Term Life Vs Whole Life: Advice From 39 Personal Finance Experts That Will Blow Your Mind

Jan 22, 2017 (11) comments

term life vs whole life, term vs whole life insurance , term vs whole life insurance

I am sure that you'll agree with me that when it comes to term life vs whole life you are stuck at which option to choose:

A quick search in Google and you will find several posts all with different answers.

These answers for the most part are sometimes hard to understand.  

I promise that today you will get a definitive winner and a solid understanding of why the winner was chosen.  ​

Most of the battles end in a draw and the person sharing the information just won't seem to give a direct answer. 

So, I took a different approach:

Instead of creating another post about term vs whole life insurance I decided to go straight to the source.  People who deal with these questions daily.

I asked over 70 personal finance experts and bloggers a simple question:

Term life vs Whole life, which would you choose and why?

These experts are among the top in the industry,  some of them have overcome thousands in debt and others are licensed professionals.

Every day they are working towards helping you better understand the world of personal finance through detailed reviews about companies like haven life or with "How To" posts like this.

I wanted to see if whole or term would win this epic match up...

So, should you buy term or whole life insurance?  Here are the results to the battle we've all been waiting for:

And The Winner Is:

Term Life Insurance

34 Term Life Votes
2 Whole Life Votes
3 Neutral Votes

GET YOUR FREE INSTANT TERM QUOTE

The experts prefer Term Life Insurance, but is it for you?  Check out this simple and free Life insurance calculator to get an idea of how much coverage you may need and for how long. 

We also wrote a post about why it's much easier to buy term life insurance online if you are not sure of the best route to take.

If you are already sure about the amount of coverage and term length you need, get your free instant quote and get covered today

If you decide the coverage isn't right for you, cancel any time before the 30 day free look period ends for a full refund.

Our Sample of Experts

39 Experts
417287 Twitter Followers

Top 10 Personal Finance Experts

personal finance blogger - david carlson

David Carlson

Millennial Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - michael kitcees

Michael Kitces

CFP® & Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - john schmoll

John Schmoll

Finance Blogger & Freelance Writer

personal finance blogger - andrew schrage

Andrew Schrage

Econ. Major & Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance expert ternt hamm

Trent Hamm

Writer & Founder of The Simple Dollar

personal finance blogger - holly johnson

Holly Johnson

Writer & Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - tracie forbes

Tracie Forbes

Family Finance & Lifestyle Blogger

personal finance blogger - philip taylor

Philip Taylor

CPA & Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - Ilyce glink

Ilyce Glink

Personal Finance & Real Estate Blogger

personal finance blogger - david ning

David Ning

Personal Finance & Retirement Blogger

personal finance blogger - sam dogen

Sam

Dogen

Personal Finance & Lifestyle Blogger

personal finance blogger - jessica moorhouse

Jessica

Moorehouse

Personal Finance Blogger & Podcaster

personal finance blogger - chris huntley

Chris

Huntley

Life Insurance Consultant & Blogger

personal finance blogger - joe udo

Joe

Udo

Personal Finance & Lifestyle Blogger

personal finance blogger - sopia bera

Sophia

Bera

CFP® & Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - frugal trader

Frugal

Trader

Personal Finance & Investment Blogger

personal finance blogger - melanie lockert

Melanie

Lockert

Personal Finance & Debt Blogger 

personal finance blogger - Elle Martinez

Elle

Martinez

Couple Finance Blogger & Podcaster

personal finance blogger - Allison Bell

Allison

Bell

Personal Finance Journalist & Blogger

personal finance blogger -tia chambers

Tia

Chambers

Millennial Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - Brian Brandow

Brian

Brandow

Personal Finance & Debt Blogger

personal finance blogger - gina young

Gina

Young

MBA and Personal Finance Writer 

personal finance blogger - Lance Cothern

Lance

Cothern

CPA & Personal Finance Blogger

Dan

Kadlec

Personal Finance Blogger & Journalist

Crystal

Stemberger

Personal Finance & Lifestyle Blogger

personal finance blogger - jordan brown

Jordann

Brown

Millennial Personal Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - sean cooper

