Thursday, August 20, 2009


i've been really introspective lately. i'm not sure i'll even write fully about my thoughts at this point. probably because they aren't complete. my thoughts are definitely a work in progress. but i've been thinking about the way i live my life. and i've been seeing how things are very self imposed. what i mean is that i have things in my life that i think makes it more difficult to relax and just enjoy living. things that i've chosen to have in my life at this point, that have forced me to have to live a certain way... do certain things.. give most of my personal time to a job when the person that needs it at most, ends up being the one who sees me the least.

i know a lot of us do that, but the thing is... we don't have too. we choose too.

buying a house that was "affordable" by california standards, but still has an unbelievable monthly mortgage puts pressure on me and boyfriend that i can't even begin to express. we didn't have to do that, but we chose too. has it made our life any better to have this house? has our quality of life gone up from home ownership? in all honesty, i don't think so. all it's done is take the majority of my money and make me feel trapped and pressured on a daily basis. putting ourselves in a situation where we are "required" to bring home a certain amount of money each month just to pay for where we live has affected everything else in our lives.

and it's weird because sometimes i'm torn.

i seem to be fully aware that we have brought this upon ourselves. and so when i think about accepting change into our lives- to achieve more balance- home ownership (at least in this state for the most part) seems to be the first thing that needs to go... unless we want to continue this vicious cycle. and trust me when i say that, it is vicious. i don't know. i'm just thinking about lots of things lately.. unsure about some of them.. questioning others..

like i said, it's a work in progress..


Angry Julie Monday said...

Ms. Jennster,

We have this discussion in our house all the time. We seriously pay out almost $4K a month to live in 1100 sq. foot in So. Cal. OH my fucking god, that's a lot of money.

I like the fact that I get to paint, decorate, etc. but is it really worth all of that.

I told my mom recently, that sometimes I wouldn't mind just walking away. She completely FREAKED out. Like screaming at me. I told her, it's not like how it was when you got married, etc. In the 70's and 80's the ultimate quest was to buy a house, own land.

I could care less. Tax deduction, yea okay. But sometimes, I feel that we have no freedom. We can't afford to travel, do things, etc. because we are stuck with the huge debt. Yes, we got into this ourself.

But now, 4 yrs later, I recently faced a 5% pay cut, and who knows what else? I pay over $200 a month in HOA fees, etc.

I def. will not judge anyone who walks away....that's just me. Because I'm there, I'm soo there.

Audrey at Barking Mad! said...

I'm so glad you wrote this, although you risk raising the hackles on all the people who will say, "Well she knew what she was getting into when she bought the house and signed the note!" You know the ones I'm talking about.

Having said that...I think A LOT of people are having this discussion, either on an introspective level, or with their partners/spouses because there seems to be this realization that there is MORE to life than the things money can buy, and, is it really going to be worth it in the end? Are you going to be able to look back and say, "Gee, I'm really glad I worked all those hours (or at a job you don't like, you can insert any reason here). After all, I only missed a few major milestones in my child's life.."

I'm not suggesting ANYONE walk away from a debt or obligation. Not in the least. But I think people make decisions when it seems ideal and then things change. Shit happens. Our priorities realign.

This is just one of the reasons I'm glad I no longer live in So Cal. Believe me, it's not cheap where we are in Maine...add to that the fact that we are in a pricey neighborhood and surrounded by foreclosures. Our home lost close to $100K in value in the last YEAR alone and the city won't reassess our taxes. We don't stand a chance of regaining any of that value any time soon either...not with the local Naval Air Base shutting down in mere months. It's a major employer around here and a lot of those people are walking away from their homes because they can't sell their home for anything close to what they bought it for.

I love Maine. I love raising Gaby here and I love the quality of life here. But it's not an easy place to live...or MAKE a living!

Jenn...whatever decision YOU make will be the right one!

jennster said...

julie.. totally. you feel me. i have thought about the fact that we just got ourselves into a 30 year loan right? what, we're going to have the damn thing paid off and then we're going to die. there's no way that if i want/need to retire before the loan is paid off that we would have enough money to pay the house payment. THEN WHAT???! i don't feel that owning a house has made us a stronger family. i actually feel more resentful and bitter than anything. and fucking trapped. and like all of my time is spent at work and I HAVE TO DO IT because lord help us if i don't work at this job and make this kind of money then we will lose the house. you know? the presssssure!!! it hurts.

and if 1 more person talks to me about the tax deduction, my head is going to explode. i don't know about you, but our tax deduction was a joke and what we got back last year on taxes was definitely not enough to make me do cartwheels or anything. hell, i got more money back at the end of the year when i was a single mom.

*deep breath*

thank you SO much for writing.

jennster said...

audrey.. THANK YOU so much for writing too. i am loving the deep, and honest thoughts and sharing. truly. when i think about moving back to so cal, it makes me happy, but i also do not want to get into the same exact predicament that we're in up in nor cal. i don't want to repeat this cycle of feeling trapped, and all the money goes to a house. i kind of just want to LIVE LIFE and live it as carefree and happy and stressless as possible. i'm not sure you can do that owning a home in this state anymore, you know? and i'm not sure that i want my entire life to be about working to pay for a house, when i would be perfectly happy renting a really nice place that someone else ultimately fixes if there's a problem.
now that's not to say that i would want to pay rent on a place that is anywhere near the amount of a mortgage, you know? that defeats the whole purpose.

Sober Mommy said...

