Furry Friends and Financial Freedom 🎆

Our 2 Cents – Episode #179

Furry Friends and Financial Freedom 🎆

Welcome back to Our 2 Cents with Steve and Gabriel Lewit! On today’s episode, the hosts share a harder part of owning a pet and the hidden costs of veterinarian practices. Then, with Independence Day coming up, they will explore what it truly means to be able to achieve financial independence. Listen in now using a link below!

  1. The Price of Being a Pet Owner:
    • As animal medicine becomes more high-tech, veterinarian prices increase, causing major concern for pet owners and their wallets.
    • Uncover how private equity firms are utilizing animal hospitals in a strategic yet deceptive way.
  2. What is Financial Freedom?:
    • Learn the meaning of financial freedom and ways to achieve it with your budget and lifestyle choices.
    • Discover how to spend your earnings without feeling guilty and bound by financial burdens.

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Podcast Transcript

Announcer: You are listening to Our 2 Cents with the team from SGL Financial Building Wealth for Life. Steve Lewit is the President of SGL Financial and Gabriel Lewit is the CEO. They’re here to discuss all the latest and financial news trends, strategies, and more

Gabriel Lewit: Welcome to Our 2 Cents, and happy early 4th of July Independence Day to you.

Steve Lewit: Are you sure you don’t want me to sing the Star-Spangled Banner?

Gabriel Lewit: He was humming it before we started and-

Steve Lewit: It was a great hum.

Gabriel Lewit: It was not on tune.

Steve Lewit: It was on tune.

Gabriel Lewit: You can do it if you want to. I’m not going to deny you your pleasure-

Steve Lewit: I don’t sing-

Gabriel Lewit: … of singing into the microphone for hundreds of our listeners.

Steve Lewit: No, no, I’m not going to do that, but I was on tune.

Gabriel Lewit: Folks, if you’ll have to write in, info@sglfinancial.com, if you want to hear Steve sing on the show.

Steve Lewit: No, no.

Gabriel Lewit: I better get a flood of emails info@sglfinancial.com. Just type in Steve sing for us.

Steve Lewit: And a dollar and a dollar bill be a paid audition.

Gabriel Lewit: No, now you can’t back out now. Well, anyways, we hope you’re doing great. We’ve got a great show lined up for you. By the time you’re listening to this. It will be the week of July 4th. We aren’t going to have a show next week because I won’t be here for July 4th. I’m on a family vacation. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

Steve Lewit: Are you going to see, will they have fireworks?

Gabriel Lewit: I assume anywhere in this United States probably has fireworks on the US because it is the US Independence Day.

Steve Lewit: I love fireworks.

Gabriel Lewit: Do you?

Steve Lewit: Yeah, I really do.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, I’m going to ask you some questions about them later, so that’s good to hear.

Steve Lewit: Okay.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. In a special getting to know Steve Lewit Independence Day-

Steve Lewit: Think of something clever.

Gabriel Lewit: I don’t know. That’s all I got.

Steve Lewit: That wasn’t very clever.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, my brain failed me on that one.

Steve Lewit: Your brain failed.

Gabriel Lewit: I just ran out of gas.

Steve Lewit: Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: All right, well, to start off today, we’re actually going to talk about financial independence also because starting July 1st, or I guess on July 1st, it’s National Financial Independence Day.

Steve Lewit: I think it’s one day.

Gabriel Lewit: Which is really just there as a way to tie into the 4th of July and just say, hey, the goal of awareness is to create financial independence for yourself, so you don’t feel shackled to the chains of money.

Steve Lewit: Very dramatic, but yes.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay.

Steve Lewit: Well, it’s not only money, but it’s to family and government, and so you feel independent.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, financial independence in particular could relate to other things, but in general, it’s making sure you feel free from the-

Steve Lewit: Burden, the burden.

Gabriel Lewit: … burden that money can bring.

Steve Lewit: That means don’t worry about your money. That would be like, you’re sipping your-

Gabriel Lewit: I was taking a sip, yeah. You got to carry me when you see me doing that, man.

Steve Lewit: Well, you took it so quick. I didn’t know what to say.

Gabriel Lewit: All right, well, let’s jump in. So we’ve got some interesting topics here for you today. We’re actually going to talk about today the cost of veterinarian care.

Steve Lewit: It’s crazy.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay? And more and more, we have a number of clients that come to the office with their pet family members in tow. Some very cute dogs in particular. We haven’t had any cats.

Steve Lewit: We haven’t.