Sean

Cooper

Personal Finance Journalist & Author

personal finance journalist - kate ashford

Kate

Ashford

Personal Financial Journalist in NY

personal finance blogger - jim dahle

Jim

Dahle

Personal Finance Blogger & Investor

personal finance blogger - matt becker

Matt

Becker

Personal & Family Finance Blogger

personal finance blogger - eric rosenberg

Eric

Rosenberg

Personal Finance & Lifestyle Blogger

personal finance blogger - aaron crowe

Aaron

Crowe

Personal Finance Freelance Writer

personal finance blogger - maria schepis

Maria

Ferrante-Schepis

CLU & Insurance Innovation  Expert

personal finance blogger - teresa mears

Teresa

Mears

Personal Finance Writer & Blogger

personal finance blogger - emma drew

Emma

Drew

Income & Wealth Creation Blogger

personal finance blogger - tiffany aliche

Tiffany

Aliche

America's Favorite Financial Educator

Yaron Ben Zvi

Yaron

Ben-Zvi

Co-Founder and CEO of Haven Life

personal finance blogger - donna freedman

Donna

Freedman

Personal Finance Writer & Author

personal finance blogger - simplyinsurance

JC

Matthews

Insurance Education Blogger & Consultant

What The Experts Say About Term Life vs Whole Life

Read below to review each expert's choice and advice on whole life vs term life:

​#1: David Carlson (Young Adult Money)

Answer:

Term for sure.

Whole life insurance is more of an investment vehicle.

You are better off keeping insurance and investments separate.

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​#2: Michael Kitces (Kitces)

Answer:

Buy term insurance for the death benefit coverage you need.

Use the rest of your available dollars for your other goals.

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​#3: John Schmoll (Frugal Rules)

Answer:

For most individuals, there is no real comparison between Term and Whole life coverage.

Term is by and large that best product for most individuals.

Term is the better option for a number of reasons, such as being significantly cheaper and usually allows you to get more coverage.

Term coverage will expire, thus the term, but it's the better value and the option my wife and I go with.

Many sales reps will try to convince you that Whole life coverage is the route to go but it's simply not a good fit for most individuals.

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​#4: Andrew Schrage (Money Crashers Personal Finance)

Answer and Vote:

There are many factors that go into answering the question of whether you should purchase term or whole life insurance.

A few of them include your age, general health level, your children's age, your debts, and the financial needs of your family (if you have one)

There are others. And in some instances, it may be advisable to purchase both types of policies.

In a nutshell, term life insurance comes with a death benefit only, and this is only paid if you pass during the term of the policy, hence its name.

It is purchased for a preset period of time, usually 10, 15, or 30 years.

It is more expensive the longer you wait to buy it, however, it is generally less expensive than whole life.

With whole life insurance, you are covered for life, it also comes with a death benefit, but also typically builds cash during its life.

A medical exam is usually required to see if you qualify and as stated, it is generally a little more expensive than term life.

To give you a few examples of which is the best route to go.

A parent who is rather young, with children and who is the primary income earner for the household might want to go with a term life insurance policy.

One that would completely take care of your family's obligations financially speaking should you pass prematurely.

If you are older, say beyond the age of 60, and your children are already grown and earning their own money.

A whole life policy might be a better bet which would cover the monetary needs of your spouse if that person lives well beyond your passing.

There are too many different scenarios to list out here.

Your best bet for making the right choice is to contact an insurance agent.

And go over all of the particulars of your personal situation to learn which type of life insurance policy is best for you.

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​#5: Trent Hamm (The Simple Dollar)

Answer:

I would almost always choose a term policy (I hate to say "always," but it's hard for me to find a case for whole life).

The reason is that I want control over my investments, which means I don't want my investments wrapped up with my life insurance policy in a package that isn't completely transparent in terms of the benefits and returns.

Plus, even with the most optimistic "estimates," I feel much more confident about both short term and long term returns from pairing a term policy with my own investments in index funds at the same total monthly cost over all whole life policies I've seen.



