When Does Financial Commitment Start?

Statistics are just numbers, until they hit home with a personal story, right? I read a Pew report recently that said marriages in the U.S. are on the decline. Barely half of adults—just 51%—are married, and those who are marrying are doing it later. Then I started thinking about the decline in the sale of life insurance, and I began to wonder if there was a link.

Here’s how it gets personal. My son is 30 years old. At his age, I and most of my friends were married; some of us had children as well. But my son has taken things in a different order, which is common today. He bought a house (a great, responsible thing to do) and his long-time girlfriend has now moved in with him. They are a family unit in all senses but the legal, married kind.

They have taken on the responsibilities of caring for a home and the melding of two lives. But without that legal commitment, is there really a financial commitment—or at least a mindset of financial commitment?

I think in many cases, including my son’s, the answer is no. Of course they are committed to the relationship, but what if “life happens”? What if something were to happen to my son (God forbid!)? Where would that leave his girlfriend financially? My husband and I are currently the beneficiaries of his life insurance policy. The home he bought is in his name. That means between the proceeds of the life insurance going to us and his home being sold to pay off the mortgage, his girlfriend could be left without a place to live. Of course that would never be my son’s intention. But that’s the point. We don’t intend for bad things to happen, but sometimes our inaction causes them.

For my son, it could be as simple as changing the beneficiary on his life insurance policy. But for many other young couples, it means sitting down, asking the hard questions and getting the life insurance coverage they need.

There are no moral overtones (or undertones) to this post. My son and his girlfriend are happy, which makes his parents happy. This isn’t about marriage per se, but marriage is one of the triggers to getting life insurance (as is having kids, getting a new job, etc.). If marriage is not there, then couples need to wake up to the reality of their commitment and insure their love with life insurance.

The new question to ask is: When does our financial commitment start?

Tell us: When did financial commitment start for you?

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