In Part 1 of my story, I chronicled discovering a financial calamity in my family, and what I did to try to salvage my mom’s retirement, while keeping myself afloat. Read on, for despite the seeming hopelessness of the situation, resolution was in fact, imminent!
Money Magic Happens
Suddenly there seemed to be an unexplainable shift toward resolution of this mess, and it seemed almost magical.
The first thing that happened was I found a lost stock that wasn’t settled from my dad’s estate 20 years earlier!! Truly, a miracle. This money was added to my mom’s account.
And I don’t know if it was the conjurer I hired (I still don’t really know what that is), or the St. Joseph statue that I had my mom’s neighbor Ruth bury at the house, and frankly, I didn’t care.
But my mom’s lake-front Missouri house miraculously SOLD.
One day my mom’s neighbor called me out of the blue and said his best friend wanted to buy it, for 20% less than we had it listed for. I should mention that we already had it listed for 30% less than what my mom had into it.
I said no — because I knew we needed this money — this was basically my mother’s last asset! Mind you, this was not an easy no, as it was the ONLY OFFER WE HAD EVER RECEIVED for this house.
Three long weeks later the neighbor called me to tell me his friend was offering us our bottom line price, and we (me happily, my mom, reluctantly) took it.
I also asked our realtor to reduce her fee since she was now getting both sides of the deal and technically, we found the buyer.
The house sale was was added to my mom’s fund. We were piecing things back together for her.
I started Moneyfull and was making money again — I didn’t even have to dip into my emergency reserves. But just the fact that I had it gave me great peace of mind and mentally allowed me time to start my business and not go back to my former corporate job, with which, let’s say, I felt very complete.
The Financial Game-Changer
Cut to 18 months later. We knew my mom staying at the retirement community we moved her into was not sustainable for the long term — it was just too expensive.
I looked around at some places that might be a better fit, and that had low-income apartments. But the waiting lists were incredibly long! I remember one in Wheat Ridge had 700 people on it.
And then one morning I literally woke up with a crystal-clear inspiration. That message was: I have to find a retirement community in the process of being built, in order to get higher up on the waiting list.
I immediately jumped out of bed to search online — I honestly don’t remember the exact words I used, but I’m positive it was something clever, like “denver retirement community being built.” That led me to an article in the Denver Post about a beautiful, luxury community being built a mile from my home… and… the article said they planned to offer several affordable apartments!
I immediately called the number referenced in the article. And poor Matt (he worked in the leasing department), it rang through to his cell phone as he was getting ready for work. It was 7:45 in the morning.
I will never forget our brief conversation: I asked him how long the waiting list was for the affordable apartments. He told me there were two left, and I practically screamed, “We’ll take it!!” Not even two hours later I was in his office writing a check for the deposit.
The building wasn’t even completed yet! But 6 months later my mom would be one of the first residents of this truly spectacular community. The rent was significantly less than what she was paying, and about 10 miles closer to me – I can literally walk to visit her.
That was four years ago. These days, she is self-sufficient, living within a budget, but not needing any financial support from me. She lives in one of the most beautiful retirement communities in the country, and we are so grateful.
The Lessons I Learned from this Personal Financial Crisis
Lesson # 1 – Have an emergency money fund
Liquidity, aka an emergency fund, is crucial for our security and allows us to have options — because we never know what life will present us. One thing, however, we can always count on is change. And change is way easier when you don’t have to worry about how you’re gonna survive! Not to mention, just having one gives you great peace of mind.
Lesson # 2 – Negotiating can save you money
Most things are negotiable, so don’t be afraid to ask. We tried to fight the wrong-doing with two different attorneys. Sometimes you get a yes and sometimes you get a no. But as Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – a favorite motto of mine. And this really applies to negotiating your salary, by the way.
Lesson # 3 – Trust Your Financial Instincts
Trust your gut! If something doesn’t feel right, get another opinion or find an alternative course of action. And if you have an inspiration like I did, listen to the good things too.
Lesson # 4 – Money Mindset is Crucial
Our beliefs about our worthiness and our money are an incredibly important part of our financial health. Something that happened to my mom when she was 10 years old was incredulously driving her behavior 70 years later. It’s important to examine our beliefs around money, realizing that they are not logical, but knowing that they can sabotage the best laid plans.
Work to create positive beliefs that serve you. I recently heard this statement: Our brain is like supercomputer and our self-talk is a program it runs.
If you’re interested in exploring your beliefs around money as a starting point (because you can’t change what you have no awareness of), you can take this assessment. I’ll send you a two-page analysis for no charge.
Lesson # 5 – Be Responsible for Your Money
I see this over and over again with clients. Miracles happen when you start to be responsible with your finances. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but I suspect it has to do with respecting money, and also – as money guru T. Harv Eker says, we live in a kind and just Universe that doesn’t give us more until we can show that we can handle what we’ve got. Being responsible is a form of kindness toward ourselves, and that’s a critical component, too.
Lesson # 6 – You Always Have Choices
We always have options. Women have a great fear of running out of money and becoming bag ladies, surprisingly, no matter our circumstances— I believe it’s wired into our DNA from our cave woman days, and of course, the belief stuff— but as this situation illustrates — we adapt to what comes our way. It might look different than we imagined (in fact, I can almost guarantee it will), but we will be okay. I teach my clients to always ask the question: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS? Our brains tend to be tunnel-focused, so sometimes you may need to partner up with a friend or a trusted advisor and do some brainstorming. But we always have options.
Lesson # 7 – Financial Power is Yours
Don’t hand your financial power over to someone else! My mom trusted someone who turned out to not be trustworthy. It never hurts to get a second opinion — you can always hire a Certified Financial Planner® professional for an hour to review your ideas or your advisor’s ideas and make sure they make sense. Or for that matter, it’s worth it to spend an hour for ANY financial reason — like purchasing a new car for example. (And if you lease, you should definitely contact me!) As money expert Dave Ramsey says, make sure the people who are helping you with your money have the heart of a teacher. If they can’t explain things to you and they get impatient with your questions, find someone else to help you.
And please, if you need to fire someone, don’t worry about hurt feelings (as I myself am guilty of) when it comes to the professionals in your life. We often do this to the detriment of ourselves, but it’s business, and it’s your money and your life. You are your best advocate.