Today's Market Realities II - Old Fogie Agents- Consider Living a Bit Less Large...

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Ahhhhhhhhhh... I remember when my average monthly income was $23,500... which meant some months were even higher. I remember two $50,000 months in a row. I remember the year I broke the $300,000 mark. I remember the year I burned out and half-heartedly worked only six months ... and brought in $179,000.


Trouble is, I got into the habit of spending those dollars, not frivolously, but spent them I did. If I wanted a new kitchen, I got it. A sweet little investment property that seemed like a good deal - I bought it. And yes, there was a bit of the princess in there - weekly massages, daily "maid" service and a cute little Caribbean blue Miata I just had to have.

Easy come... easy go.

And speaking of easy - it's an easy habit to fall into when you work on commission - treating those enormous commission checks like Monopoly money and assuming there are plenty more growing on that money tree in the back yard.

I haven't seen a $23,500 month in awhile! Neither has anyone I know.

We Old Fogie agents developed some poor spending habits during the days of prosperity; habits which are hard to break.  But break them we must. We need to practice using that dirty little word... NO.

I can proudly admit that I have curtailed my lifestyle, although it took awhile to admit to myself that I needed to do so. And then some more time to actually listen to myself when I told myself NO. I'm far from perfect and I still spend money I probably shouldn't, but I can promise you, when those $50,000 months return, I intend to maintain my frugal lifestyle (although I really miss those weekly massages)!    

Many of my Old Fogie agent friends are giving lip service to the idea of cutting back. But they aren't doing it. They're so used to the good life they don't see that many of what they consider "necessities" are actually ridiculously luxurious. New Years Eve in Aspen, a ski pass to Vail, season tickets to the Nuggets, gourmet coffee imported from Costa Rica, monthly facials and weekly visits to the acupuncturist.

Hey, I understand how hard it is to sacrifice in response to what we hope is a temporary downturn in the economy. And I hope with all my heart that my current state of frugality soon becomes a choice, rather than a necessity. But in the meantime, I can almost FEEL that character building!




Okay, okay - if you MUST spend a few dollars... 

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Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Massages are really more of a treatment to keep you functioning at top capacity. You could put those back in the budget without guilt.

Dec 10, 2008 12:54 AM #8
Kenneth Cole
Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, - Staten Island, NY
NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Let's never forget what is really important. The more we make, the more we spend, the less it's worth and the more the goverment takes from us. What is it that makes us do what we do? Happyness, personal satisfaction for a job well done, and our reputation. And I think most important, what we leave behind. As we age, our ideas change. Interesting blog. Makes me think.
Dec 10, 2008 12:58 AM #9
Lanette Branch
RE/MAX Components - Fallston, MD

Massages are really more of a treatment to keep you functioning at top capacity. You could put those back in the budget without guilt.

I second that, Maria!

Dec 10, 2008 01:06 AM #10
Michael Delp
Mortgage Pro - Telford, PA

I guess it depends where your priorities are. I was always happy when the bills got paid. I never needed 23,000 a month to live. Everyone who was used to that lifestyle are probably hurting pretty bad right now. Kenneth was right... happiness is a job well done, not how much money you made from it.

Dec 10, 2008 01:10 AM #11
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

$23,000 a month is a great way to be able to put  money away for kids college, or your retirement - if you can keep it. 

Nothing to be ashamed of either .  I have lots of plans for my "future fortune" - much if which doesn't involve me personally.  :)

Sure that's what they all

Dec 10, 2008 01:20 AM #12
Amanda Evans
DFW Living - Fort Worth, TX
Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas

I was bumbed for about a day when I turned my BMW in at lease end without driving off in another one. Not being stressed about that payment makes it a lot easier to make money so I just keep reminding myself that it won't be long.  No biggie.

I will not give up massages, though.  That's where I draw the line.

Dec 10, 2008 01:39 AM #13
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund Real Estate - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno
I was in a class yesterday and an agent was saying he has been in "the business" for over 25 years and has seen many a different marktets. He laughed and said the next time we have a Real Estate boom he is not going to spend all of the money he makes but save and learn he added!
Dec 10, 2008 02:01 AM #14
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Downturns are good for us in so many ways...look at how many people suddenly "learned" how to conserve gas when it was $4.50 a gallon.  I am lucky I am work in a small geographic area - I don't burn through much gas even in my busiest times so while the big jump in prices wasn't a big deal to me, I admit I get a small little thrill at the pump these days.  It feels as if gas is almost free!  Now, I certainly would never have had that pleasure if gas had never been $4.50!  LOL

When we do reevaluate lifestyle choices, we realize we don't appreciate things nearly as much when we have them all the time.  There are certain things we say we "cannot give up," no matter what, but at the end of the day, when we look at what we have, wow, could most of us be any more blessed at the abundance we truly have, even in our worst times? 

