From Real Estate To Helping Abused Children – How To Find Purpose After Retiring In Texas with Valinda McAlister

Are you too young to do nothing at all? Have you sat in the comfy chair for too long? Are you bored out of your mind?

Your “golden years” don’t have to be decades spent in front of the TV. It can be a fulfilling time that lets you contribute to your community.

Retirement lets you pivot into a new chapter with purpose. That’s what fellow Texan Valinda McAlister does: She brings awareness to child abuse and sex trafficking with Ransomed Life Texas.

After working in real estate for decades, she became an investor and now spends her retirement impacting her community.

Listen now to discover how to find, pursue and live your purpose in retirement.

Show Highlights Include:

  • What babysitting and a kitchen drawer can teach you about striving for financial freedom. ([3:39])
  • Odd lessons you can learn from managing 45 shopping centers in a city you barely know (even if you never want to get into real estate)
  • How living through “The Great Recession” can set you up for a great retirement ([8:49])
  • Why you should know when to exit your business and retire (even if you want to work another 5 years or more) ([11:02])
  • How to sell a business when it’s time to retire (and the wallet-draining mistakes you should avoid) ([11:56])
  • How Ransomed Life Texas lets Valinda impact her community in retirement (and how you can do the same) ([16:27])
  • Why Garden Bridge, Texas is a great place to retire in.  ([18:58])

DLP012 - From Real Estate To Helping Abused Children - How To Find Purpose After Retiring In Texas



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money?


Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? So welcome to the Retire In Texas Podcast, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas. And now here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


([00:24]): Welcome to retire in Texas. My name is Darryl Lys. I’m the co-founder of PAXs financial group in San Antonio. And PAX is the sponsor of this program. Visit us@pacsfinancialgroup.com. And before I get started, I need to share the dreaded disclosure. This material contains general information only and not intended to provide specific investment tax or legal advice. Visit PAC financial group.com for more information, investment advisory services offered through tax financial group.com. So I’m really excited about today’s show because we get to talk to an entrepreneur. We get to talk to somebody who is not retired, but pivot did into a new chapter with purposely. Thank you for joining us today.



I am happy to be here now. You’re gonna sit on your hands. No, <laugh> <Laugh> She warned me that the last podcast she was on to hit something, right. That is true. I got a little passionate about something and hit the desk and didn’t even realize I was doing it. So yeah. Keep my hands off the desk.


([01:23]): Yeah, no problem. Well, I’m glad you’re here. I’d like to kind of go back in time a little bit and better understand where are you from originally? And did you have brothers and sisters? Tell me a little bit


([01:33]): About that. Oh, you want the 1 0 1? I do. I am a mighty Ballinger Bearcat. That’s the middle of west, Texas between Abilene and San Angelo crew. And I were just talking about that. So halfway between Abilene and San Angelo is Ballinger. Yeah.


([01:48]): How many people live in Ballinger? Well, now it’s about 4,000. Okay. It was about seven when I was there. It was a big city. <Laugh> yeah. So I don’t get up there very often. Yeah. Maybe we have some listeners from there since this is retire in Texas. Maybe some people retired. There could be.


([02:02]): Yeah. Depends. I have a brother to sister, both younger, lots of stories that they would tell on me, but they’re not here. Yeah. Growing up was it’s close to Mayberry. As you could get, I could jump on my bike and in a mile I could be at my dad’s office, go a mile. The other way I could be at the highest school life was simple. It was easy. And if I was anywhere that I was not supposed to be, somebody would tell one of my parents. I Missed those days. <Laugh> well, you and I live in a city now, but a small town is actually I live in garden Ridge now. Yeah. And so it’s a whole lot like garden. Right.


([02:44]): So my kids go to garden Ridge elementary. I don’t know if I told you that. No, I didn’t know that. We live in Rockwell ranch. Okay. Okay. So you know what I’m talking about a little bit. It’s, it’s a Sweet community. It is. So you mentioned your dad had an office. What did your parents


([02:59]): Do? My dad left the Navy, went to school and became a Santa Fe railroad business manager. Okay. Which meant when the Depot in Ballinger had grain season, cotton season, whatever it is, they were shipping. He was the guy that made sure that it went where it was supposed to go and kept all of the books. And he was the guy on site. Did your mom work?


([03:23]): She did. After we got a little bit older, she started her career as a coach. Then they had a family and then she became a special education teacher and then walked her way into a second grade classroom and then became a principal. Did they teach you anything about money growing up or did you observe anything about money that were life


([03:45]): Lessons? Another simple, simple thing. We had a drawer in the kitchen and every time we needed to go to a band contest or a track meet, you had a fee or an S a T cuz the S a T cost $2 and 50 cent. But we had full access to the family checkbook, which would be a foreign idea right now. Yeah. But they had one credit card and it was for Sears. And so we would flip, open the checkbook and one of them would say, well, what do you need? And we’d say, well, we need X and we could see the balance. Cause they kept the balance and checkbook. Yeah. It’s good. So we knew what was going on.