Gabriel Lewit: We’ve had no cats. So if you have a cat that is domesticated and you want to bring it to the office to share, we’d love to meet the feline.

Steve Lewit: Well, our staff is amazing because when someone brings their little four-legged friend in, all of a sudden, bowls of water appear out around the office and they’re entertaining them. It’s like they’re very welcome here on animals.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, they are. Yes, of course. But here’s the point. The pets in our lives are oftentimes as close or near and dear to us as our family members in some cases.

Steve Lewit: Sometimes more so.

Gabriel Lewit: More so, and in some cases, I’ve had clients tell me who don’t have kids, these are my babies. These are my fur babies.

Steve Lewit: I’ve heard that.

Gabriel Lewit: So, we want to take care of them as we would want to take care of anybody in our family or our lives that are sick. Obviously for humans, we take them to the doctor. For pets, we take them to the veterinarian. And there’s been some interesting changes in the world of veterinarian care that some of you out there may have noticed and maybe haven’t quite put your finger on. And we thought we would share some of those here and then talk a little bit about some of the options for planning for that financially,

Steve Lewit: Which is why it’s so expensive.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah.

Steve Lewit: Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Okay. So here’s an example from, there’s a good article here we get ideas from that was talking, there is a lady named Heather, brought her pet, Lady Bird was the name, a 9-year-old dog, for an MRI scan because the dog was having seizures. Unfortunately, the MRI revealed bad news that the dog had brain cancer. And that of course has a grim prognosis with a lot of additional potential costs. But just the MRI itself to diagnose this cost over $2,000. And so what’s happening is when, now I had a dog, Sonny, who passed away, I think almost two and a half years ago now. And-

Steve Lewit: And he did pass away. You didn’t put him down. He passed. He literally passed away.

Gabriel Lewit: We made the choice not to do so. Interestingly enough, and I’ll share this, right? So we were away on a trip to central Illinois at the time, and we had put him in doggy daycare. And he was a large dog, and he was at the doggy daycare place. We get a call from the owner saying that he had eaten something. It was like part of a couch cushion, right?

Steve Lewit: I’m sorry, I’m laughing. But Sonny did that.

Gabriel Lewit: If you know Sonny, he did eat anything and everything under the sun.

Steve Lewit: Everything that was inedible, he ate.

Gabriel Lewit: When he was a puppy, he ate rocks. He would eat socks, he would eat anything white. He loved finding inedible foods to eat. Well, apparently that wasn’t really the main issue, but something had happened in, I forget the exact term now, but with big dogs that have bigger chest cavities, their stomach can twist. And I forget the name of it, but basically it’s very, very dangerous and it can’t get untwisted very easy.

Steve Lewit: And it can happen to any dog.

Gabriel Lewit: Any big dog-

Steve Lewit: Big dogs.

Gabriel Lewit: … in particular is very common. And I had never heard of it before. And so anyways, so we, of course, we didn’t know what was going wrong. They rushed him to the vet. We’re coordinating all this over the phone because we weren’t even in town, which was the worst part. They did numbers of tests and basically came back and said, we explained what it was. There’s a small chance that surgery would be successful, but his quality of life would be severely impaired, and no guarantee that the surgery itself would’ve been successful. And he was 12 years old. He was already declining. He was maybe in need of hip surgery. And gosh, man, talk about a hard decision.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, it’s really hard.

Gabriel Lewit: So, we were like, well, it wasn’t just money related. I mean, there was a combination of a lot of factors.

Steve Lewit: But I don’t remember the amount. How much would’ve that?

Gabriel Lewit: I think they said we didn’t have insurance on him, but they said the surgery would’ve been between I think five and $7,000,

Steve Lewit: 7,000 bucks. That’s what I remember.

Gabriel Lewit: With no guarantee of success and no guarantee of quality of life. And we chose not to move forward with it. Very difficult decision. We weren’t even there, which was even harder. And we still ended up getting $2,000 worth of medical bills just from all the lab works, the care, everything else that occurred, even leading up to that point.

Steve Lewit: Well, there are so many stories like this, Gabriel. Producer Katie here was telling about her dog, she has three. Why anyone wants to have three dogs, I can’t figure out.

Gabriel Lewit: Shedding dogs.

Steve Lewit: Three shedding-

Gabriel Lewit: Shedding dogs.

Steve Lewit: Shedding dogs.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s like a fur palace over there, bro.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Fur palace.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s everywhere.