Although I don't live in So Cal I do relate to your comments on feeling like you are working for a house AND that you know that you got yourself into the situation.

Oh, how I know..

I've thought long and hard about walking away as well - in fact I thought it just this morning. The problem was that although I could walk away most of the problems wouldn't walk away with me.

We (my dh and I) had to put ourselves on get out of debt program and hopefully, in 2011 we'll be down to just the mortgage but I know, until that time happens, that I'll feel your pain if not daily, then weekly...

Hugs to you!

NGS said...

Reading stuff like this makes me so glad I have never bought a house. So many people judged my husband and I for continuing to rent (as we were looking at the place we eventually wound up renting the MAIL LADY for the building walked up to us and told us we should be buying instead of renting - WTF?! - she knew nothing about our financial situation), but the truth is that we are not in a financial situation to do so. We live semester to semester. I read in a magazine somewhere that if you're thinking about buying a home before you're 40, you should really think twice and three times and four times before leaping in. Thanks for just reiterating that for me!!

CAT said...

I totally understand.........your concerns are the number one reason why we DIDNT buy in California. Chris has a great job but there was NO WAY we'd ever be able to afford something decent in Cali without killing ourselves. IMO....and this is just me--if you can walk away, for fucks sake WALK AWAY.

Alison said...

By "walking away" I hope your commenters are not telling you to literally walk away from the house. I can understand not wanting to pay the mortgage on it, but I know that right now you can afford it (maybe some readers don't realize that). Sell the house and find something to rent that is more affordable and comfortable. If you "walk away" from it, you'll be even more miserable when you see your credit scores.

jennster said...

i would never just walk away from it, but i would totally sell it and then maybe have some cushion for LIFE and living it, ya know? :)

Grand Pooba said...

Living pay check to pay check is definately no way to live. I've been there! If the fact that you have a house that you love isn't enough to make you feel right about paying for it then I don't think it makes sense to keep it.

norcalgirl28 said...

We have the "why do we pay so much to live in this county" discussion all the time. But then we think about the affordable places to live and wonder if we would WANT to live there and we can't think of anywhere else we would WANT to live. It really makes me feel completely stupid though when I watch House Hunters and see what you can get in other parts of the country. Like we could sell our house and pay cash for a house twice the size somewhere else. Doesn't that make us kind of stupid?? I actually thought of you the other day. There are two "bank owned" beautiful townhouses about a block away from your old house. I was just wondering how much they cost and if you could have bought one of those houses. It's all timing and there was no way to see any of this coming. Frank actually wanted to sell the house in December of 2007 when it was, literally, worth almost $275,000.00more than it is now and I thought he was crazy. He wanted to sit tight and buy again in two years. Who would have possibly imagined he would be right? You know what the inside of my house looks like...everyday I walk in and I think, how is this worth it if I can't afford to furnish it, replace the floor coverings, etc? I think people in other parts of the country think people in our counties are completely nuts..and maybe they are right. I completely understand where you are coming from. Hang in there my love. p.s. We are going to invite ourselves up one of these days. We will bring the pizza!!

norcalgirl28 said...

p.s. Sorry about rambling, this post just hit close to home.

jennster said...

norcal- i love the rambling!! it's crazy, it really is.. but so many things get wrapped up in 1 thing...

YES PLEASE COME UP!!!!! PLEASE! just let me know when! we would love to see you guys!!!!! :)

Lara said...

Nothing wrong with a little introspection. In fact, it's very healthy and helpful. :)

Donna Steinhorn said...

It's good to be introspective. And it sounds like you've made the decision to being to live a life of choice, rather than settling for the status quo or what's expected.

I'd suggest that the next thing you do is identify what you do want for your life...what do you value (freedom? convenience? culture?) When you can identify the things that are really important in your life, you can then begin to make choices that serve you. And by doing that you create a life that is not only uniquely yours, but is more likely to lead to genuine happiness. And isn't that really what we all want?

Keep up the good thoughts. Donna

corrin said...

Wow - my husband and I are saving and praying to be able to buy a house this spring. The responsibility and the commitment makes us both nervous but we know we'll be much happier and we think that happiness will improve our quality of life.

I can absolutely understand how not everyone would have that same feeling. Especially when their house payment is more than my husband and I combined make in a month. I'm seriously seeing stars just thinking about writing a check for $4k every month.

Anonymous said...

My sister and husband have been going through this for the last 6 months..they realized after they bought the house how actually unhappy they have become. With 3 kids and basically not a lot of extra they decided to get rid of the house and downsize. Life has been a lot better since then. Good luck girl.....don't let a "house" harsh your mello girl!!!!!

Anne said...

Hey Jenn,

Nothing wrong with being introspective - it's a part of life! Although not in exactly the same boat, I feel trapped at a job I no longer enjoy. I was emotionally split when they offered me an extension - rage that I have to stay, and a moral obligation to bring in money so we don't get behind on things.

There is definitely more to life than working long hours to prove yourself at a job. But there is definitely also something to having a happy home, whether you rent or buy. You just have to find the right balance for YOU, regardless of what the conventional rules of society tell you.

I mean... back to the job thing. I had a job I didn't like, so I quit. My parents sort of understood, but then again they were of the mindset that a job is a valuable asset, and if you're not up to snuff you'll get fired and the company doesn't care because there's 12 people waiting in line for work. Well, I'm on the mindset that it's my life and I need to be happy.

It's a mentality thing... I joke around with Jim's fiancee that you seem like you always have it all figured out, so you'll get there!