The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Just a few years ago, the housing market was all-a-frenzy. People couldn't buy houses fast enough. In the midst of that mess, people were willing to do near anything to get on-board the real estate express. Every crazy financing product was pitched and even a few new ones emerged just to really screw things up - 50-year mortgage, anyone?

Not qualifying for traditional mortgages didn't slow people down. Because, real estate always goes up in value, right? "And if I don't buy now, then I'll never be able to afford a house" in this crazy, overpriced bubble market. "And I can finance it this way for now, then refinance it in a year after the value goes up again, or at least thats what the 'mortgage specialist' down at the bank said." Back then I was still trying to convince people that traditional, 15-year, fixed rate financing with a big down payment was the way to go. Boy was I silly.

That was not what people wanted to hear. "Wait? Wait?!? I can't wait to buy until I save up 10 or 20%! That'll take forever!" Another favorite: "hahahaha. While you were saving your pennies, hoping to buy a house in 10 years, my home's value went up by $200,000 in two years!" Oh, really! My question to those folks: Are you still in that house?

If yes, then what is it worth now? These over inflated home values gave buyers and owners a terribly false sense of security in the foolishness they were partaking in. A home, like anything else, is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. A lot of people in those bubble markets are now facing foreclosure since they couldn't refi their way out of their mistake or their market is so over-saturated with homes on the market that they have little to no hope of selling it, even at a drastically reduced price. And so foreclosures continue to rise. If only they would have waited.

If only they would have gaged the situation with their hearts instead of their heads. You head is where you do math, your heart is where you measure risk. Why do you think they make you pay PMI if you put less that 20% down on a house? It's one way they try to mitigate that risk for the bank. Unfortunately, it just makes the payments higher and thus harder to pay when things get tight.

So the spiral continues - mortgage defaults are up, credit card defaults are up, car loans next? The government has passed their 'economic stimulus' package and magically avoided that recession that was or was not imminent. And the credit markets are shaky. But now inflation could get out of control.... All because we just can't wait.

Tom Petty knew what the heck he was talking about when he said, "...the waaaaaaaaaaaaaiting is the hardest part". All kidding aside, he's right. It's pretty darn easy to get credit cards - unemployed? terrible credit? under the age of 10? No Problem! Auto financiers are notorious for putting people in way more car then they can afford, and it takes very little to get it done. Its not even that tough to get a mortgage. That is, compared with waiting. Waiting is the hardest part. Waiting to save up cash for a TV or a car. Waiting to buy a house, until you can really afford it. Doing whatever it takes to make and save that money is easy when compared with just being patient and w-a-i-t-i-n-g.

Lets say Jane is going to save for four years to pay cash for a car. For no other reason than knowing it is the right thing to do. At any point during those four years, the 'All New' Toyota Whosits could come out and now Jane 'must. have. now.' Jane could go out, put some cash down, finance the rest and be off the lot in no time at all - her 'must-have-now gland' fully engorged and spasming. That would be easy.

One definition of maturity is learning to delay pleasure. Had Jane stayed on plan and waited the full four years, not only could she have gotten a better deal on that Whosits on the lightly-used market, but she would have felt a sense of accomplishment and control. Or she could have instant gratification and that wonder of off-gassing plastics known as new-car-smell.

How long did it take you to learn to wait?

How have your finances been impacted by the need for instant gratification?

Getting ready to buy a house? How much are you putting down?

**UPDATE** Welcome Carnival of Debt Reduction readers! To find out more about us, click here. Check out our latest personal finance articles here. Thanks for reading!


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