It was 1997 and here I was, Robert Floris buying his first home.  Was I nervous, you betcha ya.  For many of my Hamilton Ontario friends and clients it was very emotional.  I grew up in an apartment over a store on Main Street in Hamilton Ontario.  I did not have the connection most people have with their homes.  Personally I was more scared of the mortgage.  I was very practical buying my new home; I wanted a good location, a nice lot, and enough size not to move again and most importantly, a happy wife.

    Many times, the things/experiences that give us the greatest joy are free but often times, money is involved.  And when that’s the case, we have to weigh the cost of the thing/experience against the pleasure we will get from it.  One Example:  Owning a Home.

    One of the arguments about becoming rich is to stay in your original home and not move up.  Since your home is the most expensive thing you buy in your lifetime, since it is your castle you probably spend money on the home that does not produce returns.  Property taxes, insurance and yearly maintenance are separate from other items such as; schooling, automobiles and vacations.  By keeping the house you have and investing the money you probably will be far richer over a period of time.

    In a book titled, “Happy Money”, the authors contend that there is almost no evidence to suggest that buying a home, or a new or nicer home increases happiness.  Studies from Germany with purchases of newer homes did nothing at all to increase their satisfaction with their lives.  In other words, their overall happiness did not improve at all.  In an American study, 90% of Americans said they believed home ownership to be of the Keys to the American Dream.  Yet, in study after study, home ownership does not seem to correlate to happiness.

    What makes you happy?  According to the authors, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, experiences such as a trip, a concert or special night are what make life better.  It seems then, that the actual pleasure you get from an experience is not the most important criterion for determining its ultimate value.  The criterion seems to be of intensity.  The more intense the experience, the more happiness it brings.

    The conclusion is that it appears experiences provide more happiness than material goods.  People are going to say Mr. Floris, you are in the mortgage industry, don’t you want people to buy larger homes?  Yes I do, if that is what will make you happy, but the reality, in my eyes, is that who really wants a mortgage?  Hamilton Ontario is a great city but the advantage of our homes is that they are affordable.  Who the hell really wants a mortgage?  I think the answer is no one.  Please think about what will make you happy.