I am a 27 year old male with no dependents, not married, $60,000/year income, and a poor family health history(Dad died of heart attack, mom of cancer, 3 living brothers with heart attack, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer between them).

I put 12% into my 401K through my employer, get 2x my income in life from my employer, $300/month into a mutual fund (FAIOX) and $200/month into my Roth IRA (FMILX).

I like the idea because getting it young makes it cheaper and I might not get it later in life because of my family history (Am I being too cautious?), and I like the investing idea.

With my situation, should I get whole life insurance with adjustable term protection at my age? It is specific because that is what an advisor recommends ($800,000 to be exact {$350,000 for whole and $450,000 for term}).

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    Why do you need it? I.e.: Who will be the beneficiaries and what debts should it cover? And how much it will cost you?
    – littleadv
    Dec 4, 2015 at 21:39
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    An advisor? You mean an insurance salesman. They will advise one should buy insurance no matter what the circumstance. Selling whole life is how they are able to pay their children's college tuition, in most cases that's the Eason to buy whole life. Dec 4, 2015 at 21:50
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    Your debts above would mostly just go away when you die - your student loans don't carry over to other people. Your car loan I guess would go away with your car, but that's probably the right financial decision (most cars with loans are net-negative value).
    – Joe
    Dec 4, 2015 at 22:12
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    I think thisis exsentially a duplicate of all our past discussions about whether one needs life insurance at all (if you con't have dependents, generally not) and whether Whole Life makes any sense (generally not; its only advantage is if you are incapable of making yourself save without building that into a monthly bill, and you pay for that with inferior investment returns).
    – keshlam
    Dec 4, 2015 at 22:32
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    @JoeyM. why do you care about debts? For funeral costs you can set aside some money that will be less than the cost you'll spend on the policy (unless you intend to die really really soon).
    – littleadv
    Dec 4, 2015 at 23:48

4 Answers 4


Let's look at some numbers. These are just example rates that I found online. You can substitute your own quotes and compare yourself. I'm not going to name the company, but these advertised rates are all from one nationally-known company for a 25-year old female.

  • Whole life: $78.13/month for $100,000 of coverage.
  • 10-year term: $15.00/month for $250,000 of coverage.
  • 20-year term: $15.45/month for $250,000 of coverage.
  • 30-year term: $20.23/month for $250,000 of coverage.

If you went with the whole life option, you would be paying $937.56 per year. The policy builds a cash value; the amount this grows can vary greatly, and you'll need to look at the fine print to see how it will grow, but let's pretend that after 30 years, the cash value of the policy is $50,000 (a reasonable guess, in my opinion). Let's look at what this means: You can cash out your policy, but at that point, you'll stop paying payments, and your heirs won't get your $100,000 death benefit. You can borrow against it, but you'll have to pay it back. You could use it to pay your premium, in which case you'll stop paying payments. However, keep in mind that if you do pass away, you lose the cash value you've built up; your beneficiaries only get the $100,000 death benefit.

Now let's look at the term insurance option. We'll go with the 30-year term. It will only cost you $242.76 per year, and the death benefit is more than double the whole life coverage. If you were to take the difference between the two premiums ($58 per month) and invest it in a mutual fund growing at 8% per year, you would have $86,441 in your account after 30 years. This money is yours (or your heirs), whether or not you pass away before your term is up. After the 30 years is up, your insurance is over, but you are now almost all the way up to the death benefit of the whole life policy anyway.

In my opinion, term life insurance is better than whole life for just about everybody.

I don't want to be morbid here, but the earlier someone dies, the more benefit they get with term insurance vs whole life. If someone does have reason to believe that his life expectancy is shorter than average, term insurance makes even more sense, as he is more likely to get the death benefit for much less money in premiums than he would in whole life.


You, yourself, cannot spend the money from life insurance because, well, you are dead.

So the question becomes "what is best for those you leave behind?". Thus is a question that can only be answered by examining the individual(s) you would leave behind. Near as I can tell, you currently have no one else who may be significantly hurt by your passing. So you cannot answer this question until there is (are) that (those) other(s).

In the meantime, 'self-insure' by saving (true investing) up the money that you would otherwise be spending on premiums.

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    I'm sure many would be hurt, just not financially. Dec 5, 2015 at 0:49
  • If I am interpreting the question correctly. I suspect OP thinks that he may have dependents later in life and is wondering whether he should buy insurance now to save money on premiums. I think the answer is still no.
    – JohnFx
    Dec 5, 2015 at 3:37
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    This makes a lot of sense, thank you. Set myself my own budget of setting aside money elsewhere that I have more access too, better returns own, and less premiums to deal with.
    – Joey M.
    Dec 5, 2015 at 5:32
  • You, yourself, cannot spend the money from life insurance because, well, you are dead. This isn't true: whole life insurance has a cash value which you get access to while you are still alive.
    – Steve
    Feb 27, 2018 at 4:22

The reason that I and many others recommend term rather than permanent life insurance is that the expenses charged for investing through permanent life insurance are so high.

Everyone was alluding to that truth in their comments above, but the actual numbers would astound you. The commission that your agent receives for your purchase can be as high as the entire first year of premiums that you pay. (Only on the whole life portion).

Instead you could get a term life policy from a company like USAA (I mention them because they are very competitive, so compare your other quotes to them) for $500k at a cost of about $30/month on a 30 year term. Don't take my word for it, get quotes on the Internet and consider the cost savings.

Ask this salesman, ahem, I mean advisor, what kind of commission he will earn over the lifetime of your investment. He won't give you a straight answer. He'll talk about tax advantages as if there aren't better retirement accounts that were designed to be retirement accounts.

Or buy it from him, it's only money.

  • Thank you Nathan L. Since I am 27, shall I just wait until my mid-30s to sign up for term? If I sign up now a 30 year term will be over by the time I'm 57, before retirement.
    – Joey M.
    Dec 5, 2015 at 5:36
  • I would advise you to buy a smaller amount of term for now, since you have no dependents, perhaps even with a shorter term (like 10 years) since it will cost even less and still cover other loved ones in the event of your death. Hold it through the end of the term and buy a replacement policy for the amount that lapses if you think that's necessary, also buy larger amounts later when you do have dependent children particularly. Being a single parent is much more difficult financially than just being a childless widow. Dec 5, 2015 at 5:50

We frequently get whole insurance vs term insurance questions; and most of the answers will support term insurance.

We get questions regarding getting insurance before there is a need in case there is a problem getting it later. And for most people it doesn't make sense to over-insure early.

You have asked from a slightly different position, you have a more solid reason to be concerned about your health.

You don't have a need now, and can't estimate what your need will be, or when it will be. Those numbers you quote may seem high, but when you don't know how many kids you may have, or what you will need to protect against, they may turn out to be inadequate when you do need the insurance.

You need to sit down with a fee only financial planner. They can lay out your options today, and as your situation changes. Then as the years go by, have that plan reexamined. The fee only planner will not tell you what company to buy insurance from, or what funds to invest in, but they will help you decide what types of protection and investment you need.

  • mhoran_psprep, thank you! I will look into a fee based advisor. And yes, you are right! I feel my health and family history will prevent me from getting coverage in my 30s and 40s. But it is so hard to tell.
    – Joey M.
    Dec 5, 2015 at 5:38

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