Jan 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm #1285001
I've been thinking about this on and off for the last couple of years. It started with stuff. How to reduce the amount of stuff in my pack. This naturally lead to trying to reduce stuff in my workspace, then closets, then house.
Lately, I'm starting to think that it's not just the aesthetic of stuff anymore. I find more and more satisfaction from time spent with family, my outdoor pursuits, and the quest for a healthy lifestyle, and less and less satisfaction from my work (once an all consuming passion). Trouble is, like most Americans I've got a mortgage, home equity loan, car payments, two kids, (and two 2 dogs, but they are not the source of financial difficulty), daycare, college savings, retirement savings, etc. Backing off does not seem like an option right now. My wife works part time, but would love to quit and devote her time to her passion, jewelry-making. Right now, we need her income too.
Much discussion on this site has contributed to my recent thought processes. "No new gear", "minimalism", and "How I make my living as an adventurer" are just a few recent examples of discussions that come up here periodically. Other influences have included:
Jason Robillard of Barefoot Running University, who along with his wife, recently sold all their possessions to move into an RV with their two kids to start touring the country in pursuit of a "F@#$ing awesome life"
Dave Ramsey- pop financial guy. Offers common sense advice that many people don't follow. (To summarize: Have a budget. Don't buy stuff you can't afford. Eliminate all debt, now. Save money. Pay off mortgage. Live awesome life.) In his book, he offers a plan for making this all happen.
Erin and Hig who have shown what is possible even with young kids like mine.
and of course Ryan Jordan, whose discussions of materialism over the years are far more clearly expressed than mine could ever be.
Rather than just discussing it anymore, I've been trying to come up with a plan to make it happen. The ultimate 10 year goal is a small farm in Vermont, part-time work, and a debt-free lifestyle.
Here is my plan:
1. Pay off my car loan using my savings account
2. Cancel unneeded memberships, cable tv. Watch spending carefully.
3. Host garage sale in spring to get rid of clutter. Sell motorcycle (some of this plan is going to be painful)
4. Use proceeds of 1-3 to pay off home equity loan
5. Use money saved monthly (from car and home equity) to rebuild emergency fund
6. Budget for much needed home repairs
7. Sell house when able. Rent much smaller house.
8. Continue to put 20-25% toward retirement and college savings, but pick smarter funds.
9. Move back east, closer to home and family.
I think working with my wife to live below our means in a way that is acceptable to both of us may be one of the big challenges.
Finding a balance between sacrificing material goods without sacrificing family experiences is another.
Selling a dog-and kid-worn house in Michigan's economy may be the biggest challenge.
Maybe "No new gear 2012" is the way to go after all. I'm never going to be the guy with 15 or 39 things, nor would I want to be. (My kids have more stuff than that in one corner of their dollhouse). I just want the option to pursue a better life, freed up from the weight of debt and the clutter of needless things. Who's accomplished any part of this dream, and what advice can you offer a beginner?Feb 1, 2012 at 6:35 am #1832680
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Sounds like a plan, and a budget (or you can think of it as a "spending plan" is budget sounds too much like "diet" ) is always good – but balance #1 with #5 to keep a little emergency fund around (as the definition of an emergency is unplanned).Feb 1, 2012 at 6:54 am #1832687
"Finding a balance between sacrificing material goods without sacrificing family experiences is another. "
Many folks find that doing the first helps improve the second.
I think part of what can assist is actually writing the plan down with milestones to meet – and staying engaged in that plan so that you meet the milestones. I'm on a similar quest. I want to retire in a couple of years. I won't have a lot, but I'm okay with that. I've been shedding possessions for a bit now, and continue to do so. My next step is getting some home repairs done so I can sell the house and get into something much, much smaller.
What I don't worry about as I shed possessions is selling them for as much as I can. I've given a bunch of stuff away that I could have sold just to get it out of my AO. It allows me to see positive change, which helps to encourage further positive change.
Hope that helps.Feb 1, 2012 at 7:28 am #1832696
I wouldn't sweat planning too much, since global events are going to (actually, already are) dictate humanity's terms, rather than the reverse.
