Cluttered

Standard

Fifteen months since my last post and all I have to say is that my life has become “cluttered.” That word came to me in response to a simple inquiry from an old friend.”How are you?”  My reply?

Cluttered.

So, how did things get so messy? How is it possible that it’s been over five years since I last picked up the phone and heard my husband’s voice?  Where did the time go? Well, to give you a quick recap … when last I wrote, my daughter was in her senior year of college, my two rescue kitties were settling in, and I was feeling quite … well, I believe the word was “happy.” Nod to Pharrell Williams intended. And then the wheels came off.

My daughter, Jules, graduated with honors (yay!) but then came graduate school. She has a very clear sense of what she wants to do, unlike her mother who is still pondering the age old question of what to do when she grows up. But the road to Jules’ goal required graduate school – a 2 1/2 year program in the most expensive city she could find … New York City … Manhattan… The Big Apple.

You may not have heard, but Manhattan is a tad pricey. Just a tad. She was able to get housing through the school. A room in a well-appointed hotel. 24/7 security. Restaurants. Fitness center. Kitchen facilities. All for the low, low price of $2700.A MONTH!!! Now for you big rollers that probably sounds like a walk in the (Central) park. To this widow living in a small house in the country, that amount is painful on the ears as well as  other anatomical parts. But it was the best solution we could find for the first year in the Big City so hi ho, hi ho, further in debt we go.

Oh yeah, debt. Lots of it. When Joe and I were making our plans for the future before he, well, took a powder, we were working with two incomes; two sets of health/dental/optical insurance; two retirement plans; two of everything. October 17, 2011 changed all of that. Funny, I can barely remember my own birthday but the date of his passing is hard-wired into my brain.

Whilst it wasn’t quite time to take on the second job as a Walmart greeter, it seemed obvious that it was time to seek professional help. A shrink? Yeah, well that’s always been a consideration. Nope, a financial planner was going to be the answer to all of my woes. Except, true fact, they ask the hard-hitting probing questions like “What is the interest rate on your mortgage?” and “Are you staying within your monthly budget?” and then this nugget … “What is your retirement plan?”

Well, geez, Louise, if I knew those answers, why the heck would I need a financial planner? Of course, that’s the sort of ill-considered questioning that got me into hot water as a youth and seems to have prevailed into my maturity. Sigh, I hate it when people ask questions that you SHOULD know the answer but haven’t a clue as to the response.

The good news, well kind of good news, is that I am not alone. It seems that “widow spending” is a thing. You see, in many, many cases, when a loved one dies, they leave behind resources. Those resources are intended to help make up the gap … or, as in the case of many widows, they are to fill in the gap (left by the loss). “Make up” and “fill in” become two diametrically opposed concepts. “Make up” is a fiscally savvy approach to secure the future for you and your family. “Fill in” is an emotional, knee-jerk reaction comprised of impulse-buying like major house renovations, trips to Europe, erecting a new edifice in your loved one’s name. Guess which route this author took? Yup, numbskull.

So, today is President’s Day. While others are out enjoying a three day weekend, I am gathering financial info. Bank statements, credit cards statements, tax form … My dining room table looks like a paper bomb exploded. But, and here’s that eternal optimist speaking, the financial guys didn’t seem all that disturbed and actually quite empathetic. I am either being lulled into a false sense of security or my money fears were misplaced. I’m rooting for the latter but skeptical enough to consider the former.

Well, I say I am doing all of that forensic accounting when what I am actually doing is catching up on this blog. My adult onset of OCD is not helping matters! Must get a calculator and hit the spreadsheets. Until later, God speed, friends. I am back and getting de-cluttered!