Home Alex's posts The widow’s story

The widow’s story

by alex brownbill

I have told this story a few times but never in blog form.

My first year of broking was really tough. Learning a new industry, new rules, new skills and a new environment.

It was in my first three months of this new industry that I had the most awful appointment I’d ever had (either before or since). It taught me the absolute critical importance of financial planning (although it took me another 3-4 years before I could actually offer it).

A woman called in and asked for an appointment as soon as possible. She sounded upset on the phone, so I shuffled some appointments around and asked her to come in that afternoon. She didn’t explain what she wanted and I (as a new broker) was too nervous to ask.

That afternoon, she came in on time. She was clutching a folder with neatly stacked papers. She was clearly still upset. She sat down and told me her story.

Up until three years prior, she’d been happily married. Three kids, a nice house. Her husband earned enough money to enable her to stay at home raising the children. I understood that they had enough for holidays and to live the lives they wanted.

That however all changed. Her husband passed away. I can’t remember whether it was sudden or prolonged, but he died.


[img_text_aside style=”1″ image=”https://voyagefinancial.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/family-running-late_1.jpg” image_alignment=”right” headline=”Fix%20Your%20Finances%20in%205%20Days” alignment=”center”]If you’re realising that your insurances may not be adequate, register for our free online workshop, available to be watched at anytime that suits you.

[/img_text_aside]


Now, for a while everything financially was fine. She accessed his superannuation ($300,000 – he had a fair bit there because he was in a high paying job). Friends and family looked after the kids, brought meals around and did everything they could to make the grieving and adjustment process just that little bit easier.

However, after one year, then two years, the help and assistance started dropping off. People gradually returned to their previous lives and leaving her and her kids to look after themselves.

The widow carried on raising her kids as best she could – taking them to school, making lunches, holidays etc etc.

Except she started to notice something concerning. The money that she’d accessed was starting to run out.

Initially she’d paid for the funeral (funerals and wakes are more expensive than many people realise). She’d paid off some debts (not the home loan though) and budgeted to be as tight as possible.

The problem was though that $300,000 will run out eventually no matter how tightly you budget. Especially with 3 kids to raise and a mortgage to pay.

By the time she got to me she was desperate. I was just about the last throw of the dice.

As the money slowly evaporated, she tried to go back to work. The thing was though, even with part time hours, the money was still slowly disappearing. On top of that, with kids on school and her needing to pick-up and drop-off, she was heavily limited in her availability.

His and her parents provided support, but they couldn’t always be there and didn’t have the financial resources to support themselves in retirement AND their grandkids.

If she worked, she needed to pay child care fees, which ate most of what she earned.

She was stuck, and she was fast approaching a deadline to make a decision. She couldn’t afford their home any more and only had about six months to figure something out.

She was frantic with worry and desperate to stay. It held the memories of a husband and father. For the kids it was the place they’d grown up in and known their father in.

It was a place that they had community and friends. The kids went to the local primary school and moving them from their network would be devastating.

She was faced with two disastrous choices – sell and move to a smaller house in a suburb she knew no-one (the kids ripped from school and taken out of their environment). Or find a new partner to help her make the repayments.

She was asking me whether she could afford anything, or if she could reduce the repayments on her current property.

The answers to both were no. Given her low, part-time income she couldn’t afford anything. Even a full-time wage with 3 kids to support meant her borrowing capacity was low.

The thing was, she already knew this. She’d been to see two other brokers. I was the third and she was despondently hoping for a different response.

I sat there and looked at the figures and told her I couldn’t do anything for her. She sat in tears in my office, with both of us knowing the outcome…

She’d have to give everything up and start renting in a suburb she didn’t know, sending her kids to a school where they had no friends.

Or find a new man.

She left my office and I never saw her again.

I think about her quite often. I wonder where she ended up. Whether she moved.

I also think about how it all could have been avoided. All that anguish and pain and suffering and indecision. About how her future (and that of her kids’) could have been so much brighter if only they’d paid even a few hour’s attention to this prior to him passing away.

All she and her husband had needed to do is sit down with a financial adviser.


[img_text_aside style=”1″ image=”https://voyagefinancial.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/family-running-late_1.jpg” image_alignment=”right” headline=”Fix%20Your%20Finances%20in%205%20Days” alignment=”center”]If you’re realising that your insurances may not be adequate, register for our free online workshop, available to be watched at anytime that suits you.

[/img_text_aside]


You may also like

Leave a Comment

5 + eleven =