COLORADO SPRINGS – The death of a spouse or a divorce can impact us not only emotionally, but also financially.
These big life changes can be especially difficult for women. In fact, it’s an issue that’s now being studied.
Research in the last few years has shown that women who are either widows or divorcees are often more financially vulnerable, and with the baby boomer generation still a huge part of the population there’s a good chance more women will find themselves single one way or another. Dealing with finances on their own can lead to some serious mistakes.
“My feelings were mixed. You know, giving up a life,” said Jackie Carr who was married for about 40 years before getting divorced. In her sixties, she had to start a new life as a single woman all on her own.
“I wouldn’t say I was scared, but I was very nervous,” she said, particularly when it came to finances as her former husband had always handled that.
“My husband always kept me informed. He always showed me all the statements, but I was really at sea. I needed some help, someone to guide me through what to do, how to handle things…how to budget, how much could I spend a month? Could I still continue to travel?”
Connie Raub lost her husband to cancer. After his death she thought, “What was I going to do? He had a lot of things on the computer and I was not computer savvy…I didn’t know all the ins and outs and how much it was really going to cost to live.”
Raub and Carr aren’t the only women facing these challenges. Their Certified Financial Planner Linda Leitz said women more and more are either being divorced or widowed.
“Most baby boomer women will be single at the time of their death. They are either going to be divorced or they’re going to outlive their spouse and that’s a huge piece of the population that needs to be making good decisions and may need help making those decisions.”
Figuring out how to make financial decisions once they’re single can be difficult. Leitz is now part of an academic research team looking at this issue.
“There has been some good, robust academic research on divorce.”
However, there hasn’t been as much research on widowhood which is what the team focuses on.
From studies, this is what Leitz and her crew have discovered:
- 70% of married baby boomer wives will experience widowhood
- The average age at which a woman is widowed is just over 59
- 80% of men die married
- 80% of women die single
These stats and more have led the team to write papers on what do widows need? What are the pitfalls? What are ways that financial advisors can better serve them? What should widows be aware of?
Leitz said, “The team is working on a combination of more training for advisors so advisors can be more sensitive to the issues of widows.”
Those issues can be very similar with divorce as well.
“They’re scared that they’ll make really bad financial decisions.”
She said too often the immediate reaction is to make big changes that could have severe consequences.
“A pretty common mistake is selling the family home and moving across the country suddenly.”
In doing so, divorcees or widows lose their support network and can sometimes fall prey to people just looking to make a buck.
“They sort of swoop in and say we’re here to help.”
With so many emotions from either a divorce or spousal death Leitz believes women need to get professional advice for their finances.
“Make sure that the people you’re working with have your best interests at heart and that they’re not pushing you into any rash decisions.”
While it’s bound to be a difficult transition Leitz said, “We are survivors and things do move forward.”
Leitz is a certified financial planner at Peace of Mind Financial Planning.
If you’d like information on services it offers for widows CLICK HERE.
For information on financial planning for divorce CLICK HERE.
Below are links to papers she and her academic team have published: