To Own or Not to Own?
The decision to rent or own is something that many of my NFL teammates and I have made at various times in our careers. But I believe that ownership can be one of the most empowering actions that we take as individuals.
Ownership builds communities. When you own something, you are invested in it.
It builds security. When you own something, it is hard to take it away from you without proof of a crime or otherwise neglectful behavior. It belongs to you. Here are three things I believe are worth the cost of ownership… one might surprise you.
Own Your Car
This one still amazes me.
One of the first things I look for when asked by people for financial advice regarding expenses are car payments. The people I help are often shocked by how much their car payments are costing them every year.
Those car payments are potential cash in your pocket that you give away.
Someone I was recently talking to was making a $630 payment on their car every month. We priced out those payments over the course of the loan and factored in cost of living so that they could realize just how much they were really paying for this car in the end.
Then we looked at the effect of that payment on their income. What should have been just over $3,000 in monthly living expenses became almost $4,000 with those car payments.
They decided to sell their expensive car and pay cash for something cheaper.
If you can lease or get a payment on a brand new “XYZ” car, what is that going to cost you per month? Insurance? Gas? Make sure you understand the COST of those payments.
Owning your car can provide amazing flexibility. It can also show you what you can actually afford. If what you can afford is a used Honda Civic, great! Own it.
Leasing a car or taking out a loan can deceive you into thinking you can afford more of a car than you actually can.
Know Why You Are Buying
Consider why you are purchasing that particular car. Are you buying it because it looks nice? Are you purchasing it for that one day when people will come over to admire it? Buying a car should always be a financial decision.
Another thing to consider is that cars break all the time. Whether it is a muffler, an engine or brakes, you will need to pay for it. Purchase the vehicle you can afford. It maybe might not look the best, but purchasing what you can afford gives you flexibility down the road to be able to handle breakdowns and other expenses.
The wealthy players I played with stayed away from high-end cars because fixing the breaks often costs more than $3,500.
Not having a car payment will also give you extra money in your pocket every month that you would otherwise spend on a new car payment.
Own Your Home
The next thing I would say is to own your domicile. First, there are obvious tax benefits to owning your home. You can depreciate your asset and depending on your situation, you can write-off portions of your payments.
Then there is security. When you own your home, it is hard for people to move you. You have built-in security that many people in the world do not have. You also have somewhere to live that belongs to you.
Imagine signing a one-year lease, and two months into the lease your landlord tells you he wants it back. It happened to friends of mine. There was a small, standard clause in their contract that allowed him to retake the property. These people were forced to move out and find another apartment after just two months!
Finally, owning your home can be a great investment. Even if you are currently renting, you can likely afford a condo or a small home. It might not be in the exact area you want, but buying that house will go a lot further for you in developing and building wealth than renting an apartment or a condo would.
I and many other of my successfully retired teammates love owning real estate. We like the increase in equity.
Most of us know more about making an annotated bibliography than we do about equity when we leave high school, but equity creates more opportunities than we can count. Equity comes from the amount of ownership you have of an asset, like a home. Whether you buy a condo or small one-bedroom, or even a tiny home, you are still building equity.
I have a close friend that adamantly disagrees with me on this. He believes the money spent on owning a home could be better used in other income-producing assets. For him, this might be true.
For most people, however, owning your home, even in the area that may not be as ideal right now, can bring significant benefits down the road.
Your neighborhood’s property values will probably rise depending on where you are living, increasing the value of the investment with its equity.
This investment, even if it is in a currently undesirable area, can become pretty desirable over the next five to 15 years. This is what happened recently with the Denver suburb of Montbello.
Homeownership can add value to your wealth and create financial security at the same time.
Own the Choices You Make
Way too often, we believe that our spending choices are not ours. They are. Everything we spend our money on is a choice, and we need to own those choices.
Own the choice that you want to lease a car over owning a vehicle that may be older and have more miles on it.
Own the fact that you have chosen to spend your money on a watch that most people will never understand nor appreciate. Own the fact that you decided to purchase another dog bed or another item for your favorite animal.
Own the choice that you make to go out too often on the weekends.
When you start owning those choices, you might begin to make different ones.
It should not be a mystery to you why your financial situation is yours. I have a college friend and co-worker who continually talks about how broke he is. But he also spends a lot of money on entertainment every weekend. He was making choices that influenced his money problem every single Friday and Saturday.
We calculated how much money he spent one weekend and he was shocked. He had spent over $300. He could not tell me about one thing that was valuable from it.
Once he owned that choice, though, he stopped spending. He saved $1,200 and is getting ready to purchase a home. All because he took ownership of his choices.
Own the choices you make.
Ownership has many benefits. In doing so, you create the security that you have from ownership and the community you build. There is also the security of knowing that you own what you can afford and that you are building wealth instead of wasting money.