Personal Responsibility

My husband and I just found out our rent is going up…again. A two bedroom apartment is now going to cost us over $1,000 a month. Yes, to rent. I look at myself and where I am in my life (30 years old, three kids) and think, “Why don’t I have a house yet?” and then I’m reminded I got a bit of a late start in my married life.

You see, one month after my husband and I got married, he got his deployment orders to Iraq. We already had a toddler (we did things a bit “out of order”) and were in our mid twenties. With his service in the Army, we didn’t really want to buy at that time because he had been talking about going active duty (he was in the reserves). So the year he was in Iraq, that accounts for one more year of my mid-late twenties.

EVERYONE was buying houses then. Even those who didn’t qualify. I had been saving money for a decent down payment, even though I knew we would qualify for a VA loan. And yes, I could have bought a house while he was overseas, but I didn’t think that would be fair to him.

Plus, I had a bit of mortgage experience under my belt. The balloon and adjustable rate mortgages everyone was getting was something I knew I couldn’t do. Sure, we could afford $800 a month now, but in a few years when the payments go up to $2000? No.

Some of my friends got in to some really, really nice houses. REALLY nice. Meanwhile, we continued to rent. Some of my friends are still in some really, really nice houses. And some of my friends aren’t paying their mortgage…because they can’t afford it. All too often I hear, “it takes a year for them to foreclose on us, so what’s the point.” So they’re living in their really really nice house, driving a car that the house payments could go in to (again, really, really nice) and not having to clip coupons.

My husband and I, on the other hand, are having to rent. Our rent is going up and the crazy thing about it all, if we don’t pay our rent for one month, we’re homeless. Is that fair?

We decided to focus on the mistakes we made in our early 20’s (read: credit cards) and are two months from having them ALL paid off. We no longer have a car loan as we finished paying it off last year. Yes, our little Corolla is a little cramped in the back with three car seats across and my mini-van was built before I even had a permit (1993) but we own them. They’re bought and paid for. No car debt.

On my way to a school board meeting (to discuss the barn), I drove past a house that was for sale and fell in love. We walked through it yesterday and were amazed. It. Was. PERFECT. 4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a big backyard and the tree in the back even had a tree house!!

So we’ve started the pre-approval process and we’re learning quick that our “smart” decision to close our credit card accounts and pay them off, wasn’t so smart. We don’t have any debt (except for student loans) and that’s an issue? No debt, in my mind, is a good thing.

I feel like I’ve been punished for making decisions that I thought were right. Obviously if we can and do make a rent payment over 900 (and going up) a month, we can afford a house payment of the same. It is frustrating learning that my decision to know what I could and couldn’t afford, and being responsible is now coming back to bite me in the—well, you know.

The system is skewed. People should be rewarded for personal responsibility, not punished. I’m not saying this whole effort has made me lose that lesson, either. Come hell or high water, I’m still going to hold myself personally responsible for my decisions. Which is another reason why we had a toddler at our wedding. We chose to have pre-marital sex, conceived a child and had him. It wasn’t his fault. It was our choice. And he’s going to kindergarten next year.

I just hope that he can attend the kindergarten that is in our backyard (yes, the dream house back yard faces the playground to an elementary school).

And I’m teaching my children the same lessons. You MUST be responsible for your actions, your choices and yourself. In my mind, that’s good parenting. No matter what the mortgage system says.