My Broken Wife And Your Financial Plan

Russ Thornton
Russ Thornton
Retirement advisor

“I’ve broken your wife again,” Pam said on the other end of the phone.

I received this call on a Saturday in April.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up a few months.

The Colorado Fall

My wife, Elizabeth, loves horseback riding and has ridden pretty much her whole life. Back in September, she had an opportunity to go to a ranch in Colorado for a few days with friends and ride horses the entire time. She would call me daily from the ranch via Gmail video chat to tell me about what they did and where they rode. She was having a blast.

Until the cattle drive on the last day.

I got a call from her earlier than usual that day to learn that while her horse was walking through a small stream, one of its back feet got lodged between a couple of rocks. The horse panicked and Elizabeth went flying. She came down hard and hurt her foot. At the time, although it was painful, she didn’t know how severe the injury was, so she literally got back in the saddle and rode for another 5 hours and finished their cattle drive with everyone else. A trip to the local hospital that evening confirmed that she’d fractured the cuboid bone in her left foot. My wife is a trooper.

The Phone Call

Fast forward to a few weeks ago on April 14th. After a slow and steady recovery with her fractured foot, including some physical therapy, Elizabeth was riding again. That Saturday, I was working in the yard, and Elizabeth was around the corner at Chastain Horse Park riding with the same friends she went to Colorado with. And that’s when I get the call.

One of her friends, Pam, said, “I’ve broken your wife again.” I could tell by her voice that it wasn’t life-threatening, but I was still worried. I jumped in my car and rushed up there. Turns out the horse Elizabeth was riding – his name is Wiley – decided he didn’t want Elizabeth on his back any longer. No one is sure if he spooked or was just goofing off, but Elizabeth was on the ground with a broken right arm, right below her shoulder. (The picture above is Elizabeth on Wiley about 1.5 seconds before he bucked her off.)

After visits to the Emergency Room and an Orthopedist, it was determined that she wouldn’t need surgery. She was given a shoulder sling and we were told it was just going to take time to heal and to be careful with it. While we were thankful she wouldn’t need surgery, she was in a lot of pain and it was going to be another slow road to recovery.

No More Horsing Around?

Many of you reading this have already heard about Elizabeth’s recent adventures. And the common reaction is, “Maybe it’s time for her to stop riding horses.” However, if you ask Elizabeth – and several folks have – if she plans to ride again, she’ll look you in the eye and answer with a confident “Absolutely!” without even giving it a second thought. In fact, I expect she’ll be back in the saddle, literally and figuratively, as soon as she’s able.

About now, you might be asking yourself what this has to do with financial planning for women?

It’s About Priorities

You see, Elizabeth loves riding so much, that it’s a part of who she is. And she recognizes – and has recently experienced firsthand – the risks associated with horseback riding. It’s enough of a priority in her life that she’s willing to keep doing it despite her recent falls and the risk of falling again.

And this is where there are parallels with a woman’s financial planning and decision making.

You see, I believe if something is important enough to you – whether it’s riding horses, retiring at a certain age, spending more time with those you care about, giving time or money to an important cause or pursuing your personal passion – you’ll find a way to make it happen despite the potential risks or possible setbacks you might experience along the way.

Let me say it again.

If something is a high enough priority in your life, you’re going to accept the risks associated with achieving it.  Click to tweet this.

I believe this same idea applies to the financial choices faced by women when they’re planning for their future. If a woman is absolutely, positively frightened by the risk of the stock market, it’s not my job to “educate” her to a different way of thinking or feeling. Instead, we’ll work together to design a Wealthcare plan that is customized to her unique goals, priorities, values, and feelings. If she doesn’t want stock market risk, we’ll get her stock market exposure as low as we can while still maintaining a satisfactory level of comfort and confidence that she can achieve her goals despite an uncertain future. This might mean she’ll have to save more today or retire later or spend less in retirement or travel less or some other combination of choices that will allow her to reduce her dependence on the stock market so she can sleep easier at night.

On the other hand, what if you’re a woman whose top priority is to retire at age 55 and not a day later. Well, in order to achieve that goal, we’ll explore a range of other decisions to make that happen. Perhaps you don’t like the stock market either, but since retiring at 55 is your most important goal, you’re willing to take on a reasonable amount of stock market risk in an effort to retire on your terms. Or maybe you’d be willing to make other decisions to make sure you’re able to retire when you want to.

It’s my hope that you’re beginning to see how your choices, your priorities and the trade-offs among them work hand-in-hand with your financial planning, both today and going forward. Just as my wife would rather risk another fall and another broken bone as long as she can keep riding horses, the same concept applies to you and your financial decision-making. If it’s important enough to you, it’s not a question of if you’ll make it happen; it’s a question of how you’ll make it happen.

What About You? What are your priorities? What is something that’s important enough to you or that you’re passionate enough about that you’re willing to pursue despite the risks or bumps and bruises you might experience along the way? I’d love for you to share your passions and priorities in the comments below.

And if you’d like to have an exploratory conversation about your priorities, your choices and the trade-offs among them, I invite you to pick up the phone and call me.


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Written by

Russ Thornton

Retirement advisor

I’m a retirement advisor with more than 25 years of professional experience. My mission is to help women retire comfortably, without having to worry about money. I invite you to explore my website.