10. Protect Your Family—and Your Nest Egg
If there is anyone dependent on your income—parents, children, relatives—you need life insurance. For the vast majority of us, term life insurance is all we need, because it protects you for the "term" of the policy (from five to 30 years) and is incredibly inexpensive. As always, it's important to buy a policy from a firm with a strong financial rating, but even if an insurance company runs into trouble, your state insurance department has funds set aside to help protect you. I also want you to get your estate papers in order. You should have a living revocable trust (this document spells out how your assets should be distributed) with an incapacity clause, as well as a will. Also, have an "advance medical directive" in place that tells your doctors the type of care you want if you become unable to speak for yourself.
Finally, every family should have an emergency savings account that can cover at least eight months of living expenses. And I also want every woman to have her own personal savings account that could support her for at least three months, because you never know. The best place for your savings is an FDIC-insured bank (or a credit union backed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund). If you keep less than $100,000 at an FDIC bank, no matter what happens to the bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (part of the U.S. government) will make sure you get every penny back. Online banks that are FDIC insured are just as safe as the bank downtown. (Please note: The emergency federal legislation passed last October increased the FDIC insurance limit to $250,000 through December 2009. But to be extra safe, keep no more than $100,000 in any single bank.)
Feel better? Follow these steps and no matter what the future brings, you will be in control of your financial destiny. And there's nothing more valuable.
Get started! Use the resources on Suze's favorite financial websites.
Suze Orman's latest book is Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan (Spiegel & Grau).