I’ve never invested in real estate before. I know plenty of people who have, and I understand the basics, but this is the first time I’ve done something of my own. So why I am talking to you here on a real estate investing site?
I’ve recently made some important decisions in my life, decisions that will have a profound impact on what I do over the next couple of years. Decisions that will end with me owning real estate investments of my own. I’ve been following this site for several months now, learning more about real estate investing, and how this might help me. But before I get into that, let’s go back a little bit.
How I got here
I am a wife and a mother. I’ve been in the working world for quite some time, and lead what most people would call a nice, stable life. I come from a good family, raised by typical midwestern parents. This includes a homemaker mother, who made a few extra dollars providing in-home child care while I was growing up, and a corporate business-man father, who also happened to be a Purple Heart Army veteran.
My parents taught me success comes from working hard and treating others with respect. I went to a good college, and got a good job after I graduated. I wasn’t an investment banker or a doctor, but I earned enough to live comfortably. Eventually, I got married and had my first child. I was happy, and figured my path was set.
Then, things started to change
First, it was the great recession of 2009. I had already been through one recession relatively unscathed, the dot com crash of 2000, but this one was different. I started to see it affect people that I knew and cared about. I started to see former managers and people that I respected, who I thought had secure jobs, lose their positions. It started to feel as though nobody was safe in this one.
And then it hit me. I went from having a nice job, to being laid off and unemployed in the blink of an eye. I’m pretty resilient, so I wasn’t out of work very long before I landed a new position. But within a year, I was laid off again. Again, I bounced back pretty quickly, landing another job in a short time, but by then I was making less than I had been earning just a few years earlier. And each layoff took a hit on my savings, as the bills didn’t stop just because I was out of work. As if that wasn’t depressing enough, the stock market crash had also wiped out like half of my retirement account. I survived the Great Recession, and my bank accounts eventually recovered, but I was different.
Then, over the last few years, I started to notice some of the personal changes that were happening to my friends. In more cases than I’d like to count, I had to watch as couples I knew for years, couples whose weddings I was in, get divorced. It’s tough to see the pain of their family splitting up, but I also saw the damage divorce did to their assets. I watched people go from living fairly comfortable married lives go to kind of scraping by as a single parent.
I also started to realize just how fragile life is. I don’t consider myself old, but I’ve been around long enough to see friends have family members, and even spouses, pass away unexpectedly. These are awful events, with long lasting implications. Any parent can tell you the amount of collaboration they do with a spouse to split up the responsibilities of taking care of a kid, but what happens when it’s just them on their own? Once they’ve gotten over the grief of their loss, then they have to deal with losing their spouses income and help around the house. Just like in a divorce, they often go from living comfortably, to struggling as a single parent.
And there’s one more thing I’ve started to notice, it’s that people become even more vulnerable later in life. I was able to bounce back from getting laid off pretty easily, but I was young and early in my career. What happens if a recession hits when I’m older, like in my 50’s? If I lose my job, will I find another one as easily, or will I have a hard time competing against all of the younger candidates? Could I end up settling for a lesser job, and watch my retirement push even further out into the future because there isn’t enough money coming in any more? Could I end up having to work harder and longer, just when I’m ready to start easing back? No thank you.
As I stated earlier, I’m pretty resilient. And working hard and treating people with respect, the values my parents instilled in me, are still important to me. But financial survival requires more than just that. You can’t count on your job to take care of you when things get tough. There’s a lot I can’t control about life, but I’m not going to let my financial survival depend on my job. I want to put myself into a position where I no longer have to fear losing my job, or my spouse. I want financial independence.
This won’t be easy, but I’ve already set goals for myself. I spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I now know where I want to go, and how soon I want to get there. In my next post, I’ll share those goals with you.
In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to leave comments or questions. Let me know your thoughts, what do you think about what I am doing?
See you again next week!