Every now and then I’m reminded in the most visceral of ways how much I love what I do.
My favorite example happened many years ago. Long time clients had recently had their first baby, a girl. At the time of this office meeting their daughter was about a week past her second birthday. We’d been reviewing their portfolio when outa nowhere the wife totally reversed her thinking, and announced she was way past ready to be a stay-at-home mom. But, she said, “We’ve always gone for capital growth, not cash flow. When will I be able to quit my job?” Since her husband had confided this to me, we’d been colluding privately, and I’d been having him be more hands on with the rents. Also, the Mother of all bubbles was around three years old. Bottom line? I got to have this short, but oh so sweet conversation.
“Brenda, I’ve been assessing your current cash flow. It’s all completely tax sheltered, with room for more. You’ll be a little tight, but if you really wanna quit your job, you have enough cash flow to do it, as long as Steve’s job is safe.”
She began to sob. Then Steve caved. At that point I was a gonner with no hope whatsoever. The conference room had window-walls, so I’ve always wondered what folks thought as they saw all three of us wiping tears away. 🙂 That conversation made my year for me. Even now it never fails to get me smiling.
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Monday at Lunch
An Ethiopian immigrant who’s been here about 25 years, found BiggerPockets and began reading and listening insatiably. She liked much of what she read and heard, then noticed I lived just down the I-5 freeway from her. Would I be willing to meet her sometime? You bet I would. She’s a 49 year old newly single mother of eight year old fraternal twins. One of them is a special needs child. Think your days are challenging sometimes? Every day’s challenging for her. Yet she smiles most of the time, genuinely infusing you with the need to smile yourself.
At 49 time isn’t her BFF, but with the modest assets at her disposal, and an upcoming capital injection from back home, she can make a real difference in her ultimate retirement income. At this point she’d be working ’til she couldn’t, go through her savings, then hope Social Security was still viable. Fortunately she has a close girlfriend her age who also has some savings. They’re interested in partnering if that would help. For me that’ll end up as a twofer as far as fixes go. It doesn’t get any better than that.
During our lunch I was gifted to hear about life in Ethiopia. She made a very telling observation when comparing her mother country to the U.S. “I was lucky to have been born to what’s known in Ethiopia as the upper class. (It wouldn’t be anything like that here.) The middle class there is very, very small. The lower economic class his huge. The difference is that in America everyone has the opportunity to be whatever they want, as long as they’re willing to pay the price and work for it. The only way an Ethiopian born dirt poor can ever really move up the economic ladder is to have been born with highly superior intelligence, and then the odds are long. They much figure most things out themselves, without help.”
Yes, I’ll stick with this incredible lady like glue. Creating a retirement in which she’s not working well into her 70s, but living comfortably has already begun to emerge as a mission for which failure isn’t an option. Imagine yourself at 49, and having come from another country long ago. A couple kids under 10, one a major special needs child. Yet, due to her faith in the American tradition of opportunity to eventually triumph, she reminded me of how lucky we all are to have been born here.
Driving home I felt blessed on so many levels. Yup, this case study is gonna be big time fun.
Photo: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe