It's one of those questions that keeps me up at night: What would happen if my husband were no longer here? As a working mom, modern woman, and daughter to a single mom (for a period of time), one would think that I'd have all of this figured out. Financially, anyway. Emotionally I would never be able to figure it out. But when looking at the nitty gritty of raising two children to successful adulthood, it's terrifying to realize that 75% of our household income would disappear along with my husband, if god forbid, anything were to ever happen to him.
It's what Brooklyn mom, Jennie Perillo, is facing right now. Her husband Mikey died suddenly of a heart attack two weeks ago leaving her alone to parent her 3- and 8-year-old daughters.
As a food writer, Jennie was not the main bread winner, yet will also not be entitled to her late husband's social security benefits due to the income she does have right now. She's in a tough situation, and a fund has been set up to help out the Perillo family. The family. Because it's not just you anymore, once you have children. You can't just temp, or wait tables, or simply skip that movie, when you have two little people in your house. Ramen noodles may be for dinner every night, but you'd better have more than one packet, or someone is going hungry.
It's simply something that you don't imagine happening when you have young children around you, so full of life and promise of the future. A life insurance policy can help a widow with grown children -- and living alone -- take care of the bills, and have a cushion. But when you're raising toddlers, there are too many years of care left after the money.
Whether you've cut back on work to be at home with the kids, or you just stopped aggressively climbing the ladder for the same reasons, a single mom's income can be dramatically less than her husband's. I know mine would be.
So other than help out Jennie Perillo by spreading the word, and donating to the Bloggers Without Borders account, I think I'll start to re-assess our family finances. Nothing could replace my husband, the father to our wonderful children. But being prepared financially would at least allow us to focus on each other, instead of the bank account, if the worst did happen.
Would you be okay, financially, if your partner was not around?
Image via Nina Matthews Photography/Flickr