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Understanding what "buy term, invest the difference" means

Jun 5, 2008
You have probably heard of the saying "Buy term, invest the difference" when getting insurance and putting your money in investments. But do we really comprehend what it actually means? What could be the reason why majority of financial planners strongly recommend that you should "buy term and invest the difference" ? On the other hand why is your insurance agent forcing you to buy his or her recommended product?

Most whole life insurance products in the market today are considered rip offs. In fact, these kinds of products have already been considered obsolete in the United States. (Term insurance refers to insurance with life coverage only, whole life on the other hand refers to term policy with an investment component. These kinds of products are usually presented as helping you "force" to save for retirement. The problem with the investment part is that they do not usually give a good rate of return) Sadly these type of products are still sold in the Philippines and people still buy them because of lack of financial literacy.

In order to fully understand this, let me give you an illustration. My mother asked me if she should continue paying an insurance product that she bought for my sister. The insurance product was worth about P 400,000.00 (Philippine Peso) She already paid half of it so the balance left is P 200,000.00.

According to her, the benefits of the insurance product are as follows; After 20 years, my sister who is still 18 years old will receive P 40,000.00 per annum until she reaches 65 years of age; At the age of 65 she can either choose to receive P400,000.00 lump sum or continue receiving P 40,000.00 until she dies, plus she is also insured for two million pesos for as long as she lives.

I told her that we in order to determine whether she will continue paying the P200,000.00 we have to evaluate the benefits of the insurance product versus the "Buy term, invest the difference" scheme as suggested by most financial planners.

The total money that my sister will be receiving under the insurance scheme is around P3,520,000.00. This is derived from the P 40,000.00 she will recieve per month until she reaches 65. Add to this the P 400,000.00 she will recieve lump sum during that age. We should also take into consideration that she is insured for P2,000,000.00 hence giving us total benefits of around P 3,520,000.00

On the other hand, if we follow the buy term invest the difference scheme, if her insurance company will allow her, she will convert what she has already paid into "term insurance" which usually runs for only 20 years and then invest the P 200,000.00. If she will invest the P 200,000.00 at a vehicle of investment that gives about 10 % return per annum and also re-invest the returns of the investment taking full advantage of compounded interest at age 65 she will get a whooping P 17,639,497.05.

Now see the difference !!! Under the insurance scheme you only get P1,500,000.00 and P 2,000,0000.00 worth of insurance. But in the "buy terms invest the difference strategy you get P 17,000,000.00+ !!! The benefits of the insurance product cannot be compared to the benefits under the buy term invest the difference startegy.

But what if her investments will incur losses ? That is no problem at all. She can just buy term insurance and renew it every time it expires anyway, term insurance is very cheap and affordable.

The next thing you could probably ask, what investment vehicle would give me 10 % return per annum? Well there is and there are lots of them. You can put it in mutual funds. It does not guarantee a rate of return but historically most mutual fund companies give you more than 10 % return per annum especially if they are invested in equities. Now that the stock market is very bullish returns ranges from 40 % to more than 70 % per annum. You can even directly invest in the stock market. Even the most conservative investors in the stock market earn more than 10 % per annum.

Buy term invest the difference? It certainly does make sense!!!
About the Author
Do you want to know more about investments, finances, and money management ? Zigfred Diaz regular blogs about these topics including investment strategies Know more !!! Visit his blog today !!!
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