"He always took care of it..."
“All our banking files are in my filing cabinet in the garage, ok? If this all goes sideways, look there.” Then he told her he loved her and the paramedics took him away. Priya knows the ‘I love you’ is what should have stuck with her, but it’s the first part she can’t get over. Long after he was discharged, months since he returned to playing with their grandkids and walking the dog, it’s that first sentence she keeps thinking about. In a filing cabinet? In the garage?
All their financials—the investments, the retirement savings, the grandkids’ RESP documents! She started googling fireproof boxes. She began asking friends how to store documents in the cloud. She tries bringing it up with her husband, but he doesn’t seem to get it. (She even triedGoogling how to broach the subject, with no clear answers) Priya starts thinking there’s got to be a better way. And if her husband isn’t going to take this seriously, it’s up to her to learn how to set up a safer storage system for their family’s financial future.
I should have known better, was Sylvia’s first thought when she discovered the stack of overdue tuition payment reminders under the bed. Of course, her husband forgot to pay for this one. He and Tristan, her son, hadn’t been on the best of terms before her husband passed. It happened suddenly, a massive heart attack a couple of months ago. In fact, the finances had been a total mess since he passed. The financial planners don’t seem to take her seriously. She feels belittled whenever they ask her question and explain things to her in jargon she can’t process. Isn’t it enough that he’s gone? Can’t someone explain a RIF or a LIF or Estate Transfer Tax to her without speaking to her like she’s a child?
“I’ve got a financial guy, babe.. Don’t worry.” That’s what her husband told her before handing their savings over to Fred. Fred, sure. Fred who lost half their money with a risk appetite guided exclusively by optimism. Fred, who they stopped meeting abruptly in 2008. Fred, whose family never came to their Christmas parties anymore. No one seemed to be paying attention to the fact that she actually liked Fred’s wife. Nancy misses her friendship almost as much as half their money. One thing is clear from this whole thing, they should never have trusted Fred! In fact, Nancy is pretty sure she doesn’t want to trust anyone ever again.
Sylvia, Priya and Nancy are not alone. Stories like these are common in what we have heard and read about millions of women in North America – and beyond. Even those who trust our partners deeply, and make financial decisions collectively, still have some questions.
Across Canada, women are waking up to the fact that trusting ‘he’ll take care of it’ might not be the best—or the only—option. For many, the weight of this statement only takes hold after he passes away. In fact, by some estimates, 70% of widows leave their financial advisor in the months after their husbands pass away. Maybe this is you. Maybe you’ve separated from your partner (a very difficult financial and emotional process in itself) and need to figure things out on your own for the first time. Maybe you just find yourself nodding and agreeing with your Financial Planner, even though you don’t 100% understand what they’re telling you.
No matter how much you trust your partner, you might want to know more. (After all, in marriage and elsewhere, if there’s one thing we’ve learned: Trust doesn’t mean blind acceptance.)
If this post resonated with your experience, and you find yourself wanting to know more, click the link below to sign up for the next Boomerang Financial Literacy Workshop. Our Workshops are inclusive, welcoming, low-stress ways to learn about your financial future. We’d love it if you joined the conversation.
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