The term “American Dream” was invented in 1931 by writer and historian James Truslow Adams. He coined the term in his novel The Epic of America where he states, “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement… A dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
Many of you are products of the generation that was told and sold on the idea that home ownership, a proxy, was the American Dream. Basically, you had arrived once you owned your own home as a result of your hard work. The discussions were limited around the perpetual mortgages owned by the bank that also came with the deal.
Nevertheless, equity meant leverage and leverage equated to financial muscle. Then, as predicted by many experts, the real estate bubble burst and many Americans living this pseudo-dream were swallowed whole by the financial crisis that swept the nation in 2008.
Foreclosures, short sales, and desperate pleas to lenders for debt modifications were thick in virtually every neighborhood in every city. That American Dream slowly became a nightmare. The dream as you came to know it changed. Mindsets, financial situations, short-and long-term goals, job statuses, trust and hope in the future were met with skepticism and uncertainty.
Fast-forward to today: Economic recovery continues across the masses. Updated philosophies and new ideas around family economics is the new norm with a newly defined American Dream. Sure, the common denominator in its modern definition still rings true; happiness and prosperity can be achieved through one’s own abilities and hard work. But that certainly isn’t the whole story.
Raising two children today, I am focused on teaching them that home ownership can be sensible and favorable as a diversification strategy in your overall investment portfolio. However, in our home, education and quality time trump all. I’m encouraging conventional and unconventional learning through camps, travels, books/biographies, life skills, financial and political literacy laced in good old common sense and realism.
There are no guarantees in any futures, but an esteemed education can assure one’s ability to compete with confidence in a society of political and fiscal uncertainty. There are several social and economic indicators that prove obtaining a higher education will afford a lifestyle that supports the upswings and downturns.
With college cost in excess of three to four times the costs during the previous generation, scholastic excellence, creativity, determination and hard work are essential ingredients to one’s ability to obtain a solid education. This is the real arrival point.
Education is the winning recipe and the real American Dream. Once you obtain it no one can take it from you. It’s the surest result that can propel you into fulfillment, freedom, prosperity, self-satisfaction, and the confidence to take your economic, philanthropic and social status to the next level.
Freelance writer, financial consultant, entrepreneur and mom, Tamela Saulsberry brings a combined 16 years of experience in business, finance, sales and coaching. She is delighted to receive your questions and feedback. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 612-269-2341