Watching HGTV, I can’t help but wonder at which point we (as a cumulative nationwide population) became idiots?
Sounds harsh of course, but seriously as consumers we seem to have become absolute imbeciles.
I’m currently watching an episode of House Hunters or My First Place or one of those regurgitations of the the same exact theme. in this episode someone is looking for their first “starter home” at $250,000.
At which point did we start viewing houses (much less those costing a quarter million dollars) as “starter homes”??
This whole idea of a starter home is insane. Why would you buy a home — a purchase that most people have to sign a promissory note based on 30 years of their income with the intention of treating it as a temporary asset?
OK, now this idea of buying a house and then reselling it in a few years can certainly make sense in some ways. But for me, it would be a situation like buying a house in say the Ivy League area of Alexandria for under $60k fixing it up while I lived there for a few years and then selling it for close to a hundred — an investment that also meet housing needs.
But that’s not what most of these guys I hear about are doing. They are buying a house that they can barely afford (or not afford) that they don’t necessarily like and treating it as a housing band-aid with the hopes of making just enough money a few years down the road to be able to buy another house they don’t necessarily like in a sort of odd stepping stone approach to getting the home they want.
Going into Wal-Mart tells me that it’s not just a housing thing. Everywhere you look you can find fairly crappy products whether it be furniture or electronics or what have you that people seem to be buying with the intend of throwing it away and replacing it with what they really want as soon as they can afford it.
I see this with cars too. Well I see it with a lot of things. The thing I can’t quite understand is where and when such asinine consumer mentality became the norm.
There are certainly some issues at play that I can think of. In the case of housing, home prices have risen much quicker than incomes (especially in Central Louisiana where incomes are effectively much lower than 30 years ago). Landlords generally charge exorbitant amounts for rents in our area (especially compared to real estate prices). And access to lending is nowhere near as fair and easy as it was for previous generations. So that could definitely be skewing the house-buying process, but the logic of “settling” for something that is meant to be a long term asset is still strange to say the least.
With the current average worker being a member of the first generation expected to do nowhere near as well economically as his parents, and with many young professionals unable to secure employment that even approaches the quality of life he grew up with, I can see where some of the other spending comes from.
When you simply cannot afford to live in a way that you grew up being told would be the norm for you (or even in the way that was the norm for you growing up), I can see where people would want to buy something (even if at a lower quality) that helps approximate the lifestyle they feel they are supposed to have.
Observations like this often solicit decrying descriptors such as “the entitlement generation”, but why is it that a generation expecting to be able to have a standard of living on par with their parents’ really an entitlement.
There are certainly some of every generation that do well and some who do not, but there are some strange things happening with our economy and our spending habits that beg the question of what has gone wrong in the last 20-30 years?
How did we go from the personal potential for prosperity and growing middle class of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s to the lack of opportunity that began to appear in the 80’s to the demand for more and more education and training in the 90’s to the 2000’s where none of that education or training seems to really matter in the grand scheme of things?
…and how did we become such idiotic consumers?