Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Goals

I decided to publish this post just before the New Year comes in, so that my last thoughts of the 2018 will be of the goals for 2019. I know a lot of coaches and mentors teach that the goals we set for the year should be thought of and planned towards the end of the previous year; this way, we are ready to hit the ground running once the time comes for us to start acting on those plans.

I am the first to admit that I like spontaneity and I live my days based on the way I feel. If you are like me, you probably can't stick to a plan that covers every moment of your day. I started fighting schedules ever since elementary school, when my mom was trying to make sure my afternoons and evenings were all planned out.

With this said, I am an advocate of setting goals - the bigger the better. I am a strong believer in visualizing my goals and in thinking of them often. I also base my actions on my intuition, which has never let me down. I run the information through my mind over and over until ideas start forming, and then details come forth for those ideas. I also share with my closest friends and family those goals, and talk about them often.

Back in 2016 I read a book by Brian Moran who was talking about setting goals for 12 weeks instead of the entire year, as if that was a year. According to Moran, this will encourage us to stay focused on the goal; what happens with most goals that are annual is that many people lose their focus, on the one hand - others don't really do anything for a long time and then try to catch up in the last weeks or month. Neither scenario is a great one. I must confess that I'm still working with myself on following Moran's strategy. Sometimes I do it, and sometimes it is more of a challenge for me to keep up with it.

Since 2018, it is proving more appropriate for me to use the 12-week year method of Brian Moran. With the BRIL Conference in the first quarter and the last quarter being used to talk to possible sponsors for it, I only have to cover the 6 months in the middle. This is a lot less of a challenge than having to deal with 4 quarters, right? For the 6 months in the middle of the year my main goals are related to my financial services business, and it is important to me to achieve more during these months because the other 6 months I cannot stay as focused on this side of my business.

For those of you who run multiple businesses, it is a good idea to base your 12-week year plans on the cycles of your businesses. Some have cyclical tendencies, and these will dictate which goal to focus on for that specific 12 week period.

As I already mentioned, this first 12-week period of 2019 for me the main focus in my professional world is BRIL Conference. The plan is to promote the event through an email marketing campaign targeting both previous attendees and new prospects, as well as my business contacts who fit into our target market. On top of that we are also running social media campaigns to increase exposure and create a buzz in the Central Virginia area.

And here is the SMART goal for #BRIL2019: to double the number of people in the room from BRIL 2018. With this specific goal, besides the fact that it fits the SMART formula, it also fits within guidelines by Zig Ziglar - "If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?" and "If you don't know where you are, you cannot find a direction to go into."

I would love to hear from some of my readers about their goals for 2019, and also hear about the progress on those goals. Please leave me a comment so we can connect. And, if you are not scared, feel free to share your SMART goals, so I can hold you accountable.

Happy 2019 to everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Stories from the Field - Chapter 12

This is the twelfth post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.

On such an important day of the year, I have some funny stories to share and some important things to discuss. I want to bring to light a subject that may not be at the top of your list but it may be something that nags your subconscious. I remember a story from back in school when we learned that in Britain it was believed in the old days that animals could talk on Christmas. Celebrating the occasion, I want to talk about our fur babies. As a proud cat mama, this topic is very near and dear to my heart.

Quick side note, before going to today's topic: you may want to check into pet insurance. I'm not saying it is something everyone should have. I just believe it is great for some families, one of which was my own (back in 2015 and some before).The main reason to get it would be a pet that can develop serious issues. The rates vary and there are a few companies offering it now. Please do your research before you make a decision.

Main lesson: when making plans for what will happen with your family after you pass away, make sure to include your fur-babies (or feather-babies - whichever applies). If you have underage children (of the human variety) you should have documents in place that provide for their guardianship and their care in case you are not around to take care of them. The same things applies to the four-legged babies. The main difference is the fact that the latter need to be taken care of for the rest of their lives and not just a limited number of years.

When taking care of your estate planning, you need certain documents in place, such as a will, a living will and 2 powers-of-attorney (medical and financial). A more complex and defined alternative (also stronger after you are gone) is a living trust, which includes all of the above. The living trust is a great tool to protect your fur-babies after your passing and it can be set up for a cost that is not prohibitive for most people, though higher than the basic documents. In order to ensure you have the best protection in place, please contact a trusted attorney.

While working with the life insurance company, I met a lot of the four-legged babies of the people we served. Since pet insurance was never something we offered, my stories are more about the pets than about any financial implications on the family's life. For the holidays, this is my gift to you: a smile.

