Cal­cu­late the cost of a life

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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