As a young astronaut in 1969, Neil Armstrong was earning approximately $17,000 a year. Due to the dangerous nature of his occupation and his impending travels, a life insurance policy would have been cost-prohibitive for him (tens of thousands of dollars, according to Business Insider). I can only imagine the look on an underwriter’s face when, upon review of a life insurance application, he/she came to the line that said “Astronaut” under “Occupation” and “The Moon” under “Do you plan any future trips?”

As he and his fellow astronauts couldn’t find any affordable life insurance to protect their families, they came up with a rather ingenious plan. According to a report on NPR, they each signed (and dated) a stack of autographs and gave them to their families so they could sell them in the event their trip was met with disaster.

I find it sad that these American heroes couldn’t afford life insurance policies to financially protect their families. They were on the front lines of our country’s space exploration program. They should not have had to prepare their families to sell autographs in order to continue their lifestyles.

Unfortunately, like these astronauts, finding affordable life insurance is a huge problem facing many Americans today. According to a recent J.D. Power and Associates survey, forty percent of Americans don’t have life insurance and almost fifty million people are under-insured. And, I venture to guess that most of these families would not be able to raise much money through the sale of their deceased family-members’ autographs.

There are many reasons for this many people to be uninsured or under-insured and I would venture to guess that our current economy is a contributor to this problem. When people are finding it difficult to pay their mortgages and keep the electricity on, purchasing a policy or keeping a current one from lapsing is the least of their problems.

However, people with families who don’t fall into this category who are either under- or uninsured need to take a good look at how their families would survive if they (as a breadwinner) should pass away. Are there substantial savings and/or retirement accounts the family could use to continue the lifestyle you contributed to while you were alive? Could they sell enough physical assets (including your home) to keep them going for many years? If you answered “No” to both those questions, you need to take a look at getting life insurance.

There are many affordable life insurance policies on the market today. You could find a term life insurance policy, for example, that would fit your budget. Even if you just eliminate one night out to dinner a month, if you don’t fit into the category discussed above, you could find a policy that’s affordable to you. For example, a $500,000 20 year term life insurance policy for a healthy, non-smoking 35 year old male would run about $22.00 a month. If you gave up one Venti Latte at Starbucks a week, you could afford that. For that “sacrifice,” your family would have $500,000, income tax free if you should die.

The cost of this policy is just an example, so you need to determine how much life insurance you should have (see our life insurance calculator) and then run some quotes (click on the “Start your Instant Quote” button above) to determine how much coverage you should get to protect your family…that is, unless your autograph is worth a lot of money.