BOTTOM LINES: March 1980
Presents by proxy
Kids Count is a new gift-buying service for fathers and mothers who are separated from their children. “Because of divorce, distance or the crunch of business, a parent may not always remember to buy that birthday or back-to-school present,” explains Holly McMunn, who started the service about nine months ago. Kids Count remembers—and for an annual service charge of $35 selects and sends gifts to your child. There’s something faintly decadent about the whole idea, but so far over 500 parents have signed up, including a military man whose two children are staying home in Wisconsin while he serves in the Philippines and a career woman with four children and no time to shop.
You designate three to six gift-giving occasions a year and how much you want to spend for each gift (minimum: $25). Then you fill out a profile of your kid’s school interests and hobbies. The staff of Kids Count does the rest, including gift wrapping, choosing appropriate cards (which a parent can arrange to sign in advance) and letting the parent know what he’ll be giving.
Kids Count aims for the unexpected. For example, the 15-year-old son of an executive who travels three weeks out of four received a videotape machine and camera so that the son can show his father the basketball games he plays in. An aspiring dancer, a 20-year-old coed from Connecticut, got tickets to the New York City Ballet and a backstage tour.
Kids Count is at 12 E. 87th St., Suite 2A, New York, N.Y. 10028; telephone, 212-427-8568.
Installment-plan life insurance
Life insurance companies usually impose what amounts to a finance charge for letting you pay your annual premiums in monthly installments. But many companies substantially reduce this charge if you’re willing to have monthly premiums automatically transferred from your bank account, and at least two companies eliminate the charge altogether.
Say your annual premium is $1,000 and you’re billed monthly. Most companies would charge $87.50 a month, adding $50 to your premium. That’s equal to an installment interest rate of 10 ¾ %. But in some automatic payment plans, often called Auto-Check or Check-O-Matic, the monthly payment would be no more than $85, adding only $20 to your annual premium. That’s equivalent to an interest rate of 4 ¼%. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t recognize the extra cost of monthly insurance payments as a tax-deductible finance charge. Even so, if you left your money in a 5 ½%savings account instead of plunking down a hefty annual premium in advance, you’d come close to breaking even, after taxes.
Guarantee Mutual Life and American Heritage Life charge the same premium whether you pay yearly or by automatic monthly withdrawals. Companies with the lowest extra charges include American Amicable, American Mutual, Indianapolis Life, National Life of Vermont and State Mutual.