The advent of peak oil + peak credit just happen to be coinciding at the same time. While the efforts of those who (fraudulently) profit from gaming the system have been admirable (not) in keeping the ponzi staggering forward, simple arithmetic doomed the welfare/warfare project from the git-go. That is, both individuals & gov't spending more than one makes by substituting debt for capital ie savings.
The problem with being a math guy, whether an engineer or accountant (moi) is that exponents are a critical part of most analyses. Also known as the rule of 72, you can simply divide 72 by a growth rate to find a doubling period. For example, $100 bucks invested @ 7% will double to $200 in 10 years (72/10=7.2).
Engineers know how this applies to finite resources and compound demand curves ie peak oil. Finance people know this as insolvency, bankruptcy and re-organization, whether for people, companies, governments, and of course, **countries**.
Since debt is always lent at rates exceeding nominal growth, debt is always defaulted unless by some miracle one was able to secure a 30 year income stream in which to fully amortize the load. Since this is a about as rare as wining the lottery, it's not really applicable. (The period of the 50s through 70s where one could have a steady, secure jobs was an anomaly, which is why the vast majority of people who have successfully paid off their home mortgages are from this particular generation.)
For those who are listening and paying attention, while getting out of debt is important, getting one's head straight is absolutely critical. Once you understand what is occurring, you can focus on getting in shape (an advantage outdoor enthusiasts have), developing core skills, and looking forward to how things are going to shake out.Feb 1, 2012 at 7:30 am #1832697
@leslerLocale: right here, right now
ike (and others)…these are noble thoughts.
question: does a virtually "debt-free lifestyle" exist?
it seems that no matter way i slice or dice, i'll never be out of the hole.
had i never gone to school, i never would be in the debt i'm in.
without an education, i'd likely be in a lesser place too.
if only i could cycle everywhere, year-round, i wouldn't need a truck, and i needn't contend with faulty u-joints and grinding rotors that rob my precious income.
and if only i could forage my way to health and vigor, i could never touch man-made food again.
as "ultralight" as (i'm) choosing to live
(think: skurka's recent" purposely avoiding all adult-like responsibilities")
so too, there is question in not having too much, but in having too little.
how will i ever buy that piece of land?
how will i be prepared for…?
will the day come when…?
is there not an art to moderacy?
like others, this for me, shall be a lifelong challenge.
live life to live life.Feb 1, 2012 at 7:54 am #1832701
Katharina LångstrumpBPL Member
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Ike, I think that is a wonderful pursuit and doable as well. Having a partner/ wife that has a similar vision will be tremendously helpful.
I always have a plan and set goals, from weekly lists to longer term plans. I also enjoy what I do daily, so I am not just looking to the future for an enjoyable life. I think your girls will benefit from seeing their parents work toward this together and it can be an adventure for the whole family.
A debt free life is possible, at least in the way that I understand debt, borrowing money to buy something and paying for it later….. I have been able to do that, other than an owner financed loan on a few acres in British Columbia, many years ago, which turned out to be a great investment.
Small living spaces can work just fine if there is no clutter.
Backpacking can definitely inspire someone to simplify. Part of the attraction of being out in the woods/ mountains is just that- simplicity.
I agree that living in the moment and enjoying life right now is key, but one can do that while keeping an eye on the horizon.
Best of luck; this sounds like a great adventure.Feb 1, 2012 at 9:05 am #1832726
It has been a productive morning. I started by paying off my credit card (I do every month) and cutting it up.
Then I withdrew money market savings that were not really making any money and payed off my higher interest car loan. This is now gone.
This freed up a chunk of monthly cash to dramatically increase monthly payments on the 20 yr home equity loan. I was also able to pay down a big chunk of this today. I also committed to some outside work for an extra cash source. By doing so, I think I can make this loan go away completely in less than 3 months! Taking away this lien will let me refinance the mortgage at half my current interest rate and pay that off in less than 15 years (not ideal, but better than the 30 yr rat race I've been in).
I temporarily stopped contributing to my kids' Coverdell account, freeing up another chunk of debt-erasing cash. The interest payed on CDs is a joke right now. Once I've rebuilt our emergency fund, I'll start saving more for their education with higher interest mutual funds.
