You often hear that whole life insurance is a lousy investment and that’s kind of true in the sense that life insurance isn’t an investment. Investments inherently have risk and that’s not the case with the whole life insurance policy.
With the whole life insurance policy designed for cash accumulation, you could expect to earn anywhere between 3% and 5% over your lifetime – but understand that’s not how the policy starts off.
Starting a new life insurance policy is kind of like starting a business. If you were to start a business today, you wouldn’t expect to become profitable in the first year, the second year or even the third year – but usually from the fourth year, that business will become profitable and hopefully will continue to grow year over year. The same holds true with a whole life insurance policy designed for cash accumulation. In the first year, you might have access to 40% of what you pay in premium. In the second year, it might be 60% or 65%. In the third year, 90% or 95%. But from the fourth year on, you should be generating a profit year over year in that policy and it will only get better from that point forward because of the way the policy is designed.
Basically, for each dollar you pay in premium from the fourth year on, you could expect your cash value to increase by more than one dollar. As mentioned, life insurance isn’t an investment because there is no risk. Once that money is credited to your cash value, that value will never go down.
On a cumulative basis, we would expect the break-even point to be somewhere between year seven and year ten. For example, if you paid a hundred thousand dollars in premiums over 10 years, you would expect your cash value to be a hundred thousand dollars in those 10 years and maybe a little higher. After that, the cash value and the accumulation value will continue to grow year after year.
The key here is that the so-called financial experts will judge life insurance on those first 10 years and say it’s a lousy investment. But what they’re completely ignoring is the fact that you could still access that money through the loan option or the loan feature in the policy. Taking advantage of the loan provision can allow you to not only generate that internal rate of return, but to generate an external rate of return on your money. This can allow you to make all of your other savings and investments much more efficient. Keep this in mind: You have the internal rate of return – that isn’t going to be interrupted by accessing that cash using policy loans PLUS you’re able to put that money to work for you somewhere else and make an external rate of return on an actual investment. Once you make the money on your investment, you can cash out and repay your policy loan and realize your profit.
Can I use my policy in the early years – before the break-even point?
A lot of times people come to us with credit card debt and they’re paying a very high interest rate which is taking up a lot of their monthly cash flow. An example of how you could use your policy is to repay that credit card debt using a policy loan and then rebuild and replenish your cash values so that it is accessible again in the future. Basically, you could take a loan against your life insurance cash, pay that credit card off and then redirect the payments from your credit card to repay the policy loan until the loan is paid off. Not only do we have a lower interest rate, we also have control over that payment amount every month. If you run into cash problems, you could back off on that payment. But if you are cash flush, you could pay that debt off faster and you’re actually building an asset for yourself.
Another way that you could access that money either in the early stages of your policy or the late stages is to borrow against your cash value to make an investment whether that’s into stocks and bonds, crypto currency, gold, silver or real estate.
The key is using the cash value in your life insurance policy to make your other money substantially more efficient.
Only in a whole life insurance policy, you can have access to the cash values without draining the tank. Basically you’re able to continuously earn compound interest and access that money to make an investment that will potentially earn you a higher rate of return. You have the policy earning the 3% to 5% over your lifetime at the same time you also have the ability to earn a higher rate of return on investments like stocks or real estate. Whether it’s to make an investment or to pay off debt, the bottom line is that you’re making your money more efficient. Your money is working in more than one place at once. That makes your money more efficient and ultimately puts you in a stronger financial position.
What about getting a margin loan or borrowing against the equity of my real estate?
It is possible to access money from other sources like a home equity loan or a margin loan on your investment portfolio. However, whole life insurance is the only financial tool that allows you to access money and know for sure that you’re going to have a greater account value at the end of the year than you did in the previous year – when you take a loan against your life insurance cash value, the compounding of interest is never interrupted. Your policy continues to perform as if you had not accessed any money.
With a margin loan, the underlying investments might decline and you may have a margin call – once again putting further squeeze on your cash.
In real estate, the value of your real estate could appreciate or it could also depreciate, it depends on the market conditions. Also, with a real estate loan, you have a structured repayment versus with a policy loan where you can determine the payment terms in the sense that if you want to put $50 a month on the policy loan, you could do that. If you want to put $300 a month on the policy loan, you could do that. If you don’t want to put anything on the policy loan, you could do that as well. There’s no one telling you what the repayment schedule is.
Here’s another thing to consider. What if you just drain your savings to make the investment? What’s the difference there?
We had this situation with a client who started a policy. They had about $5,000 of cash in the policy. They coincidentally have a $3,500 credit card bill that’s due and they wanted to pay off the credit card. The husband wanted to borrow against the policy because he sort of understood the concept of leveraging life insurance and the power of using this method. The wife was a little hesitant and wanted to use money from their savings account instead of a policy loan. They had $20,000 in savings and she said, “Well, let’s just take $3,500 from the savings, drain down the tank. Then we could leave the money in the policy to use for our home improvements.” What they’re missing is the fact that before that transaction, they have access to $20,000 that they own and control. If they drain down the tank to the tune of $3,500, they don’t control $20,000. They only control $16,500 and they’re still earning the interest in the policy because they didn’t access the money. But if they don’t take the money out from the savings and they borrow against the policy, they will still control $20,000 and they will still earn interest on the $5,000 – even though they accessed $3,500 against the policy. That’s what we call opportunity cost. We don’t only consider the money that we’re using – we also consider what that money could have earned us had we invested that money.
Whether it’s to pay off debt or pay a lower interest rate against the policy versus credit cards or whether it’s to make an external investment by accessing the cash value in your life insurance. Life insurance could allow you to generate that external rate of return on investment opportunities and still guarantee that you’ll get the internal rate of return on your cash value that you have accumulated in the policy.
Remember, it’s not how much money you make, It’s how much money you keep that really matters.
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