Yi & Matt's Story
After years of following a strict budget, young married couple Matt and Yi were relieved to finally be in a place of financial comfort. Both had invested much of their young-adult lives and finances into getting quality educations and now found themselves happily positioned in rewarding full-time work.
“We [had] just started to accumulate some wealth, and we purchased our first place. At the time, we were like, ‘Okay, finally we can start to enjoy our life and plan for the future,” explains Yi.
In December 2018, they were struck with unexpected, devastating news: Matt was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Grappling with the complex situation of a new cancer diagnoses, Yi says everything “physically, emotionally, socially – was very difficult.”
With anticipation of needing to take time off work during Matt’s intensive and expensive treatment, Yi’s worries of financial distress quickly heightened. In addition to caring for Matt, they faced potential cancer-related financial toxicity, a state of increased financial distress experienced by many families facing a serious cancer diagnosis. One in 3 families deplete their savings; 1 in 4 have to borrow against their retirement funds; and some patients even see poorer health outcomes related to financial stress.
Fortunately, Yi stumbled on the Financial Planning for Cancer program—a collaborative effort between FFP and nonprofit Family Reach – and was soon connected with Craig Cohn, a CFP® professional.
Recognizing the drastic shift in upcoming expenses related to Matt’s treatment, Craig was able to realign Yi and Matt’s investments to free up funds for short-term use. He also adjusted their 401k investments, while avoiding penalties, to bring down the risk factor to adjust for what was going on in their life. As Craig explains, “I just really wanted to take some of the pressure off immediately… how do we handle things in the short term so when we get to the long term it will be fine.”
Along with retirement adjustments, they also discussed expenses and income, created a budgeting plan focused on cutting costs where feasible, and reviewed medical insurance and disability options to see what forgiveness programs existed.
The financial advice Craig provided for Yi & Matt proved to be a great source of stress relief, allowing them to focus on his treatment. Yi explains of the Financial Planning for Cancer program, “it was incredibly helpful and really provided a peace of mind for our family going forward. From the very beginning I felt very safe, and I felt there was a trust there. I’m very grateful to be connected to Financial Planning for Cancer, and ultimately, to Craig. When we make it through this difficult time, we’ll have plenty of time to invest for the future.”
Matt expressed his gratitude for the pro-bono program, saying “For me, it’s a huge peace of mind because my big concern is that Yi’s taken care of if I’m not here.”
“For me, it’s a huge peace of mind because my big concern is that Yi’s taken care of if I’m not here.”
- Accessible, high-quality guidance from a financial planner relieved some financial stresses so they could focus more on treatment
- Created a budget focused on cutting costs where possible to counter increases in medical expenses
- Made adjustments to their 401k and other investments to free up funds for short-term use