Home ownership has long been described as the American Dream. Some in the media have questioned that statement recently, and for good reason. For many, their dream has turned into a nightmare with underwater mortgage balances, mortgage rates adjusting, and ever-increasing property taxes. Still, most of us take great pride in our homes, whatever that home looks like.
Remember the first time you saw your current home? Did you fall in love? Remember the excitement the day you closed, or signed that lease, or did whatever you had to do to get you and your family in that home? It was a proud moment.
Over the weekend, we planted a tree in our backyard in memory of my mom (she passed away last September). When the digging was done, and the tree and flowers were in place, I sat on a bench we placed next to the tree. Time to reflect.
I took off my muddy shoes and could feel the warm grass under my bare feet. I watched my kids play on the other side of the yard. I watched our dog roll around in the grass, tired from chasing birds, squirrels and other furry intruders. With storm clouds approaching, I knew we would soon seek shelter inside our home. Safe, warm, dry. I thought, “This is what it is all about. This is the American Dream.”
3 Things to Remember About Your Home
We tend to take things for granted. But experiences come along that remind us all that we have to be grateful for. My kids questioning why there are people sleeping under a bridge. Seeing a neighbor’s home destroyed by fire. Learning of a family close to us struggling to avoid foreclosure. All of these things reminded us how fortunate we are to have a roof over our heads.
Home is Where You Make It
For most of us, our homes are a great source of pride. For others, they may feel shame because of the size of the house, or its condition. Get over it. Your home is your own, whether it be a mansion, a trailer, an apartment, or a tiny house. It provides a warm, safe shelter to those you love, and considering the number of those losing their homes, we should be grateful.
Your Home is Not an Investment
This lesson has been reinforced for us over the last couple years, but it is worth repeating in the context of loving your home. It is unfortunate that so many homeowners have seen value wiped out, but what someone else is willing to pay shouldn’t change the value you assign to your home.
A house is filled with memories, and love, and no tax assessor or appraiser can put a price on that. Over time, I suspect values will again appreciate. After all, land is the one thing they cannot generate more of. In time, the laws of supply and demand will take over. In the mean time, enjoy your home for what it is, not just an investment.
Houses are Meant to Be Lived In
Have you ever been to a home with plastic on the sofa, a “No Shoes” policy on all carpeted areas, and an environment pristine enough to perform surgery? These homes often look quite nice, but they don’t feel comfortable to me. In our house, we recognize that homes are to be lived in, which means over time they’ll get a few dings.
A quick look around our house reveals the spot on the front door where I scraped it moving in our refrigerator. The crayon mark on the wall from my son. The muddy spot on the back door where our dog scratches to let us know she’s ready to come inside.
Some would consider these blemishes unsightly. To me, it adds character to our home, and I’m no rush to put a Magic Eraser to those memories.
So the next time you are grumbling about the rent, or upset over that new tax bill, remember why you allocate your hard-earned dollars towards your home. Is it an investment – some abstract vehicle to park your money and expect a return in twenty years? No. It is your home. Now love it.
*This article appeared in the Carnival of Personal Finance: Unanswered Questions Edition