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Why parents invest in life & health first

By Jill Kerby, Personal Finance Journalist

 

There are so many things to fret about when you become a new parent. The sense of responsibility for a new human life can be overwhelming and unrelenting, as they grow up and their needs become even more complicated.

As older parents with no experience of younger siblings, I can admit my husband and I felt totally out of step. A shelf full of baby guides provided lots of helpful advice and we hung on every word our friends told us about feeding, sleeping, bathing, even breathing. ‘The Child’ (now 24) flummoxed us at every turn, but like all new parents, we coped and so did he.

Most parents will agree, time passes quickly too. The years between their first day at school and their leaving cert goes in the blink of an eye. And, while there are a million and one things to pay for in-between, it’s important not to get so caught up in the now that you forget about the future and make plans to protect your children’s financial security, should anything happen to you.

No one likes to consider that possibility, but starting a family should be a catalyst for a conversation with a financial adviser – an opportunity to review your life and health insurance and put a will in place, if you haven’t already got that ball rolling.

Invest in your life and health insurance first

Kid on mom's back

A straightforward life insurance policy with a clear term is a must, ideally one that covers your children’s adolescence and education. And, if you can supplement that with any occupational ‘death in service’ benefit you employer might offer, all the better.

We doubled the value of our existing life cover when our son was born and extended the term to coincide with what we estimated would be the end of his third-level education.

Adding the baby to your health insurance cover is a no brainer and as a freelancer, I took out a modest income protection policy too, just in case. It was a belt and braces approach, but we were determined to help prevent any loss of income and wanted to be prepared for any illness or premature passing, that could make family life a struggle.

Some of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard were those of widows or widowers who had to deal with the loss of their partner on top of the financial chaos that followed when they realised, all too late, just how little life insurance and mortgage protection they had in place.

Costs vary, so shop around

Kid in cart

As a personal financial journalist, I’ve always been an advocate of saving and investing from the moment you start earning, no matter how small the amount. Time and compounding interest can transform small but consistent saving plans into funding machines for everything from a child’s first school uniform to college fees. If you can afford to, putting your monthly child benefit payment into a post office account or a regular investment plan, is an excellent idea. But, before you head down that road, I believe every new parent needs to invest in their own life and health first.

The good news is life insurance is a lot more affordable today than you might think. You can compare online quotes and providers in minutes and the younger you are, the cheaper the premium generally, so there’s incentive for starting early. How we choose to protect ourselves and our family is very personal and everyone has different priorities, but I’ve never regretted the amount my husband and I spent on health insurance or the life cover that thankfully, we’ve never had to claim.

Like every parent, I still have a few sleepless nights worrying about my boy, but the insurance policies we set up when he was just a nipper; have allowed us to enjoy 24-years financial peace of mind. Even if he has never truly understood the lengths we went to, to protect him. That probably won’t sink in until he does the same for his own kids someday, but that’s a whole other story.

Irish Life provide life insurance, pension and investment plans and recommend getting professional financial advice before making financial decisions.

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If you’re thinking about investing, why not check out our 101 Investment blog Series starting with "#1 Understanding Investing."