By Jon Dawson
Are you a homeowner? I share one with the bank.
About four years ago The Wife and I passed a milestone: For the first time since we signed the papers on the bank loan for Dawson Manor, more of our mortgage payment went to the principal than the interest. While the bank still owns about half of the house, 80 percent of living room and 1/3 of the kitchen belong to us.
Even though we pay extra on the principal of mortgage every month in an attempt to have the house paid off before I’ll need physical therapy to blink, I still want it paid off faster. To that end The Wife and I held a think tank, and we came up with a pretty cool idea. We’ve decided to start charging the children rent.
When the Tax Deductions (age 16 and 11) protested, we suggested they use their lunch money to pay their rent. Then they reminded us that The Mama/The Wife makes their lunch for them every day. Being quick on my feet, I suggested they start selling their lunches. They are delicious meals, so the dough should start rolling in soon.
The day before we signed the mortgage papers we had not one debt in the world. If I borrowed 55 cents from you to buy a Pepsi, you’d have it back within 24 hours guaranteed. Having that mentality served me in good stead until I was wrapped in the smothering warmth of a 30-year bank note.
The muscle memory to pay the money back within 24 hours was still there. For several days after signing the mortgage I’d drive to the bank with the intention of paying up in full, only to realize I didn’t have 30-years worth of house payments sitting in the cup holder in my car. If I can ever convince the bank to recognize the brick of Bojangles napkins in my glove compartment as currency we’ll be in business.
In a way a your mortgage is the most faithful friend you’ll ever have. You’re going to be in each other’s lives for decades and no matter what happens, that mortgage will be right by your side. Sometimes when people hit a bad streak and they’re down and out, their friends and family will drop them like a hot potato – but a mortgage would never do that. If you lose your job, empty your savings, and have to barbecue your teddy bear for supper, your mortgage will be a true pillar of consistency in your life.
When I was a kid, every time someone opened an account at the bank on a TV show they were given a free toaster. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was that we didn’t receive a toaster when we set up our mortgage. Even sometimes now when I see my banker I’ll ask him if the toasters have come in yet. He just smiles and asks does he need to “call someone” for me.
I’ve come to realize the bank is never going to give me a toaster. Or a sandwich. Or even a pack of Nabs.
Last night as I sat at the dinner table and looked over at the 1/3 of the kitchen that we owned, I started to add up all of the repairs and maintenance we’d done on the portion of the house the bank still owns. Painting, pressure washing, plumbing, electrical, exorcisms – loads of work done on the bank’s portion of the house. Not once has the bank offered to pay for the work done on their house.
With that in mind, I compiled an invoice of all the work done on the bank’s portion of the house and attached it to our mortgage payment last week. I handed the teller the invoice at the drive-thru window with Tax Deductions 1 and 2 in tow. As usual, the sweet lady at the window handed me two suckers for the kids. After reading the invoice the shocked teller she froze. I don’t mean she was just still, I mean her eyes stopped blinking.
As I drove off I realized she shorted me one sucker. Why should the kids get the suckers? They aren’t making any mortgage payments.
When I drove back to the drive-thru window to get my sucker a few minutes later, the teller hadn’t moved one inch. Everyone at the bank was probably worried about the day someone figured out the bank should be paying for upkeep on their portion of the houses they owned. It’s their house, it’s their responsibility.
You’re welcome, America.
Jon Dawson’s books available at www.jondawson.com.