When social media lets you know it's time to buy life insurance

Colin Lalley 1600


Colin Lalley

Colin Lalley

Insurance Expert

Colin Lalley is the Associate Director of SEO Content at Policygenius in New York City. His writing on insurance and personal finance has appeared on Betterment, Inc, Credit Sesame, and the Council for Disability Awareness.

Published March 3, 2017|8 min read

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Worldwide, the average social media user spends nearly two hours a day browsing news feeds, images, tweets, and more on their favorites platforms.Sounds like a lot of wasted time, right? Don’t you have better things to do? Spend time with family, do work, buy life insurance?Social media can’t solve all of your problems in life (yet), but it might be able to teach you some real world financial lessons.

Does your social feed remind you more of all the things that you've missed out on in the past than what’s ahead? Do you feel old any time someone mentions filters or Spectacles, like the spectre of Father Time is looming over you and you sense your impending death ever more distinctly? Do you get caught up in the moment-to-moment status updates of social media, without thinking too far down the line for fear that you’ll miss the latest like or retweet? Are you not thinking of life insurance – or any aspect of your financial plan – because you’re more concerned with Instagram copying yet another Snapchat feature?Well, you can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Myspace (RIP) to make positive changes now and make sure your future self isn’t missing out on anything.You know it’s time to buy life insurance when...

There’s a rite of passage in the modern digital world. It’s when your Facebook wall transforms from political posts, party photos, and embarrassing stories to a majority of baby photos.This doesn’t happen all at once, mind you. You’ll see the number of engagement announcements and wedding photos pop up. Depending on where your friends live, you might see pictures of their new homes, too. But the baby photos are where it really kicks in. It’s that moment where you realize, whether you’re ready or not, you’re an adult.And you probably need life insurance.Having a baby is one of the biggest triggers for someone who has been putting off buying life insurance. It’s the time when it really sinks in that you need it, because someone is truly depending on you. Sure, your partner might benefit from a lump sum of money to help cover costs in the event of your death, but he or she has options. Your kid? That’s when things get serious.Let’s say you die and your partner has to raise your child alone. You need to think of where they’re living – it’s easy for a single grown person to downsize to more affordable living accommodations, but it’s harder to do that with a child. He or she will probably need a car to do errands while bringing your child along. You might need to consider childcare costs, since your partner will likely still have to work. And then there’s college down the line – do you want to leave your partner to fund that and retirement alone?When your Facebook feed seems to be nothing but an unending scroll of baby photos, you’ll know that the time is probably soon for you, too. And before you post that pregnancy announcement or first baby photos, you need to make sure you have a life insurance policy in place. It’s not complicated.

Have you been on Twitter lately? Does it make you think that everything is completely awful?Probably!Twitter has had to deal with high-profile harassment issues over the course of its life. It’s a breeding ground for frustration, and also for finding out instantly what terrible things are happening in the world at any given moment. Also, they killed off Vine.(Yes, there are some good things that happen there. No, they won’t necessarily make you feel better.)The main takeaway from Twitter when it comes to life insurance? Don’t rely on other people, and make sure you have your family taken care of.Wait, maybe that’s the wrong thing to focus on.

What you should focus on is that there are a lot of things going on in this world that are beyond your control. Recessions and politics and inflation – these things (and good things, like market booms) can and will happen without you. It can be enough to overwhelm you and put you off from making any decisions.But no matter what event is happening in the world, you can at least prepare for it. No, you can’t control if the stock market bottoms out, but assuming your investments will balance out over the long run is still a safe bet, and it’s within your control to keep contributing money to retirement accounts.That’s what life insurance is: No matter what happens, life insurance is a financial safety net for your family in case of the worst. You can’t control a lot of things, but you can control whether or not your loved ones will be financially secure when you’re not there to provide for them any longer.

Life insurance kicks in when you die:. But life continues to go on for your loved ones. Instagram is full of pictures of big-ticket purchases and exotic vacations – all the things you do with your family, and what you’ll want them to continue doing even after you’re gone. Are some of these things overindulgent, unnecessary purchases that are a waste of money and that you can definitely do without? Sure. But you can also see pictures of once-in-a-lifetime vacations, new cars (minivans can have Instagram photos, too!), and the latest cool tech and gadgets. Y’know: Things that remind you that yes, it’s important to save, but you also need to actually enjoy life every once in a while.If you die without life insurance, your loved ones won’t have the opportunity to enjoy all of those things. Instead, they’ll be paying off your student loans or scraping together money for mortgage payments or figuring out how to put themselves through college. Spring Break won’t be a Nicaraguan vacation they can post cool rain forest images of on Instagram; it’ll be working at least one job to make sure next semester actually happens.So next time you see something fun on Instagram and decide you, too, want to visit the Grand Canyon or buy a new Tesla when your car finally breaks down, do two things: 1) start budgeting so you can afford said vacation, and 2) buy life insurance so your family can continue exploring the world and making memories long after you’re gone.

Do you miss the heyday of the United States Postal Service? Or at least when you could keep your text messages for as long as you used to? If so, you probably aren’t very into Snapchat. The social network places an emphasis on fleetingness, where messages and pictures aren’t meant to stick around.

That can cause a sense of unease in you. As the great philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast." Sure, you can keep putting off your financial goals, including life insurance. But that doesn’t mean that you should – before you know it, you’ll be in a situation where life insurance will be invaluable to your beneficiaries. You may even have people counting on you right now that you don’t even realize (like student loan cosigners).

Even if you’re still at a place in your life where you’re more likely to stand outside a Snapchat Spectacle vending machine than stand in a grocery store line picking up diapers and formula, now might be the time to start shopping. Life insurance rates increase as you age, around 8% year over year; if you’re worried you’re missing the boat on a good deal and you’re not at a life event that normally necessitates a life insurance purchase, now might still be the time to shop.Don’t let life move too quickly for you. Better to be prepared now than to realize you have a brand new budget in place – including a mortgage or child-raising costs – but you didn’t build in your monthly life insurance premiums into it.

Okay, so Myspace is technically still around (thanks, Justin Timberlake and Time Inc) but let’s be honest: It’s more a zombie Myspace. Plus, you could just replace it with a number of other social networks, from the original OG Friendster to the gone-too-soon Peach.It’s a stark reminder that social media platforms can die – and an even more stark reminder that you won’t live forever either. You might live a long, prosperous life, well into old age, or you might die before you (and your finances) are ready. And if the latter happens, you won’t have JT investment money to bail your family out.Next time you find yourself killing time on your phone or your computer, looking at the latest updates from friends and celebrities and people you haven’t seen since high school, think about what you can learn from your social media feeds that can actually benefit you and your family. It might be fun cooking tips right now, but it should probably be lessons on buying life insurance sometime soon. And then, since you’re already online, get free life insurance quotes.(And then also post on your Facebook wall that you’re getting life insurance and encourage other people to do it, too.)