early withdrawal of retirement assets.
Your Financial Future
Getting back on your feet can take years. In addition to providing for your children’s day-to-day needs, remember to keep your financial future in sight. If you can, continue to invest in your workplace retirement account. Invest at least enough to take advantage of your company’s match. You may need to make hard choices between your own financial well-being and your children’s education needs. Your children might land scholarships for college, but you won’t have such an opportunity when it comes to funding your retirement.
Mary Darlene Edwards became a widow almost five years ago. Her husband, Eddie, was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the liver and died shortly after. In addition to dealing with her husband’s death, 66-year-old Edwards now had to handle the couple’s finances, a role she was unaccustomed to. “For the most part, Eddie handled things. I wish I had been more involved, but he handled all our finances.â€
The Detroit resident was also hit with another blow–she now faced $30,000 in medical bills and credit card charges related to her husband’s treatment. Though fearful at first, Edwards took action. After paying for her husband’s funeral, she used the remainder of the insurance money to pay down debts the couple held together.
Edwards, a minister, motivational speaker, and author of the book, Transition: From Widowhood To Womanhood, had no savings or investments of her own, so she had to learn everything she could about money as quickly as possible. She consulted friends, family, and financial professionals for advice. “I really believe the key is to surround yourself with people who can help you, who are strong in areas where you are not. Have a good pastor, accountant, attorney, and doctor. We need to take care of ourselves. I believe I can make better decisions when I have people around me who are more knowledgeable.â€
Take a Breather
“What happens with so many widows is that they become paralyzed. They can’t take action, and they don’t want to do anything differently from what their husbands did,â€ says Stanny. “It’s hard to learn about money while you’re grieving,â€ echoes Bahr. “I recommend taking some time to gather support around you to make a plan. If you have large sums of money you don’t know what to do with, then save it in something like a money market fund for six months.â€ Major decisions probably shouldn’t be made before then. You do not need to decide how you will invest your money right away. Use the time to focus on grieving and dealing with your loss.
Build Your Support Network
As a widow, you may find no lack of people happy to tell you what to do with your money. But make sure the people you consult really have your best interests at heart. “You’ve got to make sure that the person is giving you true advice,â€ says Kiyosaki. “A salesperson only gives you good sales tips, but a true educator will