The Adult Tax You Don’t Have To Pay

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Some weekends, I binge watch The Property Show episodes on YouTube. There is a segment where the host interviews homeowners from their dreamy homes. Oh my, they look so grounded. So measured. God, so adult.

There is just something about homeowners in this town. It is not uncommon to find them holding court in social gatherings, solemnly doling out ‘nuggets of wisdom’ on how to navigate the intricate labyrinth of home ownership. God forbid you feel the need to interrupt them. You don’t argue with an adult, child.

I don’t mean to jibe at it. Home ownership is a tremendous feat that many of us not born with a silver spoon in the mouth should aspire towards, and many of us not.

Yet, we will never feel like we have become adults until we join the increasingly elusive club of home ownership. We shall not let up until we turn the key. We shall suppress our good sense, defy sound advice, massage the numbers and rationalize our way into home ownership. Then we can finally claim a stake in this all-important adult enterprise.

Without getting into much detail, home ownership is often a financially suboptimal decision. This is primarily because, due to the vast sums of money to be invested, debt is the most common resort. And debt as you know has the well-deserved reputation of rapidly turning boons into loons. Blessings into torment.

Still, some are willing to live for decades, and possibly for life, with pseudo-indefinite mortgages hanging around their necks like an albatross. They know they would be a lot happier – and richer – renting than owning. But that would have them feeling like adolescents all over again. Apparently, no price is too big to pay to be the adult in the room – your own room.

I have been contemplating some real estate project myself. What happened is, this perfectly adult idea was presented to me by people who mean the best for me. Consumed by the prospect of finally ‘coming of age,’ I did not even bother to run the numbers. You could see strands of grey hair sprouting out of my head from wisdom just telling my wife about it.

With ground-breaking imminent, I recently sat down alone in my study, pen in hand. I had a hunch from earlier on that despite its sexiness, this was a bad idea. Not a lousy one through and through, but I suspected that I would be better off sticking with the things I was already doing. I confronted my hunch and the hunch was proven right. Now I must try and take my words back. And revert to being my usual teenage self.

Thankfully, I recognized, in the nick of time, that proving my stature as an adult with that project will cost me cold, hard cash.

Even away from brick and mortar, think about it; many of us don’t really enjoy alcohol. We do not harbour an innate affinity for it. A drink too much and we are throwing up like a volcano. We started drinking (insert your preferred vice) because it was the adult thing to do. It took us quite some effort to turn something disgusting into something we now like somewhat.

Remember your early college days. Trying to drink on a shoestring budget. Walking into a phalanx of bouncers outside the club demanding to see your ID because you look underage and broke. All that trouble just to ‘smell like a man,’ (it sounds cooler when said in Kikuyu, trust me).  Anyway, we eventually grew into that stuff, and we have since willingly handed over millions to beverage companies. We are paying them for the pleasure of this great opportunity to identify as adults, but do we have to?

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@TheSoww tweets about money and markets, with a particular interest in personal finance.