Thursday, February 5, 2009

How About Giving Me a Boost?

Raise your hand if you're anxious about the economic state of the world? Of the U.S.? Of your state? Of your county? Of your city? Of your public school district? Of your household?

Yeah, me, too. I can't attribute my continuous racing heart to that anxiety -- I've got hyperthyroidism to blame for that -- but the even more quickening pace that occurs whenever I hear of yet another huge company going under or having massive layoffs to avoid going under, that's not Super Thyroid. That's Super Fear.

I make it worse, you know, that state of anxiety. I read the trustee notices in the local newspaper every day. First, I see if the foreclosed home is in my town. If it is, I take a look at the owners to see if I might know them. Finally, I look at the amount owed. I've managed to feel real sorry for people who are losing their homes for what I consider "reasonable" amounts. It makes me feel they didn't knowingly overextend themselves by buying a house far grander than they could ever hope to afford.

Does it make me a bad person to have no pity for someone who owes more than $500,000 or $750,000 or, as I've been seeing, $1.2 million? Someone who takes out such a huge mortgage and then defaults doesn't get a kernel of compassion from me.

I have a large mortgage. By California standards, not so large, but large enough. We put down a hefty sum to buy this house, but a hefty sum had to be borrowed as well. Even with the horrible state of real estate, we'd likely get a bit more than what we paid for if we were to sell today. We stand very little real chance of defaulting because we've lived relatively within our means and haven't taken out any equity in the house.

We didn't gamble on a house far out of reach for our income. And we didn't gamble with our house, squeezing more, more, more equity out to get more, more, more material goods we couldn't afford.

Is there any point to all this? I mean, besides opening me up for criticism because I can't find it within me to pity others? I guess not. Or maybe there is. I didn't buy a house I couldn't afford. I didn't take out an adjustable mortgage that would bankrupt me when it adjusted in five years. I didn't pull money out of my house to spend on other things, increasing my debt month by month. Why don't I get rewarded for good behavior? Why do we seem to always reward bad behavior?

Oh, right, I remember. Lesson number one that I want my children to learn: life's not fair.


D... said...

Raising my hand.

I am concerned. Rather than laying off employees, my husband's company (a national brand), made everyone in the company (including the president) take a pay cut.

While we are incredibly thankful the for job, we feel the paycut. We've changed our lifestyle which is getting easier now that we've done it for awhile. Fortunately, our house is inexpensive. Unfortunately, it's small and we've already grown out of it.

I'm scared about what happens if the economy doesn't start improving.

I do feel sorry for some people. Others? Not so much.

Patience said...

There's no better feeling than being debt-free! We owe nothing, not a car payment, not a mortgage. All we have to pay is living expenses (food, electricity, gas, etc.)

I'm a freak, aren't I?

Janet said...

People up here in Canada also live way beyond their means. We bought our house 12 years ago and are still reaping the benefits of housing market prices from back then. Our mortage is almost paid off.

I talked about the reasons why we don't move in my post yesterday. I should have added that doing so over the last few years would have substantially increased our debt. Now, in these economic times, I'm glad we stayed put.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

A-men to that sister.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can not grasp basic common sense of buying within one's means.

P.S. I thought of you during the Superbowl half-time show - were you in heaven or what?

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

I'm just flat out terrified. Another bailout with money we don't have.

Maggie May said...

i heard that so much when i was a kid that it makes me want to scream when i say it to my own!

Jillie Bean (AKA Bubba's Sis) said...

Raising my hand, too. My husband works for a car dealership (he's the Service Manager) and while his is still open, dealerships all over Houston are shutting down. We've had several financial hits over the past few years and are still recovering. Life is a struggle these days....

Tara R. said...

Even when I wish we had a larger house, i'm immeasurably glad we bought our house so many years ago ~ nearly 14. It's not perfect, but it has a reasonable mortgage. I

'm with you though. Anyone who knows they can't afford a $1 mllion home and still takes out a loan carries a lot of the blame for overextending themselves. But the banks, also knowing these same people couldn't afford that kind of payment, should not have approved the loan.

gudnuff said...

My brother was laid off yesterday in Florida. Now he and his wife and two kids (15 and 11) will have to make do with the wife's school teacher income. Suddenly, this thing is no longer some distant concept or a string of numbers and statistics on the radio anymore. My situation hasn't changed, but it feels like it has. Something has shifted for me, for my parents, for all of us. There is fear here now. I can feel it.

Gina said...

I'm with you! I feel very resentful of all the people who, for the sake of appearing wealthy and having a certain lifestyle, mortgaged their entire lives on the very mistaken belief that real estate "can only go up" in value.

Meanwhile, we have lived a very frugal life. No granite countertops, no trips to Europe, no flat screen.

And yet, the same people who failed to live responsibly are the ones getting a helping hand.

It makes me want to spit.

Not at you, though.

Beck said...

In Canada, you can't default on your mortgage in the same way - it remains your responsibility, not the banks. So the financial crisis here hasn't been AS severe, although it IS pretty bad.

These people, though - the ones with the HUGE mortgages on their enourmous monster houses - what did they THINK was going to happen? At what point did having impressive stuff become more important than spending responsibily? And why as a culture do we need to learn this lesson over and over again?

Janet said...

I agree with you. I'm tired of hearing people whine about their mortgages when they bought a house they couldn't afford in the first place. We built our house fortunately, because I got laid off shortly after we were married, and we're still struggling to get out of debt. I never did find another job. Of course, after the kids came along it became pointless because daycare in this area would have cost more than I would have made. And I have an M.A.


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