A Guide On Buying Term and Investing the Difference

Arthur Williams, an insurance entrepreneur, founded his business in the 1970s with the straightforward business tenet: buy term and invest the difference. With the use of this theory, A.L. Williams was able to convert many whole life insurance buyers to term insurance. This method is favored by Wall Street fund managers, money managers, and companies specializing in managed assets because it attracts consumers other than investment firms and the wealthy to markets they might not otherwise enter.

What does it mean in reality?

Buy term and invest the difference (BTID) refers to comparing the price of a life insurance policy for a specified face value (death benefit) for a specified period (or term) with the cost of a perpetual life insurance policy. As BTID proponents frequently compare the profit on perpetual premiums for life insurance with the same invested amount directly in the marketplace, conveniently omitting the cost of insurance coverage, there appears to be some ambiguity surrounding this definition. BTID is typically promoted as a whole life insurance substitute.

Does it work?

The solution to that question is significantly trickier. It’s doubtful that it’s even the right question. BTID appears to be more of a marketing plan than prudent budgeting. The choice is to purchase whole life or to purchase term insurance and invest the difference. In actuality, both term and whole life assurance, as well as equities and other investments, have a place in a balanced portfolio. The idea that these options are all or nothing is untrue.

But which approach is preferable?

The level premium period is the only time that term life insurance is affordable. Your policy will repeat at your reached age after your level premiums have run out, and the premiums will increase dramatically. At 17 to 20 years, term life insurance premium averages surpass those of whole life insurance.

Your insurance needs for insurance coverage will alter throughout your life. You must purchase the term insurance for an extended period if you want the BTID to work. The median term policy has a six-year life span across the board. The premiums are significantly higher when you purchase term insurance for longer durations.

Term life insurance policies pay a mortality claim in around 2% of cases. The BTID marketing strategy includes portraying insurance providers as deceitful and greedy for pushing “expensive” permanent insurance contracts. That is untrue. One of the factors contributing to the lower term life rates is the 2% claim rate. Whole life insurance policies will provide a death benefit if you pay all premiums. Most contributing whole life insurance policies produce dividends covering the yearly premium in about 20 years. It indicates that you can preserve your life insurance policy even if you devote 100% of your insurance rates to an outside asset after 20 years.

The Reality

The truth is that BTID depends on you to make the actual investment of the difference. People don’t invest the difference after purchasing a term. They tend to buy the term, let it expire, and then spend the difference. And even the tiny percentage of people who invest the differences are vulnerable to investing in the real world, where investors frequently underperform market indices by buying high and selling low.


For those who follow the plan, buying a whole insurance policy and using cash value policy loans to invest in stocks through mutual funds in eligible retirement accounts can offer a comfortable retirement. Nevertheless, BTID is regarded as gospel by its most fervent adherents. A well-diversified retirement portfolio should include permanent life insurance as well as retirement investments. When making any economic choices, you must consult a qualified financial counselor to determine what is best for you and your family.

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