Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 5/18/2009 [Archive]

And Away We Go

And Away We Go

By Martha Randolph Carr

In an annual rite of spring college seniors all across the U.S. are facing the end of the parental dole and have turned their attentions toward joining the ranks of paying customers. They are leaving behind the category of spending a lot of someone else's money and now have to come up with their own little piece of the pie.

Each of the graduates have reached a new plateau in society and are now part of the massive group called 18 to 25 year olds with a college education. From here on out that is how Corporate America will see all of these fledgling human start-ups.

There are sub-groups as well that involve what part of the country, the credit ranking, the vices we carry like overeating or smoking, the marital status or if there are children, and savers versus spenders. An old marker that was so reliable it was taken for granted was renter versus homeowner.

The longer someone was a renter, the more they were seen as not rooted in the community. Homeownership was the goal and as important a life-moment as that college graduation. It announced an arrival into stability and commitment. Renters were handing over the equity they could have been building to someone else.

Well, listen up Generation-What-Next because the lesson that's available from all of the economic hullabaloo is even better than the new Prius with the big red bow. But first, a few fun facts to put all of this into historical perspective.

According to the real estate web sitewww.Zillow.com there have been 9 consecutive quarters of decline in real estate values that have resulted in 1 in 5 of American homeowners owing more on their home than the home is now worth. In certain regions like Nevada, Florida or California more than half of all homeowners are upside down in their mortgages.

Top that off with the recent announcements by Chrysler and GM of the dealership closures and the layoffs that will roll out in all kinds of auxiliary businesses and it's going to be a long summer. Yes, there are signs that the recession is beginning to slow down, if not reverse, but those are going to be anecdotal stories for just a little longer.

As it turns out, those who just happened to be renting when the blizzard started, particularly those who were renting in the hottest of markets are now sitting pretty. If they've been paying their rent on time and still have a job they're even in a great position to haggle a new rental rate if they so desire.

This economic category can not only take advantage of lower home prices but if they're first time buyers the Obama administration is offering an $8,000 tax incentive to help them get started. There is also a loan modification deal on the table for troubled homeowners but the modification can't exceed 105 percent of the value of the home, which leaves most people out in the cold.

This turn of events doesn't mean that renters were somehow smarter or that most of those homeowners were making poor decisions. It means that we can plan all we want to and life can still change all the rules. However, if we are always seeking balance between what we need to do to take care of ourselves and our family and what we desire to do we can relocate the path we're on even in the middle of hard times.

The best solution to figuring out which path to take whether it's a first big career move or getting married or buying a house is to make a list of priorities. Not your priorities mixed in with your parents priorities for you or the priorities that will make you look good. Write down the ones that matter only to you and rank them in order of importance.

Don't throw responsibilities out the window. Being able to pay your own way is number one. However, how luxurious the conditions and how you choose to meet that challenge is up to you. Then figure out what steps you can take today to start you down that path. Let that be enough for today and get going. Every year take the list back out and reevaluate the priorities, the responsibilities and the methods that were used to accomplish both. That way, serenity is a probability rather than just a desire.

If you'd like to get involved in the 2009 America Challenge to raise funds for community-based charities email me at Martha@CagleCartoons.com for more information. Together we're going to build stronger communities and empower ourselves. For a free download of the nationally popular self-help book, The 3x5 Game visit http://69.161.96.142:8080/alfresco/faces/jsp/browse/browse.jsp and type Carr into the search.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2009 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.

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