I worked hard, earned and MBA which was paid for by the company I worked for and invested aggressively. I created a nice nest egg for myself that I believed would ensure my long-term financial success for the rest of my life. I believed if I worked smarter and harder than everyone else that nothing could stop me from becoming uber successful.
I just didn’t understand at that point in my life that sometimes events are out of our control and these events can change our lives for better or worse regardless of how hard we work.
In 2001, I was 29 years old. I invested all of the money I had accumulated during the booming 1990’s into 3 cell phone stores on the east coast of Florida. At the time I knew I was pushing the envelope to have 3 separate stores but I believed at the time I could work “25 hours” a day and make them successful.
It was a struggle but things started to come together in January of 2003. I left my job to work in the stores full time and sales immediately increased.
However, just a few weeks into the new year a routine doctors visit for a sore neck exposed a major health issue. I was diagnosed with lymphoma and the diagnosis changed everything!
Events that followed caused me to lose the stores, lose my money and lose my ability to earn an income.
Fortunately, I had health insurance and I was able to get the best care possible to beat the disease. What I didn’t have though was the money to pay for the insurance premium so I could get that care. I also didn’t have the money anymore to pay my mortgage, power bill, car payment, or anything else.
I did have about $100,000 of equity in my home but the bank wouldn’t lend me any money against it. They told me I would have to sell it. Their reasoning was something about not having an income to pay back a loan if they were to give it to me. I tried to explain that I would use some of the money to make my payments on their loan but it fell on deaf ears. They instead threatened me with foreclosure if I didn’t make the payment on the mortgage loan I had taken out in better times.
Banks don’t lend people money that need it.
Luckily, I didn’t need to sell my house while I battled a disease that threatened to kill me. I was humbled to have my friends and family sacrificing their income and helping me get by. Without them, who knows what could have happened to me.
However, this time in my life wasn’t easy. All the wealth I created for myself over the previous 10 years was gone and I was pissed at myself for putting myself in a position that could have destroyed me.
Because things went so bad in a hurry for me, I started questioning everything I thought I knew.
Why did that happen to me?
What could I have done to protect myself?
How could my life have been better if I would have known?
How can I fix this?
There was no way to fix it. It was gone. Which lead to the most important question I could ask myself:
“How can I turn this experience into a positive?”
Starting in the Insurance Business
Half way through my chemotherapy treatment I sat with my Grandmother at my sisters wedding. It was her suggestion that I look into becoming an insurance agent. Her husband, my grandfather, worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company from 1947 to 1972.
Though he had passed away in 2000, she shared some stories of people he had sold policies and some of those who wouldn’t buy.
As I listened I could relate to those who didn’t buy and the families they left behind when the prospect my grandfather worked with passed away unexpectedly.
Regret, anxiety, confusion, anger. If the husband had bought life insurance, the family could have had some financial security while they dealt with an tragic event in their life.
Once my cancer treatment was done, I went to work for MetLife as well. My first day was December 1, 2003. Finally, I felt good enough to get back to work. This time with a purpose.
This period in the US economy is significant. It was shortly after the booming 1990’s gave way to the slowing 2000’s. There was the “.com” bust which caused the stock market to plummet and with it, the value of millions of retirees investment portfolio’s.
One of my first appointments the company assigned to me was a couple in their early 60’s who had retired in 1999 with a stock portfolio valued at $1,500,000. When they came into my office in early 2004 the value of that portfolio had decreased to $250,000.
Now, there are a lot of people who would love to have $250,000. However, this particular couple had a lifestyle that required $150,000 a year of income to sustain it. They were looking for a “solution” to recapture their loses and generate $150,000 a year of income on what was left of their money so they could stay retired.
There were a number of people who had similar situations. When they retired early, they believed they would generate double digit returns on their investments for the rest of their lives only to see the value of their accounts drop significantly.
Like me, they questioned what they had done. They were full of regret, anger, fear and anxiety of what the future would bring to them.
I felt their pain. It reminded me of what I experienced and I wish I could have helped. But I couldn’t.
As I spent time at Metlife, I was encouraged to learn more about becoming a financial planner.
Financial Planning involves looking at every aspect of a persons financial situation.
It includes budgeting, debt, investments, insurance, taxes and legal documents to name a few. In doing so, a planner can find areas where resources and energy can be coordinated to work more efficiently thus increasing the families probability of being financially successful.
This means that when everything is going great, the client is able to enjoy the fruit of their labors.
However, if things don’t work out “as planned” (economy crashes, sickness, death of a bread winner, lawsuit) then the family is in the most optimal financial position to handle the situation and not be financially destroyed by it.
I never want one of my clients to be like one of those first few people I met with when I started my career at MetLife or feel what I felt when I lost everything in 2003.
Instead, I want to be able to give them a high five when things are going great and IF something happens unexpected and undesirable, I want to know I can look them in the eye and tell them that financially “Everything will be alright!”
Living What I Preach
Financially, my family is much better off than it was in 2003. I had a plan in place that provided us with the flexibility to see any doctor in the United States to get treatment while also providing us with cash to pay for our expenses while I fight stage III esophageal cancer.
Looking back at how I worried in 2003 and knowing that regardless of what happens moving forward today, my family and I will be alright financially. Money isn’t something that we have to worry about this time around and that makes the healing that much easier.
My second battle with cancer and the beneficial financial impact my plan has had on my family has further strengthened my belief in how important my work is in impacting the lives of others.
I have had families pray with me thanking God for bringing me into their lives, I have had widows cry when I handed them a check after their husband unexpectedly passed away and I have had retires thank me for eliminating the worry from their life during the market crash of 2008.
However, until it is actually you that benefits from sound advice in a time of trouble, it is hard to truly understand the impact it has.
Thank you for visiting my site and contact me to discuss how I may help you find the future you desire.