Brian and Nancy had lived a fabulous life full of everything everyone wants. They had beautiful friends, sensational parties, the right guest list, the right address and fabulous cars. And all throughout their marriage, life had been…great.
Brian had spent many years working closely with his father and played an integral part in building a successful business. His income was set for life, or so he thought.
As Brian’s father neared retirement, his behavior became more erratic. One day, Dad just announced he was leaving Brian’s mother. Brian was out of the company and it would pass on to someone else. All of these drastic changes caught Brian by surprise.
They also shocked Nancy, who admired Brian’s father. Neither Brian nor Nancy could explain why their world had been turned upside down.
Brian’s father was a very influential person in the community where they all lived and, for some reason, he started spreading false stories about Brian and Nancy. Those lies fractured business relationships, ruined friendships and broke allegiances all around.
One morning, Brian and Nancy woke up to the fact that no matter how hard they tried to save the life they once lived, it would be next to impossible. So they made plans to relocate. Brian’s mother loaned them $1.4 million to help them get established in a new area, away from the craziness Brian’s father had created in their lives.
Brian and Nancy found a picturesque corner of New York in which to reestablish themselves. Brian spent the first year coordinating the design and construction of their new, 10,000 square-foot home on 30 acres. Though she had very little business experience, Nancy had set her sights on developing a new career, so she started up a small manufacturing company.
About a year and a half passed and things were not adding up for them, financially. The move consumed more of their assets than they had anticipated, and they noticed that funds were getting tight on a monthly basis. Nancy’s business had not taken off as she had hoped and Brian was still trying to reinvent himself.
Brian and Nancy asked me for help. They knew they had to do something. They were very aware that the financial situation was near meltdown stage. Just the month before, they had sold their airplane, baby grand piano and some oriental rugs to make ends meet.
Cash was almost more precious than water to them.
Brian and Nancy were brave. Some of the issues that we worked through were difficult to face at first — just like strange noises in the closet at night? Slowly, we opened the closet door, pulled out each scary item, examined it, and found that it wasn’t so frightening after all. Then, we moved on. The last item in the closet was the toughest to face — what kind of life were they entitled to in the future?
At first, Brian and Nancy were stuck in the belief that they had to live the lifestyle they had become accustomed to, but after a couple of months of trying to make things work the old way, they developed the courage to try something else.
After listening to their dreams and goals it became apparent that while they were struggling to regain their old life, it wasn’t what they really wanted. It was clear that if they had managed to hold onto the old life and the values that created it, they wouldn’t be truly happy.
Brian and Nancy found that the way to work out their financial problems and work toward happiness was buried within them and, as we talked it through, we managed to identify that their real goals were to live life on the West Coast and enter a new field of employment. The new life also meant substantially less income, at least at first, but they were willing to give up the home, cars, acreage, planes, parties and everything else to find happiness.
Before they could relocate Brian and Nancy had lots of loose ends to tie up. Their small business had several employees who were like family. Brian and Nancy had to terminate their employment, which was painful for all concerned. But because they had to do it, Brian and Nancy had to be honest with these people about their struggles.
Revealing what felt to them as weakness actually gave them strength. Not long after acknowledging their financial problems and resolving to go down a healthier path, Brian and Nancy found the perfect little townhouse to rent. It sure wasn’t the palatial home they used to think they needed, but it was affordable, and the extra money they didn’t spend on housing allowed them to pursue their dreams and goals. The move across the country placed them much closer to their grown kids, and that brought them joy. The reduced expenses allowed them to focus more on projects which brought them income and personal fulfillment which, in turn, brought them happiness.
Looking back, Brian and Nancy were able to see how the clutter of their past life and the inability to let go was like an anchor around their neck. They found the strength necessary to make hard choices and open the door to their new life. They were willing to pay a high price in the short term for the life they wanted in the future.
