Are we wise enough to listen?

Posted by Michelle van Gaalen

Today is international Day of the Older Person, which made me stop and reflect on how much the older members of our society contribute to us.  Look around at our elders who look after other family members, volunteer for charities, maintain our schools and communities, and share their wisdom in a myriad of ways.

Imagine what our society would be like if they choose not to give back so much of their experiences, time and learnings to us.  We would be a lot poorer as a nation and as people, so it is important that we listen to the wisdom and experiences that they can share with us.  The question is – are we wise enough to listen?

My mother is one of these ‘older persons’ and is younger at heart than many people my age.  She is in her late 70s and if I can be as active as her when I get to that age I’ll be ecstatic.  She swims twice a week, dances a couple of nights a week, walks at a pace that I struggle to keep up with, does suduko, makes stunning birthday cards, is an active member of her church and helps ‘older people’ who need help around their homes.  And she finds the joy in everyday things, everyday.  She is busier now than when she was working, providing emotional, spiritual and practical help and support to those around her.

I do believe that her attitude and her approach to life is what keeps her young.  She has never been to a gym or done organized fitness, but has always just ‘kept healthy’.   However, she assures me that she still eats lots of chocolate – which she obviously burns off at a great rate of knots!  And she makes sure she stays active every day – and that’s obviously paid off for her.

I look at my life compared to hers, and realise how different a life she has had.  She lived through a world war,  left her family behind to come to NZ where she had to learn a whole new language and culture.  She and my dad instilled education, values and hard work in us as the basis of success, and although mum didn’t get the chance to go to university, she always had that dream for us.

So I’m going to make sure that I touch base with mum today and thank her for the joy, wisdom and experiences she brings to my life.  Life is for living and mum ensures she lives life to the fullest!

So let’s celebrate International Day of the Older Person by thanking those around us who make our lives so much richer!

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Blue September – check your prostate?

Posted by Steven

Every year around 600 men in New Zealand die of Prostate Cancer. That’s more than the total number of people killed in New Zealand road and workplace accidents combined!!

Why so many?  Because men don’t realise how dangerous the disease is, they don’t talk to their doctor about the symptoms, and they simply don’t do anything about it!

That’s why Blue September was invented and has evolved into an annual event.

Blue September promotes an awareness of the danger of prostate cancer and highlights that early diagnosis and intervention increases your chances of beating it.

Did you know that the death rate from Prostate Cancer in New Zealand could be halved by men having regular health and prostate checks from age 40 onward?  So just by raising awareness and increasing early detection and treatment, 300 men’s lives could be saved every year in NZ. So have a prostate chat with your Doctor next time you’re visiting.

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The best not nice thing you can do

Posted by Michelle van Gaalen

And so says the slogan for cervical screening awareness month – and what a great slogan.  None of us enjoy them, but hopefully more and more of us can see the value in early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.

As a nation we have done well in reducing deaths from cervical cancer through our national screening programme – with deaths reducing by 60% since 1990. But there is still a way to go as every year we lose nearly 60 wonderful NZ women to this disease.

And so many of those losses can be avoided through regular testing and increased awareness.  As with many things in life, it doesn’t take much time but it can make a big difference.  Half an hour of your time every three years could save your life, and mean that you are there for your family and loved ones.

Let’s face it – it’s not something any of us enjoy, or talk about much – but we know it needs to be done.  So if you are between 20 and 70 then make a commitment to get checked out – and keep getting checked out.  The great thing with the national screening programme is that once you’re registered they will remind you when you are next due, so keep your address details updated with them!

Think about cervical screening as a kind of life insurance policy – it’s better to get checked regularly and if anything goes wrong, it gets picked up and managed early, rather than waiting till its too late.  There are never any guarantees – but your chances of being around for a long time are better the earlier it is picked up.

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Divorce and Life Insurance

Posted by Ed

Every divorce, like the marriage that proceeds it, is unique unto itself. That being said, the obligation for the bread winner to continue to provide for their common dependents is never absolved. That’s why divorce settlements typically include provisions for child support and its common practice to include a stipulation that the supporting spouse, or in the event of joint custody both parents, should carry a life insurance policy. A clause which insists on a life insurance policy ensures that the children will still be provided for should a parent die. How long the policy is maintained depends on what the policy was intended for. If the life insurance policy was meant as security for child support, it could probably be terminated when the dependent children attain the age of 18. However, the policy could also be maintained for a longer period of time if the parents so choose.