([04:23]): Did you have a Sears catalog? Oh, of course. Yeah, of course. My first tennis racket came from Sears. I just knew I would be Chris ever <Laugh>. So did you find yourself growing up, balancing a checkbook like that? Yes and no. The yes is that we all worked babysit whatever in a small town, mostly for us, it was babysitting. My brother was a I guess it’s a crop duster. Flagger. Yeah. I can picture it. Yeah. Yep. Guys did something totally different, but they taught us some simple lessons. Mother had an account at a shoe store and I walked in one time and said, you know, I love these they’re on sale. I need them, but I didn’t have the money. And she set up a little system with me where we were gonna take every piece of my babysitting money first until we got those paid off <laugh> and so, yeah, there’s just some simple lessons.


([05:13]): Yeah. That’s good. They could have bought it for you. Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure. But they wanted to teach you something exactly. You don’t buy it if you can’t. Yeah. Go figure, act your wage. Yeah. So tell me a little bit more about your career and how you got into


([05:28]): It. I finished my master’s degree in 1982 and there were literally four of us in college at the same time. Where was that at? Excuse me, Abilene Christians. Yeah. I was gonna, I thought I was out still in the middle of west Texas. I love Abilene. Christ’s a great school for


([05:45]): Those that don’t know it’s an awesome school. It is. Oh, I love it. So I went from being a bear cat to a Wildcat. Okay. I stay close, but in 1982, my dad was driving a lot and one morning he and I got up early and he held up the newspaper and the headline of the newspaper said greatest unemployment since the depression. And he looked at me and he said, you’ve graduated. Now you need to find the job. <Laugh> get off my kinda outta the nest thing. But I’d graduated in the summer. And I had degree in business and one of my first interviews was with a chain of department stores. And they said, you know what? I went in for the interview. The guy said, you’ve got a great resume. You’ve got experience, blah, blah, blah. And then he said, but I’ve got four guys with families sitting in the waiting room to interview and we’re not gonna take you.


([06:38]): Wow. Maybe you can try again later. Things were different then they were. And that was that. And so it took a while to get a job. But my first job was in Waco. I was the, I don’t know what my title was, but I assisted the vice president of real estate. And that launched me into the world of major malls as a tenant. And so I worked really in that whole mall real estate world when it was crazy, that was boom. They were booming. They were building everywhere. And so my job was to go through these leases that were about five inches thick, interpret those. And then I began interviewing the franchisees for the real estate for the franchise. Okay. And so I got a 1 0 1 really fast. That was nothing like my legal classes or any of my business classes, contract law. Yeah. But I got to interview people and look at their balance sheets and try, I didn’t know what I was looking at.


([07:34]): It was my first job, but I learned really fast. This is how this goes. This is how you make a deal at mall real estate. Then I got recruited to work on the other side of the table on a development. And so I spent several years, the first, I guess, five or six years in mall, real estate. Good time though. In the eighties it was a really the mid eighties, right? It was, yeah, it was. And then I got recruited to move to San Antonio by the president of a re and I got here and I had 45 shopping centers in a city that I’d been to twice and we still had folding maps. Yeah. So I took off and learned strip center, real estate, power center, real estate really fast. And I kind of got happy because I had a salary and commissions.


([08:26]): Yeah. And that was a big dang deal. So I was a happy camper driving all over San Antonio. What was the re was re real estate investment trust. Who, which one was it? It was first union first union, I guess. I’m not even sure. They’re still around today. They’re based in Cleveland. Okay. And that’s really all they did were office buildings and major malls. And they only had one mall in Texas. And then I had to cover one in Colorado Springs. But that’s not where you originally retired from so to speak. No, no, no, no. I’ve had two careers before the one I have now. So I spent 20 something years in commercial real estate, the last piece of it in commercial real estate investments. And then we bought a company and I was kind of not gonna work in it <laugh> until we had 2007 and eight. And so then I jumped in and we insulated production, builder homes, high-end custom


([09:22]): Homes. Okay. Residential, residential, all residential insulation, all residential high in. And, and who was your in to get into those homes? Was it through the general contractors? We Had major contracts with major production builder. Gotcha. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Was it national or Was it no, no, no, no. Regional, the homes were strictly built here yeah. In Austin.


([09:43]): Right. Okay. And so if, as I understand this correctly, you had this kind of a real estate contract. You were negotiating contracts and with vendors and, and malls and, and that was more of a, a service oriented role that you had for many years. And then you turned into investments, you kind of alluded to the investment side. That was fun. How long did you do the investments? 


