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The Solo Journey Challenge

By Marie Burns May 01, 2024 Lifestyle

By choice or otherwise, 90% of us women will be left solely in charge of our household finances. Whether you become suddenly single through divorce or widowhood, the experience is a financial solo journey challenge. You may be dealing with half the resources, a reduced household income, or unfamiliarity with all of the personal finance tasks involved, or any or all or more of the above. One widow I spoke with recently said it well, “It’s financial. Period.”

Moving Forward

I agree with her. Moving forward after any loss (divorce is a loss too, not just widowhood) is difficult. Even when your financial house is in order, picking up the pieces to move forward on your own is still a huge paperwork process to get through on top of the changes and decision-making that takes place.

And we are doing all of this during a time when our brain is trying to re-acclimate to our new situation. I watched the most amazing video recently that shows and explains why the feeling of brain fog, after any loss, happens. We literally need to give our brains time to rewire our new world!

It Changes Your Life!

So, when we are experiencing loss and all the paperwork, decision-making, and brain changes that go with all of that, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. Your sudden singleness changes your life and yet the challenges of a solo journey face you every day as life keeps marching forward. You likely still have work, family, and/or home responsibilities that continue daily. It doesn’t feel fair that life keeps happening all around you as if nothing has changed!

Making Connections

We are all different in how we make our way forward. Some may find it helpful to connect with a structured group like DivorceCare or GriefShare. Others may find one-on-one counseling to be the best. Connecting with other women who’ve gone through the same experiences, reading books on the topic, or gradually working through the change on your own are all paths that you can take.

Taking Action

To help move through the overwhelm and feel some sense of control again, a list or step-by-step guide can keep things moving forward even while your brain and emotions are still figuring out this new life. That’s where a book, a class, or a series of steps can become a helpful tool.

My Suddenly Single Course & Bundle is one example of a video course that provides steps and tools that can be self-paced and in the privacy of your own home. We all learn and take action in different timeframes and formats so choose a method that feels best for you. The key is that you give yourself grace and patience but also the nudge and resources to move forward.

Reinventing Yourself

Suddenly living a single life is an adjustment and takes intentionality to force yourself to redefine who you are and what you want your future life and self to look like. Reinventing yourself after having been one half of a couple is not usually something we ever intended or planned to have to do. Yet here we are. Circumstances force you to rethink your life and what’s important to you.

Our Likelihood of Loss Is High

You may have watched a grandmother, mother, sister, or friend go through a loss. I have an aunt that lost three spouses, and I see her as one of the most resilient women I know. One of her losses was due to divorce. With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce (and over 60% of second marriages, and over 70% of third marriages), it has become a higher likelihood for a majority of us.

And widowhood is even more likely. 80% of the one million new widows in the United States each year are women. 80% of married men die married but 80% of married women die single. I guess it’s no wonder my aunt experienced both divorce and widowhood. Yet she found a silver lining in each one of her past relationships and today is still the most positive person I know. So easy to say yet so hard to do but a healthy mindset is a choice. Whenever our time comes, I hope we choose resilience and positivity too.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Is your solo financial journey where you want it to be? What has helped you adapt? What advice can you share with our community? Please join the discussion!

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I’ve always been more attracted to my single friends than married ones. For one, they tend to be far more open and honest about their lives. They don’t play the game, or sport the image. A look at Fb says it all. People showing photos of themselves dining out with their spouses as if to convince us they have it all.

Fortunately, I’ve been independent lifelong so I’ve accumulated lots of skills. The ones I need now are maintenance ones.


Newsflash: this is what single women have dealt with their whole lives – paying higher taxes, having only one income to pay for housing or any necessity and bills, having no help or support in the myriad of areas some women have had for decades with spouses. On occasion, women with mates, please remember how hard it is for those of us single – and often not by choice. Thanks.




JeanPaul, thank you for this. So very true. The whole set up is wrong for the people we have become. It’s set up by the blankety blank hierarchy (fill in the blanks) to keep women in their place. We are seeing the repression worldwide. I do have a solution but I doubt women could manage it.

When I was married and my spouse and I went out, I often took my single female friends. We always picked them up and paid for them. I wanted them to know how much their friendship is valued.


Thank you for saying that divorce is a loss too. I don’t think many people understand that! I listen to friends who have lost a spouse and I have the same thoughts and feelings that they do! Yes he is still alive but living our life plans with someone else. And the paperwork is much the same too. Life goes on in a different way.

Marie Burns

Thank you for confirming that Gloria. I am careful to say that many of the feelings and tasks are similar, not the same as widowhood. Either way, I believe both are the most stressful and tumultuous times of life.


Gloria, I do think it makes a different WHO asks for the divorce. The reality is that it is really a blessing since one of them wants a different life. And, I think we have to learn to see it that way.

Maybe it is easier for me since I asked for the divorce. I will also mention he fooled around. My gyn told me that when he gave me an STD although I did suspect he was seeing other women. She was one courageous woman to risk her career sharing what was borderline privileged information. Sadly, that STD was a blessing in disguise because he forced me to end the charade once and for all.

The other sad reality was that I was numb the last decade of the marriage. It was so darn empty!

I’m so much happier some 25 years later, living the dream!

Linda Kline-Lau

After my mother died in 2018 I got nervous about knowing where my husband’s and my money was invested and what my husband’s vision of how that money was supposed to support us in retirement. I handle all the regular bills, but my husband handles our investments. I got a notebook and sat down with him to write down all the accounts and user ids and passwords. Also I had him explain what money to use first, second, etc. I probably need to update it a little, but I feel more confident that I could make the financial transition if I have to.

Marie Burns

Excellent Linda, anything you know more about, the better!


Linda-I used to do Companion Care for some of my local elderly and one of the topics I discussed with them is writing down all of this information so their kids don’t have to treasure hunt to find it. I have an excel spreadsheet with multiple pages. First page is all online IDs, pw, and security questions. Page 2 are my investment account numbers and locations. Page 3 is current household bills with addresses, account numbers and payment information. Page 5 are important addresses/phone numbers of who should be called, the location of my will/trust and other important information. I have an envelope with my computer password and my daughter knows where it is so she can get to this information. Every Jan 1st, I review the contents of the excel spreadsheet to make sure it’s current. I recommend that everyone do this – single or married – so they don’t have to worry about finding this information during a stressful time.

The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

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