There are many things I like to think my husband will remember me for. My willingness to edit his grad school papers, only occasionally teasing him about his grammar. My attempt to always have dinner made before he gets home, even if it means accidentally baking a magnetic bag clip that one time I was in a big hurry. My eagerness to go fishing with him, reminding him only every
hour minute second how boring fishing actually is.
And money. While I don’t have it all figured out, of the two of us, I definitely have a better handle on our finances. Or at least I thought I did until this year’s open enrollment at my work. Imagine my surprise when I actually took the time examine my current life insurance coverage and discovered that what I would be leaving behind was actually a money mess.
Ignorance isn’t life insurance
As much as I like to think of myself as the best wife ever, my current life insurance situation might leave my husband feeling otherwise about his dearly departed in the event that I kick the bucket first. My school district offers optional additional coverage, but if you remember my biggest money mistake, you know that fear and ignorance are a dangerous combination. I never even bothered to explore the additional coverage options until this year because I didn’t know better and I didn’t want to know better.
Nobody wants to think about dying. I don’t have time to think about dying. On any given school day, I spend time facilitating discussions, troubleshooting technology, delivering lessons, giving feedback, connecting with families, reminding students that glue is for paper and not their hands, and 8,012 other things. There are days when it feels like my passion might kill me, but I don’t actually think about dying. It turns out, though, that ignorance isn’t insurance against dying.
$50,000 Doesn’t Cover Much
After I took the time to actually review my benefit plan offered through my work, I learned that my district provides $50,000 worth of coverage. While that’s certainly a step in the right direction, we have six-figures worth of debt, not five. Oh, how I wish it were five. It’s also true that while my husband would receive an additional payout from my pension should I set off for the great schoolhouse in the sky before him, that’s only $30,000 or so.* That’s still not enough to pay off our mortgage. Not even close.
My husband will have many decisions to make upon my death. Whether or not to bury me in my Jimmy Choo shoes (yes!). Whether or not he should keep making weekly contributions to his Roth IRA without me around to nag him (also yes!). He would also have to decide if he were going to stay in our house and so many other things. If I want him to be able to make optimal decisions, asking him to start out with six figures worth of debt on a $50,000-a-year salary seems like a terribly selfish way to do that.
*I say “or so” because the great state of No State Budget also doesn’t update pension information often. I have access to information that’s current up to two school years ago. Helpful.
While I can’t say that I’ve optimized all of my benefits during this open enrollment season, I feel much more confident in my decision about life insurance. For starters, I need more of it. For a couple who has yet to slay the mortgage monster, term life insurance is an excellent CYA. I do hope to reach some semblance of financial independence sooner rather than later. When that glorious day comes, there will be confetti GIFs, blog celebrations, and less of a need for term life insurance. But we’re not there yet. And that road to financial independence would become much more challenging should it suddenly turn into a solo mission.
I have the benefit of picking up extra coverage through my work, but you know I had to put my shopping skills to good use. In addition to getting comparison quotes for our home and car insurance from Select Quote, I got the scoop on their life insurance offerings as well. It was quick and painless. And it helped me understand the value in spending my cash now to care for my family later.
If you’re not sure if life insurance is the right fit for you and your family, explore your benefits and ask your questions. I’m in no hurry to head to the ultimate recess in the sky, but we can both breathe a little bit easier when it comes to our mortgage now that we’ve talked more about money after death. And that ignorance and fear that I’ve been carrying around? Well, this is one part of my financial life that I feel much better about.
So Tell Me…Where do you stand on life insurance? What other benefits or coverage options should I explore this open enrollment season?
This post was sponsored* by SelectQuote, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Seriously. Who else do you know who would overlook a magnet when putting a cookie sheet in the oven? 100% Penny.
*FinCon2017 or bust, baby!