Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Real estate, as I have said before, is my "encore career," a nice descriptive phrase I picked up from the paper today (see Syracuse.com for the article).  Although the reference cites many examples that have to do with finishing one career and then going into another for a less profitable, more altruistic motive, I still like the idea of "encore."  Except in my case, I think teaching and administration was more a prelude and real estate is my primary career!

When I worked in schools, I mostly received a paycheck every two weeks or bi-monthly.  It wasn't the greatest paycheck (my Waldorf School experience in Saratoga stands out) but it was a paycheck I could rely on for the most part.  Health insurance was paid for or partially paid by the district (except for again, the Waldorf School).  I think real estate is fairly far removed from my administrative days at Spring Hill, but I wouldn't have lost those two years for any amount of money.

So I live commission to commission, working out how to get through the slow times and what to do with the money during the affluent times.  Brian Buffini again, as mentor, has taught me how to do this.  When I first started I was caught up short by the taxes one year.  The last year I was ever caught short, I might add.  Suddenly my good amount of commission was held hostage by April 15th and I had to find that money somehow.  Which I did, thanks to a home equity loan.  But I was lucky to have that.

These days are different.  I still have to buy my own health insurance, but I have managed to find a program that works for me.  Forget dental or vision insurance for now.  The de-stressing I've been doing has helped to keep me from grinding my teeth at night - so it does pay off!  I have dues to the national Realtor board, the local board, and payments for the use of my lockbox key.  I buy my own signs and advertising, but I like that.  I make the choices.  And of course RE/MAX takes a part of each commission.

So when I do have a check, I parcel it out.  Currently 40% gets immediately thrown into savings off the top for taxes and a retirement account.  Another 20% goes into my separate business account to pay for advertising, signs, dues and gifts.  A second 20% goes into our joint account; that pays for our mortgage, household expenses and New York State property and school taxes.  Then 10% goes to that home equity I took out years ago to pay down.  The remaining 10% goes to my checking account, so I can pay for my cars, trips to Manhattan, SU games, health insurance and entertainment.

The tellers love to see me come in with everything sorted out...but nowadays I don't worry about where my tax money will come from in April.  I don't have six months put away for emergencies and I know I need to work on that, but I would rather pay down the HELOC and draw from that if need be.

Overall, I am much happier by far than when I got a regular paycheck and certainly much better off financially.