I’m often invited to financial seminar/dinner meetings for seniors, but I didn’t start attending them until I became a widow. That’s when I realized I must understand exactly how much money I have, what’s happening to it, and how I can make sure it lasts as long as I do. One of the best ways to work through the grief of widowhood is to gain control of your finances. In many cases that helps make you feel “safe” again.
Daniel O. Fisher, Certified Senior Adviser, of Wilmette IL, shed light on that subject last week  when he presented a talk about assuring a “Safe and Smart Retirement” in a local restaurant. If you thought there was a way to get rich quick, especially in today’s economy, Fisher reminded us to forget that. “Moderate gains that never experience a loss will outperform a volatile market,” he said. “If something seems too good to be true–it probably is.”
Also, we all must become guardians of our estates and our own best advisers. “Don’t hesitate to take charge because you thought you never were good enough at math,” he stressed. You simply cannot put all your money in someone’s hands and forget about it. The only way to guarantee a comfortable and secure future is to take charge of it yourself. You must examine the monthly reports sent by your adviser. If you don’t understand them completely, meet with him or her and insist upon an explanation of whatever confuses you.
And when you do understand where you money is and what it’s doing, make sure you approve of that manager’s strategy for safeguarding it.  Change to someone else if you don’t feel your money is “working while you sleep.”
You must find someone that understands and can explain to you:
  • how to avoid paying taxes on social security;
  • whether you are a good candidate for some kind of Roth IRA;
  • whether you should buy one of the many kinds of annuities;
  • how to make sure your heirs are best protected from taxes.
Ask your accountant and/attorney to help find such a person, who also will appreciate your goals and help achieve them. Some of us are more comfortable with risk than others, and your adviser also must be sympathetic to that.  These are the first steps toward feeling secure and “safe” again.
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Sandra Pesmen

Sandra Pesmen

Sandra Pesmen, host of www.widowslist.com, also writes the weekly DR.JOB column syndicated by Career News Service. A member of The Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and The University of Illinois Media Alumni Hall of Fame, Ms. Pesmen is author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide,“ and “Writing for the Media: Public Relations and the Press.” A reporter, features writer and editor, this business journalist was features editor of Crain’s Chicago Business from its inception in 1978 to 1990, when she became corporate features editor for its parent, Crain Communications Inc. She also wrote the monthly Executive Woman column in North Shore magazine in suburban Chicago for many years. Previously, she was a reporter and features writer for the Chicago Daily News.

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