We worry about our family’s health, safety, financial security and future. But more families need to put their money where their heart is by buying term life insurance. (This is the most affordable type when initially purchased and provides protection for a specific period of time or the “term”.) However, the issue isn’t a matter of hypocrisy, but a lack of research and financial literacy. According to a Life Happens and LIMRA study from this year, 65% of households have not purchased life insurance because they think it’s too costly.
To show that this is a common misconception, the study asked Americans to estimate the cost of a 20-year, $250,000 level term life insurance policy for a healthy 30-year-old male. Eight in 10 people overestimated the cost, saying it would be $400 a year, which is more than double its actual cost of about $160 a year or about $13 a month. Astonishingly, one in four thought it would cost more than $1,000 a year.
And just know that unless you have serious health issues, pre-existing conditions or high-risk hobbies that would likely necessitate high-risk insurance, getting affordable coverage is really straightforward.
How Much Is Life Insurance?
To put the true cost of term life insurance in perspective, here are 10 products or services that people regularly spend money on that cost more than a term life insurance premium would for a healthy 30-year-old at $13 a month.
Ultimately, the peace of mind and pride of securing your family’s financial future will outweigh any temporary pleasure from a materialistic purchase.
How to Take a Life Insurance Medical Exam
If you want to obtain the most affordable type of life insurance, be prepared to take a medical exam. Before you are issued a policy, life insurance companies must first determine if you are prone to illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, etc.
A paramedical company working with your carrier will send out a certified medical professional (a paramed) to conduct the medical tests and send the results to the company’s underwriter. The underwriter will then evaluate the results and determine if it is in their best financial interest to insure you. That risk assessment determines your life insurance rates. The greater risk you pose, the higher your premiums, until the company decides it can’t cover you at all.
The following will give you a solid idea of how you should prepare when you have to take a life insurance medical exam. Otherwise, you may want to start considering a no medical exam policy.
What to Expect
As a part of your health exam, the paramed will measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure, and collect blood and urine samples. Afterwards, the paramed will confirm the answers you provided on the health questionnaire you filled out as part of the life insurance application.
The paramed will measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure, and collect blood and urine samples.
Some insurance companies require an EKG to test your heart, especially if you are 50 or older. Most insurance companies will also conduct a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test on male applicants over 50.
Finally, if you are a smoker or tobacco user, be honest and admit it because companies test for cotinine in your system, a chemical that will indicate you consume tobacco. Medical exams even test for drug abuse, such as marijuana and cocaine.
Steps for taking an exam
Schedule the exam for the early morning. Because you should fast for six to eight hours before an exam, a morning medical exam will make that task much less stressful. Even a piece of fruit before the exam can read as high glucose levels. Anything you consume beforehand can affect your blood tests and drop you from a preferred health class.
Skip your morning coffee and cigarette. Caffeine and nicotine elevate blood pressure, so avoid your morning coffee and any tobacco products. This may be difficult for some, but trust me, it’s worth the thousands of dollars in potential savings over the course of your policy’s term.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will make it faster and easier to give blood. Drinking water will also make it possible to give a urine sample.
Don’t eat salty or fatty foods. Cholesterol and blood pressure test results can be affected. For best results, avoid salt and excess fatty foods for five to seven days before your exam; however, 24 hours is the minimum recommended timeframe.
Avoid excessive exercise. Conserve energy for 24 hours before your exam. Stay away from the gym and avoid strenuous cardio. Exercise can raise your blood pressure and pulse.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Refrain from drinking alcohol and taking drugs, including tobacco and marijuana. Alcohol can leave you dehydrated, which not only makes it hard to draw your blood, but can also cause increased liver function.
Get plenty of sleep the night before. While one good night’s worth of sleep won’t get you a clean bill of health, sleep does offset anxiety and fear. When you are well-rested, your blood pressure will be lower, leading to better test results.
Have a list of any medications you are currently taking. Your examiner will ask about your medical history, including the use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.
Don’t schedule an exam during a menstrual period. Women should not take a life insurance medical exam during their menstrual period, or if they have any kind of vaginal discharge, as it can contaminate the urinalysis.
