help you learn about money.”
That’s what Edwards did after her husband died. “I have a really wonderful support group. Many of them are in different walks of life. Many of them have expertise in areas that I don’t, and I have expertise in areas that they don’t, so we work together very closely.” This group includes an accountant, a financial planner, and a lawyer. Edwards is now using the strength and advice that she gleaned from her network to form a support group called Widows with Wisdom (www.widowswithwisdom.org).
“I’ve found that widows often don’t handle money correctly, in that they use their money to deal with their emotions,” says Kathleen Williams, president of Williams Financial Services Group of Oklahoma City. Identify areas where you may need to cut down on expenses. One area is the home. You may find that you’re no longer able to afford your mortgage on just your salary. As emotional as leaving the home you shared with your spouse is, downgrading may make the most financial sense. Williams also cautions widows in their 50s to think carefully about what sources of money they will spend. Money from retirement accounts cannot be withdrawn prior to age 59 ½ without penalty. “That is a gap period,” Williams says. “That hole can be taken care of with insurance.”
—Additional reporting by Sheiresa McRae
SINGLE WITHOUT CHILDREN
- Save and invest 10% to 15% of your salary. That should get you to the millionaire’s circle before retirement.
- Eliminate debt. Your financial goals will be impossible to reach if you’re living under the crushing weight of debt. Give the plastic a rest and pay down debts now.
- Plan for a long life. Unfortunately, marriages often end in divorce or through widowhood, so it is important to plan for your financial future.
- Consistency pays off. Investing just a little bit over the span of decades can be powerful due to compounding.
Girl, Make Your Money Grow! by Glinda Bridgforth and Gail Perry-Mason (Harlem Moon; $12.95) offers tips on clearing debt, saving money, and investing.
www.360financialliteracy.org: A Website that provides useful information on financial literacy for every stage of life, from childhood to retirement.
www.feedthepig.org: Features online tips, quizzes, and resources that will help you reach your saving and investing goals.
SINGLE WITH CHILDREN
- Contribute enough to your 401(k) to get the company match. Single mothers often struggle financially. Invest the bare minimum to get the free money your company is offering.
- Invest depending on your time horizon and your risk tolerance. Keep in mind how many years you have until retirement and know what kind of investor you are.
- Take advantage of college savings. use tax-preferred accounts such as 529 plans and Coverdell savings accounts.
- Leave a legacy. Teaching your children to be responsible about money can set them up for a lifetime of good saving and spending habits.
www.singlemothersbychoice.com: An online community of women who have chosen