Photo by Jon Eckert on Unsplash
Millions of working parents do the daily hustle and grind just to put food on the table. Many only get to play with their kids during weekends, while others have to endure months or years away from their little ones as they finish job contracts abroad.
But old age and death – being a part of life – should put all this in perspective. Aging, sickness, and tragedies show us that we are human, fragile, limited, and time-bound. Death often comes at a time people least expect. It can have devastating impact on a family, especially for young children or those with vulnerable conditions because they are dependent on parental care.
How can we prepare our loved ones for the inevitable?
As responsible parents, here are four ways to prepare for the future so that when the inevitable happens, its adverse effects on our family can be minimized.
Prepare for your retirement
We may be enjoying our jobs today, but there will come a time when we’ll be too old and too fragile to perform at the same level of work we are now in. Some people do nothing, believing their adult children will take care of them later on. But this is not a wise way to prepare for old age.
We cannot guarantee that our adult children will have enough funds later to finance both their family’s needs and our needs in old age. While it is a blessing when children support their parents in old age, wise parents set aside all the resources they can so that after retirement they can still provide for their basic needs. We should then prepare for retirement by setting aside resources to help us manage our needs after we retire from active work.
Nowadays, people prepare for retirement by saving and investing money in government pension funds and personal endowments. These retirement funds, however, are dependent on the performance of the financial market. In the 2007-2008 crisis, many retirement funds lost value as markets around the world crashed. Hence, entrusting our future to funds susceptible to the ups and downs of the financial market is not a good way to retire.
Here’s some tips to remember when preparing for retirement:
- Consult a financial planner who can give you objective advice on where to invest money.
- Don’t invest majority of your money in the financial market. Invest more in skills which can make you productive even after retirement.
- Simplify your retirement plan. No one can fool-proof the future, but simplicity allows room for faith in the One who holds tomorrow in the palm of His hand.
Get life insurance
The loss of a breadwinner creates financial difficulties for the surviving members of the family. Suppose the father has a regular job that pays for 80 percent of the family’s living expenses. His death means that the bereaved family has to survive on the income that covers the remaining 20 percent until they are able to find another income source to augment what was lost. Financial recovery can take a long time, and without ample savings, a family can end up deep in debt or be forced into unwanted situations just to sustain their basic needs. They can be forced to do things like sell the family home or transfer the kids to a less expensive but poorly managed school.
To prevent these things from happening, every breadwinner needs to get life insurance coverage. This is a legitimate financial product available in the market where a guaranteed amount of money will be given to beneficiaries when the plan holder dies.
Here’s some tips to remember when getting life insurance:
- Get insured now while you are still young and healthy. Life insurance premiums are cheaper when the applicant is less than thirty years of age and has no health problems.
- Shop for your life insurance policy. Compare products, prices, and company credibility.
- Get the cheapest life insurance product available in the market which can give the highest possible insurance coverage, from the most reputable life insurance companies in the industry.
- Never falsify information. There’s a two-year contestability clause which can invalidate the insurance policy once misrepresentation is proven.
Secure a memorial plan
At the time of death, the bereaved family can get overwhelmed by sorrow and taking charge of memorial arrangements can add to their stress and fatigue. Getting a memorial plan from a reputable pre-need company can address this problem. A decent memorial plan can cost less than Php1,000 per month, payable for five years. At the time of the plan-holder’s death, the pre-need company makes sure that all arrangements stated in the memorial plan are carried out.
Here’s some tips to remember when getting a memorial plan:
- Check the background of the pre-need company.
- Shop around for memorial plans.
- There’s usually a one-year contestability period for memorial plans. If the applicant dies within that period, the plan will not take effect. Hence, it is wise to get a memorial plan as early as possible.
Furnish a will
A will is a legal document, signed by the testator (person making the will), that specifies how his or her estate (net worth of assets left behind by a person after death) should be distributed to their legal heirs. It also indicates instructions for handling these resources. But is a will really needed?
While it is good to think that our children will never get into a fight over money and property issues, even the most loving siblings get into conflict with each other when it comes to deciding what to do with their parents’ inheritance. Formerly harmonious relationships between children turn sour because of conflicting interests in the assets left behind. Without a will, legal heirs are left unprepared and confused on how to handle the estate.
Here’s some tips to remember when furnishing a will:
- Prepare a will the moment you get your first property.
- Consult an attorney to make sure all your interests are legally addressed in the will.
Keep your love up to date
We’ve talked about material resources, but preparing for the inevitable is not just about monetary issues. Part of our responsibility as parents is to make the most of our time and show love to our family in the present.
Avoid consuming all your strength and energy at work so you can spend more time with your spouse and kids. Be present in all the important milestones in their lives. Show them appreciation, even though they do not meet your personal expectations.
A big part of loving our children is equipping them with basic skills needed in life so that they will become productive and responsible adults even when we are gone.
Accomplishing all of these things might seem a like daunting task – given our limited time and resources – but God is a loving Heavenly Father who is in control of everything even the future of our family. He can give us the grace to be responsible parents and we can trust Him to take care of our family when it is time for us to go.
Dennis A. Dawal is a Registered Financial Planner. He is a speaker, lecturer, and writer on personal finance and retirement planning.