What Married Couples Should Know About Life Insurance

A lot of married couples (especially millennials) don’t know the importance of life insurance—yet life insurance is even more important for married couples than it is for people who are single.

That’s why we asked our friends at Big Lou Life Insurance to provide a guide for our readers about on the basics of life insurance.

Every Pound Matters

One Inch and one pound can make a difference.  You may not know it, but if you tell your broker you weigh 150 pounds and you come in at 155lbs., your rate can change. With just a few pounds difference you may have been better off with another insurance company.

Your Health is Important

Blood Pressure, cholesterol, and other levels can have a big impact.  A few points on your blood pressure, cholesterol, or other blood profile levels can make the difference between rate classes. Each insurance company has different targets for each rate class.

Your Family History Can Impact Your Life Insurance Premium

Family history of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases can make or break your premium.   Some insurance companies don’t consider cancer history in your parents or siblings, while others do.  Most life insurance insurance companies look at your parent’s history of heart disease, but they attach different premiums depending on many factors.  If someone in your immediate family died before the age of 70, your broker or adviser needs to know and needs to be asking you follow up questions.

Diabetes and Chronic Diseases Complicate Things

If you have diabetes you will need to prove it’s under control and actively treated. Being in control of your blood sugar has a huge impact on premiums, and being honest about your sugar control will give your broker the best chance of getting you the best possible rate.  If you tell your broker your A1C is around 7.0%, but the lab results show 8.0%, your “quote” is going to change and you may find out another insurance company would have been better to apply with.  At a better A1C of 7.0% one insurance company has the best rate, but at 8.0% that company is no longer the best choice.

Does Your Husband or Wife Snore? That Could be a Problem

Snoring can really upset your life insurance pricing hopes.  Do you remember telling your doctor that you snore and wake up a lot at night?  Well, your doctor wrote it in your medical records along with a comment that maybe you have sleep apnea. Maybe? Insurance Companies evaluate risk and sleep apnea (where you stop breathing while sleeping) is a possible risk.  Something this simple can cause an insurance company to ask for tests to be done to rule out a risk.  You forgot about it, and didn’t tell your broker, but it pops up and can upset your premium expectations. Some insurance companies are more lenient on these types of issues than others.

Cancer, Heart Disease, and Other Illnesses

Your personal history of cancer, heart disease, and many other things are important and your broker needs to ask you the right questions.  In most cases you will need to provide your broker with recent lab results and or other testing before being able to get a realistic quote.  Without these, your broker or adviser can give a best case guess, but that is all it is. Just because your doctor told you are in great health doesn’t mean you are low risk when it comes to insurance. Heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, almost all cancer history, usually mean a higher than average premium compared to those who don’t have this history.  Again a “quote” from a broker without a lot of detailed information is nothing more than a guess. Want to learn more about heart conditions that impact life insurance? Read more on Big Lou’s blog.

Fight Your Instincts, Be Honest

You are going to want to withhold information from your broker or adviser.  In your day to day conversations with your friends you keep most health details private and your instinct will be the same with some broker on the phone. In the end, though, everything you keep to yourself will be found out by the life insurance company or underwriter which means either an uncomfortable conversation with your broker, or a higher premium, or both.

The more information your broker has up front the better off you will be.  You also need to consider the man hours and cost that your broker goes through to apply for coverage.  You can save a lot of time and effort for yourself and your broker by being honest. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to your broker, you either haven’t spent enough time building trust with them, or you are working with the wrong broker.

Get on the Same Page with Your Spouse

Will you or your spouse have enough money to provide for yourself and your family if you died tomorrow? Will you be able to pay off the mortgage, pay for college tuition, etc? If not you should have a straightforward conversion with your husband or wife and get on the same page about life insurance.

About the Author

Big Lou Insurance has 30 years of experience as one of the leading life insurance providers in the United States. Big Lou specializing in helping married couples get hard to place life insurance.

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Wanna Be a Forex Trader?

