Tuesday, September 3, 2019

I Need a Long-Term Plan

Last night hubby was feeling awful and after much debate we decided to wait and see if we should go to the hospital.  He didn't feel like the last few times when he had cardiac issues, rather he thought it was just indigestion (he ate a ridiculous amount of goat at our favorite Indian restaurant for lunch earlier in the day).  After a few hours--and endless questions from me "are you OK?" "are you suuurrreee you are OK?" "should we go now? Now?? Now???" "should I call an ambulance?"--he felt much better so disaster averted. 

My thoughts, in addition to the constant questioning to make sure he just had indigestion and not a heart-related issue which he has had in the past, was that if he suddenly dies, I would be screwed (I tend to analyze potential disaster situations from all angles and for hours on end).  I know that in theory he will go before me--he is 20 years older than I am and mortality data for men vs women being what it is and all--but I would like him to live to at least 90ish.  OTOH, I've known way too many people who have died unexpectedly, leaving their spouse to deal with facing the world alone, in a precarious financial position, with perilous long-term prospects.  Yikes. 

We have been like Siamese twins for more than 30 years (working together, traveling together, always being together pretty much) and he is my favorite person in the entire world and mostly my life revolves around him and he seems invincible and while we are, for practical purposes ready for either of us to die (Will and other legal documents are up to date and such), in theory is one thing, in actuality it would be disastrous I think.

So my long-term plan for if hubby dies before me needs to address the following:

  • I don't have a monthly income.  I do gig work and random freelance work but I don't have a job and benefits and financial stability on my own.  Hubby receives his military pension which will stop at his death (we didn't choose to pay the huge monthly fees which would allow his pension to go to me after his death) and he also receives Social Security (which would also stop at his death as I won't be old enough to draw Social Security for more than a decade from now).
  • We stopped hubby's military life insurance as the monthly cost of this nearly tripled when he turned 70 and the amount of the insurance decreased by half :(
  • We have significant equity in our house and our house payments are really small but the house isn't paid off yet.  Getting our house paid off should be one of our top priorities.
  • I am also still making payments on our car.  This should be paid off within a year or so but getting it paid off ASAP would be better.
  • I also have a credit card that needs to be paid off.  While the monthly payments are small, the fewer bills I would have to cover on a monthly basis, the better.
  • On a happy note, I have very low cost military medical insurance for life even if hubby dies (or at least until I get remarried which I have no plans to do, like, ever.  The things one thinks about in the middle of the night!  eeekkk).
  • We have some money in savings but obviously, having lots and lots of money in savings would be better.
  • We need to do some repairs to our house.  The HVAC system is getting towards the end of its lifespan, a couple of appliances need to be replaced, and hubby tends to do any repairs needed (me, on my own, DIYing stuff with the help of YouTube videos would probably be disastrous).
So basically, the thing most needed for long-term survival after a spouse dies, is money.  No surprise there but I think most people don't think of all of the financial ramifications of the death of the family breadwinner until after the fact when it is too late to do much but panic.  I don't want to end up in that position (I'm sure I would be quite the basket case anyway, for quite a long time, should anything happen to him) so it just makes sense to prepare for a financial future alone now when I am in a good place rather than after the fact (but I will still hope he lives until 90!).

So my purpose going forward is to ensure my financial solvency no matter what happens.  I need some steady sources of income, to get rid of as many bills as possible, to hammer away at savings, and to get our house in ship shape condition.  This entire topic is scary and sad an awful...


  1. This is something I think about on a regular basis, but never talk about. You are being very honest and candid here. Yes, money is the most important thing you will need, without a doubt. You are fortunate to have good low cost medical insurance for life. My plan is to sell the house and get a condo so I won't have to worry about maintaining a yard and most likely I would relocate to where my daughter is living. But family history being as it is, I most likely will be the one to go first. :-/

    1. Hopefully you and your husband live to very old ages! I think I would sell the house too and move to a much smaller place. It didn't dawn me until recently how my grandmother must have felt when my grandfather died and she was left with a huge farm and huge farmhouse and back then it was assumed the widow would just keep the family home forever--what a daunting task!

  2. You dont get a survivor's pension like federal employee survivors do?

    1. There are military survivor's benefits but we would have had to pay monthly from the time he retired (at 40) until he was 70. At the time I was 20 and said why waste the money since I was fully employed and fully self supporting and thought spending all of the extra money for decades was unnecessary. I think the tables work better when the spouse is the same age as the husband.

    2. With a 20 year age difference between you, at the very least you should have considered putting money away for yourself all those years, in a good savings instrument(if not an official retirement vehicle)if you knew there was no provision for you(pension/life insurance/big lump of money in a will, etc.)once your husband died. It was a safe bet and a good use of some of your earnings.

      My father remarried a much younger woman...he was 50 and she was 28. They had 3 kids together and lived a "big" grand life(big expensive house, big cars, business entertaining, trips, etc.)until he got sick/disabled and couldn't work any longer. I don't know if he had any insurance but the wife and kids ended up in a rented trailer asking for hand-outs as they spent everything along the way and there was no back-up plan/savings.
      If I were you(but I'm not)it's never too late to start a widow's fund with some of your gig earnings.

    3. You are so right. I think many people put off things like saving for retirement or saving for old age because "that won't happen until a long time from now" and kind of live for today and hope the future will sort itself out. I definitely need to double down on my savings and investments!

  3. You are so right to think about this now. Paying down debt should be #1, you could always sell your house if need be. And having a much larger cash/stock savings. We don't buy individual stocks but usually buy exchange traded funds (purchased ourselves for $10 CAD fee per trade) that are dividend paying. We have those both inside and outside our retirement funds as that part is locked in for a while. I hate to go there but you may want to actually seek out a regular part time year round job to help beef both of those things up (or try and re-ramp up the gig work), a tough choice after all this time but something that may give you more peace of mind. You are already super frugal so cutting back is really not an option :)

    1. You are absolutely right, the best way to bulk up the savings is to get a job! I should really start another business since that is how I have earned the most money in the past but it's So. Much. Work! OTOH I will definitely look into exchange traded funds, something I don't know much about but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the info!

    2. I am not suggesting you invest in this one (do your research) but a sample one would be ZWU which is Bank of Montreal covered call utilities stock, part Canadian investments and part USA. That is one of our Canadian ones but I am sure there are lots of American ones too. Individual stocks just have way too much swing so we decided a few years ago to no longer hold them.