We often hear the expression “Life Happens.” The idea is everywhere from ads, life insurance, nonprofits organizations, the list goes on. We get it! Yet, we fail to put into practice what we understand and know to be true. I can tell that I know from experience that “Life Happens” and when it does, why you need to be ready. This blog is a bit different from my other ones. It is not just information that I am passing along to you about how to budget, invest, or save, but is my perspective on the WHY. I can tell you about budgets and saving, and it is just that – me TELLING you something. It is education. You can believe me as a CPA and a person with a financial background and passion for helping people succeed financially, or you can dismiss my WORDS. But this is more than WORDS! This blog is about EXPERIENCE and the WHY behind the words. We all know that experiencing something is much more motivational than words, and because I truly am passionate about helping people, I want you to have a more positive experience when LIFE HAPPENS- and it will HAPPEN!
I’m going to jump back to the experience, so you can better understand the WHY. Hopefully, you will take away information from this experience about the importance of being financially ready for the unknown, yet the inevitable. Of course, I can’t fully prepare you for the unexpected and the unknown because that is the story of the life of each one of us. Nobody knows how the story will play out and how each chapter will unfold. So, that is not the message here. The message is to change your perspective on money, so you will be ready for the unexpected. You have the ability to change catastrophic situations into something less ruinous, at least on the financial side.
Stepping back, let me lay the background. Since jumping into the arena of helping people through my platforms to achieve financial freedom by things such as creating budgets, paying off debt, investing, and estate planning, I have had the opportunity to connect with many wonderful and inspiring people like you. These people are intelligent, insightful, and hungry; wanting to be successful in their goals. Like you, my wife and I also had these lofty and ambitious goals. Going back seven years, we really were motivated to become debt-free. We knew the importance of this concept and how much we wanted to achieve this goal. At that time, however, we did not TRULY understand the WHY to the same extent as we do now that we are LIVING the “Life Happens” chapter of our lives.
Our Life Happens Chapter: Over the last seven years, my wife and I have reached some ambitious goals. We graduated from college, pursued our professional careers, paid off $76,000.00 of debt and a mortgage. Things were great, and they even got better. On September 4, 2021, we became parents to our amazing daughter, Logan. We were on top of the world! We welcomed into our world a healthy baby who was born without complications. Included into the plan was for me to quit my day job as a CPA and continue to grow Budgetdog full time, staying home to care for Logan and help others along their financial journeys. This also came to fruition. Continuing this chapter, things were still going along smoothly and as hoped and planned. Logan was thriving, Budgetdog was booming, and we were financially independent. Then “Life Happened” unexpectedly, without warning, and beyond comprehension. Truthfully, we are still reeling from it and can’t fully grasp the extent of what happened on January 29, 2022.
The odd thing about such tragedies is that most people, when recalling them, remember every minor detail as if it happened just moments ago. As I was getting ready to make a presentation to a company on a call, my wife, Erin, frantically ran into the room yelling that something was wrong with Logan. We did not have any clue what was going on with her, so we rushed her to the hospital where we were told that she had suffered a seizure. They assured us that it was not that uncommon for babies to have seizures, so we left the hospital feeling somewhat better but still unnerved and confused as well as inept. Seizures? What did that mean? Why? The questions were daunting and innumerable to say the least. But then, in less than 24 hours, the seizures started again, and we were back in the emergency room. Now we found ourselves in a situation where Logan was being admitted to the hospital, and after a five-day stay, we became fully aware that she was having many seizures, but they were NOT “common.” Skipping ahead in this chapter, after many runs to the ER, many stays in the hospital, running more tests and speaking to too many specialists to count, we were devastated to learn that Logan was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. This is a rare syndrome, not disease, that impacts one in 15,700 children. It manifests itself differently in each child, ranging from mild seizures that begin in early childhood to early death in those with extreme cases which is about 15 to 20% of those diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. Where Logan will fall, we do not know. We struggle every day to control her seizures, to visit the multitude of doctors and specialists on her “team,” to help her develop and grow as any baby her age would and should, and to manage LIFE under this dark and terribly frightening cloud. Yes, we know very well – all too well – that “Life Happens!”
But that is the point. Life does happen to all of us. We can never be prepared for the unexpected. What is written in the chapters of our lives is unknown and unexpected. But, and here is the WHY, how prepared we are, and I can only speak financially, will help when these situations come our way. Our situation with Logan continues to unfold. Sometimes the more we learn, the more frightening and dire things seem. But this situation is not going away; it is who Logan is. This has stopped us in our tracks. Certainly it has given us a different perspective and meaning about the fleeting nature of life, the importance of relishing each precious moment, the insight about being kind and good to others because we never know what other people are going through in their own lives, the wisdom of how often we get caught up in minutia, and the importance of faith and prayer in our lives. And with this new insight and wisdom, I also know more than ever and want to communicate the need for the WHY.
The WHY does matter because it can help in a catastrophe. It can make a crisis into something that is more manageable. We know that Logan’s diagnosis is a life-long situation. It is who she is. We also know that we are in a financial situation that helps alleviate some of the financial stress. As parents, we are helpless, but we can try to provide the best care we can give her which is very expensive. Currently Logan is one of only three children in the United States under the age of two who was able to start on Fintepla while in the hospital, which is just one of the multitudes of daily medications. Logan’s Dravet specialist, Dr. Perry, who is part of an amazing team at Cook’s Children Hospital in Fort Worth, TX, pushed for her to be able to receive it despite the fact that it was FDA approved only for children over the age of two. But she needs it. The catch was that at first, because it was not approved for babies her age, we were going to have to pay for it. The out of pocket expense was going to be $5000.00 a month. What do you do as a parent? That is a huge amount of money, especially over the course of a year. That is the WHY. Because we had previously paid off our house and have no debt, we knew we could cover the monthly cost for the drug. We were hoping that insurance would kick in once Logan turned two, but we also knew we were financially able to handle this expense for her and provide the best medicines and care we could to help her. Since being prescribed the medication, Dr. Perry was able to get it covered by insurance. But this is only the beginning of the journey for us and Logan. There are things that will not be covered, and even with insurance, medical bills will be high. Again, the WHY. Medical debt accounts for 67% of bankruptcies. That is staggering. Think about that. One day you are financially okay, paying your bills, meeting your minimums, and along comes LIFE. That is exactly the reason I am such a huge proponent of getting your finances in order and being financially free.
Because Life Happens, and we all know if does, whether it comes in the form of a car wreck, some type of medical crisis, things breaking and needing to be repaired, or just the high cost of living on a normal basis, you can’t wait to get your finances in order and have the curve balls that life throws at you become even more catastrophic than they already are. We are all going to have to face challenges, crises, and catastrophes at some point in our lives. How we deal with them in a philosophical way will be up to each of us. I can’t speak to that. But life is too short to constantly be worrying about money. It is too stressful and unnecessary. You don’t have to be a victim or a statistic. Don’t be the 67% who go bankrupt due to medical bills or who lose their home from a life-altering situation. Live life fully. Be present in the lives of your loved ones. Be a good steward of your money, earning, saving and giving. So the WHY of being fiscally responsible and financially independent is because when Life Happens to you, when it is that critical chapter in your life, you can get up swinging harder than ever. Don’t lose! Life is too short, too precious, to lose. I know because I am fighting for Logan – she is my WHY.