I was so paralyzed by perfectionism that I couldn’t decide on life insurance until a conversation with an expert changed my thinking

PFI Disclosure 1

  • I’m a perfectionist, so I often avoid making important decisions because I haven’t found the “perfect” solution. But instead, I end up making no decision at all.
  • Until this year, I’d been unable to open a retirement account because of my analysis paralysis. Then, I spoke to an expert who completely shifted my view: She told me that no decision is the worst decision you can make.
  • Immediately, I opened a retirement account and decided to apply the same advice to life insurance — I knew I needed it, but I’d been putting off getting coverage. I gave myself a deadline — and I met it.
  • Find a life insurance policy that suits your family’s needs with a quote from Policygenius »

I’m a perfectionist. That’s the nice way of putting it. If I wasn’t being so kind to myself, I might say I’m a control freak. Type-A to the core. I like everything to be just right, all the time. 

When I say that perfectionism is one of my biggest flaws, some people roll their eyes. It can sound like a round-about way of giving myself a compliment: Oh, I’m just so perfect all the time. In reality, it can be a problem. I become so focused on making the right choice that I end up making no choice at all. Analysis paralysis is a real issue in my life. 

This often comes up in my financial life. The perfectionist in me knows that I should be doing certain things, like saving for retirement or creating a will. I tell myself that I’ll research the options and make the best choice. When I can’t find time to delve into making the “right” choice, I end up delaying even more, making no choice at all. 

This is exactly the routine I got into every time I considered buying life insurance. Finally, I managed to break the cycle earlier this year and purchased life insurance just before my 30th birthday. Here’s how I overcame my perfectionism, and chose a plan that was good enough. 

When no decision is the worst decision

As a self-employed person, my retirement is entirely in my own hands. That’s a lot of pressure. Instead of saving for retirement, I — you guessed it — delayed. I was scared by so many options and conflicting opinions about the “right” choice. 

To try to motivate myself to make a decision, I pitched a story about saving for retirement when you’re self-employed. The expert I interviewed didn’t know I was putting this decision off, but she said something that spoke to me: “The best choice you can make for retirement is to start today.”

She went on to explain that many people share my fear about making a mistake when decisions seem important. That fear keeps people from making decisions at all, and when it comes to things like insurance or retirement, that leaves them unprotected.

Ready to take action today and purchase life insurance? Our partner Policygenius can help you find the right policy »

I vowed to change my ways, and I opened a retirement account that day, as soon as the story was submitted. 

Taking action was empowering 

I was overly pleased with myself for opening that account. I wasn’t 100% sure that I made the right choice in terms of the retirement product I chose, but just having the account quieted the nagging voice in my head and made my feel like I was really #adulting. 

But soon, that voice started piping up again, this time about buying life insurance. I knew even less about life insurance than I did about retirement. Hearing people talk about term versus whole life policies made my head spin. I had no idea how to calculate the coverage I needed. 

What I did know is that I increasingly felt the need to protect my husband and two daughters. I was the only one working in our family at the time, and I wanted to ensure my husband could continue to stay home with the kids if something happened to me. Life insurance was the answer. 

Giving myself a deadline 

I’m a journalist, and I thrive on deadlines. So, I decided to set one. I was going on a girls’ weekend in late April of this year, ahead of my mid-May 30th birthday. I knew in Florida, far from my husband and kids back home in New Hampshire, I would have no interruptions or excuses: I decided to fill out an application for life insurance that weekend, with the goal of having an active policy by the time I turned 30. 

One morning, while sitting through those dreaded timeshare presentations, I read a few short articles about purchasing life insurance. Then, I typed my personal information into a site that gave me quotes from a variety of companies. 

Get a life insurance quote from Policygenius today and protect your family’s future »

I ended up purchasing a $250,000 policy with a 20-year term. Keep in mind that I just jumped into this, so it might be unwise to follow my advice, but my rough thinking was this: In 20 years, my children will be grown and I hope to be wealthy enough to be essentially “self-insured” (i.e., my savings and assets will help my family cover expenses if I die). 

In the meantime, $250,000 would be enough for my husband to bury me, pay off our home, and spend about two years at home with our children before he had to return to work.  

I picked a company, Protective Life, that had mid-range prices for this plan. I didn’t want to risk it with the cheapest option, but also didn’t want to overpay. The $29 a month premium feels entirely manageable. 

Six months later, I’m not entirely sure I have the best plan possible, but I do know that I feel a lot more peace of mind knowing my husband and girls will have financial resources if I die. Now, I just need to get started on that will…

Ready to purchase life insurance? Let Policygenius help you find the right policy for your needs »

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