Personal Finance

Why Following the American Dream Will Rob You of Financial Control

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Flipping Houses, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing
247 Articles Written

I know that what I’m about to tell you is not probably something you don’t want to hear. I’m sorry to do this, but I’m about to burst your bubble. Let’s talk about the American dream. Many of you out there reading this have hit the subscribe button to this idea—because society has engrained into your head that there is a path to realizing this dream. That path goes like this:

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  1. Go to college and get a degree.
  2. Get married and start a family.
  3. Combine your incomes and by a house.
  4. Downsize and send your kids to college.
  5. Hopefully after many years of hard work, you can retire and sip piña coladas on the beach.

The reality is that this path to the American dream is false, and I refuse to subscribe to it. Don’t get me wrong—I am very fortunate to be here in the great U.S. of A., and I never want to leave. However, before following the path to the American dream, I want you to consider something first. I want you to consider following your own dream.

Why Following the American Dream Will Rob You of True Happiness

Now let’s go back to the original topic. Time and time again, the American dream has led so many down the path towards nothing but debt. To start down the path of fulfilling your own dreams, the first step you have to take is getting out of this deadly trap. Stop the downward spiral of using your credit cards for everything from electronics at Best Buy to triple lattes at Starbucks. In my eyes, financial freedom is having a successful business (real estate investing is also a business) and controlling your own destiny. The time for fun toys will come later; for now, let’s learn to be frugal.

Truth be told, you don’t need a single dollar to start a career as a real estate investor. What you need is a commitment to your own aspirations. Start with something as simple as jumping on the BiggerPockets Forums. Whether you’re a flipper, a wholesaler, or a buy and hold investor, there are plenty of very knowledgeable folks willing to help you get started down the right path to success.

One last thing—once you make this decision to carve out a future for yourself, you’d better be prepared to work your tail off. Your life is not contained within the hours of 9 to 5—nor should your business be. Having a successful business is hard work, but the reward of controlling your own future will be more fulfilling than any job title you have ever held.

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What’s your take on pursing the “American dream”? Do you agree with this assessment?

Let me know with a comment!

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a."the Real Estate Dingo," quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate all over the world and has bought, renovated, and sold over 500 properties. He runs runs Ohio Cashflow, a turnkey real estate investment company in the country (Inc 5000 2017 & 2018) and is currently in the process of launching a real estate brokerage called List’n Sell Realty. He is also known for giving houses away to people in need and his crazy videos on YouTube. His mission in life is to be remembered as someone that gave it his all and gave it all away.
    DL Martin Rental Property Investor from Cincinnati, OH
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I pretty much agree with Engelo. COLLEGE: Ironically, I enlisted in the US Army Military Police in order to pay for four years of college. I emerged from college debt free but obtained a stupid liberal arts degree instead of a business degree. I worked as a police officer in SoCal for 25 years and a degree was not required to get the job, was not required to obtain any special assignments and was not required for promotion… Conclusion? I should have taken the job offer from the Los Angeles Police Department in 1985 instead of delaying for 4 years to go to college. I assume that I walked away from $50k in lost earnings in 1986, $55k in 1987, $60k in 1988 and $65k in 1989… I made $56k as a rookie cop in 1990. BUYING A HOUSE: Another shining example of stupidity. During the police academy, and approximately six months following, I rented a bedroom from a divorced homicide detective who owned a great house, in a gated neighborhood, close to the police department. I paid $350 per month. And that included utilities and I got to park my car inside his garage. Instead of continuing to “share” a house for $350 a month, I drank the Kool-aid and used a VA loan to buy a single family residence with zero down. It was “nice” to own a house I guess, but my monthly housing cost skyrocketed from $350 to $1,400 per month. And I was single. For many, many years… Its too bad that I waited until 2000 to buy a 4 plex in SoCal. Had I purchased a small multi in 1991, instead of a SFR, I would have been buying owner occupied 4 plex’s instead of owner occupied SFR’s throughout the 1990’s. At least I had the foresight to keep my SFR’s as rentals instead of using HELOC’s to buy boats and who knows what else. WORKING FOR THE MAN: I retired at 50 (2014) with 84% of my single highest year salary and incentive pay. I am “set” until CALPERS crashes and the Ponzi Scheme comes to a screeching halt. I sold my SoCal SFR and moved to Cincinnati, one of the most “affordable” housing markets in the USA. ENTREPRENEURISM: We sold our SoCal rental houses and the SoCal 4 plex. 1031 exchanged the 4 plex to a 39 unit in suburban Cincinnati, paying zero capital gain in the process. For me, going to college and buying 5 single family residences, were very bad decisions on many levels. An excellent K-12 grade education and three years in the US Army was really all I needed to prepare myself for life. Your mileage may vary. DL Luke 2:14 KJV
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Thanks so much for your breakdown story DL, You seem to have a very nice cashflowing property now and things are looking bright in your golden years 🙂 Well done and have a great day.
    Stanley McKenzie
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Engelo maybe you should change the title to “Stop being an American Lemming” because Engelo YOU ARE LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM. Definition of American Dream is (noun) – the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.”he could achieve the American dream only by hard work”. It says nothing about college, home ownership, marriage, kids, etc. Each person’s path to success is different, the important part is living below your means, hard work, and investing in opportunities that can give you an ROI. Stop walking off the cliff with the rest of the American lemmings (living beyond your means). So…How much money do you need to quit your 9 to 5? eh?
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    haha Good one Stanley but there are mixed thoughts on the subject. Since you started with the Google search, here is what I found: “While running for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton’s American Dream Plan included homeownership, college, retirement, and health insurance for children. Obama extended healthcare with the Affordable Care Act.” – But all in all Yes, many folks are lemmings lol I’m proud to say that I’m living my dream in the best country in the world. But my dream is not my version of the “American Dream” haha Much success 🙂
    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I am a multimillionaire these are the 3 requirements that I put on myself. 1. Graduated High School 2. Served in the military 3. Stayed married for 35 years. To become a multimillionaire you must purchase 3 items. 1. Safety and security (Where you live and those you associate with) 2. Education (not just going to school, constant learning) 3. Health care (Not just pay the premiums, live the lifestyle) If you canvass all the multimillionaires you will find that most have done what I have done. This is the American Way of Success, not the American Pipe dream.