After they wrote the check for the down payment at the closing and were standing in their beautiful but barely furnished grand old Victorian home, my grandfather said to his young wife, “You know, honey, we don’t actually have enough in our bank account to cover the check we just wrote for this house.”
She just laughed and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll make it work.”
He worked three jobs and she, full time at one while raising three children before they finally paid off their mortgage. By that time, they had moved to another house, which was a little bit smaller and easier to maintain. Now my grandfather lives with no debt in a condo that he paid cash for.
I frequently dwell on the importance of planning and financial preparedness when making any large purchases, arguably to a fault sometimes. After we wrote the check, nearly sixty years later, for our own down payment and left the closing (with more than enough cash to cover the check), I called my grandfather to tell him that I was a new homeowner. I began to list all of the things we needed to do to the house and run down the cost of every last detail when he interrupted me and said, of course, “Don’t worry, you’ll make it work.”
My grandfather had given me not exactly the most sound advice financially, but I’m beginning to realize that sometimes having the confidence and faith that things will work out is worth more than any number in a bank account.
Homeowner History will be a new Friday series, in which I’ll cover the idea of how we got where we are today. We always refer to the ARMs and McMansions that got us into our current mess, but what happened before that? How did our parents and our grandparents live? Every house has a history, and maybe in order to improve ourselves today, we need to look even further back to before the housing bubble was even in our vocabulary. What is your Homeowner History?