Since that time, life has been an adventure for Brian and Nancy. While there were some adjustments along the way, they found their path to happiness in reinventing themselves. The price for Brian and Nancy was the pain of shedding their old life and the struggle to become who they really wanted to be. The good news is that they are paying Mom every month the money they owe her, the income is coming in and, best yet, everyone is happy.
Brian and Nancy developed the attributes and skills necessary to turn their lives around. They came from a life of having almost everything they wanted, and it’s hard to appreciate how difficult it is to lose it all.
Finally, there were several very apparent differences between Brian and Nancy and many other people who suffer through similar issues. They were not bitter, angry or vengeful. Brian and Nancy were kind, grateful, responsible, flexible and humble. They approached their situation as an adventure, and looked forward to where their path would lead. They welcomed the idea that they could change their lives for the better.
Crystal and Susan lived on a tranquil waterway in a lovely part of the country. They had been partners for years and had developed a comfortable life together. Last year, they spent almost $50,000 on renovating a bathroom, but this year they were struggling to make it month to month. Susan had even used part of her retirement funds to pay for day-to-day expenses, and there wasn’t much left.
Susan had a job where she earned a nice, six-figure income, but the company suddenly went out of business and left her without cash flow. The job separation package could have been better, but at least it provided her with several months of income. Susan had friends at other companies who had lost their jobs and had not received any severance pay at all.
Her professional life had always been somewhat charmed, so Susan felt that finding a new job would be simple. She still had a reasonable chunk of money in savings, so she felt she could wait a couple of months before starting a new job. Crystal was a teacher and had the summer off, so the timing of the loss of the job worked out well.
The only problem was, when Susan tried to return to work, she couldn’t find any jobs. Most employers said that since she had made so much in the past and had so much responsibility, she was overqualified.
After struggling for several months, Crystal and Susan reached out for help and contacted me. They were very aware of the reality of their current situation. They realized that the money was drying up fast and they had to make some hard choices. One major hurdle we had to get over together was the ability to see that their future life might be very different from their past life. It took a lot of introspection and honesty for them to face what was most important to them in life. What they discovered was their deep love for each other and the realization that a future life together was going to be better than any other life apart.
With great humility they asked for help and said they were ready to make any decisions necessary to move ahead with their lives. The pressure from their creditors was increasing daily, but they found the confidence to hold their course and not go into an emotional tailspin every time another collector called. You see, they had a plan.
The plan would take some time to put in place, but after working together, each day was another day closer to a solution, rather than one filled with fear.
Crystal and Susan had decided that they would sell their home by the sea and downsize their life. They were prepared to let go of the material possessions they could no longer afford, but a funny thing happened in the process. Their ship came in. Unexpectedly, Crystal had a relative who passed away and left her a home. She sold the home and it generated enough money to pay her creditors back, in full. At the same time, Susan found a job paying about the same salary, but in a different industry. While prepared to pay the price and make the changes necessary, by sheer chance they did not have to and, to this day, they enjoy their home by the sea.
The financial trauma, while painful, was a blessing. Crystal and Susan developed strength from the experience, which helped them to focus on what made them happy in their lives. Gone are the days of expensive weekends that brought them fleeting happiness — they have found more joy out of walking together on the beach. Rather than meet friends out for dinner, they now invite everyone over for casual meals by the pool. Life is so much sweeter for them now because they were given the gift of gratitude.
Chapter 8 – Your Money is Your Friend
Chapter 1 – I Got Hit in the Head With a Baseball and I Saw it Coming
Chapter 2 – What Your Money is Trying to Tell You
Chapter 3 – Take a Lap on the Gerbil Wheel of Debt
Chapter 4 – Why Money Doesn’t Make You Happy
Chapter 5 – If You Had a Million Rats, Would You be Successful?
Chapter 6 – The 10 Attributes of Internal Prosperity
Chapter 7 – The Attributes of Internal Prosperity in Action
Chapter 8 – Your Money is Your Friend
Conclusion – Listen to Your Heart