Today I want to talk about attaining the American Dream. Many Americans, if not most, work hard toward this ideal, including myself. However, there’s a growing number of people – young and old – who believe this dream isn’t doable anymore. I disagree, and I want to explain why you can get the American Dream (if you want).
Attaining The American Dream Is Doable If You Have Realistic Standards
We all have wants and needs. That is part of human life. What I think prevents many people from attaining the American Dream is conflating their wants and needs.
Let’s look at housing: We all need shelter to survive. However, many people want a big house with several bedrooms, bathrooms, a large garage, and plenty of outdoor space. These houses are quite expensive not only to own but to maintain. Thus, these individuals have to work longer and harder in their jobs.
Before I bought my home in 2020 I looked within myself to see what size of house I wanted. I didn’t have any dependents and I wasn’t married so having a huge home was out of the question. I just didn’t need all that space. However, that didn’t stop me from looking at small-single family homes, those under 1000 square feet.
I also looked at buying a townhouse because it provided some of the benefits of a single-family house. And that’s the type of house I bought. My current home is 2 bed, 1.5 baths and just over 1000 square feet. I have enough room to live inside and enough outdoor space with a deck to barbecue and relax.
Finally, I chose to live in a less-popular suburb because the housing was cheaper. Yeah, I’m not near popular restaurants or shopping centers but that’s fine with me.
Keeping my wants realistic allowed me to purchase an affordable home during a hot housing market. And my reasonable or lower-price mortgage allowed me to quit my full-time job and go into self-employment fully. I mostly likely I wouldn’t be able to do this if I purchased a large house with an equally-large monthly payment.
Now let’s look at transportation. Many of us need transportation unless you live in a place that has fantastic public transportation. However, many people want to drive a luxury car which is quite expensive. Frankly, even “basic” new cars are more expensive now than even before.
I’ve bought two new cars in my adult life. And why they were nice having those car payments and insurance costs wasn’t. I wasted so much money on an depreciating asset because I wanted to impress not only myself but others by the car I drove.
So what is my suggestion here? Used cars are fine. Also, don’t get excited by all the cool features in new cars because those feelings cool off once the first car payment hits.
Finally, I want to look at material goods. We all need things like food, clothing, electronics, and more. Yet, many of us think we need the best of the best when it comes to attaining the American Dream.
I live a fulfilling life without shopping at the high-end grocery store or purchasing the latest electronic device. Buying used or refurbished items doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t think shopping at those places means I’m “poor” or “low-class” as some people think.
Frankly, I think many people have so much trouble with wanting high-end or luxury goods because they want to be rich. I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with that desire but it’s hard to live that way if you don’t have the income to support that lifestyle. And it’s difficult to admit to yourself you can’t afford this brand of food or a type of clothing. It was for me long ago but not anymore.
If attaining the American Dream is still one of your goals I hope this posts helps you on your journey. Basically you need to have realistic standards about what you want in your life. The images you may see on social media or TV aren’t realistic at all. Most of us aren’t rich enough to afford that, myself included. However, you can have a great life living within your income and be content. I am.
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