Note: This is a particularly harsh article – but one I think is terribly necessary to write…
I am worried. From a planner’s perspective, I am seeing more and more widows and divorcees among women between the ages of 50-60. Oftentimes, it was a great husband who passed away (good ones seem to die young) or a relationship that grew distant.
Along with the loss of a loved spouse comes the horrible empty feeling of being alone. not ever being in this situation, I don’t know how it feels firsthand. But what I have seen is how some people cope. Some women handle this quite well but some don’t. One result I don’t like to see is when someone, feeling that emptiness, falls for the “nice guy.” Now, I’m all for nice guys, but this particular type of nice guy is dangerous – financially dangerous.
It all starts with dating again, or simply being out socially. You meet a guy, he seems nice. He’s divorced but from what he says, his wife wasn’t such a good person anyway. She got most of the money. He’s a nice guy though, polite, funny – really enjoyable to be with. You’re not sure how it happens, but after dating for a couple of months, he mentions that he’d love to travel with you more if he wasn’t paying so much in rent (hint). A week later he brings it up again and adds a complaint that his ex-wife got most of the money (hint 2).
A week later he talks about having to help his son with college expenses and it’s really killing him he says (hint 3). About this time, your pity for him is growing and YOU bring up the idea that he should move in with you – why throw away money in rent? he can pitch in and save money. “Really?” he’ll say…’that’s a great idea!” And a few weeks later you have a new man in the house.
However there’s a problem now, that you didn’t notice – he’s really broke. Other than his age 62 reduced social security check, there isn’t much coming in and his credit card bill, cell phone bill, and cigarette habit eat most of that money up. The result? He’s not sharing any expenses, you are still paying for everything and now you have another obligation.
You convince yourself for a while that you’re helping him out and he’ll eventually get a job or do something. Furthermore, he vacuums during the day ( while you’re working of course) and does some shopping so you justify to yourself that he’s helping around the house. A few months pass and you realize that you’ve been helping him with some of HIS bills (so he moves in and you get more, not fewer expenses). You begin nagging him to get a job – now you’re the “nag” and men always find a way to avoid a nagging woman (it’s true). He finds ways to appease you and brush you off and after many months you are growing increasingly angry. But just like younger couples who move in together before marriage and full commitment, you find it hard to get rid of him.
The result, one way or the other, is that you’ve spent so much money and whether or not you eventually get rid of the guy, it’s been costly – all in the name of companionship!
My warning is then that if you are a widow/divorcee, and you own a home and have savings, be very careful about the men you date. As I advise my clients, there is NO NEED for him to MOVE IN with you – let him keep his own place. And the expenses you wonder? If a man is 60 years old with no money, no house, then it’s likely you have a very irresponsible man on your hands and even more reason to keep him at a distance. He can be the fun guy you date, but one you never get serious with for these men can cost women thousands of dollars.
They play off your emotions, your loneliness, your desire to have a man in the house – try to avoid the temptation to fill that void with just any man. Find a responsible guy and if there are none out there, don’t risk it with a drifter. You are typically the family financial backstop – your family needs you and you want to be there for your kids, your elderly mother etc. You can not afford to risk your financial security in these situations. If you are contemplating this, I would advise that your first default response be NO, then take it under a long time advisement. Maybe this man is moving from woman to woman looking for a ‘sugar mamma.” If that’s the case, wait him out and he may just move on – which is all the better for you!
p.s. If you are seeking a financial planner / advisor in the Medford, MA/ Boston area, feel free to contact us for a phone interview to see if we might be a good fit for you.
PS don’t even let me get started on the Vegas trips you will fund for him – he’ll allow his addictions and habits to take you down the toilet too! Beware!