WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2016
Landing your dream job, or your dream internship. Moving to a new city. Embarking on a torrid love affair (or three?). Meeting the love of your life. Buying your first house, or saving up for it. Finishing your first marathon. There are so many possible bucket list items to complete in your 20s, and establishing a life insurance policy is probably not one that ranks very high on many such lists.
But could your 20s, in fact, be the best decade to purchase a policy? Many financial experts—and a host of prudent 20-somethings with their own policies in hand—say absolutely yes. Here’s why.
Buy Early, Save More
Buying something just because it’s cheap isn’t usually great consumer advice. But what about buying something you’ll eventually need because it’s much cheaper than it will be later? While buying life insurance might be the farthest thing from your mind during your freewheeling 20s, it could be the most economically strategic time in your life to invest in a policy.
Before taking the plunge, however, you’ll want to make a detailed analysis of your individual situation before you navigate the all-too-often overwhelming variety of policies that exist.
First things first: do you actually need life insurance? While that may sound like a metaphysical question, it’s a purely practical one that you can probably easily answer. For most adults who were born prior to the Reagan administration, that answer is a resounding yes. But for 20-somethings who can’t claim any dependents on their tax returns, are unmarried, or don’t have relationships that would be negatively impacted by their untimely demise, buying life insurance might not be a logical move.
If your inventory of those who financially depend on you comes out to zero, you’re hardly alone. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, it’s not simply that increasing numbers of Millennials are not getting married in their 20s or 30s. It’s that they’re also delaying commitment and cohabitation of the not-legally binding variety: the number of 18 to 29-year-olds who reported that they were single and not living with anyone increased from 52% in 2004 to 64% just a decade later.
In fact, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, only one in three Millennials can claim to be the head of their own household—a huge departure from generations past. For those in this ever-growing group, life insurance might simply not count as a top priority. An obvious exception, of course, is single young adults who have children.
Millennials are notoriously spoiled for choice, prizing flexibility and options over security and the status quo. That attitude extends from the instant gratification of Tinder to financial decision-making. After all, if you’re not settling for love, why would you settle on insurance? While it’s tempting to go with the first Google hit of an insurance agent whose address just happens to show up first—probably just because they’re 0.02 miles from your current location—resist going with the path of least resistance. Just like online dating, it pays to shop around.
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