Revealed! The PERSONAL FINANCES of a Real Trading Guru

Discussion in 'Trading' started by Brandonf, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. Brandonf

    Brandonf ET Sponsor

    Between 1998 and 2005 I made a lot of money, certainly more than the average person. The website's and made between $130,000 and $410,000 each year, averaging around $220,000. My own trading account, which I started in 1998 with $20,000 in and only ever added about $50,000 to grew to just under $750,000. My private money management business generated a little over a half a million dollars for me in the three years I ran it. So, all told I made a little under $3million in the seven years between 98 and 05 before our mutual greedy Uncle took his donation out. It's not all the money in the world, but it's not bad for a hick from Iowa who barely graduated from HS either.
    I always tried to be very responsible with my finances. The first house we lived in was paid for in Cash, a comfortable little ranch style home in Iowa City. Once we had saved up some money we moved to a much nicer home, a courtyard style home with a swimming pool and a guest house at a country club in Southwest Florida. We moved in 2004 and got a fixed rate loan, putting 1/3 down. We also never really used credit cards, there was an Amex Card that business expenses went on, but we paid it off every single month. I can only recall having a balance on a credit card two or three times. We did not really live large. We had a new Honda Accord and a 3 year old Honda Civic. We did have nice home furniture and some art, but nothing extravengant there either. The point is that my finances should be excellent at this point!

    But life does not always play out how it's supposed too I guess. In my case two things happened. One was divorce, which is expensive. Some people are bitter about the money they give up in a divorce, luckily I can honestly say I'm not one of those people. She helped in building the web business, in fact she, not me, runs it now, and the initial investment I used to start trading stocks came from her. So when it came time to split things up we did not even have to have the attorney's involved, it was very easy to see that a 50/50 split was fair and no one felt put out by it. I left with a little over $1million and was set to move on with my life. We had agreed that she wanted to continue in the web business, and at that time my desire was to focus more on my money management business. So far so good. The next big whammy came though with cancer.

    After the split was finished I moved back to the Midwest to be near my family again. This was in September. Having moved I was in need of new insurance, as the Blue Cross plan I'd had in Florida no needed to be changed once I moved to Iowa. When I went to see the agent I was in for a shock. Because of migraines no one really wanted to cover me, I found that I would be paying about 50% more for insurance than I had been before. However, there was a small loophole. In August there is something that allows business to insure it's workers, no matter the conditions they are in. I decided that I would buy a rather crappy insurance policy and then in August I would get better coverage.

    Then in late March my life pretty much changed for ever. I woke up that morning with a very sore back. No reason for a sore back, I'd watched basketball all day the day before. As the day wore on I got sicker and sicker, eventually to the point that I was throwing up, had a fever and my back felt like I'd been kicked in the groin and all of that discomfort moved to my back. This was on a Sunday in a small town in Iowa, so there is no doctor to really go too unless you want to show up and Doctor Semler's house, which people actually do, but I did not feel that was the thing to do. So once it got to the point that I really just could not take it anymore I called my parents, and my dad came to get me. He brought me to the hospital in Ames, about 30 miles from here. They decided right away that I had a kidney stone and gave me pain medications, which improved my discomfort a ton. I had to wait about 5 ½ hours to get in for my CT, but it was okay because they hooked me up to one of those pumps with a limitless supply of pain killer in it, so I was not too worried about my situation. When I finally got in for the CT it was determined that in fact I did have a stone, a rather large one. It was too big to pass by itself so I was going to be checking in and making friends with the nurses. The next problem though was that when they took the scan they discovered that my spleen was, in the doctors words “huge”. This could mean any of a number of things, and they wanted to find out what.

    So at this point I remember that I've had a small lump under my right nipple for a few months. I never really thought anything of it, after all guys are not taught to self exam, and it was not all that big. I just noticed it a few times when I was showering. I told the doctor about that and he felt it and his face kind of twisted. He then went on to feel the rest of my lymph nodes and I will never forget his face or reaction when he got to my right armpit. There was also a good degree of swelling there, and he was sitting in a chair and just pushed away from me with a terrible look in his eyes. He said “This is almost certainly bad, I'm sorry” and then walked out.

    Now up to that point I'd been doing ok for the last several hours. But, having a doctor say something is bad has a way of bringing you out of even the most powerful morphine induced haze. Fast forward a bit and we discover that I have cancer. Thank God I got that insurance.

    But here is where the financial lesson for all of you comes in. KNOWYOUR COVERAGE! All insurance policies have a maximum amount that they will pay out. I think on average its around a few million dollars, but when that runs out you are on your own. In my case, because I had gotten a cheap policy the maximum was much lower. I did not find that out until later, but it was only $625,000.

    I read that on average cancer costs between $750,000 and a $1million for a patient who gets treated for it. I'm not sure of how accurate these figures are, but I know in my case it's been more. I had some major complications, which really put me over the edge. This summer for example I had to have the lymph node in my right groin removed. That surgery went well, but by the next day I could not hardly move my leg. Off to the ER we went. We found out that I had contracted flesh eating strep, not only did I have the strep from my hip down to my knee, but I it had also moved into my blood stream. By the time I got to the ER I was in very bad shape, so bad that the doctors told my mom and dad that they were just keeping me comfortable because I was unlikely to make it out of the next 24 hours. Well, obviously I made it! But, I ended up having to have 11 operations and I spent 93 days in the hospital. That alone came to $818,000, in addition to the over $150,000 I had already spent out of pocket on the cancer itself. You can add up the numbers yourself to get an idea of what it did to my finances.

    Could have I protected myself from this? Well in fact yes, I could have. Sadly I did not know that, otherwise I would have. First, as I said above know what your policy limits are. But also, carry catastrophic coverage. It's very cheap, and it does not kick in unless you have some sort of catastrophic injury or illness such as a severe accident, cancer etc. I could have gotten a policy from “the duck” that would have cost me only $44 a month and saved me literally over $1million out of pocket over the last few years. I know that all of us talk about the big trade that got away, well in my case this most certainly would have been the trade of a lifetime, but I did not know much about it, so I did not make it.

    Anyway I was hoping that this would only go on for about one page, and now it's already two so I will wrap up. I'm doing a lot better with the cancer right now, feeling as good as I have in years. But the other important point is to please please make sure that you are covered. It's a sad thing to work hard for so many years and lose so much to something you cant do anything about.


    PS, Check out my "new" old blog. Since I've started to feel better and am nearly finished with chemo and starting to feel a lot better it's being updated often with new articles and videos too by yours truely. I'm trying to figure out how to podcast, and once I figure that out I plan to start a daily "show" in the the new year. Get all the updates at
  2. Good luck, Brandon. :)
  3. Thanks for the post ...
  4. Best wishes and a prayer for good health to you.
  5. I'm sorry to hear/read this Brandon, but I'm also glad that you made it through. Stay strong and get better buddy!
  6. I pray for you buddy.

  7. how is your lifestyle? Do you exercise on a regular basis?(i.e. go to a gym?) how's your diet?

    Best of luck.
  8. As always, the best to Bandonf.

  9. Daal


    health insurance companies on avg make a profit. this means that they run a casino on which they have the edge. it only makes sense to pay for expensive insurance if do not have the liquidity to meet a disaster scenario(you would run out of savings) OR if you cant get debt financing in the case of a disaster(your heloc got shutdown)
    anyway, good luck in your recovery
  10. Best to you Brandon!!
    #10     Dec 15, 2008