When choosing life insurance, many of us are tempted to purchase a huge amount of coverage. But if you are an average person, with an average income, do you really need $2 million in life insurance coverage? I know that some insurance agents would love for me to have even $1 million in coverage, but I don’t think that my family needs it, and I can think of other things I’d rather do with the money I’d be paying in premiums.

Figuring Out How Much Life Insurance You Need

My husband has even less life insurance coverage than I do. This is because I’m the primary breadwinner, and I work from home. If my husband were to pass on, our income wouldn’t drastically enough to warrant a huge policy to cover him. He will be starting a job in the fall, but we have been able to live on my income for the last 8 years, so the money from his job will be going to other goals, rather than to living experiences.

Here is some of the reasoning behind the relatively low coverages we have in terms of life insurance:

  • We bought enough coverage to pay off our debts: When we first bought life insurance coverage, we want to make sure the other person could pay off all of the debt. We only increased my life insurance coverage when we bought the house so that the mortgage could be paid off if I died. Now, of course, we have less debt than we had when we first purchased life insurance, so that’s extra money.
  • We are both capable of working in flexible jobs: My husband starts as a college teacher in the fall, and I work from home. My husband could easily arrange his class teaching schedule to coincide with the hours my son is in school, and he will have summers off — like my son. Since I work from home, there wouldn’t be much in my schedule that would change.
  • We have savings and investments: We’ve been faithfully putting money away in emergency savings and in retirement accounts. This provides a pool of money to draw from for a few months if needed. We also have a 529 for our son, so it’s not vital that a life insurance payout cover the entire cost of college.
In the end, my husband would be able to get along just fine with the life insurance payout if I died, able to pay for my funeral, and able to pay off the house, and still have some money left over. Since he would be able to work, there isn’t a need — we think — for more.