“Get as much term as you need, and as much whole life as you can afford…

When you find yourself in the market for whole life insurance, it’s only natural to have a variety of questions on your mind.

Most importantly, you’ll be asking this: how much coverage should I purchase at the present time?

Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to your budget, personal life, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Generally speaking, the best thing you can do is request quotes for multiple levels of coverage. This will give you a better idea of what you can afford.

If you need help narrowing your options and making a final decision, experiment with the following formulas: 

1. Multiply Your Income by 10  

This is far from an exact science, but it’s a good place to start.

For example, if you earn $100,000 per year, you should purchase a whole life policy with a $1 million death benefit.

If this is too expensive, knock off $100,000 in coverage until you reach a number you’re more comfortable with. 

2. A Multiple of Your Income Plus College Expenses  

With this strategy, you use a multiple of your income, such as 10x, along with future college expenses.

Maybe you have one child who is under the age of 10. Since college is still a ways off, you need to think about what would happen if you were to pass on before he or she graduates high school.

Again, this is anything but an exact science, as there’s no way of knowing how much college will cost in the future. Even so, you can use a round number, such as $100,000 per child.

Sticking with the example above, this formula would suggest that you have a life insurance policy with a death benefit of $1.1 million (Whole Life $1,000,000 Cost).  

3. The Rule of Three  

With this, you’re digging deeper into your financial situation to determine how much coverage you require. Focus on these three details:  

  • Income
  • Current debt
  • Cost of final expenses (funeral, burial, etc.)

This is a more detailed approach, as you’re looking at more than just your income. Many people prefer this strategy because it gives them a clear overview of their finances, taking into consideration both debt and income. 

Life Insurance Needs  

Use the following planner to calculate life insurance needs.

MassMutual has a fantastic life insurance need planner that you can use here:


Final Tips 

As you consider the above, you should also keep these three tips in mind:

  • Review the rest of your financial plan, as this could have an impact on how much whole life insurance you purchase.
  • Don’t be cheap. There are times when it makes sense to skimp, but not when you’re purchasing life insurance.
  • Take your time. Even if you’ve put this off in the past, take your time as you compare your options and make a decision on how much coverage to purchase. It’s better to give yourself an extra couple days than to rush your decision and end up unhappy. 


No two people are in the exact same situation, meaning that you can’t look to others when deciding how much whole life insurance you need.

Fortunately, once you review your finances and learn more about your options, you’ll feel confident in your ability to make a final decision.

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