Steve Lewit: A dog bit the bit her cage during a thunderstorm that she got all excited about, broke her tooth, it abscessed. That was what, $2,500? $2,500. And they said, well, the other one, there’s another cracked tooth. It’s a fortune. I had two Havanese dogs, as you know, for that was both 16, brother and sister. 16 years old, they both got sick at the same time. And we wound up them both down. But before we put them both down, we had to, like you did. But before we put them both down, they tried this surgery and that and this medicine and that wound up costing a fortune. I mean, that was a $10,000 bill for my dogs.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, part of what’s happening, if you go back, I’m not an expert on this, but I’m reading from the article here. If you go back decades ago, pet medicine, pet care was very different. Veterinarian care was very different. There wasn’t as much high-tech machines and research and diagnoses available as there are today. It’s starting to really resemble its human counterpart.

Steve Lewit: Exactly. It’s become very human-like.

Gabriel Lewit: Now that those things are available, people are feeling the struggle. I mean, we’ve advanced to a point where my vet was able to diagnose what the issue was, tell us how to fix it, could fix it. But then you get into, well, how much does that cost? And then if you don’t have insurance, which a lot of pet owners don’t have pet insurance still to this day, then it unfortunately comes down to do we have the money for this, right?

Steve Lewit: It really becomes life and death of an animal that you love becomes a money issue. Look, if you don’t have seven grand to spend on surgery, what are you going to do?

Gabriel Lewit: And many times, these things come out of the blue, right?

Steve Lewit: For sure, for sure.

Gabriel Lewit: They’re not things that you budget for or have in your pet care budget.

Steve Lewit: So, Gabriel, so a lot of folks own pets, and I think a lot of folks can relate to this. What’s the alternative? Is there an alternative to this?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, I’m going to talk about that in just a minute, but I want to talk about just one or two other quick notes here related to part of what’s also happening in this industry, which is, I’ll say the word interesting, but it’s also I think a little frustrating too. But what’s happened is private equity, big hedge funds, for example, are buying up huge, huge swaths of the veterinarian practices in the country.

Steve Lewit: Like they did with nursing homes.

Gabriel Lewit: Like they did with nursing homes, like they’ve done with hospital groups.

Steve Lewit: Hospitals, definitely.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay? There’s actually a quote out there that actually, I forget where I read it, that was saying, private equity will be the death of this world, right? Because all private equity cares about, folks. What do I mean when I say private equity? Well, there are big hedge funds with billions and billions and billions of dollars that huge institutions like private endowments, colleges, universities, pension funds, trillions of dollars, they’re all looking for ways of growing their money. And so they pull their money into these professionally managed hedge funds. These hedge funds or private equity groups are looking to generate above average returns. And part of the way they do that is they buy businesses.

Steve Lewit: Well, it’s a major way.

Gabriel Lewit: A major way.

Steve Lewit: They do it in a major way. They’re out looking to acquire companies that they can turn around in two or three years and sell a big profit.

Gabriel Lewit: Not only that, but they’re looking to possibly monopolize markets so that they can raise prices without competition. They will cut services, they will cut corners in the efforts of increasing profitability. I read this entire article from hospitals that were bought, not the hospital, the anesthesiologist groups were bought by private equity, which then in turn were already under contract with the hospitals. But then they started cutting their costs as the anesthesiologist group because they were trying to increase their profitability, causing terrible experiences for clients of the hospital. And the hospital was out of luck because they were under contract with the private equity group.

Steve Lewit: Exactly.

Gabriel Lewit: Generating lawsuits and all sorts of things. So the whole article was, does private equity and medicine even mix? Because one’s about taking care of people and the about maximizing profit, and those two tend to go polar or opposite. And that same exact thing is relevant here when it comes to veterinarian care healthcare. Does private equity and veterinarian care mix? And unfortunately you don’t really get a choice because they’re going in there and they’re doing this. They’re buying tons and tons of veterinarian practices. The vet’s compensation is being tied to profitability and how many things are sold. MRIs sold, diagnoses run, labs ran, X-rays done, surgeries performed. It’s turning into a very cold for-profit business, unfortunately.

Steve Lewit: Strictly business.

Gabriel Lewit: Unfortunately.

Right, exactly.

Steve Lewit: The other part of that is getting a veterinarian license, it’s very, very difficult. It’s like getting a regular doctor’s license. It’s extremely expensive.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, and here’s what this has boiled down to. The cost for veterinary services have doubled since 2015.

Steve Lewit: Far ahead than, I think, any other service organization.