Looking for ways to earn money and want to be your own boss? Forex trading might be a good choice for you! This hobby (or even full-time job if you wish) might bring you some serious cash if you play your cards right. In case you‘re not familiar with what forex is, it includes trading foreign exchange on the market. Why is forex trading so popular? It can be a great source of income, without putting much effort into it. Of course, you’ll need to learn some essentials of trading first and adopt basic forex strategies if you want to make a real progress. Later, as you earn more experience, trading will become a piece of cake.

Here are several things to have in mind if you want to become a successful forex trader.

  1. The first step – learn forex terminology

Words such as ask price, bid price, leverage, spread, quote currency, base currency and others are a must-have in your vocabulary if you’re serious about forex trading. There are numerous online resources that can help you get started and learn the basic terminology of forex and adopt the language of the trade. It’s needless to say that without this knowledge, successful trade would have been impossible. So, go on, take your tablets into hands and start learning from the scratch.

  1. Looking for trustworthy trading tips

Instead being impatient and diving head first, make sure that you do some more reading – preparation and gathering valuable resources will literally pay off in this case. Now that you have acquired knowledge about basic forex terminology, you can continue to learning about basic principles of trade. This includes reading articles about available online trading methods and learning forex rules, watching educational videos, finding blogs of renowned experts who often share their trading tips and tricks with their readers.

  1. Deciding on currency

The first important decision to make is which currencies you’ll buy and sell. This depends on several factors: economy, trading position, unemployment rate or political situation in the country. When analyzing these factors, you can rely on experts’ opinion. If they predict that the economy in a certain country will weaken, it would be best to sell their currency and purchase the one from the country with a better economic situation at the moment. The currency pairs with the greatest liquidity are US dollar/Yen, British Pound/US dollar, Euro/US dollar and Swiss Franc/US dollar.

  1. Finding your own strategy

When you decide on currency, before investing any actual money, it would be best to plan your strategy in advance. Since you’re a beginner, it might be hard to decide on this right away. However, you might start trading by using strategies that are simple and reliable. Here’s the tricky part: not all strategies suit all currencies and trader profile – there’s no strategy that works best in all possible cases. Most new traders went through the process of “trial and error” but this is the best way to learn which strategy suits you.

  1. Choose a broker and open an account

The forex market is a rich one. This might be a bit frightening for a beginner trader as you simply can’t decide on which forex broker to choose. Here are several tips that might be helpful. Brokers earn their profits through spreads and commissions – lower the spreads, the better for you. Make sure that your broker is registered (all relevant information about registration and regulations should be visible on their website). Most brokers will provide at least two types of accounts to choose from. Give an advantage to brokers who offer varying deposit requirements.

  1. Try different platforms

Forex brokers will offer you different trading platforms. These platforms have features which aim is to help you to raise your trading activities at the highest level possible. The list of features includes real-time charts, tools for technical analysis, various forex-related news and data of importance for traders. Before you choose a broker, it would be best to check their choice of platforms. Don’t commit and pay for their service before trialing available solutions – they should suit you and the strategy you chose. Make sure that the platform is intuitive for new users, and that is enables easy entry and exit.

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Our Life Insurance Plan

Chris Huntley just launched a huge life insurance movement called the Whole Life Insurance Rebellion.  Whole Life is generally pushed as an investment, but it is not a really good one…

As I have mentioned before, Mr. BFS and I purchased a 10 year term life insurance policy for each of us after we decided to both go self-employed.  The reasoning was that we’d save enough in 10 years to be self-insured by the end of the policies.  Or in the unlikely event that we decided to have a child, we would want to revisit the policies anyway.

The Whole Life Option

We did look into a whole life insurance plan, but the premiums were 7 times higher.  It seemed to be like investing in a single company with A LOT of money with the hope of around 4% returns over 40+ years.  In 40+ years, I would hope any children we had would be taking care of themselves and I could make better returns with our Roth IRA’s or our SEP IRA.  Higher premiums, no diversification, and worse investments returns than I was already getting with retirement accounts – NOPE.

