Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Working Backwards....

As a financial counselor, I am asked all the time, "What is your number one piece of advice?" And do you know what that is? Work backwards.

And I bet you now have the standard puzzled look on our face that I get all the time when I say that out loud. What in the world do I mean when I say that? Well let me explain.

What is the only certainty you have in your life? Unfortunately, the only thing we know for sure is that our life will end at some point. It really sucks that the only guarantee we have in life is that it will end, but it is what it is and you must prepare for it. So when you are preparing your financial plan, think death, retirement, debt, children's education. Of course we all know financial planning is not this simple, everyone's situation is fact dependent and so the format sometimes has to be adjusted. This format gives you an idea of how to put your brain in working order to work your financial life backwards.

What's the first question I always ask during the beginning of a financial counseling session....Do you have life insurance for you and your entire family? I feel that this question is the absolute most important question to ask at the beginning. 

Here's what I never will understand....we seriously do not want to think about the end of our life. We, as a culture, think that it's morbid and negative to think about it. I say that is the wrong way to approach it. Life is beautiful, but it must end at some point and it will keep on going without you. You want to celebrate the life of those who leave you, not sit in a funeral home with swollen puffy eyes from crying and nausea as you discuss payments on the services and burial and think how in the world am I going to pay for it?

Death catches us all off guard. It doesn't matter if your loved one goes instantly or fights a long fight. Death still delivers that one huge punch to the gut when he takes your loved one away. Do you know how many people I have seen be devastated that not only because the person they love is gone, but they also left them with debt and no plan? This is no way to care for those you love. You must take the time to think about helping your loved ones heal when you leave them. You will leave a hole in someone's heart, we all will and we must acknowledge at some point. Taking the time to minimize the stress from your absence is a beautiful gift to leave behind..

Here's the secret, square it all away now and get life insurance. Take control of your life today and make the phone call and just take out enough to bury you and pay off your debts if you have any. Don't forget to take out just enough to bury your children, for just in case. And here's the important question to ask your insurer....Are my children automatically covered under my policy? Our girls are both covered under mine at no additional charge. It's a very nice feature many insurance companies add to your policy.

I know many of us just are so busy living now and we do not take the time to think about tomorrow, much less the end. I can tell you that when you finally sit down and take the time to acknowledge all of those necessary details, you will sleep a lot better at night.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Chair Won Again.....

You really cannot see all the lovely red color and the bruising from my foot's fight with the chair last night. One thing is for sure the wheelchair won again.....

One would think that after all this time that I would have scaling the chair down precisely. Well last night I decided to come down for some water and I had my glasses on instead of my contacts (which just messes up everything for me). My foot caught the front wheel and there I went. I hit something hard and scraped the top of my foot in addition to knocking the crap out of it. Lots of pain began instantly and it is still sore today. :(

We have all had these things happen. You know when you are doing something you do every single day, sometimes multiple times a day and then whoops you just did it wrong that time. This was my time to do it wrong.

You are probably sitting there thinking......Why don't you just move the chair? That is simply because when Chaz comes up the stairs, he puts the chair back exactly how he needs it for when he comes down. You might think me moving it isn't a very big deal, but it actually is. He has to jump from the second step to the chair. If I move it, then he could miss his jump and then we will all have a bad day. It is easier on him for us to leave it alone.

So now you are thinking.....What's the solution? That one is a little easier.....Get out of this house!! Construction has started on our new home. (WAHOO!!!!) This means no more stairs for our family. No more scaling the chair for the girls and I. No more second step jumps for Chaz.

I would love to say the new house will elimiate my foot vs. wheelchair battles, but Chaz runs me over all the time. My foot vs. wheelchair battles will never be over, but the new house will lower the count quite a bit. My throbbing foot pain this morning reminded me how badly we need this house for Chaz and that it will be worth every penny!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Yes, He Stays at Home...

I know so many other caregivers have had their role reversed just like I have. I know they too struggle everyday with the sudden changes in our identities. Just a few years ago I was a stay at home mom, with a thriving seasonal small business. I volunteered at the girls' school, with Girl Scouts and helped out at their dance studio. Then that all went boom....

In the early days after Chaz's injury I held on very tightly to anything from my previous life. Before I knew it the only thing that remained were the shreds of my business that I salvaged while going back and forth taking care of everyone. What I realized now was by focusing solely on healing my family the details sorted themselves out.

Fast forward to now and I am full-time work from home mom, with a surviving small business. I am a full-time caregiver and Girl Scout leader. We are still homeschooling our kids. And now my husband is the "stay at home parent."

What?! He stays at home? Yes our roles in our family have reversed. And we are beyond ok with it. I wish others could be.

When we were at Walter Reed they shoved college and internships down Chaz's throat. I loved it when I was blamed for him not accepting things, "I was holding him back" don't you know. Finally one day a meeting was called about Chaz turning things down. He was solely focused on his therapies and our family and a few people were not happy about that. He actually flipped and happily let them know that he was the one blown up and everything he had planned for himself for his career was gone. He told them wasn't ready to change his path to what they felt he should do. Again I was blamed for not pushing him.

Our veterans don't always need a push. Sometimes they need someone to listen, understand and love them through it. I have no problems explaining that my husband wanted to serve 20+ in the Infantry. He loved being a soldier. I did not love him being in harms, but I loved him and wanted to support him in his choices. He was out doing what he loved more than anything when that was all taken away from him.Together we mourned our losses and together we have helped him find his independence level and heal our family. 

What I will never understand is why we feel we must force our opinions on others? I'll happily give you my opinion, but I will not force it. Chaz and I laughed at all the "advice" we have been given on this journey. Our favorite is the "He stays at home?" comments.

Our little family is beyond happy. I am now "Chaz's Sugar Momma" and I am more than ok with it. I do not like that I have to travel and leave my family and make a ton of arrangements just so they are cared for during my short trips, but that comes with my job. My family is very proud of me and the work I do. They are willing to give me up periodically so I can help so many others. We are ok with that and you should be too. I am not a bad Mom because I choose to work and that work involves travel. Chaz is not any less of a man because he wants to be Mr Mom.

In my opinion, our choices have made us better parents and partners. We are now experiencing how the other one's life was over the past 10 years. We truly understand each other better now because we are seeing the other side.

Our family endured over a decade of war and Chaz being gone all the time. The girls never got a chance to know him. Now they get to have both of their parents and we are having a blast homeschooling them and taking them on adventures through their education.

Chaz and I are working together to plant beautiful seeds of hope, love, faith and family in our girls. What we are doing doesn't have a price tag. What we are doing is setting our girls up for success which will be passed on for generations. If you are worried about my hubby going to school or getting a job please know we are fine and we have it all covered.

One day Chaz will figure out what he wants to do. It may be next week or next month or next year. Or you know what, he may just continue doing what he is doing. And that's perfectly fine with me.