Don’t be stupid, single moms. Buy life insurance!

Ask your broker about policies that include well-behaved, appreciative children. 

I noticed today on my account that my annual life insurance payment cleared. It’s not super-cheap — $635 for a $1 million, 30-year policy with State Farm — but it always gives me a twinge of satisfaction to write that check each August. After all, that sum is a small price to pay to know that my kids will have some financial security in the event I kick off unexpectedly. Since I am the primary breadwinner in my family, that annual line-item is my responsibility — not a luxury.

Apparently I am in the minority in that conviction.  A recent State Farm survey found that just 34 percent of Americans consider life insurance to be essential to their financial plan. And the number of single moms who opt not to invest in life insurance is stunning. A 2011 survey found that 69 percent of single-parent households with kids at home are without life insurance, compared with 45 percent of married-parent families.

I understand why this is — single moms are poorer than married moms, so there is a sense that there is less to invest in insurance. But something else is going on. When you feel poor, it is hard to accept that others depend on you — maybe because you feel like you’re already dependent on others (whether that is an ex for child support, public programs, or family and friends who help you out). But even if those supports were to continue to support your children in the event of the worst, and even if Social Security kicked in, it would still be a rotten financial picture.

So buy life insurance. Here’s the basics.

1. Buy term. That is just a flat rate you pay each month or year for a fixed term — usually 10, 20 or 30 years. Don’t mess around with whole life insurance — a type of savings/investment policy that is complicated and not a very good deal.

2. Figure out how much you need. I just went through State Farm’s cute, animated life insurance calculator that did a great job of summing up my financial and family situation. As a general rule, you want to buy enough to pay off debt and support your dependents until they are through college. One general rule of thumb is to multiply your current income by 10 (so if you earn $80,000 per year, you would need to buy $800,000 worth of life insurance). However, that can be overly simplistic.

3. Get a quote. At the end of State Farm’s calculator you will get a quote from that insurer. NetQuote is another good source of quotes from a variety of carriers.

4. Buy now. Yes, you will get a price break if you quit smoking or get your weight down to a healthy number. But you also pay more with each birthday (the older you are, the more likely you are to bite the big one, after all). Plus (have you been listening to me here, ladies?!), you need coverage now. So just buy it.

5. Don’t let your policy lapse. If you do, your coverage will be canceled and you have to start the whole application process over — and prices are guaranteed to jump.


Disclosure: This blog post was written as part of a sponsored program for State Farm to raise awareness about the importance of life insurance. All views expressed are entirely my own, and were not influenced or directed by State Farm. I never promote products I don’t actually believe in. You can learn more about this blogger program and life insurance at,, and by following #StartLiving on Twitter.

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9 thoughts on “Don’t be stupid, single moms. Buy life insurance!

  1. Absolutely! I have life insurance, and I keep an updated will with trusts set up. I also have all the ‘legals’ in place for my children’s care and support as their father isn’t in the picture at all. Huge load off my shoulders knowing they’ll be good (at least financially!)

  2. OR be like the single mom who is dating an acquaintance of mine, and recently told (not asked) him to put her on HIS life insurance policy “to take care of us if something happens to you.” They’ve been DATING maybe a couple years, and this guy has his own grown kids to think about. Mind you the single mom owns nothing, lives at home with her own mama at 44 years old (with her drug-addled 20 year old ex-con son) because she can’t pay her own bills from her low paying jobs where she barely stays for a few months.

    Forget the man’s kids, in favor of her own, not to mention the man has no legal commitment to her. She’s a single mom, by gosh, her kids needs come before his kids needs, as usual.

    OH, and later she told him she wants to marry him, “So I can quit my job to stay home and take care of you.” – referring to the boyfriend. She doesn’t have young kids, and he’s been divorced for years and taken care of himself. Hmmmm. Sounds more like she wants to sit on her ass at home (a home at the beach she also wants him to pay for.) while he works to keep her in the style he’s providing, because gawd knows she doesn’t pay her own bills.

    Impress me single moms. Pay for your own life insurance, and other bills.

    1. This is pretty vitriolic Darth. I dont doubt there are some free loaders out there but that is certainly not the majority. I work very hard at a professional full time job am a single mum and I pay my own life insurance. Think it’s always prudent not to generalise especially when you are on a site dedicated to the group you are stereotyping !

  3. According to the U.S. Census,
    – 17 million kids live only with their mother
    – 1/3 of all single mothers have no life insurance
    – most of the other two-thirds are underinsured.

    A major impediment to single mothers owning life insurance, surveys have found, is that they think life insurance is way more expensive than it actually is. The solution to that is to go look at real rates.

    And remember to comparison shop! For example, State Farm is not going to give you the best price as they only sell their own product. And net quotes is simply a site that collects referrals for sales agents, you won’t find any online quotes there.

    Rather, you can easily check out the cost of term life using an online term insurance quoting engine, like the one that QualityTermLife offers with rate comparisons from over 50 top insurers..

  4. I am a single mom with a disability. We live mostly on my SSDI check and live simply. No one will sell me life insurance worth more than $50,000. It’s not that some of us are “stupid” it’s that $650.00 a month income only goes so far…

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