I was raised with the Monopoly mindset: It does not matter how much money you make or how many times you pass Go, but how much property you own. Wealth lies in two things: Not having to pay rent, and being able to charge others rent.
Think about the amount a person might pay in rent during their lives. For a 2-bedroom apartment, I must pay a minimum of $425 a month, and most people with a good-paying job would spend at least $600 a month. That's $5,100 to $7,200 a year, or up to $72,000 over the next ten years. A pretty decent home could be bought for $72,000. In fact, with the current foreclosures, I've seen shell-homes for as little as $7,500, and livable homes for $17,000.
But with the current mortgage crisis, it's almost impossible to get a loan. Meaning that if you're working minimum wage like me, you must have the money up-front to buy a home. Almost impossible to save $17,000 WHILE paying rent, especially if you're working minimum wage.
Unless you're a college student. I'm offered $20,000 in financial aids and student loans each year. My goal... to be able to buy a home by the time my financial aid comes in in January 2012.
Of course, a $17,000 home in my assets means I will probably no longer be eligible for financial aid, even though I will still be working minimum wage... but ya know whatever. Our economy is designed to keep the working class working, but hopefully with some creative accounting, I can work my way out of this class.