Sunday, January 06, 2008
This is something I've had running around in my mind for a while now. It started when we were discussing life insurance with a friend of ours and he asked why bother getting a life insurance policy for me. Now, he's a good friend and well meaning, is the father of 4 and has a wife that was stay-at-home but now teaches at her kids school to cover the tuition. I, of course, reply by asking him what he'd do if something happened to his wife. (Hopefully giving him something to think about.)
After this, I started thinking about all of the financial books I had read. Every one of them touted the importance of life insurance for a wage earner while ignoring the financial contributions a stay-at-home wife gives to her family. What contributions could they possible be since she's not bring in any income? Surely no one is depended on them, right? Well, let's think about this for a minute. A stay-at-home mom at least provides child care services. That alone represents a pretty big chunk of change the family is not paying, especially if there is more than one child. What if the kids are school aged? Well, until they're at least in their early teens, according to many states' laws, they still need after school supervision. How about eating? At least at the beginning, there will likely be a good bit of eating out because of all of the other things dad is trying to adjust to.
Another big point to consider is if you homeschool, what will happen if you die? Will dad try to keep homeschooling them? Hire someone to watch them during the day while he works then teach them in the evenings? Or maybe hire a tutor? Will he send them to school? Public or private? Obviously, private school is a lot more expensive than homeschooling and most homeschoolers really don't want to have to send their kids to public school.
These are just some of the bigger, more obvious ways we contribute to the family finances. There are plenty of other some times smaller or less apparent contributions. Many stay-at-home wives/moms are frugal and know when and where to get the best prices on everything from groceries to toilet paper to clothing. If your spouse has to manage the shopping and work then chances are convenience will take precedence over cost. Do you do the family taxes? That's a cost that will change as well. If the family eats out more, chances are good that the food won't be nearly as healthy as if you cooked it so there is a higher chance that the kids will get sick more often.
Without too much effort, it's not difficult to see how the death of a stay-at-home wife would impact the family's financial situation. Could you're family survive this impact without the extra cushion life insurance would afford? How much life insurance would be necessary is up to the individual families but don't let anyone try and convince you that life insurance is never necessary for a stay-at-home wife just because she doesn't have any income.