Is the American dream dead? The American dream is the promise of the possibility of prosperity and success for everyone. Higher education is beyond the reach of many people, the housing market is a bust and there are no jobs! What should you do?
Education as an investment
A college education is expensive! Maybe it should be, since it will change your life. It changes the trajectory of your career and will add significant earnings over your lifetime. It is a great investment in your future, but it is not a right. Invest in yourself was an article I wrote recently about getting a good education and grades increases your opportunities. It starts early and affects your entire life and career. What are your skills? What knowledge and talents did you accumulate to make you more marketable?
Education starts early! In elementary school you learn how to read, write and arithmetic. You mature emotionally and physically as you grow more independent. In middle school, you begin to master physical and mental challenges including writing, math, science and much more. High school you develop many problem solving skills, analysis, writing, science, teamwork, social and physical skills. Your training is not done. You made your investment learning the skills and achieving good grades. What do you do next?
Post secondary training can be college or a trade. Without additional training, your career will stall. You need additional training to reach the American dream. It is your investment in yourself. Training does not stop because you do not go to college or formal training. Every company continually trains their employees in some form. Companies also offer tuition reimbursement too; they are encouraging employees to continue their education. If you are not keeping up with information in your career, you may be without a career.
Can you have a good education and unemployed? What you do with your education is as important as all those years in school. A college degree does not guarantee a good life. It helps you get a professional job and then it is up to you. In some ways it is similar to getting into a good university, you still need to perform in order to graduate. When you graduate, employers will measure your performance using grades and other participation in activities. Landing that first job is very difficult in this economy.
Rent or Buy Homes
Should we get used to renting? If you do not have a down payment and good credit, you should not even think about buying a home. Renting may make sense if you will only be in that area for a short period of time (less than 5 years). The housing market has not stabilized yet! Home prices are still falling in some areas. Home ownership rates decreased in every region of the country. The number of vacant homes grows by 44%. If Congress changes the mortgage deduction combined with depressed housing values, it may make more sense to rent rather than buy. Home ownership fell to 65% which is drop of nearly 5%.
More people renting will increase rents. Mortgage rates are the lowest in sixty years. All this does not matter, if the price of homes is still dropping. Is the American dream of owning your home over? Is this your opportunity to buy? Are we at the bottom of the market? No one can tell you until much later. If you buy now, there is a risk of prices falling further. Some people are buying, they all cannot be wrong! Only time will tell.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
If you are unemployed, you know the American dream is over! The best time to get a new job is right after you lose the last one. The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to get a job. Either there are no jobs or lower pay for the same jobs. What should you do? Use your network, people who know of jobs and know you will help you find a job. In the meantime do what you have to just to survive. Now is the time for you to acquire the skills, knowledge or degree to enhance your opportunities.
People with college degrees have the lowest unemployment rates. What does that mean? Get a college degree and you are less likely to be unemployed. If you do not want to go to college, there are trades or other careers that have good prospects. The bad economy will affect everyone, but there are careers such as auto mechanic, repair trades and others that still have opportunities.
What should you do? Spend the time in school getting the knowledge, skills and grades to go to college. Community college is still reasonable and there are apprentice programs looking for qualified people. Take the time to acquire new skills or training to make you more marketable. Waiting to buy? Renting may be a good choice until the housing market improves. No one can predict the bottom of the market until we are passed it. Whether you are employed or unemployed, you need to keep networking. Your network is the best resource for finding jobs. Is the American dream dead?
Photo by: DonkeyHotey