So yesterday, my work computer died. Like completely, irrevocably died. I tried to resurrect its poor heart by pushing “Please wake up” in Morse code on the power button, but to no avail. The damn machine remained as lively as a librarian’s toenails. It was 9.04am. May it rest it peace.
“DAMN YOU, TECHNOLOGY!!” I yelled, as lighting flashed across the sky. Okay, I exaggerate, but I was pretty damn frustrated. I really, really, really needed my computer to work this week because I’m moving departments (yay!) and needed to teach a colleague how to do my old job. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to do his job well and I would just ruin things for everyone.
And so I was pretty frustrated, partly because things like computer crashes were never supposed to happen to me. They happen to people who watch porn in the office, or download music into their work computer, or don’t click the “eject” button before removing their flash drives. I didn’t do any of those things – I treated my work computer like a baby, but the damn thing still crashed on me! (If my employers are reading this: Obviously, I’ve been working way too hard. Time for a salary review?)
But after crying over the remains of my poor computer, something struck me that totally made my day – Last Friday, my colleague decided that it was a good idea to save a copy of my files onto his flash drive so that he could go through them over the weekend. The flash drive was booted onto a spare desktop, files were copied, and lo and behold, I was up and running again. THANK YOU, USB!!!!
So this incident got me thinking – you never really know what the hell is going to happen to you, do you? You could run virus scans regularly and still crash your computer. You could sweat it out on the running track 3 times a week and still die from a heart attack. You could drive slower than a granny on a tricycle, and still get hit by a speeding maniac taxi driver (which is like, all of em). Life is unpredictable as hell, and no matter how careful you are, or how much preparation you make, there will be something that you didn’t anticipate, and Murphy’s Law states that that is the exact thing that will happen.
I’m not an insurance agent (or a ‘financial planner’ as they call themselves these days – gawd, what a misnomer), but I was talking about insurance with a friend over drinks some time last year. She felt that insurance was something that was probably good to have, and something that she should look into, but it’s like preparing for one of those far-off possibilities that you could get cancer, or crippled, or die. It just seems like almost an impossibility when you’re 27. Yeah, I know, I feel that way too.
But I’ve also read the work of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who talks about his theory of “black swans”. (No, I’m not talking about the Natalie Portman movie here, though that was awesome). His contention: just because you’ve seen white swans all your life, doesn’t mean that you can conclude that black swans don’t exist. Because all it takes is for you to see just one black swan, and that causes your whole theory to come crashing down. And the nature of “black swans” (the fashionable term for “low probability, high impact events”) is that they can sometimes cause some serious damage.
So just because it’s never happened before, or just because you think you’ve taken all precautions, doesn’t mean that you are completely safe. Smart, savvy and financially independent people know that anything can happen that could destroy your savings in an instant: the death of a breadwinner, a hospitalization of a loved one, or your house burning down. So they take steps to mitigate that risk by getting insurance. To be honest, you may never actually use it, so lots of people see it as throwing money away. But I’d rather shell out a little bit of money every month, to be able to sleep soundly knowing that I’m insured against the risk of wiping out my savings and investments that I’ve worked so hard to build up!
Note: I think insurance is important, but don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying that you should run out and buy like a ridiculously expensive plan and pay $20K a month in premiums. In fact, I think the insurance industry is structured in a way that incentivizes agents to sell certain plans that may not be in the best interest of the insured – More on that later! I’ll also blog about the types plans that are the most cost-effective, while providing the protection you need. Stay tuned 🙂