Our Current Plan

Our current term life insurance policies cost us $32 total per month.  It’s $14 for me and $16 for Mr. BFS.  The policies are for $250,000 each in case of accidental death.  It seems to only cover $37,500 each if we die from natural causes.  Even though I didn’t exactly realize this little point before, this sort of coverage suits us right now since $37,500 would cover our funeral costs and $250,000 would cover the funeral and could even pay off our current mortgage.  Or one of us could live off of $250,000 (or what’s left after the government takes its cut) for at least 4 years even if we completely stopped working.

Contemplating Our Options

As we get a little older, I realize that we may need to look into our options.  If we decide to have a kid, we’ll need to raise our coverage.  I’d want to make sure the surviving spouse has enough to live on with our kid for 2 years without working AND have at least a little to cover some of the larger kid expenses that will pop up like braces, a used car when they learn to drive, and even a little help with college.

If decide to stay kid-free, we still only have 5 years left of this plan.  We’re probably not going to be so well off to be self-insured as I thought, although we do keep healthy savings just in case.  I think another 10-20 year policy for each of us could do the trick though.

What do you think?  Term life or whole life?

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Just a Feeling

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

It has occurred to me that I seem to be managing my money less in terms of hard numbers and more in terms of how I feel. Granted, I still have set budget amounts for my normal monthly spending items, but savings is where things have shifted.  It is possible that with the recent stock market volatility that I have grown hesitant to add more to my Vanguard account or it is because I just don’t like the way my Capital One savings account looks.  Either way, I have decided to make a change.

50/50

My savings are not in a bad position, but I just don’t feel comfortable with the level that it’s at right now. There have been some recent hits to savings that have been easily absorbed, but have reduced the overall level in the account.

Some things like pre-buying my oil for the winter are known and expected, but others like an unexpected vet bill were not.  Since I divide my savings up into multiple categories, there always seem to some that have a positive balance and some that have a negative balance.  I have been feeling recently that there appear to be more with a negative balance, than positive.

As it turns out, it is exactly 50/50, half are positive and half are negative.  This is making me uneasy.

Attack Plan

My plan of attack is two-fold.

My first step will be to redirect my monthly savings number from Vanguard, back to my Capital One savings.  I am sure I could earn a better return in the market, even if it’s just from dividends, but I am not looking for returns right now.  So, that’s $85 a month I can plow back into savings.  I am also going to adjust some of the category savings amounts.  With gas prices staying low for the foreseeable future, I am readjusting what I set aside for that every month.  At the gas price peak back in 2013, I would set aside $325 a month for gas.  I have since adjusted that down to $175.  The most recent adjustment was from $200 down to $175.  The extra $25 will be added into the $85 to beef up all savings categories.  I will start with my general savings (emergency fund) and the eventually add to all the categories that are running a deficit.

The second prong of my attack will hopefully be with my annual bonus.  I should be learning soon about the amount of the bonus.  My plan is to use that to strictly augment my savings.  There are no large expenses coming this year that require funds to be set aside.  The only two things that will be allocated from the bonus are the Disney trip in a couple of years and some money for some small trips this year.

The catch is I do not know the amount of the annual bonus.  I will find out soon, so right now I am just guessing.  I already know, no matter what, the take-home is significantly less than the actual bonus.  In my case, the number is actually about 46% less.  Between the taxes and my 401k contributions, the bonus amount is substantially reduced by the time it ends up in my checking account.  Knowing this however, I can more effectively plan out what I might do with various bonus amounts.  At about that same time, I will find out if there will be a salary increase.  That is another area that could help shore up the savings categories.  Again, not knowing the value makes planning slightly more difficult.

Just a Little Higher

It does feel good to know that I am not in dire straits, that I do have at a minimum about 4 months of expenses completely covered.  I just want that number to be a bit higher.  So, it is just a matter of readjusting my cash flow to the areas of concern.  How is your cash flow doing?  Making any changes?

