My husband and I have been married for many years. We did everything the “so called” proper way. We got married, we worked hard, we built up our careers, including several small businesses and partnerships. We were ambitious, driven, and financially responsible.
We saved, invested, bought a house, had children, then built a bigger house and then had another child. Through it all we amassed a high Net Worth in excess of $1M. Life was good.
Until it wasn’t!
Our youngest children were 3 years old and I was pregnant with my last child. My husband hadn’t felt well for several weeks. Brushing it off as stress he continued to work and stuck to his daily routine. But something just wasn’t right and he wasn’t feeling any better.
As the weeks passed and after some convincing he made an appointment to see the doctor. They ordered a series of medical testing immediately. The first round of tests showed the possibility of a fast growing fatal illness and further testing was required.
I was pregnant with my third child, had two 3 year old girls, and there was a real possibility that I was about to be a widow. As you can image, all I could think about was my children.
- “How are they going to handle this?”
- “Will he get to meet the baby I was carrying?”
- “How am I going to do this?”
- “What are we going to do?”
- “Will my children will be grow up without their father?”
My initial gut reaction was stability of course! Stability for myself and for my children as we face the difficult grieving process that was ahead of us.
Time to Focus
Being the money geek in the family, I am the one who handles all of the finances in our household. Managing the budgets, bills, investments, and retirement planning, etc.
I know all the ins and outs of our assets and investments and know how to access them as I have managed them from day one. My husband prefers it that way. As do I.
Through out our marriage we’ve built a healthy net worth in excess of $1M with hard work, careful planning, investing, and a little bit of luck thrown in the mix.
We are financially secure! We are financially independent! It’ll be a difficult road to travel but we will be fine. Or so I thought.
After the Shock
After the shock began to ease fear of my new reality took over. Being a planner I did what planners do. I gathered up all of our important documents, accounts, and statements to form a plan as my husband looked into our life insurance policies. Thinking we had more policies than we actually do. My husband and I have never really paid much attention to life insurance as we generally considered ourselves self insured having achieved such a high net worth.
It was then that I realized our family’s lives would change. You see most of our $1M+ portfolio consists mostly of illiquid assets. Meaning, I would have to sell some of our assets due to the fact that they are not cash or investments that are readily convertible to cash to ensure we could stay in the family home. The very first and most important part of my plan for stability for my children.
Selling illiquid assets and partnerships could take several months maybe even years depending on market conditions for those particular assets.
At this point I was so consumed with fear that I didn’t take into consideration that I worked and better yet, I worked from home and could continue to do so. Including, as a benefit of living in the US we would be eligible for social security until my children neared adulthood.
Being a Mom all I could focus on was getting my children through hopefully, the most difficult thing they will ever face in life. In hindsight, I’m feeling a bit guilty for not even considering the loss of my husband or our relationship! However, this is typical of how a Moms’ brain is wired. Children automatically come first.
It Was a False Alarm!
Thankfully, the angels were watching over us. My husband did not in fact have a fatal illness. It was a false alarm. More detailed testing showed negative results and as it happened, one doctor said the other doctor should never have mentioned any possibilities until there was absolute positive proof!
The relief I felt was enormous! But much larger than that I felt lucky and grateful. Lucky to have dodged that bullet. Grateful to still have my husband and family intact. But most of all grateful that my unborn child and 2 siblings will grow up with their daddy’s love and affection.
But my thinking about financial independence has fundamentally changed.
I no longer see financial independence/security the same as I used to. Financial independence/security to me now has more of a focus on income. Passive income. A renewed interest in dividend income.
I am a long time fan of Personal Capital (affiliate link) for easy tracking of dividend income.
Sure our emergency fund would have gotten us through. But for longer term stability for my children, it would have been a serious struggle and would have taken my focus away from my family just when they needed me most!
My high net worth means nothing because it is mostly illiquid assets which cannot be quickly converted to cash. It could take months or even years to liquidate if market conditions are not favorable at the very moment I needed to liquidate.