Lessen the Hardship of Widowhood with These 5 Financial Tips

By on January 17, 2019

There’s nothing that can prepare you for losing the love of your life. Even if you were prepared for widowhood, and even if you saw it coming. Saying goodbye and letting go is one of the most challenging experiences we face as humans, and when it’s your spouse, it can feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself too.

What’s more is that it’s women who are frequently faced with this loss.

A study from Statista noted that in 2017, 11.64 million widows living in the U.S. were women, compared to 3.28 million men.

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Widowhood and Finances

As hard as this experience is, there are certain things women must face when they become a widow. One of the most shocking can be the finances. In fact, 60 percent of people who lose their spouses feel and immediate burden of financial expenses, according to a survey by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. While this something recently widowed women need to deal with sooner rather than later, it can be overwhelming, and you may not even know where to start.

When he passes, financial decisions and responsibilities fall solely on you, which could include paying the mortgage or rent, paying bills, figuring out life insurance and/or social security, and other financial questions.

The good news is that this survey found that 77 percent of widows found a courage they never knew they had by going through this ordeal, and 72 percent now consider themselves to be empowered and financially savvy.

With these five tips, you can lessen the financial hardship of widowhood, no matter where you are currently if your stage of life.

1. Talk about Money

For a long time, money was a taboo subject to talk about, even between spouses. In earlier times, men were the breadwinners and sometimes the sole earners, so they controlled the family’s money. Nowadays, they lines are much more blurred, so don’t be afraid to have conversations about your finances, even if they’re sometimes tough.

2. Create a Plan

As you talk through your finances, it’s helpful to put a plan in place for when the inevitable does occur. This is especially important for women, since men tend to pass away first. You should know where important documents are, how to pay the bills to ensure they’re paid on time, and your name should be on all financial accounts. When the time comes that you are widowed, it will greatly reduce your stress because you’ll have laid out steps to follow. This plan should also include reassessing your retirement plan, updating beneficiaries and estate plans in your will, and notifying banks, financial institutions, and employers.

3. Wait to Make Big Decisions

After suffering a devastating loss, you might find the need to rid yourself of certain items, which might include your car, your house, or other large assets. It might feel cathartic, but it’s best to take some time and wait to make big decisions. You have a lot to get through in the first few weeks after your spouse passes away, and you need some time to deal. That way you can approach any sales with a clear, level head.

4. Consider Your Situation

That being said, you will want to give some thought to your current situation. Can you afford your rent or mortgage, or will you need to downsize? Did you spouse have a car that’s no longer needed? Is your financial situation more than your current budget can handle? Thinking through these things as your process what’s happened can help you make the right decision when the time comes.

5. Speak to a Professional

If you’re still feeling unsure of your financial future as you face widowhood, you can talk to a professional finance manager who can help you navigate the best course of action. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how small the matter may seem, and hopefully this new knowledge will give you the confidence to handle your financial situation moving forward.


Allegra Gallian is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in lifestyle, health, wellness and fitness. She lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing, Allegra enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.


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Lessen the Hardship of Widowhood with These 5 Financial Tips