How much life insurance do you need?

  • Dave Ramsey

    Dave Ramsey

Dear Dave,

My husband and I are on Baby Step 3b, and we’re saving for a house. We’re out of debt and both of us make good money, plus we each have 20-year level term life insurance policies with coverage equalling ten times our individual incomes. We also have an emergency fund equal to six months of expenses. I recently received a promotion at work, with a subsequent raise of $10,000. Should I update my life insurance policy to reflect this new income?

— Maria

Dear Maria,

I think you’re okay right now. I’d evaluate it, and maybe update the amount every three or four years. But as you get out of debt and build wealth, and as the kids get older, the real question to ask yourselves is how much less life insurance do you need?

As your income increases and you get in better and better financial shape, it’s not going to be necessary to have ten to 12 times your income wrapped up in life insurance policies. That’s just a starting point.

Would your husband and any kids be well taken care of based on your current life insurance amount? Would you and any kids be okay based on his life insurance? If the answer to both questions is yes, you’re good!

— Dave


Dear Dave,

My wife and I put her two adult kids on our cell phone plan a few years ago. We thought there would be no problem, since they were both paying their own bills. After my wife and I split up a couple of years later, we made sure everything was current, cancelled service with that company, and we all went to different providers. A debt collector called me last week saying I owed $4,000 on 19 different devices. When I called our old provider, they said I owed $4,000 on nine devices. I asked for a current, itemised statement of the devices that were still out and the bill. So far, I haven’t heard anything back. What do you think I should do?

— Bob

Dear Bob,

Just keep on tearing into them. This thing won’t go away until you get everything completely rooted out. If you ignore it, chances are it’ll bite you on things like your credit bureau report. You might even find yourself the subject of some vague lawsuit years from now.

Considering the numbers you gave me, and what you know happened with the account and the devices, it sounds like someone on their end made a clerical error. More than likely, this is a case of typical incompetence on the part of a cell phone company.

You may have an uphill battle ahead of you, but I’d keep on shovelling until the barn gets clean. Stay on top of it, and don’t let them push you into giving them money if they can’t prove they’re right. You may have to hire an attorney at some point to sue them and clear your name, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

— Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey

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Published Feb 15, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 11:46 pm)

How much life insurance do you need?

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