Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hurray for the Housing Slump!

Okay people listen up! Owning a home does not make you smarter, better, cooler, prettier, or thinner. This whole mortgage meltdown or economic slowdown or recession….whatever you want to call it…is what some people deserve.

I know you are thinking wow that is harsh. Really, really, have you read my blog?

Moving on with some background information, I used to work in the mortgage industry. Specifically with home equity lines of credit and home equity loans. Quickly for those unfamiliar those types of loans; they are generally a second mortgage, where in essence the person or people are taking any equity “money invested” in their home and sucking it out for a fee (read interest payments) and to use it for something else.

The most common way I saw people using this “money” was to pay off credit cards. Now in theory taking out a mortgage or loan at 3% (which was the rate when I was working) to pay of credit cards that are at 16% makes good fiscal sense. The fly in this ointment comes when that nice little home equity loan is actually an adjustable rate mortgage and you happen to pay off those credit card bills, and then just run them right back up. Now that is the pickle! You have taken “value” out of your home, increased your mortgage payments (which can adjust monthly) and then spent more money so you end up worse off than you were.

Compounding this issue is that now these people can’t even sell these homes to get out from under the double mortgages they have created. Why can’t they sell…well lenders have tightened their mortgage guidelines and people are feeling a recession and not buying homes. Again, what a pickle!

Well, back to my main point (yes I have one). I do not feel badly for these people. They were stupid. I know, I saw it first hand. I saw the paychecks, bank statements, credit card bills, car loans, student loans etc. that people were carrying and then increasing their payments for stupid reasons. Again, I will reiterate on paper it makes sense to take out a loan at 3% to pay something off at 16%. However, a credit card company cannot kick you out of your house. Yes, they can attack your credit, garnish your wages, sue you, or basically make your life hell, but they cannot seize your home. Keep in mind that if you can manage to make the monthly payment, you will be paying forever, but none of those other bad things will happen.

In addition to the home equity people, I also don’t feel bad for the adjustable rate first mortgage people. A lot of people who are in trouble now are people that should not have bought a home in the first place. Buying a home when you can’t come up with a down payment or you are buying a home that has a mortgage payment that is more than 30% of your monthly income is a BAD THING. People want to blame the mortgage companies, oh they are big meannies….we didn’t know any better.

Well ever heard of “buyer beware”? Yeah you may not know all of the ins and outs of mortgage law, but you should know that if you and your living partner make less than $100k a year you probably can’t afford a 800k home or even a 400k home.

When the mortgage company tells you the monthly payment and it seems really high it is your job to say hmmmm…..if we do that how will we buy food? Then your next thought should not be….well in a couple of years we will both make more money so we can scrimp for awhile…..because you won’t you will use credit cards for drapes, couches, paint, clothes, shoes, vacations, eventually food, electric, gas and anything else you can’t afford.

These are the people I don’t feel badly for. The people who looked down their noses at others those second class citizens “renters”. Well maybe these renters had the right idea, waiting till they could save some money to put down 20% or realizing that they really could not afford a mortgage on their salary and need to wait awhile to earn more money before burdening themselves with a huge payment. Who is laughing now?
I do feel badly for the people who are losing their jobs! That is something that affects all of us and is a very bad thing. I also feel very badly for the renters who are being evicted when their landlords can’t afford the mortgage and are being foreclosed on. These are the real victims in this “mortgage crisis” not the late 20 early 30 somethings that can’t afford their ballooning double mortgage costs on their McMansions

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Wonder Why Americans are Fat!

Pulling your fat little children in a super sized wagon isn’t helping to dispel the image of us being fat lazy Americans.

Maybe I should start at the beginning. This past weekend I attended the Big E! For those who don’t know this is the Eastern States Exposition and is held every year for two weeks in Sept. in West Springfield, MA. This event is really like three attractions rolled into one.

First there is the midway. This houses the usual carnival games and rickety rides. I don’t ride the rides because any type of equipment that is put assembled in under a week, then disassembled, trucked across the country and reassembled, just plain scares me. Sure if I have kids I will let them ride till they throw-up, just like my parents let me, but kids are smaller and they heal quicker than I do. Sorry, back to the point….

The second area is the boulevard of states. Here there are model state houses for each of the New England states. In each building there is tourist information, exhibits and my favorite……FOODs from each of the states. Some of the highlights are: Maine baked potatoes, MA apple crisp, Vermont fresh baked pizza, RI clam cakes (or fritters) and so on.

Finally there are a couple of buildings that don’t fit in either of these areas. One houses all types of agricultural displays, including giant pumpkins, baby chicks hatching, and piglets and their huge mama. The other buildings are very cool, one is called the Better Living Center and the name says it all. Within this building are gadgets and gizmos a plenty. This is where INFOMERCIALS COME TO LIFE! This year I purchased Sham WOW and I am completely satisfied that if my home filled with water I would easily be able to sop all of the water up with my new purchase. Why didn’t the give these out to the people of Louisiana, after Katrina, all of those homes would be dry as a bone?

Wow, that is a lot of info on the Big E! Anywho, moving on…..While at the Big E! I noticed a very disturbing pattern, which was kids being transported by their parents in huge wagons. I am not talking the old Radio Flyer small wagon that hurt your bum and tipped over when you pushed your sibling down a hill, but rather huge, padded, wide wheeled wagons. You could call them the Escalades of wagons. Why did this bother me so much? Well let me tell you why…the kids that were riding in these things were clearly too old to be in a stroller any longer. So, with that said, shouldn’t they be walking?

I know, I know, kids whine and get tired and ruin the shopping experience for adults, they wander and hide and run when not confined to a small area.

