Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Responsible Debt and Economic Resilience

Debt is a four letter word. Like many four letter words, debt can have its place in our financial vocabulary. When used “appropriately”, we can put the right emphasis on a statement with a choice four letter word. When used responsibly, debt can help us provide for our family, allow us a more comfortable lifestyle, and facilitate the creation of wealth.

Over the last few decades, so many were encouraged by peer pressure or others to take out as much debt as they were allowed in order to buy the largest house they could afford. The “keep up with the Jones’ mentality” also drew people into more and larger car payments as well as maxing out their credit cards to fill their homes with furniture and live the lifestyle they felt they deserved. Unfortunately, taking on debt up to the limits of our current income is great until our income declines or is eliminated.

Too much debt does not allow for the economic resilience we need to survive in the current era. Simply having three to six months of cash reserves, as we have been told by financial planners, has not been enough for many to survive this extended downturn.

Buying a home almost invariably requires one to take on debt. When taken on responsibly and prudently, it can and should be a path to financial security and provide us with a home through the good and bad our lives can throw at us. Many have taken this path and with the luck of a secure income, have been able to weather the storm. This has generally meant that they have purchased a home for less than they could actually “afford” given standard ratios (and the suggestion of mortgage providers) but over the years has given them more peace of mind and the ability to enjoy their self worth more than their personal fortune.

I was talking to a 55 year old friend last week who explained that she had taken steps to pay down and eliminate all but a very manageable amount of mortgage debt several years ago when she thought that she might retire early. Since she is now really enjoying her full time job, she has decided to wait longer before retiring. She feels good that she has the option to retire or keep working and has the flexibility to add more debt if the need or a good opportunity arises.

At Jensen communities®, we can help you to find a great house and neighborhood to live within your means in some of the best towns and cities in the country. Call 800-458-6832 or visit to see how you can Get in on the Good Life!®

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