Managing Your Personal Finances

I was married for more than 40 years. As you get older, you start to think about your mortality. I knew one day that one of us would transition before the other, I just didn’t consider it would be so soon.

In my mind I always considered the possibility, because tomorrow is not a promise, but my heart said, separation by death probably would not happen for many years.

There’s more I could share, but I only mentioned my loss because it leads up to what many Seniors have neglected to do. This message is to my Single Senior Sisters, because if you are a married Senior Sister, you probably have it all together with your husband in terms of your financial health.

However, if your finances are not so healthy then this is for you as well.

Order Your Finances

Life Insurance

Order enough insurance to cover your final expenses (funeral cost). If you have debts (credit cards, medical bills, personal and/or car loan), you need to be able to cover those expenses. You may own your home that still has a mortgage, you’ll need additional coverage for that also. Some people have a separate insurance policy, called mortgage insurance that pays off their loan balance in case of death.

Mortgage insurance may not be the most economical way to go. It depends on your age at the time you purchase life or mortgage insurance.

As a former insurance professional, Whole Life insurance may be the way to go economically speaking. With this type of insurance, you may not be able to purchase a high amount of coverage due to the cost, but the coverage usually last to age 100, depending on the policy.  Plus, older adults may only be able purchase enough to cover final expenses.

You can borrow against this type of policy and you don’t have to pay it back if you choose not to, however, the amount you borrow if not paid back will be deducted from the face amount. For instance your face amount is $10,000, you withdraw or borrow $3,000…your beneficiary would receive $7,000 ($3,000 would be deducted).

Term Life insurance is the least expensive of the types of life insurance. It’s called “Term” insurance because the coverage is for a set length of time. There are different types of term policies as well. The most popular type of term policy is the level term insurance. Depending on the company’s products, you may purchase level term for a set amount of time with no price change. When that term is over, for example, in a 10-year term, and you decide to renew, then the cost will correspond to your age at renewal.

Then there’s Universal Life (UL) insurance. It’s not as expensive as Whole Life and not as cheap as Term Life insurance. During the time I sold insurance, UL was some kind of hot commodity.  This type of policy was so amazing that some owners of this policy used it as an investment for retirement. I’m no longer in the insurance business, so a talk with your agent would be in order.

For any Senior Sister who does not have her life policy yet or if you need an insurance overhaul, please consult with a license agent who can go over your needs and recommend the best type of policy for you. An agent who is limited to selling one type of insurance will recommend only what he/she sells—get what I’m saying?

Once you’ve gotten your life insurance all squared away, you can now concentrate on the other task at hand. With the proper amount of life insurance in place, the “life unexpected” event will not leave your loved ones in derision in terms of your finances. Your insurance will take care of your funeral expenses, your debts can be paid off, your children will be able to own the home they grew up in, and maybe something for your beneficiaries.

Wait a minute! You need to leave instructions on how you want your estate to be handled. This leads to Wills and Trust.

Wills and Living Trust

Your Will should contain instructions on how your affairs and property are to be handled. An executor/executrix or attorney is appointed by the creator of the will, to handle the Will to make sure the deceased wishes are carried out.

A Living Trust contains the instructions regarding the estate of the creator while the creator of the Trust is living. The Trust can be revocable (can make changes)or irrevocable ( no changes can be made without permission of beneficiary). There is a Trustor and Trustee. The Trustor is the person who created the Trust and the Trustee manages the Trust. Sometimes the Trustor and Trustee are the same person.

You will want to consult an attorney to set up your Will or Living Trust. If your assets are small you may be able draw up a Will or Trust using a form you get from office supply store, then have a legal professional go over it with you. On the other hand, if your estate is moderate to complex, you may absolutely need professional help. Having an attorney write up your Will or Trust can be costly. Which is why I recommend Financial Education Services.

Of course, you must do your own due diligence in choosing a professional to handle this. Financial Education Services has been good for me and others I know. (financialeducationservices.com)

Financial Literacy For Young People

Why financial literacy is not taught in all schools is beyond me? Credit card companies are not designed to teach us how to manage our spending even though they stand to lose as well as the consumer.

I was young, single, unassuming and in debt with charge accounts from dress shops, shoe stores, and eventually I moved on up to fine department store like Neiman-Marcus. I was like a child in a candy store with no restraints. The child doesn’t know that he’s going to be very sick later. I was very sick later.

Good news is, I got it together paid down my debts. I paid my debts because they were my debts, it had nothing to do with the importance of good credit. I didn’t even understand the ramifications of bad vs good credit. There are a lot of young people today with credit cards who are just as foolish and ignorant about credit as I was. That is why financial literacy for young people is so important.

Wells Fargo has a Financial Literacy program called “Teach Children to Save”. Ask about this program from your local Wells Fargo Branch, it’s free. Another option is handsonbanking.org. They have downloadable lessons for kids to seniors.

Credit Card Paydown/Payoff

Pay a little extra every month, or twice a month on the smallest balance. When that card is paid off, apply that same monthly amount to next card along with what you are currently paying for the second care. Keep repeating this process until your cards are paid off or paid down to 30% of your credit limit.

It’s OK to keep one credit card for emergencies or semi-emergencies. Do not close your credit cards just because they have a zero balance. Closing could cause your credit score to go down. Wait until your cards are zero balance or paid to 30% or less of your limit. Then decide which to close.

It seems so ridiculous for the credit card companies to give you, say $1000 in credit, then when you spend up to your limit, your credit score suffers. Keep it under 40%–preferably at no more than 30% of your credit limit.

Good Credit Exudes Confidence

Once you have your credit rating at good to excellent, every thing else pertaining to your finances becomes a whole lot easier. A high credit score means cheaper insurance cost; 0% credit card interest rate; 0% interest on your next new car purchase; and the lowest mortgage rates available.

Here’s to Your Financial Peace of Mind 

Be credit wise, be a saver, start a business to help you keep more of your tax dollars. Good credit equals financial confidence and when your money affairs are in order, you have financial peace of mind.


Be Blessed Everyone and Be a Blessing


  • Terry Swope

    I am thoroughly impressed with the detail of your post. As a former insurance agent, I commend you on your easy to understand assessment of some on the most common insurance products. Also, your information on Wills, Living Trusts and Financial Literacy For Young people is great! The credit card Paydown/Payoff is a bonus. All-in-all, this is a great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Glenys

    Thank you for this great article on managing your personal finances.
    Sorry to hear about the loss of your life partner. I agree that the unexpected death of a spouse can have a huge impact on your finance and emotional wellbeing at any age – but it really does have a huge impact as we get older.
    I agree that Life Insurance is important for our financial well being long term.
    In my country mortgage insurance protects the banks only – it does not pay out the full amount of the loan remaining and offers no real benefit to the person paying the bill for the insurance (can you believe that one!!).
    I agree that financial literacy should be taught in schools – but it’s not. So the next best thing we can do is educate young people that credit cards are actually the same as real money so don’t go overspending….. because you have to pay it back with interest.
    Thanks for this great article. I was just wondering if you purchase a lot of insurance every year or have you dropped some insurances now that you are no longer working?

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