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Affordable and dangerous

Posted by columbiasc (veronative@aol.com) on
Thu, Oct 9, 08 at 20:08

On way my home from the grocery store tonight, I came past an older, affordable apartment complex. One of the buildings was completely engulfed in flames. I think those buildngs contain 8 or 10 units. So many people homeless in an instant. When the smoke and dust settles, I'm sure that part of the analysis will be that this complex was built prior to the current, stricter zoning laws and lacked adequate firewalls between the units.

I drove on home and turned on the TV to hear tonight's commentary on the financial crisis. Dow off another 600 points in a single day, world markets on the brink of collapse.

Both events hammered home the point (at least to me) that we (America) desperately needs to re-think it's attitudes on housing, consumption and credit.

Will any of this act as a catalyst and spark a shift in the collective mindset?

~Scott~


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Affordable and dangerous

Those who are still able to live on the brink with good jobs, credit and homes continue to play hard. I'm not sure how the current situation affects them or if they even see what is happening. Akin to knowing there are shelters and food lines, but how many of us look at one or are part of them to truely understand the significance.

The number of people who actually invest their income is quite low percentage wise. Those of us living on our investments and others working who do save are in deep trouble right now. We have been living the good life for quite some time. And I have been too, but not at an over consuptive level.

How many will continue to over buy, get everything they want on a whim, the best of the best? I still see many new cars just bought, plenty of them very expensive. The shopping malls are still filled with cars. So who are these people and what part of the economy are they? What is happening with the financial crisis has to eventually spill over onto them. When and how soon? Or when we get out of this will they not even know it happened? Our positions will take a long time to return to what was and affect us for what I believe could be tragic.

Comment regarding apartment fires. We have had 3 in the recent year, huge buildings all burned to the ground. They were arson, but as you mentioned....far from code to go down as fast as they did. But isn't code a requirement for these and inspected on a yearly basis? Probably a silly question. Rents have gone sky high here with so many foreclosures and tough to find affordable places. Can wonder how packed the old building are too. Beyond their code capacity.

My off the wall thinking is that every adult should have been given a piece of the bailout with the requirement they pay off their mortgage or buy a house, get rid of all debt and invest a huge percentage left. The mortages would then be done with, housing/building industry back and the money to those who invested in the first place. That $450,000 spent on a retreat could have saved a couple of families. But I'm not an economist and really have no clue.


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

Most people are still going along like there's nothing wrong here in this country. We could be in for a huge fall, and that is scary. We are NOT in debt for more than we have, we pay off our credit cards when we use them, we do not make little payments. I think the whole bail-out thing is unfair to normal people who are conscientious with their money and the way they live. We do not get any bail out of any sort, or a bonus for having done well, but those who have spent, spent, spent, and gotten in way over their heads are bailed out at our expense as our taxes keep going up and up.

I am reading, sporadicly the book "House Lust ~ America's Obsession with Our Homes" and it's terrible the way people just keep wanting bigger, bigger and bigger all to keep ahead of their peers. What happened to enjoying your own home for it's being uniquely yours no matter the size, etc. The fact that you are able to do this is a blessing.

I hope people wake up before it's too late. No one will be able to bail everyone out if the **** hits the fan and this country crashes.

Sorry to be down here this morning, but people have blinders on and don't seem to really care.

I try to have a positive outlook each day, but some days are harder than others when you read/see all that is going on around the world.

FlowerLady


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

Most people are still going along like there's nothing wrong here in this country. We could be in for a huge fall, and that is scary. We are NOT in debt for more than we have, we pay off our credit cards when we use them, we do not make little payments. I think the whole bail-out thing is unfair to normal people who are conscientious with their money and the way they live. We do not get any bail out of any sort, or a bonus for having done well, but those who have spent, spent, spent, and gotten in way over their heads are bailed out at our expense as our taxes keep going up and up.

I am reading, sporadicly the book "House Lust ~ America's Obsession with Our Homes" and it's terrible the way people just keep wanting bigger, bigger and bigger all to keep ahead of their peers. What happened to enjoying your own home for it's being uniquely yours no matter the size, etc. The fact that you are able to do this is a blessing.

I hope people wake up before it's too late. No one will be able to bail everyone out if the **** hits the fan and this country crashes.

Sorry to be down here this morning, but people have blinders on and don't seem to really care.

I try to have a positive outlook each day, but some days are harder than others when you read/see all that is going on around the world.

FlowerLady


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RE: Affordable and dangerous -oops

Don't know how this got posted twice. Sorry about that.

FlowerLady


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

APATHY is the most rampant disease in America!

Soooo many people have NO time to watch the news & look at you like you're from outer space when you mention writing Senators/Congressperson -most have no clue WHO they are... Ballgame, Championship Fight or favorite Sitcom is coming on, don't cha' know?

