30 Years of Servitude

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It’s interesting how we Americans justify our desires, and trick ourselves into believing they are actual necessities. I thought about how I used to live in a one room cell (I mean dorm room) with another full grown man and shared a bathroom with a couple dozen other guys for an extended stay at Alabama State University. Many of you have had similar living situations. You ate cafeteria food that was less than “gourmet,” even though that word was in the name of the company that served your school. You shared a land line telephone with your roommate and the two guys next door. You also walked or biked wherever you needed to go. It was the simple life, to say the least, but you managed, and even had fun in the process.

Fast forward four years (let’s get serious, five and a half). You graduated from college, struggled to find that entry level position in your field of expertise, lived in a one or two bedroom apartment, and drove a used Honda Accord. A little later you married the girl of your dreams. Now this is where the brain damage kicks in for lots of guys. Somehow getting married translates into “You need to buy a house.” All of a sudden, the same guy who used to lived in one room with one other person in college “needs” to buy a house because he now lives with one other person. Never mind the fact that your apartment, while not worthy of MTV Cribs, has a living room, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom. None of which you have to share with your neighbors. All of which makes this place at least seven times better than your previous living arrangement, wherein you dwelled for several years. So, the pretty face, slim waist, and other unmentionable delights convince you that you need to buy a house because that’s what grown ups do. You can barely afford the monthly rent for your apartment and you have no savings, so the only option to buy the house that you so desperately need is to borrow money in the form of a 30 year mortgage. A 5, 7, 10, or 15 year mortgage are all out of the question because you could never make the payments. So you take on 30 years of servitude (Proverbs 22:7) because you tricked yourself into believing you needed something that you merely desired.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you never buy a house. But I am suggesting you consider the true reason you’re making such a huge move. If you and the girl of your dreams can’t manage to live in close quarters for a few years while you build a firm financial foundation, you’re probably going to have bigger problems once the financial grizzly bear of a mortgage hugs the honeymoon out of you. Think about it. You lived with some random stranger for four or five years in a dormitory. How much easier should it be to live in a small apartment with the most precious gift God has given you since the crucifixion? And again, I’m not suggesting you do it forever (although I’m not against it). What I suggest is using your young adult years to set yourself up for an unbelievable financial journey through middle age to a money-is-no-object retirement.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, telling me they wished they were in my current financial position (in my low 30s). The majority of these middle-lifers regrettably spent their 20s and 30s overspending on the desires that they duped themselves into believing were needs. Every year they dug deeper holes of debt by buying bigger houses than they needed, nicer cars than what would get them there, fancier clothing than was necessary, and spoiling their children in the same manner. In hindsight, they see the foolishness in their decisions. Young people, learn from your elders, even when they mess up.

If you work hard, have some foresight, and spend on the basics on the front end, home stretch will prove to be a much easier ride for you than it will be for normal people. Don’t be broke. Be different.

Peace & Thanks,

Jamel Black

Personal Finance Coach

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