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Your money is???

Recently I met an insurance agent who told me she does special workshops for women on money management because so many of her clients are either ignorant of family or personal finances or who do not want to deal with them.

She told me of a couple of horror stories.  One woman lived in the height of luxury: she had a big house and yacht and wore designer clothing.  One day her 60-something husband dropped dead, and she quickly learned they were hocked up to their ears.  She had no idea of the financial situation, and now lives in a studio apartment.  Another woman did not know what retirement dollars she had to live on when her husband died, and his company pension quit coming in.  Her standard of living dropped from comfortable to meager.  A third woman told her she never delved info the family finances because she did not want her husband to think she did not trust him.

I had to fess up.  Before my divorce, my husband handled all of our finances.  After all, he traveled a lot, and I took care of the kids, the house, mowed the lawn, grew a garden and held down a job.  Fortunately, for me, I read several books about divorce in my state before I took action.  I learned I had to know about our family’s financial situation.  One weekend, while he was on an extended business trip to Alaska, I tiptoed into his office and pulled out all the financial records the book told me I needed.  What a shock.  He did not make the amount of money I thought he did.  Fortunately, we were not in debt and our children were grown.  The book told me how to find “secret money” spouses often hide, obtain and file certain legal documents I would need to secure pension rights and not to assume a divorce attorney would automatically do all that for me.

For the first time in my adult life (I married at age 20), I had to figure out how much money I would have after the divorce, come up with a budget and a down payment for a house.  Nearing 50, I realized I had to do something about my future retirement.

I hated every aspect of this money planning and management.  Can’t say I feel much different today, almost 25 years later.  But, I did not end up bankrupt as my husband predicted.  I have the three things I wanted most then:  A house, a reliable car and an Airedale Terrier.

It wasn’t easy.  The financial planner we had as a couple stayed with me and is still helping me today. He has given me good advice over the years: pay off your house; pay cash for a car you can afford and drive it until it dies; and take advantage of everything your employer gives you.  I call him when I have questions or some “deal” seems like a good idea.   I read  books by Suze Orman and listened to her tapes. Keeping track of all my expenditures, it was and is enlightening to see what I spend my money on.

I must say I am proud that I can take care of myself financially today.  Funny, I developed and managed corporate budgets for years; but sure had a hard time doing the same for little ol’me.


Copyright – Elizabeth J. Wheeler, July 12, 2017