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Health puts things in perspective

February 24, 2011

Guard yourself, your family

When it comes to protecting yourself and your family from getting sick during cold and flu season, you may take your vitamins, wash your hands, drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. While I obviously am not a doctor, these are some common things that may aid in preventing illness or shortening it if you do catch something.

Despite my best efforts, I caught a nasty virus a couple weeks ago that kept me in bed for days. I imagine many of you and your families have had it as well.

I do not like feeling poor enough to not even get out of bed, but it did give me some time to think. When I am not feeling at full health it forces me to take a step back from the business of day-to-day living and consider the big things.

The worst feeling I get when I am sick is the thought that I will not be able to provide for my family. Unfortunately, you see it happen all the time — a lot of hard work and preparation destroyed with one tragedy. That being said, it still is important to plan and protect yourself and your family.

Getting back to the basics is key when it comes to providing for your family. Below are some safeguards you may want to have in place to help keep you prepared for the curveballs life may throw at you.

First, it is important to have insurance for protection. Even though health insurance premiums continue to grow with more co-pays and higher deductibles, the only thing worse than paying for expensive health insurance is to not have health insurance at all. One health incident could force you into bankruptcy.

If you put off getting health insurance, there are a couple of other dangers. If you develop an illness, that pre-existing condition may make it more difficult to get affordable insurance in the future.

Another important type of insurance often overlooked is long-term disability insurance. If you are in your 30s you have a greater chance of becoming disabled while still in your working years than dying. Without disability insurance, you may have difficulty qualifying for disability through Social Security, but you still have all your regular monthly expenses. Some employers offer long-term disability insurance. Either way, it is important to look into it and make sure you are covered in case you get injured and cannot work.

The third type of insurance to provide protection for your family is life insurance. We buy most types of insurance hoping we never have to use it and this especially is true with life insurance during working years. Even though we hope our family does not collect on life insurance, it still is vital to have that protection in place. You can never be replaced in your family, but with the proper amount of life insurance, there will not be the additional strain on the family’s finances.

Insurance can protect in case of catastrophes, but there are a lot of smaller things families should do to prepare for the worst. First, try to get rid of your debts. It may be convenient to be able to pay purchases off over time, but usually debt is occurred with people thinking their finances are going to continue indefinitely in a similar fashion. A manageable credit card balance can be unbearable if someone in the family has an injury or job loss.

Once your debt is history, make sure you have an emergency fund. You should have three to six months’ worth of expenses saved in a very safe account such as a money market or savings account. While I was sick, I was thinking it would be nice to have closer to six months saved up, but when I am healthy I usually think three months is fine. No matter what figure you use, it is helpful to have cash. Even with insurance, if you have major changes in your life, there is a good chance there are going to be unexpected expenses.

I am thankful I am feeling better and have gotten back into the day-to-day swing of things. Regardless, I have no idea what the future holds for me. I hope for the best, but it is important for me to plan for the worst. With proper insurance coverage, little debt, and an emergency savings account in place, I can be confident my family will be protected no matter what happens



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