People & Places

Death of parents pointed Cedar Rapids woman to a career she'd 'do for free'

LIFE INSURANCE

Lindsay Handy spends some of her free time doing the same thing she does at work — talking to people about financial wellness.

In addition to working as a financial services professional at New York Life Insurance Company in Cedar Rapids, she also speaks to high school students and other groups about building a financial foundation.

It’s something she feels is often missing from high school curriculums and is important knowledge to share with students — and for everyone to understand.

“It’s my passion,” said Handy, 30. “I’d do this job for free.”

There’s a very personal reason she feels driven to help people with insurance needs and financial planning.

When she was in her 20s, she lost both of her parents to cancer within a few short years. Unbeknownst to Handy or her parents, their life insurance lapsed while they each were on disability leave from their jobs.

After her parents died, Handy and her sister had to deal with their parents’ end-of-life expenses, including funeral costs, on top of dealing with their grief.

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After going through that experience, Handy decided to pursue a career where she could help others avoid similar struggles.

“I started asking around to friends and family and realized so many loved ones didn’t have life insurance. That’s when it dawned on me that I wanted to do this,” she said.

In two short years, she moved from Sioux City to Cedar Rapids with her husband, became a licensed insurance agent, accepted a job at New York Life and welcomed a daughter, Addy.

The tough times she went through led her to a job that she finds meaningful.

“It put me on the path I’m supposed to be on,” Handy said.

These days, her friends may get occasional reminders from her about keeping their insurance up-to-date and making sure they have enough coverage. She knows conversations about life insurance can be awkward, especially if you’re young.

“It’s not what most people want to talk about. I feel that because I lived it,” Handy said.

However, knowing your family is protected will give you peace of mind. It’s worth overcoming those mental barriers, Handy said.

“Start now so it won’t be such a burden on your loved ones,” she said. “It might feel too soon, but it’s not.”

Firm up your finances, step by step

Lindsay Handy shared these tips to put you and your family’s finances on a better footing. She encourages young adults, in particular, to realize it is never too early to focus on your finances.

1. Build a budget. Work from annual expenses down to monthly expenditures. Know what you’re spending money on.

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2. Set aside an emergency fund. This is separate from savings — it should be a true emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

3. Manage debt. If you’re a student, make sure you understand the loans you’re signing. Know all the debt you have.

4. Accumulate savings for predictable expenses. These include things like taxes, home maintenance and car payments.

5. Invest. Start a retirement plan. If your company offers a 401(k) match, invest enough to take full advantage of the match. In other words — take the free money. Consider working with an adviser if you need help.

6. Protect your assets and income. Make sure you have health insurance and homeowner’s insurance, and consider making a will and purchasing life insurance if anyone who relies on you for income.

7. Start leaving a legacy. Start dreaming about planning vacations, donating to charity — anything that gets you excited.

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