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Life Insurance: The First Step

life insurance and money

As you read this, know two things. First, I'm going to discuss life insurance (don't stop reading!). Second, I'm looking for a single commitment from you ... more on that in a moment. But rest easy, there's no money involved!

When I left the Army, I settled on a career in financial planning because I liked the idea of helping people. And I have to say, I've truly enjoyed the journey. However, if there's one topic within financial planning that I've seen generate the most angst, uncomfortable moments and downright hostility, it's life insurance. Want to see what I mean? Just bring up life insurance with your friends or neighbors, read financial blogs, or browse articles and books on the topic, and it'll become clear. It's an emotional topic for sure. Today, though, I'm going to steer clear of that and focus instead on what I believe is the single most important question with respect to life insurance: How much do you need?

Now to that commitment I mentioned earlier. I'd urge you to do this: Carve out a few minutes -- at the risk of offending our crack legal team, I'll guarantee it won't take longer than 30 minutes -- and determine what you need and how that stacks up against what you've got. Here are some things that can typically drive a life insurance need:

  • Financial support for spouse and kids
  • Funeral expenses
  • Debts to be paid off
  • College funding or other goals for survivors

A surprising number of folks are out there walking around with spouses, kids, mortgages, and no life insurance. That's indefensible and it's a gap that needs to be filled. But, the first step is to see where you stand. To answer the question, "How much do you need?" use a calculator like this one at the VA website, and as our CEO Joe Robles likes to say, "Do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do."

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USAA, a diversified financial services organization, is the leading provider of competitively priced financial planning, insurance, investments, and banking products to members of the U.S. military and their eligible families. Rated among the highest among financial services companies for customer advocacy in a Forrester Research survey, USAA provides convenient and accessible financial products to its more than 9 million members. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about membership, visit

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