Let the examiner know if you have an aversion to needles or medical tests. There is no need to subject yourself to high levels of anxiety for this exam. If you are anxious, your blood pressure test results will indicate health issues. Talk to your examiner and explain your concerns. They may note your fear or phobia in the case file for consideration by the insurance company and underwriter.
If you follow these steps for your life insurance medical exam, you will feel calm and prepared, and able to achieve the best results, increasing your chances of obtaining cheap rates.
On the off-hand that you are denied coverage, don’t give up. You can choose to improve your health with a balanced diet, regular exercise and better control of any medical issues (i.e. diabetes) or decide to re-apply for a guaranteed issue life policy.
While more expensive, guaranteed life insurance is a type of coverage without a medical exam. Due to its high premiums and limited death benefit amounts, it should be a last resort. Your first and best option will most likely be traditional term life insurance.
The point is, don’t ever feel hopeless. There is always a life insurance policy available to secure your family’s financial future.
Paying for long-term care can have a major financial impact on families. It’s a big reason why each year more than 65 million Americans provide long-term care to an adult family member. Yet the costs to those family caregivers are still steep.
A recent study found that nearly half of family caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses, and about a third spend more than $10,000. If a loved one requires care in an assisted living or nursing facility, those costs can skyrocket and quickly erase a lifetime of savings.
The true cost of long-term care, however, goes far beyond just the dollars and cents of out-of-pocket costs. The indirect costs can have a drastic impact on a caregiver’s physical and emotional health, career and even their family relationships. This is something I learned firsthand in my experience as a caregiver.
Many caregivers say that you don’t plan on being a caregiver—it often happens to you.
Many caregivers say that you don’t plan on being a caregiver—it often happens to you. That’s how I found myself caring for my mother. We didn’t have a plan in place, and since I was the only one of my siblings still living in the same state, I became her caregiver.
A delicate balance of priorities
The next seven years required a delicate balance of responsibilities, as I continued to work full-time and my husband and I raised our three teenage children. Inevitably priorities changed and sacrifices had to be made to provide my mom with the care that she needed, which impacted all areas of our lives. While I thankfully had a strong support system to help get me through it all, my experience convinced me that long-term care insurance was the right solution for my family so that my children don’t have to go through a similar situation.
But my story is not unique. As many who have cared for a loved one can tell you, this is a common experience for family caregivers. Unfortunately, most families only explore long-term care options when care is needed, which magnifies the impacts of caregiving. Consider that for working caregivers:
• 60% say their duties have had a negative impact on their jobs
• 68% make work accommodations
• 64% arrive late, left early and/or took time off in the middle of the day
• 17% took a leave of absence
• 9% reduced hours or took a less demanding job
• 5% turn down a promotion
• Those who leave the workforce to provide care lose an average of more than $300,000 in income and benefits.
The ripple effect of caregiving can also quickly reach other areas of a caregiver’s life, including health and family relationships. When you’re so focused on caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself. Sometimes there just may not be enough time in the day, so it’s easy to understand why about one in five family caregivers believes their health has gotten worse as a result of their responsibilities.
Additionally, between 40% and 70% of family caregivers of older adults have significant symptoms of depression. Other common health problems of family caregivers include increased anxiety, heart disease, hypertension, sleep problems and fatigue.
Between 40% and 70% of family caregivers of older adults have significant symptoms of depression.
It changes the family dynamic
When you’re caring for a parent, having less time for yourself also means there is less time for your family. Caregiving changes family dynamics, which can strain your relationship with your spouse and children. It can also create stress and conflict with siblings when it comes to topics like financial support and sharing the caregiving responsibilities.
Planning ahead with solutions like long-term care insurance can lessen the impact by protecting a family’s finances, providing choices for where care is received, supplementing family caregiving, and helping a family to maintain their lifestyles and careers. It can also provide one with peace of mind knowing their care needs will be met without requiring difficult decisions or unthinkable sacrifices from their family.
Long Term Care Insurance Quote
Take the first steps in learning about long-term care planning and find out how solutions like long-term care insurance can protect both you and your family.
