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What to do if you can’t afford life insurance right now

We understand. Between inflation, a possible recession on the horizon, and a host of other demands on your time and money, life insurance can seem optional. Even if you are well, or if you are young and/or healthy, planning for your own mortality may not seem as urgent as, for example, work, household chores, or paying the bills.

That said, life insurance can be cheaper than you think. Also, consider how your absence—and the absence of your income, whatever it is—might affect anyone who’s counting on you to pay for things, whether it’s a roof over their head or college tuition down the road.

Think of buying life insurance as a kind of financial safety net. And you wouldn̵

7;t trapeze through life without one of those, right?

Read on to find out why life insurance is still a good idea, even if you think you can’t afford it right now.

Who needs life insurance?

In short, if someone is dependent on your income to pay for the basic everyday needs of life, life insurance is probably a good idea. Here are some examples:

Parents with small children

This is the most traditional example, and there is a reason for that. As any new parent can tell you, raising a child is expensive. (The latest research suggests it will cost $310,605, or $17,000 a year, to raise a child from birth to age 18.)

But who would support your child if you weren’t around? Who would pay for everyday expenses like diapers and formula, new clothes and Cheerios, a bike or baseball glove, and whatever else teenagers like as your child gets older?

This is where life insurance comes in. In exchange for a monthly premium, you get coverage worth the face value of your policy. (A good rule of thumb is 5 to 10 times your annual salary.) That may sound like a lot of money, but, as we’ll explain below, it can be cheaper than you think.

And if you’re a stay-at-home parent, guess what? You may not draw a salary, but your hard work has value too. Estimates vary, but many experts say a stay-at-home parent contributes the equivalent of $125,000 or more per year — a contribution that your partner would have to match in one way or another if something were to happen to you.


Even if you don’t have children, having a large expense or debt like a mortgage means you’ve made a financial commitment that will continue even after you die. Again, ask yourself who would have to fulfill that commitment if something happened to you, and how would that person afford the extra cost?

Life insurance may seem like another expense in your current budget, but it’s likely a drop in the bucket compared to shouldering the burden of paying off your mortgage.

All who are married

All of the above is especially true if you are married. More than half of those surveyed by Haven Life said they would experience financial hardship if their spouse passed away. This would be true if you have kids and/or a mortgage (as in the examples above), but it’s true if you don’t as well.

Think about it. There is rent. There are groceries. There are bills.

There is the cost of your death itself – paying for a funeral or burial can be an unexpected expense for those who are already grieving. The death benefit from a life insurance policy can be used for these costs, and those to come.

For most people, it would cost a lot more to do without that payout than a monthly life insurance premium.

All who are not married

It’s true: Most people who are young and single probably don’t need life insurance … yet. That said, it’s worth considering, because unfortunately, dying isn’t cheap. On average, a funeral with cremation or burial can cost upwards of nearly $7,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

There is also the question of what debts or financial commitments you leave behind. Who would pay off your student loans, for example, if you’re not around? Or the rent for the rest of your lease? Life insurance helps provide a certain financial cushion for whoever you believe will take care of your remaining expenses in the event of your death.

Something else to consider: You may not always be single. Getting life insurance while you’re young and healthy means you can lock in a lower interest rate that usually stays the same throughout your policy term. (And we may be biased, but finding out the person we’re dating already has life insurance would make us swoon.)

If you will need more life insurance later, you can always add more then.

All with someone who depends on them financially

We have described the most traditional examples above. But there are other situations to consider as well. Maybe you have a sibling you take responsibility for.

Maybe you have aging parents who can’t support themselves. Maybe there is a person, friend or relative that you care for.

In all of these situations, life insurance can seem like a luxury. But as we’ve said, going without life insurance and leaving your loved ones without your financial support is anything but a luxury.

How much does life insurance cost?

Generally speaking, there are two types of life insurance: Term life insurance and whole life insurance (a form of permanent life insurance). Which one you choose will be one of the biggest determinants of the cost of your life insurance policy.

Let’s start with whole life insurance. As the name suggests, this is life insurance that covers your entire life, regardless of how long you live. Because this type of policy covers the years in which you are oldest (and, in actuarial terms, likely to die), whole life insurance is usually more expensive than term life insurance. For example, a $250,000 whole life insurance policy from State Farm can cost as much as $284 per month.

Life insurance, on the other hand, covers you for a certain number of years (the term). Most people choose a term length that covers the years when they draw a salary and/or have significant expenses – such as a mortgage or the cost of raising a child. After that, many people find that they no longer need life insurance because they no longer have dependent expenses or income from a salary.

As a result, you can often get whole life insurance for significantly less. At Haven Life, a 25-year-old woman in excellent health can get a 30-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy for under $15 a month. That’s probably less than you spend on coffee per month, and at least as important. It’s also significantly less than whole life insurance, especially when you consider paying premiums for three decades or more.

In general, an insurer will look at your age and level of health when deciding how much to pay for a policy. If you’re in less than good health, we understand, but we hope you don’t let that stop you from considering life insurance.

First, you will never be younger than you are today. (It’s just a fact.)

For two, even if you plan to get healthier—by eating better, exercising more, quitting smoking, etc.—there’s always a chance that something unforeseen will affect your health. Also, if you don’t get coverage as soon as possible, you won’t be covered if something happens to you that isn’t correlated with your health, such as a car accident.

In fact, life insurance probably costs less than you think, and going without would probably cost your loved ones a lot more than you think.

What if you can’t afford life insurance right now?

Maybe you’ve read this far, gotten a free life insurance quote online, and still don’t think you can fit monthly premiums into your current budget. We understand and hope you will reconsider.

However, we should mention that there are a few things you can do to help squeeze life insurance into your financial outlook: Cut back on streaming services; eat out a little less (which also helps your health!); make a plan to pay off all debts; generally start budgeting, with or without the help of a budgeting app.

The other thing you can do is shop around. Each insurer sets its own requirements and life insurance prices, so comparing their plans will help you find the best option for you.

Scouting for the best plan can be a daunting process, which is why Haven Life helps you get an affordable online life insurance quote in minutes. Every policy is backed by MassMutual or its subsidiary, CM Life, which means it’s backed by one of America’s most trusted, respected and best-reviewed insurance companies, for the kind of peace of mind you can’t put a price on.

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