Studies show that most people, especially those with children, believe they should have life insurance for the unexpected. But with mortgages and tuitions and the costs of gas, food and health care, it's hard to budget for the purchase.

The good news is there are ways to buy life insurance and keep it affordable.

Try these five tips:

  • Shop around. Get life insurance quotes from a wide range of life insurance companies. You can request life insurance quotes online or call the company or agent listed in the phonebook. Keep track of the information you gather so you can compare coverage, rates and terms when you're ready to decide.
  • Get separate quotes for each partner or spouse. You can buy a joint life policy, which will pay a sum to the surviving partner. You also have the option of buying separate policies. Depending on your respective incomes and other factors, such as age, you may pay less if you buy separate policies. You won't know which is the most cost effective for your situation until you ask for prices and do your own calculations.
  • Clean up your act. A huge factor in the price of life insurance is how healthy you are. You don't smoke. You maintain a healthy weight. You belong to the gym and exercise regularly. You drink alcohol in moderation. The healthier your lifestyle, the lower your risk for many diseases and conditions that can shorten your life. Prove that you take good care of yourself and you may qualify for lower life insurance premiums. If you have some unhealthy habits, after you clean up your act, you can ask your life insurance company to reduce your premiums. If it won't do so, start shopping again.
  • Don't buy more than you need. Don't blindly accept what the person selling you life insurance tells you need. Decide for yourself by looking at your income, your expenses, your savings and your assets. If your children are about to graduate from college, you may not need as much life insurance as you did when they were depending on your income for support.
  • Pay annually. When you pay your premiums monthly, your life insurance company may charge a convenience fee, which can be as much as 8.5 percent of the premium. Pay annually and you'll avoid extra charges.

You can have a life insurance with lower premiums, if you take care when selecting a policy.