If even one person is persuaded to call their insurance agent as a result of this column, it’ll be a big success! To help accomplish this, I encourage you to discuss this topic with your loved ones as soon as possible.
Life insurance is designed to fill an economic shortfall. As a young person with financial responsibilities, your untimely exit may leave a very, very large hole. Doing an insurance review is imperative.
The first step in this review is to imagine the unpleasantly unimaginable; your own death. You need to honestly ask yourself a simple question, what am I leaving behind for others to shoulder?
For example, if you have children, the cost of their higher education is substantial. A four-year, in-state college education could run about $100,000. Multiply that by two or three kids and it adds up.
Next, if you have a mortgage, imagine your spouse facing an income cut of 50% or more and struggling to keep the house. Remember, too, beyond the mortgage, utilities, property taxes, hazard insurance and upkeep costs will also continue unabated.
Lastly, don’t forget that your complete 40 to 50 year work life is needed to fund your 20 to 30 years in retirement. If your life is cut short, so too is your surviving spouse’s retirement plan!
My default advice is to buy low-cost, term life insurance. It’s made to last for a set period of time. After the term expires, the insurance coverage and its cost ends. For those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, it’s dirt cheap. In fact, it’s so affordable – and so important – no legitimate excuse holds up under scrutiny.
Let’s say you are a married 37 year old with two kids. Your youngest is 2 years old and your oldest is 6. You own a home with an outstanding mortgage of around $200,000. Finally, you and your husband depend on each other, have similar paying jobs and you hope to save enough to retire together at age 67.
Without getting into the detailed math, let’s just assume you’d have no chance to build your retirement savings in the event of either of your deaths. Let’s further assume no college savings would happen either. And, yes, the weight of the house, with its mortgage payment and more, would feel much heavier too. The three economic holes become pretty obvious.
In this example, I’d want to see two term life policies – one for each spouse – to fund the kids’ college and to eliminate the mortgage. I’d also like to see enough to replace a good amount of the lost income and to ensure the lost retirement savings. While an insurance benefit of $1 million might seem like a large amount, it would roughly cover what’s been lost.
Trust me, when you are healthy and young, the peace of mind you’ll gain by making the call to your insurance agent will feel like a true bargain. So, dump your cable and cook an extra meal at home each month and call an insurance agent today!
Jason P. Tank, CFA is the owner of Front Street Wealth Management, a fee-only wealth advisory firm located in Traverse City. He encourages questions and comments about future columns. Contact him at (231) 947-3775, by email at Jason@FrontStreet.com and at www.FrontStreet.com