By Adunke Olatunji
FOR many women, becoming a widow does not just mean the heartache of losing a husband, but often losing everything else as well.
Widowhood is not a situation anyone pray to find herself in life, it’s a force of nature, the fact that at one point in time we’re bound to die.
There’s no fixed time or age for death to come knocking, it can be anytime, any age. We come to this world one by one and so we will leave but what happens when a married couple get separated by death of one of them.
The death of a spouse is possibly one of the most devastating events that could happen to anyone particularly if you have a family with young children. The responsibilities of keeping the family together which hitherto rest on two people now rests solely on one person.
Widows all over the world encounter different challenges ranging from humiliation, molestation, abuse and deprivation.
In Africa especially in Nigeria, when the husband dies, the widow is tagged a witch, she’s blamed for the death of her husband, the family oftentimes humiliate the widow under the guise of widow’s rite. Some family members will take over the properties of the deceased especially if there’s no will at the time of death. They’ll strip the widow bare, leaving her with nothing to carry on with life and care for her children.
Some widows have the misfortune of inheriting debts probably as a result of circumstances before the death of her husband. There are situations where the man has been sick for a long time such that the sickness have consumed all of their savings, despite that he still dies.
Finally some widows are lucky to inherit substantial amount of money and properties without any interference from the in-laws.
Regardless of your circumstances, the death of a spouse does not put life on hold for the rest of the family, life continues – that’s the reality. Things have to be sorted and done, responsibilities of maintaining the household and keeping the family together must be done. Grief, anxiety, depression, sense of loss, lack of concentration etc must be pushed aside, there’s need to move forward with life. You can’t mourn forever. Yes you’ll miss your husband especially if you’ve been together for a long time but you need to be selfless at this point in time. You have to be determined and courageous to be able to cater for your children. You need to put aside your emotions and face reality of your situation.
The Question now arise, how do I move on from here? How do I steer the course of action towards achieving financial freedom? How do I pick myself up from this point upward.
Financial freedom. What do you understand by that term?
Financial freedom is your ability to make life decisions without being stressed about financial impact because you have attained a position where you control your finances and NOT being controlled by them.
How do you attain this level? Trust me it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a continuous task that requires dedication and caution driven by determination.
You can’t expect to get there overnight. You work your way up to that level.
Firstly, you need a clear head and vision to enable you make the best decision because whatever you decide will impact your life and that of your family, so approach it with clarity.
You need to figure out where you are before you get where you want to be. How do you do this? Self-assessment.
Yes that’s what you need. A self assessment of your circumstances and finances.
✅ What are your normal expenses? You will list them one by one.
✅ Arrange them in order of importance. This is to enable you decide how best to cut down on your expenses because at this point you need adjustments. Before you can achieve financial independence, you need to cut back on your expenses, you have to drop off unnecessary spending first and as you progress in your journey towards success you’ll pick up some of these later when you’re comfortable financially.
Secondly, how do you generate steady income for your family?
✅ If you’re employed before the death of your husband, it means you have a guaranteed source of funds but will this be enough to cater for your needs?
✅ For those who inherited substantial amount of money and properties, how do you manage these resources at your disposal such that you don’t spend lavishly.
✅ Those who have nothing at all, everything has been taken from them, how do you source for money because you definitely need money. Do you have family or friends who are ready to help you pick up the pieces of your life? Do you have access to soft loans or borrowings? Something enough to start on a small scale.
Apart from these, think about other possibilities from your late husband.
✅ Personal savings
✅ Insurance pay outs
✅ If he was employed check with his employer for his gratuity, pension or entitlements as the case may be.
✅ Do you have access to these funds? Are you allowed to withdraw from his account, do you need to apply for letter of administration to his estate?
These are the background checks you need to do.
Thirdly, clean up your finances. What I mean by this is you need to pay your debts. Debt will surely affect your income and what you have at your disposal to spend.
Don’t allow your bills to pile up thinking it will be sorted later. If they pile up you’re courting trouble. Electricity, gas, water bills and rent are some of the bills you cannot afford to pile up.
You can’t achieve financial success while swimming in debts. You need your full income not bits and pieces. Debt is like a heavy weight that pulls you down every time you attempt to move up. You may not be able to clear all of these debt at once but you must be determined to wriggle free of debt. Once you’re done with that, PLEASE stay out of debt!
Another point to note is investment. Once you’re debt free, the next step to consider is investing your money wisely.
What type of investment you make depends on the funds at your disposal. Are you planning to go into business or trade, do you want to put your money in fixed deposit account, do you want to invest in shares and bonds? This is where your initial self-assessment come to play major role. You would have decided on your financial goals and aspirations.
Note that this phase in your development needs to be treated with caution. You must be very careful who you approach for financial advice. You’ll be surrounded by people who offer to help you with your finances. BE CAREFUL! BE VIGILANT!! BE ALERT!
Some people are genuinely interested in your success but most are merely pretending. They are sharks ready to take advantage of your vulnerability. They’re parasite who want to suck you dry. Beware of them. If anyone suggest to you investment opportunities and options, sit down and relax. Make a careful assessment of each option available to you, do your own background check and compare with the suggestion and advise you may have received, then decide what to do.
Learn how to manage money. You must plan your expenses in advance and at the same time give room for emergencies. When you don’t plan ahead for your money, you’ll end up wondering where your money went. You might not even be able to account for it. It could be disastrous if you don’t have a budget for your expenses. Budgeting helps to keep your finances on the right track. No matter how much money you have, you still need a plan.
When you budget to cover your financial needs please STICK TO IT. It will give you a sense of self control and personal power over your finances. Remember to achieve financial success you must be the one in control of your Money, don’t allow money to control you.
You need savings to attain financial freedom. Make a conscious decision to save from your income; you need it to fall back on.
Start simple. Don’t invest heavily especially if you’re new to the business.
Live moderately. Live below your means if you want to climb the ladder of success. You can’t afford to be extravagant. Indeed, many wealthy individuals developed a habit of living below their means before rising to affluence.
You have to distinguish between what you want and what you actually need.
Review your performance. Ask yourself what you did right and what you would have done differently next time. This will give room for improvement. The more you improve the better you become at what you do and before you know it, you’re at the top.
Finally, take good care of yourself. Your health and wellness, your physical appearance and your emotions – all play vital role in your success.
Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t ever think of losing hope of a better tomorrow. You must adopt a positive attitude and approach to issues with the determination to go past all of the obstacles that might be in the way of your success.
You’re the mirror through which your children see themselves, give them a beautiful sight to behold, take control of your life and allow God to hold you while trying to stand on your feet.
Adunke Olatunji is President, Tabitha New Life Foundation