Just after finishing medical school, I had my rotation in the emergency department. As you can imagine, I was reminded on a daily basis just how tough life can be.
Whether it was the 27-year-old male having a heart attack, a young mother with cancer or a grandfather with chronic disease, the list of problems was endless.
None of these people anticipated arriving in my emergency department that day. Until that point, they had been going about their business and spending time with their families. They had no idea what life had in store for them.
Our lives can change in a moment. We can have the best laid plans, go to all the seminars, read all the books and life will still throw us curveballs.
Mine came in the form of bypass surgery at the age of 39.
That Could Never Happen To Me!
Eight years before my surgery, my father had his own bypass. As a precaution, I went in to get a baseline check in the unlikely event I developed heart problems of my own.
I had been a nationally-ranked swimmer and looked after my health all my life. My mindset going into the check-up was that I would receive a clean bill of health. Clearly, I had nothing to worry about.
I left that appointment with a diagnosis I never thought possible.
I was told I had a 4mm aneurysm (a weakness in the artery wall) and the beginnings of plaque deposits on either side of the aneurysm. In plain English, I was walking around with a ticking time bomb in my chest.
After talking with my doctor, we decided on a course of treatment that included medication and would check on the status of my condition every few years. And for a few years, things were fine.
In October of 2015 my condition changed dramatically.
After a routine stress test, my cardiologist called and said that half of my heart had stopped moving properly during the test. I don’t think I need to tell you that this was not good news.
A week later, I had an angiogram (which takes pictures from inside the body about the status of the heart and arteries). We discovered that the plaque deposits had changed from a 45% blockage to an 85% obstruction in just 24 months.
Monitoring and medication were no longer an option. I would have heart bypass surgery within the week.
What Needs To Be In Place?
As a physician myself, I knew the risks of surgery. I knew this was the best course of action to treat my condition. And I knew I might not survive such an invasive procedure.
At the time, I was busy running a highly successful team of 145 financial advisors in one of the fastest growing firms in Australia. I also had my wife and two boys to think about. This surgery and the lengthy recovery period that would follow was definitely not part of my plan.
It was a real wakeup call.
I began to ask myself “How do I want to approach my life here? If this is the last week of my life, what needs to be in place?”
I knew I needed to protect my family above anything else. My wife and I spent hours meeting with lawyers and financial advisors to make sure we had the right paperwork and a Security Buffer in place should the unthinkable happen.
To properly care for myself after the surgery, I resigned my position in the financial advising firm. My wife, who is a practicing physician, left her post to care for me during the lengthy recovery period.
Life had just thrown us one very strong curveball, but we were ready.
Relying On Our Security Buffer
It goes without saying that the surgery was a success. I spent five days in hospital and then was able to go home to my family.
Thankfully, we’d done the preparation long before any trouble was on the horizon. Our Security Buffer held. We didn’t have to worry about paying our bills or have any stress related to our income during this time.
If you have a medical crisis, your focus should be on recovery, your family and your relationships. Not on money.
The truth of the matter is that this can happen to you. You need to have the right security buffers in place so a personal disaster doesn’t become a financial disaster.
The time to prepare for challenges in life is when things are going well. So many people live their lives thinking the worst could never happen to them. They leave the preparation for “someday.”
What is one thing you can do today to start building a security buffer to protect your family?
Living Like You’re Invincible
I’ve talked to people from all ages groups in multiple countries, and they all seem to think that they are invincible. That somehow, some way, nothing bad will ever happen to them.
This was the case for my co-founder, Makaylah Rogers.
At the age of 20, the world was at her feet. She was going to be Financially Free in a few short years. She had saved up in order to start investing, and she was debt free!
But in the midst of everything positive, Makaylah developed stomach pain and weakness that left her unable to get out of bed. Her organs started shutting down, and she was warned by her doctors to not even walk across the room because her body couldn’t manage exerting any energy.
She was diagnosed with a paralyzed stomach and was advised to have a pacemaker implanted immediately so her body would start digesting food properly again.
You can imagine that, at the age of 20, having something permanently implanted in her body did not appeal to her very much. She chose alternative therapies that would eventually heal her, but took almost two years to do so.
Makaylah had to stop working. She had money saved up, but she learned like so many do, that any unexpected event usually requires a lot of cash to survive.
Her money ran out quickly, and she had to rely on her family for support during her two-year healing process. While she is incredibly grateful for their help, she found the experience quite humbling and never wanted to experience that again.
At the time, she didn’t have any insurance beyond a minimal private health insurance policy. In her words, “I was 20 and didn’t think that was important.” Having a policy that protects against any type of short or long term disability would have been a lifesaver.
Thankfully, Makaylah has recovered and has worked with me to build Mindshift.money.
Through her recovery, she learned the importance of having a Security Buffer in place. Because of her health condition, Makaylah is increasing her Security Buffer to two years’ worth of expenses. For most, three months’ expenses is probably sufficient. But you should decide your Security Buffer for yourself.
Having a personal crisis in life doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, my crisis was the catalyst for the creation of Mindshift.money. It’s the main reason we’re here today. We want to help you prepare and protect your family from life’s curveballs. To be able to live your best life, regardless of the circumstances.
First, you need to create an impenetrable financial Security Buffer for you and your family. How much should you have? We recommend a minimum of three months’ expenses set aside in a separate Security Buffer account .
Second, review your insurance coverage to make sure you have the right amount in place to provide adequate protection. Don’t guess at what coverage you think you have. Do the research to be sure. You don’t want to find out at the worst possible moment that it isn’t sufficient.
If life threw you a curveball tomorrow, how well protected would you be? Don’t wait to plan for a disaster until it happens! You’ve worked too long and too hard to live one emergency away from financial ruin.
Someone once told me something that has stuck with me throughout my life.
“Assume that life is going to be great, but prepare in case it isn’t.”
Start now. Start today.
Join us and learn more about protecting you and your family from the unthinkable by joining our community at MindShift.money. There, you can learn and get encouragement from a group of like-minded people who are committed to living their best life.
If you were faced with an emergency like mine or Makaylah’s today, would you be protected? Share your thoughts in the Financial Foundations community!
Dr. Tony is the co-founder of MindShift.money and the best-selling author of three books on personal and business finances. Having achieved Financial Freedom at 27, Dr. Tony believes that through Financially Fit Bootcamp and Cash Flow Cure everyone can get there. He has made it his life’s mission to help others live a life where their money works for them—not the other way around.