Gabriel Lewit: So huge increases in costs, and people are now starting to notice that. And people have big vet bills. They’re making choices about money versus pets that they care about. And a lot of people are getting themselves into deep debt because they’re not willing to sacrifice taking care of their pets because they love them. And I think that makes sense. But then they’re getting stuck with these massive bills. In some cases, even after surgeries are unsuccessful or things don’t work out for their pet, they’re still being stuck with these massive bills. So that’s the situation.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. And for-

Gabriel Lewit: Now, we’re going to talk about how to plan for it financially here. That’s the theme of our show, of course. But to give you a little background, that’s the background scoop.

Steve Lewit: And it ain’t going away. It’s only going to get worse.

Gabriel Lewit: It isn’t. You like to correct my grammar, so I like to do it back to you whenever I can.

Steve Lewit: It isn’t going away, folks. No, it’s not going away. And our society where the middle class has kind of disappeared, we have wealthy people who don’t paying this money, but they can well afford it. They can afford to order a gourmet food delivered for their dogs every week and feed them special meats and stuff like that. But then there’s the other side of what we’ll call the working class folks where every nickel becomes really, really important. They want to own pets because it’s wonderful to own a pet that can’t do it or get into trouble doing it.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah.

Steve Lewit: Ain’t going away.

Gabriel Lewit: Is not going away.

Steve Lewit: That’s correct, yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, so what can you do about it? Well, definitely, as you probably know, you’d be kind of crazy for your personal health to not have insurance, right? Because a single unexpected emergency room visit, a bill, a doctor’s x-ray, MRI, any of these things can be financially disastrous, let alone if you have to go to a hospital for a week for surgeries and gosh knows what else. So the price of care is astronomical. That’s a whole other topic for a different conversation. We have no real control over that directly until you get politicians to hopefully change those rules and change all sorts of things. But the point is, it’s astronomically expensive. How do you protect yourself as the consumer? You’ve got to buy insurance.

Steve Lewit: Well, so I don’t know much about that, Gabriel. My understanding is that the insurance is kind of like dental insurance where it doesn’t pay that much. Am I wrong about that?

Gabriel Lewit: It’s been a couple years, I haven’t checked in a couple years, but by the time I was seriously considering getting insurance for Sonny, he was already much older, and the price was quite a bit higher. They understand that older dogs are going to have more needs or pets are going to have more needs, so they jack the premiums up. But I think if you get insurance when they’re younger, it can definitely pay off. Insurance is like any insurance, you buy it for the catastrophic need. If you buy dental insurance and you never have anything other than routine cleanings, you’re probably not going to benefit from the insurance. You’re buying the dental insurance so that when you have a $4,000 root canal, crown, I don’t know, whatever big ticket item.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, but dental insurance-

Gabriel Lewit: Well, you go to an out of network dentist that you happen to like versus the in. If you went to an in-network dentist, you would actually get better savings.

Steve Lewit: My dental insurance doesn’t pay much.

Gabriel Lewit: No, it does in-network. You know this.

Steve Lewit: Oh, that network thing again?

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, the network.

Steve Lewit: Network.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, my goodness.

Steve Lewit: I love my dentist, though.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, you’re paying for it.

Steve Lewit: So, what you’re saying is that this insurance really pays, like it’ll pay-

Gabriel Lewit: In the scenario where you’re paying, I don’t know, I’m just going to call it a $100 a month, $1,200 a year for 10 years. Okay, you spent $12,000 over the 10 years of your pet. If your dog’s as healthy as an ox, I guess, or your cat as healthy as an ox.

Steve Lewit: I guess.

Gabriel Lewit: That’s a phrase, right? Healthy as an ox?

Steve Lewit: Definitely.

Gabriel Lewit: Then maybe a lot of them, you can use that towards routine care. Checkups, your vaccinations, all the tick medicines, all the thousand things they make you buy for your dogs these days. But in the scenario where you need a $7,000 surgery, a $2,000 MRI, all those things, and I didn’t brush up extensively on my pet insurance for today. There is opportunities there for that to possibly save you lots of money, but more importantly, you’ve budgeted for it. You see what I mean? You’re not going to be caught unawares because you’ve been spending that money consistently. Other people, if you really look into it, say, well, I’m not going to spend the 1200 a year on insurance, but I’m going to save the 1200 a year every year.

Steve Lewit: And guess what?

Gabriel Lewit: No matter what, so that when I get that $7,000 bill, I have the $7,000 saved. There’s only one real small problem with that is nobody ever saves the money.

Steve Lewit: Never, never. Where’s your-

Gabriel Lewit: They’ll pay the insurance premium; they won’t save the money.

