It’s not just a great rhyme, it’s true. I had a vehicle a few years back, something very nice and way over my budget. I was enjoying the top of the real estate market by indulging and overspending on a material object. I won’t reveal the model and make, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t made by one of the “big three” and it wasn’t cheap! I was younger, not a dad yet, and hadn’t been smacked in face with real life quite yet, so this thing seemed like the most important thing in my life. I loved this thing! Made me feel important, confident and successful. One day, backing out of a covered parking spot, I cranked the wheel a bit too much and crushed the driver’s side front quarter panel up against a support post of the parking garage. I was mad at myself and a little embarrassed that it was my carelessness that banged up my beauty, Elizabeth. That’s right, I said Elizabeth. I was one of “those guys.” I named my car.
From that day on, I looked that car differently, it wasn’t perfect anymore. I was embarrassed to been seen in it. It was dented and dinged, it looked like junk to me. Me and Elizabeth’s relationship was on thin ice!
I see this as very similar to housing market that we are in. In the late 1990’s and into the new millennium, consumers were in the frame of mind that I was in when I bought Elizabeth. Consumers were confident and wanted to reward themselves with expensive items. New lending rules allowed buyers to buy those McMansions and to keep up with the Jones’ maybe actually pass them for awhile. Then, bang! The economy backed into a preverbal support post. And now we as consumers look at this housing market as that dented and dinged item that we feel our carelessness caused. Embarrassed to be seen in. Well, I will say this, I took Lizzy to the body shop, took the appropriate steps to getting her repaired, it was painful, and expensive, but I had her back! And I have to say, I loved her again, just as I had the day I bought her. That is where the economy is, in the economy body shop. Soon it will be fixed and we will love her again.
I had to sell Elizabeth in 2004, That’s because the new girl in my life made me realize that Elizabeth was not the most important thing in my life and that I needed to grow up and gain perspective. My daughter Jill was born. I was a changed man. I bought the family car and I stopped worrying about what the Jones’ thought of me. I moved on. Just like we will when this market recovers. We will see that the McMansions are not the priority. It is the good home with a sensible mortgage that will be the winner. We are growing up as an economy.
My perspective has changed. Today I would be embarrassed to be seen in that type of car for a different reason than the dents and dings, but what it represented. My priorities are of my sweet family and hard work, not material items and how people see me. But, I think of this part of my life as an incredible learning moment, and one I would regret not having it to look back on as a way to grow.