Tag Archives: Life Insurance

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

From Rick Kahler

Life insurance is an important financial planning resource. However, it is not meant as a source of income. Its primary purpose is to provide the means to replace income or to pay taxes or debts.

Not everyone needs life insurance. Once you determine that you do, the next big question is how much is appropriate.

Here is one way to help answer that question. It is not a formula, but a very rough checklist to help you estimate your individual insurance needs. For couples, I suggest separate lists. Not all of the information will be the same for each spouse.

First, list the following: Continue reading

Insurance Industry Should Protect Itself From BYOB Schemers

It’s impossible for a financial columnist to please all of the readers all of the time. My recent column criticizing the Be Your Own Banker scheme drew the ire of several fans of whole life insurance. Two of them in particular, in a letter to the editor and a guest editorial published in the Rapid City Journal, disparaged my integrity, my professional qualifications, and my math skills.

Part of the problem is that these readers interpreted my warning about BYOB, which I called “one step from being a scam,” as an attack on whole life insurance in general. That was not the case.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of whole life as an investment. The purpose of life insurance, in my view, is not to provide retirement income or cash value, but to replace income when someone dies. For most people, the best and cheapest way to do this is through term life insurance. Obviously, someone who sells insurance will have a different opinion.

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BYOB? Don’t Join This Party.

BYOB—or not.

I’m not inviting you to a “bring your own beverage” party. I’m warning you away from a get-rich scheme called “Be Your Own Banker.”

This idea has floated around the Internet and late-night television for a while now. One of the latest versions is touted on a website that I’m not going to name because I don’t want anyone getting sucked into what is essentially one step from being a scam.

Once you drill down past the initial layers of ambiguity, the basic concept seems simple enough. You buy a large whole-life insurance policy. After you pay into it for several years, it will accumulate a cash value. Then, any time you make a major purchase like a new car, you can borrow against your insurance policy instead of going to a bank.

According to the people selling this concept, you are the big winner here because you’re paying interest to yourself, not the bank.

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