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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As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.