Steve Lewit: Where’s your pet fund? What pet fund? What pet fund are you referring to? Now, is there a network there too?

Gabriel Lewit: There are, yes.

Steve Lewit: So, I would have to go in network and miss my favorite-

Gabriel Lewit: Vet.

Steve Lewit: … vet.

Gabriel Lewit: Yes. Potentially.

Steve Lewit: Potentially.

Gabriel Lewit: Unless the vet you like is in the network of the plan you buy, which could be-

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Okay.

Gabriel Lewit: All right. Well that’s budgeting or buying insurance basically is going to be, I think, more important if you own pets as the cost of care is increasing. That’s really what we’re kind of boiling this down to. But something to be aware of if you have pets.

Steve Lewit: And if you’re considering a pet, be very conscious of the potential costs because you’re going to the pet store and that little beautiful cat, and that little beautiful dog is staring you down and you’re falling in love. And just make sure your pocketbook can fall in love with your dog too.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, we do a lot of budget exercises. I have many clients whose pet budget is between 300 and $500 a month for all in. Food, supplies, gifts, toys, vets, insurance. It’s not quite a kid, but it’s-

Steve Lewit: Still cheaper than a kid.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s close. It’s Getting up there.

Steve Lewit: But it’s a good alternative. Yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: All right, well if you’ve got questions on that, I hope that was entertaining or interesting at the very least but gives you a couple ideas. If you’ve got pets, make sure you’re saving up for them. Here’s one last little thing I wanted to say about it, actually. It’s kind of human nature, right? People are interesting. If you have money that you’re saving in a general investment account, then you’re all of a sudden going to be like, wow, I don’t want to touch that. Right? That’s my investment money. So it’s almost like you need to take the money you’d save for this and truly put it in a separate account just for your pet so that when that expense comes, you’re like, oh, that is my pet account. I don’t mind using that money.

Steve Lewit: Well, some people have tax funds, they put money away each month to pay their taxes. And if you do the same thing with pets, then you’ll have the 10 grand there or the seven or the five grand there and you say, well, that’s what I saved it for.

Gabriel Lewit: Exactly.

Steve Lewit: But most people-

Gabriel Lewit: But if it’s co-mingled with other funds, people are, oh, I can’t use that money.

Steve Lewit: Exactly.

Gabriel Lewit: That’s my retirement money.

Steve Lewit: Exactly.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s interesting. Just human psychology kind of surprises me sometimes.

Steve Lewit: Yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: All right, well for the rest of our show here today, we wanted to talk about financial freedom. Are you going to sing?

Steve Lewit: Yeah. No.

Gabriel Lewit: No? I thought I’d catch you in-

Steve Lewit: Yeah, almost.

Gabriel Lewit: It might strike you.

Steve Lewit: Almost.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay. What does-

Steve Lewit: I was trying to think of a good freedom song, but I can’t think of one.

Gabriel Lewit: So, the first question is, what does financial freedom mean to you, Mr. Lewit?

Steve Lewit: Janice Joplin did a, what was that? Freedom, it’s great. How does that song go?

Gabriel Lewit: So, you are going to sing for us?

Steve Lewit: No, I can’t think of the tune. I can’t think of the tune. And it’s a Janice Joplin about freedom. Freedom’s just another thing that nothing-

Gabriel Lewit: See, you guys are getting a free show here.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, something like that. Anyway, what does freedom mean to me?

Gabriel Lewit: Well, the first song that got pulled up here is “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Steve Lewit: Yeah, that’s it. That’s it.

Gabriel Lewit: Is that it?

Steve Lewit: Yeah. It’s about freedom in there.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, okay. Cool.

Steve Lewit: About her and Bobby McGee. Oh, I love Janice Joplin.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s not her and Bobby. It’s me.

Steve Lewit: Me and Bobby.

Gabriel Lewit: And Bobby McGee.

Steve Lewit: Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: Okay. All right. So what does it mean to you, Mr. Lewit?

Steve Lewit: Freedom means that I can do whatever I want to do without worrying about it. And having the freedom and having the ability of not being restricted or contained.

Gabriel Lewit: So, are you saying, and I’m posing this hypothetically, that there are people out there that never worry about money?

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: Ever?

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: Even if they don’t have tens of millions of dollars?

Steve Lewit: Yes.

Gabriel Lewit: Please elaborate for us.

Steve Lewit: There are people that just don’t worry about money. There are people that have lots of money and worry about it, and there are people that are getting by and they just don’t worry about it. It’s like, I stay in my budget. I’m good. I’m happy with what I got. We’re not going to do anything stupid and we’re good.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, that sounds pretty good.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. Well, it is good. Yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: I feel like that’s something that a lot of people would want.