([10:04]): About 10 years. Okay. So, and the majority of my clients were 10 31. Yeah. Exchange. And those were fun cuz there was always another One and there’s an element of deadlines there. You gotta get things done. There’s that dopamine hit on those things. Exactly. You’re beating them in. You can beat the IRS and yeah. So I, I, I, I can see how that’s fun, but those were fun. But then you moved into this. So what made you buy this business or buy into it?


([10:28]): We were ready to come home at the time we were living in San Diego and gotcha. All our family was here. We looked at businesses in California and then we businesses in Texas and there really was no contest if you wanted to get ahead. And so <laugh> and we wanted to come home And that was about what,


([10:45]): What year? 2005. We moved back here. Okay. And so you were running that business for how long? Cuz obviously you’re not in it now. No, We’re not in I’m no <laugh> and I’m thankful, really, very thankful. It’s even more competitive. We owned that business 12 years. When Did you know it was time to transition out? What was the catalyst? Was it an event or was it, I


([11:07]): Could build another business around that idea. There is a time for every business owner when you start realizing. And the two of us, my husband and I were both in the business and he was ready. He was ready to retire, ready to stop, ready to sell it. In fact, today we were talking that maybe we waited one year too long. We’d had a consultant come in, do the analysis, lay out the plan. And then we looked at there’s like, you know, there’s probably one more year. And we had really a succession plan. And then within that one year, a number of things happened, his health, a successor wasn’t the person really was the right one. And so it was gonna be me. Then I could have done it. I’m not sure that would’ve been, I don’t think that was God’s plan for me. Let me put it that way. Because then we wound up with a very good offer on the table that made absolute sense.


([11:56]): So y’all were both in alignment, being in the business y’all were both ready and it was just, it was kind of an emotional and physical readiness putting words in your mouth, but it sounds like that’s the case. And then maybe you could help some of the business owners that are listening. Would you mind just sharing just maybe a couple nugget it’s on dos and don’ts, if you’re selling your business <laugh> I know that’s kind of an off script kind of question, but there’s some things there that I want help other people with.


([12:20]): There’s some real serious things. It is, you know, the, you go and you listen to the consultants and you go to these classes and you do your weekend retreats. Then you really have to do some of it. And that means you should have brought somebody in three years earlier, somebody that’s gonna walk with you. And it depends on whether you’re really going to sell it, whether you’re going to partner with them to sell it or whether you’re just gonna walk away from it. The deal that we made was with a billion dollar company and they were in an acquisition mode. And we had seen both of us had seen that before, but Ross was super experienced in M and a business. And so it made sense for us to do what we did when we did it. And honestly, there were a couple of things like everybody says, go find a broker to sell your business for you.


([13:07]): You’re probably your best broker mm-hmm <affirmative> because you know, who’s buying businesses, you know, who’s in your space, you know, who’s talked to you before and we had a lot of those, but this one made the most sense. What I didn’t realize and was naive about is that I needed, I was gonna have to stay the next year to transition it. And that was part of the deal. And so we had two or three contracts rolling along. We had the real estate and then we had the business sale and then we had me the so mine was the very last one to get signed off on. So I stayed for another year. But if you’re a business owner considering to sell your business, my simple advice is don’t just go find a broker to do the job for you because they’re never gonna do as good a job as what you can, if you can carve out the time and if it’s a priority, but do bring someone in go man, five years before you think you’re going to exit. That’s good advice


([14:00]): And see that’s really good advice. So did you need time to breathe after you? Okay. You sold and you stayed on a year and then you said, okay, I’m out. I’m sure that was a challenge in and of itself. But after that, did you just take some time and just say, I’m gonna relax or did you hit the next venture? No, No, no, no. I think everybody needs to breathe and the trick is we should learn to breathe while we’re running the business. Oh my goodness. <Laugh> That’ll preach. <Laugh>


([14:23]): It’s easy to say and hard to do. Yeah. I had another conversation like that earlier today as well. I did. And I just thought, you know, okay, so we’re home and we’ll we’ll travel and we’ll do all those things that people tell you you’re supposed to do. And then I wound up one day working in the yard, about six hours. We have three acres. I could work every day, all day in the yard. And I love that. It was like, mm. I was asked to sit on a board. And I said, no, I don’t think so. You know, I’m really not qualified. I don’t know much. And I said, no, three or four times finally met with the president of the board. And I realized it was a very small, very active board. And I said, okay. So in there it was about a year of working in the yard, doing a little travel, all those projects you put off trying to do some catch up


([15:12]): Your yard looked really nice mostly until the freeze came. Yeah. Until the freeze came <laugh>. So I wanna know more about this board. So I think this is fascinating because a lot of people will lean into the low hanging, less friction alternative of gardening. And there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily. But here you, I found a board that you are passionate about. It’s a nonprofit. Tell us more about


([15:35]): This ransom life is the board that I began to serve on. And I was on the board with several people, all fully engaged in their own businesses. So I was the only one, not fully employed at the time. And we needed to make a change in the direction of the company and they needed someone to, to lead it. And I said, you know, I’ll cover the gap while we hire somebody. And that was six months before COVID hit. So I had barely stepped into trying to figure out what was going on and where did we need to go? And again, I do believe several times, it’s like, no, I don’t need to do this. I just something heavy. And this is really heavy. And I don’t know anything about this. So yeah, sometimes God just has a totally different plan than anything you ever would’ve thought of.


