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

Think life insurance can’t fit into your budget? Think again

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We get it. Between inflation, a possible recession on the horizon, and a host of other demands on your time and money, life insurance might seem optional. Even if you’re doing all right, or if you’re young and / or healthy, planning your own mortality might not seem as urgent as, say, work, household chores or paying the bills.

That said, life insurance might be more affordable than you think. Moreover, consider how your absence — and the absence of your income, whatever it is — might affect anyone who counts on you to pay for things, whether it’s the roof over their head or college tuition down the line.

Think of buying life insurance as a sort of financial safety net. And you wouldn’t trapeze through life without one of those, would you?

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

In this article:

Who needs life insurance?

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

Parents with young children

This is the most traditional example, and there’s 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 18.)

But who would support your child if you weren’t around? Who would pay for daily expenses like diapers and formula, new clothes and Cheerios, a bicycle or baseball glove, and whatever teenagers are into when your child gets older?

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

Oh, and if you’re a stay-at-home parent, guess what? You might 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 need to replace one way or another if something were to happen to you.


Even if you don’t have children, having a large expense or debt such as a mortgage means you’ve made a financial commitment that will continue even after you’ve died. Again, ask yourself who would need to follow through on that commitment if something happened to you, and how that person would afford the added expense?

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

Anyone who is married

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

Think about it. There’s rent. There’s groceries. There’s bills.

There’s the cost of your death itself — paying for a funeral or a burial can be an unexpected cost for those already grieving. The death benefit from a life insurance policy can be used toward those costs, and those to come.

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

Anyone who isn’t 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’s also the question of whatever 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 some financial cushion for whomever you think will take care of your leftover expenses in the event of your death.

Something else to think about: You might not always be single. Getting life insurance while you’re young and healthy means you can lock in a lower rate that will typically stay the same for the life of your policy. (And we might be biased, but finding out the person we’re dating already has life insurance would have us swooning.)

If you wind up needing more life insurance coverage later, you can always add more then.

Anyone with someone who depends on them financially

We’ve outlined the most traditional examples above. But there are other situations to consider as well. Perhaps you have a sibling you take responsibility for.

Maybe you have aging parents who can’t support themselves. Maybe there’s a person, friend or relative, who you take care of.

In any of those 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.

What 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 you choose will be one of the biggest determining factors in the cost of your life insurance policy.

Let’s start with whole life insurance. As the name suggests, this is life insurance that lasts your whole life, no matter how long you live. Because this type of policy covers the years where you’re oldest (and, in actuarial terms, likeliest to die), whole life insurance is typically more expensive than term life insurance. For example, a $250,000 whole life insurance policy from State Farm might cost as much as $284 per month.

Term life insurance, on the other hand, covers you for a set number of years (the term). Most people choose a term length that covers the years where they’re drawing a salary and/ or have significant expenses — for example, a mortgage, or the cost of raising a child. After that, many people find they no longer need life insurance, because they no longer have the expense of dependents, or the income of a salary.

As a result, you can often get a term life insurance policy 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 equally important. It’s also significantly less than a whole life policy, 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 determining how much you’ll pay for a policy. If you’re in less-than-excellent health, we understand, but we hope you won’t let that stop you from considering a life insurance policy.

For one, you’ll never be younger than you are today. (That’s just a fact.)

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

The fact is, 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 online life insurance quote, and you still don’t think you can fit monthly premiums into your current budget. We understand, and we hope you will reconsider.

We should mention, however, that there are a few things you can do to help you squeeze life insurance into your financial outlook: Cut back on streaming services; eat out a little less (which will also help your health!); make a plan to pay down any debt; generally start to budget, 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 rates, so comparing their plans will help you find the best option for you.

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

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About Nihaal Sha

Read more by Nihaal Sha

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

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