Easy enough, but make sure that when negotiating your divorce settlement, it is important to designate who will be the owner of the life insurance policy. The policy owner (as opposed to the life insured or the beneficiary) controls the policy and has the right to add, change or remove beneficiaries without the life insured’s consent. One way to insure that the policy is maintained as stipulated in the divorce settlement is to name the custodial parent, or both parents, as the owner or (better still) joint owners of the policy.

As extra “insurance” (mind the pun) you can also include a provision in your divorce agreement stating that if a beneficiary is changed or if the policy is allowed to lapse, you or your children would be entitled to a portion of your ex-partner’s estate equal in value to the cover offered by the insurance policy he or she was supposed to retain.

And if it all sounds a little confusing, and the divorce settlement has come and gone, but your children’s dependency and your partner’s unreliability remains, then be bold. Put a few dollars aside each month to purchase a life insurance policy from Pinnacle Life online where you’re in control.

divorce 2

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5 Financial Mistakes Millennials Are Making

Posted by Steven

Millennials (those born from the early 1980s through the early 2000s) continue to struggle with financial planning. Student debt and limited employment opportunities aren’t the only things holding back Millennials from attaining financial independence and home ownership. Let’s take a look at five money mistakes Millennials tend to make—and see how they can correct them.

  1. Avoiding doing a budget.

Doing the math and knowing if you’re breaking even or able to save more each month is crucial for building a buffer against debt. It can be as easy as starting to use budgeting tool. You don’t even need to leave your desk. 

  1. Misusing credit cards.

According to an Experian study, Millennials are struggling to pay credit card bills on time, while also having one of the highest credit utilisation rates of the four generations listed. As a result of late payments and high credit utilisation—Millennials have the lowest credit scores across all four generations. Consider a credit score as a financial report card, which means you should turn in everything on time and pay the balance in full every month.

Hands holding a credit card and using laptop computer for online

  1. Renting forever.

It’s no secret that Millennials are struggling to own property, but many Millennials still find themselves traveling and exploring well into their late 30’s, without plans to settle down. Exploring and travelling, living a transient life delays the onset of saving for a property, and the longer one leaves it, the harder it becomes to gain a foothold in the property market.

  1. Saving little to nothing for retirement.

Surprisingly, two in three Millennials intend to retire by age 65, but approximately 22% have not started saving for retirement. The journey to retirement begins with a single KiwiSaver payment, then another. Take full advantage of your employer contribution and try make above-average contributions. Building your own retirement fund takes a lot of self-determination and prudent investment knowledge, skills most people lack.

  1. Skipping life insurance

Getting insurance in general may seem daunting, but it’s good to consider the various types, even ones you don’t think you need at first. Life insurance is one that might not have come up yet, but there are good reasons to consider it.

One of the benefits of getting a life insurance policy early on is that it will likely cost you less now than later—life insurance is cheaper the younger and healthier you are. Plus, you have no idea if your health might change, which could make getting coverage much more expensive or even impossible later on. And remember that your partner or spouse may likely be liable for your debts should anything happen to you.

From the basic act of budgeting to considering life insurance, these actions can help ground your financial future. Saving for later in life is the foundation for having a debt-free life and a secure retirement plans. Being prepared for the unexpected will make sure your goals and aspirations are met, regardless of your health or longevity. For quality life insurance quote, go to Pinnacle Life   and you’ll be amazed how little it costs for millennials.

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Skin Cancer or Melanoma – What are the chances?

Posted by Steven

With NZ boasting the highest skin cancer rate in the world, is it worth the risk to go uninsured against Melanoma?

One in two people will be given a cancer diagnosis within their lifetime – and if you live in New Zealand that diagnosis is far more likely to involve Melanoma than any other form of cancer. Notoriously, New Zealand has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.

Every year around 67,000 Kiwi’s find themselves leaving their doctors’ room with a life changing diagnosis and the prospect of a potentially long and very costly road to recovery ahead. For those without coverage, it is often too late to secure insurance at an affordable premium.

For most of us, being faced with the upheaval of a cancer diagnosis is something we never really consider. Instead, we automatically assume that we will be the lucky ones and some other unfortunate soul will be the one seated across from the skin specialist being handed a possible death sentence.

Skin cancer in NZ – a snapshot

When it comes to how we envision our own future health, the overwhelming majority of us tend to be willfully ignorant of the likelihood that we could contract a terminal illness. This is why, particularly in our younger years, life insurance is simply something many of us don’t consider. After all, what are the chances, right?

If you are like most average Kiwis, you spend a fair amount of time enjoying the greater outdoors – and why not? NZ boasts some of the most captivatingly beautiful mountains, beaches, forests and rivers in the world. As a nation, we love having our fun in the sun. New Zealand receives 40% higher UV levels than any other country in the same latitude during the summer months, which immediately puts our population at far greater risk to skin cancer.

