Saturday, February 25, 2023

How Much, In Dollars, Do You Love Yourself (and Your Family)?

On Valentine’s Day we typically express our love for our significant other with a gift.  The idea of gifting the person you love with a life insurance policy is a bit morbid though.  Nonetheless, it does certainly say something about how much you value your relationship more than any other gift you can give.  One of the great advantages of life insurance is that it allows you to create an estate of substantial size before you’ve actually saved to create it.

But what if you’re single?  What if there is no need for you to replace your income or have your mortgage paid in the event of an untimely death?  Is there no need for life insurance?

I’ll argue you despite not having a person depending on you to carry on with the life you’ve built together, there is still need for life insurance and specifically a Whole Life policy which I’ll simply refer to as a Cash Value policy.  In fact, I’ll give you two reasons.

#1: Tax-Free Source of Funds During Your Working Years

There’s only two realistic places to park cash where it is allowed to grow tax-free:  Roth IRA and Cash Value policy. 

Roth IRA’s are great for retirement but there are too many restrictions to limit its utility during your pre-retirement years.  Limits to annual contributions and if your income is too high, then you can’t contribute at all.  There’s also the issue of access to your account balance being restricted to only your contributions, and if you would like to restore the withdrawal, you have only 60 days to do so.  

Cash Value policies do not limit you with regards to annual contributions (called premium) or limit access to available cash values for any reason. Higher income earners are not excluded. However, not everyone can have a Cash Value Life Insurance policy.  The reason being you must qualify for life insurance.  If you are in poor or marginal health, it’s possible to get declined.  

Ideally, you have both types of vehicles at your disposal.  If you’re thinking a Roth IRA is more important, here are some things to consider.  

Don’t discount your need to have a safe place to have available source of money always growing regardless of market conditions.  People keep a traditional checking account to pay bills but also to maintain an emergency savings account.  A traditional bank is crucial and a necessity for bill paying but not for emergencies when a Cash Value policy provides so much more value:

- better long-term growth

- no 1099’s to report interest

- ability to take policy loans against cash value balance without interrupting growth

- ability to repay the loans with any amount and with any frequency of your choosing

- additional death benefit 

- moral reasons: fractional reserve banking contributes to inflation whereas full reserve life insurance companies do not.  Society decays when money decays.  There is something to be said about not contributing to the problem by leaving only the minimum on deposit at traditional banks to pay monthly bills (plus 2-3 months cushion).  

90 days is plenty of time move money from a cash value policy to a bank account when funds can be delivered via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) from life insurance companies in 3-5 days.

Your ability to be safe and liquid without an over reliance on a traditional bank during (and after) your working years is as much of a necessity as saving for retirement with a Roth IRA.  After all, you have need to finance your lifestyle for ALL YEARS of your life.  If you fail to capitalize properly in the best place, traditional banks are all too happy to extend you money via credit cards at 18-25+%.  This is a debt trap best avoided.

Remember Mark Twain said: A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

Cash Value policies allow you to be your own banker instead!  Learn more by listening to the podcast I co-host: The Fifth Edition.

#2: Tax-Free Source of Funds During Your Non-Working Years


I’ll wager you’ve never considered Cash Value Life Insurance for retirement purposes.  It’s not part of conventional thinking when we’re conditioned to save for retirement via government controlled (qualified) vehicles like 401k/403b/457 and IRA accounts.  And consider that these qualified retirement accounts offer only one option for income:  withdrawals without any hedge for outliving your account balance (no lifetime guarantee options).

Nonetheless, there are numerous additional benefits and advantages to having a Cash Value policy in your overall financial portfolio:

- non-correlated asset

- guaranteed cash value increases each year

- ability to customize withdrawals or take policy loans for tax-free income

- ability to annuitize cash value for guaranteed lifetime income

- availability to have access to the death benefit as an additional source of funds due to terminal or chronic illness

- ability to combine with other assets like 401k/IRA’s to create additional retirement income strategies that produce more income than 401k/IRA’s will provide on their own: 

  1. Covered Asset Strategy
  2. Volatility Buffer Strategy


Single people: Look past the death benefit as a reason to own permanent life insurance.  Cash Value Life Insurance is an incredible gift you can give yourself that carry benefits and advantages which are too important to overlook.  I give you 2 reasons own a cash value policy: tax-free use and control of your money during working and non-working years, in one place no less.

The best time to start is always yesterday.  Remember, your health is never guaranteed and this is the one financial account that must be medically qualified for.  

