Six Stones – 2. The Path Less Traveled

Welcome (back) to our Six Stones series. Our financial adviser, Jordan, is sharing as many tips, ideas and advice for people going through a divorce as a humble blog will allow. He’s staying away from specific financial advice – it’s all general advice over here, be sure to get personal financial advice before doing anything – but we hope you find some useful information in here as you navigate through/out of your divorce.

Happy New (Financial) Year!

Now, let’s continue our discussion about how the impact of serious illness can be different for different people…real party conversation, in other words.

In our last post, we talked about the higher-than-we’d-like chance of contracting or experiencing a critical illness.

We then went on to talk about what that reality can look like for people as they navigate through it.

There is, I’d like to point out, an alternative path.

An Alternative

Let’s imagine the person that got hit with the dreaded conversation had taken the time previously to map out the Impact they’d prefer it had on their (financial) life.

They’d had some difficult conversations years before she found herself sitting in oddly comfortable chairs, in an office with the heating up too high, waiting to hear what the specialist would have to say.

Exact same cancer, exact same treatment protocol, exact same feeling of having their stomach hit their ankles when the bad news came.

Except they’ve made financial provision for this possibility – either by building a savings buffer or holding an insurance policy against just this thing.

Exact same first thought after the news lands too – “what the hell am I going to do?”

That’s where the similarities change.

Because behind this ‘sliding door’ is a path of control and certainty.

Taking Control of the Controllables

This isn’t to say this version of our poor patient is up for an easy time of it, not at all. But they do know that they have options available to them.

They’d confronted this very plausible risk well before this conversation shunted their life off its trajectory. They’d sat down and confronted some difficult ideas, thoughts and discussions to put together a plan she could follow if the worst ever eventuated.

So that now it has eventuated, they know about their options.

For instance, they can tell work they’re going to need a 3-month leave of absence.

They’re a private person and don’t want to ask friends or family to sit in the hospital with them, so they can choose to pay for the Ubers (Uber Black, mind you) to and from the treatment.

She doesn’t have to balance the week between health, family, work and self like our first heroine.

After treatment, she goes home and lays down for the afternoon without having to groggily check her emails on the way home.

The kids get home around 4pm, but she doesn’t worry about dinner because she’s decided to pay for home delivered meals to take that off her mind.

Sadly, chemo and radio haven’t worked for her either, so she gets the same two options:

1.      An immunotherapy programme being held in Sydney;

2.      A therapy being trialled in Baltimore in the USA.

America isn’t an option because she doesn’t want to be away from home for that long – she really likes to be home when the kids walk in the door.

But Sydney can work.

Her sister lives up there so she can stay with her over the course of treatment and maybe – health willing – return home more regularly.

She doesn’t have the $250,000 available, but she is able to put together more than half of it and decides to use what’s in her offset account to cover the difference.

She knows this will set her back in a big way, but the choice between having to work for a few extra years, or not being at her daughter’s wedding isn’t really a choice at all.

Or let’s put her in the same chemo seat as our first example.

Except instead of juggling devices to keep up-to-date at work, she’s sitting there, reading a book that manages to make her smile a dozen times, giggle a few times and actually laugh at least once.

The mortgage is being paid out of the 12-month buffer she’s parked in the offset account. The bills are being paid by her income protection policy.

And she’s thinking about the holiday she’s planning once she’s given the all clear. It’s been an awful bloody year, so she’s taking the kids away for a fortnight.

Somewhere warm, she thinks.  

Preparation Gives You Options

These are, clearly, hypothetical scenarios and outcomes.

But they’re based in the very firm reality of my experience in helping people claim on this particular form of insurance.

We’ve had people tell us about the others in the chemo room, having to balance their laptop on the hard plastic chair because they simply have to keep working.

We’ve seen the anecdotal evidence around the benefits that come from being able to focus on one’s treatment, instead of stressing about where next month’s mortgage payment will come from.

We’ve had clients tell us, tearfully, that they can’t afford the six-figure long-shot treatment option their specialist is trying to get them onto a waiting list for.

There is, of course, no perfect answer or path to follow here. Each one – like with all risk management plans – is a miasma of compromise, acceptance and chance.

But, at the risk of repeating myself, simply having the conversation puts you in a better position to brave your way through such an awful part of life.

You won’t have all the answers or resources you might ever need. But you’ll have some of both, which is a damned good start.

In our next post, I’ll cover the vexed issue of replacing your income if the big risk of Disability darkened your door.

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