How Much Life Isnsurance Is Enough for a SAHM?

Updated on October 19, 2012
K.H. asks from Fernley, NV
19 answers

My husband's work automatically covers the spouse up to 50k(I think). We have 3 kids and after funeral expenses that will barely pay for childcare for a year. How much do you have and why? My hubby has enough to support4 of us without him for a long time so can still be with the kiddos without working should something awful happen. I would like something similar for me, but I also know he would want to keep working.

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So What Happened?

Our youngest is 2 months, the oldest just turned 6. I have stayed at home for 4 years now. The insurance agent we go to church with said his wife has a 200k$ policy and I was thinking how on earth is that going to be enough??? I am 27, in great health, non smoker etc...Is 200k really enough? My husband has a 750k$ I think.

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answers from St. Louis on

When I was a stay at home we carried enough to pay off the mortgage and funeral expenses. The idea behind that is it isn't that expensive but if something happened to me the money that was going to the mortgage could go to paying someone to do everything I did.

If we had had other debt we would have increased it to cover that debt as well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Patricia said pretty much what I was going to say.

"The intent is to replace income, or in the case of a SAHM, to replace the cost of all you do"

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

for us? I think my combined life insurance is at $1M.

We got the insurance when our boys were born and we planned for child care costs should I die before my husband - and more than enough to pay off the mortgage and set up a trust fund for the boys.

I still have my life insurance that I got with my first marriage -- that's why I say COMBINED.

you need to figure out what will work for you, your age, your health, etc. it might not be insurance that you need but wise investments. Talk to a financial planner - they can help you make the right decisions.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

How much would it cost to hire a full time nanny to take over your responsibilities? For at least 3 years?

My nieghtbor died of cancer at age 37 - her oldest was in 6th grade, her youngest was less than a year old. (She had no risk factors...) Her husband really struggled with finding a nanny he could afford - and never really found a good one. He remarried within 2 years of his wife's death (almost the same weekend of her death!!) and now the new wife and her older girls all lived together. The older girls have their boys friends sleep over frequently, they stay out to all hours, etc. My neighbor who passed away would be spinning in her grave if she knew what her kids are exposed to these days. I truly think if Dad hadn't been so overwhelmed with childcare financial concerns he would not have been so quick to remarry... I could be wrong but to me I'd be much more comfortable knowing they could spend a fortune and get really good childcare.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We don't have a specific life insurance policy as we feel they are a rip off. My ex Step Dad was a life insurance salesman and that is where I base my opinion... he was worse than a used car salesman when it came to life insurance

We have things set up through our investments and under our control. Either way, we would be ok and should not have to make any changes to our lifestyle.

From what I have heard, term is the best bet and the whole life is the scam.

Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Do you have any student loan debt? If so, make sure to include that figure into your calculation.

For me we have a $250k policy, as it covers my student loans, funeral expenses, plus what we figure to be the cost of having a live-in nanny for several years, as my husband not working is simply not an option. We have both term and whole life (we realize the whole life policy is not the BEST use of our money, but it is only 1(small) part of our investment strategy).

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answers from Dallas on

Generally, a SAH parent qualifies for half of what the working parent is insured for. Apply for the maximum. My husband and I both have a million, but I was working prior to having my son, so I was able to get a larger amount. You want the maximum, because he would have to hire people to do everything that you do in order to keep working. The intent is to replace income, or in the case of a SAHM, to replace the cost of all you do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

We have $350k on me. And have for awhile.
My husband works weird hours (and weekends included) so just "daycare" doesn't cut it. He'd basically need a live-in nanny.

Of course, now our kids are getting a little older. They still can't drive or anything, though, so even though they could get to and from school (the bus), they'd need someone to make sure they get to all their "stuff" (karate classes, volleyball practices/games, orthodontist appts, allergy shot appts, the dog has regular bloodwork at the vet)... and they'd need someone to take them. My husband is not home during the times this goes on. On the RARE occasion he is available, it is only the pick-up at the end part... not getting them there, too. And he has almost an hour commute from home to work--one way.

So... live-in nanny for a few years, funeral expenses, etc. We could probably drop it down to less than we've had, since we wouldn't need as many years of a nanny as we did initially, but the policy is cheap. I don't think it is even $200 annually.

btw, our oldest is 14, so we don't use baby sitters anymore either. We'd only need a nanny for maybe 3 years... and the balance after that would probably pay off the house.

ETA after your SWH: You don't need as much as your husband, because you aren't earning any income that has to be replaced. He would only need an amount to cover the cost of replacing what you DO (a nanny, daycare, maid, etc). IF he were to die, you would have NO income to live off of. Presumably, he would retain his job if you were to die, so the income level would remain the same. Just the expenses would change. That is what you have to look at. Also, when planning for his insurance coverage, you want to plan how to proceed--will it cover the expense of you going to school full time and then going to work? do you plan to just live off of it and not go to work? Ever? or only until the kids are in school? kids grown? Cover college expenses?

