On Monday, June 29, Minter Daniel Mollino arrived in San Francisco after completing a lifelong dream: riding his bicycle across the United States. After starting in West Orange, NJ on March 30, Daniel faced many obstacles: snow in Pennsylvania, hail in Nebraska and extreme heat in California, but he never stopped pedaling. He had already overcome much more. Here’s Daniel’s personal and financial story in his own words.
I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. While working for a cable company in 2010, I fell 20 feet from a telephone pole, and doctors warned my family that I may never recover. After months of intense rehabilitation therapy, I was able to remember my name and re-learned basic skills, beginning a two-year journey of intensive therapy to regain my cognitive abilities.
During my recovery, I couldn’t work. I was able to collect workers’ compensation, but ran into a bureaucratic nightmare when trying to claim Social Security Disability. My wife is a teacher, and we had to change our budget to live within this new reality. And we were able to not only survive this financial setback – but actually thrive – because we saved for it.
We didn’t know we were saving for a career-interrupting injury when we put away money. All we knew was that saving for unexpected life events was important. For many years, I automated our finances using Quicken, which made planning so much easier. We budgeted for every part of our life: bills, savings, holiday gifts and our goal of buying a home. Every year we both got a small raise, and the extra money always went into our savings. After a few years, we had a healthy savings account ready for when the unexpected happened. I was without work for more than 120 weeks and we never fell into credit card debt.
I began using Mint when I started planning for my cross-country bike ride to raise money for the Kessler Foundation, which played a big role in my recovery. I was using a tablet more often, and my wife had taken a much more active role in managing our finances when I was injured. Mint was perfect for us because we could both sign in from any device and always be connected – even when I hit the road.
Three months on the road required a strict budget, and Mint kept everything beautifully in one place so I could keep a tight rein on spending: hotels, food and expenses. In a way, my road budget and life budget worked on the same principle: keep an eye on “money in” and “money out.” Every week, my wife and I look at how much we have, what we need to spend, and how much we want to save. If we need more, we can run a report and find out why we need more. Quite simply, it works.
Now that my ride is complete, I’m looking forward to a vacation with my wife. Then we’ll return to the house we bought – our mutual dream for so long – made possible by our commitment to saving.
Daniel Mollino lives in New Jersey with his wife, Amber. You can read more about his recovery and bike ride at www.tbitovictory.com.