Kimberly Lankford from Kiplingers personal finance published tips for purchasing life insurance.

Example of a  first policy

When you’re young and married, life insurance needs are great because you’re supporting a young family. Your life insurance will help your family cover their expenses, including the mortgage and other bills, and enable them to save for college and retirement without your income.

I am able to help you figure out and appropriate amount, but worrying about precision tends to intimidate people into procrastinating.  Don’t follow typical advise for someone who recommends buying a policy worth at least seven to 10 times your gross income (or more, if you plan to have more kids and your income and expenses are on the rise). Each persons case is unique.

What kind of insurance should you buy? Term insurance is simple and has no investment or savings component. “Term insurance is good not just because it’s cheap but also because it’s relatively easy to understand.

A parent who doesn’t earn an income needs life insurance, too. If she dies, her spouse will have to cover child care expenses. “The high-income earner may want to cut back to part-time or spend a lot more time with the kids, and that’s a justification for having a healthy-size policy on both spouses,”

After deciding how much coverage you need, figure out how long you need it. If you plan to have more kids or to keep working for several decades, you might need a 30-year policy, even though it costs a lot more than 20-year coverage.

If you can’t afford a 30-year policy, it’s better to “ladder” coverage than to skimp on the insurance amount.  For example,you could get a 30-year policy for half or two-thirds of the amount you need, and a 20-year policy for the other part.

Updating your coverage

If your income and expenses increase as your children get older, you may need more coverage than when you were starting out. I review your coverage every year or experience a major change in your life, such as having another child, starting a new job, taking out a bigger mortgage or getting divorced. The annual premiums will be higher because you’re older, but if you’re in good health, they’ll still be reasonable. And you may need the extra coverage only for another 10 or 15 years if your kids are teenagers