When you get a raise at work, you not only feel great because your job performance has not gone unnoticed, but you also get a better sense of job security. Of course, this also means more money in your pocket, which may lead to irresponsible spending instead of taking personal financial responsibility and investing in your future. What you need to focus on is creating good spending habits right away.
First and foremost, you need to prioritize. Ask yourself if those major items you’ve been meaning to buy are really that important. Go ahead and revel in your success conservatively, but plan what you need to do before what you want to do with the additional money.
Here are a few simple tips on what to do when you get a raise at work.
1. Sit on it for a bit.
Before you jump into making new purchases, take some time to get used to the dynamics of your bigger paycheck. One thing you’ll notice is that you’re getting taxed more. The more money you make, the more money the IRS will take. For example, my friend’s sister got a $10,000 salary increase last year, but her bi-weekly paycheck only increased $200. So wait and see how much of that new raise you’ll actually get to take home before making any decisions.
2. Pay off debt.
Do you have credit card debt or student loans? If you have any outstanding, high-interest debt, accelerate your payments. Start with the highest interest debt and pay it off first, or consider a balance transfer promotion with 0% APR. However, this doesn’t mean delay saving for retirement, so remember to consistently contribute to your 401(k) and individual retirement account.
Without debt, you will be able to save more money. Not only will you improve your credit score, which can save you thousands in interest payments when you buy a house or car, but you’ll also reduce stress, improve your physical health and feel a great sense of pride. All of this will motivate you to continue spending responsibly.
3. Adjust your retirement plans.
After you’ve reviewed your debt and liabilities, it’s time to move on to your retirement plan. If you have more disposable income, you can start maxing out your retirement benefits, especially if your employer offers a 401(k) matching plan. By contributing to your retirement, you may not have extra money left over for the newest iPhone or a big screen TV, but you will gain future financial security.
4. Review your insurance policies.
Do you have all the basics of estate planning? Do you own life insurance and disability insurance? If not, are you knowledgeable about all the different types of life insurance available beyond just traditional term, whole or universal policies? Re-assessing your insurance needs to determine whether your current policies adequately cover your family is important anytime you experience a sizeable increase in income.
5. Save for tax season.
If you’re really looking forward to that tax refund, remember that the more you make, the more you’re taxed. Having a higher income means you may be in a new tax bracket and ineligible to take the credits and deductions that you are used to.
6. Celebrate your success—frugally.
The journey to financial independence doesn’t mean you should deny yourself anything beyond the absolute necessities of life. Life is a marathon and constant hard work can lead to burnout. A fun night out can go a long way towards maintaining your sanity.
What’s important is doing so in moderation. Buying a new gadget or planning a vacation should depend on the size of your raise and what you have budgeted for.
Congratulations on your raise! You’ve clearly done a good job and should be proud of yourself. Celebrate modestly and then get back to work building a better future for you and your family.
Have you gotten a big raise at work recently? Let us know what you did with the extra money in your paycheck. Fun and exciting stories are welcome, too!
You may know professional race car driver Danica Patrick for her ground-breaking career on the racetrack. But this September she will also be front and center promoting the power of life insurance as the spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month, which is coordinated by Life Happens.
Here she opens up about life and life insurance.
You’re a consummate—and fierce—racing professional, but everyone has to start somewhere. Do you remember your first race?
Danica Patrick: It’s actually quite unforgettable. My sister and I started to race Go Karts when I was 10 and she was 8. The first time we took them out, it was in the big parking lot behind my parents’ business. We set up cans in a circle so we could do laps. But once out there my brake pedal fell to the floor, and I had no idea what to do. Instead of turning or spinning out, I just went straight, and at the last minute veered to miss a construction trailer and crashed into a concrete wall. I twisted the Go Kart, flew back, got bruised legs—the whole deal. It didn’t scare me away, but by all means my first racing experience did not go well.
When did you first get life insurance—or at least consider it?
Danica Patrick: It was an easy decision for me to get life insurance at a young age. I participate in a risky sport where I drive 200 miles an hour with concrete walls around me. Plus, I’ve been fortunate to have a successful career from the beginning, and I want my family to be looked after if something were to happen to me, especially since my parents sacrificed so much for me to get where I am.
