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IMO only a minimal amount of life insurance is needed until you have kids -- perhaps enough to pay off your mortgage, but certainly not more than that. If you were to die prior to having kids, how much of a financial impact would that really have on your wife? Sure, she'd need to take a significant amount of time off, but she would still be able to earn a good living. Basically I would say have enough term life insurance to make sure she would not be forced to sell the house if you died. Usually you can just get this insurance through your employer -- for instance, my employer provides 1x my salary for free and then I pay around $3/mo to bump it up to 4x my salary which would more than cover all of our debt if I died.

Once you have kids things change. If you want to be very conservative, you should have approx 10x-12x your income in term life when you have kids. That way, if you died, your wife could invest the money wisely and should be able to make nearly your same income off that money so that your family would not have to change their lifestyle or worry about money. This amount of money would also ensure that if you and your wife both died and left the kids to a guardian of some sort, that person would have plenty of money to adjust their family to incorporate your kids -- e.g. larger house, living expenses, college expenses, etc.
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