Then I made a new cash flow plan. If you guys enjoy spreadsheets for working down your gear weights, you should try it with spending. It is way better! There are endless options to ask the same types of questions, "Do I really need this?" "Can we use something we already have, instead?" I am excited to try to cut dollars off our bills like cutting ounces off of pack weight.
Next up, calling the cable company to cut back our services to the most basic internet package.
My wife seems excited and on board, though a little apprehensive in the knowledge that moderation is not my strong suite. Wait till she realizes that I have replaced her pricey morning coffee with Maxwell House.
In the grand scheme of things, we've lived within our means and probably have a pretty ordinary american life, some ups, some downs, but I'm tired of settling for this. I won't waste any more time wondering why it is not freaking amazing. I'm going to make it happen now.
Note: I apologize if I've offended anyone with the chaff-like nature of this thread. I put it here because of it's natural development as an extension of the UL backpacking philosophy. For the many of you who have wondered, like I have, how to have more meaningful time to spend with family and in the outdoors, this is my answer. To those who have already come to this way of life naturally, you have my admiration.Feb 1, 2012 at 10:29 am #1832782
Sounds like you have most of it figured out for yourself already. So here are some random thoughts and musings on living a good life.
Each of us needs to live a good life, based on our own definition. Will your "ultralight" life be totally satisfying? You don't need material things to survive, but some things are what separate us humans from the animal world. Humans should live, not survive. Art, literature, and music are particularly important. Quality time with family is another. So you need to budget money for these. You can get some of this from libraries, matinees for plays and an occasional movie. Kindle edition of books are pretty cheap. It is amazing how cheap you can buy used books on Amazon. I just purchased 4 hardbound books this week and they were all under $10 each including tax and shipping! Expose your kids to as much of this as possible.
IMO, it is foolish to wait to live the "good life" until you retire, and you have figured that out already. You must live it starting today, with a plan to provide for your retirement and any emergencies.
I have been collecting postage stamps since I was about 10 years old or so. It does not need to be an expensive hobby, but the time spent learning about the history of each stamp in my collection has been a wonderful journey in itself. When I was younger, I also bought record albums, but was very selective as to what. Many, many hours of enjoyment since I was very young and it continues everyday of my life. I rarely purchase new music these days, because I enjoy what I have and it covers a wide genre of music. You must continue to grow your mind every single day. My hobbies have allowed me to do this since I was a kid. TV is not a necessity, but one should have a means to know what is happening in our world and wisely participate in our political system. It gives us a voice in our future, and ultimately in our quality of life. Many, many years ago I purchased a used set of "The Great Books of the Western World" and they have been my main reading material for the the past 30 years or so. Because I have always enjoyed reading, it was something my kids saw as normal and they became voracious readers too; and this is the basic building block to a good education. Both did well in school because of it. TV was not watched that often because all of us were too busy living a good life. Although there were video games and such, I did not allow them to own any at all.
My wife and I enjoy movies, but rarely go to see a movie; maybe once every couple of years. But for us, $7.99 a month for Netflix is a bargain and we watch maybe one or two Netflix movies a week. We also have cable for the movies and Internet. Movies are art… well some of it is. We still read a lot. Last week I re-read 3 of Colin Fletcher's books. This week I am re-reading 3 Edward Abbey books. And great books can pop up if one pays attention. Last year Bob Gross mentioned a movie called "And I Alone Survived." I bought a hard copy book on Amazon for $1.99, enjoyed the work and my wife is reading it now.
I started taking my kids camping when they were each 6 months old. We tent camped. My wife did not care for tent camping that much. So eventually we saved our money and purchased a small new tent trailer for $3,500 cash. That was in 1992, and the kids were 5 and 7 years old. This was one of the best investments I ever made, and not "ultralight." Everyone in the family loved to go camping with the pop-up. We went every year for a two week vacation in the Sierras. We went camping many weekends too. No electronic stuff went with us. Books were allowed. We are not a jigsaw puzzle family, but each vacation I would buy a puzzle themed to where we went. After we put the puzzle together, I framed it. We spent every day together as a family on vacation, spending hours fishing, hiking, swimming, bike riding, or just sitting around the campsite talking. The kids especially liked the trips to June Lake when we rented a small boat for a week. There was personal time each day and everyone would read the books they brought.