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​#6: Holly Johnson (Club Thrifty)

Answer:

We have purchased term life insurance a few times, with the last being just a few months ago.

We prefer term life insurance because it's cheap and easy to understand.

We purchased an additional $750,000 in term life insurance coverage on me a few months ago.

I applied online with Haven Life and was approved with no medical exam that day.

The kicker? 750K in coverage for me was less than $28 per month.

The same policy would have easily cost $500 or more per month if we had purchased whole life instead.

personal finance blogger - holly johnson

Twitter: @ClubThrifty

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​#7: Tracie Forbes (Penny Pinchin Mom)

Answer and Vote:

Term - always term.

Life insurance is not an investment tool.

Not only that, but life insurance should be used to cover expenses that may be result in your early death.

Coverage such as missed wages, mortgage, college.

It is not a tool to give your loved ones wealth.


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​#8: Philip Taylor (PT Money)

Answer:

I'm 41 and married with 3 young kids.

I chose term life insurance ten years ago (I bought a 20yr $500k policy).

This is best for me because I expect my kids and wife not to depend on me for income after the 20 year term.

I see whole life as a good product for people with long-term dependents (i.e. children with special needs).

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​#10: David Ning (Money Ning)

Answer and Vote:

I prefer term life insurance because it insures what people really need.

Unexpected death causing a sudden shortfall in income.

Without adding in the complexity of the investment component of other types of life insurances.

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​#11: Sam Dogen (Financial Samurai)

Answer:

If you are filthy rich, with cash flow coming out the wazoo, then having a whole life policy is fine, despite the fees.

Whole life is another tax efficient investment vehicle to help grow your wealth.

But for 90%+ of people who need life insurance, term life is the way to go.

Fees are much lower and you're allocating capital 100% towards a specific need.

Always review your net worth and future liabilities each year so you can properly ascertain how much term life insurance to have.

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​#12: Jessica Moorhouse (Jessica Moorhouse Blog)

Answer:

Term Life for me.

It's more affordable for young families and it gives you more flexibility in terms of changing your policy down the road.

I'm also of the belief that you should only require life insurance if you can't afford if something does happen.

For instance, a popular policy for millennials is a term life for 20 years for say $500,000. That secures you for 20 years.

Hopefully during those 20 years you've saved up enough and have enough assets that you won't need life insurance (or you can afford the higher cost of life insurance) when your term is up

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​#13: Chris Huntley (Insurance Blog By Chris)

Answer:

I'm not a fan of whole life insurance as an investment.

Advisers love to point out its tax and liquidity benefits, but I think those are outweighed by the poor investment return found in most whole life policies.

Dave Ramsey said the average return of a whole life policy over 30 years is 2.6%.

I also don't like how the premiums are essentially forced.

If you stop making premium payments, the policy must take the premiums from somewhere, so it either pulls them from the cash value or creates a policy loan.

When neither are available, the policy lapses, and the owner could lose a high percentage of his/her initial investment.

Name another investment with such "forced contributions." They don't exist.

As for the tax and liquidity benefits, tell me what benefit it is tax-wise to pull out cash from an investment that hasn't appreciated.

That's the case with most whole life policies for the first 7 to 10 years.

There is no tax benefit during those years because even in a taxable account, you can pull out your money tax-free up to its basis.

I think the liquidity benefits are also overstated.

They're nice for short term loans but many people take loans to supplement their retirement income.

The problem is policy loans accrue interest, and you could end up in a situation where you have to pay the loans down, something people never consider when they view their policy as something that gives them money.

I say term is the right choice for short term coverage needs, and for the few people who need permanent protection (for example, for estate planning needs) I recommend guaranteed universal life.

Guaranteed universal life offers a fixed level premium and face value like whole life, but typically at half the cost.

The only time I recommend whole life is when purchasers are looking to cover final expense needs, or who have tough health conditions, and can only qualify for guaranteed issue whole life policies.

It's also useful in some unique business planning purposes.

personal finance blogger - chris huntley

Twitter: @mrchrishuntley

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​#14: Joe Udo (Retire By 40)

Answer:

I choose Term life insurance because it's cheaper and easier to understand.

