In 2016, my partner had a health crisis that had the potential to upend our world. What started out as severe shoulder pain turned out to be Pericarditis, a condition that causes the pericardium (the sac around the heart) to become inflamed and irritated. In this case, because it took several weeks before diagnosis, my partner's pericardium had filled with a dangerous level of fluid that was suppressing his heart function, with the potential to cause full cardiac arrest.
So, let me give you some background on our situation when all this happened. We had two lovely children, 11 and 16 at the time, and I was working part-time hosting karaoke bringing in about $1200 a month. I was definitely not earning the income that was paying the lion's share of the mortgage for our semi-detached Toronto home, right? Well, by the time I got to the hospital at 1 in the afternoon, he was hooked up to pretty much every possible beeping machine, and he was in an area of the emergency room that we had never seen before, with constant monitoring, and at every beep or ping, a nurse was quickly checking the machines. Naturally, by this point I was freaking out internally.
I’m going to pause the story here to give you a little more background. We had bought whole life insurance shortly after we bought our home - yay us, good job adulting, right? We had mortgage insurance through the bank - yay, good adulting again! We were both working and had benefits at the time, so we bought life insurance to complement what we had through our jobs - yay us! Or at least, that's what we thought.
Now, back to the story. It ended well - my partner received great care, and after about 4 days in the cardiac ward, he got to come home. He was ordered to take 3 weeks completely off work (his boss and company were wonderfully supportive), followed by a few weeks of working reduced hours along with several months of anti-inflammatory medications and monitoring by a cardiologist. At the end of it all, he had made a full recovery. Crisis averted, right?
Well, yes…But then came the realization that we could have really been up the creek - the whole life insurance we had didn't meet our needs, we had two children and all the costs that go with that, plus a mortgage to pay and a car to maintain. What if my partner couldn’t work for months or years? We didn’t have a very good emergency fund - the reality was that within a month, we would have been in real financial trouble. Even with short and long-term disability, the reduction in income would eventually erode our retirement savings, and the kids' RESPs. Regardless of my fears, I had to acknowledge we were not prepared.
That started me on a new path, one where I took responsibility for our financial health. Was it easy? Oh heck no, some points were uncomfortable. Did it happen overnight? A big 'heck no' again - we needed a plan, and had to put in the work to make one. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
After going through that, my goal is to help make sure that every family I work with has a plan that grows with them so no matter what life throws at them they are prepared - because a little forethought goes a long way indeed.
As your financial security advisor, I'll always have your back.