Do the kids even say #YOLO anymore? Maybe they say something like, “Bruh, dat fleek is lit! Howbow dah?!” I don’t know. When I was a kid, our slang was still at least words, we just used them wrong. Today’s slang all just sounds like someone ripped half the pages out of a Dr. Seuss book.
Anyway, now that I’ve gotten my rocking chair set up on my porch, and I’ve got an eye on those hooligans on my lawn, I want to bring up the most interesting topic you’ll read about all day: life insurance. Come back, don’t leave!! I don’t want to sell you anything in particular, but I do want to plead with you to consider it, because this is so important. If you have anyone that depends on you, whether it’s a spouse, children, elderly parent, whoever, close your eyes for a minute. Well, not yet, read the rest of this, then close your eyes. Imagine that you’re on your way home from work, and a drunk driver merges into your lane right where your car is, sending you into the median. The next thing you know, you’re standing in front of God Himself, and there is no chance for a do-over of your life on earth. What happens to the family you leave behind tonight? Tomorrow? Five years from now? If your wife has been a stay-at-home mom, is she going to have to somehow find a full-time job in addition to all she’s been doing with the kids, and now without your help? If you’re part of a dual-income family, is your spouse going to be able to survive without your portion?
Alright, open your eyes. Depressed yet? Yeah, it’s not a light topic. Anyway, I had that realization one day when listening to Dave Ramsey rant about it. I mean, R depends on me, just like I depend on her. I know that’s “part of marriage,” but when you actually think about how it would affect your spouse’s life if you suddenly weren’t in it anymore, it really hits you. So despite trying to save every dollar we can for this debt payoff journey, we decided that life insurance was worth the expense. But aside from car insurance, I really had no idea what I was doing with insurance in general. So I started looking around and came up with some criteria for a good life insurance policy.
Insurance Should Be Cheap
We buy insurance hoping to never have to use it. What else do we say that about? Nothing. People would look at you like you were crazy if you went to the checkout counter at Target with a cart full of stuff and starting telling the cashier how it was all going to sit in your garage until you forgot you had it. That’s exactly how insurance works, though. I hope that I never have to use the insurance I will be paying on for the next 20 years. Well, I guess technically, I won’t, right? That was a dark joke, but it’s still okay to laugh at it. Anyway, if you’re going to buy something you never use, especially over a long period of time, you should try and spend as little as possible on it, right? For us, that meant going with a term policy vs. whole-life or permanent policies. If you’re our age (mid-20s), term policies are dirt cheap and will hardly make a ripple in your budget.
Insurance Should Be Adequate
Our goal in getting life insurance was to allow R to continue living comfortably in case I wasn’t there to help her anymore. The big unknown, of course, is what stage in life we’d be in if I died unexpectedly. Do we have a house? Do we have children? Are we taking care of any of our parents? Only God knows the answers to those questions. All we can do is plan for the scenarios we can think of. Our policy is enough for R to buy a house so she’s not homeless, pay off our debt so she’s not taken to court, continue paying the bills so she doesn’t have to worry about losing my income, and invest to provide for our children if we have any. If I had gone with a $20,000 policy, that certainly would have been very affordable now, but it wouldn’t have done anything for R’s well-being in the long run. On the other hand, if I’d taken out $50 million, we’d be breaking the bank every month for severely diminished returns. She doesn’t need that amount, so it wouldn’t be worth the hit to our budget every month.
Insurance Should Be Simple
As sad as it may be, the insurance industry market is based on fear. If you want to be protected, you need to buy their policy. Oh, you don’t have zombie apocalypse insurance? Sure, it probably won’t happen, but if it does… As such, there are all kinds of dubious add-ons out there for every type of insurance. Every year, I have the option to cover vehicle-related injuries on my health insurance and health-related injuries on my vehicle insurance. If you don’t pay attention, you can end up paying double for the same coverage. The last thing I want for R to have to deal with after my death is confusing insurance policies, hoops to jump through, and “gotchas” in the fine print. This insurance should do one thing: replace my income if I’m not here to earn it. We don’t need it to also give us a retirement cushion, or pay for our kids’ college, or pay the doctor’s bills when we’re old. That’s another reason we went for a term policy: it doesn’t really do anything else except wait for me to die.
Please, Please Think About It
I know what it feels like to stand at the bottom of a mountain of debt, looking up and trying to see the sunshine through the clouds surrounding the top. It feels like every single dollar is the most precious resource in the world, and the thought of spending them on a product you’re not likely to ever use sounds idiotic. But think of how it would be for the family you’d leave behind if you didn’t find room in your budget for life insurance. Now they’re left trying to reach the same peak, but their packs are gone, they have no food, and the clouds are getting darker. I don’t think it’s a situation any of us feel cheery talking about, but it can be the difference between grieving for a while before recovering, and having to completely change lifestyles for the people that are the closest to you. Now, go hug your spouse and kids, and then do what you can to provide for them, even after your death.