Steve Lewit: Except freedom is saying that I can do whatever I want, and I feel free to do that. So look, we have so many inhibitions, inhibitors on our freedom. I have to stop at a red light. Now that happens to be good because other people will stop at a red light, but that doesn’t mean I’m free to go through it. No, I have to-

Gabriel Lewit: So, there’s a little bit of an asterisk there. I mean, it’s pretty rare where truly you could buy anything you ever wanted without ever worrying about money, or do anything you wanted that’s money related.

Steve Lewit: So, I would say within the context of my budget and my lifestyle, which assuming is reasonable, I’m not saying I want to satisfy every desire I have.

Gabriel Lewit: I can’t buy every Ferrari I want to buy.

Steve Lewit: But I have a lifestyle like you have, all of our listeners have a lifestyle. Whatever that lifestyle is, I want to be able to live that lifestyle and not worry about money. If I go out for dinner and it happens to cost $200, that’s McDonald’s dinner, if I go off for dinner and it’s an expensive dinner, I don’t want to worry about it.

Gabriel Lewit: If you’re spending 200 bucks at McDonald’s on dinner, what’s that? The McRib that’s really dry?

Steve Lewit: I don’t know. I mentioned this the last time I was there for a hamburger in a french fries cost me $12.50.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, this is going to get off-topic here, but there’s fast food price wars that starting to happen again, and I think I just saw Burger King came back out with a, I’m not shilling Burger King here, but like a $5 Whopper meal or something where you get a burger, fries and a drink for five bucks.

Steve Lewit: I got to run right over.

Gabriel Lewit: That’s like the $5-foot-long deal you used to be able to get at the Subway, which is now a $12 foot long.

Steve Lewit: Well, think about freedom this way. Let’s say you’re a lower income earner and McDonald’s is a big part of your meal and you were paying five, $6 and that was fine. You felt free about that. Now it’s $12 and all of a sudden the freedom is limited.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. Producer Gabby just pulled it up there. But yes, in case you’re getting hungry listening to this show, yes, Burger King did just drop, they call it drop, meaning released, not got rid of, nationally their $5 Your Way meal. Includes a choice between Whopper Jr. Bacon cheeseburger and Chicken Junior plus fries, a four piece chicken nuggets and a soft drink.

Steve Lewit: I’m telling you, I’m running over.

Gabriel Lewit: Wow, that’s pretty good. Five bucks.

Steve Lewit: It’s pretty good.

Gabriel Lewit: Better than the $18 Big Mac at McDonald’s. That was widely circulating the internet that caused a lot of the uproar here.

Steve Lewit: Yep.

Gabriel Lewit: Anyways, okay, so back to financial independence. Yes. The goal here is not to be worried about money, be able to live your lifestyle the way you’d like to live it.

Steve Lewit: Well, it’s not only money. I keep saying this, it’s not only money. For example, I want to want to be free from my children. I don’t want to be dependent. I don’t want to be dependent on you.

Gabriel Lewit: I want to feel freer from the effects of government taxation.

Steve Lewit: Exactly, exactly.

Gabriel Lewit: Right? I want to feel free from creditors. I want to be free and clear of my debt so I don’t feel like I owe anybody anything.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. I don’t want anyone barking at me on the phone. Where’s the money? Where’s the money?

Gabriel Lewit: I want to be free and clear of my kids asking me for money.

Steve Lewit: No, that’ll never change.

Gabriel Lewit: That one’s off the table.

Steve Lewit: That’s off the table. It never ends.

Gabriel Lewit: Oh, gosh. And then of course, the stock market, many times I want to be free and clear of the worry that comes from the stock market. Not necessarily any of the risks. Now, in some cases people say, I want to be free and clear of the risk of ever losing money. For some, that’s freedom, not losing money. But yes, there’s a lot of variations of this. And then there’s also what we call the work optional plan, which is when we create a retirement plan for somebody that’s still working that doesn’t want to stop working yet, but they want to know that they could stop working.

Steve Lewit: They want to know if they-

Gabriel Lewit: If their boss pisses them off or they just get frustrated.

Steve Lewit: They want to know; I can walk out of here anytime I want.

Gabriel Lewit: And that gives them financial freedom.

Steve Lewit: And they’re more free at work. They feel better. They’re not worried about the boss chomping them at the bit.

