As an agent working in relatively stable conditions, it can be easy to forget about the periods of influx our industry goes through, especially if you’re just starting out.
The important thing to remember when living on a fluctuating income is to put a percentage of every sale aside and build wealth now to offset the leaner times that do eventually roll around.
Of course, it’s not only possible to survive in harder times, but thrive in our industry if you have the right systems in place. There are a few ways that you can do this:
Enlist the help of an accountant who understands our industry
Do you have a good accountant who understands the fluctuating nature of the real estate business? This is really important because a one-size-fits-all approach won’t necessarily work for your budget or savings plan. So make sure you find someone who either works with others in the real estate industry or understands the nature of a fluctuating income.
This might seem obvious, but so many times those on a fluctuating income can see themselves setting aside only enough to pay the bills, with the remainder going towards discretionary expenses. Just because you don’t have the same amount coming in every month doesn’t mean you can’t set clear, achievable goals to save for and make a plan to get there.
Figure out what it is you want at the end of your career. Early retirement? Own your own office? Or just a large nest egg for security?
Invest in property
Do you own or are you saving to own your own property? I’m constantly amazed at how many young agents don't own their own property. Over the long term, property is still considered one of the most stable investments you can make. As mentioned above, set a goal to save a deposit in a reasonable timeframe, given your earnings over the last few years, and talk to an accountant or financial planner on the best way to get there.
Consider other investments
It doesn’t have to end with property either. If you’ve been having a particularly good quarter, with more cash in your pocket than you budgeted for, why not look at other investment options? Well-planned investments can help to bolster your income in leaner times, and can certainly help as we reach the end of our careers.
Give back to the community
When times are good, ask yourself what you are doing for charity. Supporting local charities, schools or community programs is not only a terrific way to give back to the community, it’s also a great way to become a bigger part of your community, something I believe is crucial in our industry.
This doesn’t always have to amount to financial support, either, if that’s not possible. You can always volunteer for a cause or offer to raise awareness on their behalf. It could be something you encourage your office or franchise to take part in as well.
It can certainly be a challenge living well on a fluctuating income, but it’s definitely achievable with planning and guidance. Seek independent financial advice, implement a budget and set goals. Don’t be afraid of investment or giving back to the community you work and live in.