Jun 072013

And here I thought people were listening to me. 2 1/2 years of preaching the gospel of Minimalism. Downsizing, buying less, finding smaller places to live, finding alternative living like boats and rv’s. And what do I find on the interwebs? This:

McMansions making a comeback.

Really? Are you serious? Did we learn anything from our past mistakes?

Apparently not.

All I can say to these people is, “Good Luck!”, which has about as much effect as praying. Meaning none. Given all we have gone through in the past ten or so years in this country, with the housing bubble, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and unemployment, who in their right mind would even consider buying another oversized house? Hell, I agonize over spending a buck at the dollar store for a tube of toothpaste. I can’t imagine how stressed and nervous I would be if I were to jump into another mortgage and be sitting in a house that has more space in a single closet than I have in my entire boat. But, apparently it’s happening all over again. People just have to have all that room, fill it with crap, and are more than willing to go into debt to do so.

In some ways it makes sense, not for the idea of buying another too big house, but it makes sense for those who are too stupid to manage their money correctly and stay out of debt. Many who may have been foreclosed on or went bankrupt, probably did so 7 years or more ago. Now, according to the standards, their mistakes will no longer haunt them when they go to a bank to get a loan or a new credit card. They are starting out with a clean slate credit wise, and no doubt that credit worthiness is burning a hole in their pocket.

For others, perhaps the minimalism bug didn’t take. They did the spartan lifestyle, went without, and have decided that enough is enough, dammit! They want stuff and they want it now.

And from what I can glean from the article, the housing market is starting to boom again. New construction, more houses, supposedly more people working and in more better financial shape. So why not go and grab a couple thousand feet of plywood, concrete and shingles, on the end of a manmade cul-de-sac, on ground that used to be a natural wooded forest, and buy a new urban assault vehicle so you can commute to that new job that you are absolutely sure will keep you employed, fat, and happy for years to come!

Seriously, what are the odds of another housing bubble bursting? Or unemployment going back over 10%? Or we go into another recession/depression? Nope the good times are back and they are here forebber. Guaranteed! So go plop that down payment on the loan desk and sign the papers on another 30 years of indentured servitude. You rode a bike around long enough, you paid your dues, time for a Brand New Car!!!! Hey look, credit card offers! Let’s grab a couple. We’re going to need furniture, appliances, new clothes, and stuff for the new house. The church of wally mart and Home Depot await our return.

Well, who am I to judge? I ain’t exactly a paragon of wealth here. But I did learn a few lessons about debt and possessions, and said lessons have not left my memory thingie. If a house is what you want, need, and are absolutely sure will satisfy your lifestyle, then go for it. Same with a car and what ever else you feel is a necessity of life. But for Darwin’s sake, stay within your means. You can’t borrow your way to riches. Work your way back up to a comfort level that suits your lifestyle. And be patient, it don’t have to happen over night. Be realistic about what you want vs what you need. Do some research before signing those mortgage papers and when you are ready to sign, stop, go someplace nice and quiet for a couple of days, and remember why you chose to downsize and minimalize in the first place. The crushing debt, the worry about keeping what you have, the sacrifices you had to make in lieu of the dreams you had, just to keep a paycheck coming in to finance your life. Are you sure that is what you want to go back to? Because it will surely happen the minute you have signed away all your future earnings, assuming you will have future earnings.

As for me personally, I love the minimal lifestyle. I have no desire to go back to owning property, vehicles, or anything more than I can carry. The boat makes a nice compromise for living/transportation should I decide to try some of that moving around on the water stuff. Even it’s a bit larger than what I really need. And as for debt, never again. I have not a clue what my credit score is nor do I care. My last debt was paid off 3 years ago and I haven’t had a mortgage or car loan in over 12 years. I intend to keep it that way. Right now I could stand to upgrade my iPhone, add an iPad, and maybe even grab a new Mac Air if they do a refresh next week at the WWDC. I know damn good and well that if I had a credit card right now I would run right out and get all that stuff that I think I need. But I don’t, and I won’t.

Minimalism has worked for me. As poor as I am, as tough as it is sometimes to cover the $1200 a month I spend on my lavish lifestyle here in the Conch Republic amongst the rich and powerful, I sleep damn good at night. Why? Because I know that every dollar I spend goes to something that provides me with a tangible return. The rent keeps my boat in a safe place, (at least for now). The food budget keeps the cats and my belly full. The internet keeps an income coming in for me. The rest is so minuscule as to not even bother worrying about. Not one single dime of what I spend goes to something that I don’t get a return on. No interest going to mortgage companies, credit cards, nor banks. No fees for the “privilege” of doing business with somebody. I don’t have the stress of owing money to people that I borrowed money from in the first place for stuff that I don’t really need and is now no longer worth the money I borrowed to buy it in the first place. That makes a tremendous difference in quality of life. Remember that down the road when you are sitting at your fancy dining room table that you are still paying for on the credit card, sifting through the bills, trying to figger out how to pay the morgage, the car payment, the insurance, and the utility bills. All because you failed to learn from lessons past. I remember the pain, do you?

And as for me? I’ll be sleeping soundly in the v-berth, rocking gently on the waves…

Capt. Fritter

Until the next storm comes through anyways.

  3 Responses to “Have I Taught You Nothing?…”

  1. kudos!
    they’re building them here again too. it’s the only kind they build. stupid.
    they now think that anything under 3,000 square feet is “too small for us, really.”

  2. I have no plans to ever buy another house. Given that, I think the perfect house is one of those small, 3-bedroom, single level ones built right after WWII. One bedroom for the parents, one for the girls, one for the boys. Each one just big enough to support bunk beds if needed. An eat in kitchen. A living room. And a basement for the utilities including a washing machine and clothes line. No family NEEDS more than that. I will allow for a bath and a half if you plan to fill those bunk beds. I know more than one family who raised six kids in such a house so see no reason it couldn’t still be done.