Summary: You can own stuff or stuff can own you.
Do you own your house or does your house own you? We tend to love the American dream and that usually translates as having bigger and more expensive stuff with swapping it often. That stuff can own us.
If you were to be unemployed tomorrow due to layoff or illness how long would you last before you lost the house, the car or both?
Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
In reality, you never own your home. If you pay off the mortgage, the local tax collectors still own it. They get to assess it and tax what they will so it is possible to pay more in taxes when you are old than what taxes and mortgage together cost when you were young. If you get where you cannot afford it, they will take it from you so you never truly own it. You just change who can take it from you.
When you borrow, the lender owns you. You work for them until you pay them back. The only way to relative freedom is to get as far out as debt as you can.
Whenever, we bought a house, we looked at what we needed, not at what the realtor said we could afford or what appealed to our eyes. just because you can afford it, doesn't mean you should do it. My wife, the frugal one, looked at our budget and went with what we could afford if either of us lost a job and had to take one with lower pay for a period of time. Indeed, every loan we ever took for car or house we paid off much earlier than the loan date because we, rather she, was frugal.
By going smaller than what we could do, we stayed out of debt longer and used my wife's income to help the kids through college and lived off of mines so there was not large college debts. We looked for the best deals and my wife is a competent negotiator. Then we paid it off at times by doubling up on payments.
We did not carry a credit card debt. If we used the card on a trip we paid it off when we got back. We never bought super expensive cars only what we needed to get from here to there and back. Even when we bought new cars, we were economical and kept them until they were about to fall apart beyond reasonable repair. God blessed us with being able to pay cash for the latest car. We expect that now that we are retired that they will last us until we cannot drive anymore or close to it.
Most of my generation will retire broke or retire in their 80's because they bit off more than they can chew and it is choking the life out of them, They lived for today and not looking forward to the future.
I realize that some who read this are in the spot we were in when in college or unemployed. We did have some hard times that truly only God got us through as there was nothing we could do. Those times passed and maybe living through some of those times may have shaped us into being frugal because we did get by on far less so we knew we did not need bigger and flashier to live.
I remember reading about people who came through the Great Depression. Some lived ultra-frugal lives so that many thought they were very poor. When they died it was found that they had hundreds of thousands of dollars under the mattress since they did not trust banks or as one lady did have several million dollars in the bank. I do not suggest you have to live to that extreme. I do stress we need not live to the other extreme where we are so far in debt that the stress is killing us, our marriage and sending a wrong message to our kids.
There is a balance and that is what we should seek. Better to live in a smaller house with no mortgage than a huge one that you will never live to pay off and will have to work until die having no time for family or God and ministry.
1Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Debt is poverty with a façade of prosperity. We are trying to be rich with money we don't really have, but think we will one day. Be careful and be content with less because if the bottom falls out those who have nothing to lose will fare better emotionally than those who have a lot to lose. It was millionaires that lost it all that jumped out of windows in '29, not poor people. Just food for thought. Blessings and freedom to you! Maranatha!