Though Valentine’s Day comes around once a year, this is a gift you can give yourself any day of the year.  My advice is to get started sooner rather than later.  Your future self will appreciate you had the foresight to think both long-term and unconventionally.

Here’s the best way to connect with me:

Thank you,

John Montoya

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

There is No Secret Ingredient

One of my favorite movies is Kung Fu Panda and the lesson about the secret ingredient applies to Whole Life.

When people learn about Infinite Banking, they feel like they discovered something that wonderfully new and magical.  The truth is though there is nothing magical about Infinite Banking or Whole Life policies other than the perceived newness of it.

There’s a mystical feeling about making a discovery, traveling some place new, and the a-ha moment with Infinite Banking and Whole Life is like that, too.  But there is no magic about it, no sleight of hand.  This is a good thing because if there was something magical or some sort of con involved to distract your attention, Whole Life insurance would be, well, Universal Life insurance.

Same thing with Infinite Banking.  It’s perhaps a novel idea at first until you realize banking has been around for thousands of years.  People who have saved will lend to those who need capital and the cost to the borrower is interest.  

If you’ve ever loaned a friend or family member money, you’ve banked at the individual level.  It’s that simple.  At a larger level, that’s the role traditional banks have filled for people who haven’t saved enough capital for what they want or need.  But the banking function of lending is not exclusive to banks.  We are just conditioned to think it is.

Enter Infinite Banking at the individual level.  The “you and me” level as Nelson Nash used to say.  He would also tell people the banking function doesn’t have to be done with Whole Life.  It can be accomplished with a Bank Line of Credit (Home, business, or personal).  It can be done with a checking/savings account.  However, his conclusion was Whole Life was the best financial vehicle to harness the banking function. Infinite Banking was born and his book Becoming Your Own Banker was written to help people understand a different way of solving for our greatest financial need:  financing.

To be clear, Infinite Banking and Whole Life are two separate things.  The former is a strategy, the latter is a financial product.  IBC requires a financial product.  Whole Life doesn’t require Infinite Banking.  

What Whole Life accomplishes through its guarantees and predictability is make it the best choice to practice the banking function in your own life.  Rather than relying on traditional banks for all the major capital you’ll require in your life, you can instead Become Your Own Banker.  

And Whole Life works so well because there is no magic to it.  Or as say, “no luck, skill, or guesswork.”

Premiums paid result in guaranteed cash value.  Only in a Whole Life policy does the cash value represent the equity you own in the death benefit.  Consider a 30 year fixed mortgage as an analogy:  level payments for all years where each mortgage payment results in an increasing equity position for the home owner.  Same thing for Whole Life where each premium results in a growing equity position of the death benefit until the cash value ultimately must equal the death benefit. This never happens with Universal Life policies.

I’ll explain Universal Life this way:  you lease the death benefit, you never own it.  

The reason why is because the cost of insurance in Universal policies in designed to increase every year and any additional amount paid above the cost of insurance is unbundled into an interest bearing account which is the cash value in a Universal policy.  Since the cash value floats based on whatever interest crediting option available in the product in Universal policies, performance requires “luck, skill, and guesswork”. The cash values must also stay above the increasing cost of insurance or the policy will begin to eat itself.  There is nothing certain about Universal policies unlike a Whole Life policy.  

To sum up, there’s nothing magical about Infinite Banking and Whole Life.  No secret ingredient.  Whole Life is based on guaranteed numbers (math).  As a result, its performance is guaranteed by the life insurance companies that offer it.  Infinite Banking is the idea and strategy eliminating the middle man banking institutions.  

Monday, January 9, 2023

The Biggest Lie About Whole Life Insurance


Text from a potential client:  I was reading that for many whole life policies you don’t get the cash value upon death, is that true?

Thankfully, this is 100% NOT TRUE!  But it is true that this lie is perpetuated around the internet as gospel and people hear or read this so often that they believe it to be true.  

So here’s quick explanation to put this lie to rest and this will help you understand how a Whole Life policy works.

Lets first understand a Whole Life policy operates on a contractual guaranteed basis to accomplish what you want to have happen.  I’ll come back to this.

Second, let’s have a thought exercise to help in learning.

Imagine if you will that you have a retirement goal to accumulate $1,000,000.  How would you do it?

Option #1: Invest

At one end of the spectrum, the riskiest way is to invest because investments entail risk of loss.  While we all no doubt would like to accumulate $1,000,000 using the fewest dollars possible, investing offers no straight line to the end goal.  Look at any valuation chart of your favorite index.  Returns will zig zag and ride the market roller coaster.  There are no guarantees of arriving at $1,000,000.  Past performance be damned (if we’re being honest).