Dec 10, 2008 03:10 AM #15
Dora & Vincent Kwok
HomeSmart Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
CNE - Chandler, Arizona Real Estate

As Gary Keller says in SHIFT, as the market shifts, the best way to increase money in your pocket is to examine your expenses and cut the "unnecessary or lowest return expenses".  Make sure you are getting an acceptable return on your advertising/marketing dollars.


Dec 10, 2008 03:14 AM #16
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

Jennifer, Where did all the money go? In 2005 I sold a house every 4 days working by myself from my home. It was fun. I never did too much splurging but did spend a lot of money on real estate investments money pits and gave a lot of it away. Average home values in my area have dropped from $225,000 to about $110,000. So now I have to sell a house every hour:) Of course that will never happen.

TLW and I have been downsizing for several years now and it has been a great experience. Still not where we want to be yet but hope to be by the end of next year.

The simple life is a very good thing.


Dec 10, 2008 09:26 AM #17
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jennifer, I don't know, but that "cute little Caribbean blue Miata" looks like a "necessities" to me :)

Dec 10, 2008 12:54 PM #18
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

George - I agree - I LOVED that car. Everytime I got in and looked over the sea-color hood, I was just happy. That's a necessity, right? But having two cars in a one-person family... eh... kinda impractical.

Bryant - I'm getting a kick out of figuring out where I can simplify. The main downside is the incredible guilt I feel when I DO spend non-necessary money - for example - I'm taking a much-needed getaway trip next week and it's killing me to spend all those dollars!

Susan - I have a friend who is totally pissed that his company cut his overtime. Then the company announced that they're laying off 50% of the workforce (but not him). Now, he's tickled to have a job at all...

Dec 11, 2008 12:23 AM #19
Lindsay Pendleton
Relocating To Baton Rouge & Surrounding Areas - Baton Rouge, LA
Marketing Agent - Property Management in Baton Rou

I def. need to cut back on spending, it's kind of hard with the holidays and what not.

Dec 11, 2008 05:05 AM #20
Heather Oberhau
Prudential Fox & Roach - Newtown, PA
Bucks County Real Estate, e-PRO

Jennifer, I learned this early on in my career.  I had a fabulous second year in the business.  The next year, I made half of what I had the previous year (gulp).  My husband and I learned really quickly to spend money AFTER you have it, rather than before ;)  We've made some hard choices this year - paying off our car rather than finishing our master bathroom, pulling the baby out of daycare, even though it impacts my ability to do some things.  We're trying to set ourselves up where we can live off of his income, so anything I make (and I still plan on making a lot) is for "other stuff."

Wants vs. needs, baby...

Dec 11, 2008 05:22 AM #21
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

it is SOOOO hard to stop spending. I have always been conservative, but if I wanted something I just got it.  (but never borrowed or charged it)... It certainly is a want vs need scenario... but I still need my toys!

Dec 12, 2008 05:31 AM #22
Kelly Sibilsky
Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD. - Lake Zurich, IL

Oh, I can only imagine what the public would think reading this article.

Dec 12, 2008 08:07 AM #23
Richard Stabile
Re/Max Real Estate Limited - Oradell, NJ
Bergen County New Homes Builder Realtor


I always figured that, live on half of what you make in good times and the bad times are subsidized. I constantly told my fellow agents this over the years. It is hard to back away from fast money when it comes. The adrenaline works both ways, making it and spending it.



Dec 12, 2008 10:12 AM #24
Andrea Palmer
Jones & Co. Realty 239-333-5556 - Cape Coral, FL
Phone 239-333-5556

Love your little car!!!

Dec 14, 2008 11:39 PM #25
Kim Peasley-Parker
AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc. - Sumter, SC

Jennifer-  I have never had a $23K month, but I could sure use one!  I see many agents who have spent, spent, spent and now they are out of the business.  I think the lean times will teach many people a lot of lessons.  Not all are pleasant though.


Dec 15, 2008 02:43 AM #26
Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh
Century 21 New Millennium - Upper Marlboro, MD
A doctor who makes house calls.

It is really difficult to scale back your lifestyle once you get used to the high life.  Good for you for doing that, however, don't give up everything.  Keep the things that really make you happy.  As a new agent I haven't experienced those big months but I sure look forward to it!

Dec 18, 2008 03:13 AM #27
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