In today’s world where personal information is the most valuable resource, some companies are finding it difficult to keep their promises to users to protect their data. Here at InsureYouKnow.org, keeping our users’ information safe is our No. 1 priority.
Our commitment to protecting your privacy will never waver.
Take the case of WhatsApp, the world’s most popular messaging app. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp for a cool $22 billion back in 2014, the pairing seemed destined for internet history. The number of WhatsApp users jumped from 450 million at the time of the purchase in February 2014 to more than one billion by February 2016, just two years later.
Unfortunately, as detailed in a recent story in The Wall Street Journal, the honeymoon quickly came to an end.
The two founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, are strong proponents of user privacy and avid opponents of advertising. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, on the other hand, have “built a sprawling, lucrative advertising business that shows ads to users based on data gathered about their activities.” Facebook leverages access to user information to sell targeted advertising and does not charge its users for its services; WhatsApp initially carried no ads and charged users 99 cents each year (the company has since abandoned the user fee).
The two business models were polar opposites, in other words.
Knowing that some users would be wary of the merger, Koum and Acton took steps to alleviate any concerns. They vowed not to require WhatsApp users to integrate their Facebook account with the service. They said they would never share user data with their new parent company. Zuckerberg himself said he wouldn’t place ads on WhatsApp.
Ultimately, Koum and Acton were so dissatisfied with the situation that they chose to leave the company they had founded. Acton left in September 2017, and Koum announced his resignation seven months later. Together, the men forfeited approximately $1.3 billion by leaving before their contracts were scheduled to end in November 2018.
We are Team WhatsApp. At InsureYouKnow.org, we only capture the minimal amount of information needed—such as your name and the last four digits of most accounts—and we never, ever sell or share your data. Period. We use Amazon cloud encryption to protect your account so you can rest easy knowing your sensitive documents are stored securely. Anything you upload is password-encrypted, and we do not know your password—only you or someone you share your password with can ever access the documents.
As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. Many of us, however, spend more time making sure everything is in order for the IRS than we do for our loved ones. And when we do take the time to create a will and discuss our burial preferences with our family members, we tend to stop there.
But there are so many more details involved in our deaths than who inherits our collection of first editions and where we want to be buried.
NPR’s “Weekend Edition” recently featured a story on Amy Pickard, whose mother died unexpectedly in 2012. As she handled her mother’s estate, Pickard was overwhelmed by all the questions she couldn’t answer, from what her mom’s smartphone passcode was to how to access her bank account.
“[I had to] become a detective basically,” Pickard told NPR.
Determining what bills needed to be paid and tracking down her mom’s car title would be difficult enough on a good day, but trying to piece together the puzzle of her mom’s life while grieving made things so much harder. It took Pickard two years to fully settle her mom’s affairs.
To help prevent others from going through the same difficult experience, Pickard founded Good to Go!, which offers private parties and consultations to guide individuals through their end-of-life paperwork. Based in Los Angeles, Pickard holds a party at her home once a month where people bring food that reminds them of a deceased loved one and complete a 50-page document she calls the Good to Go! Departure File. By incorporating a relaxed, fun approach that is filled with humor, Pickard makes the process less daunting and more manageable.
The Departure File includes a template for a living will, which addresses the medical care you’d like to receive in the event you are incapacitated and can’t communicate your own wishes, from the use of CPR if your heart stops beating to your preferences regarding organ donation. It also addresses minor but important details such as whether you’d want a TV on or music playing in your hospital room. In addition, the Departure File includes a booklet covering all sorts of information your loved ones will need after you die, such as:
- Contact information for friends and business associates
- Passwords for your email and social media accounts
- Plans for your pets
- Instructions for what to do with your photos, journals, and other personal items
- Obituary preferences (whether you want one and what photo you’d like used)
- The location of letters you’ve written to loved ones to be read after you’re gone
Whether you use Pickard’s Departure File (available for purchase on her website) or create your own document, storing all your data in one place is essential. InsureYouKnow.org is the perfect spot. Be sure to upload this document along with your last will and testament, life insurance policies, health insurance information, and other important files. Your loved ones will be going through enough when you die; don’t make them go through all these unanswered questions as well.
You’re a responsible person. You’re saving for retirement. You have a 529 plan set up to help pay for your daughter’s college education. Your car is paid off. You have an adequate amount of life insurance. You’re using InsureYouKnow to make sure your loved ones know how to access your important documents and financial information if needed. And you have six months of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund.
Then the unexpected happens: The alternator goes out in your car. It’s going to cost $400 to replace it.
Where do you find the money to pay for it?
If you answered, “My emergency fund,” you may want to take another look at your definition of “emergency.”
Your emergency fund is money you have socked away in case of a major life event, such as a job loss, divorce, or medical issue. This money would be used to cover your day-to-day expenses and bills if needed.
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary advocates the use of a separate fund—the “life happens” fund—for those pesky but somewhat predictable expenses that crop up.
“You’ll withdraw money from this fund to pay for unexpected or major expenses that don’t quite fit the dire straits definition,” Singletary wrote. “Car repairs would come out of this account. Start with trying to save $500, ideally increasing to a few thousand.”
Whether you call it the “life happens” fund, the “just in case” fund, or some other term, this fund is for those immediate expenses that aren’t quite catastrophic. These are expenses that result from situations that people often treat as emergencies but that in reality are expected, if irregular, like a broken appliance.
