When I became my family's breadwinner, I took out $250,000 of life insurance for less than the cost of dinner every month

parent children walking autumnMNStudio/Shutterstock.com

About 18 months ago, I was putting my pajamas on when my husband came home from work in the middle of his shift. He sometimes did that, stopping by to get dinner before working an overnight shift. But when I rounded the corner into the kitchen I saw that he was in his regular clothes, rather than the law enforcement uniform he usually wore. I immediately knew he had lost his job.

The next thought to run through my mind was that we needed to triage. I was about seven months pregnant with our second child. At the time, I made slightly more as a writer than my husband did working his government job, but I was planning to take 12 weeks off after the baby, which would affect our income massively.

Minimizing stress was our immediate goal

We spent the next few days talking through our options. We decided that our priority was to minimize stress during this time, as if stress around pregnancy and job loss can be so easily controlled. Rather than my husband going through the rigorous job-search process during my third trimester, he would stay home with our 4-year-old, and eventually the baby.

Suddenly, I was our family's only source of income. That meant that rather than easing up on work during the final weeks of pregnancy, I was doubling down, trying to cover not one income, but two. Luckily, the triage plan went better than we could have imagined. We decided to extend it a full year, keeping my husband home and our infant out of childcare.

Some people feel stifled by the weight of being their family's only earner, but I loved being in the role. I enjoy my job in general, and having my husband home with the kids made everyone's life less stressful. Our whole family slowed down in a way that we couldn't when he was working law enforcement shifts, and it was amazing to know that my job let that happen.

I always knew I should have life insurance, and suddenly it was urgent

However, as the year went on I started thinking more and more about what would happen if I died. I hated the idea that if the worst happened, my family would have to deal not only with the transition of loss, but also with the transition of dad going back to work and the kids doing into daycare. The solution, I realized, was to buy life insurance.

In the past, I've known that I "should" have life insurance, just the way I "should" have a will (something that is still outstanding on my to-do list). However, it hadn't seemed especially pressing. I was young and healthy, so my chances of dying are relatively slim. Plus, I reasoned, my husband made enough to support the family.

Policygenius can help compare life insurance policies to find the best coverage for your family »

When I became the breadwinner, buying life insurance became more urgent. I set myself a deadline: I wanted to have life insurance by my 30th birthday (which I celebrated in May 2019).

I began looking for life insurance, without mentioning it to my husband. I knew he would say it was unnecessary, but that platitude would be coming from his desire that I live forever. I wanted the peace of mind of knowing that if I died, he and our girls would be taken care of.

I pay less than the cost of dinner for my life insurance every month

I thought about "taken care of" meant. I didn't want to over-insure myself and waste money on premiums, but I wanted my family to have enough money that they could buy time to heal if I died. I figured if I left them enough money to pay off the mortgage, cover my funeral, and live for roughly two years, they would be able to get through the most intense grieving period. Using roughly that formula, I bought a $250,000 policy. I selected a 20-year term policy, because by the time it expires my girls will be through college.

I started the formal application for insurance about a month before my 30th birthday, and my plan was finalized a few weeks after my birthday. Each month I pay about $29 for life insurance - less than it costs to buy pizza for our family of four. And yet, I get something much more valuable than a greasy meal. Sure, if everything goes right, that $29 will be thrown away, but if the worst happens that's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Our second daughter is now 15 months, and my husband started working again about three months ago. Still, I make the bulk of our money, and am glad to know if anything happened to me he could quit his job (if he wanted) to support the kids. Now, we just have to get his life insurance policy in order ...

Policygenius can help compare life insurance policies to find the best coverage for your family, at the right price »

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

{{}}
Add Comment()
Comments ()
X
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.