Should you resist your inner caveman? From millennials to boomers, make sure you have all the disability and annuity income protection you need.

06/14/2017 12:21 pm ET

I accidentally dropped a penny and a nickel on the cafeteria floor the other day. They both quickly bounced under the checkout counter, out of reach. Nobody saw. So I decided to let it slide and move on, but it did get me thinking …

Have you ever lost a pen?

Or how about your car keys? An expensive pair of sunglasses? Do you ever forget important usernames or passwords? How about your work ID badge? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes, I suspect. But how many times have you lost a $100 bill?

If it were you who dropped a few pennies or nickels, would you get down on your hands and knees to collect them or would you do what I did? Would your answer change if it were quarters involved? I’m willing to bet you’d risk ruining a pair of pants searching a dirty floor for that quarter rather than just a few pennies before you gave up.

Chances are, you’ve lost or forgotten lots of things in your life. And if you’re anything like me, you may have lost the same type of thing over and over (just check my records on Oakley sunglasses – ugh.)

But I’m going to assume that you don’t lose or forget money (like $100 bills) on a regular basis. And as much as I’m sure you wish it were true, there’s probably not a forgotten savings account out there with loads of money in your name.

We humans like to think of ourselves as pretty advanced, but we still have a primal edge. This is especially true when it comes to money (or other sources of wealth prior to money—gold, spices, textiles and other “treasures.”) Just like cavemen (and women) before us, we like to know how much we have, exactly where it is and what we’re using it for. We also find it hard to part with – especially if we don’t see the immediate pay off.

The infamous Oakleys and some “treasure.

Given this primal dilemma of not being able to part with our money (“treasure”), it comes as no surprise that many are failing to secure the right level of income protection during working or retirement years. Consumers have been reluctant to adopt income protection products like disability insurance (which protects you from a loss of income while working) or annuity income (which protects you from a loss of income during retirement).*

We accept the requirement to insure our cars and our homes, so why not insure our future income? Simple. We don’t think anything bad could happen, and therefore we don’t want to give up our money to protect our income. While that may be what we think, the facts suggest otherwise. As of 2016, 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching 67. I wonder what would happen to car and home insurance levels if laws and mortgage companies didn’t require it?

So what about income after retirement? In 1850, the average human life span was 43 years. Now it’s closer to 80. Some even believe that the first humans to live to 150 are already among us.** The risk of outliving our income is real and can be greatly reduced by securing adequate levels of guaranteed income.

When it comes to protecting ourselves and those who depend on us from a loss of income, we need to fight our inner caveman instincts. We need to allow ourselves to part with some of our money today in order to protect our money in the future. But no one said it was going to be easy. It’s hard. The statistics are compelling and concerning.

If you’re still not sure what to do, I ask you to answer these seven questions:

  1. Do you have any disability insurance?
  2. If you have disability insurance through work, do you know how it works? Do you know what options you have if you leave your job?
  3. What happens if you are injured or become sick now or in the future? (Anything from blowing out a knee, suffering from a cancer diagnosis to working through back problems.) Do you understand how that could impact your future ability to secure disability insurance down the road?
  4. Beyond Social Security, will you have any other sources of secure or guaranteed income in retirement?
  5. Do you expect to carry debt or meaningful fixed expenses into retirement? Will Social Security cover all or most of it?
  6. Do you have enough savings to weather market shifts or unexpected expenses during retirement?
  7. Do you like the idea of having more guaranteed income in retirement – over and above your Social Security check?

How many gaps did you discover? An annuity or disability insurance could help you better protect your income now and throughout your life. If you want to learn more or find you need additional support, here are two great starting places:

  1. Go online. The internet is a great resource. There are tons of calculators and tools out there, along with plenty of unbiased information from multiple sources. Take an hour to research your income needs and possible income protection solutions.
  2. Find a trusted advisor. I know I say it a lot, but it really is the path of least resistance to address many of the issues and challenges I write about. FIND A TRUSTED ADVISOR. (I used all capital letters for a reason – it’s important!) There are thousands of highly qualified professionals out there who can provide guidance and help you find solutions to protect your income.

Fight your inner caveman or cavewoman. Protect your income today. Your future self will thank you!

*Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

**Source: “100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith," by Sonia Arrison

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