I'd be remiss, however, in my duties as a Money Coach if I didn't express one cold, hard reality about homeownership: it's not necessarily for everyone. As a matter of fact, there are some groups of people who probably shouldn't become homeowners – at least not anytime soon.
That might sound odd coming from a proponent of home ownership and the author of a book called Your First Home: The Smart Way to Get It and Keep It, which is designed to help you prepare for, find and finance the home of your dreams. But the fact is, I've also seen people get themselves into trouble unnecessarily by biting off more than they could chew and buying a home before they were truly ready. Read on to discover if you fall into any of the following groups of people. If so, you're probably better off renting, instead of buying a home prematurely.
• You are Mr. or Ms. Entitlement
Do you think the world owes you something? Are you convinced that you could "get ahead in life" if only someone – the government, your boss, and yes, your local banker – just gave you a break? If you have that mentality, chances are you're not ready to become a homeowner. Owning a house is not an automatic right. It's a privilege that is chock full of benefits as well as responsibilities.But people with a sense of entitlement don't get that. They want the perks and rewards of homeownership, but only on their own terms. Translation: they seem to always want the easy way out. They don't want to sacrifice, get their hustle on, and work hard for the things for which everyone else has to work.
So if you're one of these people, stay put where you are. Keep shelling out money to your landlord each month. And the next time your toilet gets backed up at 2 a.m., call your superintendent and tell him to come fix it – immediately. After all, I'm sure you figure he owes it to you, as much rent as you pay.
• You are Living in the Dark Ages
Remember the 1950s TV show "Ozzie and Harriet"? The husband went to work each day, while the wife stayed home and tended to the house and the kids. I don't recall their talking about a mortgage too often. But if they did, the serious conversation would've come from Ozzie, because he was doing "man's" work and actually earning the family's paycheck.
If you subscribe to the philosophy that a woman must be taken care of by a man – any man, including hubby, Daddy, or even a sugar daddy – you are still living in the dark ages. Consequently, your arcane views will probably hold you back from making a serious commitment to becoming a homeowner.
Why should you become a homeowner anyway? Why would you want to would go through all the preparation and hard work needed to buy a house when you can get a man to buy one for you? Being financially independent and learning to manage your own money is over-rated anyway, right?
• You Have FDD – Financial Deficit Disorder
We've all made our share of money mistakes: sending in late payments here or there, wasting money on frivolous purchases, or blowing opportunities to save cash – even when we knew better.
It's one thing to have a few dings on your credit report, or to even feel like you're living paycheck to paycheck. But some of you really take fiscal mismanagement to the extreme. You are constantly broke. You couldn't save a dime if your life depended on it. You borrow money from anyone silly enough to lend it to you. Truth be told, your situation resembles something akin to financial spaghetti: it's a tangled mess.
Now, mind you, this is a far cry from having messed up in the past, but trying to do better now. Some of you seem to make no effort whatsoever to get out of your dire financial straits. In fact, you make a habit of digging yourself deeper in the hole month after month after month. You know who you are, too. Or maybe you recognize the following behavior in a friend.
The Symptoms of FDD
-You're the person who never seems to make payments on time; not your rent, your car note, your utility bills – not even the $100 your mother loaned you, which you were supposed to repay last week, and didn't.
-Since you can't ever pay your debts on schedule, you're practically on a first-name basis with the clerks and cashiers at the gas company, electric company, and your local cellular phone company, where you can be constantly found trying to get your service reconnected. You frequent these places so often that you bring 300-page novels with you, so you can catch up on your reading because you know the process and you accept those long lines as a fact of life.
-You've gone to Western Union so often that you have a Western Union card. (Needless to say, you're always waiting to receive money, rather than send it).
-You're more familiar with the inside of the payday loan shop at the corner than you are with the inside of the local bank. You live life on the edge financially and nothing is sacred. You've taken out credit in the name of your five-year-old daughter – and your six-month-old son.
-You regularly park your car away from your apartment, trying to dodge the repo man.
Unlike other people with run-of-the-mill financial problems, you're not just credit-challenged or economically impaired. Unfortunately, you have a serious, long-term money malady. I call it Financial Deficit Disorder because you pay no attention whatsoever to money – besides spending it, of course. Until you change your crazy ways, and eliminate much of the drama in your life, do yourself a favor and don't add to your woes by trying to get a home. It won't be pretty.
The good news is that you aren't banished from home ownership for life. Just mend your ways and then get serious – in words and deeds – about your finances. You'll know you've turned a corner when you can go at least three to six months without borrowing money from family or friends, missing a payment, or dealing with calls and letters from bill collectors.
Hopefully, you don't fit into any of these categories. But if you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, and you want to make a change, pick up a copy of Your First Home, and discover the steps you'll need to take to become a successful homeowner – and not wind up in foreclosure.
Follow me on Twitter for more financial tips. Also, answer this question: Do you or someone you know have Financial Deficit Disorder?
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, an award-winning financial news journalist and former Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC, has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times, as well as magazines ranging from Essence and Redbook to Black Enterprise and Smart Money. Check out her New York Times best seller 'Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom.'