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There are numerous areas that a financial plan needs to cover to provide financial security for you and your family. A few of the major areas are:

  • Emergency funds
  • Life insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Disability income insurance
  • Saving for retirement, etc.

There are two rules of thought regarding financial planning and how much insurance and what type of insurance you should purchase:

1. “decide which goals will take priority and work toward the lesser goals only after the really important ones are well provided for“, and

2. Spread your funds to provide at least some protection to each of the major areas of need, or expressed another way “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.

I was surprised to read the first opinion expressed by a CNN Money Advisor as if it was the one and only answer to the financial security conundrum. I believe the answer depends largely on you and your situation, and in fact for the most part I subscribe to the second rule of thought. Here’s why:

It is rare that someone just beginning the process of financial planning is able to immediately meet even one of their major goals right away, such as having an emergency fund to meet six months of family expenses or purchasing the maximum amount of life insurance truly needed. But, if one is able to, let’s say, purchase a sufficient amount of life insurance, or purchase an adequate disability policy, but cannot do both, then Murphy’s law is bound to apply; in the case that you purchased the life insurance, you will become disabled, and in the case that you purchased the disability policy, a meteor will fall from the sky landing on you, and only you.

On the other hand, if you are employed with a company that offers a wide array of benefits, it may be worthwhile to sign up for the lowest amount of disability insurance and life insurance, even if it means you cannot put as much into a retirement plan. Remember, regardless of your health or employment situation you can put away into a retirement plan. It does not require you to qualify. However, if any factor such as your health, age, or employment changes, you may not be able to purchase life or disability insurance no matter how much money you have in your emergency fund or in your retirement plan.

This is not meant to question the wisdom of contributing as much as possible to a retirement plan (something you definitely want to do), especially when your employer is matching the contribution amount, but it just illustrates why I believe you shouldn’t necessarily feel that you need to complete one goal before starting another.

Again, I believe that each situation is different and that it is the job of the advisor to inform and explain to the client about the options available and the benefits and drawbacks of each, while it is the client’s job to decide which option best fits his/her circumstance.

Anyway, as always, we are interested in your comments. Do you agree? Disagree? Or is there something else on your mind?

Let us know. We are listening.

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