When Andrea Reiser was asked by her editor to update the book of personal finance advice that she and her husband had co-authored in the late 90s, she almost said yes.
This request was made in the midst of our country’s collective attempt to brush off the hard times that came as a result of the remarkable financial downturn, but with dozens of similar books out there, it seemed fruitless to do more of the same.
Andrea and her husband David, a wealth management advisor, knew they had a great opportunity at their fingertips.
“We thought, we’ve got an editor, we’ve got a publisher, we’re established authors, so what can we write about,” Andrea recalls.
Shortly thereafter, the couple began to examine David’s client base, and their curiosity began to run rampant around two primary questions—what makes people feel happy and fulfilled, and how do we get America back to where it should be?
Letters from the Heart
Written in the form of heartfelt letters to their four sons, each chapter of the book centers on one of fifteen American values that Andrea and David would like to instill in their children. Andrea explains how the chapters develop—starting with big concepts such as education and hard work, and eventually meandering to values that are less tangible such as kindness, gratitude, and striving to live a regretless life. Each letter is followed by a profile of someone who the Reisers believe actively animates the featured value in his or her own life.
Each person profiled is an acquaintance of the family—a neighbor, a family friend, a client of David’s. These hand-picked examples are all people that their sons can actually talk to personally, as opposed to many of the role models teens seem to have today.
“All of the people we wrote about in the book are part of their lives,” Andrea explains. “It’s very disheartening to see how young people today put such focus on celebrities and musicians—people they don’t know and can’t access. It’s important to have role models that you can actually contact.”
The process of actually writing the book was one that was very personal for Andrea. Enthralled with this new concept, Andrea and her husband were so inspired that they completed the entire book (beginning interviews, writing letters, and compiling profiles) within a short six months.
“It was an absolute joy to write. It all came from the heart,” Andrea recalls. “In my mind I was writings to my boys. They’d come back from school and I’d still be writing in my pajamas. I would read the letters when they were finished to anyone who would listen. We connected through writing it.”
“Live the Life You Want”
Andrea’s emotional investment in the book also extends beyond her young boys and into her own personal struggle. Andrea’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and passed away the next year at the age of 63. Shortly thereafter, her sister began treatment for a small tumor at the age of 38. After completing some testing, it was revealed that Andrea, too, carried the breast cancer gene. In 2007 she decided to be on the offensive and undergo a prophylactic mastectomy. To her surprise, this decision changed her life in many positive ways.
“Waking up after the mastectomy, everyday is very different. Every morning, it doesn’t matter if there are grey skies or rain,” Andrea explains with an air of satisfaction. “I’m so grateful for my family and where I am in my life.”
The impact that breast cancer had on her life was a major influence in Andrea’s decision to write “Letters From Home”. Rather than continue to write about personal finance, she knew that whatever she wrote needed to be deeper than that.
“From the get-go, I knew that if I worked on writing another book that I really wanted to do some good with it. That’s what sparked our pursuit of finding charitable recipients for the book.”
All of the proceeds from the Reiser’s book go to charitable organizations. The three charities they have connected with are the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center , FORCE , and Share Our Strength . The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is dedicated to research regarding the genetics of breast and ovarian cancer. In conjunction with this organization is FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), the only national non-profit dedicated to educating, supporting, and loving women who are affected by hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, or who have a family history of the illnesses. Andrea’s sister is a mentor for this program. Lastly, Share Our Strength is also a non-profit, dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. This choice was inspired by the family’s love of food and cooking.
Chocolate chunk cookies, triumph, family, and a fanatic love of the Boston Red Sox are only a few of the ingredients that make up the life that Andrea Reiser is so grateful to have. Her sons, she says, are so proud of the work their parents have put into “Letters From Home”, and she really believe it has served to bring the family closer.
“It puts things in perspective for them. The book gave a real overarching rationale to everything we do,” she says. “The boys are so proud and happy to be part of the family.”
She, too, is proud of her boys. Now in their teens, she continues to develop positive relationships with her sons, and values the time the family spends together. In the end, Andrea feels that the future of our nation lies within the youth, and for this reason it’s important to equip them with the basic values they need to eventually lead happy, successful, and moral lives. That is all she wants for her sons, and every other youth in America.
“There is so much going on today that people point to in this ‘next generation’…so much entitlement and overindulgence. In the book, we write about timeless values. They’re not sexy, they’re not glamorous, but they built this country over 200 years ago. That’s what’s important.”
For information on how to purchase “Letters From Home” by David and Andrea Reiser, please visit ReiserMedia.com. Andrea also talks about her love for food in her family cooking blog Dishing About Dishes. Her personal website: AndreaReiser.com.