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COMMENTARY | I had it all - a huge house, with a big yard, two car garage and had just gotten married to a wonderful guy. It was "the American Dream." But I also had a big secret: my American dream was funded with borrowed money. Money I didn't have (or else I wouldn't need to get a loan), and I was over $150,000 in debt.
Learning lessons from past mistakes
The majority of marriage problems stem from financial stress and money fights, and my marriage was no different. We worked very hard to get everything we wanted, but in the end, we were unhappy. The American dream wasn't what we expected.
The debt was choking us, putting strain us emotionally, financially and physically. In the past, experts have said, that taking out a student loan and getting a mortgage is an investment into our future. Therefore, it's considered "good debt."
What they don't realize is that all debt comes with a level of risk. Consumer debt is much riskier than a student loan, but it's all borrowed money that has to be paid back.
Signing up for a mortgage, car loan or student loan is a big decision. These are debts that will take many years to pay off. A traditional mortgage is spread over 30 years, which is about 1/2 of our life span. That's a LONG time to be a slave to the workforce, so you can own your home.
The Old Dream vs modern America
The American Dream is something I've grown up hearing as a kid. Everyone wants to own a home, have a nice little white picket fence and start a family, right? Well, over the past few years, that notion has changed.
Does the American Dream still exist?
I believe it does, but I also feel it's become tailored to each person's likes and dislikes. For me, I find a lot of peace of mind and stability in renting. I like to spend my money elsewhere, instead of a big house with a big mortgage.
The idea of the American Dream has evolved into something more. We strive to become more financially stable, working as entrepreneurs or as the owners of a small businesses, making our careers part of our lives. We are investing money into experiences instead of possessions.
Education doesn't guarantee a secure job, and buying a home doesn't guarantee a return on my money. We all want to live a rich and fun filled life, but material possessions can only satisfy so much. The American Dream is not what it used to be: it's better.