My wife and I just sold our house and were ecstatic that we almost broke even. It has been a serious a struggle to get to that point. We are what most people would consider to be conservative and responsible. We don't live beyond our means, for almost ten years I saved 12% of my income in my 401k.
But like millions of other Americans my wife and I were fooled and swindled. We paid way too much for our modest craftsman style bungalow just before the housing bubble exploded in 2008. Although I don't place the full blame on the financial or real estate industries the American public was undoubtedly misled and conditioned to put our fiscal sense aside and trust the lies we were being fed. Many of us did just that.
"Real estate is the safest investment" they promised.
"Your home will never lose value" they assured.
In hindsight we all know now that this was total bull$h!t. It was so alluring of a con that the con men started to believe it. Everybody was getting rich, on paper, even us little guys. Everyone was happy, until the whole scheme sank. The largest tragedy of it all was the con men got to keep their Italian loafers dry and board the life raft while the little guys were left to tread water and figure out how to save themselves.
In retrospect, we should've mailed back the keys to the mortgage company and walked away in 2008. If we did our credit would now have been almost fully repaired. Instead we put our lives on hold and spent the following seven years being as resourceful as possible to bail ourselves out of a $60,000 deficit between the market value of the house and what we owed the bank.
The housing crisis of 2008 set us back so far financially that it forced us to strive more than we normally would have. I started writing like a madman and finished the first in a trilogy of novels in late 2012. Shortly after self-publishing my first novel, Alarm Clock Dawn, I discovered James Altucher's book Choose Yourself and started listening to his podcasts, which have helped me immensely. His work taught me about multiple revenue streams and how to market myself and my writing in different ways. The knowledge lit a fire underneath me to finally take my twenty year dream of becoming a writer and turn it into reality. For that, I'm very thankful.
Like the generation who survived the Great Depression (which was far worse in every conceivable way) we came out on the other side of the housing crisis viewing the world very differently:
We value experiences more than things;
We're less trusting of government and authority;
We are more trusting in the Universe and are willing to accept and surrender to the experiences it presents us with;
Being in debt of any kind makes us nervous;
We are content with less; and
We're more empathetic to other people's struggles.
We're closing on the house in about a month and are looking for a small one bedroom apartment to rent for a year as we figure out where we go from here.
As the leaves are starting to blush in their vibrant fall colors we're taking our final walks with our beagle in the neighborhood we've called home for the last eight years. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't feel a tinge of melancholy and defeat but, to me, this seems more like a new beginning than the closing of a chapter. On some deep level I know that the slate of our previous life had to be wiped completely clean for us to build a life of true freedom.
There are two ways to look at it: 1. our future is uncertain; or 2. our options are wide open. I prefer the latter. Thankfully we have our health; we are rich in love, good friends, and everything that matters.
We have discussed becoming expats eventually or building a self-sustaining tiny home. I will definitely continue to pursue my writing with everything I've got.
I know we're not alone. There are probably hundreds of thousands of families who have gone through the same struggles. I can't help but wonder how the experience has changed them.
It's important to succeed...at the right things.
Could it be that we fail at the things that don't really fit into our life's plan so we can keep perfecting the parts of our lives that truly matter? I like to think so.
Having nothing left to lose makes it easier for a person to be ballsy. Like Babe Ruth pointing his bat towards the center field bleachers in Wrigley stadium, I predict my version of a home run..a best-seller. I have no college degree, no plan B, and meager savings but my head is overflowing with ideas and countless books yet to be written. I choose to write my own story. I choose myself.
There's no time like this very moment for us all to handcraft a dream uniquely our own.
~Eric Vance Walton~
Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's books on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Eric-Vance-Walton/e/B00B2OS082
© 2015 Eric Vance Walton