Death: it's a topic most of us don't want to talk about. So it's no wonder that as a life insurance agent when I worked in the financial sector, most of my clients didn't want to discuss life insurance. Nobody wants to think about dying, especially when it concerns the death of their children. But I made the life insurance discussion a key point with my clients that were either expecting or recently welcomed a newborn. In my opinion, life insurance is one of the best gifts you can give your baby, and here's why.
The primary function of life insurance is to provide for loved ones in the event that the insured individual passes away. Most financial advisors will tell you that it is of the utmost importance that the head of the household, or the person who makes the most income, have some sort of life insurance to replace lost income if they pass away. So why would you need to take out a life insurance policy for a baby when they aren't providing financially for the family?
To understand child life insurance benefits, first, let's explain how life insurance works.
When looking at policies for young children, I suggest that parents look into limited pay whole life policies that can be completely paid for in terms such as 10, 20, or 30 years and will last for the insured child's entire life.
Whole life insurance policies can be expensive, and the older the insured is, the higher the premiums can be–which is one great reason to start a policy on a newborn. I personally have whole life policies on both of my kids that I took out within their first few months of life. I pay less than $150 a year per child, and they will be completely paid off when they turn 20! In comparison, the average whole life paid in a 20-year policy on a healthy 30-year-old female can cost almost $2,000 annually! Your kids can thank you later on that savings.
At a training I once attended for work, we were sharing personal life insurance stories from our customers. One, in particular, stuck with me. My colleague shared a story of a customer who came into the bank with flowers for someone who unfortunately had been retired for many years. The women explained to the employees that she had taken out a life insurance policy for her child with the employee years ago. She had come back to thank him for suggesting it to her because her son now had an illness that would prevent him from purchasing life insurance for himself. She was truly thankful for the advice given to her. Had it not been for that employee's suggestion, her son may never have been able to take out a life insurance policy to protect his loved ones in the future.
Unfortunately, it's true that when a child develops a medical problem, they may have trouble qualifying for life insurance later in life, in some instances even becoming uninsurable. With child life policies, the premium will never change, even if the beneficiary becomes unhealthy. Many insurance companies even have a guarantee to add more coverage rider (an amendment to the policies terms), much like the most recognized juvenile insurance provider, Gerber Life Insurance. With Gerber's guaranteed right for a child to buy more coverage as an adult policy, the insured can buy up to ten times the original amount at standard age rates—no questions asked.
The savings component to whole life policies can benefit children when they become adults. Whole life policies accumulate cash value from the premiums you pay over time. The cash value earns interest based on the dividends declared by the insurance company that owns the policy. In most cases, the return on the cash value is much better than that of savings accounts or CDs.
As the cash value builds in the policy, there are numerous options that can be used:
- A partial withdrawal of the cash value can be taken; however, if it is not paid back it reduces the amount of the death benefit and may incur fees. It is recommended that this only be done in emergencies.
- Loans can be taken out against the cash value, which creates a tax-free way to withdraw money as needed and often is available through the policies with low-interest rates.
- The cash value can be completely withdrawn and the policy surrendered. Some beneficiaries may choose to do this when they come of adult age to help pay for school, a first home, and so on. It's wise to check into the specifics with each policy because some have surrender fees if the money is withdrawn before a certain amount of time has gone by.
Parents or grandparents can switch over policy ownership to the child once they reach adulthood. In fact, most plans automatically switch ownership once the child turns 21. Before purchasing any insurance, it is important to look over your financial situation first and ensure that you will be able to pay the premiums.
Looking at some statistics collected in the 2019 Insurance Borameter Study, more consumers say they need insurance than those who say they own them, and affordability and value are two obstacles that stop Americans from buying life insurance. But more than half of respondents overestimate its true cost by 3x or more. It seems the primary reason that nearly half of Americans don't have life insurance is due to lack of knowledge about it. What better way to help educate our future generations than to give the gift of insurance to your little one!
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.