I often hear parents complain that their kids (especially teenagers) get bored easily and hate to go camping.
Both kids were involved in some sort of after school activity of their choosing, and we participated in every one, every day. My daughter tried sports at first then eventually gravitated to dance. My son always participated in sports. But theater or music are good avenues.
During this time, my backpacking was reduced. Weekends here and there, and one trip every year between Christmas and New Years. And some multi-day trips during the year. I was always willing to work a lot of hours in exchange for a little more time off. To me, a 60 hour work week is normal and easy. If you try hard enough, you will be surprised how many little day hikes you can squeeze in too.
Now lets talk about your job. Less and less satisfaction means you are not living a good life for large chunk of your life. I would change that immediately. The "how" is the difficulty. I have only had one job I hated. It was a 2nd job and I got out of that mess pronto. Some jobs seemed horrible to others, but I found ways to make them challenging and rewarding. Even when I worked pumping gas, I challenged myself to learn more about the business and that made everyday fun. You have to live ALL of your life with passion. Work is important, because we are wired to be productive. Our ancient ancestors died if they were not productive. I love to work, and love to enjoy my time off… every second of both.
Real Estate. I have owned property ever since I was a young man. All have resulted in additional income, far exceeding all the money invested and more money than I could have saved. My current house has fallen in value by over 50% the past few years, but I don't care because we plan on living here until we die, so market value means nothing. To me the ability to own property and even profit from it is one of man's greatest ideas and the concept of property is central to my philosophy. It is more than just property. But that is my opinion, and many would disagree.
Cars. We always buy new ones. But my vehicle is 9 years old and my wife's is 13 years old. When each dies, we will replace it with a new one. Pay cash of course.
Money. This is job one. Without producing and controlling it, you cannot live a good life. Money is only an exchange mechanism for the fruit of your labor, mind, or investment of the surplus. This is the easy part once you have a plan. Some would disagree, but if you have a 401K at work, contribute the maximum possible because income taxes are deferred and the tax money saved is more than you could earn by investing the money somewhere else in most instances — and if your employer contributes — even better. After you put away your emergency money, quit saving and investing (except 401K) until you pay off every debt. Pay off the highest interest ones off first with as much as you can afford each month, and make the minimum payment on the rest. As one is paid, concentrate on the next one with the highest interest rate. Once the debts are paid you will have a larger chunk of money to put away each month in your investments and you will have minimized the blood sucking interest quickly. Quicken Deluxe is a good tool to manage your finances and has a budget component to help you prioritize debt reduction. I have been using Quicken since the late 80's starting it on an Apple II. I have been using it on a MS/DOS or Windows platform since 1992 and have all historical data from that year forward. It has been my financial planning tool all these years.
College. This is a personal matter, but it is my belief that kids should pay for part of it. Let them know that now. Kids need to have "skin in the game." My kids paid for 1/2 of their college education, and they saved their own money as children (most money received as gifts went into the bank and they got to spend a small portion), and both worked through college. It took each of them 5 years to graduate. It is probably cheaper to get an education in California's public system, but we pay for it with higher taxes to live here, so in my mind it is somewhat of a balance.
Retirement. Since my wife and I put the maximum allowed into our 401K each year, plus we save and invest other money, and my wife has a employee stock purchase plan we do well. In the past 10 years alone we have put nearly $400,000 into the 401K's (we get to add and additional 5% because we are over 50). You are young, if you and your wife put the max in until you retire, you will be millionaires… but you have to love what you do!! We want our excess money to work for us. But we really live simply with few luxuries. We don't go out much even though we can easily afford it. We would rather spend the time at home together or go camping. I could retire today if I wanted to, but I enjoy my job too much (see my comments on working earlier). I probably will work another 4 or 5 years. If it continues to be fun, I might work until they fire me, or I get senile, or I die. Time will tell. The day I no longer enjoy working is the day I will quit. If income taxes get too high, then I will quit when that happens. I only want to work for myself, not others.
