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Boom Calendar for Grown-ups
Financial Insights

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My father died in October 2019. Shortly after that, my mother was going through some old paperwork and ran across a life insurance policy, taken out on me by my parents, way back in August of 1955, when I was only four months old. Now, that’s planning ahead.

The insurance policy was set up so that my parents paid a whopping $4.73 every three months for twenty years until August 1975, when I was a twenty-year old college student.

I never knew anything much about the life insurance policy until my mother gave it to me. As you can imagine, at the time, I didn’t want anything to do with a life insurance policy…on me or anyone else for that matter. I just took the paperwork, stuffed it into one of those fireproof home safes, and quickly blocked it out.

Later, while going through the home safe when working on taxes, I ran across the policy again. This time I read it. Good for $1,000 at my eminent demise as of August 1975.

Okay, what to do now? Being a novice at life insurance redemption, I obviously needed some guidance on my options. So, call the insurance company, now known as Jackson National Life Insurance Company, and talk to a representative.

“Yes, Mr. Smith, you’re correct. Your policy was paid in full as of August 1975.”

“Okay, what’s it worth now?” In my ignorance of such things, I’m thinking the $1,000…or more.

“$721.49 is your ‘full surrender’ amount at the moment.”

“‘Full surrender’…$721.49! But it’s been paid in full since 1975. Isn’t it worth at least the $1,000?”

“Yes, it’s worth the $1,000, ‘if’ you’re dead, but you’re still alive.”

Okay, hard to argue with that.

“So, let me see, your company has been using my parents’ $4.73 quarterly premiums, interest free, since 1975, well over forty years now? ‘And’ I’m worth $270 something more dead than alive?”

“Yes, Mr. Smith, that’s how your life insurance policy works. Would you like me to send the paperwork to redeem?”

So, I had to make a business decision- $721.49 in hand while I’m still alive or the $1,000…to my widow…if I die…during the biggest pandemic in over a century?

“I guess I’ll go ahead and take that ‘full surrender’ amount now.”

I received their package a few days later. While I was taking the completed paperwork back to the Post Office and then heading back home, I kept thinking about how miffed I would be if killed in a car wreck and then be out that last $278.51. “Just my luck.”


Steve Smith was born in 1955, smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation. Steve started writing while still at Warner Robins High School back in 1972; later, he was a writer for his college paper at Georgia College. Nowadays, Steve likes writing about the quirky, the bittersweet, maybe even some profound topics that are most relatable to fellow baby boomers.


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