Mindy Niles is my best friend even though she passed away on May 28, 2013, just two days after her 58th birthday. When Mindy was only about 7 or 8 years old she underwent experimental heart valve replacement surgery with a newly created titanium valve invented by the famous Dr. Michael E. DeBakey. About 10 people participated in this study, all of whom passed away within 3 years after their respective surgery except for Mindy...she lived another 50 years.
Mindy, a truly magical person, was a stranger to no one and always put a smile on your face and in your heart. She had an incredible lust and appreciation for life, and nothing ever got her down. There simply are no words to describe how many lives she touched, changed and brightened. Effortlessly and never looking for reciprocation, she was the most giving person I have ever met or likely will ever meet. I miss her immensely and think about her daily, as I'm sure so many others do.
In 2006, I bought a new house with a 30-year mortgage through Wells Fargo Bank. After paying my monthly mortgage for 2 years and 9 months, I still had 27 years and three months left to pay off my house. One day I was looking over my monthly mortgage bill and noticed a line item that said, "PMI"...$181. I called Mindy and asked if I could come over so she could help me analyze my bill...I felt like I was overpaying. Mindy had been a mortgage banker for 29 years, but was forced into early retirement at the direction of her doctors because of her failing health. Of course, Mindy said, "Come on over."
Upon arrival, I showed Mindy my bill and in just a few seconds she asked why I was still paying for PMI. I didn't even know what it was or meant. She told me PMI stood for Private Mortgage Insurance. By design, many lenders (mortgage companies) require PMI of new home buyers if they don't meet certain qualifications or criteria. PMI, as it turns out, is insurance that pays off your lender (in my case Wells Fargo) if you should die before you have paid your mortgage in full or default on your loan. Typically, you become eligible for this insurance to be removed from your bill after you are two years into your mortgage or have met certain other thresholds as required by your mortgage banker. Mindy told me to call Wells Fargo to see if they could remove my PMI. I immediately went home and made a call to discuss the possibility.
In less than 3 minutes into the call with Wells Fargo, the service rep told me I had qualified for my PMI to be removed some 9 months earlier!? I responded with, "Well then, I guess you're going to send me a big fat refund check, right." The rep said, "Oh no, I can't do that, but I can remove it for you for the rest of the life of your mortgage." I was elated, flabbergasted, shocked and almost started dancing. This meant I would no longer be paying $181 per month for the next 27 years and 3 months. WOW! That's a $59,187 savings I got in less than a five-minute phone call...Incredible! The most interesting part was I would have been paying this forever if Mindy had not given me the tip to call about the PMI...let the buyer beware.
I hung up from Wells Fargo and immediately called Mindy to tell her the good news. Surprisingly, she was not at all shocked. She said this kind of thing happens all the time. I told her I was so grateful and wanted to know how I could ever repay her. Without hesitation, she said, "Well, I have this AT&T bill for a landline I barely use that's costing me $66 per month. It has no bells or whistles, just your standard landline." She went on to tell me she had called AT&T five times to try to get it reduced, but was always unsuccessful. It just so happened that I had an identical setup, but was only paying $33 per month (half of what Mindy was paying). I asked if I could come over, get a copy of her bill, and make a call myself to see if I would have any luck reducing her bill to my rate.
My call with AT&T lasted less than 10 minutes and yes, they agreed to reduce Mindy's rate to the same as mine...a 50% reduction. I was very excited and raced over to Mindy's house again to tell her of my success. It was nothing like what she had saved me, but I was still able to repay her, even if it was just in a small way. After sharing what I had done, she asked, "How did you do it?" I told her I was really wasn't sure, but just said to the rep, "There was no reason my bill should be half of hers for the same thing." Somehow, they agreed.
Without hesitation, Mindy looked across her living room at me and said, "You know Barry, this could be a business!" After a full minute of silence and just staring at each other, I said, "Mindy, if I do execute on this idea, what would you want in return?" I knew Mindy was not capable of helping me run or start-up a new business because of her failing health. Mindy replied, "When you become successful at this new business and you begin telling the story of how it came to be, just mention my name." So, here's to you Mindy Niles. I will forever be more grateful to Mindy for her love and friendship than giving me the idea about my new business. Mindy passed away just a few short years later. BillCutterz was born in May 2009. In January 2014, less than eight months after Mindy's death, BillCutterz was featured on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer...a huge break for us. I know Mindy has been instrumental in our success, has watched us grow, and is my and BillCutterz' guardian Angel. This was the origin of BillCutterz.
It's an honor and privilege to pay it forward to you and Mindy's inspiration.