Thursday, October 11, 2018

On Becoming an Old Woman

I'm not old yet--although I am heading in that direction at a rapid clip!--but lately I have been seeing more and more issues with growing old, especially for women.  Most of these issues are financial in nature (being menopausal is a whole other issue...don't even get me started on that) and seem to disproportionately impact women more so than men.  Here are some things that need to be addressed, individually I guess since we can't even get the country to agree that things like universal healthcare are pretty important, and the earlier the better...

  • Getting divorced in your later years.  I've known a few women to get divorced in their late 50s to 60s.  These women worked little, if ever, and judges these days are more likely to award a limited amount of alimony instead of alimony for life.  When the alimony stops these women are left high and dry and after having little to no work experience, hopping into the job market at a late age is difficult if not impossible.
  • Which leads me to women working in their 50s and 60s.  The job market/employment sector has changed drastically since I was in high school/college.  Lifetime employment is rare if it is even a thing anymore.  Middle management jobs are vanishing.  Switching jobs is like jumping off a diving board then realizing there isn't any water in the pool (in other words, you might be rocking your long-term job then a downsizing/layoff comes along and there are literally no jobs that will hire you because you are too old, too expensive, and too out of the new tech loop).
  • Healthcare is a whole other issue.  If you relied on your job/your husband's job to pay for your health insurance and then something happens (you get laid off, you get divorced, your spouse dies) you can be left with no health insurance.  You can't even go to the emergency room these days with a basic UTI without being billed for many thousands of dollars.  And even if you have health insurance it sometimes doesn't cover prescription medications and it may have really big co-pays.  Yikes.
  • Housing is another issue.  Housing costs--both apartment rental and buying a home--is both expensive in a tight housing market and sometimes unattainable if, as mentioned above, you are unemployed/under employed.  There is no real safety net for women--especially older single or divorced women--when it comes to housing.  And if you do manage to keep your home, as you age and live on a low or fixed income, it becomes harder and harder to maintain your home when it comes to repairs and even regular maintenance.
  • Living on a low or fixed income becomes harder and harder over the years.  This is because your income stays the same or increases in teeny tiny increments while costs--everything from gas to food to utilities--continue to increase.
So for now I will continue to worry about these issues and look for fixes.  I have two friends who are older single women and are recently unemployed without many job skills and one friend teetering on the edge of unemployment who could go from a $120k year job to no job that she could get that would even approach that pay level.  All of them have houses to pay for and regular expenses to cover yet no outside support.  It is a really scary situation!


  1. I struggle with understanding why , unless paid for with cash from the sale of a previous house, do people tie themselves down with bigger or fancier house with new mortgages past the age of 40. Even if they take out a 15 year only mortgage, they still are 65 or older before it is paid off. As you mentioned, all the vulnerability that comes with being an aging women-with the risk of no housing. My opinion, so take with a grain of salt. I'd also suggest anyone over 50 with any spare funds after need based living expense need to seriously be contributing to the maximum retirement while building a cash savings at the same time because the future is too volatile for older women. $120K is a fine living, even in a high priced area, but not if they are mortgaged to the hilt and spending every spare cent on the high life. Again, my humble opinion.