When you have people who depend on you, it's important to plan for the future. Sometimes, it seems like that future is very far away. It seems like you have all the time in the world to figure out how to reduce your debt load and provide for your family's future. But it only takes one moment to change everything. Are you prepared?
Setting the Scene
Let’s say you're relatively young, in good health, happily married with children, and have a great job that pays for all of your family's needs. You work in an office where the chances of a job-related injury or illness are remote, and keep your risky activities (such as hang gliding) to a minimum. With everything going so well, how likely are you to buy life insurance coverage? If you're like many, you figure that you can relax for now, and get serious about your finances in 10 years or so.
But let's interrupt this perfect picture with a "what if..." scenario. What if you were no longer in the picture? Would your spouse have to re-enter the workforce? If so, do they have the job skills needed to earn a salary that could support the family? Could he or she pay the mortgage? How would they pay down the credit card balances and student loan bills you may leave behind? It's a scenario that gets uncomfortable quickly - but there's an easy solution.
What Can Life Insurance Do for You?
If you're like most people, you probably don't have enough cash to set aside for your family's future. Of course, you take common-sense steps to create an emergency fund. Step one? Monitor your credit. This helpful article on CreditKnocks.com has a list of more than 37 types of credit scores you can check to make sure everything reported to the credit bureaus is accurate. Step two? Pay down your highest-interest bills first. Step three? Open a savings account and a retirement account and set up automatic transfers from your checking account every payday. Over time, these basic steps will help you build up a cash reserve as well as the credit your family might need in an emergency. But there's one extra step you can take that provides guaranteed security for your family should something happen to you.
Life insurance gives you an affordable way for the average person to provide cash for their loved ones if anything were to happen to them. When you buy a life insurance policy, you enter into a contract with the insurance company. While you can terminate the contract (cancel the policy) anytime you choose, the company will generally be obligated to hold up its end of the bargain as long as you hold up yours — if you pay all your premiums on time and fulfill other contract requirements, the company will have to come through with the specified amount in death benefits for your designated beneficiary or beneficiaries if you die.
If you choose to take out life insurance, you need to select the right policy that provides the right type of coverage. You also need to review the policy periodically to determine if your circumstances warrant any changes. Finally, you should familiarize yourself with life insurance terminology and with some of the basic concepts and issues that apply to life insurance.