Posted by Alexis Campestre on Jul 31, 2017
The snowflakes landing on the windows as we inched down the high mountain pass road in our white Toyota Land Cruiser were deafening. Not a word had been uttered for some time, but being little more than an earthly, humanly construct, time seemed increasingly irrelevant. My thoughts would meander, like the snow across the windshield, shifting from grief to confusion to despair, and then quickly shifting back to grief, as the wind would suddenly kick up and throw what snow had managed to stick to the windshield, far into the white space beyond my blurred field of vision.
...“Click, Click,” pulled me out of the whiteness. “Click, Click,” continued, as my father’s best friend shuddered the Land Cruiser to a stop in the thick, slushy snow, and reluctantly pressed the lever down to signal a left turn. Finally. Something other than white; a freshly plowed black road. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The whiteness of the previous five or six hours had come to envelope my very core, like a cold, wet blanket. The stark black of the road sliced through the whiteness as the events of the day began to permeate and drip into my subconscious. My mind fought back the welling of confused emotion. We turned onto the road, and my Mom, in the front passenger seat, bleakly murmured to the four blond-headed kids sitting in the backseat to put their seat belts on, and as we turned, the quiet whiteness surrounded me once more.
I lost my father in an avalanche on December 30, 1997, at the top of Guanella Pass, Colorado. I was 11 years old at the time, but I remember this day as vividly as if it were just yesterday. This day is not only the day that my sisters and I lost my father, and my mother lost her husband, but it is also on this day that our household income dropped 75% with no measurable drop in our daily living expenses. As you can imagine, our standard of living would have taken a significant reduction at this point had it not been for the meager amount of life insurance coverage provided by my father’s employer at the time.
Today, although we are still grateful for the stop-gap measure provided us by the life insurance policy of my father’s previous employer, the life insurance benefit has been all but exhausted; raising four kids on a teacher’s salary will do that! As I help my mother with her financial plan and preparing to enter the next stage in her life, retirement or at least semi-retirement, it is apparent that she will need to work longer than she would like (if her health allows), and that her “retirement” might not be so retired, with part-time work and a reduced standard of living—no trips to Hawaii on that budget!
This is the lesson that I share with new families, especially those with children and other dependents: Get TERM LIFE INSURANCE – it is affordable and it is like a parachute: You hope you never need it, but when you do, you are sure glad you have it.
The begging questions:
  1. What exactly is term life insurance? – a contract between you and the insurance company that says, essentially, you give us a fixed number of dollars each year (or monthly), for, let’s say, the next 25 years, and if you die during that period, we will pay a “death benefit,” or fixed number of dollars, to your listed beneficiaries (aka your spouse/kids).
  1. Where do I start?start with the internet and browse a few of the top providers for a quick free quote. I visited a top provider while writing this blog post and received a quote in less than 10 minutes. Next surf the internet or call a trusted advisor or expert a free consultation to learn more about the basics of insurance and how to protect your loved ones’ financial wellbeing.
  1. How much do I need?This question is best answered with a look at your entire financial picture. Often people will engage in this endeavor without guidance. Although admirable, another parachute analogy is in order: Would you rather jump out of an airplane after consulting with someone who has done it over 10,000 times, or, are you comfortable with strapping on the parachute and jumping out without any initial consultation from a professional in the industry?
For a quick reference point for how much you might need, check out this free, easy-to-use online calculator:
4)What other forms of insurance should I consider as the primary breadwinner in my household?Again, this question is best answered in the greater context of your complete financial picture. We highly recommend you speak with a financial planning professional that operates in a fiduciary capacity. Some other important types of insurance to consider in your role as primary breadwinner:
a.Disability Insurance
b.Final Expense Insurance
c.Whole Life/Permanent Insurance
5)Who can I speak with to learn more?It is recommended that you speak with a fiduciary financial advisor. According to Cornell Law School, Wex Legal Dictionary, “A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care. The person who has a fiduciary duty is called the fiduciary, and the person to whom he owes the duty, is typically referred to as the principal or the beneficiary.”
Alexis Campestre, eClub Treasurer 2017-18
Wealth Management Advisor at Retirement Planning & Wealth Management