But going a bit deeper, both my parents lost their dads when they were teenagers, and neither had any life insurance. My mom was one of five kids, and remembers that her mom had to sell most of the farm off as a result. When my sister and I came along, my parents got life insurance. They wanted to make sure, based on their experience, that we would be taken care of if something happened to them. That certainly stuck with me.
You’re only as good as your goals and your aspirations. So, shoot for the stars and land on the moon! That’s my plan.
LH: People might be thinking, “Well, I’ll never be racing at Talladega. I don’t need life insurance.”
Danica Patrick: Granted, my situation is unique. Most people don’t drive racecars for a living, so I think it’s probably easy for them to put off getting life insurance. You think you have time. You’re not expecting anything to happen, but it can. A good friend of mine in racing just lost his car chief to a heart attack at 34 years old. That’s crazy. Bad things can happen. That’s just life. And that’s why life insurance is just an easy and smart way to eliminate a risk from your life.
I also think there’s a misconception that only the primary breadwinner needs life insurance. The other partner may be doing the cooking and cleaning, running the kids around and all sorts of things that help the family operate. If something happens to them, those things still need to be done, and there might not be enough time in the day for the other half to take care of those things or the money hire someone to do it. So it’s smart for both to have life insurance.
LH: What’s it like to be a woman in a male-dominated sport?
Danica Patrick: It’s challenging to answer that because that’s all I’ve ever been, but what does it mean? It means anything is possible. It means you’re only as good as your goals and your aspirations. So, shoot for the stars and land on the moon! That’s my plan.
LH: We all want to know what you’re like behind the wheel when you’re just driving down the road.
Danica Patrick: Well, I have to admit, I’m pretty aggressive on the regular road. I’ve been told I need to take that aggression from the road to the racetrack more often. So I’m practicing that! It’ll pay off a lot better in my job.
LH: Any parting advice?
Danica Patrick: When it comes to life insurance, think about it this way: If you were to pass away, it’s going to be awful for those left behind. There are people who are going to mourn and suffer—perhaps financially as well, and whatever you can do to make that transition as easy as possible is the kind thing to do, the unselfish thing to do.
To get your Life Insurance Quote to protect those you love click here!
Many people make the assumption that life insurance is for married couples and those with kids. While it is true that not all single people need life insurance, there are a number of reasons when it can make (really) good sense.
1. You have student loan debt. Many people assume that your debt dies with you, but that’s not always the case. While the loans through the federal government are discharged (aka forgiven) if you were to die, personal loans that have a cosigner are generally not. That means if your parents, for example, co-signed your student loan through a bank, they would be responsible for paying the rest of the loan if something happened to you. There are instances when the bank has called for the loan to be paid in full immediately following a death. You don’t want to leave your parents dealing with grief and loan payments.
2. You’re living with your significant other. When you’re living together, a lot becomes shared financial responsibility. Consider this example: You need both your incomes to meet the mortgage or rent where you’re living. Have you thought about what happens if one of you dies prematurely? Would the other partner have to sell up? Find a new place to live immediately? And this is just one example of many shared financial responsibilities couple have. Adequate life insurance is an easy answer to those questions.
If your parents co-signed your student loan through a bank, they’d be responsible for paying the rest of the loan if something happened to you.
3. You plan on having kids … someday. It may not be now, but when kids do come, so do the expenses and bills. According the USDA, it costs $245,340 to raise a child to age 18, and that’s without factoring in the cost of college. Getting life insurance in place now means you have coverage in place for when you do have a child. Plus, you protect your insurability for the future. … and that leads us to the next reason.
4. You’re young and healthy. Age and health are two major drivers of how much you’ll be paying for life insurance. Why not lock in a low price if you have both of those working for you? Did you know that a health 30-year-old can get a 20-year $250,000 term life insurance policy for about $13 a month? Doable, right? Don’t wait until a health issue or age puts life insurance out of your reach.
