|By Spitzer, Judith|
Before he got sick,
She knew very little about their finances, much less whether or not they had a plan for retirement.
Cavender is not alone. For many reasons, women often face greater risk when confronting financial security and ultimately, planning for retirement.
In some ways, Cavender was lucky.
"He put me in a house and gave me a lifestyle, and I didn't have to worry about things," Cavender says. She says everything changed when he got sick, and she had to play catch up quickly, especially when it came to money.
"I knew nothing about finances until he got sick. He would not even let me drive a car," she says. "Later on, when he asked me how I was doing with (financial concerns), I started crying and said I was scared."
After a lung transplant and chemotherapy treatments, her husband enjoyed a brief remission. However, the cancer returned and his final battle lasted less than a month. He died in
During the period when her husband became so sick he couldn't work, medical bills began piling up and the couple got so far behind in their mortgage, the bank almost foreclosed.
It was then that Cavender says she had to learn how to talk to bankers, modify the mortgage, pay bills, and generally take over responsibility for the couple's finances. During his remission, her husband laid all the groundwork to allow her to do that by providing a "uber-organized" listing of their assets, liabilities - even passwords for their accounts. She thinks he also signed her up for widow's benefits from the
Saving for retirement these days can be a challenge for anyone, but women are often at even greater risk when it comes to achieving a secure retirement. Longer life expectancy, less pay and taking care of family all contribute to increased anxiety about someday turning into a bag lady.
* Women are more likely than men to be single parents.
* Women are more likely than men to take time out of the workforce to care for children and/or aging parents. Taking time out of the workforce means forgoing income and employee benefits, such as health and retirement benefits.
* A high percentage of women work part time and, therefore, don't have access to workplace retirement benefits.
* Women's annual income continues to lag behind men's which leads to lower lifetime earnings, lower lifetime savings, and reduced
* Women have longer life expectancies and, therefore, greater savings needs.
* About 61 percent of baby boomer women expect to work after 65 or simply don't plan to retire.
Shortly after her husband's death, Cavender says she was surprised by a call from the SSA asking her where to deposit her benefit check, which she says was a godsend. Today, with three grown children and 11 grandchildren, she plans to sell her house and make some other financial decisions based on advice from a financial planner, which will see her through to retirement and beyond.