By Sholom, a Crown Heights resident
The first finance book I’ve read was the classic – “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. A central theme in his extraordinary book is “pay yourself first.” In a nutshell, that means whenever someone receives his income, he ought to set aside some of the money for his savings and investments, and only afterwards he should pay his bills and expenses. The premise is that a person will spend without discipline unless he first sets aside money for [future] essentials. I’d like to modify the [above] phrase to “pay your children first!”
One wishes to live until 120, and then die debt free. Bad news: that doesn’t happen often. Life insurance helps alleviate burdens of families that have to confront this reality. (Life insurance is a product that one buys that pays his family a pre-stipulated amount in the event that he dies, in order to compensate for the lost income due to the death.) If Heaven forbid you leave behind family too early, do you want to leave them with your liabilities, or do you want to pass on to them the peace of mind knowing that they will have financial means at their disposal to help them navigate life minus the/a breadwinner? Too many times I’ve seen Ysomim v’Almanos funds established to try to restore the financial stability of some of these families, but unfortunately the funds barely make a dent.
Man’s nature is to procrastinate and confront problems as they arise. At times, this luxury may be possible. In regards to life insurance, however, often when one realizes it’s needed, it is too late. You can’t insure your home once the reports come in that the hurricane is coming! Can one plan the afterlife comfortably knowing that when he (or she) is no longer with us, the family’s woes will no longer be his problem? I suppose you can, but if your family’s welfare is of concern to you, the sooner you take action, the better. Windows of opportunity don’t last forever. As pointed out earlier, when one “takes initiative” once the damage is already done, it’s already too late. But that is water under the bridge. Now, let’s focus on our abilities to take control of our [families’] futures, for this IS still within our hands.
The first step is educating yourself about life insurance:
-Life insurance often costs less than 1% of the household annual income.
-One parent raising a family alone (i.e. after a spouse has R”L passed on) stunts the effective pursuit of a viable parnosso which life insurance [of the late spouse] helps to supplement.
-Insurance is a necessary purchase, not only for men, but for women as well.
-Insurance can only be purchased at reasonable rates when one is healthy! Don’t wait until your doctor alerts you that your blood pressure is too high! If one is diagnosed with a serious disease, getting approved at that time becomes nearly impossible.
-Once the price of insurance is locked in while one is healthy, it is guaranteed that the annual cost be maintained at the original price, even if the insured individual’s health later deteriorates, providing that it is still within the coverage term of the policy.
-Ideally, singles should lock in a rate while they are healthy, for what their future health holds remains unknown. Will they qualify for a policy later on, after marriage? Even more so, the engagement period- or shortly after the wedding- is a ripe time for chassanim and kallas to sign a policy. RESPONSIBILITY! Im loi achshav, aimosai? (If not now, when?)
-A payment missed invalidates the policy. A competent and caring life insurance agent is necessary to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. (Once invalidated, it may no longer be possible to reinitiate a new one, depending, of course, on the individual’s health.)
There are many more intricacies to life insurance as well as different types of policies, but I’ve never met a life insurance agent that charges to take time to explain them. Please reach out to your local life insurance agent!
I’ll conclude with the Talmudic dictum, “aser bishvil shetisasher” (tithe in order that you shall become rich). I’ll take the liberty of slightly twisting the meaning of this dictum as teaching us to “set aside money for others in order that your life becomes enriched.” Is a life inundated with selfish pursuits meaningful? No! Rather, when one utilizes portions of their material wealth to designate for others- that is life worth living! You become a member of society that is appreciated. There is no selflessness like ensuring the gashmius of others once you’re no longer alive to witness its benefit.
Charity begins at home. Don’t leave your family hanging!