The year after our first daughter was born, Rob gave me a Kitchen-Aid standing mixer for Mother’s Day. In secret, he headed down to our local Williams-Sonoma store and picked it out. We’d only been married for three years. He didn’t yet realize how much I hate to cook.
In those years, we were pretty poor; and a gift that sizable was a big deal. I was shocked when I unwrapped the gift — and kind of miffed. It bothered me that Rob had spent so much on something I cared so little about. It bothered Rob that I wasn’t grateful for what he saw as a generous gift. We’d run into the classic problem all married couples encounter at some point in their relationship: determining how to spend “our” money.
Even though we worked hard, Rob and I struggled to make ends meet for the first years of our marriage. We were on the same general page about spending and savings, but we had no idea how to develop and achieve financial goals. Finally, 10 years into our marriage, we signed up for a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) course. Back in his Christianity Today days, Rob had written an article about how churches who used FPU helped free folks from debt and inspired them to give generously. He was convinced the program could work well for us too.
Over the course of the FPU class, Rob and I learned a lot about the role of money in our marriage. We learned how our families of origin and our personalities shaped how we interacted with money. We began tackling Dave’s Seven Baby Steps of money management. We learned skills in long range thinking: planning for a car purchase, a home purchase, retirement. Even planning for death. When we analyzed our cash flow, Rob and I agreed to a $30 limit for gifts to each other. It was genuinely what we could afford. And when we looked ahead at our future, we purchased a different gift for each other. We bought term life insurance.
I laughed the night we sat in class and heard Dave Ramsey say, “If something happened to mom, you’d have to hire Mary Poppins to do all the things she does.” But the more Rob and I thought about it, he was right. If one of us were to die, there would be no way to replace the irreplaceable. But life insurance could offer financial support as the surviving spouse cared for our children and built a new life. Term life insurance was a small gift we could give each other. A gift we could hope the other would never have to open.
There are myriad financial complexities for a woman who loses her husband. I am grateful for the training I gained in our FPU class years ago and for wise advisors who have assisted me in the days since Rob’s death. I am thankful for the gift of term life insurance and the peace it has brought as I grieve and transition into my role as sole breadwinner for my family.
Mother’s Day is coming up in a few days. Father’s Day is close behind. If you’re stumped this year on what to give your loved one, consider the gift of term life insurance. Some policies cost less than $200 a year (the cost of a Kitchen-Aid mixer!). At the $30 gift limit, that’s a combined birthday-Christmas-Valentine’s-Mother’s Day-anniversary gift. Your gift will lack the glamour of a dozen roses and a bottle of champagne. But what it lacks in pizzazz, it will make up for in comfort and peace. You won’t be there when your loved one needs to open your gift. But be assured: she or he will be deeply grateful for your thoughtfulness, love and generosity.
Note: These opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with Ramsey Solutions or any life insurance vendor.