We all started living as a single at different stages in our lives. Some of us got a job and were able to live alone and support ourselves right out of high school. Many of us went from our parent’s home into a marriage with a spouse and children. If we continued our education away from home, we may have moved in with roommates or married and lived with a spouse before or after we graduated. A few of us embraced our careers, got our own home and left marriage and children for a later date or never. Some of the biggest names in feminism were single for years, but eventually got married. Even 3 of the 4 fabulous “Sex in the City” ladies left their glamorous single life behind and walked down the aisle. Yes, I know that was TV fantasy, but they made single life look fantastic and then they gave it all up for a partner. My point is that most men and women lived with someone most of their life.
At some point, we may have to strike out alone through no choice of our own. There’s a divorce, the death of a spouse or our children leave the nest. At these times living alone can leave us feeling bereft, unneeded, and lonely. If being on our own is our idea, we may feel joy, freedom, and even relief. No matter what the reason, it’s a life-changing experience. For those who’ve never experienced living alone, and there are many people who still haven’t lived in their own space, they find there are many things that fall on their shoulders that they didn’t have to worry about in the past. So let’s talk about Baby Boomers who become single for the first time later in life.
• Financial matters-Even if you paid the bills when you were in a relationship, you didn’t have the full responsibility of handling your day-to-day budget and retirement plans. Take care of your credit score as you would a child. It can suffer after you lose a partner who’s part of your credit history, so establish your own credit identity. Anyone who gives you credit, a loan or rents to you will look at it. If you need to, seek the help of a financial advisor. Paying for help is just best practice. You can’t be an expert in every area.
• Housing-You no longer need that large house and you may want to downsize. Do you want to keep the house so your children can bring their children home for holiday visits? Then be prepared to maintain an aging house. Would buying a condo, townhome or smaller house be more cost effective? Could renting give you more free time and funds so you can visit family and friends and not worry about maintenance. Again you may need the help of a professional like your accountant, financial advisor or realtor. Also, friends who’ve been in the same position can give you invaluable advice. They may also have a great list of reliable, reasonably priced pros who can fix the things you can’t.
Photo via VisualHunt
• Transportation-In most places, cars are essential. If you live in a big city with mass transportation, a personal vehicle may not be needed, but most of us have to deal with taking care of our baby if they want to get anywhere. As with your large home, you may no longer need a family minivan. Now you can get a smaller more gas efficient car, truck or the sporty car you drooled over all of your life. You still have to take care of it, though. If you’re a woman, when you go into a car dealership or repair shop you worry that they smell your fear. You don’t want to dig up a male friend to hold your hand, but it’s good to have a person who knows about cars in your contact list so you can run the price or estimate by them. Even men need advice when it comes to cars. Doing it on your own can have many pitfalls. Even finding ways to take your car in for maintenance can be a real problem since you need a ride if the repairs take a long time. Keep your car well maintained to avoid emergencies. Plan ahead for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance by finding several ways to get to and from a repair shop. Very few have loaner cars, so you may need to call a cab or get a rental car.
Tip: Always have a set of jumper cables in the trunk. You never know when you or someone else may need them.
Photo via Visual Hunt
• Friends-Did you lose custody of friends in a divorce? You may not have stayed in touch with a lot of friends over the years when you were with a spouse and/or raising a family. Friends are more important now than ever. They can be there for you in troubled times with a shoulder to cry on, help or advice on problems you can’t solve on your own or just someone to spend some time with doing the things you both enjoy. Singles spend more time with friends and cultivating new friendships than marrieds, so you now have time to get out there and reconnect with old friends or make new ones. Cherish the ones who stuck with you over the years. Be a caring and giving friend to them and all of your new ones. You may be able to live on your own, but we all need the support of others emotionally and sometimes physically.
If you’re not used to going it alone, it can be daunting. You’re an adult. I don’t have to tell you not to jump into another relationship so you have a live-in support system. You don’t need that. Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. Living on your own can help you discover your inner strengths. It can give you the confidence to channel the energy and time you used taking care of others to learn new skills, start a business, travel to exotic places or do anything a relationship may have made difficult in the past. Think of this as your new adventure and enjoy the ride.
Continue the adventure!