We recently agreed to assume guardianship of friends’ two teenagers if the parents die. It’s one of those very low probability, yet very high impact type of scenarios. So it required some serious thought and prayer.
When we told Pippa and Grey about it, their minds immediately went to…you guessed it: “What about us? Who gets us if you guys die?”
Me: “This is awkward, but you two are legal adults now – you live wherever you want to.” Pippa is halfway through college and Grey just graduated high school.
Silent hangdog faces peer back at me.
“Buck up,” I say, “mom and I are extended stay residents with no plans to checkout anytime soon.”
Aging Out of Term Life Insurance
The kids weren’t the only ones gobsmacked by their maturation. We recently received our first post-contracted-period term life insurance invoice:
That’s not a typo. It’s a 703% increase from our normal annual rate of $345.
That bill covered me, with a $500k death benefit. We received a similarly-inflated but smaller bill for Nora, who was covered for $250k.
(The coverage differential was due more to insurance philosophy than potential lost income. Throughout our careers, our salaries have been within shouting distance. I’m hard core when it comes to insurance. And Nora also had a dad who died on her when she was 13, so that would color anyone’s outlook.)
We knew this day was coming. We had a 20-year term life policy (with a pegged annual premium) that was timed to expire when the kids hit adulthood. There was no good reason to have any life insurance anymore. If one of us died, the only major kid expense remaining was college tuition, and not for much longer (hopefully).
Still, it was another reminder that our chicks would soon fly, and that we wouldn’t live forever (on earth anyway), and that there would be no consoling pot of gold if one of us got run over by a bus.
Avoiding Voluntary Taxes
Speaking of pots of gold, the kids aren’t so old that I don’t try to subtly drop some wisdom now and again, so the other day I was explaining to Grey how the Maryland lottery is really just a voluntary tax.
In Fiscal Year 2020, Maryland Lottery contributed $589M to state coffers on total lotto sales of $2.2B. That doesn’t include any casino gaming.
“Voluntary taxes are the best type of taxes,” I say, “assuming you aren’t paying them.” I decided to leave addiction and ethical issues for later.
“I never thought of it that way,” he replies. I smile on the inside.
A long pause with a far-off look, then he adds, “But…you could win.” My internal smile does a somersault. I take the L, and decide to regroup for another day.
Grey is always scheming ways to make money. I think it’s a good instinct if he doesn’t go overboard, so I don’t discourage him.
Will I pay him to drive me to Safeway in his car? (Yeah, but not much.) Will I pay him to fold the laundry? (No, that’s a regular chore.) Will I pay him to rewire an electrical socket? (Yes, but by the job, not by the hour.)
So when I asked him to help hand out fliers in the neighborhood for our church’s spring festival (modified for COVID), he asks how much I’ll pay him for it.
“Nothing. This is service to our church…and ultimately to God. You don’t have to do it.”
“I’ll do it,” he says, acting somewhat put out, but ultimately happy to serve. He likes to hide his big heart, but I know from experience it beats close to the surface.
Summer Jobs Update
Speaking of income, I related previously about how I told the kids they should each aim to get three summer job offers. With the economy rebounding from the pandemic, there are plenty of opportunities out there.
They both fell short (they each got two), but I attribute it to early job acceptances rather than lack of effort. They both jumped at offers they liked – Pippa nabbing a math Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) position and Grey securing a role at one of his favorite stores.
And I was pleased to hear of one reader who applied for and accepted a national park position as I recommended. You can see opportunities on CoolWorks.
He is working with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks, telling visitors and residents about Jesus and helping lead worship on Sundays. Pretty cool work indeed.