In fact, if you live in New Zealand you are 4 times more likely to develop melanoma than if you lived in the USA, Canada or the UK. From 2011-2013, the Ministry of Health registered 2,204 new cases of confirmed Melanoma alone. For men aged between 25 and 44 years, Melanoma was the most common type of cancer to be registered.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst

Whilst no one ever expects to be sandbagged with a serious diagnosis like Melanoma, the numbers suggest that for a fairly significant portion of the population, the likelihood is not negligible.

With that in mind, it is important to consider how prepared you want yourself and your family to be should the worst case scenario actually materialize. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the consequent treatment costs is already a huge ask on not just the patient but also their loved ones.

Your premium quote can jump up massively overnight. So, were you to be uninsured at the time of the diagnosis, you would not only be left having to deal with your illness on a deeply personal level, but the sudden and drastic burden on your finances if you now looked for life cover would be another challenge you and your family would need to deal with and plan around.

It always pays to be proactive

Deciding on whether to take out a life insurance policy to protect you and your family in the eventuality of a terminal illness diagnosis down the line is well worth considering.

Whilst it is never pleasant to envision a future where you are no longer around to provide for and support your family, insuring yourself against that possibility will mean that they never have to live through that reality.

If there is ever a time when “I should have…” is more keenly felt, it is when the worst has unexpectedly occurred and your chance to do anything about it has passed you by.

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Accidents Happen !

Posted by Steven

18 and over is a hazardous time in your child’s life – but is insuring them a smart move?

Turning 18 is something kids look forward to eagerly throughout their teenage years but concerned parents face with trepidation. It is the hallowed number that legally puts the car keys in one hand and a beer bottle in the other.

Accidents Happens!

The problem, as many unfortunate parents throughout NZ have had to endure, is that a single misstep in making a mature and responsible decision could end in disaster for the ones they love the most.

Whilst any 18 year old will vehemently tell you that they are not a kid any longer, most parents will adamantly disagree. The fact is, they never stop being your kids, and that means you never stop trying to take responsibility for them.

One of the contentious decisions parents face is whether or not to take out life insurance on their children once they become young adults. Responsible parents know all too well how one lapse in judgment, one spontaneous act of throwing caution to the wind, or a serious illness is enough to rip apart a life and the lives of everyone in the family for good.

Life insurance is a service geared toward ensuring that the financial needs of your loved ones – the children most of all – are taken care of in the case of unforeseen death, injury or illness. As parents, we all want the best for our kids without reservation, and that should also include covering them against the likelihood of serious injury or an incapacitating disease.

As much as parents try to do everything within their power to keep their kids safe and in good health, the fact of the matter remains that as your child gets into their late teens, they begin to make crucial, life impacting choices, all on their own.

We’ve all been 18. At the time we all thought that we knew best. But was it truly the case? Most kids (and adults) fail to think the consequences of their actions through before taking them. Getting behind the wheel after a night partying with mates has become an all too common and deadly occurrence amongst young people today.

In fact, since the 1999 law change that lowered the legal drinking age to 18, young drivers aged 18-19 now stand a 21% greater chance of being involved in a serious traffic accident caused by drunk driving. A brief internet search of fatal car crashes involving teens will bring up some stark and sobering personal accounts of how quickly and brutally lives are destroyed forever.

Apart from motor vehicle related injuries and fatalities, kids 18 and up are also more prone to engage in reckless behavior – whether sober or inebriated.

From fights and physical altercations to extreme sports and drunken dares, the potential for something to go horribly wrong is increased at that time in a kid’s life.

Of course, there is no way to protect them all the time from all possible ways of harming themselves or becoming sick, but there is a way to protect them and your family against the financial burden such events can bring about. Taking out a life insurance and serious illness cover for your child is rooted in being proactive and insuring your family against the worst case scenario, should it ever arise.

No parent should have to suffer the loss of their child. No parent should have to watch their child suffer from a debilitating terminal illness. But many parents do, and at the time their child is diagnosed with a terminal illness or is involved in a horrific accident it is often too late to start thinking about how you will manage financially.

Ask any parent who has had a child suffer severe and permanent injury, and they will tell you that life changes drastically, in an instant. Without coverage, many parents find themselves against a wall they cannot surmount. Medical costs are exorbitant, the changes that need to be implemented for special needs care are costly, and the even starker reality of not being able to provide the care your child will need slams home with incapacitating force.

