Being normal American family.
Before we moved to the States we knew almost nothing about this great country and people who live here. Everything we knew was either from Hollywood movies, I know, I know, or from people who have traveled in the States. But as you may know, traveling is not the same as living in a country, and Hollywood movies are not the best source of information to rely on. So, we barely knew anything about USA and people.
When we finally came we started listening to people who had more ‘American’ experience behind their shoulders. These people taught us a lot about being normal Americans: FICO score, credit cards, mortgages, car loans and other attributes of American Dream.
Our normal American friends had, and still have, at least one car loan; they have student loans and credit card(s) debt. Some of them have a mortgage and 401(k) loans they took to buy a house. We were shocked. We had never had any debt back in Russia, and every person that we spoke with told us that we have to have at least a car loan, just because it’s the way people live in America. One friend told us, ‘C’mon guys, you’ll get used to it. It’s the way how we live here in the States’. Being an American means you have to have debt, really? Every person told us about FICO score and how it’s important. We saw our friends buying new cars, going on vacations and buying stuff in order to actually maintain this score and … stay in debt. They wanted to build something good on a very shaky and viscous base. It seemed surreal to us. Well, ok…
However some day, after being a year in the States, we
bought financed a car. I can’t say we bought it, because we didn’t have money; we borrowed it from a bank. A really nice black Dodge Journey with $500 a month. Just because our American friends do the same, ‘$500 per month wont kill you, they told, And it will help you to grow your FICO score’.
A couple of months later we got a wake up call, my wife got laid off and we had to live on one income. Living in SFBA, CA is kind of tough, living in the Bay Area with two kids is tough, and living in the area with two kids and one average income is extremely tough. Finally, we got the whole picture about what it looks like to be a normal American family.
Living from paycheck to paycheck with no free money and almost no future or cushion for a rainy day, but at the same time driving brand new cars, taking good vacations and buying stuff. No, thanks! We didn’t want to be “normal” as normal sucks.
Now you can say that we are a weird family: we don’t have any debt, we pay cash and we say a lot of “No” to things. Every month we make a budget and follow it. We have learned to somehow delay pleasure. One of the definitions of maturity is an ability to delay pleasure. Instead of following impulse decisions a mature person can stop and think. Think about not a short term affect, but in a long term as well. That what makes a huge difference between normal and weird people. Don’t know about you, but we are happy to be the weird one.
And when somebody says, ‘You guys are weird’ we take it as a compliment. And there are a lot of weird people, some of them have inspired us:
You know, a lot of people say that American Dream is dead. Which is wrong, they must’ve forgotten or replaced the real American Dream with this concept of being broke.
And my goal is to show you that the real American Dream is alive and well…