Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend some time in a local Bank of America. The helpful representative told me that one of the biggest issues they confront with the older population is that women in their sixties and seventies have never had a credit card in their own name. This becomes a huge issue if their husband passes on. It is very difficult for them without any credit record. Being a financial planner, I was regularly given statistics that show a large portion of widowed women live below the poverty level but most of them never lived that way until their spouse passed on. Please be proactive! Ask your grandmother if she has her own credit card.
I encourage all woman to have one credit card in their own name. You only have to use it once a month and pay your bills on time to create a good credit record for yourself. This can be crucial if life throws you an unexpected curveball. Many divorced woman have a difficult time renting their first apartment because they don’t have a credit card of their own or credit record. Creditcardguide.com offers a wonderful website that compares the costs and benefits of all different credit card offers. You may go back to my post “A New Way to Save” to learn of one of my favorite ideas for a credit card.Women please stand up and have a voice in how money is managed in your household. If you are married, you need to know what assets you have, how much your monthly expenses are, how the bills are paid each month and out of what accounts. I never expected my husband to pass on at 35 and for me to suddenly have to pick up all the pieces. He hated discussing money but I know my life would have been smoother if I had had all the facts. My goal in life now is to help women be confident managing money, be proactive and create a financial plan that works for their future.
Please don’t compare your lifestyle to anyone else. I would have been the most horrible single mother if I spent all my days wishing I had a spouse to help me. Wallowing in the “what ifs” will never help you or your children. You just move forward and know your experience is unique and learn that it is ok to ask for help. I am truly grateful that my kids were two and four when my husband passed on because they were still totally dependent on me so I just had to put on a tough face and go forward. Sitting and crying in bed all day was never an option.
This blog has now begun to reach almost as many men as women. So now I want to make a plea to men to please get their wives active in the family budget. If you are unmarried, please make sure you are aware of your significant others feelings on money. Don’t marry a voracious spender if you are a big saver. This may cause problems down the road. Men also play a large role in making sure women have an equal role in managing the household finances. Thanks!