Financial Resilience: Thriving Solo After Loss

Terri Spath |

Navigating the complex world of personal finances can be a daunting task for anyone, but if you find yourself a widow, it often presents you with a unique and challenging journey. This may mark the first time you find yourself solely responsible for managing various aspects of your financial life. From budgeting and debt management to securing their financial future and making informed decisions about insurance and investments, this path can be both empowering and overwhelming.

In the wake of loss, mastering these critical financial skills becomes not just a choice but a necessity, ensuring their financial well-being and providing a sense of control over an uncertain future. This transition into financial independence requires strength, resilience, and a willingness to learn and adapt.

Here are 7 critical financial skills that may help you keep your finances safe and secure:

  1. List Expenses: Create a detailed list of all your monthly and annual expenses, including essential costs like housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, healthcare, and discretionary spending. This will help you understand where your money is going and make informed budgeting decisions.
  2. List and Rank Debt by Size and Monthly Cost: Make a list of all your outstanding debts, such as mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and personal loans. Rank them by both total size and monthly cost. Prioritize paying off high-interest debts first, as they can be a significant drain on your finances.
  3. Calculate Your Net Worth: Determine your net worth by subtracting your total liabilities (debts) from your total assets (savings, investments, property, etc.). Regularly track your net worth to gauge your financial progress and ensure it's trending in a positive direction.
  4. Pay Yourself First (Retirement and Cash on Hand): Set aside a portion of your income for savings, including retirement accounts (e.g., 401(k) or IRA) and an emergency fund (cash on hand). Automatic transfers into these accounts can help ensure you prioritize saving for the future and handling unexpected expenses.
  5. Review Insurance Coverages: Assess your insurance coverage, including life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and property insurance. Ensure your coverage is appropriate for your current needs and that you understand the terms and coverage limits.
  6. Don't Spend More Than Your Income: Create and stick to a budget that aligns with your income. Avoid overspending, especially on discretionary items. Tracking your expenses and sticking to a budget will help you maintain financial stability.
  7. Avoid Impulse Buying: Practice discipline when it comes to spending. Avoid making impulsive purchases and instead adopt a rule where you wait a designated period (e.g., 24 hours) before making non-essential purchases. This can help you differentiate between wants and needs, reducing unnecessary spending.

During newfound financial responsibilities, it's essential to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a demonstration of wisdom. A certified financial planner can be a valuable ally, providing guidance tailored to your specific needs and goals, and helping to create a comprehensive financial plan, offering expertise in investments, retirement strategies, debt management, and more. Whether you're a widow managing these areas for the first time or simply looking to enhance your financial acumen, remember that you don't have to navigate this journey alone. We understand.