I guess I’m irresponsible. How did I get here? I worked my way through college, paying my own tuition, with the benefit of student loans and scholastic scholarships. I purchased a starter home and followed the advice of the real estate experts – which in the 70-90’s was to extend yourself as far as you can – because residential real estate is a great investment and a guaranteed return and hedge against inflation. A few years later, I sold that home, with a nice $60,000 gain, which I used as the down payment to build our dream home at the time – a nice 4 bedroom home in the suburbs. Twenty years later –yes, I refinanced a couple of times – pulling equity out along the way to pay for my children’s college educations, to help finance their schooling abroad, as well as the summer camp experience and all those “things” that we believed would help our children to be well rounded and ready for the techno advanced next millennium. Yes – along the way, I also obtained credit cards, and carried relatively high balances, with reasonably low interest because I always had a stellar credit history.
So here I am now. In 26 years, I’ve never been late on a payment. Every bank that has extended me credit has been paid – timely and in accordance with the terms set. So what happened? Well – now my house that I paid $290,000 for 20 years ago, that appreciated to $480,000 over that period – is now worth $278,000. My mortgage – well that’s a nice fat $400,000. The President calls this “underwater.” I call this “upside down.” Many in Congress, who oppose aid to homeowners – say, “we’re not going to help the irresponsible.” Worse yet, the banks whom I have never missed a payment – have cut my credit lines so that I no longer have available credit. This action alone has caused my credit score to go into free fall because I now fail the critical “available credit” test.
Am I irresponsible? I have met all of my obligations, each and every day. I paid for my college and repaid my college loans. I paid for my children’s education and I raised two great kids. Now I’m “upside down” “underwater’ and irresponsible? Well – I may be “underwater” and “upside down” based on the value of my home. But I’m not the one that ran my business to the point where I was one day away from causing a catastrophic financial meltdown that could sink the entire world economy. I’m not the one who came hat in hand and begged our government for billions of $$$$$ of aid to stay in business. Who did that? We all know – Wallstreet did. The Banks did. AIG did. These same people are the ones that pumped up the real estate bubble with air — and then let it burst. They are the reason why my home has lost $200,000 in value in 2.5 years, and they are the ones who have put our country into free fall such that no one has the credit or desire to purchase a car. Worse yet – they are the ones who our government must now help or we will all fall off the cliff and become broken humpty dumpties.
Call me irresponsible? I don’t think so. In fact, if you’re not going to provide me any help – then I’ll tell you only once – don’t you dare call me irresponsible.