It's already been a few years since I left the life insurance company and I still remember some of the pets I met during the years I was visiting families in the field. They made an impression on me, and to this day I still carry them in my heart. I remember stopping by someone's house and meeting their German shepherd; she seemed so determined to protect her territory that I didn't have the courage to get out of my car. Later, I went back and met the owner and was told that she was very protective of the family and it was possible that she would have attacked me. My gut feeling served me well that day. I still have a lot of respect for her - wherever she may be today.

I also remember another German shepherd (from Norfolk, VA). I met him at a retired police officer's house and the dog himself was a retired police office. I remember how the owner had him in the sun-room and with one word, "stay," the only part of the dog I saw through the door was part of his nose; until he was permitted to come into the kitchen. I was honored to meet my first K9 police officer. I was very impressed and, as you can tell, he made a very long-lasting impression.

A funny story that just came to mind is meeting 3 pets in the same house, 2 dogs and a cat. The lady I met told me the dogs were little when they came into the family as rescues and so the cat had served for a surrogate mother. The big pitbulls were very well behaved and I could tell who the boss was. I remember sitting with the lady on the sofa, while one of the dogs was lying on his bed on the floor and the cat sat next to me. I didn't have any cats at the time, so I felt very special that the cat had come so close. I had already petted both of the dogs with the owner's permission, so I was about to turn around and give the kitty a little bit of love. The lady warned me that the cat is dangerous and she bites; a quick hiss and determined look convinced me of the wisdom of keeping my hand to myself. I remember smiling at the time at the idea that the pitbulls were more tame than the kitty.

Hope I managed to keep my promise and put a smile on your face with these quick memories I shared. If so, please let me know, and I might surprise you again with some more stories about four-legged babies in the near future.

All the best for the the holidays to you and your babies - with or without fur :)

Monday, November 19, 2018

My Stories from the Field - Chapter 7

This is the seventh post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.

We have been talking about situations where people had to come up with money to bury loved ones who didn't have life insurance, as well as instances when I met people who had left behind policies for the family. This time I would like to share 2 situations that come to mind as examples of people who had coverage in place when I met them but it was not the right type of coverage for their needs.

Before sharing their stories, I would like to take a moment to state that I don't advocate for permanent insurance instead of term, any more than I preach for term insurance instead of permanent. I believe that each situation is unique and therefore each person will need something a little different from the next. Rarely are there situations, when it comes to life insurance, where one size fits many - and never all. This is why I always recommend a talk with a licensed professional who can assess the situation and provide a tailored solution that best fits the family's circumstances.

I met John and Mary late one evening while I was in the field, working with life insurance company. They had policies on their grandchildren with the company where I worked - and this is why I met them. During our conversation, they said they were covered through a different company for an amount that they felt was good for them. This was good news for their family. I offered to take a look at their policies, so they would know what they have - usually the average person is not 100% sure of the type of life insurance, and many times they don't even know the exact amount.

Once I saw their policies, I had to tell them that their coverage would become too expensive (to the amount of many hundreds a month that they would not be able to pay over a long period of time). Plus the monthly payment would be higher every year. Mary started crying when she saw the numbers, because they were in their late 50's and John was the only one with an income. By mid-60's this family would have lost their life insurance because the policies they had would become too expensive for their budget. 

This turned into a moment that made me appreciate the position I was in, to be able to help middle-class families have the protection their loved ones need. It was one moment out of many but still over 10 years later, I remember it with a mix of happiness, satisfaction and pride, as well as gratitude for the opportunity I had.

The second situation that I want to share here is Mary's story. She had just turned 50 at the time we met and shared excitedly that she had joined AARP. One of the benefits they offered her was a life insurance policy for a good price - her perception - and she had taken advantage of the offer. We reviewed her policy together and she learned that every 5 years she would have to pay more, with coverage ending at age 85. This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, and this policy can be good for certain situations. Mary's approaching retirement meant that she would lose the policy before 85 due to premiums too high to be affordable for a single woman living off social security and a little pension. Being able to get her into a better place for protection made me appreciate more the opportunity I had, and also reaffirm the responsibility that came with it.

Please remember this:
Having insurance to protect your family is better than having no insurance. The best kind of life insurance is the one that fits your needs. Nothing is set in stone, therefore it can and should be updated periodically, to keep up with what you need. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

My Stories from the Field - Chapter 6

This is the sixth post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.