5. You know you’ll be taking care of family members in the future. This may mean aging parents or perhaps you have a special-needs sibling that you help care for and support financially. What would happen to them if something happened to you and your support disappeared? Life insurance can ensure that there is money in place to fund those needs into the future. This is where it might be wise to consider a permanent life insurance policy (one that’s there for your lifetime, as long as you pay your premiums).
6. It will pay for your funeral. No one likes to think about such things, but the truth is if you die, someone will have to pay for your funeral. You wouldn’t want to leave your parents, partner or other family members struggling with grief as well as paying for a funeral and burial, which can cost an average of $7,100.
Getting life insurance doesn’t have to be a daunting task. A life insurance agent can walk you through your options—free of charge. If you don’t have an agent to work with, click here to get a quote today!
Many people in their 40s are facing an uncomfortable fact: They simply aren’t where they’d hoped to be financially. Fortunately, all their life experience can help correct for past mistakes.
“There’s a different trigger moment for everybody,” says Jay Howard, financial advisor and partner at MHD Financial in San Antonio, Texas. “But regardless of when it comes, people find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun as they consider retirement.”
One challenge is that it’s impossible to advise 40-somethings based on tidy “life stage” demographics. Some are just starting families, while others are sending offspring to college. They’re married, single, divorced, and just about everything in between.
But for those still grappling with financial instability, these four principles can help in moving forward with confidence:
1. Acknowledge what you’ve done right.
It could be one great decision sandwiched in between some fails, or just a single good habit that can mitigate the impact of a host of wrongs.
Take the example of Kiera Starboard, a 46-year-old controller at a San Diego software firm. A mom to two adult sons and a teenage stepson, she always made having sufficient life insurance—both term and permanent—a priority, the result of her previous training as a financial advisor. “Even if it was tight, I made the payments,” she says. “It was a priority for my family’s sake, and for my own peace of mind.”
Unlike the 40% of Americans who have no life insurance, Starboard was protected when the unthinkable happened last August. Less than two years into her marriage, her husband, Steve, was killed while riding his motorcycle to work—one month after they purchased a small, additional life insurance policy to supplement his employer coverage.
“To have had to deal with financial stress on top of everything else, it would have been unbearable, incapacitating,” says Starboard. “My stepson and I are certainly in a much better position today than we would have been, had Steve and I not followed the advice I used to give to others.”
2. Take action to shore up the decades ahead.
For many, the hardest part can be learning to put your own long-term future first—sometimes for the first time in your life.
“I see people focusing on their kids’ college savings, and not enough on retirement or an emergency fund for themselves,” says Starboard. Many advisors point out that kids can borrow for college if necessary, but no one can borrow for retirement.
The most important step is clear, says Howard: “You must have a written financial plan, period. Because that plan will dictate what you must do to be successful for the entirely of your life.
“The financial plan is your road map,” he continues. “In it will be your portfolio requirements, your savings goals, and your insurance-related needs.”
Finally, make sure your plan takes inflation into account, commonly estimated at 3% a year. Says Howard, “Inflation is the silent assassin that eats away at your nest egg.”
3. Apply the hard-fought wisdom you’ve gained.
“Treat the numbers determined by your plan—such as monthly savings—as bills that need to be paid,” advises Howard. When money comes in, it’s easy to start thinking of a new kitchen or a trip to Tulum. “Just be patient and keep the bills paid.”
Using that wisdom also applies to the big stuff. As the executor to her husband’s estate, Starboard has held back making any major decisions. “In a prior loss, I committed to real estate transactions and other things prematurely. At the time, it really felt like the right thing to do but my grief clouded my perception. I had a painful, expensive learning lesson.”
4. Focus on your shining future—really.
Forward thinking is an essential part of your financial plan, says Howard. “Get help really envisioning what kind of retirement you want. For each aspect, really drill down. For instance, where do you want to live? Do you want to be near your grandkids? Will you have the money to go see them? How often? It’s not just financial planning, it’s life planning.”
If all that forward thinking feels presumptuous, Howard recalls the eminently quotable Yogi Berra, who once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”
And finally, remember the simple refrain: it’s never too late.