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Are you paying it forward?

Remember the movie from the year 2000, “Pay it Forward”? In this classic film, Trevor McKinney, the troubled young son of an alcoholic mother, receives an intriguing assignment from his new social studies teacher.

The assignment is to think of something to change the world and then put the idea into action. Trevor comes up with the notion of paying a favor “forward,” not back, in order to improve not only his own life but the lives of the people around him.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil the ending for you (you’ll enjoy the typical Hollywood-style drama featuring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt), but Trevor’s idea is ultimately a big success, spurring people he doesn’t even know to pay it forward in their own lives.

As we turn the calendar to September – also known as Life Insurance Awareness Month – it’s a natural time to think about our own lives and how we can personally pay it forward.

As I reflect on what this means in a financial sense, adequate life insurance coverage stands out as one the most essential things we can do to ensure our heirs and loved ones achieve certain financial objectives such as providing funds for childcare, paying for a college education or paying off a mortgage.

While most people value life insurance, a significant percentage of Americans do not have life insurance coverage. In fact, according to LIMRA, less than half of all Americans actually own a policy. Perhaps even more puzzling is the fact that 52 percent put expenses such as cable and cell phones ahead of buying life insurance.

In light of these statistics and in the spirit of the movie, this month I challenge each and every one of you reading this blog entry to “pay it forward” for the loved ones in your life.

Here’s how:

  • If you don’t have life insurance, seek it. There are affordable options today to fit almost any budget. Life insurance is cheaper when you are young and healthy.
  • If you already have a policy, work with a financial advisor to ensure it still meets your needs. Chances are a few things have changed since you purchased your policy. Had a baby, bought a house or nearing retirement? These are all indicators that a review is in order.

Remember that while there are many uses of life insurance, all are still focused on one important purpose: paying it forward.

Not sure where to start? Click here to learn more about your options or to find a financial representative in your area.


Deanna Strable is Senior Vice President of U.S. Insurance Solutions at the Principal Financial Group®. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, sits on the board of directors of LIMRA/LOMA, and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.

Have an insurance-based or income protection question? I’d love to answer them in my blog – just leave me a comment below.

While this communication may be used to promote or market a transaction or an idea that is discussed in the publication, it is intended to provide general information about the subject matter covered and is provided with the understanding that none of the member companies of The Principal are rendering legal, accounting, or tax advice. It is not a marketed opinion and may not be used to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, or accounting obligations and requirements.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co. (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Co., members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.

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