Let’s talk about money.
I know. The subject of money is a delicate one for it goes to the core of our values, our lifestyles and perhaps even the pride we take in being able to support ourselves.
Whether you are 18 or 81-years-old, single, married or widowed, every woman needs to know the financial facts about owning a home and knowing where and how much money is currently in the bank. Please don’t think that someone is going to go out of their way to explain it to you. If you already have a person who is helping you with your finances then good for you!
I know you trust your spouse or partner and that together you are now taking care of the finances but in order to protect yourself, it’s always a good idea to do some research and examine what is involved in owning a home and the basics of financial independence. Life can be unpredictable and you never know what could happen.
As a widow, I am familiar with that gut wrenching feeling of staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night and trying to figure out how you are going to make ends meet. Or at least of trying to figure out how to get things close to meeting. It’s just you and a pile of bills and it doesn’t feel good.
In my case, I was working full-time when my husband died. Our son was thirteen. Two incomes suddenly became one income and I think for a long time I literally counted every penny that came in and out of my bank account, sometimes staring at my wallet hoping the paper money would suddenly reproduce before my eyes.
Of course that never happened but you can always wish right? Just like every other woman out there who brings home the bacon, I work hard for my money and in turn I want it to work hard for me.
Here are some compelling facts that I recently found:
— one-third of the women who become widows are under the age of 65, according to the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement
— the median age of widowhood was 59.4 for a first marriage and 60.3 for a second marriage, according to the Census Bureau
— nearly a third of single women over age 75 are living in poverty according to the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement
I have to say that the information about women over 75 really hit me. So sad! No one wants to find themselves in that kind of situation and I hope you don’t know anyone who is.
I’m writing about this subject today because I believe that information is power and the faster you get it the better off you will be. A good friend sent me this New York Times story on financial guidance while struggling with grief and I found it to be helpful in its down-to-earth attitude, writing about how various women have handled their money after losing their husbands.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to splurge just as much as the next person. Yes it’s fun to go shopping and buy yourself a present when you’ve had a bad day but it’s not a good idea to do it all the time. I do think there is a certain amount of grace in learning to live within your means.
Unfortunately, there is no guidebook for how to navigate your finances after a spouse or partner sadly dies. Each person’s situation is unique and personal and should be handled with care.
Learning the ins and outs of one’s finances and having a backup plan is definitely not a subject anyone wants to think about or even imagine for themselves but sometimes we have to pull up our big girl pants and find people we can trust who will help us get on with it.