In 1994, I was given the opportunity to change careers from being a paralegal working with estate planning and litigation attorneys, to becoming a financial service representative in my father-in-law’s business, Great Lakes Insurance & Financial Services. The change started to come about in 1992 because of two things: 1) My employer at the time, Anthony Mansour, was moving into retirement and our work together was coming to a close; and, 2) I married my husband and we needed to renovate our home to accommodate our three children. Unfortunately, at the time, neither of us had any savings – we were living paycheck to paycheck, with one exception. In 1986, I had purchased a cash value life insurance contract at the suggestion of my then husband’s high school coach who happened to also sell life insurance. The key component of that purchase was I would be saving money and earning interest; in the event of my death, my daughter Jessica Marie, then three months old, could be protected for access to money if I was not on this earth - hopefully used for her college fund or whatever she needed; and, during my lifetime, if I needed the money I had saved, it could be used for anything by asking the insurance company for a policy loan - no questions asked. That was literally my understanding of how the cash value an death benefit would work for me and my daughter. I started with a $50/month commitment that purchased a $50,000 death benefit. I continued to save in that policy and never gave it another thought until, as I stated above, in 1992 – six years later, the $600 per year I had saved (a total of $3,600), gave me access to about $2,000. I told Jim (my husband) about this cash and that I believe we can use it to fix up the house, but I also admitted, "I’m not sure how to go about getting to the money." When Jim reviewed the policy statement, he said, “My dad works for that company – he can help you.” And so he did. We took a policy loan that year and Earl (my father-in-law) counseled me on the need to pay it back, whenever I could - there was no set payment plan, it was all up to me and when I had the cash to return to the policy. After that meeting, Earl asked about what I was doing for work and later offered me a job for the same pay I was making in the legal field. I would still be working with attorneys to help people create their estate plans, but in addition, I would be managing his life insurance business. Before the end of that year, he had me taking my state licensing exams for health, life, and securities products. From there, he introduced me to the local branch of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), of which I have been a member since 1994.
Once I passed my licensing exams in 1994, I was first licensed with Ohio National Financial Services. Their agent training program helped me to learn to guide the financial stability of the client’s I represent. Through my professional affiliation with NAIFA, it was suggested I continue my education with the American College. To this date, my career flourishes because of those affiliations and the requirement I keep current on education each and every year. The state of Michigan’s continuing education requirements state I must have a minimum of three hours of ethics and a minimum of 21 hours of additional course work, over a two year period, which also serve to satisfy the requirements for sustaining my designations received from the American College (LUTCF – Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow; CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter; and ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant). Because of my dedication, faith and trust in God, in my family, in this industry, and the client’s I serve, I have come to truly love the work I do. Using a macro-economic planning process, the focus is on every financial move: What will you be exposed to, risk or reward; What are the benefits; and, What are the costs. Most importantly, how one financial move will affect another, today and in the future. Learning how to measure the impact of these moves is crucial as it relates to each and every aspect of your protection, savings, and growth. The bottom line for our family, and for those I represent, is as follows: the more money you control, the more money you accumulate, the more money you eliminate from risk, the more benefits you derive from your money for whatever reason, the better off your family will be. I know this, because my husband and I have had the pleasure of experiencing the use and control of our money over the years. We have used the concepts outlined in the "Becoming Your Own Bank," book, authored by R. Nelson Nash, call me and I will get you a copy - it is a workbook to learn and grow from. Our life insurance cash values from our dividend-paying, participating, whole life contracts have given us the the pleasure of using the money to benefit the careers of our daughters through their college education, their weddings, vacations, home improvements, cars, an airplane for a few years, a motor home for a few years, basically anything that most people borrow from a traditional bank via regulated loans, interest, and timed payment back to that bank - we turn the table and borrowed from the life insurance company, used their money to continue to let ours grow, and paid the life insurance company back which gave us access again to the same money - over and over.
From the initial purchase of that first policy, learning how to properly access the money, then replace the principal we had leveraged against the policy, only to be able to use that same principal again each time we needed money for a major purchase or expense, was the best lesson I could have learned – not to mention, the start of a career path I have grown to love and cherish. The last few decades have been spent sharpening my skills so I in turn can help you sharpen yours. What I have learned and continue to learn is you can never know enough; be guided by your faith in God; build strong affiliations with other professionals to help grow your career; save money in an account that gives you as many benefits as you want. Benefits such as: Growing tax deferred; Having the ability to use the policy as collateral so the cash value is uninterrupted from compounding; Having the ability to set the schedule with which to put the funds back so they can be used again; Private loans, no credit reporting; Money that can be protected from creditors; Money that can ultimately come out as income tax free under current IRS guidelines and contractual provisions; Money that has competitive returns; Ability to contribution whatever I want; Guaranteed loan options - if the cash value is accessible, you can leverage it; Unstructured loan payments; Financial structure that gives you the most liquidity, use, and control of your money; Contractual benefits where your principal deposits are protected by the life carrier for the return of your money. These are reasons why I have focused my personal contributions, and help others with theirs, so every year, you have an improved position. You can use other financial vehicles for sure, but remember, if you put the funds back to a non-collateral account, then to be where you should have been had you never removed the money, you need to pay yourself back at interest. You either pass up interest or pay up interest. Bottom line, focus first on savings, then the lifestyle you want to achieve, next, hold only debt that is collateralized against an asset you own and control, and finally be sure you have the maximum benefits out of every move you make, that includes estate planning so you have provided for the transfer of those assets without intervention, directly to your family or charities you desire.