gore, New Zealand

My Story

I remember being on the beach in New Zealand, standing with my Samoan friend as we watched an airplane fly directly over our head, yet again. Old bricks from houses built during the Great War scattered the seashore. This was the happiest moment of my life. My time, my effort, and my money were devoted to the experiences I wanted to create. I had decided to participate in a ministry for two years. I was a volunteer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I met with other ministers to try to grow religious involvement in communities, taught lessons and scripture classes with groups and in the homes of families, and actively participated in service projects – vandalism clean up, fence and trail repair, service in soup kitchens, and horseback riding lessons for the disabled were among the many service projects I participated in.

Aside from a green-stone necklace from a dear friend, a few lavalavas, and some Weetabix All Blacks collector cards, I’m not sure I have any tangible souvenirs from that experience; my memories of sitting on a beach with my Samoan friend and watching countless airplanes fly directly overhead offer me some of the greatest and happiest memories of my life.

If you’re going to devote your time, effort and money toward something, wouldn’t you rather it be an experience that may bring anticipation, excitement, and prolonged joyful remembrance? Consider that next time you’re about to buy what I call “plastic crap” or non-essential material things.

Next week I’ll talk about some techniques for crafting your own personal vision so you can start aligning your values and money and avoid the “plastic crap” mind-set.

Jacob Johnson
-Jacob is a fidget-er who is always changing things, He spends his time making vision boards, experiencing things, and perusing business cards from years ago. If you want to add to his business card collection, send him one!

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Articles:

Experiences Vs Crap Design by Crystal Johnson.

[1] Hamblin, James. “Buy Experiences, Not Things.” The Atlantic, 7 Oct. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

[2] Ruvio, A., Somer, E. & Rindfleisch, A. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2014) 42: 90. doi:10.1007/s11747-013-0345-6,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/materialism-health-effects_n_4344056.html

[3] Ruvio, A., Somer, E. & Rindfleisch, A. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2014) 42: 90. doi:10.1007/s11747-013-0345-6
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/materialism-health-effects_n_4344056.html

[4] Diener, Ed. “6 Reasons Why People – Not Things – Will Make You Happier.” The Huffington Post, 2 December 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/materialism-health-effects_n_4344056.html

[5] Richards, Carl. “Do Your Values Align with Your Money & Time?” Behavior Gap, 22 April, 2015, www.behaviorgap.com/do-your-values-align-with-your-money-time/

[6] “Proof That Life Experiences — Not Things — Make You Happier.” The Huffington Post, 3 April 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/life-experiences-happier-material-things_n_5072591.html

[7] Hamblin, James. “Buy Experiences, Not Things.” The Atlantic, 7 Oct. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

 

Here are A Bunch of other Experiences!