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April 25, 2020

Buying streaming media and daily lattes instead of life insurance: why you may be putting yourself at financial risk

affording life insurance

Who needs insurance?

Many of us have some life insurance coverage through our employer. Usually, this insurance is available at very reasonable rates when purchased this way. But like health insurance coverage from our employer, this life insurance coverage may also be lost when you leave that job for any reason.

Life insurance is an important part of a long-term financial plan. But life insurance isn’t for the person who purchases the coverage and pays the premium; it’s for the people we leave behind. Whether you're single, married with children, or enjoying your mid-life adventures, life insurance can help protect any of your loved ones in the event of your passing.

Why do I need insurance?

If people depend on you for financial support, if you have any debt, or if you want to ensure your final expenses won't burden your loved ones, there is a good chance you need life insurance. If you were to pass away, having life insurance means you have provided a way for your loved ones to help pay for your final expenses and other debts you may have accrued. Depending on the type and amount of life insurance coverage you have, you may be able to provide your loved ones with replacement funds for your income, funds to cover the mortgage, and even money to help fund your children’s education.

Single people are not immune from the need for life insurance. Even if you don’t have a spouse or children, you will still have final expenses to be paid. Do you own a business? Student loans? A car payment? And remember, a dependent isn’t necessarily a child. It could be anyone who is financially dependent on you, including a sibling, or an aging parent.

But can I afford it?

Lack of knowledge causes many consumers to overestimate the cost of term life insurance coverage. More than half of the population thinks the cost of a term life insurance policy is three times the actual cost.1

Misperceptions about cost can cause many people to put off buying life insurance until they think they can afford it. The two main factors that determine the cost of life insurance are their age and health.2 We only grow older and good health in the future is no guarantee.

Everyday lifestyle expenses can add up to more than the cost of coverage

When asked to estimate the cost of $250,000 term life insurance policy for a healthy 30-year-old, more than half of the respondents said $500 per year or more. The average cost of such a policy is closer to $160 per year.1 Most of us have numerous small yet regular expenses that, if altered even slightly, would free up the cost of life insurance.

For example, if you spend just $5 per weekday on coffee — and let’s be honest, it’s probably more than that — then you are spending $25 per week, $100 per month, and $1,200 per year. If you skipped just one day a week, you’d save $240 a year, still more than enough to pay for that term life policy.

There are lots of other expenses that add up like that: restaurant meals, music and video streaming services, trips to the movie theater (with snacks, of course), monthly mail order services such as clothing, cosmetics, etc.

Types of insurance

There are two main types of life insurance:

Whole life

provides coverage for the life of the insured. In addition to providing a death benefit, whole life also contains a feature where cash value may accumulate.3

Term life insurance

guarantees payment of a stated death benefit during a specified term. Once the term expires, the policyholder can renew it for another term, convert the policy to whole life coverage, or allow the policy to terminate.3

Whole life and term life insurance can each play a part in a long term financial plan


The decision to purchase life insurance is not one to be put off; don’t wait until you think you can afford it. Since the cost of life insurance is based on your age and your health, it will never be as affordable as it is right now. Your financial planner or licensed insurance professional can help you find coverage that fits your needs and your budget.

  1. LIMRA, 2019 Insurance Barometer Study (April 2, 2020)

  2. Investopedia, 7 Factors That Affect Your Life Insurance Quote (April 16, 2020)

  3. Investopedia, Whole Life Insurance, (April 2, 2020)

Categories: Insurance, Life Insurance

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