As we are approaching the holidays, and that is a time to be spent with family, I want to talk about the different obstacles that are in the way of setting up life insurance on oneself - mainly, health issues. I mentioned a few times before that there are medical conditions that determine that a person cannot qualify for life insurance - this is known as decline in insurance lingo (or even autodecline - meaning it is for sure a decline, so there is no point in event sending the info to underwriting) - and this applies to most policies. The only exception are the guaranteed insurance policies, because they do not ask any medical questions.

Growing up in Romania, I only knew of only one elderly lady who had diabetes. I had a notion of what the condition meant but didn't really understand. While working in the life insurance industry, I met quite a lot of people who had diabetes. During my 8 years with a life insurance company that put me in front of many blue-collar workers, I learned that diabetes in pretty common in the US; in my experience about 20-25% of the people I met had it or had someone in the family who had it.

In and off itself, this wasn't a huge problems for the people I met, front the standpoint of the life insurance company, since they could still qualify for policies; as long as they had the condition under control. The challenges came when the people were not as diligent with keeping it in check as they should be. I came across such cases a few times, and I had to tell them they would not be eligible for coverage. This was a tough job because it was something that they could change with a little work.

The saddest moments with this medical condition happened when I met people with type I diabetes, and especially the children of the prospects. In those cases, about 90% of the times they were declined for coverage. It was hard not being able to help. And this made me a believer in life insurance coverage on the children - despite the advice of famous people within the financial industry who preach against it.

With this said, there are rare cases when the child needs a lot of coverage - and there are specific reasons to have that in place. Most cases, I recommended some coverage in place, that would also allow for an increase at a later time, as needed, up to a certain amount, without further proof of insurability (without having to answer medical questions). This advice that I gave in the past by no means applies to every situation and every family. Each situation is different and should be treated as such - with a professional. 

My main reason for sharing this information is that I wish you would all understand the importance of taking care of your health - for many reasons, among which is the ability to protect your family in case of situations that can affect the family emotionally and financially - such as unexpected death.

Just as you cannot buy car insurance after an accident, you cannot purchase life insurance when you need it. It must be in place before you need to make a claim.

Please remember:
Always see a professional for your family's insurance needs. Just like you see a doctor to diagnose and treat your medical conditions, you should talk to an insurance professional that can review your family's needs and advise you appropriately.

Monday, November 5, 2018

My Stories from the Field - Chapter 5

This is the fifth post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.

I'm in a little bit of a melancholic mood today, so I decided to bring up a sad topic. I want to talk about some of my clients who have passed away. It's always sad for the family and loved ones left behind. Financial headaches only amplify the pain. After so many years helping people with life insurance, I am convinced of the importance of this type of protection. I understand how it can help alleviate the headache when at least the financial worries are lessened.

One family that is near and dear to my heart didn't have any life insurance in place when I first met them. I was able to help John and Mary purchase life insurance policies that were to take care of their final expenses, even though Mary had some medical problems, and their income was not regular. They had the wisdom to keep the policies in place over the years, while John got diagnosed with cancer and had a long and hard fight.

Through the tough years and the sad time that came, my heart went out to them. There was also a little light for me, from a professional standpoint: I was able to help this family find some peace of mind and lessen their financial burden. Even though this didn't help on an emotional level, it was still helpful; it gave Mary some stability when John passed away. For someone with very limited income and financial resources, not having to worry about the funeral expenses means the world at such a time. And I'm blessed to be able to play a role in setting this up for them.

The hardest thing I have ever had to do in my years with the life insurance company, was helping a grandfather fill out a claim form when his granddaughter died in a car accident. Knowing that John was suffering, was the only thing that prevented my tears from running down my face as I sat at the table, filling out the claim form. The silver lining in the situation was the fact that the family didn't have to come up with the money for the unexpected funeral arrangements. Even so, it was the hardest thing I had to do, and the one that most proved to me the reason why I need to keep helping people find their financial serenity by creating, protecting and transferring their wealth.

Please remember this:
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the next best time is now." (Chinese proverb) - This goes for life insurance as well. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

My Money Story

Since October is gifting us with a fifth Monday, I decided to share the interview I did for my first podcast episode, when I launched Money Mondays with Sorana. If you prefer the audio version, please check out this and all the other episodes in the player on the right side of the page at the top. Here is the transcript:

1. What is your biggest money accomplishment?  
I think that my biggest money accomplishment is the fact that I have been able to be self-employed for over 10 years now in my adoptive country; and just being able to maintain that, and not having had to depend on anyone for a paycheck, represents an accomplishment that I’m proud of. And for me coming from a background within a blue-collar family that always depended on a paycheck, I think that is a major accomplishment. I am able to sustain my lifestyle and do the things that I want to do and not really depend on a 9 to 5 or a regular steady paycheck. Once I learned about
entrepreneurial ventures and the way they can work in the 

U.S., building my own business became a no-brainer. I’m happy to see the fruits of my labor and to wake up every morning knowing that I’m one step closer to my goals and dreams. 

