Life Insurance 101

Image

I’m back after a fantastic spring break vacation with my guy. We did plenty of awesome and relaxing activities, but one of the many financial activities we did over our break was buy some extra life insurance. You’re probably thinking, “But Christine, you’re in your 20’s. Do you really need life insurance?” To which I would respond with a resounding, unflinching, “ YES!!”

There are two types of life insurance; term life insurance and permanent life insurance. Both types of life insurance pay out their death benefit if the policy holder passes away.  However, there are some major differences between term and permanent life insurance, three of which I plan to talk about below.  

The first major difference between the two is that term life insurance has an expiration date and permanent life insurance doesn’t. So at 30 years old you could buy a term life insurance plan that lasts ten years. It would expire when you turn 40. However, if you purchase a permanent life insurance plan at 30, it never expires.

Another major difference between term and permanent life insurance is that term life insurance doesn’t build cash value, while permanent life insurance does. With term life insurance, you pay for it, and it covers you for a specific amount of time, somewhat like care insurance or home insurance. With permanent life insurance, you pay for a specific number of years, lets say ten years again, but at the end of the ten years, when you stop paying, the policy doesn’t expire. As the years pass the policy builds cash value and you can withdraw from the policy for things like retirement income or for unexpected expenses. When you take money out from the policy, the amount you borrow gets deducted from what your death benefit would be.

A third major difference is that term life insurance tends to be significantly cheaper than permanent life insurance, especially for young people. Because of the fact that you build value over time with permanent life insurance, it is more expensive.

Depending on your situation, you may want to consider term, life, or both types of insurance. For example, if you are in your 20’s with no dependents (kids), no mortgage, and no health problems, you probably want to get permanent life insurance. It will be cheap because you are young, and the risk of you dying in the near future is pretty small. It will take you a few years to pay off, and then you will be insured for the rest of your life. Plus, it will give you an option for supplemental retirement income in the future.

If you have kids, you probably want to get some term life insurance. It’s cheaper than permanent insurance, so it will be better for your diaper and baby food filled budget. Regardless of whether you are a working parent or a stay at home parent, I recommend getting a term policy. If you’re the breadwinner, you want enough money that if you aren’t around to provide for the family, you know the family will still be able to live.  If you’re a stay at home parent, you should consider getting a policy that is enough to cover the cost of a caretaker for the remainder of your dependents’ childhood years. Remember, if you aren’t around while your significant other is out bringing home the bacon all day, your child(ren) will need care, and care is expensive.

Personally, I’ve chosen to take a balanced approach to life insurance, meaning some term and some permanent insurance. I have enough term life insurance to cover my major financial obligation, my mortgage. This way, if anything were to ever happen to me, I know that D, my fiancé, could stay in our home comfortably. Luckily, I don’t have any other debt, but if I did, I’d want enough to cover any other major debt I had. I also have some permanent life insurance. It’s more costly, but I’m using it as a financial vehicle for my retirement planning. Specifically, I plan to use it to supplement my income upon retirement. Or, in the event of my untimely passing, it would cover my funeral costs and give my family a couple thousand extra dollars for any unexpected expenses associated with my death.

The bottom line here is that you may not realize it, but you need life insurance. Whether you are single or taken, have kids or not, it’s a smart move to ensure your future financial stability and the financial stability of the people you love just in case you aren’t around anymore.  

Advertisements