by Dr. Boyce Watkins
I was thinking this morning about someone I know who was a drug dealer with a lot of money. He took pictures on Facebook with hands full of cash and had “all gold everything”: Teeth, chains, rings, etc. He also tried to be a good father. He took pictures with his kids and did what he could to take care of them. Whether it was the latest Jordans or the slickest outfits, his kids never really wanted for anything.
Then, one day, the father was murdered in broad daylight by a rival drug dealer. The problem was that he must have thought he was going to live forever, because he had no plans for his death: No will, little savings, few assets and no life insurance. His family was entirely dependent upon him, but now their primary source of income was in a grave.
When it came time to bury the man, his famiy couldn’t afford to do it. So instead, they had to beg their friends and relatives and hold a fundraiser. Also, his children were destitute and homeless within no time and the landlord had little sympathy when he delivered the eviction notice. The mother of his kids was doing fine when she had a provider, but had a very difficult time maintaining the old standard of living, now that her boyfriend was gone.
When I heard this story, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t that dude buy life insurance? Doesn’t he love his family enough to want to make sure they are provided for in the event of his untimely death?”
It’s not as if this guy didn’t know that there were hazards to his profession. Even if he’d gone to prison instead of being killed, the feds would have seized nearly everything, once again hurting his family financially. My conclusion is that a person who doesn’t prepare for their family’s financial future really doesn’t love their children. No man or woman, in their right mind, would leave their kids in such a condition.
The problem is that we see this happen every single day. We see that person who is doing really well financially, at least on the surface. They’ve got the nice cars, nice clothes, Gucci bags, and all the other worthless trappings of a financially-extravagant existence. But when it comes to the “grown-up” things that a person needs to do to secure their financial life, all of that is put on the backburner.
The “news flash” here is that you’re not going to live forever. Another shocker is that you might die before you expect to do so. If you are a primary provider for your children (especially a single parent), it is CRITICAL that you make sure there are preparations in place in the event that you’re carried to your maker before you expect.
When my late beloved grandmother Felicia died, I was devastated. I didn’t think about the fact that I was super-blessed to have a grandmother in my forties. I just thought about how much I was going to miss her. I also thought about how this woman was literally my first finance professor and had taught me about money long before I got my PhD in Finance.
I also noticed that, when it came to financial planning, this woman held it down like no other: She “only” had an Associates Degree and never made more than $25,000 per year, but she never had to borrow money from anyone. She owned property, had thousands saved, had perfect credit and never had to ask for help. People who made four times her income would have to come to her to borrow money.
What impacted me the most is the way my grandmother even went out like a champ. When the lung cancer hit her like a violent storm in the middle of the night, she stood strong and accepted her fate. Her insurance and financial situation had been fully accounted for. Her other arrangements were also in perfect order, all the way down to the Louisville Cardinal red dress that she expected to be buried in. It was from this woman that I learned what a smooth transition to the afterlike is supposed to look like. It’s not supposed to consist of massive debts, car washes and fundraisers being dropped upon those who are already trying to recover from a tragic loss. Instead, your loved ones should move forward financially because you’ve passed on, not backward.
Maybe it’s time to change the formula. I suggest to those who care that you take the time to evaluate your life insurance setup, to make sure that a) your family has enough money to bury you if you die, and b) your children have enough money to feed themselves, keep a roof over their heads and go to college. You also want to make it clear who will receive what assets after you’re gone. You don’t want your loved ones to end up hating each other because they can’t figure out who gets to keep the house.
The bottom line: You’re not going to live forever. Plan your life that way. Your family is depending on you to do it.
If you’re looking for a black business to support in your quest to add to your life insurance policy, Yolanda Spivey is the CEO of Michael Whitney and Associates. This is where I went to upgrade my policies once I left the Syracuse University plantation. Feel free to check it out.