2.     What is a money memory from childhood that comes to your mind right now?  
Well, growing up, my parents were, like I said, blue-collar. So, they went to work and brought home a paycheck. Back then it actually used to be cash. My mom’s job was to actually give out the wages in her department within the plant. Sometimes she would bring home new bills because since she was giving out the wages, she tried to put those to the side. So, she would take the money I had saved and trade it for new, crispier bills, better looking, prettier ones than I had at that time. And, for me, that was really cool because I liked the new money. Actually, to this day, I like the new bills that have no creases, and I’m still inclined to save them. 
So if I would get any new bills – let’s say instead of what in the U.S. would be five $20 bills, I would get one $100 bill – it would help me save money. I always had some cash stashed somewhere because I liked the feel of new money and I didn’t want to part with it. The newer and the bigger the bill, the better, because I would hold on to it the longest and I would not feel compelled to spend it on trivial things. I guess you could say this was how I learned to save.  
3.     What is your biggest money challenge? (currently or ever) – if past, how did you overcome it?
For me, the biggest thing was coming here (to the U.S.) and having to figure out how things are done in this country. Before coming to the U.S., I didn’t even know what a credit card was. I knew what a mortgage was only because we had one of those when I was growing up (though a lot different set up than here), but not what a credit card was. I didn’t know how those interest rates can cripple your finances for many, many years. So, I learned those lessons: some of them the hard way, some of them from other people. But it was a good lesson to understand all of that.  

My husband (the one I married before coming here, and whom  I’m still married to) is of the opinion that if he didn’t have enough money to pay it off, he would not buy it. And when I first arrived in the U.S. we needed reliable cars – or at least one, since at the time I was not driving. So, we got some clunkers for cars because he didn’t want to have monthly car payments. When I finally decided that was not going to work for me anymore, I had to learn how car financing worked, because he never needed it. So I had to learn on my own.  

We had 7 cars in my first 2 years in the U.S., and that was not because we had a lot of money and we wanted to have 7 cars, but because they were dying. At the time my husband was driving me everywhere. Based on that experience, when I started driving myself, and while having a career that required transportation because of a lot of field work, plus being a woman driving mostly by myself, I had to have a reliable car.

I had to have a car that would not die on the side of the road. That was a big one for me. From my need for reliable transportation, I learned a lot about credit purchases, credit score and credit history. It was quite stressful at the time but also very educational for someone who had no experience with the U.S. credit system. 

4. Share a money lesson you guide yourself by – your money mantra or belief.  
The most significant thing is to make sure that I have some money left at the end of the month. This way I know I’m OK at the beginning of the month. And the reason I’m saying this is because I’m self-employed, and I have to make sure that my months run together smoothly. I don’t know when the next check is coming, so I have to make sure that I have enough money for the next bill. That way, when I get my next paycheck, I have enough for the next bill. So that is my plan. As someone who had been working on commission for many years now, the planning from one check to the next is a little different from the employees with a predetermined amount coming to their bank account every week or every other week. 
I would not say I’m great at budgeting every dollar, but I became really good at establishing priorities and making sure the income went toward necessary expenses before going to unimportant things. Fluctuations in income (as all entrepreneurs can relate to) taught me to classify my expenses in 3 categories: fixed, flexible and discretionary. And this is how I managed my finances. 

5. If money were no object, what would your perfect day look like?  
Well, I’m an animal lover, so I would probably spend it with cats. I know that is not expensive, so it is not about the money, but that is what I would enjoy. I also like traveling so if money were no object, I would travel a lot more than I do now – and I already travel quite a bit. And if money really were no object and I had all the money I needed, I would probably take my cats with me on trips – which would be really interesting.   

I would also go back to Florida and visit the Big Cat Rescue, which is a sanctuary for big cats. And if I could have all the money that I wanted on a regular basis, and not just as a onetime lump sum but as cashflow, I would like to be able to donate to them enough to keep a tiger there. When I was there I learned that it takes about $10,000 per year just to feed the tiger – it doesn’t include housing, medicine, surgeries or whatever they might need. So I would like to literally adopt a tiger there – just feed that tiger for the rest of his or her life. 

