This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Merchants will sell millions of flowers and cards and tons (literally) of candy. And restaurants will serve up all manner of candlelight dinners to sweethearts who are clamoring to demonstrate their passion.
But if you’ve been married for longer than about a month, you know that love needs deeper roots. If all those sweet words and pretty flowers aren’t accompanied by loving actions and considerate behavior, they tend to lose their impact. They can actually foster resentment instead of romance.
The apostle John put it like this, “Let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.”
That’s why most Valentine’s Days I devote my column to life insurance. In my book, no financial product says “love” like life insurance.
Think about it. When I save money, pay down debt, or contribute to my 401(k), I am making wise financial moves. But I’m thinking largely about me. Even if I plan to share some of my wealth with you, I’m also taking care of me.
On the other hand, when someone pays premiums to an insurance company so that if they die, their loved one(s) will get a tax-free, lump sum of money, they’re obviously thinking of others. That is a selfless act that always astounds me.
And it is a very tangible way to practice real love, not just talk about it.
I think of Josie. When her husband died suddenly, she was left to raise their three-year-old son all by herself. Devastated both emotionally and financially, Josie had to move from her home; take a full-time, low-paying job; and live in a rented room with her son until he was in high school.
The story of Josie highlights three ways life insurance is a true gift of love.
- It provides a safety net. Josie’s son, Mark, never forgot his childhood experience. When he had a family of his own, he bought a large amount of term life insurance. He wanted to make sure his wife would have ample resources to raise their five children and live comfortably should something happen to him prematurely.
- It serves as a promise. After he retired, Mark bought another kind of insurance that guaranteed his aging wife a steady income for life. Each month a guaranteed amount is deposited into her checking account. She doesn’t even have to think about it. As she ages and her memory declines, that’s a very, very good thing.
- It gives people a future. It was hard for a lot of years, but Josie and Mark made out okay. Not every family that suffers tragedy is that fortunate. For many, the death of a bread winner puts them on a trajectory that greatly limits their opportunities. A future that once looked bright is suddenly murky and iffy. Some are able to use such suffering to do remarkable things. But many never quite recover. A basic life insurance policy can be the difference.
- It acts as a permission slip. If I’ve got enough life insurance in place to know that my loved ones will be okay no matter what, it gives me the emotional permission I need to spend more of my assets during my lifetime. I can use money to make memories with my family, knowing they’ll be cared for in the event of my death.
To help you think through such issues, I’ve created a comprehensive checklist of pre-retirement questions for people who are 60-something. It’s free if you’d like a copy. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send it to you right away.
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