Through my practice, I work with individuals who recently lost their spouse. It’s difficult to watch someone struggle with grief while facing the realities of their financial situation.

Often, they may be in a situation where there isn’t enough income to support the lifestyle they had when their spouse was alive.

Or they may need income to support their lifestyle temporarily until legal issues are resolved.

Or they may be able to keep their lifestyle for now but will need to cut back after a few years.

Whatever the situation, they find themselves having to go back to work.

When you’ve been out of the workforce for ten years or more, it isn’t easy to jump back into it, mainly due to technological changes.

For those needing to re-enter the workplace after losing a spouse, here are four steps to take to find additional income:

1- Work with your CFP® to identify how much income you need to continue your lifestyle.

2- List all of your skills and nonprofit work you’ve accomplished over the past years. Be specific using numbers to indicate how many people were on the committee and how much your budget was for the event.

3- Reach out to friends and family with specifics of what you need (from #1) and what you can do (from #2).

4- Reach out to organizations you’ve been active in to see if they have any job opportunities. Look at religious organizations, other nonprofit organizations, medical offices, and schools.

Some people are embarrassed to let others know about their situation and find #3 and #4 challenging to implement.

But in reality, when you’ve been out of the job market for a while, your best way back into it is through your connections.

Some decide they can re-start a business they had or sell products through a multi-level marketing company. Both scenarios take time to build.

If you can support your lifestyle for at least five years, then consider these options. But also pay attention to your healthcare benefits and retirement savings needs.

Concurrently, as you are looking for work, start doing what you can to sell assets and cut expenses. You may even be able to pet sit or house sit for others to generate some income.

Losing a spouse is emotionally devastating and even more difficult when there’s insufficient money.

While it’s easy for some to cut back on their lifestyle and still live well, others may need to re-enter the job force.

That’s where your connections become very important. Stay positive, reach out, and be resourceful.

(Update to original post from October 25, 2017)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”