Taking out a life insurance policy tailored to support and provide for your family in a time of crisis is something all parents should seriously consider. The bottom line with life insurance for kids is that accidents do happen. Taking out life insurance on them means that if the worst case scenario does happen, you will be able to take care of them.

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Will you live to 100?

Posted by Steven

A while ago the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a team of scientists at Boston University claimed to be able to predict – with 77 per cent accuracy – which of us will live to 100. The scientists did this by comparing the DNA of more than 1,000 people aged 100 or over with that of the general population, finding a “genetic signature” that was linked to “exceptional longevity”.

Soon to be made available in the U.K, the test measures the length of telomeres, a DNA structure which controls the longevity of dividing cells. The shorter the telomere, the faster you are aging. A very specific blood test can determine telomere length and, based on the length can use an algorithm to assess longevity based on current lifestyle. While the test will not tell you the exact date or year of your demise, it can make predictions within a decade. Source:

What would happen if you knew that, failing an accident or a natural disaster, you’re likely to live to be 100 or only 65? How would that affect your life and savings goals. And in particular, how would it affect the cost of your life insurance?

Today, standard life insurance premiums are based on the expectation that your lifespan will be that of the average person in New Zealand; that’s 82.2 years if you’re female and 78.0 years if you’re male. When you apply for life insurance, the insurer will ask you a range of questions to assess if you’re likely to die earlier than an “average” person of your age and gender.  If you are, you’ll be charged higher (loaded) premiums.

But Life Insurance companies typically don’t have processes to check if you’re likely to live longer than average with a view to reducing your premiums. So if you turned up at an insurance company with a favourable DNA test, you’d currently still pay the ‘standard’ rate. Guess that will need to change wont it?

Click here to check how much life insurance will cost you!

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Stay-at-home parents need protection.

Posted by Steven

It’s distressing to learn how few families with young kids have life insurance. Stay-at-home parents have a special need for life insurance. Should a stay-at-home parent pass away, the remaining parent would find themselves suddenly paying for childcare and everything else a stay-at-home parent does on a day to day basis.

The minimum cost of replacing a stay-at-home parent, with one pre-schooler and one school going child, we estimate would run to at least $40,000 a year. Breaking down the price of having someone else handle our stay-at-home parent’s various duties:

  • Cooking, laundry and cleaning, $15,000
  • Child care, $8,000
  • Homework and after school help, $5,000
  • Kid’s taxi alternative, $2,500
  • Shopping, garden work, party and activity planning, finances, etc., $9,500

That’s why it’s essential the stay-at-home parent has a life policy. What you need is a policy that’s easy to buy, easy to own and cheap! Buying what’s called “protection insurance” is simple and costs practically no money at all. From Pinnacle Life a 36-year old female can get a $500,000 life insurance policy and only pay $25.69 per month. Men’s coverage is a little more expensive due to differences in factors like life expectancy.

Remember these simple pointers when shopping around for a life insurance policy

  • Researching and shopping for life insurance is easy on the internet.
  • How much life insurance do you need? The simplest rule is … whatever you can afford to maintain long-term.
  • Cash back offers and the like are good for the first year, but life insurance is a long term commitment, so get the policy that is going to be the best value over a long-run.
  • Protection insurance which is widely sold in NZ, is what is known as annually renewable term. Each year the policy premiums will increase with your advancing age. Simply put, the older you get, the more you pay.
  • Certain high risk health conditions make life insurance more expensive. If you have such a condition, be prepared to allow the insurer to have access to health records, so they can determine your price.

For a quick quote to see how much you’re likely to pay for life insuranceclick here

Not easy as I thought..

Not easy as I thought..

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Easter Cover

Posted by Ed

The official Easter holiday road toll over Easter weekend 2014 were 5 fatal crashes and 95 reported injury crashes. These crashes resulted in 5 road deaths, 17 serious injuries and 123 minor injuries. Half of the crashes reported during the Easter weekend occurred on the open road.

Common types of crashes:

  • 43% of crashes were single vehicle crashes in which a driver lost control or ran off the road
  • 24% were intersection collisions
  • 14% were rear end crashes or collisions with obstructions (such as parked vehicles)
  • 7% were head-on collisions.

The most common driver factors contributing to crashes:

Losing control (40% of crashes); travelling too fast for conditions (25%); failing to give way (20%) inattention (18%); inexperience (18%); alcohol (15%);

The official Easter holiday period for 2015 will begin at 4 pm Thursday 2 April and end at 6 am Tuesday 7 April. Make sure your life cover is in place. Please drive carefully and enjoy the long-weekend.

Easter bunny

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