Well, folks, here we are in October. And you know what that means...
Despite society being terrified of kids taking candy from strangers, on a particular day later this month, parents and their kids will go door-to-door…and commit that exact crime. Add to that the overall notion of a holiday centered on children and ghosts, ghouls, zombies, and all agents of the undead, and one truth is abundantly clear: Halloween is a holiday of contradictions. But, what if this annual focus on all things death could be seen as healthy (stick with us here)? After all, knowledge of our own mortality is what makes us human. So, since Halloween is most closely associated with death, maybe October 31st is the perfect time to take a look at the only financial product where you can bet against your own mortality—or life. Yes, we're proposing that Halloween become Life Insurance Day.
In a nutshell (or, in keeping with our theme, maybe the thin candy shell of a peanut M&M), life insurance works like this: every month, you pay a premium to an insurer who in turn promises to pay some amount of money upon your death. Scary? Yeah, a little. But once you get over the existential unease of it, you should be relieved. Life insurance, while inherently morbid, makes survival much easier for your loved ones. Funerals are expensive, sure, but if you happen to be a significant source of your family’s income, think about the years of lost paychecks. That’s why it’s critical for you to figure out the right amount of coverage.
Fortunately, much like the hero/heroine in a horror movie who stops running from the killer, and instead picks up a chainsaw to fight back, you have tools at your disposal. First thing’s first: if you’re young, single, and have no dependents and relatively few assets, you may not need it. For those with a mortgage, young children, or a significant other who relies on your income, stop crunching on that Kit-Kat—okay, who are we kidding, finish the Kit-Kat—and start crunching numbers. Here are a couple of sites with good life insurance calculators:
Once you work out the details of how much coverage you need, treat life insurance the same way you’d treat shopping for car insurance: look around, compare prices, and get the best deal. Many insurance companies offer life insurance, but just because you already get your homeowners/renters and car insurance through one company, doesn’t mean you should also buy life insurance through them. If you’re a current Colorado PERA member, you have the option of purchasing life insurance through our partnership with Unum. If you just started working for a PERA employer, you have 90 days to enroll. You can also sign up during the annual open enrollment period, or at any other time during the year with proof of good health.
Once you determine if and how much of life insurance you'll need, your family’s financial future will be more secure. And, that peace of mind will make it easier to focus on the other things—like whether Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are better at room temperature or refrigerated (we're split over here), and if any of today’s blockbuster zombie movies can really compare to the original Night of the Living Dead (RIP George Romero).