Like most women, when I was pregnant with my first child, I had a long list of things I thought I had to accomplish before my baby was born.
Among the top to-dos:
Get the nursery decorated
Plan a babymoon
Plan a shower and stay on top of registry items
Take birthing classes at the hospital
Fill out my paperwork at my job for my upcoming maternity leave
My husband, meanwhile, was busy doing his own daddy-to-be nesting:
Trying to save money
One day, he announced that he had bought a life insurance policy. Seeing that my husband’s salary was at least twice mine, it seemed like a logical precaution and money well spent.
After all, now that we were going to be parents, he wanted to make sure that if anything ever happened to him, we would be taken care of. “If I were to die,” he said to me, “I wouldn’t want you to worry about paying the mortgage or putting food on the table or paying for college because you’d be on your own.”
As if having a baby wasn’t enough to make my husband and I feel like we had officially arrived in Grown-Up Ville, facing our mortality made it feel like there was no turning back. And, of course, there wasn’t.
We were in our thirties with a mortgage and expecting our first child. Still, our impending parenthood and the serious responsibility that would come with it hit me like a ton of bricks — suddenly making sure the baby’s nursery was perfectly decorated come delivery day seemed like an afterthought.
Over the next few weeks, I started to wonder if I should have my own life insurance policy. My salary was a fraction of my husband’s and we intended that I would eventually leave my full-time job to stay home and possibly freelance. But still, it nagged at me.
So what if I wasn’t the primary breadwinner? If I weren’t around, how much would it cost him to hire a full-time caregiver to help raise our child, pay the bills I take care of, and help save for college? Thinking through that long list of responsibilities, I realized I should seriously consider buying a life insurance policy as a stay-at-home mother.
If you’re wrestling with the same question, consider this: in its annual Mom Salary Survey, Salary.com gives stay-at-home moms the following job titles and responsibilities: Chief Executive Officer, Computer Operator, Cook, Day Care Center Teacher, Facilities Manager, Housekeeper, Janitor, Laundry Machine Operator, Psychologist, and Van Driver, among other duties.
The site also has a Mom Salary Calculator to find out how much you should be earning based on your local area and how many hours you dedicate each week to different tasks. Guess what? The national median annual salary a stay-at-home mom in the U.S. would earn is $118,899.
Consider the cost of childcare alone. It’s one of the biggest, long-term expenses that most families face. Parents paid a national average of $8,606 in 2017 for full-time infant care in a daycare center, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.
In fact, the same report found the average annual cost of center-based care for an infant was higher than tuition at a four-year public college in 28 states and the District of Columbia. That doesn’t even get into the the ever-increasing cost of after-school and summer care once the kids are school-aged.
And then there’s college. While I intended to stay at home while raising my kids, I also knew that I wanted to return to work in some capacity as they got older — especially given the ever-increasing cost of higher education.
If something were to happen to me, my future contributions would be exactly zero — and a life insurance policy could help fund their education.
I also wanted to feel confident that my husband would be able to hire adequate help to keep my family functioning in the worst-case scenario. Not to be too morose, but the average 2017 funeral cost $7,360 according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
All of this added up to one thing: Even without a regular salary, my financial value of being a stay-at-home mom was considerable.
While I was still pregnant with my daughter, I considered all of the costs mentioned above — childcare over the years, my funeral costs, and hiring extra help like a housekeeper — and I bought a $1 million term life insurance policy.
(The general rule of thumb for buying the appropriate amount of life insurance is that the death benefit should equal between five and ten times your salary.)
Fabric lets you easily apply for term life insurance online, in about five minutes. A 20-year term is popular because it coincides with the period when kids are still dependent on you and living under your roof.
I could’ve waited until after I’d given birth, but now that I was thinking about worst-case scenarios, I also knew that things could go wrong during childbirth. So I crossed the non-essentials from my baby shopping list (suddenly wipes, warmers, and shopping cart covers did not feel like necessities) and used the cash to buy my policy instead.
Just like keeping an extra change of clothes in my diaper bag and a first-aid kit in the car, I knew deep down that part of being a good parent was being prepared for the unexpected.
Of course, I have to include my annual premium cost in my family’s budget, but like any insurance policy — my homeowner’s, car, or health — it offers peace of mind for me and my husband.
Seven years and another kid later, I don’t worry about what would happen financially to my children if something were to happen to me. I know that despite their incredible loss, they’d be able to continue the other aspects of their lives they’d come to know — gymnastics and piano lessons, summer camp, and soccer gear, while being able to live in the same house they’ve always called home.
For me, you can’t put a price on that.
Cari Wira Dineen is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Health and Real Simple among others, and more recently she was an editor at John Brown Media. A former senior editor at Redbook and Woman’s Day, she loves writing about parenting, health and wellness, and hanging out with her two kids.
Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.
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Fabric Instant is an Accidental Death Insurance Policy (Form VL-ADH1 with state variations where applicable) and Fabric Premium is a Term Life Insurance Policy (Form ICC16-VLT and CMP 0501 with state variations where applicable). Policies are issued by Vantis Life Insurance Company. (Vantis Life), Windsor, CT (all states except NY), and by Vantis Life Insurance Company of New York, Brewster, NY (NY only). Coverage may not be available in all states. Issuance of coverage for Fabric Premium is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of Vantis Life.