Maybe I know too much or worry too much. Or both. But my husband and I recently decided it would be best to be liquid so we sold our house.
It was a very nice house – with beautiful built-ins, granite, spa tub, bla bla bla. 3300 square feet and it was so nice, it sold in 3 days in a down market. Man, was that hard to let go of and move out of. And we lost money on the deal. Serious money. Now we are in a 1500 square foot apartment and most of our ‘stuff’ is in storage.
Why would we do such a crazy thing? Because my husband always thought the house was a mistake and because I have been watching Tracor, Dell and the feds.
My ex-husband worked for Tracor, a defense contractor when he graduated from college. He was so happy to have a job at Tracor as they were one of the largest employers in Austin at the time. Tracor had a lovely campus with 8 buildings, underground parking, on-site cafeteria, and deer running through the campus. The test equipment labs made my engineer husband drool.
But when Clinton came into office, business dried up for Tracor. And because they were run by ex-military men and engineers and they had all of their money tied up in stuff, they were not light on their feet. It took Tracor years to die a painful death. My ex-husband’s best friend Chuck was laid-off and hired back at Tracor 8 times.
Contrast this with Dell. Dell is now one of Austin’s major employers. Dell has maintained $19 billion in cash for a decade. Dell’s buildings and all fixed assets total only 1/3 of a billion dollars. Dell is highly liquid. If things go bad, Dell can survive for long periods of time. And things are not that great for Dell right now. But they can survive a market downturn and some bad decisions and still keep their doors open because of all of that cash.
If you have read Dave Ramsey’s book on personal financial management, he coaches us to be debt free and put a large amount of cash in reserve.
But I was going the opposite way in my personal finances. My inflated ego believed I needed a tricked out house and a fancy car and fancy furnishings. So I bought them. Some of them on credit. Then my husband and I decided that since I travel so much, he should stay home with the kids. Then we decided that my kids should go to private school. Then my husband became uninsurable because of an injury and we are paying triple rates for him… do you see what is going on? I am getting flushed down an American life toilet! And my stress level was intense. And truth be told, all of that tricked out stuff wasn’t making me happy.
I make very good money and love my job, my uninsurable husband, and my kids and their school. I have a great life. The other night, as we were having family movie night in our little apartment, I realized that I was just as content and pleased in the apartment as I was in my crazy big house. We may never buy a house again.
Maybe we are too aware of what is going on at the federal level and with the world economy. We are a nation in serious debt. Inflation is going crazy and I don’t care what the fed’s numbers say about that… I see it when we buy a bag of apples or fill up at the pump.
We are completely debt free right now and have a healthy cash reserve. I feel like Dell – on a much, much smaller scale. I feel like I can weather a few storms. I have corrected my financial trajectory. Now, if I could just keep my American princess ego in check…