Option #2: Save

At the other end of the spectrum is the least volatile way to create a straight line to $1,000,000 and that is to simply save. To keep things simple, assume no yield on savings and no inflation.  Just save and you will get there but it will require the full $1,000,000 saved on your part in order to equal the $1,000,000 target end goal.  While this is the least efficient way to accumulate $1m, it is also the only “guaranteed” method.

How long it takes to reach $1 million is up to your capacity ($100 a month, $1000 a month, $10,000 a month, etc.) and your discipline level as the saver but with enough time, money, and discipline the $1,000,000 savings goal will be achieved.

There's one problem with both options though.  One unknown variable with both the investing and savings option is mortality which is why I wrote “guaranteed” a couple paragraphs above.  You might die prematurely before you ever reach $1,000,000.  There’s no guarantee you’ll live long enough to save (or invest) enough to equal $1,000,000.

This is where Whole Life insurance comes in.  In order to make certain what you want to have happen, will happen, you require insurance on your life as a hedge.  Only a Whole Life can guarantee you reach your investing/savings goal, even if you’re not alive to realize it.  (The main problem with Term and Universal is that you likely will outlive both because of the fatal design flaw built into those policies... increasing future premiums.)

Whole Life accomplishes an inevitable outcome at the most basic level.  Think of it as a guaranteed savings vehicle with a death benefit attached.  As you pay premiums (save money), you get closer to your end goal. If you pass away before reaching the end goal, the insurance company is on the hook for the difference between the cash value and the death benefit, called Net Amount At Risk.  This is the insurance part of the policy.

Only with a Whole Life policy are you contractually guaranteed the premiums will equal the death benefit at your time of death, or if you live long enough, at the end of the contract (up to age 121).  In layman's terms, if you save the money, you'll reach your goal no matter what.  

Each year as you age you get closer to the cash value equaling the death benefit.  This is called Endowment.  Only a Whole Life policy is guaranteed to endow (cash value equaling the death benefit).  

Here’s the major takeaway:

What people don’t realize about how Whole Life policies work is that the cash value is the present value of the future death benefit.  Read that again please.  Let it sink in.

For proof, look at the death benefit in the final year of any Whole Life illustration.  At the bottom on the left side is the Guaranteed Ledger. Each year the Total Cash Value is increasing and getting closer to the guaranteed Total Death Benefit.  Scroll down to age 121. You'll find the Cash Value now equals the Death Benefit.  This is contractually guaranteed with Whole Life and every Whole Life policy operates the same way or it's not a Whole Life policy.  I've lost count of how many people have a Universal policy thinking it's Whole life...  (The Non-Guaranteed Ledger below on the right includes Dividends.  Dividends are icing on the cake, if you will.)

When you understand that the Whole Life premiums you are paying are creating cash value and that the increasing cash values  represents the present value of the death benefit, you’ll realize the insurance company can’t keep the cash value because the cash value is 100% entwined and part of the death benefit payout.  Actuarial science and contract law makes this a mathematical certainty that the premium paid into the policy will accumulate internally to equal the death benefit.

What you’ve accomplished with your deliciously boring Whole Life policy is to guarantee that you will save your way to $1,000,000 via premiums (some call it “forced savings”) and if you aren’t alive to reach the goal, your beneficiary will be recipient of the $1,000,000 tax-free death benefit.  It’s boring because you know with certainty this will happen.  No luck, skill, or guess work required.  And I'll add a Whole Life policy has been an extremely peaceful and stress-free way to organize my life.

In a nutshell, it’s a guaranteed savings vehicle with a death benefit attached.

Now repeat after me:  

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.

The life insurance company can’t keep your cash value because the cash value is part of the death benefit.


John Montoya

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Term, Universal and Whole Life Insurance: Price is What You Pay, Value is What You Get

Here’s a simple explanation of life insurance in order of product history with some anecdotes sprinkled in from my life experience.




1. Term is the oldest.  No cash value.  Death benefit has a level cost (premium) for a “term” period.  After the term period (common example: 10, 20, or 30 years), the premium increases annually at an ever-increasing cost.  Hypothetically, one could pay the rising annual premiums to age 95 or 100 (per the contract) but effectively no one ever does because premiums become too outrageous.  Benefit is the temporary cheap death benefit.


