2016 in Review, spoiler alert: for us it sucked!! 12

Well, I would have liked to have written this with nothing but good stuff that happened this year, but I can’t. 2016 may well go down in memory for us as the worst year of our lives. Yes, financially things have been great, early retirement is now two and a half years in and going strong but 2016 is also the year that our 6 year old son was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. An autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system systematically attacks the pancreas no longer leaving it able to create insulin.

Our six-year-old now needs to inject himself at least 4 times a day with insulin, without which he would die. He also need to prick his fingers at least 6 times a day to collect a precious drop of blood to make sure his glucose levels as in an acceptable range. Mrs. Mi10 gets up at least twice a night to make sure he doesn’t drop to lows that could leave him in a coma or worse.

All in all its not good. Yes, Type One Diabetes is completely manageable as long as we provide him with the insulin he need. The same insulin that can kill him btw, if we give him too much. We have to see a doctor or pharmacist to get a flu-shot but somehow we’re responsible for injecting him (actually he does it himself now) with a lethal medicine several times a day.

Pretty shitty, I’d say. Oh and before you feel like giving advice about a cure you’ve heard of, or a diet that is good for him, don’t. There is no cure and he can eat what he likes. You’re probably thinking of Type 2 Diabetes which is an entirely different disease.

Besides the emotional blow that has come to us with this diagnosis there are some other troubling side effects. For most of my adult life I’ve worked diligently to become independent from “the man”. I actually did so. I invested enough to retire at 43 and to flip my finger at the world. That independence has been shattered with the diagnosis of Type One Diabetes.

We are now utterly dependent on the pharmaceutical industry and have to deal with the greed it is governed by. We pay (for now the insurance does) $500.00 for a month’s supply of insulin. A supply, that will “only” cost you $50.00 outside of the Americas. Our son is hooked up to a 24/7 glucose monitor that provides us with lifesaving alerts when the boy goes high or low. Price tag for that system: Some $20,000 a year. I’d like to say the insurance pays for that as well but to date they haven’t agreed to pay yet.

Which brings us to the next dependency: Insurance. I planned for retirement with a budget in mind. That budget did not include the thousands of medical expenses, that are now inevitable and will continue in perpetuity. So now, each end-of-year it will be a crap-shoot as to whether we’ll have coverage for the next year. The President Elect has made it abundantly clear he wants to take down Obamacare. That wouldn’t be good for us. Not good at all.

So in a nutshell that’s been 2016 for us. Other than us settling into the routine of dealing with Type One Diabetes, 2017 is probably not going to be anything better.

Of less importance to us (in light of things) there have been some good things that happened this year. I personally found my passion in designing and building my own 3D printer (second one). The process of building one is very gratifying but costly. In order for me to pay of it, I’ve sold my Cartier watch. The watch I bought myself as a reward when my portfolio reached $400,000. That seems like ages ago.

We took a road-trip to Washington DC, to renew my Passport. An expensive endeavor weren’t it for the remaining Hilton Points to stay at a $350 a night hotel all for free. We took the whole family and I think they were all very impressed and happy to have gone. Hate to brag but for me it was just revisiting my old workplace. I actually worked for some time at 1750 Pennsylvania Ave, only 2 doors down from White House (I said I hate to brag, doesn’t mean I won’t).

As part of the Type One Diabetes community we walked in the JDRF walk this year. It was heartwarming to see how many of my old colleagues and friends donated handsomely. As we family we were able to raise of $2,500 in donation. Thank you to all for that!! There is still one workday left in 2016, If you still have some donating to do, please consider either the JDRF and/or the ADA. The ADA provided an awesome weekend of us and the kids at Camp Marrakesh with some 30 other newly diagnosed families.

Financially we’re still good. The stock market has done well for us this year. It didn’t entirely make up for the lackluster year of 2015 but it sure helped us along. Our returns for the year were 11% (10.98% as of this writing) and has left us closing this year with just a little bit more money than we had, the day I retired.

The portfolio seems to keep pace with our spending but there will be a slight problem if no action is taken. I currently withdraw monthly from our after tax account. Even though the total portfolio is enough to last a lifetime, the after tax account look like they will run out in 2025 (maybe even 2024). That is five and half years short of the age at which I can withdraw from my 401(k). I still have some time but I really need to start looking in the Roth IRA conversion ladder which will make it possible to start withdrawing earlier. The process takes 5 years to complete so, like I said, I have some time.

What’s up for next year? I don’t know. I think more of the same. I have no concrete plans. I will try to keep posting to Millionin10.com as often as I can. I’ve explained before why I’m not glued to the Blog, spitting out 2 posts a week. My priorities simply lie elsewhere. As for our finances, who knows. The consensus is the stock market should thrive for at least next year but my concern with the expected lower taxes and fewer regulations is that we’ll be paying the price 4 years down the line. Last time, it took a long time to recover from that.

I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

Good luck reaching your financial goals.


