You may not be aware of it, but September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Of course, you probably recognize, at least in a general sense, the importance of life insurance, but do you know the various ways in which it can help you?
Life insurance can play a sizable role in your ability to achieve some important financial goals, such as these:
• Helping your family maintain its lifestyle – If you are married and have young children at home, you and your spouse may need to work. If you were no longer around and your earnings were gone, could your family still afford to live as they do now? Adequate life insurance can help them preserve their lifestyle.
• Helping your children continue their education – Even if you weren’t planning to foot the entire bill for your children’s college education, you still might be doing what you can, such as contributing to a 529 education savings plan. If your income was lost, could your family still afford to continue these contributions? With enough life insurance, you can improve the chances that your children will at least get some financial help for college or vocational training.
• Helping your survivors pay off debts – Are all your debts paid off? If not, you could be leaving your family on the hook for some of them, such as credit cards and car loans – not to mention your mortgage. Also, as uncomfortable as it may be to consider it, funeral and burial costs can easily run into the thousands. The proceeds of your life insurance policy can help pay down debts, handle your final expenses – and relieve your family of costly burdens.
• Helping your spouse build resources for retirement – It’s almost impossible for most of us to save too much for retirement. Your spouse may already have some retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) and an IRA, but will these be enough to sustain a long retirement? Through life insurance, you can potentially add significant amounts to your spouse’s retirement assets.
As we’ve seen, you can accomplish a lot with life insurance. But how much do you need?
If you want the appropriate amount of coverage, you should consider a variety of factors. How much do you earn? How much does your spouse earn? How many children do you have? How old are they? How much do you owe on your home? By answering these and other, similar questions, you can arrive at a coverage level that’s suitable for your needs. Also, keep in mind that those needs will change – for example, if your children are grown and you’ve downsized your living arrangements, you may require less insurance than at earlier times in your life.
Life Insurance Awareness Month is a good time to remind yourself of the importance of insurance and of the need to own the correct amount. So, review your coverage soon – after all, you can’t predict the future, but you can still prepare for it.
Amy Hollister is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor based in Shreveport.