How important is Life Insurance when you are childfree/childless?

By Victoria Fryer 

I often think about what my legacy on the earth will be, as useless as that question is, since I don’t have children. And I’ve written about the ways to leave a legacy behind before. But, because that legacy doesn’t have to be money, I wonder: what’s the purpose of life insurance? This is a question my husband and I debate often. Or, rather, how much do we really need?

(Just a quick disclaimer that I am in no way qualified to offer any kind of financial advice, and that is not at all what I’m intending to do. In fact, I tend to be a little bit more reckless with finances than my husband is, which I’ll demonstrate.)

The funny thing about life insurance is that it makes you think about morbid kinds of things like speculating on who’s going to die first. (Him—he’s older, male, and a smoker.) What will the survivor want to do with the house? (Him—keep it. ‘It’s my house.’ Me—sell it. ‘What do I want with a house?’)

We meet with our life insurance agent once every couple of years or so to assess our financial situation, and quite frankly, it’s always confusing to me. We leave with lists of numbers, hand-drawn line graphs, things that look like funnels with money falling out the spigots, and I never remember what it all means. And I always ask my husband as we’re leaving, ‘What do we need so much life insurance for?’

Because we don’t have children, I feel like we have a lot of freedom to live without the financial burden of life insurance. I understand that if I or my husband dies before our debts are paid off, a little bit of insurance to cover those debts and help out with living expenses for a while will be helpful. But neither one of us is looking for a free ride if we end up a widow/widower.

Life insurance is expensive, and I’m the kind of person who would much rather have that money in my pocket—to travel or something like that—than to pay into some company on a long-term basis to cover “just in case.” But I do see it as a necessary evil, at least to some extent.

We are still working through exactly what we think about how much insurance each of us needs and what types of policies are best for our family situation, but being childfree definitely plays a large role in the way we approach this problem. We know that we don’t have children to take care of after we die. And although insurance is still a hairy issue to work out, knowing that we only have ourselves to worry about is freeing, in a way.

I’m curious to know how other childfree or childless couples have handled thinking about life insurance. I don’t want numbers, obviously — but what kinds of things do you consider when you are making these decisions?

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Childless by choice


  1. I suppose if you are a couple with a mortgage, you definitely need life insurance. Unless you both individually earn enough money to repay the mortgage if one of you dies, while the mortgage is still not fully paid. Life insurance is usually important in situations when one of you is the main breadwinner. If that person dies, at least the surviving partner/spouse will be taken care of.

    If you are a single childless/childfree person, on the other hand, I don’t see any real reason why you should take out life insurance. This is assuming that you will have enough savings left at the time of your death to cover your funeral costs.

    Anyone not sure whether or not they need Life Insurance can find professional advice on the money advice service website:

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