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I love personal finance bloggers. I follow around 100 of them on Bloglovin’. I regularly try to comment on their posts and let them know I’m listening. But…. sometimes I feel like they bash the American dream. Or maybe it’s just not the American dream they want for people. I feel like this group of people, who are fabulous at side hustling, managing money, and investing, want a new American dream that includes early retirement and minimalism. That is a fantastic goal to set and achieve, but what about the people who are just grateful to have more than their parents did? You know, the original American dream.
I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but I come from a family that lived below the poverty line for most of my life. I believe my parents still fit into that category by the government’s standards. I never felt that we were impoverished because we always had everything we needed. We had clothes, food, a solid home, and loving parents who did everything they could to make us feel “normal.” We played sports. We had sleepovers and birthday parties. We were fortunate. Now that I’m older, I realize we were poor.
Fast Forward 15 Years
I’m in my mid-twenties. Mike and I have went from barely getting by (just over a year ago) to joining an entirely new tax bracket. With that has come the realization that we have money now! Imagine seeing an increase in your income that takes you from living paycheck to paycheck to consistently investing in your retirement plan, having liquid savings, and extra money to pay off debt and have fun.
That’s where we’re at now, thanks to the Air Force and Mike’s new job. We finally have money to plan a life. With my salary, all of our bills are paid at the minimum. That means that everything Mike makes will go to paying off debt, having fun, and our emergency fund.
Yes, we want to get rid of stupid debt on our cars and my student loans, and we loathe being in credit card debt. We want to be debt-free. But we also want a house. And we don’t want to wait until we have $200,000 saved up to buy one. It could take years for us to do that, and at this time in our lives – we want to make that next step. Purchasing a home is near the top of the American Dream checklist. There’s just so much backlash towards it these days.
People should get what they want – within reason.
I say, let people buy a home. Stop with negativity. No, everyone who wants a home may not be absolutely prepared, but sometimes you just have to jump in. No one is ever 100% prepared for anything. I see this a lot with starting a family too. Sure, you can be more financially stable before having a child, but you’re never REALLY prepared for that kind of life change. You can’t spend your whole life waiting for the perfect moment.
I know many will not agree with this view, but it’s something we’ve talked about a lot and decided we want. No, we’re not going to be debt-free when we purchase our first home. We’re not going to have 20% to put down. We’ll barely have a decent emergency fund. But we will have consistent income and a VA home loan (two beautiful benefits of the military).
We have a specific situation that is going to work in our favor, but not everyone has these options. The point I want to make here is that some people don’t want early retirement. Some people don’t have dreams of living minimally in tiny houses with bicycles, or in an apartment their entire life.
Some people just want the basic American dream, and that’s okay.
Sometimes, I think I am one of those people. I know that I want a home and nice car and two dogs (no kids, please). I want a place where my family can stay when they visit. I want to hold Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings. Those are the things I want for my life – and I may have to go into some debt to get there, but that’s okay too. We will get it paid off eventually. I guess what makes us different is that we aren’t going to continue to buy, buy, buy after we get our home. We still want to kill all our other debt. Then we’ll focus on the mortgage.
Let’s stop the money-shaming and encourage our friends and peers to make not only smart choices, but choices that make them happy as well.