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My Story

My Story

January 24, 2018

How the military “Cradle to Grave” concept inspired my passion and how you can use my “misfortune” to plan for YOUR Retirement

by Rafi Rodriguez

This is my journey--going from a successful military career in the systems acquisition career to financial planning

What does his have to do with you, you may ask?

Let’s say, my family and I learned the hard way, so YOU don’t have to

Let’s begin…

Ever since I can remember, my loving parents encouraged me to AIM HIGH, pursue my dreams and plan for a comfortable and enjoyable retirement

For me, that meant becoming an officer in the Air Force working with rockets and developing new weapon system, but I paid a high price for my dream

Being far from my parents was hard and many times painful as I quickly realized they did not plan well for their retirement

Their financial struggles in retirement impacted my life deeply and taught me a tough lesson

During my military career, I learned how to plan for the development and sustainment of a weapon system until its end of use—as we say in the military: "From Cradle to Grave”

My parent’s struggles transformed me from a “Rocket Scientist” to financial advisor with a passion help many people like YOU

My WAKE-UP CALL went like this…

I saw how my twin brother’s dreams were shattered when he decided to go back home to help our parents who were experiencing a decline in health

I could not be close to my parents due to my military career, but I felt compelled to help financially

In dealing with this heart-wrenching situation, I came to realize my parents did not plan well for their own retirement and end-of-life expenses

In one of my visits to see my mom at the hospital, she was in bad shape and was not expected to live

This was an emotional and devastating crisis for me and my siblings

I was upset at my dad for not planning for funeral and burial expenses--but I felt a deep sense of compassion

He was in total denial and did not want to face reality, so I bought the burial plot that day to be ready

Thank God, my mom did not die that day—it was not her time yet

I wish they would have planned better because it would have been less painful, and we could have spent more quality time together

On my way back to my duty assignment, I thought about the reality my parents were facing and the monetary responsibility I was faced with

While at the same time planning for my family—from life insurance, college savings for the kids and my own retirement

It broke my heart I could not send more

I was enjoying a very successful military career, but my parents’ situation was weighing heavy on me

I was not even at their bedside when they passed away years later

But my brother, who sacrificed many hours of work and personal time, was there with our parents through their ordeals, until the end

My parent’s unfortunate situation and my fear of having my children take care of me in my old age forced me to ACT

I decided to see a financial advisor for help—AM I GLAD I DID!

When I decided to create my “Cradle to Grave” financial plan…

The FINANCIAL PLAN gave me FOCUS on the important things in my life, DISCIPLINE to stay the course, and ACCOUNTABILITY for my actions

My wife fully understood the challenges I was facing with my parents

She also realized she was going to face the same with her parents if they did not plan

She saw first-hand my passion to help others with similar challenges and encouraged me to become a financial advisor

With her wind beneath my sail, my passion to become a beacon for others grew stronger 

I could only imagine how many people were in our exact same situation and I decided to use my experience to help others

Many of my friends put their trust in me and became clients

I helped my parents the best I could and committed more so than ever to be self-reliant, from now until the end of my life, and to help others do the same

Sharing my story has helped many fight procrastination and take charge of their own lives, now and into the future

My life’s lesson from all of this: when YOU envision the retirement lifestyle YOU want, plan for it, and take actions, the higher the chances you will achieve it

In contrast, those who do not, may run out of money and may have to rely on family support—the way it happened to my parents

My parents are in heaven now and I imagine them celebrating how many people are BETTER OFF NOW by how I served them

Thinking of my loving parents, I live my passion every day—to guide people find and pursue their Financial Journey

In 20-20 hindsight, I realized that the “Cradle to Grave” concept applies to anyone

This concept is part of my financial planning approach with clients and has helped them to look at retirement in a new light

Want to apply this concept in your financial plan?  Contact me and I will show you how!