by Fran Metzman
Women, you must take charge of your financial life. Perhaps
I’m addressing an older generation where women left finances up to their
husbands. Hopefully, a younger generation has greater incentive and knowledge
about money. Either way, I’m addressing the issue because of what many women
have told me.
When my husband got sick and subsequently died six years
ago, I was in a muddle financially. There I was, caring for an ill husband,
grieving with the knowledge he’d never get well, and having the economic
responsibilities thrown into my lap. I was in the dark.
Not only did I have to learn how best to handle money,
considering the present and the future, I had to go through a maze of
government regulations, a jumble of confusing rules governing pensions and figure
out the best and most effective way to leave the money to my children. It took
me two years to get into a semblance of a rhythm.
To add to the morass there was a plethora of “experts” eager
to help. You would think that was a plus. In fact, it was the most devastating
and draining part of the process. Facing the onslaught of miles and miles of
IRS regulations was a piece of cake compared to the “advice” given by these barracudas.
They swim in the waters of women who are divorced, widowed or single, looking
for the jugular. A woman who is alone is an ideal breeding ground for gluttonous
vermin to step up and introduce themselves.
One lawyer told me that I needed to revise my estate which included
a will my husband and I had completed the year before. There were two important
elements missing from the documents I had given him in a timely fashion. The
cost would be $5000.00. After I picked myself up from the floor, I went home
and went through all every piece of paper I could lay my hands on. I read very,
very carefully for the first time. Having to shell out big bucks is a great
incentive to familiarize myself with the overall picture. I discovered that I
already had the two components he recommended. How about that?
In another incident, someone my husband used for many years as a business
advisor told me he’d be glad to help me do some planning. Oddly, I discovered I
was paying him much more money than he had charged my husband in previous years.
Costs for phone calls showed up on my statements, something he had never done before.
I immediately stopped asking about his family or allowing my conversations to
drift into social amenities. Too expensive to hear about what his kids were
doing in pre-school. He arranged meeting after meeting with me and went over
the same material until I was blue in the face and red in my pocketbook. I
finally had a confrontation with him and moved on.
Women need to arm themselves early in their lives and
thoroughly. Although it is best done at a younger age, it is never too late to
learn. It’s not a fun thing to do, but it is far worse to have someone rip you
off. I’m often told by women that they sign the IRS tax statement each year
without ever looking at it. Some don’t even know how much their husbands earn.
That statement is exactly the place where you can find out all you need to know
– how much earnings, savings, investments, losses, gains and many other details
that are necessary when figuring out your financial future.
Obviously, too many women I know depend on their husbands to
do all the financials. Not good! Of course, you trust your husband – that is,
until he decides to take off with the young secretary in his office and has
emptied all the accounts. Or if he dies and leaves a financial mess that he had
always intended to take care of and never did. With your participation, you can
see to it that all is in place before sickness, desertion or death forces you
into catastrophic circumstances.
Women. Take charge of your life!! Your financial future may
depend on it.
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