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Since 1883, Modern Woodmen of America has brought people together, supported families and strengthened communities.

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Modern Woodmen of America, Rock Island, IL

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Teaching Financial Values

How these Kansas parents encourage financial know-how with their daughters.

These Kansas parents and Modern Woodmen members prepare their daughters for the future by sharing financial lessons now.

The Heim family’s story

A few years ago, Bret and Angelea Heim were discussing funeral arrangements for themselves. Neither one of them is sick. The Kansas couple just wanted to have everything in order for their family.

After a call to their Modern Woodmen representative, Josh Oberley, they purchased two whole life insurance plans with the express purpose of covering future funeral costs.

Bret, an attorney, and Angelea, an English teacher, believe in being prepared. They also believe in teaching their kids to be prepared.

The Heims introduced their three daughters to a strong work ethic and basic financial principals at an early age. And now, the oldest is in college with no concerns of how to pay for it.

We caught up with Bret to learn more.

Interview with Modern Woodmen member Bret Heim

College is expensive. How has your family chosen to tackle that?

Bret: It’s a bit of a hybrid approach.

We opened a 529 educational account for each of the kids when they were born. We added a specific amount each month and let those funds grow.

Also, I introduced the girls to the idea of a savings account early on. My oldest daughter has worked since she was around 13. She’s always put part of that monthly check into her savings account. So when she went off to college in 2020, she had a nice cushion in savings, plus the 529 plan.

Added to that, her first two years have basically been taken care of with scholarships, including a Modern Woodmen scholarship. She’s a hard worker and always has been.

How about your other daughters?

Bret: My middle daughter had a chicken business. She sold eggs for about eight years and put the profits in a savings account. Now she has a part-time job on the weekends, and my youngest daughter has taken over the chicken business.

Every month, we sit down together and look at their savings.

When the girls turn 16, we buy them a car, but they have to make a partial payment every month. And they have to be responsible for filling up with gas and getting the oil changed.

Why do you feel that’s important?

Bret: I bought my first car – just me. I put myself through school – just me. I don’t want my kids to have to struggle, and I don’t want them to have to work full time through school. But I also believe they have to have some skin in the game. They need to recognize what things cost and the value of what they’re getting.

Sure, we saved money in the 529 plan for them, but if they don’t get scholarships, they’re still going to have a lot of college costs to cover themselves.

My wife and I share views on this, so that’s helpful. And as a result, the kids seem to realize the value of an education and are willing to work to facilitate that for themselves.

“They need to recognize what things cost and the value of what they’re getting.” – Bret Heim, Kansas

Why do you believe in life insurance for kids?

Bret: It’s not pleasant to think about, and as a result many people don’t.

However, having life insurance gives your kids options later in life. A permanent life insurance plan is an asset that will accrue value over time. The cash value could help your kids provide a down payment on a house, for example. If they keep the coverage in place, they’ll have something for their future family in case anything happens to them. Plus, having life insurance at a young age helps teach kids what it is, when you would use it, and why it’s available. It’s just one of those foundational things you need to have.

And, again, no one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but a lot of folks are not prepared for funeral expenses and the other costs that come with that. Having life insurance offers peace of mind and a safety net.

My wife and I lost our first daughter. When we went in for her final prebirth exam, they couldn’t find a heartbeat. It was a shock and impacted us greatly. Although we didn’t think that would ever happen to us again, we wanted to be prepared.

We purchased whole life insurance for our daughters with the idea that they could use the cash value and/or take the plan with them as they transition to adulthood.

What advice do you have for other Modern Woodmen parents?

Bret: Help your kids learn how the financial system works and the true cost of things. When you buy a car, you have to also think about what the gas costs and oil changes and that sort of thing. Talk about things like credit reports and life insurance and investments. It might sound boring to the kids initially, but it’s important that they have that understanding. Give them the foundation and watch them grow.


Josh Oberley

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401(k) plans

401(k) plans

A 401(k) plan is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that offers several income tax benefits for those looking to save for retirement.

Make An Impact® Scholarships
Fraternal program

Make An Impact® Scholarships

Modern Woodmen offers college scholarships for young members who are making an impact in their local communities.