Matt Knutson: Think beyond yourselves for the future

Published 10:11 pm Thursday, July 6, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“It seems a lot cheaper to be irresponsible,” I told my wife as we were contemplating the purchase of life insurance. Many months ago we journeyed down this road, and our procrastination eventually led to indecision. Wisely, my wife resurrected the life insurance coverage shortly after we learned we were expecting another child. We finally moved forward with our decision last week.

Life insurance really is the worst, isn’t it? No one likes to pay for something and at the same time hope they never have to use it. It just seems like a drain on finances when things may already be a bit tight. But when you pause to think about life beyond yourself, it suddenly becomes a much more worthwhile safety net. I hate making purchases based on fear, but if something happened to me or Sera, or heaven forbid, both of us, I want to make sure our little girls will be taken care of in the best way possible. There’s already so many challenges that they’d need to overcome, the least we could do would be to make sure they aren’t drowning in debt.

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Unexpectedly, applying for life insurance does have some immediate benefits. Last week I wrote about the importance of budgeting and shared a few tips to help someone succeed in that effort. I tend to think about budgets in a monthly sense, more tactical planning. When you start looking at life insurance, your financial outlook becomes much more strategic. Have you ever examined all of your debt and estimated future expenses for 20 years out? Albeit a terrifying exercise, it can really help as you plan how your month-to-month budget can impact your year-to-year goals.

Another brutally helpful exercise when applying for life insurance: the medical exam. I didn’t realize this was part of the deal when we were first contemplating life insurance, but looking back, it makes sense. In order for them to know how much money I should give them, they probably want an idea about how healthy I am. The super convenient exam actually took place in my home, harkening back to the olden days of health care where the county doctor might ride his horse and buggy out to your homestead when you had a great need. A few measurements and vials of blood later, and someone somewhere will calculate how healthy I am and how that correlates to my insurance payment. I’m mostly looking forward to hearing the results of the tests. Am I in the normal ranges? Is there anything I should be working on? As someone who doesn’t own a scale, I’ll admit seeing the weight measurement prompted me to commit to running a few more times a week. Maybe there will be a follow-up evaluation, and my insurance rate will go down if they see that I’m taking better care of myself. Maybe I should be doing that even if it won’t save me money.

I must admit, it does feel good to have the peace of mind with the life insurance policy. To be honest, it feels like quite a luxury to be able to have a safety net at the ready when so many people don’t have much of a safety net at all if something goes wrong tomorrow. Life is filled with so many unexpected changes. It’s hard to imagine what a year from now will be like, let alone 20 years from now. Our motivation for finally taking this step was because we were thinking beyond ourselves. You don’t have to have children of your own to do that. If you’re not at a stage of life where you’re thinking about life insurance for yourself, I encourage you to consider giving to a different kind of life insurance for your community. Help create that safety net for someone else who may suddenly find themselves in a tough circumstance. Whether it be giving to someone you know directly or a nonprofit that’s dedicated to helping improve lives in your community, we could all use a little peace of mind — knowing someone has our back if we find ourselves in rough waters.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.