Do I Have to Pay to Appreciate Them?

This note was in my son’s folder at school today:

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 5th – 9th

If each family donates $20.00, we can make it a GREAT TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK for all the teachers here at C___ C___.

The money will be used to buy: Breakfast, Lunch, gifts, cards & more. Please place $20.00 cash into B____ M____’s folder ASAP!

All money needs to be collected by May 2.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

I don’t have an issue with announcing that it’s Teacher Appreciation Week. I didn’t know, and it’s always a good idea to acknowledge people.

Still, several things bother me about this request. And it’s not just about this particular request, and it’s not about the teachers. Its about office group gifts and family group gifts and a general shift to doing things out of obligation, not because we really want to.

I hate that these days appreciation equals cash. To me showing appreciation is making a personal gesture to thank someone for doing a good job, or showing extra care, or going the extra mile. Giving cash is, to me, the most impersonal of gifts. It seems to say, “you’re not worth the time or effort for me to either figure out something you’d really enjoy,” or, “you’re not worth the time or effort to give you something of myself.” That’s why I hardly ever give cash. That said, I know lots of people like getting cash and gift cards, including me. I’m not saying anyone should never give cash, but it should be the choice of the giver.

I also don’t like the note practically mandating a $20.00 donation. Especially when gas is now $3.67 a gallon, and milk is about the same. And when my grocery bill went up 25% this month and Husband’s income didn’t. Perhaps for some people $20.00 is too much, but $10.00 would be doable. No mention is made of a lesser contribution, and no telephone number is included for questions.

And if I do decide to contribute cash, I’d like the gift to be not quite so complicated. The money will be used to buy: Breakfast, Lunch, gifts, cards & more.?” What, are we sending them to Club Med? If we’re going to give cash then let’s give them cash, or a gift card to Target or Barnes and Noble or Outback even Publix. Heck, they’re having to pay the same high prices for food and gas that we are.

And why must everything be a group gift? I really dislike group gifts, unless it’s to pitch in for a really expensive gift that I know the recipient would love to have.

I would like this occasion’s gift to be more personal. So I’m going to bake my World Famous Banana Bread and write each of the two teachers a nice note thanking them for investing themselves in Son. I’m pretty sure they’ll feel appreciated.

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Deal of the Day April 30, 2008

Okay, crafty people. This one’s for you…

Michaels celebrates Teacher Appreciation Day by offering this printable coupon, which takes 20% off an entire purchase. Redeem on craft, floral, framing, general crafts, and home decor items. Its one of the best deals I’ve seen from Michaels! Expires 05/10/2008.

And special thanks to all of the teachers out there!

Let the crafting begin!

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Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

Why Life Insurance for Kids Isn’t Always a Bad Idea

While making the rounds of the carnivals I came across an article called Kids Don’t Need Life Insurance posted by Mom over at Wide Open Wallet.

I knew before I clicked on the link that I was going to disagree with the article, but that’s to be expected. After all I was an insurance agent for many years. I don’t think that makes me biased towards insurance; I think it makes me an informed consumer. I was never one to sell a policy just to make a commission, and I only sold (and bought) what I felt were the best policies we offered.

I’d seen other posts on this topic, and I always leave a comment with the opposing point of view. Before I’d even clicked on Mom’s link I’d decided to finally write my own article about it, so when Mom e-mailed me and asked me to either write a guest post or write my own article this post was already halfway written. A fait accompli’.

Mom’s article specifically mentions the Gerber Life policy. Yes, we all get inundated with brochures from them almost from the moment that our children are nothing more than a twinkle in our lovestruck eyes.

The Gerber Life policy isn’t the policy I’d buy. I’m going to address two of the reasons Mom wasn’t fond of it, but that aren’t specific to the Gerber policy…

So, yes, I respectfully disagree that kids don’t need life insurance. Sure, most kids don’t neeeeeed it, and we hope and pray that they never will. A lot.

