Updated: Feb 17
Guest post by Scott Vincent
Learning of complications to your heart’s health can put you on a roller coaster. When a doctor mentions heart disease, you can be jolted from a mindset of uncomplicated living into the possibility of having your time cut short. Gratefully, I’ve always enjoyed roller coasters with their interesting twists, turns and the unexpected.
My heart’s health is complicated by cardiac sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an uncommon, autoimmune disease which can affect many different organs and, in my case, has caused heart failure. It has been especially difficult for me to acknowledge my diagnosis; however, I have come to appreciate the ride. I hope that a few of my experiences and learnings may help you.
If it were not for my diagnosis, I would not have learned to enjoy and savor the moments that life is giving me.
Be True To Yourself, Your Heart, and Your Heart’s Health
I find comfort knowing that I value myself and family, value the heart that I have, and do everything I can to help the heart I have stay strong. Nobody would ever choose an impersonal fact of a health disease diagnosis. However, addressing these positive feelings puts me in the right frame to address challenges that may come regarding my health. If it were not for my diagnosis, I would not have learned to enjoy and savor the moments that life is giving me.
Plan Ahead With Life and Disability Insurance
Nobody brings their hat or sunglasses onto a roller coaster, you ensure that they will not fly off of you by leaving them at the beginning of the ride. Similarly, I was fortunate to have guidance to buy additional life insurance and disability insurance when I began my family.
Outside my employer’s benefits, I bought a 20-Year Term Life Insurance Policy after getting married and then renewed the policy prior to the birth of my son. Moreover, I purchased personal short-term and long-term disability insurance in case I could no longer work.
While the policies seemed unlikely to be needed at the time, it gave me some security and peace of mind knowing my family would be protected in the event I could no longer provide for them. When the unexpected diagnosis happened, this was one area I felt happy that I had done correctly because new insurance options were either not available or cost prohibitive.
Pivot after your Diagnosis
Sometimes you have to switch from riding in the front of the train to the back. Upon diagnosis, I changed from relying on life insurance for security to the mentality of building assets. I gave myself a timeline of the term of my life insurance to build assets that would replace the value of the policy. To do so, I have used at least the following tools:
1. Maxing out 401K contributions.
I have maxed out traditional 401K plans and Roth 401K plans to provide security that my wife and son will be financially provided for.
2. Custodial Roth IRA for my son.
Growing up on a family farm, I fully support employing my son in our family business. My son actively participates in our business to earn enough money to file his own tax return and to convert his earned income into a Roth IRA each year. I take special comfort in knowing that the investment that I help guide him to make at this early age could grow tax-free until his retirement.
3. 529 contributions toward my son’s college education.
At a minimum each year, I contribute to my son's 529 by investing an amount that provides state tax benefits.
4. Diversifying income streams.
While a corporate position provides many benefits, I have also developed different revenue streams from real estate to business.
Bring a Balanced Intensity to Your Career
Before my diagnosis, I had ambitious career goals. I still have these goals but my approach to meeting them is different. Before, I thought the goals could be met with endless hours at the office; however, now focusing on my heart’s health, focus is on intensity not endurance.
I no longer put myself in a position to over-promise and under-deliver. Instead, when I take on a project, it is to deliver the best possible results. While there can still be an uncertainty to how long many projects may take, I know that the effort I put into them is intentional and focused.
Find Ways to Achieve Your Life Goals
Before my diagnosis, I had ambitious life goals of growing as a family, traveling, helping my son’s college education and seeing my son build a family of his own. These goals have not changed but instead have become actionable.
For example, instead of simply having a goal of growing as a family and traveling, I have loosened my grip on accumulating wealth to make room for creating memories with my family. Now, my priorities are focused on my immediate family, my parents, and my siblings’ families.
“While it is not a ride that I may have hopped on if I knew the layout of the track, I trust the engineer behind the design.”
While it is not a ride that I may have hopped on if I knew the layout of the track, I trust the engineer behind the design. I have never asked for an easy life, but instead an interesting one. The architect of my life has not disappointed and has given me ample opportunities to turn a diagnosis of heart failure into one where I can achieve all of my life goals with intentional creativity with a focus on my heart’s health.
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About the Author
Scott Vincent is an attorney working to maintain work-life balance. He is a former marathoner having placed in the Marine Corps Marathon and raced in the Boston, Chicago and Milwaukee Marathons. He has his eyes set on continuing to participate in road races that are much shorter in 2021 and go the distance with cardiac sarcoidosis for another 50 years.
About Peter and Peak Wealth Planning
Peter Newman is a Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA) and president of Peak Wealth Planning. He works with individuals nationwide that have accumulated wealth through real estate, ESOP, or running a business. Peter applies his unique background to help his clients achieve their specific goals and enjoy peace of mind.
Peak Wealth Planning cares as much for your health as your wealth. What is the point of growing your wealth if you can’t enjoy it? So throughout the month of February Peak Wealth Planning will be dedicating its efforts towards bringing valuable insights into decreasing your risk of heart disease.