Last night Neighbor Dave and I met with our Financial Advisor, Craig, for our semi-annual appointment. We always start the appointment with a little small talk to get the juices flowing. Yesterday’s conversation, like many others, included a small update on Craig’s brother Mark.
I bet that Mark doesn’t remember me, and I probably wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup either. But he is an important part of today’s story.
I met Mark at a women’s financial seminar (read: new client round-up) in 1997. At the time, according to my Social Security statement that the Government sends me every once in awhile, I was making $30,042 a year, at age 27. Most of that came from my day job at Big Corporation #1. A small amount came from my side gig as a swimming coach for triathletes at Moore Lake Swim & Racquet club.
I was making enough to pay my rent, buy food, go out for a beer occasionally at a low-class place. I had just moved back to Minneapolis and was living in a one bedroom apartment on Lake & Irving. I was very laid-back and coasting after a year in Puerto Rico. I was still operating on island time and with a (calm/slow) island pulse.
My friend and swimmer Patricia asked me if I wanted to join her for this financial seminar. I really didn’t. I didn’t have enough money to plan for anything, I was too young to worry about retirement, I was completely satisfied with my lifestyle, and I didn’t have the drive to do something different.
Patricia was very persuasive in a strong-willed way. She told me it would be good for me. She was five years my senior and set a great example, as she owned a home, was committed to a healthy lifestyle, had good friends from all walks of her life, drank wine and beer, was disciplined and goal-oriented, could give the evil eye when needed but also flashed her dimpled smile to seal a deal. After she promised we’d leave and go for a glass of wine if it was bad, I reluctantly agreed.
At the seminar we all got a women’s financial planning 3-ring binder with tabs for each “life stage.” I flipped to the tab for young & single. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict what was recommended: A. Buy a house. B. Start saving for retirement.
After reviewing this and filling in the blanks on my “financial goals” (see A & B above), I got in line to consult for a few minutes with one of the financial planners at the event. Mark whipped out his calculator and encouraged me to set aside $250 from each paycheck; at that rate I’d have enough for a down payment on a house in two years. I figured that didn’t sound so bad. Over wine later, I shrugged my shoulders and told Patricia I’d probably do it.
In 1998, one year later, I moved into my house at 43rd & Grand.
(a painting of my cute house by Jim Bias – note Dave’s house behind it)
Fast forward 6 years- to 2004- when I was leaving Big Corporation #1 for Big Corporation #2. I had a pretty decent retirement account and wanted to roll it into a fund managed by a Financial planner. I dug out my trusty 3-ring binder and found Mark’s business card. I searched for him on the internet. I was linked to a Wall Street Journal article about over-qualified employees in rote jobs. Mark, who apparently had his CPA, MBA, JD, or some other combination of three fancy degrees, was quoted about his work as a teller at TCF Bank. It included his email address so I contacted him, explained how we were connected, and asked for a referral. He suggested his brother Craig.
And here we are another 6 years later- between Mark and Craig in the past 12 years, they’ve seen my finances (and me) go through a lot!
Back to yesterday’s appointment. Small talk turned to big talk and our recent change in household income. “What are you thinking about doing?” Craig asked. I overviewed the stories you’ve been following here, and explained that I’m at the top of my idea funnel, but thinking about this or that.
Craig was so supportive, and excited! I loved the encouragement! Living a happy life is the richest thing of all. The journey of how Craig and I came to work together is proof positive that dreams can come true.
I truly believe that I will achieve financial security this way, just as I did the corporate way…. and I’ll be (I am) much happier!
Remembering Patricia Gillow today…