Still, I purchased a policy for my son at birth. Why? Husband has diabetes, and I had bad allergies (that my doctor now says is mild asthma). These two illnesses are hereditary. Those with a family history of diabetes, asthma and other health issues face higher rates for life insurance, sometimes significantly. Depression, anemia and even seemingly mild conditions can also lead to higher life insurance rates. Heck, I wonder if gene testing will one day be a part of life insurance underwriting…

Mom wasn’t impressed with the uninsurability issue. She says,

“Another stated benefit is that between the ages of 21 and 28 the child has the option to double the amount of their policy no questions asked. Which means that if they are uninsurable because of a disease they can still get life insurance. First off, it’s highly unlikely that at age 21 they will be ill enough to be uninsurable.

Insurability is, to me, the most important reason to buy life insurance for your children. Its not just about being able to get life insurance, its also about how much they’ll have to pay to get it. Parents can help their child avoid having to pay substandard rates for life insurance if they are unlucky enough to develop any of those or a brazilian other medical conditions.

My son started showing signs of Reactive Airway Disease, the precursor for Asthma, at two months old. He’s been hospitalized and on nebulizers and/or other lovely medications ever since. Now he’s nearly four, and it seems to be full-fledged asthma. Thank goodness it’s under control.

I’d still have bought the policy for the insurability protection even if we didn’t have the family history we have. Even if he never benefited from it. I hoped he wouldn’t.

Mom also said,

“And secondly, even if they double their coverage, it still isn’t very much life insurance.”

True with the Gerber policy. But they’re not the only game in town.

The policy I bought for my son is a whole life policy (more on that in a minute) with a base benefit of $25,000 and includes a $25,000 guaranteed insurability option that allows him to purchase an additional $25,000 coverage at eleven different ages (17, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, 40, 43, 46 & 49, AND and he can “trade” his next option to increase coverage when he marries, AND a few other perks like automatic 90 day term riders for his kids as they’re born…) without having to prove he’s still healthy. That adds up to $325,000 coverage. Yes, he’d have to pay for the additional coverage if he chooses to purchase it (and it doesn’t have to be whole life; he can choose term), but he’d pay standard rates, not the much higher rates he’d be paying otherwise.

About whole life insurance, Mom says,

One advertised benefit of baby life insurance is that it’s a whole life policy. Which means that it doesn’t expire like term life does. Most financial planners avoid whole life policies even for adults. You pay more for whole life because some of your payment is invested which builds the cash value. Financial planners argue, and I agree, that you should pay less for the life insurance and invest your money yourself.

I don’t mind whole life insurance as an adult as much as most financial planners do, and in fact I have one. Taking them out when you’re an adult can be very, very expensive indeed, but the premiums never go up. And, if the policy performs well, you may at some point be able to stop paying the premiums. But when the policy is purchased as a child the rates are very low. There’s something to be said for a diversified portfolio, too.

Also, I’ve always thought that having a small whole life policy that’s taken out when you’re a child is a good base for an adult life insurance program later in life. You can supplement the small whole life policy with term when you’re raising a family and paying a mortgage (when you need a high death benefit with the lowest possible premium). When you no longer need the large death benefit you can let the term lapse and then you have that lovely little policy your parents or grandparents got you as a child, and that can see most people through the balance of their lives. It always made sense to me…

The policy I have on myself is the same one I have on Son. The premiums are payable for only ten years and then the policy is guaranteed paid up forever (watch out for ones that don’t say “guaranteed paid up”). Of course the premiums are higher, but we save money by paying them annually. After ten years we’ll stop paying, and he will have the policy forever. At less than $300 for the year it doesn’t break the bank. Son will only have to pay more if he increases the coverage by exercising his guaranteed insurability option.

If you don’t want the whole life, or if you want to pay less, many adult term policies offer children’s Term Riders for just a few dollars a month. You can’t get the guaranteed insurability option that way, but most companies will allow the children to spin off their own policies when the rider expires (usually at age 18 or 21).

Of course most children aren’t going to develop serious illnesses, and thank heavens for that. But I knew there was a likelihood that he would develop asthma, and I feel as a parent that I made the right decision for my son.

Sure, I know we could take that $3000 and invest it for him and with the power of compounding he’d have a brazilian dollars by the time he’s ready to retire. Son may or may not choose to exercise the options, or he may cash it in and take a trip to Bora Bora.

What you really buy with any kind of insurance is peace of mind. Buying life insurance on my son gives me peace of mind that he’ll have options. That, for me, is well worth the premiums.

