Monday, December 05, 2005 | Remember your first house?

Suppose it was a nice place, tiny, but a decent starter and you’d been working at your career for just a few years. The future looked good, eh?

The mortgage payment, however, started to squeeze the budget. So what did you do? How do all homeowners react? Everybody does one of three rational things:

1. An ambitious few worked harder, got raises, maybe put in overtime and made the payments with enough leftover to mix some hamburger in with the beans.

2. Some gulped, decided they had overreached, sold the place and moved back into an apartment, delaying the dream.

3. Others cancelled their cable service, moved the thermostat a few degrees, paid more attention to the coupons in the Sunday paper, walked more and drove less and learned several new recipes that worked fine with day-old bread. They mowed their own lawns and went ahead with some landscaping, but planted $1 bushes in $5 holes instead of vice-versa.

Tragedies? Hardly. Minor life triumphs, coping with what is, facing reality and moving on. This is the genius of humanity.

There is one thing that none of them tried. When that next payment looked too high, they didn’t put it on their credit card. And then quickly apply for a new credit card before the next payment came due. Well, OK, some folks got away with this, for a month or two, but those higher interest rates slapped them down to their knees fast and bankruptcy became the only option. So their homes were lost – and their credit, which limited choices while looking for the next apartment.

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