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  1. #1
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Default Smaller home, fewer vehicles, more disposable income.

    I'm pretty new to this whole thing of living alone in an apartment and having a job. I'm certainly discontented with my current situation and I've been thinking a lot about what to aim for. If I can progress, how would I rather be living than now?

    As I look at what appears to be the norm for American ambitions, I see a lot of things that I don't like. What's really struck me are these two things: The enormity of the houses and the quantity of vehicles. You can add some other things, like the size of the yards, or the newness or gas consumption of said vehicles. What the result in that bothers me so much, is a total consumption of income. It seems to me that however large a person's or couple's income is, they will always expand the amount they invest in home and vehicle to scale. There are a few other kinds of massive investments, like property that isn't primary residence, various subscriptions to services, and so forth that strike me in a similar manner, but the house and vehicle is the most standard thing.

    My INTJ brother and his SO live in Harrisburg like me and are making a combined income of at least $80,000 a year. I don't know exactly what it is, but it is at the very minimum that much ($100,000 would not surprise me). They are only two people and will not have children. But the have a house with 8 rooms, attic and basement, a decently sized yard with driveway and shed. While one has a job from home and the other has a job that can be reached by bike or bus, they own three automobiles, one of which is a titanic gas guzzling van. The best thing they do with their money is invest it in a huge plot of land in northern NY where they have been slowly turning virtual wilderness into a place with a house. That could potentially be really cool, but it's a big investment and a distant goal.

    They are very anxious about money. They always act strapped for cash. I look at this, and I think about what it would be like if I were making $80,000 a year while still living in this apartment without a car. I'd have an absurd amount of disposable income, and you know what? I think I'd be happier than they are.

    Now, I don't want to stay like this forever, especially since I want a spouse and even I think this place is way too tiny for two people. Also, for two people to have jobs that pay like that without even one car is pretty rare. But still, I see no reason to get anything more than a single bedroom apartment and one tiny, high gas mileage car, especially considering I probably won't have children (very important point). And even two people living in those conditions here or in Pittsburgh would still have a lot of disposable income at $80,000 to $100,000 annually. And it wouldn't stop there. I don't know how large our income would have to become before I'd be interested in making those investments, because really, would I appreciate passively having a big home, or a big yard, or the convenience of multiple cars, as much as I would appreciate all of that disposable income?

    Think about it. Never again would I have to think about buying some food and suddenly changing my mind because its frivolous. I could have acai smoothies and lobster every damn day if I wanted. I could make my place an oven in the winter and freezer in the summer. I could travel to another country on a whim. And emergencies wouldn't seem so scary anymore, because I'd probably have the money to cover it. And there's just freedom that nagging question of whether or not you can make your recurring payments and how much will be left over. Wherever that point is, I'd sooner aspire to living like that than getting out of a small apartment.

    I think people are missing out on a lot of indulgences in life this way. I think people are sort of imprisoning themselves in their own massive investments. The more I think about this, the better an idea it sounds like. The main question in it for me is if I can find an SO would be comfortable with it the way I am, or if I get stuck with someone who's into that whole big house, three car thing.

    If you actually read this far, what do you think? Are you feeling me or do you still side with the more conventional view. The answer probably makes more sense if you also won't have kids, because I understand this idea is less realistic for those with children, though the concept is still applicable, it just starts at a much higher bar.

    Also, how many people do you think have similar thoughts to mine? Am I actually pretty common, or really anomalous?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member ubiquitous1's Avatar
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    I agree with you. For me, small living offers a better quality of life. However, it seems a lot of people prefer quantity over quality, probably because we are taught "bigger is better." However, there is a significant segment of the population that is bucking this trend, and with the "green" movement gaining in popularity, I expect to see this segment grow. You may be interested in checking out this book/forum regarding this topic.

  3. #3
    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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  4. #4
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    I am like you. I think having a big empty house and multiple vehicles is not only wasteful but entirely absurd if it means all of your money is going into mortgage, gas, and car payments, and you have little disposible income.

    I used to know this couple who lived in a big house in a nice neighborhood in Las Vegas, and they drank shitty beer and ate cheap food.

    WTF. I'd seriously rather live small and enjoy my life.

    Everyone does with their money what they value the most, and I don't especially value status symbols for the sake of having status symbols. In fact, I think it's pretty fucking retarded.

    On the other hand, if money were no object, I would have a big historical home - but that's because I have artistic interest in restoring a Victorian or Georgian mansion, and have had that interest since childhood.

    However, I would not sacrifice my quality of life if my income was too low to buy/restore something like that and also live comfortably.

    When people who make as much money as your relatives act strapped for cash, it seriously makes me want to puke or slap somebody - usually both.

  5. #5
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    MP, I feel EXACTLY the way you do. I always feel a little bit sick when I think about how stupid it is for people to drive around a couple of those gas-guzzling vehicles, and live in a huge house, and then complain that they don't have any money.

    I mean, I can understand worrying about status. I can understand wanting your kids to have a good life... but all of this seems excessive and wasteful. It's not necessary to go to those extremes. Sadly, I think that that standard of living will not be sustainable for much longer, the way our economy is going. People are going to be forced to figure out how to live within their means, and it's going to hurt. I think too many people have been living on debt.

  6. #6
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    There was mention of 8 rooms. Do you mean bedrooms? If not, that might be 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and dining room which isn't that large. If they plan to have children within the next few years, it would make sense to buy this size of home.

    But I do agree that overextending yourself isn't practical. For sure, three vehicles for two individuals is too much particularly with the amount of income they're jointly earning. Now double their salary and we're talking another ballgame. Even then, while they can afford it, why have the third vehicle unless it's a bike or if they're into camping, an RV.

  7. #7
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    He said they will not have children.

    People like that are annoying because they live beyond their means , even when other people are acutely aware of just how much wealth those people actually have.

    I just do not get that mindset, at all. But whatever.

    I used to believe a lot of things I'm opposed to in American society were SJ, but more and more I'm realizing they're NTJ things too...like wanting status and power.

    Poor SJs, gettin' a bad rap...but that's another thread.

  8. #8
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I also agree with the OP. I just want to make enough to live a comfortable existence and have enough extra entertainment expenses so I can freely pursue my interests (which are cheap anyway) and have enough to cover for emergencies without having to worry about being financially strapped.

    I live alone so I don't need the huge house and multiple vehicles. I have a one bedroom apartment which suits me just fine. If I made more I'd probably upgrade to a two bedroom apartment but I don't even see a need to have a house, which alot of people use as a marker of financial success. I have one small compact car which I'm happy with. I just want something that runs and will take me from point A to point B. If more public transportation was available I'd seriously consider getting rid of the thing altogether. I'm not much of a trend follower, so I don't see the need to overhaul my wardrobe every few months. That saves alot of money. I rarely watch movies in the theatre. I usually wait until they are available on Netflix or rent it from the library for free.

    I only make a modest income, about $25,000 a year but its enough for me to live comfortably. Besides my student loans, I don't have any debt to deal with.
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  9. #9
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    Financial concerns aside, who wants to deal with the misery of having to take care of a huge house? Thanks, but no thanks.

  10. #10
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    Okay, so there are no children in the future. Any idea when they purchased the home? If it was purchased at the lowest real estate point during and post the sub-prime craziness, when people were being foreclosed, it might have been an excellent investment opportunity. Same goes for the non-residential property.

    But since vehicles are substantially depreciating assets, not worth the initial cost (cash, loan or lease and interest), annual insurance and all maintenance costs. Get rid of one vehicle and their overextension might be partially alleviated.

    Poor cash flow management.

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