but you can make sure you leave it to your loved ones so they don’t drown in debt after you die. This is a post that I have probably started three times before but could never get the words out right. How much is too much personal information and is what I am saying actually coherent? So I am giving number four a try and we will just keep our fingers crossed that it makes a little bit of sense. I want to be clear that I am zero percent (probably even less than that) a money guru, so take what you will from my own experiences.
Tim and I had a lot of debt and we had very little savings. Chalk it up to being young, irresponsible, greedy, needy etc. We always lived beyond our means and used that next paycheck mentality to make ourselves feel better about our spending. That next paycheck imaginary bank account was working out fine until there wasn’t a next paycheck. Tim and I were always just patching holes with gum on our sinking financial ship and it worked for us at the time, but when Tim died, he took the whole ship down with him.
I feel two ways about how we handled our money. One is that I am glad that we did what we did and that we got what we wanted because you CAN’T take it with you and the memories I have today of those trips that we couldn’t afford and those concerts we should have skipped are the only things I have left of Tim. I wish that we could have done more and seen more. I wish that we had thrown the little bit of caution we had to the wind and done whatever we wanted even more because what good did trying to save for a rainy day do for Tim?
The second way I feel about this is fuck, we are really fucked. Tim died and none of our bills went away. None of our debt was forgiven. I was paying two peoples bills with one persons income and that didn’t seem to matter to anyone. I repeat…it does not matter to anyone but you. Your creditors don’t care, your bank doesn’t care, the government doesn’t care. They all want their money and they want it on time. The day that Tim died, our rent was due and I didn’t have enough money in our account to pay it. When you die, they put a hold on your last paycheck so that they can tidy things up on their payroll end. They don’t care that rent is due and rent collectors don’t care that your husband is dead. The bank that we borrowed money from to buy our car surprisingly didn’t allow me to just pay half of the payment since now I was only half of a couple. Our personal loan didn’t let me reduce the payments because I was down to only one income and you know who really didn’t care that I was bleeding out money left and right….those damn student loan companies. It felt like everyone just wanted to take everything that I had left. I couldn’t catch my breath let alone a break. I had just lost everything and I didn’t have anything left to give. It was difficult to juggle everything. My life was in this fast downward spiral and no one was throwing me a lifeline, they were all just pushing me under. Maybe some paid timed off from work would have helped you say? Some time to get my life in order, to grieve for Tim but not have to worry about collecting a paycheck. Do you want to know how many paid “bereavement” days I got for my husband dying? Five. Five days. Tim died in Florida but was buried in New Jersey. Five days was barely enough time to get his body flown home, have a service and bury him. And if you are thinking that you may get some assistance from the government…think again. When I reported Tim’s death to Social Security, I received a ONE TIME death benefit of $255.00 dollars. How can they even label that as a benefit? I didn’t receive anything from the military for Tim’s years in the Army and Tim had no independent life insurance. But you know what i did get? An outstanding parking ticket in the mail from Dade County made out to Tim that I was still responsible for because it was in our car, awesome, see ya later death benefit money.
Death is expensive. Living after losing your person is so painful and the stress of not being in a stable financial situation is enough to drive people right over the edge. This post isn’t just to air mine and Tim’s black hole finances but to give you all a glimpse into a lot of young widows/widowers reality. You are going to die and I hope that it’s later rather than sooner, but no matter the time you are going to leave people behind that have to live through it. I hope this made some sense and even if it is not your exact reality, I hope it shed some light on how being prepared now, even if its just in a small way can do so much for your loved ones one day. I also hope that you all take away that you need to look out for number one because you may find yourself standing alone in your world one day and no one will be holding their hand out to you.