Downsizing After the Death of a Spouse: How Long Should You Wait?

If you’re dealing with the death of a spouse, you know the toll it can take on you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Trying to get your finances in order is a necessary distraction, but it can be eye-opening. After a lifetime of functioning as a team, you’re now left to carry the burden alone. And oftentimes, when you start to reevaluate your finances after losing your spouse, you might realize you need to make some lifestyle changes.

Navigating the Emotional Stress of Moving After the Loss of a Spouse

While it’s smart to try and wait a year to consider moving or downsizing after the death of a spouse, your financial situation might not always afford you that much time. The death of a spouse and divorce are thought to be the two biggest stressors in life – coming in at number three is moving a household. For this reason, many experts suggest waiting a year before moving after the death of a spouse, because you’re already dealing with so much. 

So what options do you have if you need to trim your finances but aren’t ready to deal with a major move? There are some ways to buy yourself time to process your grief before taking on another major move or a new mortgage. 

1. Rent instead of buying

Renting gives you much more flexibility than buying, and it can help lower your monthly costs. If you sell a two-story house after your spouse dies and move into a small, two-bedroom apartment, you’ll notice significant savings and better manage your stress. 

2. Cut unnecessary spending

If you are on a fixed income when your spouse passes, it might make sense to consider eliminating unnecessary expenses. Cut out memberships, stop paying for cable television, and only keep the services you’ll use now that you’re on your own. 

3. Lower your monthly food bill

It can sometimes be hard to adjust your buying habits for one person. Make sure when grocery shopping you only buy what you’ll eat and try to adjust your cooking habits for one person. This will save you money each shopping trip and avoid waste. 

4. Refinance your loans

If you recently purchased a car, you might want to consider refinancing your loan or trading in your car for something smaller and more cost-efficient. 

5. Manage your debts

Close out any credit cards in your spouse’s name and do your best to start paying for things in cash. This will help you manage your finances, eliminate credit card debt and help you adjust to your new way of life. 

Navigating the Post-Spousal Loss Moving Process

After six or even twelve months have passed, you’ll have a much better handle on your financial situation. At this point, it might be a good time to meet with a Realtor to find out how much your house is worth and decide if it’s the right time to sell. If it is, you can consider downsizing after the death of your spouse into something more affordable and manageable. Plus, after a year or so, you might be ready for a fresh start somewhere entirely new. 

Need help navigating the moving process? Upside is turning the idea of traditional senior living on its head. Learn how our team can help you select a perfectly curated apartment that caters to your financial situation after the loss of a spouse. Talk with an Upside team member today to learn more.

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