Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fully Employed and Fully Homeless

On July 30, 2012, I became homeless. It wasn't something I was forced into, though. I have a full-time job, a Master's degree, a car, a supportive family, and plenty of friends in the area, so it wasn't by misfortune that I made this decision. I became homeless by choice.

I'll pause for a moment while you ponder all of the questions you have for why I would decide such a thing. Are you done? Okay. To be honest, my reasons were half experiment and half financial. I wanted to see if it was something I could do. I'm an Eagle Scout, so I ought to be able to live without a house, right? I wondered how hard it could be and what challenges I would face. If nothing else, it would make a heck of a story . . .

I also realized that in the grand scheme of things, I don't really own anything at this point in my life. The bank owns my car. Sallie Mae technically owns my degree. My clothes are pretty much worthless in the grand scheme of things. In all honesty, the only thing that I own that has a good resale value is my KitchenAid mixer. Wow. That's . . . pathetic. I have years of college education, and the only things I can claim in life are my mixer and my mountain of debt. How can I justify paying hundreds of dollars for rent when I don't even own my car? What part of that is living within my means?

We live in a society that has accepted and embraced personal debt to the point that our world economy is in doubt. In the wealthiest country in the world, the average adult has 12.7 credit accounts, our government can't even pass a budget, and I just want to be debt-free. I want my parents to be able to retire after spending their retirement putting my sister and me through school. I have ideas for great business ventures and inventions, and I want them to come to fruition. I want to make a difference to better this world beyond myself. I want the American Dream and I'm willing to fight for it - I just hope it's still attainable.

So, that's it. I'm homeless. It wasn't something I just jumped into, though. I planned and prepared a lot. I am still solving daily problems and making the lifestyle easier. It is for that reason that I write this blog. I wanted to share my experience and provide tips to others who, while they may not be so insane as to live in their car, just want to live a little smaller and dream a little bigger.

I want to end by saying that in no way am I intending to take away from those who truly are homeless and who must live on the streets, but not by choice. There is still a need for compassion and aid to such people, and I don't want to belittle that in any way. Perhaps my experiences will somehow help them, as well.

I dedicate this blog to George Alvin Waldorf, my great-grandfather, who provides the pseudonym for this blog. He was the cheapest penny-pincher who ever lived, but he lived a long, rich, and incredible life. It wasn't until after his death that we realized that he had managed to squirrel away a million dollars as a high-school physics teacher, a portion of which he left to my family for our education.

Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of wealth, Grandpa. In memory of George Alvin Waldorf, October 10, 1900 - August 17, 1995.