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How to Avoid Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a subject that nobody wants to contemplate. It is because it resonates with a sense of loss and failure. Filing for insolvency can also have a big, negative impact on your credit history. Many people struggle to regain their former footing after they have undergone the proceedings for liquidation.

There are many instances where it is inevitable. You simply have to face your debts and hire a Phoenix bankruptcy attorney. There are, however, ways that you can avoid bankruptcy. These are best implemented when you first begin to descend into debt. Here are some tips for avoiding filing for bankruptcy:

Budget Your Life

In a world where materialism is abundant it can be very easy to get caught up in purchasing items, many which you do not need. This is the first step to getting your finances under control. You need to make a distinction between the things that you need and the things that you want. The things or items that you need are necessary for your survival. These include food and shelter. There are other items or services that may make your life more comfortable but that you do not actually require. This can range from gadgets, vehicles, and entertainment.

This sacrifice may not be permanent – you only have to minimize your spending until you have paid back all of your debts. For a certain period of time, however, you are going to have to make some hard choices about the way that you live. There are many substitutions you can make in your life to ensure this. For instance, switch to cheaper brands of food, mend clothes rather than buying new ones, and walk more instead of using your car. This little lifestyle changes will make a big impact in your life.

Sell What You Can

Bankruptcy is rarely just forgiving all of your debts. In most instances, it requires you to sell off possessions that you do not really need. You can now get ahead of the curve. There are many ways that you can sell your various belongings. The internet, in particular, has made it easier for you to sell your possessions than ever before. You should first go through your things and mark anything that is not a necessity. These can be sold to get some extra money.

Even if you are not sure if something has value, try to sell it online or even in a garage sale. When you are in a bind, every little bit counts. When you combine all of the small amounts, you may find that they actually add up to a considerable amount.

Arrange Your Debt

When it is all lumped together, your debt may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. This is why many people feel quite hopeless about all the dues they have accumulated. Your outlook may not be so bleak, however. One of the first things you should do is talk to your debt collectors or those that you owe money to. They may be quite reasonable. Together, you may be able to come up with a payment plan that benefits both parties. It is certainly worth looking into.

Bankruptcy is not always the only option available to you. You should always seek help from experts so that you can find a way out from underneath all of your debt.

 

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Marketers

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

Marketers have become really good at their jobs.  They have convinced people that they can no longer live without certain things, that life is not complete unless they have certain material things.  The marketers have made ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ a way of life for some people.  I have come across a couple of instances recently that illustrate this point quite well.  You’ll have to excuse me if I come across as judgmental.  I don’t begrudge anyone’s choices.  People are free to do as they wish, but I don’t want to hear any complaints when circumstances change and people feel like they don’t have any money.  The first anecdote I’ll talk about is my wife’s college roommate (I’ll call her CR) and the second is a conversation I had with someone at work.

I not sure how exactly how we came to be talking about CR, as my wife’s college reunion was a couple of months ago.  I did learn however that CR’s husband works two jobs and CR also works.  CR has a daughter about the same age as my daughter and has a $400 IPad.  Now, to be fair, my daughter has her own Kindle as well.  I did not buy it for her, nor would I have bought one for her.  Even though the Kindle was only about $100, I don’t consider it a necessity.  It is possible that someone bought the IPad for CR’s daughter.  If that’s the case, then I am being judgmental.  The family is also going to Disney in the next year.  Now, I’m budgeting $10,000 for my Disney vacation, which I’m sure some would consider excessive.  But to me, if you are working 3 jobs as a family, Disney does not sound like something that is affordable.  I should also mention that CR and her husband both have one of the latest smart phones.  Marketers have been highly effective at convincing CR that they cannot live without their products.

My other anecdote comes from a conversation I had with one of the security guards at work.  He is a relatively young guy, probably in his early to mid-twenties.  During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he lived in a 1-bedroom apartment and had both a 60-inch TV and a 40-inch TV.  He lives in this apartment with his girlfriend and his 4-year old son.  I won’t say that someone shouldn’t have a TV, as it can be a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment.  But a 60-inch TV isn’t cheap.  I did a quick search on Amazon and a 60-inch TV can run $900 to $2,000.  I get the appeal of a large TV and I even would like to upgrade mine to a larger version.  I also know that I don’t have enough money to do it.