I am in my 60's now, but I would have regretted a minimal life without the movies, plays, concerts, literature, hobbies, camping, backpacking, hiking, motorcycle touring, museums, telescopes, county and state fairs, ghost towns, expositions, aquariums, zoos, music, fishing, stamp collecting, participating in many activities with my kids, dogs, work, art, etc. It would have not been a good life. It sounds like we are doing well, and we are; but for most of my first 30 years working, I worked mostly in gas stations, owned businesses at the same time, and went to college to get my degree. All of it was fun and rewarding. And I found plenty of time to enjoy the good life with my family and myself.
As I said earlier, we really live a fairly simple life. We do not entertain and rarely go to parties or social gatherings. But we do enjoy some luxuries. I would like to share a couple art pieces I purchased as Christmas gifts for my wife last year. The first was for me too, because I enjoy looking at it everyday sometimes for an hour at a time. No one has seen these except for us, because they are for our own personal pleasure. The second one took me nearly two years to find, and my wife especially enjoys it. Some would say it is extravagant consumerism, I say it is what makes us human and different from the rest of the animal world. Both pieces make the good life even better each day. Just remember, getting 100% out of debt is the only way one can truly live a good life, at least in my opinion. Anyway, a lot of rambling about a lot of things. Each of the things I have shared are components of my 60 years on this planet, and I have enjoyed every single day of it, and not a single day has been boring. If I die today, I will have no regrets at all — it has been a great ride so far and I hope to continue the wonderful journey for many more years.
Good luck on your plan.Feb 1, 2012 at 11:27 am #1832822
"My wife seems excited and on board, though a little apprehensive in the knowledge that moderation is not my strong suite. Wait till she realizes that I have replaced her pricey morning coffee with Maxwell House."
Oh, oh! ;)
Need to make sure she is on board with 100% of what you do.
Now I am fine with the house brand coffee, instant coffee, or just water. I mostly drink water anyway, and it is from the tap. Much cheaper than the bottle water I buy. If I tried the take away my wife's favorite beverages or specialty coffee, we would have a marital mutiny.
One thing I have learned is that "if Momma ain't happy, no one is gonna be happy." And a wise man will soon realize this, or be out searching for a new wife AND paying alimony to boot.
:)Feb 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm #1832839
Tad EnglundBPL Member
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Nick, great post. I'm a few years (6) behind you and I second everything you said.
My current situation is a little than yours, with the economic recession/depression I wiped out all my savings, saving my business and home. I'm still in business and am in good standing with the mortgage company. What saved me is having no other dept but the mortgage. All vehicle were owned free and clear. Yes they were old, but they were mine and I didn't have to make payments when no money was coming in.
I now have to start on the bottom again, but I have no worries. My family is healthy and I have a daughter getting married this summer- what could be better?Feb 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm #1832856
Stephen BarberBPL Member
"One thing I have learned is that "if Momma ain't happy, no one is gonna be happy." And a wise man will soon realize this, or be out searching for a new wife AND paying alimony to boot."
Very true! And another my wife actually says about me and hiking, "If it's truly good for him, it's good for me."Feb 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm #1832867
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
"What saved me is having no other dept but the mortgage. All vehicle were owned free and clear. Yes they were old, but they were mine and I didn't have to make payments when no money was coming in."
I was traveling through Thailand late last year.. as most of you probably know, the central part of that country was under water for months! The floods started in August, and even when I was there in December, parts of Bangkok, the capital, still resembled Venice! However, the more northerly parts of that country did dry out — and the clean up there was AMAZING! You almost couldn't tell they just came out of months (not days) of sitting in water!
Question: how is it that a poorer country with little government aid can recover so fast (within weeks) — while a super rich country like ours took years to recover from Katrina??
Answer: Thais live within their means and save up — like Tad above. Once the water receded, folks started cleaning up and rebuilding. Most had cash on hand to buy lumber, nails, cement mix, etc. In contrast, many high-earning but higher-spending American businesses and households were "dead in the water" and helpless without government assistance / loans!! We as a nation pile ourselves with stuff — and debts. But are we really happier than all the rest of the world? No, we are just financially much more vulnerable and much less resilient.Feb 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm #1832870
Sarah KirkconnellBPL Member
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Consider this…her jewelry could be a source of income down the road. Encourage her. My husband encouraged me to build my own business – and it has paid off well over the years, giving us money to help pay for luxuries.
