A few years ago, I met a couple in their early forties called Liam and Teresa. They ran a successful, but relatively small business together, where they didn’t have any employees- they did everything themselves. Liam and Teresa were in good health: They were reasonably fit, didn’t smoke and had three young children.
Tragically, Teresa was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer. This came completely out of the blue and seriously rocked their seemingly steady boat. Whilst Teresa was recovering, Liam had to completely take over the business; this was of course stressful for him, but meant that the company could keep afloat.
But life has a funny way of testing us. Just when you think that you’ve hit rock bottom, the ground beneath you opens up to show you the abyss. And that’s what happened. Almost one month after Teresa’s diagnosis and treatment, Liam had a serious bike accident smashing his shoulder. There was no permanent damage, but it meant that he needed to take some time off work too. Thankfully, Bob had some basic Income Protection in place on his earnings, which gave them a little financial stability in these stormy times, but not nearly enough. This threatened to shatter their lives, personally and financially.
I’m pleased to say that both Liam and Teresa made full recoveries, and are still clients and friends of mine today, but speaking to them afterwards, Liam admitted to lying awake each night wondering how he was going to pay their mortgage, put food on the table for their children, pay Teresa’s medical bills and keep the business afloat. They lacked the protection to ensure that their financial plan wouldn’t be derailed.
It was an awful, frightening and eye-opening period of their lives. But what this episode showed them was the importance of ensuring there is a backup plan. If they had had some safety nets in place, life would have felt far more secure for both of them. They would have had peace of mind that they were still financially secure, and could have focussed solely on getting better, rather than worrying about money.