I want to make sure that my wife and kid won't struggle financially in case I pass away.

We only need 20 years coverage because our kid will be independent by the end of the term.

Whole life insurance might be a good fit for some people, but I'd prefer to manage my own investment.

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​#15: Sophia Bera CFP® (Gen Y Planning)

Answer:

I'm a huge fan of term life insurance policies because the premiums are much more affordable.

I've never seen a situation where I recommend a whole life insurance policy to a millennial.


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​#16: Frugal Trader (Million Dollar Journey)

Answer:

I'm a fan of the popular concept of buying term and investing the difference.

There are specialized cases where whole life insurance works, but the vast majority of people‎ are better off going with renewable and convertible term insurance.

The cost of whole life insurance is onerous and the investment portion of the plan typically face high fees and under perform.

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​#17: Melanie Lockert (Dear Debt)

Answer:

I tend to think Term Life Insurance is a safer bet.

It has more flexibility and you can choose a time frame that works for you.

It's best to get life insurance when you're young and rates are more affordable.

personal finance blogger - melanie lockert

Twitter: @DearDebtBlog

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​#18: Elle Martinez (Couple Money)

Answer:

We chose term life insurance because it offered the amount and type of protection we wanted at a price we could afford.

We signed up for term life in our 20s and got a great deal.

During this time, the money we saved with term instead of whole life went towards other goals like getting out of debt, building our savings, and now investing more for retirement.

We have a few policies (added them when we had kids) with either a 20 year or 30 year term. The plan is that by the time they are over, we'll have accumulated enough assets to cover things.

personal finance blogger - Elle Martinez

Twitter:

@Elle_CM

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​#19: Allison Bell (Life Health Pro - Health)

Answer and Vote:

I think people in a position to choose should split the difference and get both, either using a policy with a rider or two separate policies.

The term life chunk will work better if you die soon and your beneficiaries need a lot of cash fast.In the long run, the whole life policy will be more flexible and longer lasting, and meet more needs.

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​#20: Brian Brandow (Debt Discipline)

Answer:

I have for my family and would always advise term life.

I like to have the coverage at a low premium for a period of time typically when children are young.

The goal is always to build wealth and become self-insured, so life insurance is no longer needed.

personal finance blogger - Brian Brandow

Twitter: @DebtDiscipline

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​#21: Gina Young (Money Savvy Living)

Answer:

I recommend whole life insurance for everyone because the benefits of coverage, the building up of a cash value, and the fact that an individual is covered more than 20 or 30 years is always a plus.

However, if someone can't afford that, then I recommend a return-of-premium term insurance policy.

It costs a bit less on a monthly basis, gives the insurance benefit of lump sum coverage during the term, and if it is not needed, the policy holder gets the premiums paid in back.

So it ends up being a forced-savings account.

With either of these options, the insured's family has coverage and are building up some sort of cash value.

personal finance blogger - gina young

Twitter: @MoneySavvyLife

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​#22: Lance Cothern (Money Manifesto)

Answer:

I would choose term life insurance.

If you're investing properly, you should no longer need insurance after a typical long term life policy has expired.

Get a quote for both term and whole life insurance.

Pay the term life insurance and invest the difference between the whole and term life policy costs.

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​#23: Dan Kadlec (Right About Money)

Answer:

I would only consider term life.

It is the simplest and cheapest way to secure a benefit for your family in the event you pass away, and that is the main reason for owning life insurance.

If you want to build cash value, take the excess payments you would make on whole life and pay them into a mutual fund.

Twitter: @dankadlec

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​#24: Crystal Stemberger (Budgeting In The Fun Stuff)

Answer:

I go the term life insurance route:

Term life insurance was simpler and cheaper.

Pay a (usually) low monthly premium for a set term and receive set coverage. SOLD!

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​#25: Jordann Brown (My Alternate Life)

Answer:

Term life, of course!

I only need insurance to pay off my mortgage and provide a lump sum for my husband in the event of my death.

Once I'm retired, my house will be paid off and my investment portfolio will take the place of that lump sum.

