How many of you, when it comes to talking about life-insurance with your spouse, have said one of the following statements?
It’ll never happen to us.
We’re too young!
We take care of ourselves…heck we run every day!
We’ll sign up for it later. There’s no rush.
I’m suspecting that it’s a lot. And you’re not alone. According to JD Power.com, “40 percent of adult Americans have no life insurance whatsoever, and over 50 million people in this country lack adequate life insurance.”
Now, this is a subject very near and dear to my heart. Because I was half of a couple who was too young, too healthy, and too confident that nothing bad would ever happen to us. And you know what?
If my husband and I had not had the right amount of life-insurance when he died suddenly on his way to work in 2007, I’ll tell you what would have happened:
I would have had to sell my house.
I would have been dependent on my extended family.
I wouldn’t have been able to pay for health insurance, a dependable car, or a lot of other necessities that we all take for granted on a daily basis. Extra activities would have been a thing of the past and our lifestyle would have changed drastically…all while we were trying to cope with his death.
And when people said, “You’re so lucky you don’t have to move” after he died, my response was, “We weren’t ‘lucky.’ We planned.”
However, my husband and I were guilty of something that I’m sure most families are. And that is not having life-insurance on the caretaker of the household (me) should something unthinkable happen. It is assumed that since stay-at-home moms aren’t technically bringing in an income…that income doesn’t need to be replaced. In reality, what we provide is something that, when you put a monetary value on it…will probably surprise a lot of you.
According to salary.com, the average stay-at-home mom performs at least 10 different jobs: housekeeper, teacher, cook, driver, event planner…to name a few. And would you like to know what those jobs added up to in “earnings” in 2011?
$115,432. And I still think I need a raise.
Working outside the home and think that you just need life-insurance to cover your salary? Guess again. Add another $64,000 a year onto what you make now and you’ll be a little closer.
Now, traveling in the widow(er) circles like I do, I can tell you right now that there are a lot of widowers out there who are kicking themselves for not having adequate life-insurance on their wives. In the wake of their loss, they had to scramble to find child-care, counseling, cleaning services, cooking services…all while they’re trying to keep their homes going on their own. And without the funds they need to do it, they may not have gotten the services that were best for them and their children. They’ve had to just work with what they have.
I’ll tell you right now…I’m no life-insurance expert. When my husband and I talked about it years ago, before we had kids, the rule of thumb seemed to be four times your annual salary or at least enough to pay off your house if you needed to.
What I am an expert on is dealing with what happens when you actually need it. I can’t tell you how many of my friends were not insured 5 years ago…and then immediately signed up the week after my husband’s funeral.
You would not let your child ride in a car without a seat belt or ride a bike without a helmet. Chances are nothing will happen…but being a good parent means protecting your children.
Just in case.
Think about it.
Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow and mother of three. She is the founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick. Along with being published in several books on grief and renewal, Catherine is also a humorous motivational speaker who focuses on ” finding joy in a life you were not expecting.” She is also a volunteer speaker with the Donor Alliance of Colorado.