The USA can't recover for years & years...if ever from this blowout. And there's going to be a huge learning curve for those who never lived below their means to pay their bills, prepared home made meals of beans 'n cornbread, made a chicken stretch to fix two meals, grow a garden & can veggies, do without disposable diapers, hiney wipes 'n paper towels by the case. A friend recently said, "Why not save gas for a trip to the store to buy diapers? Just use a dollar bill & toss it in the trash!" LOL.

Suzi


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

The good news is that there turned out to be no casualties in the fire. Five familes had whatever possessions they owned inside the buildings destroyed. At the "lower end" market, probably uninsured. I tired calling the Red Cross to offer overnight housing, it was after hours, could only leave a message.

Many of those mall-dwellers you mentioned are living on credit. Not trying to be classist here, but look around at some of the lower end neighborhoods, lots of new cars. Their lifestyles are about to change. The new credit reality is that if you don't have a really good credit score, forget it! Ford stock is trading at the same level as it was in 1950. Ford and GM may not survive. Why? Too much reliance on borrowed money, either by the firms themselves or banking on their buyers being able to liberally borrower.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no angel. Due to some bad decisions during a failed marriage I got off track too. Not as bad as most. But I know what has to be done and am willing to adjust my lifestyle to get back to where I should be. The "market" hits are just dragging down my retirement accumalation right now, not affecting current living standard. Not yet. I manage the mortgage department for a small bank. I successfully convinced my bank to stay away from the "toxic loans" we are hearing about today. Still, we rely on activity to be profitable and activity is down to a trickle. Don't know how much longer I will be employed. That's when the pain will really hit. Had I stayed on the path and mindset I was following before my marriage, I would be okay right now.

I just hope that through all of this, lessons are learned and society makes changes. Currently, in most affordable neighborhoods, at least around here, the general mindset is still one where few occupants care about how their house or the overall neighborhood looks. Broken down cars, lawnmowers, bicycles and assorted junk and debris laying aorund in plain view. Yards neglected, no interest in planting trees. The homes themselves lacking in external appeal. And let's not even think about discussing quality.

I believe this is one of the underlying reasons some people over-stretched their budgets. They wanted to get into a neighborhood that wasn't "trashy" and those cost more even those with similar location and square footage. There may be elements of "keeping up" in there but I am living in an older, "affordable" neighborhood and see it firsthand. Where has our pride gone? Have we shifted our pride in selves away from how we live and into possessions like cars, clothing and gadgets?

I know there are no answers, so consider this a bit of a rant.

~Scott~


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

Scott I agree with you and it is so sad so many felt the need to live beyond their means. I hope your job holds up for you. Dang hard times.

Our neighbor hood has a slightly different problem. There are five places within a block of each other where the owners have passed away. So extended family try to keep up the yards but none live close and it is a burden for them to give the yards the attention they need to keep them from looking bad. Two of the five are well kept considering. Another is just so so and two are yuck.

If only some one would come along and buy them. The way things are now it is not likely. Funny thing is when we were looking so hard to buy a place in this town there was nothing to be bought.

Because of this, this little corner of town looks trashy and yet the people that live here are great neighbors. I admit I am taking care of my next door neighbors lawn for her. She is older and does not have a mower. So no big deal to mow it 15 minutes every 10 days give or take. Her family does not live close. They did do a huge yard clean up when we moved in here. HECK we/I need to do a big clean up before the snow flies which was almost yesterday.

I am thankful we have always lived pretty close to the bone.No debt. We usually grocery shop every two weeks but could go three or more if we get snowed in. And there is a small grocery store in town within walking distance. I should get pictures of this store. You all would really enjoy it. It has not changed much since it was built in the early 1900's.

Chris


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

I went through a financial crisis about 7 years ago, and it was a real wake-up call. I had too much on credit cards, and we used to buy new cars. My business failed (thanks, China) and we struggled for several years. We are now debt-free, except for our mortgage, and we still have reasonable equity in our home, although it's dwindling fast. We paid cash for our rural land, so we have that. Credit cards are used for day-to-day living, such as buying gas, but we carry no balances. It feels good to not have bill collectors calling every day! I feel blessed that we went through that then, and not now. So far, all that's happened is that our home is worth half what it was two years ago, and we've lost huge chunks off of our retirement plans. Our jobs seem stable for the time being. What hurts most for us is that we were going to build our retirement home in a couple years, using the equity in our current house. As of today, that plan is in serious jeopardy, and we're seriously considering a mobile or very small house, especially if we can't sell this one. Perhaps we could rent out our current home until things improve. Time will tell.