That will also be right around when my term life insurance will be expiring.

There is no need for whole life insurance if you pay off your debts and save diligently.

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​#26: Sean Cooper (Sean Cooper Writer)

Answer:

For most families, term is the way to go—it provides homeowners with low-cost coverage.

I know what you're thinking: term insurance is like rent—you're throwing your money away.

You could say that about other types of insurance too.

You're not going to go, "Aw shucks, my home didn't burn down, so I paid for home insurance for no reason all those years!"

So, how long should you cover yourself with term life insurance?

For families with young children, term 20 is probably the way to go.

Your family will be protected until your children are grown up and (hopefully) financially independent.

Since quotes for term vary among insurance companies, get a few before deciding which provider to go with.

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​#27: Kate Ashford (Kate Ahsford)

Answer:

Only about 57% of people have life insurance coverage at all, according to a Bankrate survey, and about half of those respondents don't have enough coverage.

So for the vast majority of people, term life insurance is the way to go.

It's cheap, so people can buy as much life insurance as they need, which is generally at least 10 to 12 times their income.

Whole life insurance is much more expensive, making it difficult, if not impossible, for people to buy enough insurance to really meet their needs.

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​#28: Jim Dahle (The White Coat Investor)

Answer:

Term is the right answer for 99% of people, including high earners like doctors.

There are very few exceptions to this general rule. Whole life is generally a product made to be sold, not bought.

personal finance blogger - jim dahle

Twitter: @WCInvestor

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​#29: Matt Becker (Mom And Dad Money)

Answer:

I’ll be very clear with my opinion here.

Permanent life insurance has its place, but it’s for maybe 2% of the population who has accumulated a lot of money and is trying to plan the passing of that money to future generations.

Young people starting their families typically have no need for permanent life insurance.

personal finance blogger - matt becker

Twitter: @MomAndDadMoney

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​#30: Tia Chambers (Financially Fit And Fab)

Answer:

For most millennials, term life insurance is sufficient.

Term life insurance is easy to understand and inexpensive.

Then you can use the additional money that you would have spent on a more expensive whole life policy on other financial goals like investing for retirement.

personal finance blogger -tia chambers

Twitter: @finfitandfab

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​#31: Eric Rosenberg (Personal Profitability)

Answer:

I would choose term life over whole life, and actually already made that decision a few years ago!

I have a $1 million term life policy to protect my family in the event of a worst case scenario.

The monthly cost of term life is much lower than whole life, and if you want to invest for retirement, you can find a better return elsewhere.

And, by the end of the term, you should have enough in savings and investments to cover your family's needs.

Term life is definitely the way to go!

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​#32: Aaron Crowe (Arron Crowe Blog)

Answer:

Term.

Cheaper and covers you for when you need it the most — your earning years.

personal finance blogger - aaron crowe

Twitter: @aaroncrowe

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​#33: Maria Ferrante-Schepis (Flirting With The Uninterested)

Answer:

I've actually chosen both Term and Whole Life Insurance.

I own several insurance policies, some of each.

Term insurance is a great way to get covered for a very low price if you are healthy.

However term insurance is temporary, and typically lasts 10 or 20 years, maybe 30.

You can keep whole life insurance for your entire life, and it also has an investment component, allowing you to accumulate money within the policy.

The payments you have to make are much higher, but if you have the ability to save and are not living "paycheck to paycheck", it is a worthwhile investment over time.

I know people who have used the savings in their whole life policies to pay for college educations, pay for weddings and other expenses that are fairly substantial.

It's just that it is a lot more complicated to explain, and that's why people sometimes shy away from it.

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​#34: Teresa Mears (Living On The Cheap)

Answer:

Neither. As a single person with no dependents, I see no need for life insurance.

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​#35: Emma Drew (Emma Drew Blog)

Answer:

I would choose Whole life cover to meet my and my family's needs.

Although it takes awhile to build up a decent cash value, I think that in the long run it will save us money.

Being able to access a portion of the cash value is really invaluable to us, because we never know what life will throw our way.

