Meet Ben. Ben is a 30-year-old professional living with his wife, Claire, in California. They are expecting their first child in about three weeks. Becoming a father is a life-changing event and has made Ben think about the future. He realizes that should anything happen to him, he wants to make sure that Claire and his child receive a life insurancebenefit to help cope with the loss and dealing with the financial obligations.
But Ben doesn’t want to take on another recurring bill. He also pays rent, owns a car and recently financed a second with the baby on the way. Daily expenses add up quickly – not to mention those associated with the arrival of a baby. Life insurance seems far less urgent than all those things.
You can’t afford not to have life insurance
In a recent survey from Life Insurance Research Marketing Association (LIMRA), 30 percent of Americans say they know that they need a life insurance policy or to increase their policy, but 65 percent of Americans say they won’t buy life insurance because it is “too expensive.” And roughly the same amount say that expenses, such as mortgage, utility, and grocery bills, prevent them from being able to afford a policy.
But most people don’t realize that life insurance isn’t as pricey as they think. When asked how much a $250,000 term life policy would be for a healthy 30-year-old, the median estimate was more than twice the actual cost, according to LIMRA’s 2016 Insurance Barometer Study.
Time for some tough love, Ben. If you think you can’t afford it now, imagine how your loved ones would feel if they are at risk of losing a home due to the sudden decrease in income. Also, if you wait, not only do you risk a period in your life where you are unprotected, but as you age, life insurance rates rise sharply. There is no better time to buy a policy to protect you family than today.
LIMR reports that household members in 1 in 3 homes would have immediate trouble paying living expenses if they were to lose their primary wage earner, with Millennial households most at risk.
Calculate your needs
Using the Insure.com life insurance calculator, Ben should consider purchasing a 30-year term life insurance policy worth $625,000. This amount is calculated based on factors such as 35 years until retirement, tuition benefit of $20,000 for one child, funeral expenses of $5,000, and a modest income replacement. After reviewing Ben’s health history and driving record (30-year-old male, non-smoker, no medications, one accident within 5 years, one non-parent relative who had a heart attack before age 70), the average price of this policy would be $67 per month. C’mon, Ben. Time to do more than dig into those couch cushions and make a smart decision for your whole family.
A series of small cuts to monthly spending can easily provide you the money you need without making you feel like you’ve given up your favorite things. Here are eight ways to pay for your life insurance.
Champagne taste, beer budget
Replace two alcoholic beverages and three non-alcoholic beverages per week with water. At an average of $1.80 per beer bottle and $1.50 per non-alcoholic beverage, you’re looking at a minimum savings of about $32 a month – more if you make that swap while eating out. Recent studies show that 40 percent of American’s don’t drink enough water so you’re probably not drinking enough water anyway. Not only will you find nearly half your life insurance budget here, but your waistline will probably benefit, too.
Say farewell to fees
While there may be no such thing as a free lunch, there are such things as free checking, free savings, free shipping, and free ATMs. With a little online comparison shopping, you can do away with an average of $31 in monthly fees pretty much altogether. And late fees on bills? There’s little room for excuses. Set the alarm accordingly on your smartphone the day you receive the bill: two days before the due date for online bill paying and five days before the due date for snail mail.
Review your auto insurance policy
It’s been five years since Ben’s last accident, and he’s turned 30 years old. It’s time to call his auto insurer to see if he’s eligible for any new discounts. If it’s been a while since you were in contact with your insurer, make some time to gather car insurance quotes online from other insurers, and then call your current insurer to see how you can save money without sacrificing coverages. You could save around $40 per month with a well-timed switch.
The best seat in the house
The sound systems and flat-screen TVs that dominate most consumers’ livings rooms are more than equal to the task of creating a great movie-watching experience. Forgo the sticky floors, obstructed views, and the popcorn with a 900 percent mark-up and pick up a Redbox rental or choose a movie on demand through a streaming service or your cable provider. A bag of popcorn, a couple of sodas, two bags of M&Ms and a movie rental at home will save you and your partner $24.50 each time over the theater.
Cut the cord
The average cable bill in 2015 was a whopping $123 and projected to top $200 by 2020; it’s an expense that’s getting, well, expensive. If your Internet service is part of your package, you could go to Internet-only service for around $50, add in a streaming service like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime for about $8 a month and still save about $64 per month. Most networks let you watch their content for free online just a few days after it originally airs. As for the big game, it’s a great excuse to get together with friends and watch it at their house.
Subscription shopping for supplies – if you use them
Amazon and Target offer subscriptions for myriad of everyday supplies. You can set items like laundry detergent, paper towels, baby supplies, dish soap and more to be delivered to you on a recurring schedule, based on when you would need the items. The best part is you’ll receive a discount ranging anywhere from 5-15 percent as well as free shipping. If the average household spends $53.25 per month on housekeeping supplies and just over $200 per month on baby supplies the first year such as diapers, wipes, and formula, that subscription is saving you $38 per month.
Ben and his wife are sure to need some date nights in the future, and they will soon have the added expense of a babysitter. According to Care.com, that rate is $18 per hour in California, and since skimping on a sitter isn’t an option, it’s time to get creative with date night. Look up free nights for museums, planetariums, and galleries in your town. Outdoor festivals or nature walks in the warmer months paired with a picnic basket of homemade sandwiches and sides and a couple of those $1.80 brews mentioned above will be a less-expensive break from baby. Or skip the pricey concert tickets and try scoping out where a local band is playing for free. A date night that includes upscale food and alcohol and entertainment can easily hit $150. A frugal four-hour date will save you $78 once a month.
No, seriously. Stop smoking
It’s been almost 30 years since the first anti-smoking commercial aired on television. There’s no debate, smoking is terrible for you. Not only are you doing irreparable damage to yourself and perhaps others around you, but your money is literally going up in smoke – approximately $34 a month. If you are a smoker trying to obtain life insurance, you’re going to need more than $67 per month. Do what it takes to kick the habit, and in five years, you’ll be considered a non-smoker on your life insurance policy. That will be a sigh of relief – without the hacking.
Both Ben and Claire should prioritize buying life insurance before the baby arrives. Starting a family can be an exciting – and expensive – time, but postposing a dependable life insurance policy is no way to save money or prepare for the future. With just a couple of these lifestyle changes, you can have a policy to protect your family should the worst happen.