Calculate the cost of a life
Being left in sole charge of two young girls for 31⁄ weeks by my wife has left me considering the price I should put on her head.
I could have phrased that better. Let me try again.
Being left alone in sole charge of two young girls for 31⁄ weeks by my wife who has gone overseas for work has left me with a new appreciation of how much she does for me and the girls and how lost we would be without her.
Her absence prompted me to wonder afresh about how I would cope without her long term.
The answer is pretty simple. Without having access to rather a lot of money, life as we know it would come to an end.
You see, a wife, or a husband (or whatever legal equivalent you may be) makes life tick when you have kids, and it’s hard to hold it all together on your own.
Kids bring many joys but also great responsibility. You want to raise them right. You want to teach them well. You want them to feel the freedom and joy of life.
You want to be able to buy them the things they need to grow and develop. You want them to spend time with you.
Two working parents (the norm in this country of ludicrously high house prices) make this more or less possible.
Take one away permanently and there is a sudden urgent need for money.
First of all: one salary is gone. That’s a blow, a big blow if there is still a mortgage to pay or rent to find every week. Having life insurance on each parent sufficient to pay off the mortgage or meet the rent payments for a decent period of years is most people’s bare minimum level of life insurance cover.
After all, the last thing you’d want to do to your grief-stricken kids is have to move them to a new, cheaper house or more downmarket rental, especially if that brings a shift of school.
But even with a debt-free house, adjusting to life on one income may prove hard. It may also be costly.
Before and after school care is the norm for many kids now. Two professional parents juggling their hours can manage to keep the need for it low.
Being a solo working dad or mum means footing the bill for more of that childcare on a much reduced income.
Any insurance adviser will tell you I have only begun to scratch the surface here: cleaners cost money, so does lawnmowing. There are little matters like the kids’ education fund, KiwiSaver contributions. What about the annual holiday, your medical insurance, school contributions, and so on? The list is long.
They’ll soon be suggesting you insure the Mrs/Mr (delete where applicable) for a sum large enough to replace her income for a period of years.
Some may suggest replacing the income for long enough to see the kids through school or even uni.
There’s merit in that approach for those who can afford it.
Those who cannot need to work out what level of cover they can afford.
Each partner must decide on the price to put on the other’s head, just in case the worst happens.