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Debt gives an illusion of wealth.

I often get the following questions: "Why haven't you bought your own apartment yet?" or "Have you bought your own apartment?" You can call it a flat or a house, it is ownership vs. debt that is the key issue of this debate.
My responses to those questions vary. Sometimes I say that "Not everybody has to own to know that they have", sometimes I just sigh, smile and go my way.
What are TEDsters thoughts and experiences in this area?

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    May 8 2013: Anna, For many years the image of wealth was to have a fat wife. Be glad we got past that and smile.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      May 9 2013: Bob you sound so prophetic ! Now I know why I was never wealthy ;)
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    May 5 2013: Yes
  • May 11 2013: I am going to tell you a story of ours which is maybe boring or unadventurous but it is a true story nevertheless. Both my wife and I had no inheritance to speak of. And I had to start working at age of 14. But I had the good fortune that I was well treated and even accumulate some money to let me come to the U. S. for graduate study. During that period, I do part time work as teaching or research assistant sometimes up to 30 hours per week. So I was a hard working "money slave" as someone might say. But the important point here is that I had been always prepared to never get into debt even when I was just a poor student. And since that time till now that I have always been HAPPY and had never the mental anguish from any financial difficulties. After my graduation but before I found a faculty .position in a medical school in Cleveland. My wife and I got married and had a honeymoon in Niagara Falls. We had two kids and except when they were 14 and 16, we had few travel/sightseeing, except once we took a tour to Toronto and Montreal with our 2-year old son with us. But after that we had lot of tours all over the world and enjoyed our life. We bought our first house when we moved to Houston to take a job in the school of public health. And we moved several times until we finally built a house of our own. However, we are quite lucky that we moved from 3 houses before we built our own, and every time, we could increase the percentage of our down payments because of the appreciation from the house we sold. Our financial situations were always very stable and worry-free. We are not really rich, but we have never have mental anguish for our finances either. My wife and I are always happy and content and never have envy or the desire to "keep-up-with-the-Joneses". We have credit cards, but no debt.
    I happened to be a good money manager, and have been able to do some small scale, but no risky, investment to keep our retirement funds sufficient. This is my case.
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    May 8 2013: About 15 years ago, sitting in my study in darkness, as power was disconnected on account of failure to pay timely, I took a pair of scissors and cut four credit cards into halves and dumped those in the waste paper basket. Since then, I have made it a point of living on zero debt. When I look back, it appears that sky didn’t fall on me.

    Debt is a big word, some say, and you may not know how you are indebted always. But one can, with effort, live a life without spending money one hasn’t earned and for things one is not sure one needs honestly.

    With or without debt, wealth is an illusion. No wonder one would ‘stuff up’ life with things because it is difficult to live with emptiness, if simple pleasures of life, relationships, health and human dignity are not enough to live for.

    I technically own few things. It’s because our society defines it that way. Or else, I am a trustee, basically.
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      May 8 2013: Makes me think of a reality show I used to like and watch regularly. The name was Luksusfellen - Luxury Trap, describing how people are throw away their post for fear of having to face how warm thheir credit cards got on their holidays or whatever store or shop they went to. They had to learn the budget, get real and... move along. Pay their debt slowly with careful planning to prevent disaster. I don't know if this show is still on, my TV is waiting to be recycled.
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    May 6 2013: I think people love living a lie. Keeping up with the Jones' and a bit overrated.
    I know alot of people who are up to their ears in debt, because they want to appear to have 'everything' everybody else has. And they go home and have canned soup for dinner.

    It just depends what your priorities are I suppose. Some people are happy owning alot of stuff. The stuff defines who they are. Some people are happy owning a little.....but that little is good quality, and will last long, and has purpose and is useful.

    As far as owning property, well, sometimes you just can't. It's that simple.
    You can live to work, or you can work to live. The choice is always yours, and only yours to make.

    A simple life is the best life, for me, anyways.

    (I will add, that when we wanted to purchase property a few years ago, they were asking astronomical figures for property around here.....I laughed and said to my husband, "do they think people are stupid enough to pay these kinds of prices?".....Guess what? People are stupid. Now Florida has one of the largest Foreclosure figures in the nation.....I'm glad I am not a statistic :)....)
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        May 7 2013: In the words of another Tedster with her feet planted firmly on God's earth...."hear! hear!!"
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      May 8 2013: Thanks Mary.

      "do they think people are stupid enough to pay these kinds of prices?"

      Maybe those people should start playing the sims or other games where you can do anything you want for a price that is microscopic when compared to "real" estate. - stop at 2:35 :)