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The road home

The road home

For some families, homeownership is part and parcel of the American dream. Is this true for you? Tyrone Beason’s article in the Seattle Times, “Scrimping and Saving for a piece of the American dream,” tells the story of Lance and Jen Miller. They live in a two-bedroom apartment, commute to work via public transportation, and bike their four-year-old son to his school. The Millers don’t own a car, and don’t spend money on lavish vacations. While the apartment in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle is far from posh, “it’s home.” Beason writes that the Millers are using this period in their lives as a “launchpad for something bigger and better — a middle-class life in the city they love.”

There are multiple motivators for purchasing a home. Investors buy properties as part of their financial portfolio. Others just prefer owning over renting. And families with children seek to establish themselves in neighborhoods with good school districts. One reason does not trump another.

The American dream — if you choose to define it, in part, as owning versus renting the home where you live — now comes at a greater cost for many middle-class families in the current economy. While the Millers demonstrate the daily act of sacrificing conveniences for the end goal of saving enough to purchase their future home, their situation is not all that unique. Over the past several years, a slew of online resources teaching thrifty practices has emerged. Slate recommends several websites like Wisebread and Frugal Village, for example, on ideas for “scrimping through the recession,” and the information is intended for the larger audience.

Many Americans are reinventing themselves in order to achieve their goals. Saving, scrimping, pinching pennies…these are no longer bygone habits of the Great Depression — they’re becoming proven best practices (among others) toward buying a place of your own.