Also, does your state have a college buy-in? Ours does and we use it for our kids.
PS: remember with credit that you DO want to keep a card open in your name!! We froze our credit. Since it costs us to open it, there is little temptation to take on a new card or loan.
Pay off your mortgage faster if you can. You will save a lot. Use tools online to determine how much you can shave off the interest over the yars….Feb 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm #1832872
I appreciate the thoughts, and the beautiful pictures and stories about your family. I suspect that family trips like yours provide a much richer source of memories than a more pricey trip to Disney. My favorite childhood memories were summers spent by a lake in the Adirondacks with my folks.
And don't worry about the coffee. I was mostly being facetious- I'm actually the foodie of the household. I'm just starting to see that there are many places where costs can be cut without coming close to compromising needs. More expensive groccery choices are just one of these areas.Feb 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm #1832892
Ben brings up some important perspectives. And here is the real "rub." From what little I know about him, he retired at a very early age with sound financial planning, and now can travel the world each year. Amazing what can be done by staying out of debt.
But what I was talking about is the quality of life, more than managing your finances. And I have sure made some poor decisions over the years, like most people. But they were well thought out in advance, some risky, and some turned out poorly. But the important thing is that I do not regret those decisions, as I made them eyes-wide-open. With hindsight I would do many differently, but I never second guess myself. And I am happy with my life and my family… actually very proud of my children. Just get to the point that everyday is a great day in your life.Feb 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm #1832898
Ken T.BPL Member
I'm 17 years behind Nick though the Misses is on the same page. My current situation follows Tad's. Needs are simple and I am happy. We are still healthy. In the end it's the experiences that matter.
It's not how much you have but, what you have that's important.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm #1832922
Casey BowdenBPL Member
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
+1 on the entire thread.
However, concerning item seven:
7. Sell house when able. Rent much smaller house.
Since you have to live somewhere, I think it's better to own a home if you can. With a fixed rate mortgage you can lock in a payment when you are young; rent will always go up.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm #1832930
I agree. However many "pundits" say nay. But some folks just don't want the headaches and associated stuff that goes with home ownership. So it really is up to the individual, and Ike does have plans in the longer term to secure his own little bit of heaven. All good stuff. And we must all remember that there is no right way, each of us must seek their own good life. So I hope everyone stays focused on that particular aspect.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm #1832935
"Since you have to live somewhere, I think it's better to own a home if you can. With a fixed rate mortgage you can lock in a payment when you are young; rent will always go up."
I know this is conventional wisdom, but it doesn't always work out best. When you own, you own all the problems too – need a new water heater/roof/siding/air conditioning unit/etc.? It's all on you. And property taxes will also always go up (for the most part). Renting can actually make economic sense.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm #1832937
Nate Hagens is a former Wall St. money manager, former editor of theoildrum.com and now a doctoral candidate in environmental economics. IMO, he really puts together the big picture on the interplay between money, energy, happiness, psychological drivers, etc.
Feb 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm #1832942
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Quoting Steve Barber's post above:
"One thing I have learned is that "if Momma ain't happy, no one is gonna be happy." And a wise man will soon realize this, or be out searching for a new wife AND paying alimony to boot."
Very true! And another my wife actually says about me and hiking, "If it's truly good for him, it's good for me.""
In my household, when I am happy, EVERYBODY'S happy! :)Feb 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm #1832949
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
With owning a home, you have cost of home repair (sometimes major!), definitely subject to inflation. Even more important, if you don't have the skills to do minor repairs (my situation), that cost can become major. Also, as mentioned, property taxes and insurance are going to go up, up, even now with the value of the home decreasing. In other words, owning your home definitely does not protect you from inflation.
It is great when you get the home paid off (only 14 months more for me!). But for the first couple of years after my mortgage-burning party, I'll have to sink most of what I'm now paying for mortgage principal into repairs that I've been postponing for several years.