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

Gargoyle,

Paying off your balances monthly and using them for day to day expenses makes more sense than you think. Not only does it give you the comfort of knowing that technically you have no balances on your credit cards, it also keeps you in great standing wiht the card company themselves. Having current activity and low balances will also boost your credit score. Just keep in mind that if you ever do need to borrow money, you want your score as high as possible. Surprisingly, according to Equifax, right now, you would have a higher score with a small balance (less than $100) than if you had a zero balance. Counter-intuitive but true.

If ever there was a good time to have a home built it's gotta be now. Although material prices are up, contractors are begging for business.

I'm starting a new thread on Build it Yourself. Check it out, interesting example and unique thinking.

Scott


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

"Paying off your balances monthly and using them for day to day expenses makes more sense than you think."

Two other points - if you do this with a cash-back card you're actually making money (I make about $20-40 a month with my Discover card, since I use it for pretty much everything and even have as much as I can auto-billed to it, like our heating oil and phone), and if your money is in an interest-bearing account you can buy some extra time for it to gain interest before sending some off to the CC company. Make sure you check with your CC company about how long your grace period is though. I roll a smallish balance for a month on each card once a year to keep our credit scores up and the CC company happy, but it doesn't accumulate enough of a finance charge to negate my gains for the rest of the year.

Something a lot of people don't know is that a married couple should have one mainstream (not store or gas) credit card in only his name and one in only her name in addition to any joint credit cards, even if all finances are communal. Should one spouse die, if the surviving spouse has no well-established credit in his/her own name it can have a seriously detrimental effect on his/her life afterward. This happened to someone dear to me and it was a terrible situation. Everything financial had always been in her husband's name only - bank accounts, credit cards, the works - and when he died unexpectedly she and her lawyer had a devil of a time getting everything straightened out. She had to build a credit record completely from scratch in her sixties, even having to have one of her siblings cosign for an apartment and utilities. How humiliating, as well as being a big PITA. If she'd had that one major credit card in her name and used it responsibly, it would have made a surprising amount of difference in her widowed life.


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

Amen to what you have all said. We, as a Nation, have been greedy.
When I read the 'building' forum, I believe that the message has not been heard yet.
I could never understand why someone wanted a house where you had to yell to talk to someone in the same house- are they too afraid to be close to their own family?
Big is a status symbol in the US. New is too.
I also am disgusted with the government bailing out the person who has bought out of their means.
I paid cash for my home, my autos- everything. If I couldn't buy it, I couldn't have it. Don't get me wrong- I worked 7 days a week, sometimes 16 hours a day as an RN.
But I owe nobody. Will I get any compensation for this? Nope. Maybe I should have bought a big house and more vehicles, clothes, etc.....
What the gov is doing just pisses me off! (could ya tell?)
I am willing to bet it will get worse- people won't change in general. If they can afford it now, they will continue to buy- it is even more important for some to buy now- they want to look great in the eyes of others when the country is down. (see, it didn't bother me at all- I still have a big house/car...).
By the way- the poster that mentioned that there are 5 houses with nobody living in them- the lawns are making the neighborhood look bad...have you (as a neighborhood) ever thought about cutting the lawns for these people? That is what America is supposed to be- helping your neighbor. Most people need more exercise anyway-


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

I remember my dad charitably cutting the lawn for a neighbor when I was a kid.

The neighbor was a single father who seemed to be having a difficult time. The lawn was at least a foot high.


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RE: Affordable and dangerous

I thank god every day that we have our home paid for and that my gardens are nearly all in..will be this year..and are paid for and that they will be supplying most of our food for the rest of our lives..once established.

My husband is disabled from a serious head injury..so he can't work or be left alone for long periods of time..so we live on an extremely limited income..but we generally do very well with careful budgeting and buying used when we can.

I have been planning for OLD AGE now for a long time..always planting more perennial crops regulary (i think reading permaculture in 1975 had a big effect on my life and coming up as a hippie)..I always plant more trees, every single year..more and more trees..but i have 5 acres..this year i'm putting in dozens of fruit and nut trees, berries and perennial food stuffs..sure i put in some annual things too..but i always look for something else that will grow and survive Michigan winters that I won't have to plant again..this year it is multiplier onions..and 23 more asparagus plants..

We also replaced all of our bulbs in the house with cfls or leds..and we put in an outdoor wood boiler that will burn not only boughten or our home cut firewood.but junk wood as well..with very little smoke (epa approved)

we built a sun trap porch on the front of the house and on sunny days..we don't use any fuel as with 40 degrees outside in the sun that porch reaches 80..which will be heaing our entire house with the door open and an overhead fan on.

built a glassed in rear porch with screens..also..even though it is on the North it will be wonderful for summer cooling breezes..with the slider open to it.

that enclosed porch adds another 300 square feet to our house of usable summer footage.

i have a small greenhouse too..which we will move this year to a spot where we can heat it with the wood boiler..to supplement our winter food bill.


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