A Lesson on Life Insurance
When I was only 16 years old, my father passed away after a short illness. My parents had never purchased life insurance, so the only help we received was from the Department of Veterans Affairs, since my father was a disabled veteran. I think we received approximately $2,000. My father’s funeral cost at least double that figure. My mother was now saddled with grief, debt, and an uncertain future. I watched my her hand-wring over how she would pay for the funeral. She didn’t know if she could provide for my sister and I. She freely admitted that we probably wouldn’t be able to keep our house. My sister was in college and my mom didn’t know if my sister would be able to stay there. My own college career was in deep jeopardy.
My mother already worked full-time, but she had to take an additional job in order to make ends meet – one that called her out all hours of the night, seven days a week. She eventually rented out the house and moved in with family to keep costs down. But she also was quietly shoring up her life insurance policy. When she passed away seven years after my father’s death, my sister and I had enough money to cover the funeral, take care of pressing bills, and then some. I eventually used my share for a down payment on a house almost straight out of college. My sister tucked hers away in retirement accounts. The contrast of my parents has been a lesson to me on the importance of life insurance.
Life Insurance Is Smart
A recent State Farm survey shows that a large majority of Americans (84%) believe that life insurance is a smart way to care for their family’s future, but that we aren’t following through with the important conversations that are necessary. 42% of survey participants with living parents have avoided having estate planning conversations. That’s a marked contrast!
Understanding that life insurance is important is not hard. If you are the main breadwinner, you have probably thought about what would happen if you were suddenly gone. Maybe it has even crossed your mind how a long illness (and extensive medical bills) would impact your family. Or perhaps your family mirrors my parents: both parents worked and both paychecks were needed in order to cover the necessary bills.
Don’t Put Off the Conversation
Even though we Americans acknowledge the importance of life insurance, if you are like my husband, you don’t like talking about life insurance because it seems morbid or depressing. Yet the same State Farm survey shows that, once people make the decision to purchase life insurance, they really do have positive feelings about it more often than negative feelings. Their purchase leaves them with feelings like “protected” (36%), “confident” (22%), and even “relieved” (21%). If you haven’t yet had a conversation with your loved ones about purchasing life insurance, there’s no time like the present.
You can start by assessing need here. Then set up a time to talk with your spouse or your parents (perhaps both). Address the concerns that each party has, but try to come out of the conversation with a timeline for purchasing a policy.
Disclosure: This blog post was written as part of a sponsored program for State Farm to raise awareness about the importance of life insurance. All views expressed are entirely my own, and were not influenced or directed by State Farm. You can learn more about this blogger program and life insurance at GoodNeighbors.com, PlantingMoneySeeds.com, and by following #StartLiving on Twitter.