([16:23]): So ransom life people will want to know about this. What’s the website. Can you direct us Ransom life, Texas spelled out.org. Okay. We have three pieces of it. We mentor counsel, but more importantly, we’re trying to teach the public what it means when a child has been sexually exploited and trafficked. So every child we serve right now has come through the juvenile criminal justice system and they have court mandated counseling. So we have my counseling, which is a very tiny niche in the counseling world. Then we have mentors. We have people that wanna walk alongside these children, what nobody knew, because this is like a brand new industry. That’s a poor way to say it. I understand it is. There’s no handbook on this. That it’s much like PTSD, except it’s in a child’s develop brain. So they will need counseling and mentoring the rest of their lives.


([17:19]): I’m fascinated by that space. As it, we know it’s often expressed as modern day slavery as I kind of tie a bow on your life, which is so much to unpack in such a short amount of time. I want to go back to your childhood and say, was there certain challenges that existed then that make you the person who you are today that can serve in this role in such capacity?


([17:46]): Yeah. We just had an event for our donors and stepped up to the microphone and somebody said, we can’t hear you. And I said, guys, that’s too funny. I was a drum major. And usually everybody can hear me. And so, yeah, there’s a lot of pieces in a small town, in a small school. If there was something, if the bus was going somewhere, I got on it. Every single club, I could be a part of. I was a title IX basketball player. We lost every game except one the first year. I mean, there were so many pieces that built me and there were so many people that poured into me. We had one band director and band was a very big program. And there were two of us that basically were, were assistant band directors. For four years, we gathered the money lined up the bus directors called the restaurants, paid for the meals, got the checks. I mean, we were assistant band directors, but he gave us the ability to learn and to lead. And we got that from our coaches, from our band directors and from our teachers. It was just, I don’t know. I Don know what it was like in the other schools, but in my high school, my elementary school, it was like, if you were willing to do it, you got the chance and


([18:58]): Here you are still doing it. <Laugh> still doing it. I love it. A couple questions that close us out here. You could have made a decision to retire anywhere in the country, honestly could have gone anywhere and done multiple things, but you chose to be in the greater San Antonio area, specifically garden Ridge. For those that are listening, it’s a small community between San Antonio and new Braunfels. And we try not to tell too many people about it, so it doesn’t get too big, but it still has acquaintance to it. The whole area does, frankly, but you chose to live in garden Ridge and do life with greater San Antonio. Why did you choose this area?


([19:34]): Really Darrell? It had to do with when we bought the business, we wanted to live close enough to where we owned real estate, where the business was housed. And so it was two miles to the office and there were some beauty in that. And the fact that our employees could come to events at our home, the doors were thrown open and everybody came, we had a hundred employees and then all their family members and all their aunts and uncles. And yeah, it was really about being part of their lives. It was about being close enough. We always had three pieces when we would relocate, where was the school? Where was the church? And where was the business? And so if we could get to school events in the middle of the day, if the church members could find our house, which was a problem in San Diego, we were geographically incompatible. We were on the coast and the church building wasn’t <laugh>. So there were a couple of things, but those were the pieces. And so we chose garden Ridge because of that, those three pieces. That


([20:33]): Makes a lot of sense. So it’s hard to not find a church in the area necessarily. There’s a lot of churches to choose from. Last question, the most serious question of all of them. What kind of salsa do you like the most? My husband


([20:44]): Is that right? Since he retired, he’s taking all the master classes to cook and then built himself an outdoor kitchen. Oh, very cool. A great source of tension at times, cuz my stuff disappears from my kitchen and goes to kids. So really he’s gotten to where he’s pretty good. Is it red? Green? It’s green. Yeah. It’s green. Is it hot? No, doesn’t like hot, but it’s got a really good flavor. Okay. So it’s kind of okay for everybody. Yeah. That’s great.


([21:12]): Yeah. Well Linda, this has been a, a blessing to me, a pleasure and I’m sure it’s served well, others that are thinking about transitioning from a business and maybe even into serving others in the community. So thank you for being a role model. Appreciate your time, the chance. Thanks Daryl. And


([21:26]): For those that are listening, you make sure that you grab our retire in Texas ebook packs, financial group.com. And remember you think differently when you think long.


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