Women are worriers by nature. We worry about our families, our friends and our future. Those of us who live alone have learned to be independent – but that doesn’t stop us from worrying about the years ahead.
As a single small business owner who lives alone, I have spent a lot of time thinking about – and planning for – a potentially solo future. That process produced my book Retiring Solo, which addresses the many issues I considered once I realized that I could very well spend the next 30 years of my life on my own.
On the average, women live longer than men and many of us will spend up to a third of our adult lives living on our own through a combination of choice, divorce or death. It is practical to plan for growing old alone, even if you are happily partnered now.
Four Things That Worry Me About Growing Old Alone
As a single woman, my two greatest fears in life are outliving my money or my ability to earn money to support myself, and losing my health or mobility and becoming dependent on other people or institutions for care. I worry more about the second one than the first. Why? Because I believe that for as long as I remain healthy, I should be able to find a way to earn some income.
I also worry about whether I will die alone, without a supportive circle of friends and family. Recently, I also began thinking about what I would like to be remembered for once I’m gone.
Will I Outlive My Money?
No one wants to outlive their resources. If you’re healthy and active, you could be looking at three decades of retirement, with no guarantee of how far your funds will stretch. How many years of money will you need? At what pace should you spend what you have managed to put away? There really is no way to know for sure.
Will there be enough money to travel? Will there be enough money you become ill or need extended care and, if not, then where that money will come from?
Retirement may also prove to be costlier than planned for. Many women report that they underestimated the costs of food, taxes and healthcare and found that expenses in the early years of retirement proved to be much higher than they’d expected.
Single women face even greater pressure. There is no spouse or partner to help contribute to retirement savings, bring home a second paycheck or receive a second Social Security or pension check in the mail.
A part-time job or income from starting a business can relieve financial pressure and help fund activities and travel. Continuing to work also helps us remain active, involved and engaged. That’s good for our mental and physical health, all the way around.
Will I Stay Healthy?
I am very much a…