The big incentive for home ownership vs. renting (dating back to my childhood) was that the market value of your home would increase fast enough to give you better return than any other investment. Of course even back then, this feature wasn't much help until you sold the home or wanted to borrow more money. Needless to say, this advice is no longer true! In fact, a lot of folks these days have homes whose market value won't cover the outstanding mortgage!
Of course if you're in an area where there is considerable demand for rental housing, you may not have much luck renting, either. That was the case when I moved to Portland, OR in 1989. My dog and teenage daughter (the only one left at home) pretty much knocked me out of the rental housing market. I was basically forced to buy!Feb 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm #1832952
Ken T.BPL Member
I will never have a mortgage again. I'd gladly go back to renting. So much easier to move.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm #1832959
I wish you all well on your paths towards happiness. My path towards a happier life ended up here, living in Sweden. It was not an accident.
I am currently going to grad school for free, as I now a Swedish citizen as well as a US citizen. I also get a small grant once a month to help pay bills from the state. When my wife and I had two kids, not only is the hospital care free, we also got 480 days of paid parental leave for each child (at 80% pay) for each of us to use. Due to saving so much money not having to pay for grad school and not loosing so much money by having kids, my wife and I were able to put our savings towards buying a nice little house.
My wife and I were hardcore punks in our youth, and in many ways we still are. We never got any credit cards, don't care about fancy clothing (or fancy anything, really), and enjoy the simple things in life. We still go and get burgers and fries together and call it a date, and we have a good time doing it. We drive a used POS station wagon and we love it. We go out into the woods and pick loads of mushrooms and berries (I also fish) not just because it's fun, but it's free food man! Tonight for dessert after dinner we ate a pie my wife and son made with berries from our garden we froze for the winter. We got a used TV free from my in-laws, and the laptop I am typing now is over 3 years old. All of our furniture is either IKEA (and a good portion of the IKEA stuff we got in the deals section discounted), 2nd hand, or hand-me-downs. We are poor cheapskates and proud of it, and live a happy and productive life.
Which is why I don't feel guilty in the least when I throw down for some nice backpacking gear when I want it. Plus it's not like it's that expensive anyhow, at least for me, but I am a user of gear I buy, not a collector. Just yesterday I got my Neoair Xlite and it's awesome. It's my biggest hobby, some might call it a passion, I don't really care what you call it, I just know I never get sick of it and want to go out and hike around he woods and sleep there as much as possible. I mean… what the F else do I spend money on? I've got clothing I have been wearing (and still wear) for over a decade, still jam out to our awesome LP collection, and we bought a used Nintendo Game Cube 3 years ago for next to nothing that we had many hours of fun with (mostly Soul Caliber 2).
I say if you are going to go for the minimalist thing, go for it, and go for it all the way. You can be happy and reject all the BS stuff that is just a burden which does not really make you happy, but gives the illusion of happiness (or in the case of a sports car, illusions of another more amusing sort). Figure out what it is that you really like to do and do it. Cutting out the other BS ought to allow for it, unless your thing is, I dunno, collecting sports cars. Go for it and don't look back. Some of my friends called me crazy when I told them I was moving to Sweden, a few said it was not even possible. Here I am 6 years later with a house, two kids, new friends, and halfway done with my master's degree. The only debt I have is our mortgage on the house, which is very reasonable, and we'll eventually pay it off. After we pay it off, we will be debt free for the rest of our lives.
Good luck to you, and to anyone else reading this that is sick and tired of all the BS. You don't need fancy everything, and you can still live simple and happy with just a few luxuries, like say, backpacking gear ;)Feb 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm #1832961
John MyersBPL Member
@dallasLocale: North Texas
Rent or buy…. both have advantages and disadvantages, like almost every other possession or decision we have to make in life.
Like more stuff or less stuff.
Having stuff has advantages and disadvantages. Too much stuff probably ends up with the disadvantages outweighing the advantages. Not having enough can have the same effect. Threads like this help us take a step back and reassess where we are and if we should adjust one way or the other.
Good stuff! (no pun intended) :)
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