I don’t normally focus on myself in these blog posts, but this past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for my family. On Tuesday, June 13th, my 65-year-old mother went to the hospital with heart issues. After one intervention, additional interventions were required. Like a cascade. Or the “domino effect.” On Friday, we learned that she developed an acute liver injury. She was transferred Friday night to another hospital with liver specialists, in the event an emergency procedure was required. An acute liver injury of this magnitude leaves a person exposed to other life-threatening complications such as cerebral edema, internal bleeding, infection, and kidney failure.
I prayed for a miracle and asked for prayers from friends and family. God listened. By Saturday, my dad and I heard the first good news in days: my mom’s blood levels were stabilizing, and the acute liver injury was reversing. By Sunday (Father’s Day), the prognosis was even better.
What lessons did I learn from this very traumatic event, as I sat by my mother’s side in the hospital for several days?
1. Family Comes First
From the start, WorthyNest has been family focused. This is intentional. You could have all the money in the world. But without family, does the money even matter? People are meant for relationship. Studies indicate that your overall happiness level is higher when you spend money on experiences rather than tangible items. Yet these experiences won’t be very meaningful without others participating. When I’m not busy helping families with their financial goals, I’m spending quality time with the people who matter most to me – my family.
2. God Saves
A lot of my initial messaging for WorthyNest was “faith, family, finance.” I was general when I described faith – saying something like “faith in a brighter financial future” – because I feared alienating people who don’t have a religious affiliation. But having gone through this experience with my mom, I’m going to clarify faith: belief in God.
I do believe in miracles, and my mother is proof of God’s saving grace.
If you don’t believe in God but would still like to work with me, that’s great. But if you DO believe and ever encounter a situation where you need prayers, PLEASE reach out to me.
3. Surround Yourself with the Right People
My parents have been married for 40 years. When my dad encounters a health crisis, my mom is there. This time, my dad was by my mother’s bedside for days on end. I was also there for mom several days in a row – just not quite as much as my father. When my dad and I were hopeful and optimistic, so was my mother. When we let negativity rule, it wasn’t a good situation for anyone.
“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.” – Dan Buettner
Will you have a better chance of accomplishing goals if you surround yourself with someone who is optimistic or pessimistic? Optimistic. Similarly, if most of your friends are living within their means (rather than outside their means), do you think you’ll have a better shot at financial success? Absolutely. We all make choices on how we spend our time and money. Make the choices that will set you up for success, not failure.
4. Prepare for the Unexpected
As a financial planner, I always stress the importance of having an emergency fund. For younger families, calling it an “opportunity fund” is a little more enticing. Regardless of how you frame it, having ample cash for an unexpected event is prudent.
We still don’t know the magnitude of my mother’s medical bills from this one-week stint in the hospital (nor any future bills). I’m just glad that she and my father saved enough to pay out-of-pocket medical bills.
Maybe in your case, the unexpected bill is a new air conditioning system. Or a career move. Plans may change at a moment’s notice, and you must be prepared.
Last week, during this family crisis, I tried to work Tuesday and Wednesday as a coping mechanism. I’ve been taking an online video class on Wednesdays specifically geared towards financial planners. During last week’s class, we had to read a sample script for a video and were given detailed instructions. I followed the instructions carefully, and 10 of the other 11 participants all liked my script & delivery. The only critic thought my script was “too weak” – it lacked technical jargon, so she thought it didn’t teach enough of a financial lesson. I’m a perfectionist, so of course I dwell on the one person that didn’t like my script. Then it dawned on me today. I need to stop working for the critic’s approval and instead cater to the majority who share a similar mindset and like what I say.
As for the technical knowledge, I have it. I’ve been a CPA since 2005, Certified Financial PlannerTM since 2010, and worked for 7 years with high-net worth families on very complex financial issues. My bigger strength, and why most people choose to work with me, is empathy … meeting people where they are, not where they should be. Helping talk through the emotional side of financial issues. This is where I really shine.
Deb Meyer, CPA, CFP®
P.S. Have you ever faced a scary personal situation? How did you persevere? Please share your comments below.