Picture this… A young family moves from LA to Nashville to be able to increase their standard of living by moving to a place where they can make more money and enter a better housing market, and ultimately…. put their dreams on hold.
Huh? This makes no sense. To most people.
I love California. I’m so glad in 2011 I grabbed a couple duffle bags and road tripped west. You know a place feels like home based on the emotions you have while your plane is landing. Catching a view from the sky with 15 minutes left before touchdown says it all. It took a year to feel that way about LA. The grip of Indiana started to drift away pretty quickly.
So moving to Nashville was huge for us, and big reason was the dream to own a home (I’m not ready to talk about the movie dream quite yet… some blogpost soon). Ideally, it would be bigger than a Cracker-Jack box, and preferably not in gang neighborhoods or in El Centro (aka why we left SoCal). We felt moving to the middle of the US would give us that, as well as a lower our cost of living and raising our income.
“Yeah, we’re renting for a year, then we will buy after the lease is up. You know, learn the area; Make sure it’s a good fit. Find the right place we want to be in for 5 years.”
We retold this line over and over again during the moving process. I slept-walked this talk in circles with our family and friends asking us about the new adventure. One year of renting, then buy-buy-buy!
Then last week we decided… yeah we need more time…
Not because we are the type of millennials that want to travel the world doing a global fair-trade coffee tasting circuit.
It’s because of a decision I made when I was 18, 19, 20 years old.
Also at 23 when I chose to leave my job in Atlanta.
As well as living in spare bedrooms, garage’s, and on couches being a freelancer in LA.
And mostly because I wanted to just keep kicking my responsibilities farther down the road.
‘Till I realized this was absurd; I can’t keep doing this. And I can either move it down farther when our housing also goes up with a home-purchase (further exacerbating this issue of not keeping any of the money we make) or we can pause the dream and get it paid off now.
The biggest moment came when I started cutting these interviews. Just average Joe’s who did the right things, stayed out of debt, and built wealth to become millionaires. Hearing them talk about the path they took was enlightening. So much of their focus was on accumulating, building, saving. It was their biggest tool to growth. And we were handing out a huge chunk every month to people I don’t know or like for something I got years ago.
These were our immediate objectives (in order):
#1 Pay off $5,000 government debt.
#2 Pay off $25,000 student loan (AND DEBT FREE!).
#3 Save a healthy emergency fund ($15k-20k).
#4 Save for a downpayment.
When I crunched just my income from my full-time job, plus the gigs I had already shot and just needed to deliver, I could see we needed more than 1 year to do it all. #1 could be done by January, and the student loan could be gone in 2 years. The last two would take a year a piece.
So we are talking about moving our dream back 3 years.
I know what you might be thinking. “What will happen to the housing market in that time? What if housing prices skyrocket? Why would you want to rent for that long? Everyone has a student loan, and sometimes larger, so why not do what everyone else does?”
Because I’m the guy who wants to do everything, I don’t want to put my dreams on hold. But in reality, I’m amazingly more efficient focusing on one. I’d much rather edit all day on a feature film than have to come up with the idea, script it, produce, shoot, direct, sound record, then edit, deliver, etc. By the time i get to editing the joint, all I want is for it to be over. Too much is going on in my head while the camera is rolling to really get the best out of an interview or an actor. Sit me down with a hard drive and let me work.
So why wouldn’t this work the same way financially? My initial instinct is to have my cake and eat it. I’ll shove a little bit here towards debt (the minimum), increase my rent by purchasing a home, but we have no money if ANYTHING goes wrong with the house (cause no one ever hides stuff in the inspection). Plus, forget about living your life with margin. It’s all gone. Everything better work the first time.
Oh, and say goodbye to any sort of wealth building you control. It’s been 10 years since the housing crisis, and are you that keen on the economy keeping up that we won’t see housing values go down again? It felt like my entire college senior seminar was spent discussing how we were entering the worst job market in decades and houses were crashing into the ocean. In 10 years, that fear hasn’t gone away.
Do we know what’s gonna happen in 4 years to the housing market? Nope. No one does. And every time I hear a real-estate agent tell me how there’s no crash in site, I’m reminded that it’s their job to be rosy about the market when they are the ones making a profit off it BEING a nice plump shade of pink.
I want to do this thing I’ve never done in 31 years of my life… actually BUILD wealth. Not spend it away. If I’m chucking away several Benjamin’s for the next decade while hoping I don’t get cut holding onto the edge of this blade, how am I going to build anything?
Why not just do things one at a time? We can put our dreams on hold.