I participated in an Influencer Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for MassMutual. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.
John and I have been searching for the “perfect house” for several years now. I can’t even tell you how many houses we have looked at. I lost count long ago, but I know it’s got to be in the 80-100 range, at least. Seriously. We have put in offers on a few, only to have them fail inspection. Very disappointing.
Owning a home is something that is extremely important to us. We have both moved around a lot over the last 15 years, lived in several small, expensive apartments, with no privacy. We’ve never really felt “at home”. More than anything, we want a place to call our own. A home with a large, private yard, enough room for our kids to play and have fun. John wants a nice basement, and I want a large, open and sunny kitchen. We want a home that we feel comfortable living in, and a home that we can grow old and make memories in.
Owning our own home is a big part of our “American Dream”. John’s mother was a single parent without much money. They moved around a lot when he was young, so he has never had a permanent home.
My life was much different growing up. My parents bought their first, and only, home when I was six years old, and I lived there until I moved out at 19 years old. To this day, my parents still live in that home. They paid their mortgage off several years ago, and can say that they own their home. It’s such a huge accomplishment for them, and something to really be proud of.
For many generations, the American Dream was represented by a home with a white picket fence, healthy children, a steady job, food on the table, a little money in the bank, etc. Television shows like “Leave it to Beaver”, “Happy Days” and “The Wonder Years” all conjure up images of simpler times, and the American Dream.
Do You Still Believe in the American Dream?
MassMutual, a leading mutual life insurance company, recently conducted its third biennial State of the American Family Study, which offers a broad snapshot of American families’ financial views. Lots of things change over the years, so it’s no surprise that many people believe that the American Dream is disappearing. In fact, a whopping 42 percent of Caucasians believe this. In comparison, only 17 percent of Chinese-American respondents and 28 percent of African Americans believe the American Dream is disappearing.
Even though a large percentage of people believe that the American Dream is fading, the study found that Americans’ financial satisfaction has increased to 27 percent, up from 18 percent in 2009.
What do you value?
According to the study, American families hold four core values when it comes to their finances:
1. Putting family first;
2. Being actively involved in household financial decisions;
3. Educating children about money; and
4. Making sure that children aren’t burdened by parents’ care as they age.
I know all of these things are definitely on my mind and on John’s. We always try to put our family above everything else, and we thoroughly discuss our household financial decisions together and come to an agreement.
Teaching Kayleigh about money is extremely important to us. John and I are both in our 30’s, and we are just starting to get on the right financial path. We both feel that we wasted many investment opportunities in our 20’s, and have little to show for all of the money we made then. We want Kayleigh to have a better financial start than we did. We also want to make sure that we do not burden her as we age. We are getting a late start to the parenting gig, and will be entering our 50’s when she graduates high school.
What are your top financial goals?
According to the study, the top five financial goals reported by American families include:
• Paying off a mortgage
• Creating a plan for managing retirement income
• Saving for children’s college educations
• Ensuring that the family will be taken care of financially in the event of a parent’s death
• Developing a monthly budget and a comprehensive financial plan.
All of these are goals for John and me. When we do finally find a house to buy, one of our top priorities is going to be to pay down the mortgage as soon as we can. We are going to try to make extra payments on it if ever possible. We are also going to shop around for the lowest available interest rate, and not buy a house that is close to or exceeding our budget.
Over the last couple of years, we have been tweaking a monthly budget plan that helps us to achieve our financial goals, and we will continue to do so over time. This includes saving money for retirement, and for Kayleigh’s college fund each month. We have also both taken out life insurance policies to ensure that we are taken care of financially in the event of death.
Even though prices have risen drastically over the years, and the job market and real estate markets have not been steady, I still believe in the American Dream. I think that if you want something bad enough, you can work towards it, and make a dream become a reality.
Tips for Gaining More Control Over Your Family’s Finances:
If you are seeking ways to gain more control over your family’s finances, MassMutual suggests that Americans consider the following action steps:
- Think about retirement if you’re not already.
- Protect your income.
- Plan for your children’s education.
- Secure your family’s future.
- Teach future generations about finances.
- Prepare for rising health care costs.
To learn more about these tips, and other findings from Mass Mutual’s study, click here. To learn how MassMutual can help your family achieve the American Dream today, please review the MassMutual Family Finances study.
Do you still believe in the American Dream? Are you satisfied with your financial situation?