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September 26, 2004

Death is NOT optional

Despite what some people in California may believe death isn't optional. (No amount of New Age mumbo jumbo keeps the Grim Reaper at bay.) When your time is up you're done.

Some people, like my grandfather, have long lives before they pass away. Others have a life whose time is far too brief. Some, like a childhood friend of mine, died under the influence of alcohol and pharmaceuticals while driving in the wrong lane of a two lane road before coming to an abrupt stop after colliding with a semi. (His fiancé was in the passenger seat. It was a dual closed casket funeral.)


With Jack’s impending arrival Fabulous Babe and I had to start thinking about the things you never want to have happen. When it was just the two of us the level of import was far less than what it is now. The big “R” word, Responsibility, now looms like that big monolith in 2001. (Hopefully without the monkey and the jawbone.)

When someone dies you have to think about what’s left after the funeral: Mortgages. Car payments. Daycare expenses. Then you go out a little farther: College expenses. Wedding expenses.

Most single income families in the US don’t carry enough insurance in case of the loss of the main breadwinner. They tend to think along the lines of “I’m insured for one years worth of salary through work. That will be enough.”

Yeah. Right. I got a bridge in Brooklyn for you as well.

Sit down and play this game with your spouse: “Zap! You’re dead!” Now figure out what would happen. Make sure you ask the following questions:

“How will the surviving spouse meet the monthly bills?” (Make sure to reverse this and figure out what a nanny costs to replace the spouse that stays at home.)

“How will I pay for the kids _______?” (College, sports, ballet, etc.)

“Would our familes help if one or both of us died?” (Don’t assume anything. My grandparents didn’t expect to raise me when they were getting ready to retire.)

I’m trying to make you think about the things that you don’t want to. (Lord knows I didn’t.) They’re grim. They give you heartburn. However…

Most people don’t buy insurance until, God forbid, something is wrong. At that point it’s too late. Those #$%^@! underwriters are, for some reason, usually not willing to write you an insurance policy when you’ve been diagnosed with terminal flatulence or something equally fatal. (“What? You’re about to die in 10 days? Of course we’ll insure you!”)

I’m not saying you have to buy whole life insurance. (Term is ridiculously cheap these days via the internet.) The better and healthier lifestyle you have the lower the cost. The type isn’t the important part. It’s the amount you carry on each other.

Brace yourself.

Odds are, if you want your family to keep your present lifestyle you’re looking at 10 times the main earners salary. 10 times at a minimum. Sound ridiculous? Run the numbers yourself and make sure you run the worst case scenario. For your own sake.

I don’t have any stake in this. It's your choice. I do know that I get more than my fare share of new parents who visit this place and if someone isn’t acting as your voice of conscious then I’ll take the time to give you the lecture my dad gave me. (He got it from his father.)

Play the “Zap you’re dead!” game. At the very least it is an eye opener. At the best it tips you off to things that you would rather know sooner than later.

Posted by Jim at September 26, 2004 11:37 PM


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