The American Nightmare Is Back


I just this second got an email: The title was: “No Money Down!”I even launched a daily podcast yesterday called “Ask Altucher” .The first question someone sent in for my podcast was “Should I buy a home now?” But forget that for a second (believe me, I will push that podcast as much as possible in a few days).

I’ve bought two homes. Both homes almost killed me. As in, “How can I kill myself rather than pay the next mortgage because I can no longer afford it.”

I wanted to die rather than face the pain of losing another home and disappointing my wife, my kids, and being ashamed in front of my friends, my colleagues, and I guess my own deepest fears of loss and self-worth.

And then I sold both homes at a huge loss. Beautiful homes. Homes that my family could’ve grown up in and be happy. I think. Who knows. Kids are happy anywhere I think if you give them enough love.

Here’s my one theory about parenting: the more I try to control kids, the less their brains will inherit from me.

And the more I just listen and love them, the more they will inherit from me. I can’t stop my kids from running into the street and getting hit by a car.

But I can hug them when they are crying and reach for me.

But ok, enough gushy BS. Who cares about kids.

Here’s the scary thing: I just got this email that almost made me Sh*t my pants.

It was a mass email from a local real estate agent. You can see the image attached to the email. Read it carefully because it’s in code.

The first line is:

“Do You want to buy your first home But you are concerned you don’t have enough for the down payment?”

The very first line plays on your fear. Because of course you are concerned. Every money decision SHOULD cause legitimate concern.

Don’t outsource your money decisions to a real estate agent, or a student loan official.

Here’s the shitstorm young people have to deal with before they even can consider buying a home:

  • their student loan debt
  • the uncertainty of the job market, which is worse than any time since 1933.
  • The underemployment rate (the rate by which people are working at underpaying jobs that are not commensurate with their skill level)
  • The fact that more than 50% of the unemployed have college degrees.
  • The fact that incomes have gone down versus inflation for 40 straight years.

It’s no wonder that kids laugh on average 300 times a day and adults laugh on average 5 times a day.

How do I know any of this? What makes me an expert?

  1. I wrote a book on the problems students have. I’m rewriting it right now so neck deep in the research. And as you know, when you write a book and it appears on the World Wide Web (“triple dub”) then you’re an expert.
  2. I’m on the board of one of the largest staffing agencies in the world. We write a million paychecks a month. So I see across the entire economic landscape what is happening to jobs across every demographic even before the government sees the data.

Imagine a handcuff that you can’t get out of unless many different people with totally different agendas use their keys to let you out of the handcuffs.

Here are some of the people with the keys you need to get out of your handcuffs if you “own” a home:

the bank, the government, the IRS, the state IRS, your job, the extremely strong story of “the American Dream” that was created by the mortgage industry, your friends and family who will judge you, the shame you will feel inside of you.

Those are some powerful handcuffs. Now go underwater and try to break out while a crowd watches!

“Don’t despair” says the image.

The line is appealing to your brain that wants safety and protection.

Your brain doesn’t want you to move around WHEN you want to , WHERE you want to, work for WHO you want to. You have to chained to one place so you can feel “safe”. The American Dream.

“You too can achieve your dream of owning a home”.

Call them if you want a house with “no money down”.

So they are back.

Don’t be fooled by the marketing techniques of the $15 trillion American Dream industry (the mortgage industry).

It’s $15 TRILLION dollars for a reason.

When you don’t make your own choices, all you have left are excuses.

So a powerful industry will work hard to eliminate your excuses. They make you feel like they are your mother or father. “Don’t despair, honey..”

You DO NOT own that home any more than a renter does. In fact, the renter owns MORE of your home than you do.

If the renter needs plumbing, then YOU, the owner, need to scrape the crap and hair and condoms out of those pipes – who is master and who is servant in that scenario?


And the American Dream wants you to cling to it. They want you to be afraid to lose it. But first they have to get you in.

“These are pretty handcuffs, aren’t they?”

Why do I write these articles. I ultimately don’t convince anyone at all.

Often people hate me when I write these articles and I don’t like to be disliked. Perhaps I cling too much to that. The wanting to be liked.

But my worst points of misery occurred on the long inevitable slope down when I lost two homes.

I saw my parents slip into depression when they lost a home. I saw so many of my friends panic and cry and get suicidal when they could no longer make payments.

I saw people give up on their job dreams and career aspirations when they were stuck paying a mortgage in a specific place that took them far from where there dreams would take them.

Of course there are anecdotes of people who bought in 1965 and made millions by 2005. Ok, there are anecdotes for everything.

But the average person only owns a home for 5 years and then has to figure out how to sell, move, and buy again.

Anyway. I was going to write about something completely different today.

I was going to write about how we each have a higher power and a lower power inside of us, pulling us in different directions.

One part of us wants to be free. Wants us to be free to help others, to be creative, to deliver value, to really fulfill our dreams in ways that would totally surprise us if we unleashed it.

The other part wants us to be chained. To cling to the stories we’ve been told all of our lives, “go to college”, “own a home”, “rise up in a job”, “vote for change”, “I can’t quit my job”, and so on.

Most of us live lives somewhere in the middle but it’s a constant struggle. I struggle with it.

It’s scary when I give up clinging to the people and things and stories I love. Then maybe I would be alone. Or hurt. I don’t know. I get scared.

But I am trying to get better from this mental illness.

Anyway, maybe I did write that article after all .

And there was no down payment to read this. And if you’re a real estate agent, please consider using your enormous talents to write poetry instead of smelting new handcuffs for your neighbors and lovers and friends and family.

To really achieve the American Dream, all you have to do is help other people achieve their dreams.