This may sound strange to many of you, but it really isn't.
Given my situation in life (widowed, sole caregiver for my widowed mother, sole breadwinner in my household), I feel it is well past time for me to share a little wisdom to my sisters out there whose husbands are still alive. Namely about money.
You see, I have a good friend whose husband recently passed away from cancer. The kids are now grown (thankfully), however there are some other traps you can end up in financially.
This dear sister didn't handle all of the money in her home.
As a result, she is finding out that her husband took out a credit card she knew nothing about and maxed it out, told her he had paid his taxes (state and federal) when he actually had not paid either one, and a host of other things to get them further in the hole.
The even more interesting part of this is, now that her husband is gone and she is getting faced with a mountain of debt, she is also still spending money. I'm not talking grocery money here, she just bought a new car.
Those grown kids? They are still borrowing money from the bank of Mom.
I have no idea how this is going to work out, I'm concerned, but outside of prayers and being a sounding board, there isn't much else I can do to help the situation, particularly if she doesn't want the help.
What I can do, for you widows-to-be, is to try to impart a little hard earned wisdom.
For most couples, the day you get married is the day you become a team. For Decker and I, we were engaged when we started talking about money.
I had read The Millionaire Next Door and made Decker read it before I would agree to marry him. Why? Because that was the philosophy I wanted to live my marriage by, and I wanted to make sure my husband was going to be on the same page. Among the advice in the book is that both husband and wife are to work as a team. No one handles the finances without the spouse knowing what is going on.
The reason this is so important is the reason my friend is finding out now. When the spouse dies, there is already an element of feeling like you've had the rug pulled out from under you, you don't need that compounded by surprises that will leave you bankrupt as well. Work together on the finances so that when situations arise, you will know what needs to be paid when and how much. No surprises.
2. Educate Yourself
This can go two ways: make sure you have an education to be able to find a decent paying job if you have to provide for yourself, as well as educating yourself (and your spouse) on finance to learn about the process of handling money as well as other items of the estate that will come later during married life.
There are many avenues you can take for this, some use Dave Ramsey's classes, others use the Family Finances classes provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for free, others take a more formal approach and take classes, such as this one from BYU:
3. Set your goals, your plan of attack, but also be sure to set goals of your own, not just your goals as a couple.
This will help provide you with ideas of things you can do after your spouse has passed away. Take time to re-evaluate the goals to see if they are things you still want to do by the time this occurs (which will hopefully be a very long time after your marriage).
Get Priesthood Blessings and pray to Heavenly Father for guidance in this.
Okay, so this is about all I can think of right now, I may add an addendum later if there is anything else pressing that should be added. :-)
Given this information, the goal is for you to be able to get into a position of being able to take care of yourself and enjoy the journey that this mortal probation provides, much like Rebecca: