Our journey takes us to the Arizona desert, home to Susan and Kevin Rowan. The family lives in what’s called a Santa Fe territorial-style house, with the Superstition Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to the view from their home.
Susan, whom her husband describes as “a short, good-looking girl that likes horses,” has a challenging job: for twenty-five years, she has served as a mentor and liaison with teachers of kindergarten through grade twelve who work with learning-disabled youngsters.
Kevin, in his mid-fifties, could be a poster boy for what we think an airline pilot should look like: tall and handsome, commanding, yet with a lighthearted sense of humor. Susan would want me to add that he’s an Irishman, with a shock of red hair. When the pair first met, he was a crop duster; after they became a couple, her salary paid for him to accumulate the flying hours he needed to get his Air Transport Rating. Today he’s a captain for a major airline. For anyone who cherishes the outdoors, his upbringing sounds nearly ideal. As Kevin describes it…
“I grew up in the Owens Valley of California. My father worked at a couple of fish hatcheries-extremely interesting places-and for the Department of Fish and Game. We did a lot of arrowhead hunting and a lot of fishing. You could pretty much do any kind of outdoor activity you wanted without having to go get a landowner’s permission.
Financially we never hurt for anything. My parents were pretty careful with their money, and they didn’t really trust credit that much. Anything that you wanted, you better have the money to buy it. You didn’t go in and leverage yourself to the hilt and buy something that you really may not have needed.”
Susan’s upbringing was very different…
“I was a child of a military father, so I was one of what they call ‘military brats.’ We moved every three years of my life. The last tour was in Germany, and I graduated from a high school over there. It just enriched me and allowed me to be free-spirited.
Then we settled in Yakima, Washington, and I got involved in the rodeo as one of the princesses for the Toppenish Pow Wow Rodeo there. We would go tour for parades. And we’d come in for the grand entrance at rodeos.
My parents taught us that we needed to save. Once you saw something you wanted to buy, well, let’s research it and make sure that that’s really something that you wanted. You needed to work toward your goals, and you needed to earn the money.”
Kevin noted, “My parents taught me the principles of using credit wisely, which was pretty much not using it if you don’t need to. But it was lost on me. My friends and I became children of the ’60s.”
Jump ahead a few years. Susan and Kevin, now married, were both becoming concerned about what retirement would be like for them. Susan, now just three years away from retiring from her teaching job, had some expansive goals in mind:
“About six years ago, I started thinking about the retirement income I’d have, but I didn’t feel it was going to be enough to allow us to have two homes-maybe a home in the desert and a home up in the mountains-and also be able to travel freely.”
I’ve got 401(k)s with the airlines, and Susan had an IRA and a few other plans. We took full advantage of those. But we felt we needed to do something different. You know the old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result.”
“So we decided we needed a different result. There’s a newsletter I subscribe to, which is a resource I highly respect and trust and look to for recommendations of ways to make money and grow wealth, as well as what things to stay away from. And it was around then that they had a nice write-up on the Bank On Yourself program and they recommended we check into it. And so I did.”
Even with the recommendation, plus reading a report about Bank On Yourself Kevin still wasn’t completely convinced. As he describes it…
“I thought, ‘This is interesting and I’m going to have to try to think of some holes to punch into it.’ So I’m looking at it from various directions and trying to play devil’s advocate. I was trying to find some holes in the theories and the operational effects that I saw in there, and I just really couldn’t. I couldn’t find a hole. So that’s when I decided I’d get a referral to an advisor who could help me set it up right.”
He was put in touch with a Bank On Yourself Authorized Advisor in his area and “we’ve been at it ever since,” he said.
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Meanwhile, his wife had already been traveling in a parallel direction. Susan described it this way:
“I started thinking that I need to have another business after retirement. I grew up around horses and riding horses. Then, after I had my children, I hadn’t had horses for a while and I decided I wanted them back in my life. Horseback riding is a great stress reliever for me. That’s when I decided to go and get educated on breeding horses, and how to inseminate mares. I began raising brood mares and babies.
Now I’ve been building this up as a business for four years. I’m working full time in the schools, and, oh my goodness, I’m also the number-one person who cleans up the manure and feeds the horses. It’s probably another twenty-five-plus hours a week.
So I’m an ambitious individual who is striving to establish a secondary business for after I retire, and that’s raising and breeding quarter horses for the western riding competitions called reining. It’s like western dressage.”
Kevin added, “Here in Arizona, there is an incredible amount of cash flow going into an operation like that, for the start-up and to maintain it. And we grow none of our feed here. We have to buy it all.”
How the Rowans Found the Money to Fund their Bank On Yourself Plan…
To many, one of the most surprising parts of Bank On Yourself is how newcomers to the approach can be helped to find the seed money to fund their plans. Perhaps even more surprising is how this can be done while at the same time getting rid of some of the family debt.
“Our Bank On Yourself Advisor helped us figure this out,” says Susan. “He’s played such a crucial role in all of this. First educating us and then he’s there to counsel and advise us. He looked at the value of our house. We did some refinancing and used the cash to get rid of debt, including about $25,000 of credit card debt and payments we were making on two trucks.
Once we got that debt in check, he told us, ‘Okay, do you think you could now afford this much to go into Bank On Yourself?’ So he was really good leading us into that.
It freed up cash flow so we could then pour money into Bank On Yourself. We started a plan for each of us, and between the two we’re putting in $4,000 a month.
We knew that we were still going to have to pump money into the horse business. It costs about $30,000 a year. We draw from our Bank On Yourself policy when we have to. Like when I wanted to upgrade and buy better broodmares, I thought, okay, that’s a good investment.”
The Rowans discussed how they expect the business to be not just self-supporting by the time Susan retires from teaching but to throw off extra retirement income that will allow them to travel and have that second home Susan mentioned. Her husband then talked about the aspects of Bank On Yourself that most strongly appeal to him:
“To be able to pay yourself back that interest instead of paying it to somebody else-that was probably the hook for me. And just to have the ability to have that money available, so that when you need it, you can get it without having to go down to your banker and make a case for it or go to your credit card company or whatever.
The hook for me was paying yourself back instead of someone else. And to have that money available, so you can get it without having to go down to your banker or put it on a credit card.”
It seemed to me like it was a very good opportunity to do something for yourself and still do the things that you wanted to accomplish to begin with, instead of having that noose around your neck for the interest and the principal that needs to be paid back.
Bank On Yourself is outside the box…
It’s difficult for people to conceptualize an insurance policy where you can put more money in than you need to fund the death benefit. To most people insurance is just a necessary evil. Bank On Yourself is outside the box, certainly, but you need to be willing to look beyond the most obvious vehicles for wealth building.”
The Rowans now understand that a Bank On Yourself life insurance plan can be more than “a necessary evil” and can become a positive factor in one’s life and financial planning for the future.
When I asked how their lives might have been different if they’d discovered Bank On Yourself ten or twenty years earlier, Susan replied, “I’d already have the mountain place and be doing the traveling, and probably working part time.” Kevin’s take: “I’d probably not be working.”
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