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​#36: Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche (The Budgetnista)

Answer:

Start with Term Insurance. It's the most affordable.

Whole life only if everything else is funded: retirement, emergency account, investments etc.

Whole Life is how the wealthy pass their wealth on generation to generation.


personal finance blogger - tiffany aliche

Twitter: @TheBudgetnista

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​#37: Yaron Ben-Zvi (Haven Life)

Answer:

Deciding between term and permanent life insurance really comes down to your individual financial needs, as both types of life insurance have their pros and cons.

If you're looking for a low-cost way to get ample, affordable coverage, term life insurance is a good choice. It's also very simple to purchase and maintain.

A permanent policy, like whole life, might make sense if both an investment (because you've maxed out other tax-effective accounts) and a life-long insurance need is present.

Because permanent life insurance is more complicated, buyers work with a financial professional to choose and maintain a policy.


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​#38: Donna Freedman (Surviving & Thriving)

Answer:

If you're in your late teens or early 20s you can lock in a very inexpensive term life insurance rate for the next 20 or even 30 years.

At that point you'll likely be at the peak of your earning years and your household will be better able to withstand the financial impact if you were to die unexpectedly.

I suggest young people buy term life policies precisely because they're hale and hearty.

They may think they don't need/can't afford life insurance.

But they DO need it and they almost certainly CAN afford it, even if they're stuck with student loans on a starter salary.

It can cost as little as $11.60 to $13.08 per month for a 30-year-old nonsmoker to get term life insurance.

As little as 39 cents to 43 cents per day can provide the coverage that will make the survivors' lives a lot easier.

(Both spouses/partners should get this insurance, by the way.)

Still think you can't afford it?

If so, think of it this way: If your household is living paycheck to paycheck now, what would happen if one of those paychecks disappeared?

Even if you're single, the insurance would pay for funeral expenses and the costs of dealing with your estate (even a small one can be a fair amount of work), and provide some money for grieving parents and siblings or, say, college funds for a beloved niece or nephew.

Using those figures above, you'd spend $2,784 to $3,139 during a 20-year period and $4,176 to $4,708 for 30 years of coverage (less than that, probably, if you buy earlier).

Sure, it would be nice to have that money in your pocket. In the grand scheme of things, it's chump change.

Imagine you or your partner/spouse dying suddenly.

The grieving survivor and any kids or other dependents you have would have to make some tough decisions while reeling from shock.

(Can we afford the rent/mortgage? Will I have to take the kids out of the school and neighborhood they love because we can't afford to live here? What about health insurance? I'd planned to be an at-home parent for another four years but now I have to find a job and child care right away because our savings will vanish within three months...)

Some tout the benefits of permanent life insurance. However, that's often because they make a lot of money selling it. For most people, term life is a better fit.


personal finance blogger - donna freedman

Twitter: @DLFreedman

Author Of:

Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul

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​#39: JC Matthews (Simply Insurance)

Answer:

When it comes to term life insurance vs whole life insurance, I would choose Term Life.

It's always going to be the most affordable and give you much more coverage for the price.

I only offer whole life insurance to my clients that require a guaranteed acceptance policy or have medical conditions that won't allow them to qualify for a traditional term life policy.

I've not found any reason to offer a traditional whole life product to my clients and that 99% of the time Term Life Insurance works best.

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Are You Ready To Make A Decision On Coverage Now? 

A huge thanks to the all the experts who contributed to the roundup. Please share if you enjoyed it.

Term Life vs Whole Life This Is What 39 Personal Finance Experts Think

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The Winner Is:

Term Life Insurance

34 Term Life Votes
3 Whole Life Votes
2 Neutral Votes

If you could only choose one type of life insurance, which would you choose?  What do you think about the experts opinions?

Let me know in the comments below.

JC Matthews is the Co-Founder & CEO of Simply Insurance. He is a Licensed Life and Health Insurance Agent with over 9 years of experience in the industry. He is an Entrepreneur, Insurance Educator, Field Underwriter and newbie blogger. JC is on a Journey to get 1 Million Families insured.

All posts by JC Matthews

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