Choosing Real Estate
In my life, I have had many jobs. I have been a housemaid in a Super 8 motel. I have worked in grocery stores, fast food restaurants, one gas station, and sold cosmetics to earn extra money when I was a student. After college, I worked in the insurance industry for some of the biggest names in the business, and I thought that was going to become a career, but it ended up just being a couple of entry to mid-level jobs. Fortunately, my parents instilled a strong work-ethic in me, and I worked really hard to do my best in every job I ever had despite that I was only modestly compensated. There are no small jobs, only small minds, right?
My first actual career move was to become a teacher after my youngest daughter was born. I found student success immensely rewarding, and I loved the challenge of the job. But it always felt like there were not enough hours in the day to do the job the way I felt it should be done AND complete all of the paperwork, attend meetings, grade papers. As a result I worked longer and longer hours, completely failing at the concept of a work-life balance. Most people realize that as a teacher, working more hours doesn’t ever translate into more pay. Teacher salaries are set – not by performance or effort, but by your level of education and years of experience. I was going to be paid the same amount of money if I put in all the extra time or not. I put in the extra time because I have never minded working hard, even if I’m not personally the one who benefits from it.
I have already shared that I left public school teaching for personal family reasons, not because of anything to do with the job. In the years since, I have substitute taught, homeschooled my girls, and eventually ended up teaching at a homeschool cooperative, or what is called a “University Model” private school two days a week. It doesn’t pay well, but it’s immensely enjoyable. The biggest benefit to me though has been the opportunity to meet and befriend some truly amazing people. Not all of them still work at or have children who attend the school, but my life is much richer for having spent my time working alongside and learning from the people affiliated with Katy Classical Academy. For the sake of full disclosure, I want to make clear that I plan to continue working as a teacher at the school for as long as they allow me to be there. I have cut back on the number of classes I will teach in the upcoming year, but I cannot imagine giving up teaching completely at this time.
The harsh reality though is that I have two teenage daughters still living with me. Teenagers are expensive! You can’t imagine what we spend on make up, hair product, and personal care items each year. Then there are all of their social functions, a category that truly is a budget killer: movies, the mall, coffee with friend, lunch with friends, dinner with friends, Water Park, birthday parties, Sweet 16’s, homecoming dresses, prom dresses, church camps. It seems like every time I turn around, my teens are looking for $20 each (and sometimes $40 each). Sure, they babysit and do odd jobs to earn money on the side. Everyone in my family has a side hustle, but it’s nothing they do with enough regularity to completely support themselves. Besides, I want them to keep their main focus on doing well in school during the academic year more than I want them to work a regular part-time job.
Please understand, dear reader, that when I was growing up, my mom required me to get a job at age thirteen so I could help out the family. That’s when I got the job working at the Super 8 motel. My mom let me keep about $20 a week and took the rest for the family because we were struggling at the time. Once I started working, my mom never paid for anything ever again. I bought my own shampoo, tooth paste, school clothes – whatever was needed. When I started driving, I was allowed to keep more of my pay (she collected rent from me instead), but I had to cover my insurance, gas money, repairs, plus all of my personal care expenses. Now truthfully, I don’t see anything wrong with the way I was raised. I always intended to raise my children the same way. But times have changed. School seems much more important to me than it was to my parents. A Social life seems much more important to me than it was to my parents.
My mom hardly ever let me go out with friends and in fact discouraged friendship of any sort. She seemed to believe that no one really wanted to be my friend anyway because everyone was just some sort of user. I am probably overcompensating for that with my own children. Deliberately to be different from my own mother, I am not requiring them to work through high school and I encourage them to socialize as much as possible. That has become so much easier for them since the older of the two turned sixteen and started driving. My husband and I decided to pay for her insurance and gas money so that she would be able to keep her focus on school – a major priority. In fact, she is a year behind in school right now, and she wants to start dual enrolling in college courses for high school credit to have at least a year of college completed by the time she finishes high school so that she can make up that year. We told her it sounds like a great idea! Now, it’s up to me to be able to earn the extra money we need to support this lifestyle we’ve allowed our teenagers to become accustomed to.
It must have been a year and half ago now that I realized my part-time teaching gig was never going to pay for bigger upcoming expenses like cars and college. I realized it was time to make some new decisions. I could try working a part-time job somewhere, like the grocery store down the street, and work 20-30 hours a week to better supplement my husband’s income, in addition to teaching part-time, but let’s face it; that prospect had very limited potential from the get go. I gave this a lot of thought. I prayed a LOT. I sought counsel from my husband.
For years, we have thought that in our later years, we’d like to enter a pre-retirement lifestyle where we own our own business. It was always going to be something that involved us owning property to rent and living on the premises, such as a bed and breakfast, or maybe an RV resort. Of course, we have absolutely no means to pay for that either. Plus, who would really know if such an endeavor would be a good investment? It’s not like we are experts at real estate investment or anything, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like there is no reason we cannot become experts at it. That’s primarily how my interest in real estate got started. The more I looked into the idea of becoming an investor, the more I felt I needed knowledge and training only an industry insider could acquire. In the end, we decided that my time would be better spent starting and building a business as a real estate agent than working retail.
Once that decision was made, I did a little bit of cursory research into the expenses I would incur as a real estate agent. Then we spent about a year working diligently to pay off all of our small debts to make room in the budget to cover those extra expenses. My next step was getting licensed. Since I was teaching quite a few classes last school year, I could not just take off and go to real estate school for six weeks like a lot of people do. Besides, that option is a bit pricey. I started looking through my Groupon App, and eventually I found it: a Groupon that would enable me to take all six of the pre-licensing courses online for about the cost of a weekend away. That was a Christmas gift to myself. I bought it in December 2017 and started my classes in January of 2018.
Because of my teaching commitments, I was only able to complete one class a month, except in May. My May class was so tough, it dragged into the first week of June. It’s okay. I finished two classes in June and submitted my application to the state licensing board. I went on to schedule my licensing exam as soon as I was allowed. It’s five days from now. I’ve been studying like crazy! Thankfully, my educational package came with an Exam Prep Master option that has enabled me to better prepare for the test. This transition has not been easy, by any means, but it will be totally worth it for the chance to be my own boss. For the first time in my life, I am choosing a career where the extra time and effort I expend might really pay off for me – literally. And even if it doesn’t, at least I’ll be learning a whole new business.
I’m very excited about getting started in my new career as a licensed real estate agent. I know that if I do well, this could be a game-changer for my family. Right now, I think I will be able to work at it about 30-35 hours a week over the next year. I’m hoping and praying that people I know (both near and far) will help me out with referrals and opportunities to earn their business (Seriously – if someone in New York, Florida, or anywhere in the world contacts me to say they are looking for a Realtor, and I get to make the referral, that person will get a great agent and I will be able to earn a small commission!) So keep that in mind the next time someone tells you they are thinking of buying, selling, or investing in real estate. I’m choosing Real Estate as my new career, and once I begin, I hope people will think of me for all their real estate needs.