About Maarten van Lier

Maarten came to this country with a suitcase and a diploma. He created a financial plan and goal to become a millionaire in 10 years. He successfully turned his financial goals into reality, wrote a book about it and now blogs actively in hope of inspiring other to do the same.

12 thoughts on “2016 in Review, spoiler alert: for us it sucked!!

  • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap

    A cruel blow indeed Maarten and as you point out, a life changer especially for the young fella who will be carefully managing his condition for the rest of his life. A very good and long term friend of mine has T1 which didn’t develop until he was in his late 30s weirdly enough since, in his case, it’s a hereditary condition. So I do understand the issues better than many as I’ve seen him manage the condition for many years, and no, there are no ‘special’ diets or miracle cures are there.

    Fortunately, for my friend, public funded health care covers most of the cost of his meds in New Zealand so he is fortunate that he doesn’t have the same crippling cost that you appear to over there.

    I hoping, for you, that 2017 has a marked improvement for you and your family over the past 12 months.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you, They did change the name from Juvenile Diabetes to Type 1 as more and more people get it later in life. This year we’ve been supported financially both by insurance and a grant from United Healthcare Childrens fund. We will manage even if I have to pay out of pocket. What is difficult is the uncertainty of how we’re supported.

      I have to believe 2017 will be better, no matter what comes our way (other than a diagnosis for our second child, god forbid). Our son is doing better each day. It’s amazing to see how a 7 year old boy can accept this and not complain for a single moment. He pricks his own finger for blood, injects his own insulin (Both kinds) and now also does the math at each meal ROUND((BG-Target)/Correction + (Carbs/Meal Ratio)). We have an app but he prefers using his calculator.

      Happy New Year!!

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    Maarten, I feel for you. The loss of ACA will hurt us, too, but nothing like what you and your family will face, especially if the pre-existing condition rules are changed.

    I have a cousin who’s worked within his Type 1 diagnosis since he was 3 (he’s now 51). I was always amazed that he could stay so disciplined to test himself, inject himself, and avoid sugar (rules for Type 1 were different I guess in the 70s). Glad your son is taking a lot of the responsibility for managing his condition.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you Emily, I hopeful ACA won’t disappear immediately. I have a feeling they may still be there by mid-term. It does leave a lot of uncertainty. In the 70s it wasn’t as easy to get a good glucose reading all the time to a low carb diet made things a little easier. Nowadays as long as you have enough insulin on you, you can theoretically binge (not good ever). It does take a lot of discipline. We’re hoping we’re raising him good enough to keep this up.

      A very Happy New Year to you!!

  • Full Time Finance

    Sorry to hear about your son. My mother in law has type one and is 68 so rest assured it’s possible to live a long life despite the diagnosis. Still I understand the fear and inconvenience and can’t imagine how I’d feel as a parent. I hope you have a better year in 2017.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you. Mrs Mi10’s father has had Type one since his twenties. He’s now 84. We do see that as hope for a long and prosperous life. It’s the short-term that keeps us more on our toes then then longer term (although him in college does worry me a bit, I myself wasn’t very lucid all the time).

      Happy New Year!!

  • James

    Here’s hoping 2017 is a better year for you and yours, my friend. For you, your family, and others that benefit from the ACA, I really am hopeful it is strengthened, its shortcomings addressed, vice repealed, and we don’t go back to a system that clearly was only working for relatively few people.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you James, a very prosperous and happy 2017 to you as well. I agree ACA sucks on many fronts. I myself am a skeptic, considering most shortcomings to ACA seem to benefit the big corporations. Still, one can hope for the best and that’s what I’ll do. In the meantime, I’ll try to prepare for what might come.

  • Mrs. Groovy

    I hope 2017 is a better year for you, Maarten. We can empathize about your son – I’m sure I mentioned our niece with type 1 diabetes who almost died last Christmas because her pump wasn’t working properly. She since has gotten a replacement that will send messages to her husband if anything goes wrong. It’s a dreadful disease and I hope it’s not just greed that is keeping us from getting a medical discovery to cure it. Sending good vibes to your family and especially to your son.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you so much. I’m sorry to hear about your nieces close call. No matter how much you try to control this, there will be days things go wrong. One only hopes it’s never too bad. Every night it does cross your mind when you go to bed.

      I know the will and knowledge is there to come to a cure. I just hope the opposing forces will not prevail.

      Happy new year

  • Erith

    I am so sorry to hear your news about your son. It must have been a huge shock for the whole family, however, hopefully in a few years they will have perfected new techniques, which your son will benefit from. There is some amazing research happening into 3D printing of pancreatic islets, using cells generated from the bodies own skin cells to encapsulate them to avoid rejection. They’re a couple of years away from clinical trials, though.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thank you. There is a lot happening and technology does get better exponentially. It’s the biology that is hard. I’m aware of most upcoming trials but am also aware 99% of trials are dead ends. Then there are the trials that are successful and end up getting shelved, chasing profits elsewhere (I.e. Smart insulin).

      Happy new year

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