Being able to help animals, especially cats big and small, and be a voice for them to enact changes in legislature and people’s behavior is my WHY for working on my business to grow it and make it a financial success. 

      6. Share a goal that you achieved that had a price tag.  
In 2015 I bought a brand-new car. I really needed it because my old one, even though it was still good and working, was kind of old by then. And I was able to buy the car paying it off in cash. That was really awesome because I don’t have to worry about a car note. I have a new car that hasn’t needed
(thank God) any repairs. And probably won’t need any for a long time. I’m a big fan of Corollas. I’m still in the same brand family, nothing fancy. But it is a car that I know I can rely on to take me where I need to go – and I do drive a lot. So I like to know that wherever I need to get, I can get there and I won’t risk dying on the side of the road because of the car failing.  

Achieving this goal was great not for flashy reasons and vanity but for practical reasons and because I wanted to practice what I preach. The new car was a necessity; a luxury vehicle was not. So I took care of what was necessary in setting and achieving my goal.  

For those listeners who want to get a car and cannot pay for it in cash and will have a 5- or 6-year loan, my advice to help pay that faster is to wait a little bit if you can. Look at your credit score and fix whatever you can on your credit report to raise your credit score – if it is not an emergency. If it is an emergency, then, of course, you go ahead and buy. If you don’t need to worry about your credit score, then you can buy. But most people have little bumps and bruises on their credit report. Fix your credit report as much as possible before committing to a purchase with a payment whose size is determined by your credit score. The higher you can get your credit score, the lower your interest and your monthly payments will be.  

Once you get the car, pay a little extra each month (however much you can, without putting yourself in a bind). My first car that I financed, the car I traded in last year, I had a 5-year loan on it. I wanted to pay a little more; so I actually didn’t take the whole 5 years on it. It feels really great not to have a car payment. That is why, though I wanted a new car, I was really determined not to get a new loan, because I knew how good it felt not to have a payment. So, if you can, and there is a way to ask them to put the extra toward the principal, that is what you want to do – make sure that principal goes down. 

7. If you could double your income, what would you do with the extra money?  
At this point, if I doubled my income I think that I’d probably save some of that toward purchasing my dream home. We do own the house where we live, but it is not the dream home. It is the house that we got, and we are glad to have it. It would be great to have a dream home at this time because I don’t want to be retired and cut grass and do maintenance, so by then, I would probably be ready to downsize. Therefore, if I can hurry up and get my dream home now, I can enjoy it for some years until that time comes. That would probably be what I would do with the extra money. And, of course, save some for later, because I’m always planning for my retirement. 
I need to point out that I don’t see retirement as a vegetative state – posing as a couch potato – but as a time when I work because I want to, and not because I have to. I also see retirement as a time when I focus more on giving back – through the charities that I support, and working on changing the world. Just heard the phrase “going from success to significance” recently and it spoke to me; it suggests a time when I would focus exclusively on helping the community, and most of all, the animals I love – without tracking numbers (activity and revenue) for my business. 

8. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you were 21?  
At 21 I graduated from college back in Romania, so I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, other than start a career in the travel industry. I started working for a travel agency that was owned by somebody that I didn’t really respect a lot because he didn’t seem to know what he was doing within the agency. If I could look back from where I am now and talk to myself back then, I would say “Don’t worry about working for these people, because that is not what you are going to do for the rest of your life, so you don’t really need this kind of experience.” But it is funny how we go to school… and actually my degree is in tourism – and I really wanted to work in travel agencies. My goal was to travel to different places and know more about places where I can tell people to travel. And once I moved to the U.S., even though I’m still traveling, I don’t do that for a living. So it is funny that I just am on a totally different career path. I would probably say that it is best to learn as much as you can about the business side of whatever business you are in. 

Even if it is not your own, don’t learn just how to do whatever your job is. Learn how the business is run because if at any point you want to start your own business, that is the number one thing that you are going to use. That is the most important knowledge: be an apprentice of the business, not just the craft. You can then use the knowledge with whatever craft you develop later. 

A lot of people fail in their businesses due to not knowing the business aspect, not because they are not good at whatever their business is. If you are a fantastic baker, you may have the best cupcakes or the best cakes ever, but if you don’t know how to run a business, you can still go bankrupt. Or if you are a good plumber, it doesn’t mean you know how to run a business. So that is probably what I would tell myself: “Learn as much as possible about running the business, not just the activity you are responsible for.” 