Gabriel Lewit: And I’ve talked about this before, the freedom that just having a plan, even if you’re younger, so let’s say you’re Producer Katie here. I don’t know, she’s young. What, like 32 or something like that?

Steve Lewit: She’s 26, right?

Gabriel Lewit: 34? I don’t know. She’s younger, but she’s got time before retirement.

Steve Lewit: Be careful.

Gabriel Lewit: And let’s just say you, you’re doing a retirement plan for a younger client, and they are vastly over saving because they feel like they’re not on track. They don’t feel financially free to go out and take vacations or buy whatever they might want to buy or do X, Y, or Z because they feel shackled to this retirement savings goal when in reality they might already be on track. And so that can generate financial freedom just by knowing you’re saving enough and give you the freedom or the ability to go out and buy things and do things and spend your money without guilt.

Steve Lewit: Yeah. I just met a client that only wears white shirts. And I said, “Why do you only wear white shirts?” He said, “Well, it gives me the freedom. I don’t have to think about what to wear and I just buy white shirts and I’m happy. I don’t worry about what to wear. You open my wardrobe, it’s all white and it goes with everything.” And that for him is freedom.

Gabriel Lewit: Isn’t there some rule you can’t wear white after a certain date? What’s that date the girls would know here? What’s that?

Steve Lewit: Really?

Gabriel Lewit: Labor Day. It’s the rule.

Steve Lewit: Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day?

Gabriel Lewit: I was just saying he’s breaking the rule.

Steve Lewit: You see, rules are limits to freedom.

Gabriel Lewit: I didn’t come up with it, but somebody there said, you can’t wear white after Labor Day.

Steve Lewit: Is that in the Bible or something like that?

Gabriel Lewit: It’s a complex history, according to the Google AI, that began in the 19th century. Fashion faux pas and a way to show off wealth. Oh, so it means you’re wealthy if you wear white after Labor Day?

Steve Lewit: Oh, okay. Well-

Gabriel Lewit: Because old time laborers wore darker colors to hide dirt.

Steve Lewit: Oh.

Gabriel Lewit: So, wearing white was a subtle indicator, this is Google AI, right? That you weren’t doing the dirty work.

Steve Lewit: Well, I just ordered two white shirts. No, I really did. I said, I kind of like this because I get up in the morning and I have to go, well, should I wear this one or do I wear this one? I wore that one the other day, it looks like this one. So I ordered two white shirts. I’m not going to test it out.

Gabriel Lewit: Twos not enough.

Steve Lewit: Well, we’ll see if I like it, I’ll-

Gabriel Lewit: You got to get seven white shirts.

Steve Lewit: I’ll have all white shirts.

Gabriel Lewit: Monday shirt, Tuesday shirt, Wednesday shirt. All right, well-

Steve Lewit: But freedom goes into all those kinds of things and money is behind a lot of it.

Gabriel Lewit: Well, and I would argue, just piggybacking off what we were just talking about earlier. If you get the right insurance coverage, you get freedom from the worries of catastrophic risks, right? Expenses that are going to pop up out. So insurance buys you, what does insurance really buy you? It buys you peace of mind.

Steve Lewit: Peace of mind.

Gabriel Lewit: That you’ve got a risk covered. Right? You’re not going to be wondering, where do I get the money to pay for my dog that I love? Where am I going to get the money to rebuild my house? Or how do I rebuild? How do I buy a new car if I get a car accident?

Steve Lewit: Or to pay for nursing care or anything that worries you that you can get that off of the table adds to your freedom. And that adds to your health, because when you’re not free, when you’re worried about stuff that everybody knows this, that goes into the body, it goes into the nervous system and over years and years and years of worry, it erodes your health. Yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, no. Stress, financial stress, worry, concern. Those things are all detriments and truly, people say, well, you can’t get financial free, yeah, you can.

Steve Lewit: You sure can.

Gabriel Lewit: We really do see that it is very planning based. I’ve yet to find someone that doesn’t worry about money, that has no plan unless they are just obscenely wealthy. And then their plan is, oh, I have so much money, it doesn’t matter what I do with it. But for the rest of us, which is most of us, it’s a plan that will give you the roadmap to not worry and give you that financial freedom that you’re really-

Steve Lewit: You’re so right there. And I didn’t mention that. The people that I know that don’t worry about money have it all mapped out. They’ve got it mapped out, they’ve got it structured, they know where their money is. They understand that what it can do, what it can’t do, and within that framework, they can do whatever they want.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah. I have one last, and this isn’t a shill for, some reason, that word popped into my-

Steve Lewit: Why are you shilling today?

