[MICHAEL'S BLOG SITE:
IT’S OK, DAD/MONEY FEARS]
Some months ago Wife retired. Her retirement did not last long. There are two disadvantages to retirement. One: unless you’re a corporate honcho you are not going to get rich on your pension. Two: being retired is boring. So she cast about for something to do.
She began with a course on real estate at our local community college. It was intensive, demanding, dull. She loved it. Go figure. But then I wasn’t really surprised. Her university degree (with academic honors) is in economics. I have been married to the woman for forty plus years and I still have no idea what economists do.
Nonetheless sometime in our marriage (ok, within the first week) she took over our family finances. Thank God! In my wallet I have five dollars for a hamburger and a credit card in case I need something. When I turn on a light I know she’s paid the electric bill which sums up my interest/knowledge of our finances. Whatever…it works.
Meanwhile Wife was bored with retirement. I am a writer and writers have a circus going on in their heads which keeps us from being bored. Economists don’t. Wife’s idea of a rock star is Ben Bernanke.
One day an invitation arrived to a conference introducing a real estate investment program. Wife was intrigued. I was not. Hours later she returned determined to go into the real estate investment business. But first she would have to learn more about it. And (Surprise!) the people putting on the conference just happened to offer a course on real estate investing. A very expensive course.
I have mixed feelings about this, including being somewhat fearful. Enough that Wife has asked me to blog about how I feel. She tells me other spouses share my concerns. Like most such pitches the programs are intended for potential investors. “Special people.” As special people our invitations arrived at both home and work.
A day or so later I took some trash out to the bin we share with others in our condo complex. There, amidst the egg shells and coffee grounds, I noticed two or three other conference invitations. Apparently to be included among the elite the main requirement is to have the same zip code.
On the other hand, if anyone can make a go of this, it’s Wife. She’s smart, well educated and hard-working. She spends more hours on the computer than she did in her previous profession. Researching property and the on-line training webinars seem endless.
And maybe my fearful concerns are entirely misplaced. I admit I am not a trusting person. I always look for the spot under the couch.
Years ago we rented a small furnished apartment near the university we attended. Our neighbors were our landlords, an elderly couple. We weren’t there long, a semester or so. On our last day the landlords inspected the apartment, a requirement before our cleaning deposit could be returned.
They clucked approvingly at how spotless we left everything. But then the grandmotherly wife looked at the couch. “Uh oh,” she said sweetly, “I’m afraid this won’t do.”
On cue her husband pulled the couch away from the wall. There on the carpet was a spot. We didn’t make it. We didn’t even know it was there. You couldn’t even see it under the couch! But Grandma knew just where to look.
We forfeited the deposit, it wasn’t much. But such a shabby little hustle I suspect they played on every student couple who rented from them.
I still look for the “spot under the couch” though I’ve not found any with the program Wife has invested in. Yes, it is expensive. Very. But nothing misleading. Meanwhile Wife has made her first real estate investments. We now own property in two other states.
Yes I am still concerned. During the California Gold Rush fortunes were made. But not usually by prospectors. No, mainly by guys selling over-priced shovels.
But so far no spots on the carpet. Consequently I am hopeful, even…cautiously optimistic.