The American Dream
The big American Dream, from what I grew up with, was always: go to college, get a great job, make lots of money, buy a big house, and have lots of stuff. For most people I have ever known, this is the American dream, and they compromise a lot to try and achieve it. The sacrifice freedom for money. They lose time with their kids/ families for more money to acquire more stuff. Our system is a system of debt. You get a loan so you can buy a NEW car and by the time you have paid it off it is worth about a third of it’s original sticker price and you have paid almost one and half times that sticker price (if not more). Same goes for your house, except the market value has dropped so much in the last couple of years that the value of a lot of homes is much much lower. A lot of people still paying on their homes are upside down in their mortgages because of the value drops. Student loans that take an average of 10 years to pay off. Credit cards with $10,000 limits and high interest rates. On and on. Debt. If you think you can fully get away from it and still have a good credit score, think again. If you don’t have some debt and are paying on it consistently, your credit score will drop.
Debt is how all these big banks and companies make money. If you don’t acquire debt, they aren’t making money. You have to have steady income coming in from a job to pay on this debt. You have to make enough money to acquire more debt. Do you see where this is going? Do you see how it is set up for people to keep chasing after more money, to acquire more debt, to acquire more things they don’t need, to pay for all these big banks and companies, so they can continue to do shady deals and huge bonuses, get bailouts that the tax payer is footing the bill for, which requires the taxpayer to work longer to make more money so they can acquire more debt…. and so on and so on. Does this still sound like the American Dream?
My Dad is a firm Dave Ramsey believer. He even got each of us (his kids) a copy of his book several years ago. I have to say that even before we received it, Michael and I were already talking about many of his techniques/ advice. Once we had paid off our last car, we both knew we never wanted a car payment again. Yes that meant we saved up and bought used (nothing over $2000) but that was the trade off… we buy our cars used BUT we own them outright, no loans/ interest, no monthly payments, what we paid for the vehicle is it. Now some people may argue that with a used car you can also be walking into a lot of mechanical issues. Shop around, really look over the vehicle, you can even have a mechanic look at it before buying if you want. Bottom line though, just because it is used does not make it bad, and just because it is new doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. About 10 years ago I bought a new car and it had tons of issues, more then any of our other vehicles. Everyone is different, this is just our perspective and what we have chosen to do.
Most people’s economic situation has changed a lot of the last couple of years. Society has changed a lot over the last decade. Thus, the American Dream has changed for many. Some still look at it the same, but some are making a new one. I suppose you can say that is what we are doing.
Michael and I have never been “flashy” people. We don’t need a lot of things. What’s most important to us is our family. I suppose that is what all this change is about. It’s about being a closer family. It’s about being able to say, we own everything we have (which we do now). It’s about showing our children what we feel is the important things in life. Money will come and go. Possessions will be acquired and lost. There will be hardships to bear, but in the end, as long as we are together, nothing else really matters. Sometimes it’s hard to say that when your really really struggling, we know that all too well, but there is always light at the end. It may not be what you expect but it’s there none the less.
Closing Thought: The American Dream can be whatever you want it to be. That is the beauty of a dream. All you have to do is figure out what is truly important to you, and then make your own path.