Come on, dads, this is the day ...

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The Independent Online
IT IS FATHER'S DAY and, as is traditional, the occasion is marked with a flurry of topical press releases. NatWest brings us the news that only one in five fathers gets involved in the washing and ironing. Barclays reports that 61 per cent of dads claimed to spend more than two hours a day with their children - while working a 45-hour week.

After spouting all this nonsense, the banks do make a fair point: for various reasons, most of the population is underinsured. Given that one in five households has no home contents insurance because nobody has got around to organising it, there seems little hope that many people will organise insurance that only pays out on serious illness or death. Thinking about death is hardly an attractive leisure activity.

Anyone who is relatively well-off may be able to cushion the financial blow of long periods off work using savings and insurance provided by employers. But even if you don't want, or cannot afford to, insure yourself against long-term sickness, there's no excuse for missing out on simple life insurance. In the trade this is called "term insurance" and it costs very little: an average 35-year-old non-smoking father could pay as little as pounds 11.05 a month for pounds 100,000-worth of cover for 15 years. This policy is with Equitable Life.

What this buys you is peace of mind that your family will get pounds 100,000 if you should die within the next 15 years. You don't get anything back if you survive. But it at least ensures that your children would be able to finish their education if the worst happened.

Just so the banks don't think their press releases have gone to my head, let me remind you of the one golden rule of personal financial planning: never buy investments and insurance at the bank.

Here's why: a 35-year-old smoker would be charged pounds 62 a month by Halifax Life for pounds 100,000 worth of life insurance. Back at Equitable Life, it's still pounds 11.05.

Instead, get quotes from a couple of direct insurers (such as Direct Line or Virgin) as well as Equitable, and also call a discount broker that has access to the whole market (it won't sell you policies from these direct players because they don't pay any commission).

All these firms advertise in the financial press. And cheapest is best.

ANOTHER thought for Father's Day: the clever bankers at Goldman Sachs bring us the news that England should do well in the World Cup. Their analysis is based on the premise that footballers do well if their country's economy is healthy. Given the economic performance of the others in Group G (poor), England are looking good. Unfortunately, Goldman also points out that Brazil has shown recent economic growth to match its dazzling football form.

All this goes to prove is that like the UK economy, football fever may be showing signs of overheating.


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