In an ideal world, you’d never touch your emergency fund. You wouldn’t lose your job. You wouldn’t get diagnosed with a major medical condition. You would have a regular, steady income with no major disruptive events in your life. For many people, this is indeed the case. That money sits in an easily accessible savings account where it earns minimal interest but supplies maximum peace of mind.
But even in an ideal world, you’re probably going to tap into your life happens fund fairly regularly. Even the most budget-obsessed person can’t predict every expense that may appear, such as the following:
- A storm blows through, knocking large tree branches onto the roof of your house that have to be sawed apart and hauled away.
- Your dog swallows a tennis ball and needs emergency surgery to remove it.
- Your toddler climbs onto the dishwasher door one too many times and it finally breaks.
- Your aunt dies and you need to fly out for the funeral.
In many of these situations, life is already stressful enough without you needing to scramble to come up with money for the resulting expenses. And you don’t want to tap into your emergency fund because that’s money you never want to touch. The life happens fund is the perfect compromise. Like an emergency fund, it’s kept in a savings account where it’s accessible on a moment’s notice. But unlike an emergency fund, taking money out of it won’t potentially result in your water getting shut off when you suddenly find yourself without an income.
Keep in mind that because you do need to access this fund somewhat regularly, it’s important to replace any money you take out as soon as possible. After all, life happens—and you never know when the next storm is going to pass through town.
Safeguarding the future of your dependents does not begin in the future but it all begins now. That is why most if not all individuals in the working class category aim to secure the future of their loved ones through insurance products. Life insurance helps you achieve this and term life insurance is cheaper compared to whole life insurance in its own battle of term life vs whole life.
However, it is important to note though expensive, whole life insurance has other additional benefits. In the case of term life insurance, coverage is between one to thirty years and it is often referred to as the pure life insurance. The reason is because it is meant to serve your dependents in the event you die prematurely. The has no other value, which means that if you die within the term the policy covers, your beneficiaries only receive the death benefit.
It is important to opt for a term life insurance which is in line with when your family will need the funds the most such that in case you are not around, whatever you leave behind, will be able to supplement your income and serve them accordingly. If you live long enough, then such funds at maturity will serve as security for you when you finally retire.
In the case of whole life insurance, there is lifelong coverage as well as cash value, in which case, the latter acts as the investment component of this policy. No taxes are charge on your funds as the cash value grows and you can borrow against the policy, only that you will need to surrender your policy, meaning that you will remain without cover.
In the event you fail to repay this loan with the interest attached, then this will reduce your death benefit. The best thing with whole life insurance is that cash value growth and death benefit are guaranteed and premiums remain unchanged throughout your lifetime. Also, there is the probability of benefiting from the insurer’s surplus in this case, which is paid as dividends but there is no guarantee.
In the battle between term life vs whole life, Term life insurance may be cheaper but in most cases, you family will not get a payout because there is no cash value attached. It works best if;
- You are looking for the most affordable coverage available in the insurance market.
- If you cannot afford permanent life insurance but you want it because there is provision to convert most term life policies to permanent coverage.
- You are looking for a policy that will only cover a specific period such as the time to pay off your mortgage, or the time it will take to raise your children.
On the other hand, whole life is appropriate if;
- You want to equalize inheritance such as leaving one child with property and compensating that with a benefit payout for the other child.
- You wish to provide funds to pay estate taxes to avoid a case where your heirs have to sell part of the property in future to pay for such taxes in future.
- You wish to spend what you have saved after retirement and still cater for your funeral expenses because with whole life, a payout is guaranteed.
- You have a special needs child and you would want to have a fund to take care of that child.
Investing in insurance is a major factor of consideration for most individuals and there multiple varieties of insurance policies to choose from. The variable life insurance is a permanent type of insurance that is supposed to take care of your loved ones in the event of your death, and it is quite different from other insurance products as part of your financial goals.
As opposed to the plan in other insurance products including term life vs whole life, the cash value in the case of variable life insurance is invested in several sub-accounts, which are viewed as mutual funds. The other difference in this case is that for variable life insurance, growth rate is not guaranteed and there is a possibility that your cash value may decrease.
This policy is divided into three parts just like any other insurance policy and these are;
- The death benefit – this is composed of the huge sum of money paid as benefits to your beneficiaries when you die and there are no taxes attached. As a type of permanent life insurance policy, variable life insurance also has two components, which are the cash value and the regular term life insurance policy.
- A beneficiary – this refers to those who will receive the death benefit and the scope goes beyond your spouse and children to cover a trust, organization, or any other beneficiary with whom you have legal relationship.
- Premiums – this refers to how you usually pay for this policy and you choose to pay monthly or annually.
You can get a quote for variable life insurance from insurance companies that offer this product but it is advisable to talk to an independent agent or broker who can advise you based on your financial goals. The reason is because they are in a better position to help you compare life insurance products from various insurance companies and as such, you are in a better position to decide, which policy you need to purchase. Ensure that the agent you approach for advice is licensed, and knows about family budget, emergency funds, retirement planning and so on.
Some of the benefits of investing in variable life insurance include the fact that the policy lasts your entire lifetime and so as you pay your premiums the policy remains active and when you die, benefits are paid to beneficiaries. Also, there are no taxes attached to benefits paid and the rate of growth in this case is much higher than what whole life insurance offers.
There are mixed feelings whether this is a good investment for your financial goals or emergency fund or not and even as you try to consider this, the fact is that there are better investment options, which are cheaper. Many may value this policy because of the fact that there are no taxes attached to benefits but there are alternatives with better solutions as well. The important thing in this case is to separate insurance from investment and savings.