You need life insurance. Period.

Dear Pete,

Can you settle a debate my wife and I are having? We’re 33 years old and have two children. I’m the primary breadwinner by quite a bit. She makes about $18,000 per year working part-time. We have a pretty-good-sized mortgage and a fair amount of student loan debt. She thinks I should have life insurance, but I don’t have it and I don’t think I should have it. We’re trying to pay off our student loans, and the $65/month in premiums I’ve been quoted seems like too much. She doesn’t take into account that her parents are pretty well off and would probably take care of her and the kids if I died. Who is right?

— Mark, Philadelphia

Nobody likes to be proven wrong, but Mark, I’m about to prove you’re the wrong one in this situation. Abominably wrong. Sit tight.

If you are not Mark and are reading this and thinking, isn’t the answer so obvious? Yes, it is, but you’d be surprised how many people ask me this question in a year. It’s usually men.

Mark, you need life insurance. You really need life insurance. You’re using the logic of other insurances to talk yourself out of buying life insurance. Auto, health, and homeowners insurance all benefit the insured. You pay into the policy because some day it will save you personally. Paying into life insurance does nothing for you personally. You are going to pay several thousand dollars over the course of your lifetime for a benefit you’ll never see a dime of, and that’s okay! Because life insurance isn’t for you, it’s for your survivors.

You say your wife’s parents can take care of her when you’re gone, but can they really? You said you are trying to pay off student loan debt. Can your wife’s parents pay off the student loans, replace your income, and prepare for your children’s future? I highly doubt it. The perception of someone else being “well off” is subjective. They may have, and likely do have, financial stresses you know nothing about. Strapping them with the care of your wife and children is a burden they would gladly take on, but shouldn’t have to.

Let’s assume for a minute you read this whole post and don’t get on board, but that in 20 years you have a change of heart. Life insurance will be SO much more expensive when you aren’t young and healthy. You are the right age to buy life insurance now.

I could keep going with the more logical reasons you should buy life insurance, but I’m going to go straight for the gut and simple say, do it for your kids, man. Buying life insurance isn’t just a financial decision, it’s a long-term commitment to caring for your family.

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