A frozen February day that changed my life forever

February 14, 2007. Valentine’s Day. Minnesota.

I can remember it like it was yesterday.

It was cold, gray, and icy outside. The trees were naked and the air was still.

Winter comes early in Minnesota and stays late. If you know cold days like me, you know there’s nothing worse than a frozen day. The freezing temperature sinks into your bones and won’t let go.

I was hanging out at home. I was a junior in high school. At the time, I had fewer responsibilities in life. I was inside trying to get warm while my dad worked outside. He was trimming the pine trees in our front yard as a present to my mom for Valentine’s Day (thank you commercial driven holiday).

You see, my parents both worked for themselves. They were, and still are, entrepreneurs in every sense of the word. While they made enough to save, they always walked the razor’s edge when it came to their money. They gave my two older siblings and me (yes, I’m the baby) everything growing up – they put their finances on the back burner in exchange for baseball practices and summer camping trips.

While I was sitting in the living room that February afternoon, I heard the faintest of screams followed by the lightest of thumps. A blip on the radar, sound-wise, but one that had me off the couch before I could even process what I’d heard.

I quickly found my dad where I shouldn’t have: sprawled on the ground, army crawling towards our front door to get my help. He had fallen off the ladder and landed right onto a sheet of ice. His leg just wasn’t broken—bone had pierced through his skin.

“I’ll call an ambulance!” I shouted as I turned to get a phone.

“No!” he screamed.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Surely if there was ever a time to call an ambulance, this was it. But then it hit me. Ambulances cost money. Lots of money. Money my parents didn’t have.

So, I summoned up all of my strength and dragged my father to my 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix.

During the trip to the emergency room, he didn’t say a single word. In fact, the whole drive over he was unnervingly quiet.

At the time I thought he was in some sort of deep Zen state, but I know now that wasn’t it. My dad wasn’t breathing through pain or thinking about the physical trauma he was going through. He was thinking about one thing and one thing only: how his injury was about to deal a devastating financial blow to our family.

When my family all arrived to the hospital, an eerie silence darkened the hospital room. We were happy that my dad would survive, but we all knew how much this accident would financially overwhelm us.

After two separate leg surgeries and several years of excruciating rehab, my Dad was able to walk again, but he was never the same. Because he worked for himself, he wasn’t able to make any money during his recovery. They maxed out credit cards and resorted to cashing out the equity they had developed in our house. That one incident left an economic burden on my parents that they never fully recovered from.

To this day, I still hate Valentine’s Day…(being single on past Valentine’s Day doesn’t help either).

It all could have been avoided, but they didn’t have a crisis chest set aside to deal with emergencies. My family didn’t have proper insurance coverage (outside of health insurance), investment accounts, or any type of financial plan. We monetarily lived month to month with our noses barely above water (this was always left unsaid).

The most tragic thing of all? Their story is not unique. Many families these days are just one accident away from financial trauma. My parents did everything right when it came to raising us, but they did next to nothing right when it came to their finances. What hurts the most is that I know they made enough money to properly save. They just didn’t know how to manage it.

For many reasons, they are why I do what I do. I don’t want anyone to go through what they did. Everything that happened was preventable.

As stated by Murphy’s Law – the worst that can happen will happen. Just like icy February days, you can’t stop them. Nature’s will is nature’s will. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

But what you can do is prepare for everything well in advance.

That day had a big impact on me and influenced me to become a financial adviser. My drive is to help people, like you, get your household’s finances in order so that you can withstand major life events when they happen (and not be traumatized for several years after the occurrence). You’ll always remember those stressful times, but they shouldn’t affect you financially for years and years ahead.

With my help, you can learn how to create financial firewalls, which in turn, may lead to a better quality of life for you and your family. You’ll always remember those stressful times, but they shouldn’t affect you financially for years and years ahead. If you manage your money, you won’t be walking around worrying about future ‘what-if’ scenarios.

Do you have a cold, icy February day story that has damaged your finances? Did an accident just happen? Don’t let yourself be swallowed up by waves of debt that could have been prevented.

Simple steps may lead to meaningful change, so don’t fear the unexpected. Plan for it.

Let’s connect. Together we can make a financial plan to help weather future crises.

Cheers,

Max

Max Clifford

Author: Max Clifford

Max manages a comprehensive financial practice, where he focuses on providing integrated financial strategies to medical professionals, business owners, and people with occupations in various technology-based fields.

Max is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative of Securian Financial Services, Inc. and CRI Securities, LLC.

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