Oddments: Feeling Thankful

We finally closed on our new house the week before Thanksgiving, finalizing my move back to Appalachia (although I’d already been in my empty apartment for a couple months).  This is our third house, and we are still in our thirties.  Which probably isn’t that impressive.  Even these days, the age of the average first-time homebuyer is only 32.  The three houses thing is mostly a function of repeatedly moving across the country.  I am proud that we went from 5% down to 10% to 20% down.

Dave Ramsey is fond of saying that young couples want to start with the standard of living it took their parents 35 years to build.  It is a good point, and a lot of people need to hear it.  But I exceeded my parents’ standard of living the day I walked out of grad school.  I’ve been broke since then, but I haven’t been poor.  Broke and poor aren’t the same thing.  I’ve been well off, broke, and poor—there is a very clear hierarchy among the three.

I’ve never lived the way my parents did.  Doing it as a kid isn’t the same.

I feel a little ashamed about that.  Well, shame isn’t the right word.  It wasn’t like I won the lottery or married into money.  I went to school, I borrowed money to go to school again, I worked, I paid off my loans, I lived within my means and saved and saved some more.  I can’t say I’m not entitled to it.

Which is not quite the same as saying I merit it.  Rawls is right; to the extent success is a function of intelligence, it isn’t merited.  How is a return from brains you inherited any different from a return on capital you inherited?  And I can recognize the role of luck in all this.  Most of all, I was enormously lucky to grow up in a stable, two-parent home.  And I have not (yet) suffered a real financial kick in the teeth as an adult.  I can hedge against that; I cannot eliminate the risk entirely.

I don’t want to overly romanticize the grind.  But I won’t pretend it is without its romance, either.  At least if there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Like Corb Lund, I did my share of starving in the city.  I wouldn’t voluntarily go back to that, but I do feel like I missed out on something doing it only as a single guy, not a family man.  So it was nice to pretend for a week, sharing one bathroom with my wife and toddler and dog in a little apartment for a week.

And who could resist that pic?

2 thoughts on “Oddments: Feeling Thankful

  1. It’s true we inherit most of our intelligence, but I’ve seen a lot of intelligent people do stupid and irresponsible things. You worked and saved and planned, and now you’re making your family proud. You have earned the right to feel proud of your current situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: December 2020 Month-in-Review and 2020 Year-in-Review | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

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