Mitch Sturgeon has an amazing story. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS in 2001, the disease slowly and relentlessly deprived him of his outdoor passions. Golf, snowmobiling, hiking – all had to be abandoned. In 2009, a year after his first wheelchair purchase, he took medical retirement from his chemical engineering career and began writing. Today, Mitch can only use his head and voice to control technology.
So, Why are we telling Mitch’s story here on the OT blog?
A few months ago, I became aware someone was using our software almost entirely by voice. I was intrigued and reached out. I wanted to chat about his experience, to understand how someone can effectively interact with OT only by voice, and to see if there was anything we could do better. Mitch was kind enough to speak with me and share his experiences, and we had a great conversation. After our call, I received this note:
“I’d always managed my own money. But things were about to get more complicated.
As you know, I abandoned my career as a chemical engineer and MBA due to physical limitations caused by MS. In recent years, due to progression, it became clear I should no longer be at home by myself, so my wife cut short her school counseling career to take care of me. This was not the retirement we had hoped for, either in terms of lifestyle or finances, but it was the retirement we had been given.
I decided to seek more expertise on managing a nest egg that had not fully matured and was being called upon earlier than expected. I spoke to several types of financial planners – fiduciary, fee-only, full-service, institutional. They all brought something to the table, but in the end, none of them made sense to me. I decided what I really needed was their software, and I could take it from there.
That’s when I fired up the Google machine and stumbled upon OnTrajectory. Here’s what I loved about it:
- I didn’t have to give them a slice of my wealth every year.
- I could start out with a monthly fee until I decided if this was the software for me.
- The online training material was strong, and the weekend seminars were a nice supplement.
- If I ever wondered, even in the middle of the night, what effect such and such a move might have on the health and wellness of our nest egg, I could run that scenario at my leisure and not be dependent on the schedule of some other individual. And if I didn’t like the result, I could tweak the inputs immediately, and solve for an acceptable solution within minutes.
- OnTrajectory gave me enough variables to manipulate so that I can accurately model any scenario I wanted, but didn’t demand so much information from me that I felt overwhelmed.
- And if that wasn’t enough, when Tyson, the founder of OnTrajectory, learned that I was operating the software hands-free, due to my disability, he contacted me directly to find out what design changes the software might need to make it more usable for people with disabilities. That was a first for me.
With the help of OnTrajectory, I was able to avoid what would have been a significant mistake. With Kim’s early retirement, she could begin regular withdrawals from her pension immediately, but with a significant early penalty, or wait until her regular retirement age, and receive her full pension. The penalty seemed prohibitively large. Clearly, I thought, we would be better off waiting until her normal retirement age before making withdrawals. But when I ran the two scenarios side-by-side in OnTrajectory, the counterintuitive option was the better one. So, we are tapping into her pension right now, with the knowledge that this is not only advantageous in the short term, but the right thing to do for the long term.
I now have a spending and investment plan that will support a comfortable lifestyle with the assurance that, barring a complete collapse of the world financial system, we should not run out of money. And just as importantly, I have a tool to keep this model updated as the unexpected occurs, both positive and negative.
I am in control of my retirement, as much as anyone can be. Thanks, OnTrajectory.”
Needless to say, I was thrilled and honored to receive such a note. It’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to help answer for other folks the same questions I had – the questions that led me to create OT in the first place.
So thank you, Mitch! It’s been a real pleasure to get to know you, I’m excited about your future projects – you’ve truly been an inspiration to me, as I’m sure you are to many others.
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Mitch is a memoirist, blogger, and disability advocate. His first book, “Enjoying the Ride: Two Generations of Tragedy and Triumph” was published in 2018 and enjoys a 5-star rating. He is also the author of an award-winning blog, EnjoyingTheRide.com, which features a mix of humor, inspiration, and straight-talk sharing his experiences as a disabled person.
Mitch currently lives in South Portland, Maine, with his wife Kim, and spends the majority of his time as a board member supporting 3i Home – a fully-accessible affordable residential housing project, which will be a first of its kind in Maine. He does all of this with only the ability to move his head and engage with technology using his voice.