There are times when I feel like I'm not doing too badly in terms of having enough money to quit the job and do something else. Then there are other times when I'm seriously wondering about what I've been doing for the past 45+ years of my working life. I seem to have so little to show for it.
I'm an aspiring millionaire who has yet to arrive. And, apparently, I am taking the last train out of the station to get there!
The good feelings come when I view our personal financial statement. According to these spreadsheets, our net worth grows each year and it appears that within another decade or two we'll be millionaires. That is, our assets will exceed our debts by a million dollars.
Ok, that's a win! The goal is within reach. In sum, there's still hope.
Never mind that I'll be between 75 and 85 years old. And that assumes I'm still working all the way through this period. And, well, it overlooks the small detail that spreadsheets are not the same as actual money. Ok, yes, I do know that spreadsheets allow me to place any number I want into those little boxes they call cells. I get it.
But this is the good feelings section, so let's not go all Rambo here on the good vibes I'm getting here.
There are tangible evidences that things are improving, after all. The pension and brokerage accounts are growing, some of the time. We have accumulated a small rental portfolio and some websites, albeit a bit iffy ones. Debts are being paid off and in the end net worth is creeping forward.
Good vibes. Hope.
Bad feelings are usually triggered when my wife and I watch any of HGTV's House Hunters International, Mexican Life or Caribbean Life. We watch these regularly as we're looking to purchase a second residence or two. Why not two, or three? That's what millionaires do, right?
The typical scenario in these shows starts out hopeful enough, but usually ends with a short bout of depression. The preview says that a couple is looking for a home in, say, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Oh, great, we're interested in this one.
As the show begins, the couple is introduced and we learn they're from the Toronto area, or Denver or L.A., or some such, and are looking to buy a second residence, one they hope to eventually retire in. He's worked for the city for 20 years and she's been a school teacher. Good, your basic middle incomers.
The realtor asks them what they are looking for. They rattle off things like a two-bedroom, with balcony, pool, overlooking or view of the ocean, within walking distance to shopping, bars and restaurants, and so on. Perfect! This will be right up our alley!
Then the realtor asks the most important question - what is your budget? They answer that they would like to spend no more than $550,000. Silence.
When we first started watching these shows, I would make some clever comment and my wife and I would laugh. Over time, I graduated to simply taking a quick glance at my wife to see her reaction, but I stopped that as time went on. I now know her pained expression very well.
Reminds me of a line from the 60s song by the Righteous Brothers, "You've lost that lovin' feeling...now it's gone, gone, gone...". And HGTV drained it off little by little over the years.
Aside from the point as to how a 900 or 1100 sq ft (including balcony) condo will cost that much, the real issue is how THESE people can afford it! My wife looks at me, I keep staring at the TV, but we're both wondering what I've been doing all these years.
In many of these places, the transaction has to be cash. In Mexico, there are U.S. lenders who'll put up the 60-70% of the mortgage.... for 8-10% rates... and not for 30 years. You take the mortgage payment and then add HOA fees from US$200-$600/month and you got a real chunk of change to come up with each month. That's a problem it seems to me.
Now to be fair, occasionally they show a couple who has a budget that at least remotely looks like our price range, say in the $150,000 - $250,000. But then we see what kinds of places they look at for this money, and, well, it isn't exactly what we had in mind. Imagine that.
While we're not ready to buy anything anyhow, my scheme is to wait for the global economy to collapse, negatively affecting everyone except us, of course. We will have our $150,000 waiting to buy that condo from what will inevitably be a desperate, overstretched seller who paid $550,000.
Then I'll be a hero. A real somebody. And my wife will have a happy face. And I will, too.
Until this collapse, however, we need to stop watching these shows. They make us feel bad. And me look bad.