Forget keeping up with the Joneses; kids these days just want to blow the Joneses out of the water.
Many consumers have spent too much on a luxury handbag, or signed on for a car payment that might require a regular phone call to Mom and Dad. But the price tag of appearing successful, wealthy, and independent has just gone up, as a new Bankrate.com survey shows that 30 million homebuyers have felt pressured to overspend on a home.
The survey also accounts for how peer pressure comes into play when shopping for things like school supplies or holiday gifts.
Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with Creditcards.com, said potential homebuyers should remember to identify costs beyond what’s posted on the “for sale” sign.
“You need to be careful not to overextend yourself, and you need to account for taxes, insurance and maintenance,” Rossman said. “But what feels like a stretch at first could become a much more reasonable monthly payment over time. That’s because your income could very well go up, and assuming you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, that payment will remain static. So you’re insulating yourself from inflation in a way that renters are unable to do. Property taxes and construction costs generally go up over time, so factor that in, particularly if you’re planning major home improvements.”
According to Bankrate.com’s information, Millennials (ages 23-38) are twice as likely to feel pressured to overspend on a home than those who are older. Parents with children under 18 also are quick to throw down cash for some new digs.
The survey, conducted by YouGov.Plc, questioned 2,744 adults, including 1,534 parents. Different age categories were broken into subsets, and questions explored particular purchases such as homes or gifts, and used factors as social media.
“We found that Millennials are about three-and-a-half times more likely than older adults to feel pressure to overspend from social media,” Rossman said. “Homes are a big part of this. Young adults see their friends posting amazing pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and want that, too. I think the biggest financial pitfall of social media is that people put their best foot forward, so you feel pressure to keep up, but you don’t see the downside. You see your friends’ incredible vacations, beautiful homes, shiny new cars, and fancy new outfits. You don’t see that some of those people could have gone into considerable debt to acquire those items.”
It’s true; photos of leaky toilets and cracked ceilings aren’t quite as common on Instagram as swimsuit models guzzling champagne on a yacht.
Big spenders can take some comfort in knowing that a home is an investment as well as a place to live, Rossman said. It is a man’s castle, after all.
“I think it’s OK to stretch a bit financially for a home purchase if you’re doing it for the right reasons (the schools are good; the neighborhood is safe, trendy, and gaining value; it’s somewhere you plan to live for many years, etc.),” Rossman said. “Of course, you don’t want to overspend, but I’d be more willing to push the limits of my budget for a nice place that my wife, daughter, and I would live for many years, as opposed to overspending on a vacation or jewelry.”
Nearly half of U.S. adults (49 percent) say they have felt pressured to overspend on any item – not just homes – to look successful in the eyes of others. Millennials are much more likely to feel this pressure than those who are older (64 percent vs. 40 percent), as are parents with children under 18 (65 percent), according to the survey.
It’s alarming, Rossman added, that 25 percent of adults in the U.S. have put items on a credit card in order to impress others.
“Half of Millennials have either done this or would consider it,” he said. “Credit card rates are at record highs, close to 18 percent, so that’s really expensive debt.”
There are plenty of options for those who don’t want to break the bank.
“I like the idea of using social media and other technology for good – so not for the pressure to overspend, but for the ability to save,” Rossman said. “There are lots of great websites where you can get gently used clothes, electronics, home décor, and other items for a fraction of the retail price. Consider tapping directly into your network of friends, family, and community members, too. For instance, you could arrange a kids’ clothes swap. Kids grow fast, and many parents have nice clothes lying around that their kids have outgrown, and they’d be happy to give them a new home.”