Billy Loman, a second-rate salesman working hard to make ends meet, comes home every night to his wife Brenda and two sons, Jeff and Lucky, hoping that his day was enough to provide for his family. Lately he wonders how much longer he will have to play this game – waking up early to drive into the city and coming back late at night with less than a handful of sales. Those commission checks are gradually waning, and Brenda knows it. Billy was never a great salesman but he always did his best to provide.
The eldest, Jeff, has a career of his own now. The high school star quarterback is about to move into the city by himself. As for Lucky, he is finishing up his last semester at the local university and about to move in with his brother. With two sons moving out from under his roof, you might expect Billy’s stress to decrease, but Brenda seems to think otherwise. Putting two kids through college had left them financially exhausted.
“Billy?” Brenda heard the front door slam shut. “Is that you?”
“It’s alright, Brenda. I came back. Nothing happened,” Billy responded faintly. He was just returning from another long and unsuccessful day of sales.
“What happened? Is the car okay? Did you sell anything today?”
“I’m tired, Brenda.” Billy immediately headed for the recliner in the living room. Leaning back in the chair he reached for the remote on the side table. “No. Nothing today.”
Brenda followed him to the couch and sat precariously on the edge nearest him. “Honey, what are we going to do? The boys are taken care of, but what about the house? What about the cars and the groceries? What about the doctors? Honey, we have so much to worry about and I just don’t know when you can stop. Without your commissions check how are you ever going to retire?”
Billy rubbed his thumb over the fingers on the remote. He pulled the lever on the side of the chair to prop his feet up as his mind drifted to his cousin Willy. After financial woes and a depressingly unsuccessful career, Willy had been tragically killed in a car accident. The entire situation wreaked havoc on his household and would have left Willy’s family in quite a bind if it were not for the life insurance policy that he had purchased years ago. And while everyone recognized the significant loss, the family was taken care of and any debt was paid off.
“I don’t think we need to worry about that so much, Brenda,” Billy spoke up with confidence.
“Not worry about it?” Brenda’s voice was growing nervous. She was beginning to think that Billy actually didn’t understand the weight of the debt over them. “Billy, I can see about picking up more shifts at the diner but I just don’t know how we are going to make this work.”
“Don’t worry about it, Brenda. Remember my cousin, Willy?”
“Honey, let’s not talk about that. What good is your life insurance if you aren’t here to use it? Sure, I want to retire, but I want to do that with you.”
“Now just hear me out Brenda. Willy’s family was completely taken care of because he thought ahead—“
“Brenda, you aren’t listening!” Billy pushed down the footrest with his legs and leaned forward in his chair. “What happened to Willy was a travesty, and something I would never wish any family, let alone my own. That’s why I made sure not to put us in the same situation.”
“What do you mean?”
“See, what Willy did was good for taking care of those after he died. He bought life insurance for the death benefit – which is smart. But what Willy didn’t know is that life insurance can provide plenty of benefits while you are still living. Instead of buying cheap term insurance just to satisfy the immediate need, I went for a more permanent solution. For the past twenty years the premiums I’ve been paying on our life insurance have been growing in an indexed universal life policy.”
“Billy,” Brenda expression quickly jumped from curious to irate. “Are you telling me you’ve been risking our savings betting on the market this whole time? Billy!”
“Of course not!” Slightly insulted by the lack of faith Brenda had in him, Billy chose to ignore it for the time being. “With an indexed strategy even when the market produces negative results, your money doesn’t suffer losses. It has a floor of zero – you can’t go into the negatives. And with a generous cap, you’ve got significant opportunities for growth. Brenda, with all of the money we have sitting in our life insurance policy, we can retire next year!”
“That all sounds good Billy, but it’s life insurance. We can’t access any of that money until you die.”
“Here’s the real beauty of it though. Our policy has real-time cash value right now. We can start taking money out of the policy whenever we want. And on top of all of that, the income from our policy is tax free.”
“But how could we afford this, Billy? The budget has always been tight. Where did you find the money to make this happen?”
“It’s true, I was never the best salesman. I never hit the numbers that would have really made life easier for us. But the money in this life insurance policy has been growing for twenty years now. The key is to get started early and to purchase life insurance before you need it. If you wait too long, your premiums will end up being much higher than you can afford. And here we are – it’s already been paid.”
Billy stood and placed the remote back on the table and stood up from his seat. Brenda, with her mind at rest for the first time in years, stood up to embrace her husband. The next morning when Billy headed into the city he was not gone for long, and when he came back he was holding a fat check from his life insurance policy.
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