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A Day That Changed My Life Thumbnail

A Day That Changed My Life

It was almost 6 years ago today. I had visited a good friend of mine and was traveling home from St. Louis, MO. I took a bit of a detour to go look at a motorcycle I had been checking out online. The dealer happened to be in St. Louis so I decided to do some window shopping. It was a Sunday morning. Probably around 8 am so I knew they would be closed, but I was hoping to get a glimpse of the bike in the window.

Should I buy a new motorcycle?

I pull in the parking lot and walk up to the building and sure enough there it is right in the front window! Lucky me! It was a 2013 Victory Cross Country Touring bike and it was a beauty! And they only wanted $10,000 for it. What a deal! I did quick math in my head saying to myself 10,000 divided by 60 monthly payments is only $166 per month plus a little interest. Done deal!

I hopped in the car and started the 4 hour trip back to Ozark, MO. I texted my wife to ask her opinion of me buying the bike and she replied back with a nonchalant "get it". She knew me and once I had decided something she didn't stand much chance of changing my mind. And she was 7 months pregnant at the time so she had other things to occupy her mind other than her husband contemplating buying a toy. So that was that. First thing Monday morning I was going to call my credit union to secure financing to buy that bike!

A twist of fate on a Sunday morning

Not sure how many of you have ever listen to the radio on a Sunday morning, but trust me, there isn't much other than church sermons and and people spouting political opinions. So I hit scan on the radio hoping it would eventually land on something tolerable. A few seconds later it lands on a station where a guy called into a show to ask about financing a motorcycle. What are the odds! So I stop and listen. Suddenly, the host is berating this guy basically calling him everything other than stupid because in his words if you can't pay cash you can't afford to buy it. Who is this nut radio host I thought to myself? The nut turned out to be the one and only Dave Ramsey.

At this point in my life I had managed to make it 39 years without ever knowing who he was. I had heard his name before but had no idea who he was or what he did. (this is where you say to yourself does Brian live under a rock?) Apparently I lived under a rock! So right after that call Dave's show ended. I immediately grab my iPhone to look up his website so I can listen to more of his shows on the drive. I had to find out who this crazy guy was.

His concept is fairly simple. Pay off your debt so you can use your income to build wealth for yourself rather than building it for other people. Pretty straightforward and easy to understand, however like most things, not so easy to take action on. I'm a pretty hard headed guy, but when something makes sense I will entertain changing my opinion. I thought to myself what would my life look like without debt and payments? Maybe it was possible to get ahead. Maybe I could quit my 8-5 job to chase a dream?

Taking action

My wife and I were never what you would consider lavish spenders but we were "normal". We had a mortgage, two car loans, a motorcycle loan, student loans, and maybe $7,000 in credit card debt. Our consumer debt (crap that is worth nothing or goes down in value like a rock) was $92,000 and some change. That's all auto loans, credit cards and student loan debt. The split was $20,000 of student loan debt for me, $25,000 in student loan debt for my wife, $30,000 on a new minivan, $5000 on another car. $5,000 on a motorcycle, and $7,000 in credit cards. Only $92,000! No big deal right?

So when I get home I tell my wife about this crazy radio host and his thoughts on debt and about the guy calling in to ask about financing a motorcycle. She was sort of half listening. I said he has this plan called the debt snowball and I think we should try it. Now she's listening! I say the plan is to make a budget and start a small emergency fund and use every extra dollar you have to pay off your debt. She was for it although, truth be told, I think she was just tired of hearing me talk about all the things we could do without debt in our lives. I mention maybe I could even quit my job and try something else? She answered with a uh-huh....That's her whatever! Long story short, Brian didn't get the motorcycle.

So on April 17, 2016 we started the debt snowball and we never looked back. We paid off the last debt in July 2017 and I did eventually quit my 8-5 job. As I sit here typing this, I am officially a registered Financial Advisor in the state of Missouri. We still carry no debt other than our mortgage on a house that we can afford. We don't try to keep up with the Jones' and I have to tell you it's the most liberating feeling in the world.

Not worrying about money changes every decision you make

It was through that journey of paying off our debt that led me to my calling. After I paid off our last debt, I started the process of becoming a financial advisor. I was still working for White River Electric at that point. I would take my lunch hour and sit in my car and study every day until I passed all my exams in December 2018. I left White River in January 2019 and started 80/20 Financial Services because I wanted to help others to experience the freedom that not worrying about money can give you.

I wanted to give my clients the benefit of an advisor that has been through the trenches and came out on the other side. Learning about financial stuff isn't hard. The hard part is actually taking action. I took action and it changed my life. What action could you take today that could do the same for you?

Today, I create and manage investment plans for electric cooperative retirees to ensure the money they have saved lasts the duration of 20-30 year retirement and beyond. We make sure you only retire once!

I've seen too many cooperative retirees take the monthly annuity option because they thought it was "safe" even though it wasn't the best choice for them and I've seen too many cooperative retirees take the lump sum option to big name brokerage firms and insurance companies that don't have their best interest in mind. 

I can help you make the right decisions for your situation. As an Independent Registered Investment Advisor, I work for you. You can be assured you are getting financial advice from an advisor you can trust, that knows your profession, that had the same benefit plan as you, that is a Fiduciary and is required by law to put your interest ahead of my own.

I want to make clear that 80/20 Financial Services is not in competition with NRECA. My goal is to help cooperative retirees optimize the great benefits NRECA and your cooperative provide you. I’m a huge fan of NRECA, their benefit plan and cooperatives in general. 

You Need A Plan

At 80/20 Financial Services, we are retirement planners and we specialize in working with electric cooperative employees. We can help you answer questions like:

  • Should you take your cooperative's monthly pension or lump sum offer?
  • Do you have enough money between your R&S and/or 401k to retire?
  • Could you possibly retire at age 55?
  • Is your cooperative 401k invested correctly for your retirement goals?
  • Should you be investing in a Traditional 401k or a Roth 401k?
  • Are you contributing too much or too little to your 401k?
  • Should you quasi-retire from your cooperative?
  • Should you accept an early retirement offer from your cooperative?
  • When should you claim Social Security benefits?
  • How can you lower your tax bill in retirement?
  • How do you invest your retirement money so that you increase your income in retirement?
  • How do you create an income stream in retirement that is similar to when you were working?

I started this firm specifically to help electric cooperative employees with retirement planning. I worked for an electric cooperative for 11 years and I know your profession and benefit plans better than any other financial advisor will. You have excellent retirement benefits available to you. I can help you optimize those benefits while creating a retirement income and investing plan that aligns with your retirement goals.

Contact us to set up a consultation. The consultation is free and without obligation.

For more articles about retirement planning and investing, click here. You may also sign up to receive our weekly retirement blog here.

Thanks for reading!

Brian Coleman/Retirement Income & Investment Planner

80/20 Financial Services is an Independent Registered Investment Advisory Firm. We help Electric Cooperative Employees create their retirement income and investment plans.

Photo by Jakub Sisulak on Unsplash