I wrote before about how it seemed easier for my parents to provide the basics for their 3 kids on a lot less salary than I make now.  Lifestyle inflation has become a way of life.  Everyone now needs the latest smart phone in addition to a home computer.  One TV in the house is no longer the norm.  Now there must be a TV in the living room and a TV in every bedroom.  Along with that, every TV is connected to 150+ cable channels.  It is no wonder that people don’t feel like they have enough money to save for an emergency fund or retirement.  All of their extra money is being spent on what others have deemed to be the new life essentials.  I see these things and wish I could convince people that these things are not the new normal.  Saving for goals and saving for your financial security should be the norm.  Until that time comes, I’ll keep plugging along on my financial path and remind myself that appearances aren’t everything.

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Following the Plan

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

“Follow your plan.” I have told myself that a few times over the last couple of months. The situations that I said that to myself were different, but the saying applied to both. The first situation was during the stock market volatility after the summer and the other was the marathon I ran recently. I listened to myself for one and not the other.

Running My Own Race

I had already completed one marathon before I ran it for the second time this year, so I had an idea of what time I could finish it in. I had run a few other shorter races over the summer and generally felt pretty good. My training plan was similar to last year and I had connected with a group of guys that run together on the weekends.

They are generally faster than I am, but I figure running with them helps me to improve my overall conditioning. So being a numbers guy, my target pace per mile would be about an 8:55 pace. That would have beaten my time from last year by about 10 seconds per mile. As I mentioned before, pacing has been the hardest part for me. This marathon has people that are called ‘Pacers’. Their job is simply to run the race at a set pace and finish at a target time. Unfortunately for me, the pacers weren’t going to be running the exact time I wanted.

The two choices were 8:47 or 9:09. The 9:09 pace wouldn’t work for me, as I felt that was too slow. The 8:47 seemed aggressive and I wasn’t sure if I should try it. Even as the race was about to start, I hadn’t decided if I was going to follow the pacer or not. Once the race began though, I did decide to follow the 8:47 pacer. As I was running, I would check my watch to see how fast I was running. I had set my watch to show me my instant pace. I was seeing times of 8:30, 8:35 and so on. I kept telling myself that I was going too fast, that I needed to slow down, follow my plan. I did not though.

I felt pretty good and was able to stay with the pacer without too much trouble. Then, mile 23 hit. My body hit the proverbial wall and I could no longer maintain the same pace anymore. There was a lot of walking during the last 3 miles. I ended up finishing about two minutes slower than last year with a time just under 4:01. Had I stuck to my plan, I probably wouldn’t have run out of gas. Hopefully, that lesson sticks when I run my next marathon next year. I am already planning for a spring marathon. I don’t want too much time to pace before I can put my learnings into practice.

Less Stress

With my HSA account, the plan has been to only invest the money leftover at the end of the year. The stock market volatility recently had me thinking about deviating from that plan. Since I believe that in the long run, the stock market is going to go up. I was thinking about buying when the market dropped significantly. I have cash sitting in the HSA account that I could have plowed into the market. I was hesitant however. Since I don’t know if the rest of the year will bring any additional medical expenses, I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the cash. Just in case the market dropped even further and I had additional unexpected expenses, I decided to keep the money in cash and wait until the end of the year. I decided to stick with my original plan. The market has since rebounded and there haven’t been any unforeseen medical expenses, but I still content with my decision. Even though I missed out on some potential gains, the added stress was not worth it.

The Knowledge

These two events have reinforced with me that I don’t always need to follow the herd, literally with running and figuratively with my finances. Sure, conventional wisdom says to invest when the market is down, but the price for me in terms of stress was too high. I stuck with my original plan and was able to sleep better as a result. Hopefully, I can follow that voice during my next marathon.

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