2. Whole Life was introduced after Term around 150 years ago because customers wanted a permanent death benefit.  Whole life covers the “whole” or entirety of one’s life up to age 121, if you live that long.  There is cash value.  Premiums are guaranteed level for the life of the contract.  Overage of premium is returned to the policy holder as a dividend.  Cash values guaranteed to increase because cash values must eventually equal the death benefit on the last day of the contract in year 121.  This is called endowment.  Only a Whole Life policy can guarantee endowment.  Benefits (short list): level premiums for life, guaranteed cash values which can be accessed while living for any reason, guaranteed death benefit for life.


3. Universal was introduced about 40 years ago.  It separates the cost of insurance from the interest component so that the cost of insurance adjusts once a year for the life of the contract.  This is known as Annual Renewable Term. Universal policies has the illusion of being cheaper than Whole Life because the cost of insurance at time of policy issue is very inexpensive.  But as the insured ages, the cost of insurance increases annually to better price the mortality risk (closer to dying).  What was once very cheap becomes extremely expensive by late 60’s getting exponentially more expensive into 70s, 80’s and beyond if there is still enough cash value to support the rising costs internally without the policy owner having to come out of pocket to offset the cost of rising premium.  Benefit:  cheap at first, “permanent” death benefit.



Universal is “Permanent” much like how a term policy could be considered permanent.  Technically, if a person were willing to pay the increasing cost of premium every year to age 95 (or the end of the contract), both a term and universal policy would be permanent, indeed.  


The reality is altogether different.  Because only a Whole Life policy locks in a guaranteed level premium, it is the only life insurance contract that is in effect permanent.


Hucksters (Dave Ramsey) and life insurance salesman with limited training will recommend Universal making the common mistake of thinking it is cheaper than the Whole Life but the reality is, like term insurance, being cheap is temporary.  Eventually, the price of the insurance policy will catch up to its true cost.



Having worked at Nordstrom in my college years selling expensive but high quality men’s dress shoes I learned a valuable lesson:  Price is what you pay, value is what you get.


I learned it was easy to buy the $80 dress shoes that would hold up for maybe 6 months but it was smarter to spend $220 on shoes that would last 4-5 years or longer. 


I approach life insurance the same way.  Term insurance certainly has a place.  For my money, I want a guaranteed convertible term policy so I always have the option to covert to a Whole Life policy.  But when purchasing permanent life insurance, I want the best value I can get.  That only applies with Whole Life because I know the guarantees with Whole Life make sure the premiums are locked in.  I’m transferring the risk of ever being unable to afford the policy as I age and I have cash values that won’t be cannabalized by rising mortality costs like with Universal policies.



I think of Whole Life as similar to a 30 year fixed mortgage.  When I’m shopping for a home, I’m going to choose the financing option that will provide a level payment until the home is paid for.  It’s common sense if you’re going to live in the home for a longer time.  Sort of like shopping for a life insurance plan and planning to be alive for as long as possible… I’d never choose a 1 year adjustable mortgage when buying my home.  In mortgage terms, that’s essentially a Universal Life policy.


We all know what happened in the Great Financial Crisis from 2007-09.  The movie The Big Short chronicles it extremely well.  A few individuals saw the writing on the wall with all gimmicky artificially low interest rates that were set to adjust much higher after the initial term expired and they bet against the housing market making millions, even billions, in the process.


Why do you think life insurance companies love to sell term and Universal policies?  They know they are going to be let off the hook of paying a death benefit because people will either outlive the term policy and won’t be able to keep up with the rising cost of insurance.  Like a home going into foreclosure where the bank repossesses all equity and the house, the life insurance company will keep all the premium (term) paid or in the case of Universal, surrender what’s left of the cash value.  The death benefit is temporary is both cases.


Takeaway: a death benefit can only be guaranteed if the policy owner can afford to pay the premiums or there is enough cash value and/or built up death benefit to pay up the remaining policy premiums to achieve endowment.  Only Whole Life makes this possible because the premium is calculated and guaranteed by the underwriters to cover a level cost of insurance for the life of the policy.  


Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get.



Additional note:



Since Universal policies subject the interest credited to either money market like rates (Universal), or mutual fund like securities (Variable Universal), or even ETF like funds with caps and participation rates (Indexed Universal), there does exist for the possibility for the excess premium (cash values) above the rising cost of insurance premium to accumulate and stay ahead of future mortality expenses.  However, as noted, because the rising cost of insurance is never locked in beyond a year at a time with Universal policies, the risk of the policy performing as one hopes for when making the purchase always resides with the policy owner, never the life insurance company.  The insurance company bears no risk for non-performance because the interest component is unbundled from the cost of insurance.  The risk of the universal life policy performing, because cash values aren’t guaranteed to increase to eventually equal the death benefit like with Whole Life, is left to uncertainty.



 Thank you,

John Montoya

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