What Are You Waiting For – The Life Insurance that Doesn’t Come From a Policy
In terms of birthdays, 50 is a big one. Often it’s celebrated with black balloons, over-the-hill jokes and stories shared about years past. My good friend, Charles*, however, is choosing a more adventurous way to celebrate his 50th.
A financial consultant who lives with his wife in a one-stoplight Wyoming town, Charles is planning to spend his milestone birthday snowboarding with friends in Niseko, Japan—one of the prime skiing destinations in the world.
Charles views bucket list trips like this as his own brand of personal life insurance. In financial terms, it’s a small sum he pledges each year to ensure he’s maximizing his life. After all, it’s possible he could get in a fatal car crash tomorrow, so he believes paying a small premium that allows him to live his life fully now is a good investment.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: That’s not life insurance! And, in traditional terms, you’re right.
The literal definition of life insurance is “insurance that pays out a sum of money either on the death of the insured person or after a set period.” The quick and dirty calculation on traditional term life insurance is 7-10 times your salary if you have young dependents.
If you are the stay-at-home spouse, it would be annual costs of care needed multiplied by the number of child-rearing years remaining.
For a more precise estimate, a detailed life insurance needs estimate should be done as part of a broader financial plan.
Certainly, if you have dependents relying on your income or your unpaid spouse at home, you would need the more classical type of life insurance to cover your loved ones should you expire unexpectedly.
With an eye toward traditional life insurance, Charles has that covered. As a person who specializes in personal finance, he and his wife have worked diligently on retirement and estate plans. They also have set aside ample assets to cover each other and their dogs in the event of either one’s sudden passing.
Investing in Life Enhancements
Needless to say, I feel there’s something profound in Charles’s idea of setting aside a small sum of money each year toward a life enhancement. Charles shared with me that his three pillars of life are snowboarding, surfing and music. With nudging from his wife, he also added, “Oh yeah, and of course, love!”
Thus, it would seem quite purposeful, after other life necessities are covered, to invest a small sum toward a snow-fest with several good friends in the mountains of Japan. As Charles mentioned, “What’s not to love about Japan?! There’s so much to love there, including sushi and sake!”
Charles has clearly taken the time to determine what matters most and is putting time toward those goals. In addition to trips like the one to Japan, Charles and his wife recently took on a major life change: they moved from San Diego to the mountains of Wyoming to live more in line with their values.
In addition, they evidently have quite a community of friends and family who like to visit. Their biggest challenge now is having too many visitors every year! In fact, they’ve decided to take the month of August off from entertaining guests and instead plan to take camping and hiking trips to their favorite spots. What a great problem to have!
During a recent trip to visit Charles and his wife, my family and I spent an evening enjoying home-cooked enchiladas in their modest home overlooking Grand Teton National Park. Afterward, Charles pulled out his guitar to share his passion of music with us.
The following morning, despite having a full workday ahead of him, Charles took two hours to snowboard in the Wyoming powder with my husband. He then returned to his home office for a solid day’s work. Clearly, Charles brings his priorities to life each and every moment.
What Matters Most to You?
If you were to follow Charles’s approach, what are the three or four pillars of life you’d choose? What premium of time or money would you pay to ensure you’re reaping maximal life joy from your priorities each and every week, month or year? Where might you go today if your life were to end tomorrow? What might you do?
Most of us do not take enough time to ponder what truly, deeply brings meaning to our lives. And, even if we do, what investment of time or energy do we make to move toward those values?
It’s so much easier to follow the inertia of daily life. Waking up early, scurrying to work, working on full speed for ten hours, then heading home to collapse on the couch to order off Amazon, eat a frozen pizza, gaze at email, and finally hit the sack.
In our consumer culture and time-constrained lives, it’s easy to fill our homes with stuff and our days with busy-ness without pausing to dig deeper into what really matters. Let’s face it: Doing something different is hard. Taking on a career change, seeking a self-development program, or planning a lifelong trip can take effort that is sometimes hard to summon.
With that said, you owe it to yourself to do what most needs to be done in your life. Identify it and dedicate some of your human capital—time, energy, money, effort—to get those things done. As Anna Quindlen once wrote, “You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at the desk, or life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.”
What type of life insurance do you need to plan today?
*Name changed for privacy purposes.