A New World of Financial Possibilities

Ohio graduate uses Bank On Yourself to pay off debt, save

When Rose Hillbrand was in college and graduate school, she accumulated about $30,000 in student loan and credit card debt. Today she is eliminating debt and building her savings at the same time thanks to a Bank On Yourself policy.

Bank On Yourself is a savings strategy that uses specially designed dividend-paying cash value whole life insurance policies to create secure savings plans for people who want to avoid the volatility of the stock market and other investments. As the cash value in the policies grows, owners can use them to finance major purchases such as college, cars or vacation and recapture interest they would otherwise pay to financial institutions.

Rose, 34, lives in Gahanna, Ohio, just outside Columbus. She discovered that Bank On Yourself provided her a way to get out from under debt, pay emergency bills, and self-finance the things she needs.

Rose Hillbrand

Rose Hillbrand

As a college student and graduate student in library and information science, Rose, like many students, had to go into debt. When she took an entry-level job as a librarian at the University of Houston, she contributed to her employer’s 403b plan and began paying down her debt. However, things changed when she moved to Ohio a couple of years later.

“When I moved to Ohio, I brought a fairly substantial amount of debt with me, along with a 13-year-old car just beginning to have major issues,” she recalls. “I pursued my hobby of the previous few years and began teaching at a local dance studio. But business was slow, and money even slower. I managed to pay the rent on my small apartment, but the credit card debt began to grow again. Car repairs and unexpected medical expenses added to the burden.”

About six years ago Rose learned about the Bank On Yourself plan on the Internet. She recalls reading a report from author Pamela Yellen on using Bank On Yourself to finance cars.

“I read it through, quite skeptically. But at the same time, I remember thinking, wow, this makes so much sense. How come everyone isn’t doing this?” she recalls.

The idea seemed intriguing, but not possible for her at the time…

I thought: where would I ever get the money to start something like that?”

She set the idea aside. But her finances continued to decline and she knew she needed to make changes. Then one day she received an email newsletter from Yellen and read it. She decided to schedule a free consultation with a Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisor. That first appointment she recalls was “a lesson in humility.”

“As requested, I had brought my financial information with me – a pad of paper with scribbled balances and interest rates, payments on my loans and credit cards, meager income records, and statements of the small investment accounts I still had,” she said. “I have rarely felt as mortified as I did having to lay my financial life out on the table before this stranger!”

Despite her initial trepidation, she set up another appointment. The advisor recommended she increase her income. So she took a job in a fast food restaurant. She was 28 at the time and as the manager told her, “ridiculously overqualified,” but she got the job anyway.

She worked there for three months doing menial tasks during the early morning shift, then after lunch she would head to the dance studio to teach until 9 pm.

“Some days I was on my feet for nearly 15 hours or so,” she recalls. “It was perhaps the hardest three months of my life in some ways, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That experience taught me that it is truly possible to turn your life around if you are willing to do what it takes, and take a chance on something new.”

Rose met with her advisor a few more times during those months. He showed her how she could start a Bank On Yourself policy using the money she had saved in her 403b plan from her previous job.

“That was another challenge for me – to cash out what I’d been taught would one day be my retirement. I struggled with that a little. But since the plan had only grown by about $200 that year, I figured it probably wouldn’t be much of a retirement anyway,” she recalls. “So I did it.”

From that “huge leap of faith” Rose has seen her financial possibilities blossom. She has used her policy to pay off three credit cards and the remainder of her student loans. She also used it to pay off a car, for medical bills, and even to pay a tax that was due. “I also bought another car two years ago. I am still paying that back into my plan right now.”

She has been so pleased with her plan’s performance that she now works as an administrative assistant for her Bank On Yourself advisor in Gahanna.

Today she no longer invests in the stock market “because it is so uncertain.”

I decided it is a lot safer for me to put my money in a Bank On Yourself plan where I am saving, but I am getting growth on my money at the same time, I am very happy with how my Bank On Yourself plans are growing.”

Rose was raised on a farm with three siblings and was taught early on the value of saving. For her, Bank On Yourself was a natural extension of the kind of commonsense approach to money she learned as a child.

“My parents always worked very hard to support us, and I don’t think any of us kids ever felt any real lack or deprivation, but money was always scarce,” she says. “My father opened a savings account for me when I was about 10 years old, and I would sock away any monetary gifts I received, saving for things I really wanted.”

Today Bank On Yourself allows her to continue doing that. Last summer she purchased a low mileage, two-year-old Toyota Scion using a loan from her policy. Because she was able to use cash from her policy, the process was simple with minimal paperwork.

I never want to buy a car any other way, the best part is paying myself back, and knowing I’ll be able to do this every time I buy a car for the rest of my life.”