Ask Robin – September 4th

Finding home

IMG-20121216-00211I had an email this week asking whether it was a good idea to move after the death of a life partner. This is a tricky question that depends a lot on timing, your personal temperament, and the state of your finances.

I know quite a few women who have faced with this dilemma and at least some of them were shocked to discover that they really did not have any choice but to move to more economical accommodation as quickly as they could get themselves there. Between the size of the mortgage, loss of primary income, reductions in survivors pension, and the loss of tax deductions; not to mention the staggering costs of caring for a loved one with a prolonged illness, you can quickly discover that you are not only alone – you are in way over your head financially.

If you are one of the lucky ones who have not experienced this, resist the urge to be smug; lots of your friends have been saddled with huge debts through no fault of their own. If you know all too well what I am talking about, don’t lose hope – grab a big box of tissues and let’s talk this through.

Firstly – be pragmatic. Crying alone and drowning in debt are not helping you to recover. Find someone objective to talk through your options with. How much debt are you carrying? What is your house worth? You don’t know? Call a realtor and get an appraisal, even if you can’t face the idea of selling at the moment it is a good thing to know.

Could you take in a tenant? I’m not asking if you have a room you could rent – I’m asking whether you could survive doing this. Some people would find the company a blessing, while others would find it an invasion of privacy.

Could you get a part-time job? Would that ease your burden, or simply prolong the inevitable? Would it be good for you to get out of the house and do something while you worked things out?

Is there are anything else that you could sell to reduce your debt? What about that fancy car you riding around in or that basement full of athletic equipment you are avoiding? Stop trying to keep up appearances, or worrying about what the neighbours would think and do what is right for you for a change.

My point here is – no matter how bad things seem at the moment, you do have choices. Get a piece of paper and make a list of every last thing you “could” do (even things you would never dream of doing). Now look at that list – circle at least one small thing that you know in your heart would improve your situation.  Ok – take a deep breath and commit to doing it.

Deciding something is very empowering turning point for someone suffering from a loss. You may not be thrilled with your options – but at least you finally get to make a plan and make decisions instead of feeling like a victim. The trick is to take control of your own destiny as soon as you can and be true to yourself so that you can ultimately be comfortable with your decisions.

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