Friday, April 18, 2008

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Solvent

D.I.Y. Commando David Giffels plastered, painted and pounded his falling-down house into submission.

In these times of mortgage crisis and credit card debt, of people living over their heads and losing their homes, it may be instructive to visit David and Gina Giffels, proud owners of an exquisitely renovated 1913 Tudor house, with six fireplaces, a solarium and a billiards room, which is well within their means, in part because they paid $65,000.

It is true, this was 12 years ago here in Akron, as the city was struggling to come out of its Rust Belt doldrums, and at the time the house was not so exquisite. It was, in fact, as the couple learned only at the closing, about to be condemned. There were large holes in the roof, various furry woodland animals in residence, a barely functional heating and plumbing system. The roof over the master bedroom leaked so badly that the previous owner had placed 55 aluminum baking pans on the floor to catch the rain. Passers-by, glimpsing the house through trees and brush, assumed it was deserted.

On the other hand, except for the mortgage on this house, the Giffelses have no debt. This is not only because they have done so much of the renovation themselves, but because they do not have and never have had credit cards. Their feeling, anachronistic as the servants’ call button in their dining room, is that if you don’t have the money for something, you don’t buy it.

Rock on David, you're my hero! After getting canned from my two year stint at an advertising agency (my first real world exposure to the "game" as some of the veteran hacks call it) I can only thank my lucky stars and the Big Dude upstairs to make it through my first 14 months of working from home and having the cash to not only cover my mortgage and bills, but also to cover my self-employment tax nut.

Sure, things were tight for a while, they still are. The wife and kids are covered health insurance wise, but as of today I'm still not, but soon. I sold my car and we rarely eat out but the bills are all paid and, like the Giffelses, the only dept is the mortgage on our groovy little 1949 casa down here in Monte Vista.

In a nutshell, I've got plenty of projects on my plate, it's officially
FIESTA Time and the sun is shining and I'm fixin' to go walk my dogs Ringo and Dazy. Things are actually quite sweet right now.

It's really pretty basic and simple - if I can't pay cash for something, I can't afford it.

Read the rest of Joyce Walder's New York Times piece Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Solvent.

That's Right,



  1. Couldn't agree me - there is too much reliance on credit these days, so much so that the UK and US markets are suffering because people have hit bankruptcy at a record rate. I've just bought my first solo property, and I'm determined to do the place up properly, but also without getting myself into debt. It's perfectly feasible, and the only way to do it, IMHO.

    Glad to hear things are working out for you though...keep on at it!!

  2. Thanks and best of luck with your first property - this is my first as well!