Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

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Doin' the homeowner polka

Big day in homeowner-land yesterday. In the morning, I closed on the refinancing of my mortgage. Things went fairly well, despite a few bobbles and I'm the proud owner of a bouncing baby mortgage. This one will grow old and die much quicker than the previous one (a benefit in mortgages, but not good in most things). And while it won't save me so much month-to-month over the previous loan, the prospect of outright owning my home by the time I'm 50 and never having to pay another house payment as long as I live makes me giddy.

And to top it off, in the evening, I closed on the home equity line of credit I'd applied for! Now, wait a minute, I hear you say. That's a mortgage too and you'll be paying that off when you're over 50. Well sure. But getting it as a line of credit means that it's more like a mortgage on demand. If I don't use it, it won't cost me anything. If I do, however, (and I probably will with the remodeling we'll be doing) I get the benefits of readily available funds and a big break on interest compared to credit cards (and it'd be tax-deductible to boot)! So even if I've paid off my mortgage and am still paying some of this thing off, I'll still be pretty happy.

There's something about owning a home, having a dependable job, contributing to a 401k, buying a new car, stuff like that, that makes you feel all grown up. You get to think about how things will be five, 20 or 30 years from now. You get to see how the things you're doing today are going to grow into huge benefits in that span of time. Much as an infant learns that mommy doesn't really disappear when playing peek-a-boo and later learns she doesn't go away forever when she goes out for the night, I think this ability to envision and plan for the future comes with maturity. You have to grow into it. And it isn't all about age, either. Some of it is situational. If you never get out of living paycheck to paycheck, crisis to crisis, you simply can't develop the skills for planning.

I'm constantly glad that my first boss at this job (where I'll have been 10 years in June) sat me down and told me to contribute as much as possible to my 401k and to, at minimum, contribute the amount the company matched. (Why turn down free money, after all?) That, I think, started me on the road to thinking about the future; and in more than a science fiction, gee won't it be great when, way. Thinking about living in the future. What do I want to do when I'm 50? 60? 65? I'm still not clear on details, but I have some general ties lined up.

Interesting that the house is the core of it. Given that it's probably the major expense in our society (unless you've got major medical problems), I guess that makes some sense. It's nice knowing that I will, in all likelihood, not have to worry about where I'm going to live for the rest of my life. I'm not planning on selling my current house. If I did, I'd probably have much more modest needs and be able to afford what I needed out of the proceeds of the sale. (Not like property values are gong down any time soon.) There's probably something to explore from an anthropological standpoint about all of this. Home as castle; security as hearth; society as landownership.

Me, I'm just happy things are going according to plan.

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