~

The preceding information is not advice, it’s just my thoughts and opinions. I’m just a girl on the web, not currently licensed in insurance or anything else in any state. You should absolutely seek the counsel of an insurance agent and/or a mortgage professional licensed in your state before taking any action at all. Coverages and programs discussed may or may not be available in your state.

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These New Related Links Are Right On the Money…

WordPress has started placing links at the end of our posts in an effort to promote other blogs.

I wrote the post Wish I Had Some Pretend Money, about my son and a lesson he learned about money.

Apparently WordPress thinks these links are possible related:

Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

I’m afraid to even click on that third one…

If you’d like to remove this lovely option from your blog do the following:

  • Go to your dashboard.
  • Click on “Design”.
  • Click on “Extras”.
  • Click on “Hide related links on this blog, which means this blog won’t show up on other’s blogs or get traffic that way”.

Yeah.  That would be the one to click.

Deal of the Day April 29, 2008

Yes, it’s two ice cream deals in a row. I’m going to post it extra-early to make sure everyone sees it in time to take advantage…

Stop by your local Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop today during Free Cone Day and get yours. It’s their way of thanking everyone for 30 great years. Chunky Monkey here we come! Valid 04/29/2008 only.

No, you don’t have to thank me.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Monday Evening Linklet

The carnivals were packed with great articles this week. Thanks to all the hosts for doing the work. I can’t imagine the time it takes.

Here we go…

The Festival of Frugality hosted at On Financial Success included my article I am a Stay at Home Mom. Here’s How I Finagled My Finances to Make It Happen. I really hope that other men and women who want to stay at home can find a way to do so.

Also check out:

I just love the Carnival of Money Stories. I love reading everyone’s personal stories. It was hosted at Can I Get Rich on a Salary and included my article Am I Getting Smaller or Is Furniture Getting Bigger?

Some other great stories this week:

  • Single Guy Money depresses me a bit with his post Handling My Finances in a Slow Economy,but he’s making some smart choices. Saving money doesn’t have to mean not socializing, and I think he and his friends have come up with a great frugal solution.
  • How I Saved Over 3,000$ In One Hour is an article I obviously HAD to read. The Personal Financier really knows how to title an article! Refinancing is certainly worth looking into, especially since this stupid sub-prime fiasco and the ensuing housing market debacle has screwed up our plans royally. Nah, I’m not bitter.

The Carnival of Personal Finance was hosted at The Happy Rock this week, and included my article How I Use My Bank Accounts to Manage My Bills and Save, Save, Save. That’s two weeks in a row I remembered to submit. I’m on a roll!

As usual there’s tons of great information there. I particularly liked:

Too much money talk makes my head spin. Things lightened up for me when I wrote How Men Hang Curtains, and I’m happy it was included in the Carnival of Family Life April 21st 2008 Edition hosted at Vanilla Joy.

Other readworthy articles:

That’s it until next week.  And I won’t spoil the suspense about whether or not I remembered to post to this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance .  Tune in next week, (or read the carnival, as it’s already up) to find out!

Wish I Had Some Pretend Money

Son is nearly four and has just recently started asking me to buy him things. Last week we were at the airport waiting for some relatives and he eyed the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk a few feet away.

“I want a donut!” was out of his mouth before the kiosk even registered in my subconscious.

“You do?”

“Yes!”

I looked at him and asked, “Well, do you have any money?” This is my standard response to that type of statement.

He looked at me, reached into his pocket and said, “I have pretend money!” This is his standard response to that type of statement.

“Hmmm,” I replied, “I don’t think the lady will take pretend money. You need real money to buy donuts and toys and food and trains.”

My determined little guy pronounced, “Yes she will!” and proceeded to walk up to the cashier and offer her pretend money in exchange for a donut.

The lady declined, despite the extreme cuteness factor.

I did not buy him a donut. I wanted him to take the lesson with him.

This morning we were in a store and he saw a toy he really wanted. We had the same conversation we had at the airport (with truck substituted for donut), but this time when I told him I didn’t think the lady would take the pretend money he looked at the cashier, looked at the toy and put it back on the shelf.

And my son just learned something about money.

I’d love to find someplace that takes pretend money. I could use me some of that.

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