See--whatever you are planning financially will not change if you die. Husband's job is already planned to be used to pay for those things, right? But, his expenses will increase to cover daycare/nanny/maid services that you do not pay for now. If your husband were to predecease you, then you have to come up with finances to pay for everything--replace his income for X number of years into the future... Personally, with a 2 month old, I would probably want a bit more than $200k on myself. Nanny's are expensive, and term life insurance is cheap in comparison.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

I was a single parent for several years with insurance salesmen- hounding me to buy lots of insurance- "so I can provide for the care of my son" BUT, I had no money to purchase additional insurance and most of them wouldnt' accept that. So i posed the question to them- If I die, and my son is a minor, my son will receive a social security check- and according to the statement I receive, it will be at least 800 per month. I currently receive child support in the amount of 300 per month and make it work- Why in the world would I need to leave 100, 200 thousand or more, for my son's father to care for him when he will already be receiving more than I currently do??
I have enough to bury me and pay off most of my debt- that's it. I would think 50K would be sufficient in your case- of course if you had enough to pay off the mortgage- that would be helpful to your husband in the long run, should anything ever happen.

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answers from Detroit on

I don't think life insurance is a rip-off. Whole life could be not worth it, but we have term. We have 1.5 million for husband who works and 700K for me, who is at home. This costs a few hundred a year, well worth it.
My aunt's husband died suddenly and she was left with 2 little kids and almost no life insurance. Can you imagine if they'd had a big policy on him? So we are inclined to have a lot. I just can't imagine being in her shoes.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We have $1M on my husband who is a SAHD. Our youngest is 1.5 years old and I would need help for 18 years or so. We have 4 kids whom we homeschool.

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answers from New York on

I heard recently that you should have 10 times your income. But since you technically have no income, you need to think about how much he'd need to support himself for X amount of years without you.

Then shop around and see what you can afford. I'd say you should at least get the cost of your house. So if you have a 500,000 house, you should be insured enough for him to be able to pay that off.

And in your case, he needs to have 10 times his salary for sure plus more I'd think since you have 4 kids.

BTW - the older you are the more it costs - so every month counts. Get some now!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would think that $250k would be sufficient when combined with the automatic $50k from your hubby's work. You would primarily be covering childcare expenses. I'm assuming your hubby would invest the bulk of the money, which would allow the money to stretch farther. In addition, if either of you passed away, the remaining parent would receive Social Security benefits for care of the dependent children. It might not be a huge amount, but it would be some amount that would help offset the cost of care.



answers from Los Angeles on

My dad who is a State Farm agent, had this wonderful handout that placed a value on the Stay at Home Mom. I cannot locate it but it took into consideration homecare, health needs, child care, meal planning, transportation costs, errand running and financial assistance. It was incredible the detail and the cost that would have been incurred for these tasks and services. I would encourage you to google for the answer and to answer your question, I have $750,000 worth of coverage on myself and an additional $20,000 with other small policies. I still feel it is not enough... I have 4 children and my husband is a mechanical engineer on an oil tanker and is gone for 60 days and then home for we have other considerations when allowing for unforseen expenses.



answers from Dallas on

We have $500K on my hubby, who is a SAHD. That's enough to pay for the house, funeral expenses, childcare for the now 3.5 and 9 mo old and put a nice chunk into their college funds. Rates on term life are great right now and it's a nice time to buy. Defintiely not a scam IMHO.



answers from New York on

You and hubby need to ask yourselves a lot of questions and then sit down with a calculator.
If something happened to you....
first you would need to cover funeral costs and the time hubby would take off from work.
Who would take care of the kids, do you have family that would help, would you require full time day care for the youngest? Before and/or after school care? What about the summers, school vacations, etc? What is the estimated costs?
Would hubby require any hired help for household assistance, cooking and cleaning, etc? What is the costs?

Both hubby and I work, so my situation is a lot different than yours.



answers from Pittsburgh on

It really depends upon whether he can continue to support 3 kids on his current salary. He would have additional childcare expenses, but he would have one full adult less to support. (So - no second car expense, no clothing, food, health insurance for you, etc). If his and the kids financial lifestyle would not have to change, then you do not need life insurance (on you). If he would not be able to continue your/his current lifestyle, you should try to calculate what the additional expenses would be and insure for that.

DH and I both work full time. We both feel that if one of us died, the other would be very capable of supporting him/herself and our son in our current lifestyle. Therefore, we carry a life insurance policy that only pays if we both die. We would rather take the difference in cost and use that towards something we will use - like college savings.

I guess I don't understand the cost of the house thing. Your husband's salary is paying the mortgage if you are not working outside the home. So I don't see why if you died he would suddenly want to pay off the mortgage.



answers from Chicago on

We have $500k on me. At the time, that was the maximum coverage I could get as a SAHM. We have a 30 year term policy and pay $65/month. I got this insurance when I was in my 30's. I'm sure the premiums would have been cheaper if I had been in my 20's.

I figure the $500k will pay for a nanny/child care, housecleaner, and tons of other miscellaneous services that my husband would need to keep the household running. They can also use any extra money to take family vacations. I used to think that the $500k could also pay for college, but by the time my three kids are college age, whatever money is left will probably only be able to pay for their books!

ETA - Shari made an excellent point about the Social Security benefits that the kids would receive upon my death. I forgot about that! I'm not sure, but I think they can only get that benefit if I worked and earned a certain threshold amount (which I have). For moms who have never really worked outside the home, that might not apply.



answers from Houston on

1.5 on hubby; 1 million on me. That has increased since I'm now working. This is in addition to what our companies pay. We also have funeral insurance on our kids. Funerals aren't cheap.

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