Gabriel Lewit: What’s the definition? I sometimes-

Steve Lewit: Shilling is not a good definition.

Gabriel Lewit: Yeah, it’s not.

Steve Lewit: No.

Gabriel Lewit: No, it’s not. I just realized that I was saying it.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, I was going to bring it up.

Gabriel Lewit: Procter Gambler

Steve Lewit: I was going to bring it-

Gabriel Lewit: It’s like promoting a negative thing or something.

Steve Lewit: Yeah.

Gabriel Lewit: Anyways, yeah. So I’m not trying promote.

Steve Lewit: Let’s think of a different word.

Gabriel Lewit: You know how words just randomly pop in your head sometimes? I’s weird.

Steve Lewit: Yeah, I do. It is weird. I’ve never heard, I know you a long time.

Gabriel Lewit: I’ve never used that word. I don’t know where it came from today.

Steve Lewit: I’ve never heard you use that word.

Gabriel Lewit: I’ve never used it before today.

Steve Lewit: When you said that-

Gabriel Lewit: I said some other word to Producer Katie the other day, what was it? It was, gosh.

Steve Lewit: It’s the South Bronx of me coming out on you.

Gabriel Lewit: What was it?

Steve Lewit: I’m telling you, it’s part of me that’s coming through you.

Gabriel Lewit: Anyways. I sometimes just think if random words pop in my head, but anywho, yeah. An annuity for example, is a way of guaranteeing lifetime income. And I’m not trying to overly promote them here, but it’s a relevant concept. Why? Because let’s say you buy something that guarantees all the income you need for the rest of your life with a portion of your money.

Steve Lewit: Don’t worry about it.

Gabriel Lewit: There are studies done and forget the economics for a second. But the study was basically saying people with guaranteed income, whether it’s pensions, social security, annuity, people that have guaranteed income that covers all their expenses, it was amazing. It was like three times more happy and content and less worried than their counterparts that did not have guaranteed income because of that point. It’s guaranteed for life and it is such an interesting psychological component, but all these things factor into peace of mind.

Steve Lewit: And that’s more than one study. Those are multiple studies that have come out with that. So Gabriel’s got what word?

Gabriel Lewit: I got the word that I don’t know why slovenly the other day I said the word.

Steve Lewit: Slovenly.

Gabriel Lewit: I was like, where did I come up with this word?

Steve Lewit: Yeah, it’s like you were talking about slovenly.

Gabriel Lewit: I don’t know, it randomly came. It just popped into my, it was apropos. See, there we go, for the situation.

Steve Lewit: Right.

Gabriel Lewit: Darn it. My goodness. Okay, but any who, but yes, financial freedom’s about emotional freedom, money freedom, not worrying, not feeling stressed. And in the spirit of Independence Day and Financial Freedom Day on July 1st, we wish for you, each of our listeners, to be financially independent.

Steve Lewit: So, if you’re worried and you feel like you’re constricted or you can’t do stuff, folks, give us a call and let us review your plan with you. Because the way we plan and the way your plan is designed, it’s really designed to give you peace of mind and to give you the freedom to live the life that you really want to live.

Gabriel Lewit: I’m going to let you do our sendoff. So how do they contact us? Mr. Lewit?

Steve Lewit: You contact us by calling 800-499-3330 or you can write us, oh no, no, wrong.

Gabriel Lewit: That’s not correct.

Steve Lewit: You contact us by-

Gabriel Lewit: 847-499-3330.

Steve Lewit: Oh. It’s not 800 anymore.

Gabriel Lewit: It’s 847.

Steve Lewit: 847.

Gabriel Lewit: 499.

Steve Lewit: Or you could email us at info@sglfinancial.com.

Gabriel Lewit: You got it. Or?

Steve Lewit: You can call Gabriel direct on his cell phone.

Gabriel Lewit: No, you go to our website, sglfinancial.com and click contact us and we are always here for you.

Steve Lewit: Nice job.

Gabriel Lewit: All right folks. Have a wonderful 4th of July from all of us here at SGL Financial, we wish you well and we will talk to you on the next show.

Steve Lewit: Stay well, everybody.

Gabriel Lewit: Bye now.

Steve Lewit: Bye.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Our 2 Cents with Steve and Gabriel Lewit. For any questions about your finances, give SGL a call at 847-499-3330. Or visit us on the web at sglfinancial.com and be sure to subscribe to join us on next week’s episode.

Prerecorded Voice: Investment Advisory Services are offered through SGL Financial, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance and other financial products are offered separately through individually licensed and appointed agents.