The Fear Factor

Sometimes I find inspiration in my greatest fear.

This week, I took a course on accounting and income tax for Realtors. Not so much because I'm interested in that sort of thing, but, because it's information I need, and to be perfectly honest, I needed the credits too. We Realtors need to accumulate education credits in order to stay informed, and to renew our professional licences.

As is customary, we roll into the basement room at our local real estate board office, (usually at the last possible minute!), grab a coffee, and set our phones to "silent". Of course, we then need to place our phones on the table in front of us so that we don't miss that all important phone call, text, or email. It's imperative in our business to be available and reachable at all times. Multi-tasking is just par for the course. (Pun intended!).

Once I was 'set up', I looked around the room and noticed an elderly lady with, you guessed it, her Blackberry set up in front of her. Now, when I say 'elderly', I'm guessing she was in her 80's. Either that, or, god forbid, just looked much older than her real age. (Commission sales can do that to you!). My first thought was, WOW. Someone of that generation, fully connected to technology is very cool, and an amazing comment on our times. And on her in particular.

My next thought, and here's where it gets a bit disturbing for me, was, WOW, she's still selling real estate in her 80's! Asided from the cool factor, I wondered if she was in the business because she truly enjoys it, or if she needed to keep working for financial reasons. Working in real estate is an expensive proposition. We are self employed, and need to pay a multitide of expenses every month, whether or not we have made a sale. Making a sale takes time, effort, and a virtually 24/7 availability. It seems very unlikely to me that anyone would, or could, do this as a 'hobby' business, unless they are financially flush otherwise.

I have heard statistics that say roughly 30% of seniors are working, and 30% of those are working full time. Our government pensions are not enough for most of us to live on comfortably, and if they are your only source of income in retirement, working may be the only option. (Which of course brings up a health issue, but, that's a whole other subject!).

Now, here's where the 'disturbance factor' morphs into the 'fear factor'! We career Realtors do not have pension plans. We must base our retirement solely on what we can save throughout our working lives, as do many many others. I wondered if I was looking at my future.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, and I'm not in a great hurry to retire, but, my vision of my 'Golden Years' looks more like the picture attached to this blog. And, I'd really rather not have to use my smart phone as an appendage when I get there.

That said, I'm not getting any younger. None of us are. In fact, just to drive the point home (as if it needed any driving!), I had dinner last night with two close girlfriends, both of whom are excited to retire at the end of this year! They are enjoying the Freedom 55 plan with a nice employer pension. Just a little envy on my part.

So, with all this running through my head, I realized that it might serve me well to actually listen to the accountant teaching this course. Any new financial knowledge can't hurt! I became a sponge, albeit with a tiny air of desperation. It seems the time has come to focus a little more on the plan. I'd like to be perched in that Muskoka chair, minus the attached smartphone. Someday. Perhaps this little fear motivation has been a good thing.

I know that many of us are in this same position: too young to retire, yet too old to ignore it. I'm interested to hear your thoughts and ideas, especially now that I'm a sponge!



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