After His Funeral, Did You Make Any of These Financial Mistakes?
While divorce, moving, and illness all present serious challenges, the death of a spouse is the most stressful life event an individual can experience, according to the well-known Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which examines how various life stressors affect health.If you are a recent widow, you are probably not surprised to hear this, and are likely dealing with grief, uncertainty, and the pain of loss. While it is easy to get overwhelmed during this devastating time, it is also, unfortunately, all too easy to make some serious financial mistakes that can impact the rest of your life.
With some foresight, you can avoid the following three mistakes that widows commonly make:
- Overspending out of grief.
There’s a reason it’s known as “retail therapy:” Sometimes buying a new pair of shoes or new couch just feels good. However, if you are already dealing with funeral costs and the loss of your husband’s income, you should create a budget and financial plan that will prevent overspending and overextending yourself. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy dinner out with a friend or buy yourself a pick-me-up bouquet of fresh flowers, but it does mean that you should ensure that you have ample cash to pay for ongoing living expenses and one-time costs and taxes first.
- Failing to uncover survivor benefits.
While this might be the furthest thing from your mind, you must file for various financial benefits and insurance protection in a reasonable amount of time. Beyond your Social Security benefits, you may also want to look into your husband’s retirement fund, pension, insurance and any other account that has survivor benefits. You will also want to talk to a financial planner, accountant, or attorney about the best strategies for saving or investing those funds.
- Making too many decisions too soon.
There are some items that need to be handled immediately, including your husband’s will and estate, however, you shouldn’t feel pressured into making big decisions (such as sale of your home) for at least six months. After some time has gone by, it will be easier to make logical, rather than emotional, decisions. Take care of changing your name on accounts but leave the big decisions until you feel more like yourself again.
Finally, be cautious about listening to friends and family members who say you “have” to do something. You don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready for and their advice might be well-intentioned but off the mark for your circumstances. Take the time you need to heal while making sure you avoid these three financial mistakes to help ensure a solid financial future.