9.     What advice would you give a woman just starting her business/career?  
If she hasn’t started the business yet, I would say “Talk to somebody who is in the same business you are interested starting, someone who is already successful in that field, someone you admire and respect. And ask them if you can hang out with them, help them around their office or anywhere in their company and learn how things are run. Offer to be an unpaid intern and see what you can soak up.” You don’t have to do it forever. And don’t look at it like you are just slave labor and you have to work for free and they don’t pay you. But look at it as an opportunity to learn how the business is run. This is an opportunity to learn for free, whereas in college you have to pay for the information. Take advantage of this free education opportunity. 

Like I said, you may be the best baker but you have to have some business acumen. And really the only way to learn it is by soaking up from somebody else who is great at it. Because you can read books and go to school, and the professors can tell you, but ultimately, they are just professors, it is not like they have businesses – some might, but most don’t. 

So, if you talk to whoever you are working with, find a mentor that can guide you. Look for the person that you want to be when you grow up. Find that person, and then try to hang out with them as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Because that will help you learn a lot about how to achieve what they have already achieved. It is an opportunity to learn from the best. 

10. If you could spend 3 days with a millionaire/ billionaire, who would that be and why?  
One of my favorite people is Jon Bon Jovi – I really love his music. I’m not sure if he is really a multimillionaire (many times over) but I know he is very successful and I would love to spend some time with him and see how he runs his companies. If I could hang out with him for 3 days, I think I would learn a lot because it is not just about the fact that he can sing – which he can. Ladies, I hope you agree with me! But he also does have a great business mind.  

I was watching a documentary, and he was calling somebody about setting up a meeting, and they were giving him the runaround. And he said “I am the CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation, I demand that we do this or otherwise I don’t care; I’m not interested.” And at that point I realized that he is absolutely right; he does run a multimillion dollar corporation.

So I would love to learn something from him. I believe he knows what he is doing. Another great point I still remember from the same documentary is him saying “this is not a democracy” – when referring to the Bon Jovi company. I took to heart the idea that someone has to make the executive decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes.  

Monday, October 22, 2018

My Stories from the Field - Chapter 4

This is the fourth post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.

I was thinking about a couple of my clients today. They have been my clients for over 10 years now, and I still remember them; not for the fact that they (like many others) have life insurance policies on themselves and their immediate families, but for the fact that they have purchased life insurance policies through me to protect family members whose funeral expenses they would otherwise have to cover - in these cases siblings, adult siblings. 

Mary has a brother who has never been married, nor has any children. While she is married and has grown-up children of her own, she understands that she will still have to deal with any final arrangements for her brother when the time comes. Knowing that she will be responsible for the final expenses, she made the decision to purchase a life insurance policy with her brother as the insured.

John had been for a couple of years when we talked about his sisters and brother, and how he is the best off, and expected to take charge of any final arrangements when anything happens. Out of his 4 siblings, only one has a grown child, while the rest have no spouses, nor children. John feels that he should have coverage in place for his siblings because they have not taken care of it themselves, and he knows they will look to him to take charge of the expenses when one of them dies. Even with a spouse with special needs, John feels it will fall on him to take care of the final arrangements for his siblings if they pass before him. So he chose to pay under $200 per month for all 4 of them, in order not to have to come up with the entire amount to cover the funeral expenses.

Mary has a sister who has never been married and has no children. Mary is now retired and has an income that allows her to live comfortably, while her sister never really had a steady job. She decided to make sure her sister has life insurance in place, so that she wouldn't have to borrow money for the funeral, should her sister die before her. She also made arrangements with her adult daughter to take over the policy, in case she predeceases her sister; she knows her daughter would be left to take care of the aunt. 

In these cases (as in many others), it is easier for the sibling who will have to be in charge of the final arrangements, to pay a small amount every month - usually (at least for my clients) under $50 per month - rather than come up with $10-12,000 for the funeral. This is how much a funeral costs now in the Richmond, VA area for an average funeral - not the cheapest, but certainly not fancy. These particular policies are not meant to make the surviving sibling rich by any means, they are simply meant to provide enough money to cover final expenses. In the examples above, the coverage is of around $10,000 on each person.

Please remember this:
Dinner conversations about funeral expenses may be uncomfortable but they can bring peace of mind. If you find out your siblings or parents have no money or policies to cover final expenses, you may want to consider purchasing life insurance on them - unless you can cover the expense from other sources.