So, how did all of our parents manage the incredible challenge of allowing us to walk around without the benefit of a huge wagon with cup holders? Um, the let us walk around. That’s right I played outside and ran around, so when we went places……I could walk without getting tired. I am sure that sometimes I whined and I know my sister ran around and hid like a little fiend, but you know what happened then. My parents found us, told us not to do that and then held our hands. I know what you are asking yourself…..how in the world did they do that? (I hope you are picking up the sarcasm I am putting down)

Let me take a step back here and clarify some things. 1. I do not have kids, so how could I possibly have such a strong opinion? I don’t know what it is like---Well you know what, I was a kid once, my brother is 10 years younger than me, so I watched a lot of child rearing and I babysat a lot! I also have eyeballs and see that there are some very good parents out there with healthy well adjusted children, so I do believe it is possible.
2. I am not thin. However, this is my own fault. I was not overweight as a child or young adult. My parents did their job; I just fell off the regimen when I hit college and discovered midnight pizza delivery. 3. I am someone who has to deal with injured toes by these mammoth traveling living rooms and I don’t like it

Back to the parents: they managed to do that, because that was the way they were raised and they mirrored that behavior. I don’t know what happened between my parent’s generation and my generation but somewhere along the way my generation decided that rather than teach kids to support their own weight and carry their own burden, we would just throw money at the situation and buy something that would solve the problem for us….a huge freakin wagon. Just throw the kid in, shove some food, drink, and electronic device in their hands and you probably won’t have to deal with them for a couple of hours. Awesome!

In conclusion to this rant, I think that if kids were allowed to walk, run and play we as a society would be taking a positive step in changing our image in the eyes of the world to not be fat, lazy and uberconsumers. Expending the energy to parent your children and not just getting them to behave should be the goal and it would be a bigger gift to kids than a wagon so they can sit on their pampered little butts. So, that is all I have to say about that.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"A Woman's Right to Shoes" --Sex and the City

This episode of Sex and the City changed my life. It made me realize that I was not crazy. I have long envied "the brides" as they blissfully talked of filling out their wedding registries, while I sat there hoping that I could pull together a gift and still afford my rent, groceries, insurance, utilities, etc.

Then I started to wonder when it would be my turn. What if I never got married, would I never get any gifts despite my substantial financial investment in celebrating my friend's life choices. Yup, I said choices, not accomplishments. This is that sense of entitlement I referred to...you (bridex) have not accomplished anything. You didn't cure cancer, you didn't work hard and win an Olympic medal, you didn't study and earn a degree, hell you didn't even remodel anything, all you did was get some schmuck to agree to spend everyday with you (great for you, but I don't understand how that equates to multiple hundreds of dollars worth of gifts, not to mention time.)

Before "A Woman's Right to Shoes" I kept these feelings and thoughts deep within me in a dark place. A place of resentment and quiet contempt for brides. However, all of that changed when I saw this episode. I felt vindicated and free to feel my emotions.

Ms. Bradshaw:

"Think about it. If you are single, after graduation there isn't one occasion where people celebrate you. ... Hallmark doesn't make a "congratulations, you didn't marry the wrong guy" card. And where's the flatware for going on vacation alone?

I think my favorite part is when Carrie and Charlotte are walking and eating frozen yogurt and Carrie explains that she has probably spent nearly $2300.00 celebrating her particular friend's life choices and how dare that friend make her feel guilty for spending $485.00 on herself.

I think this rang so true for me because I have always lived on a budget, I don't overspend on myself and when I do, it is at most $100.00. But, then to think of all of the money that goes into the "pleasure of being part of someone's special day"...well that figure is a heck of a lot higher than $100.00---even when you are a just a guest and not a bridesmaid.

It makes me really mad. For one full year I would like to just spend my money on me! (xmas and bday gifts are excluded cuz those are reciprocal). I don't have kids or a mortgage or a husband, my money should be my own! (insert huffy hummmmphf here)

I will leave you with this closing remark from my dear Ms. Bradshaw:

"Its really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes--that's why you sometimes need really special shoes!"

The Meanest Girl in the World

I don't blame my parents for making me the "meanest girl in the world", I blame my college residential life staff. I blindly sat through their lectures and hungrily gobbled up their advice on making friends and ingraining myself in the college experience....and where did it get me?

It got me the title of "rent a bridesmaid". Sure it wasn't one of the women I befriended in college that dubbed me with the lovely title, but the brainwashing I endured put me on that path.

No one warned me that by being nice, fun, outgoing, friendly (modest), etc. would directly affect my future savings accounts, weekends, self esteem, and self worth. By this point you should be wondering what the crap this crazy woman is talking about, well I will tell you.

I am 29, I am not married (but in a long term relationship...more on that later), in the past 5 years I have attended more than 25 weddings (actually I have lost count or stopped counting), and have been a bridesmaid 4 times.

So what does that have to do with my college residential life staff, well they encouraged me to make friends, which I did, then after graduation I went on my merry way making friends as I went...then it began to happen....everyone started getting married and popping out kids.

For the sake of argument, I have no problem with marriage. I have a problem with the sense of entitlement that most women exhibit when they are in the processing of getting married. No longer does any conversation revolve around anything without somehow going back to "THE WEDDING". Every bride thinks she is the first person to ever get married.

I hate engaged women (there are a few exceptions, you know who you are :) they are spiteful, money grubbing witches who have no regard for anyone else except for what that particular person will buy off their registry. This is all I have to say now, but more will follow.

This framework is very important for reference because I will be expounding on this in the future, a lot.