It’s 5 a.m. And this is my wedding day.
No, I am not up early because I cannot sleep. This is my usual writing routine. Up before the others and write while they sleep.
But this was not supposed to be my wedding day.
For those few of you who followed this blog before the #coronavirus, #Covid19, and #prepping began to trend, you know that my focus has been on a #DIY #sustainable wedding in two months. And hopefully, that will still happen, as a renewal of vows.
But we decided that in light of this virus and the upheaval it is causing other places, it would be the right thing for us to do a civil ceremony as soon as possible.
If that seems rash or reactionary to you, and it did to one of my bride’s maids, let me explain a few things about our unique situation…
- We are both over fifty, this is not the first marriage for either of us.
- Alan has asthma which puts him in the high-risk category.
- We have been living together for almost four years, since the beginning of our relationship.
- There is a VAST disparity in terms of our finances, i.e. I am Cinderella.
- And Alan’s desire to protect us financially, should something happen to him, was always at the core of our decision to get married.
I have not worked in over a decade. First, because my daughter’s epilepsy and autism required my full attention. Then, by mutual agreement with Alan that I would be a #feminist-#homemaker. But my reality, if something did happen to him, would be back on @PanKwake’s disability.
It goes beyond that though. It is sad to say that in the twenty-first century, after half-a-century of ‘free love’ and changing attitudes towards marriage, there is still a marriage-bias. Even though we have been partners for almost four years…
- We cannot make medical decisions for one another. The doctors would be calling his parents five hours away or my adult offspring scattered around the globe.
- If worst happened, even with a will, I would be hit with an inheritance tax that significantly reduced the estate.
- Then there are banks and the house…and of course, @PanKwake.
For us, in a high-risk category, this just makes common sense. I know so because Alan with his unflappable British reserve is the one that made the decision.
But our personal circumstances aside, it highlights the other side of #preparedness. The side that no one wants to think about, and trust me, I certainly don’t. But we all need to face those ‘what-ifs.’ Marriages, wills, mortgages, bank accounts, cash reserves, and real estate are as much a concern with #PrepareDontPanic as a well-stocked cupboard. Perhaps more so in the long term.
Let’s look at somethings you need to consider with each of those:
Marriages, custody, and other family matters
If you are in a steady long term relationship, especially one where finances are involved, do you know where you stand legally? This is crucial as it changes from country to country and sometimes state-to-state in the US.
If you have minor or dependent children, what provisions have you made for them? Do you know what the default is in your area? Is that what you would want for them? Is it in their best interest? Sadly, sometimes there are no good alternatives.
If you have older parents or relatives, who are at high-risk, do you know their medical wishes? Who has the right to make decisions on their behalf in an emergency? Are you in contact with them?
Last Will and Testaments
Yes, this is my least favorite one. The very idea of anything happening to this man who I waited four decades to find almost paralyzes me with fear. Which is why I am so grateful that Alan does think of these things.
@PanKwake and I had moved in with him for a few months. I got to talking with friends, other single moms, about what would happen to our children in that worst case. And I realized for the first time how vulnerable, dependent I was on him financially.
It took all the courage I had…and my Wonder Woman knickers to ask, ‘what happens if?’ He told me not to worry. From the moment we had moved in together, he had changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy at work to me.
Of course, when he retired in January that was why we began the whole wedding saga. And we have been in the process of re-writing our wills for weeks/months. It is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it is damned hard.
Which is why we find ourselves in the position we are in. We have been doing all that pre-work for weeks and delaying making an appointment with the solicitor. Yesterday, he emailed to see about getting one this week or next. Only to discover that she is on holiday for the next two weeks. So, what do we do?
The good news is…most countries and US states don’t require you to use a solicitor/attorney/lawyer for a will to be legal. In fact, these days, there is any number of on-line services where you can write it yourself. I am not including links here because I don’t want it to seem I am endorsing any of them. But Goggle #DIY #wills.
You will need witnesses though. Usually, people who are not beneficiaries. So, you need to do a bit of research about how many and who in your area. The other thing to do is make certain that both of you and anyone else that is closely involved like executors know where to find the documents.
Is that legal? Is it enough? Probably. Especially, if you are married. But nothing in life is 100%. If so, we wouldn’t need to #prep.
Banks, credit cards, mortgages, and all that other stuff
Okay, confession time here: I suck at this one. I have never been good at money. At least not my own, I was fine with raising it for other people. I do know why though…people and ideals/values mean more to me than money. That is why my writing is free, more often than not.
While Alan is not your typical upper-middle-class, posh Brit, he is good with finances and investment. Due to the disparity in our incomes and my insecurities, I have been very hands-off with finances during our relationship. We have separate accounts.
We do have a very traditional arrangement though. Alan gives me a generous ‘household allowance’ with which to pay my pre-existing obligations, make food and other purchases for the home, and have a bit extra for mine and @PanKwake’s wants, not just our needs…without having to ask for his approval. And this usually works, very well…
Except for the time we went to Disneyland Paris. Before we left he put what I considered a ‘shitload’ of money into my account. I was shocked. But he calmly explained that if anything happened to him while we were away he wanted me to be able to handle things.
It was a good thing he did, too, because he got food poisoning while we were away. The night we came back from Paris, he ended up in the hospital and we were stuck in London for four extra days as he recovered enough to travel. And thanks to that foresight, I was able to pay from my account those extra nights in the hotel, purchase food for us, and keep @PanKwake entertained with trips to museums while he rested.
That taught me the lesson…you can’t completely ignore finances. I have been steadily working on what I call ‘adulting’ because if my worst nightmare did…I want to be able to honor all he has done for us.
I even found the courage to ask about the mortgage, council tax, utility bills. I was relieved to know that they are all managed through direct debit so that is one less thing I need to think about in an emergency.
No, I don’t know all the accounts or have access to them, but I do know where to go and who to ask. I have met his financial advisor and could take things from there. And the ink won’t be dry on that marriage certificate before I have access to what I need to keep us going…even if I never touch it. Even if I am perfectly happy to keep with my ‘household allowance.’ At least I know…
This one may not seem relevant, but how much cash do you have one hand? In an electronic and technological world, many people rely almost exclusively on their credit or debit cards. Since banks and credit card companies have done away with the service charges and minimum purchases, many will use their cards for even tiny purchases. And especially since they have come out with the new tap facility (at least here in the UK), it is simpler to wave your debit card than to deal with cash.
But in an emergency…IF, or maybe when, the Shit Hits the Fan (SHTF), it possible that such options won’t work. Not to cause alarms, especially as the banks and other financial institutions are testing their safeguards, but a true #prepper does consider these things.
On a more practical level, if you need to order take-away or have a friend bring you meds, do you have the cash? Taxis?
Of course, a true #prepper recognizes that if SHTF, money itself would quickly lose all value. For a century all our currencies have been based on ‘good faith’ in our governments. Not on anything of real value like gold or silver, which some #preppers have been known to keep on hands instead of cash. But most recognize now that in true emergencies we are more likely to revert to a batter system, where even gold and silver have less value than batteries or food or medicines.
Let me say it again, the #coronavirus is NOT that type of situation. A bit extra cash on hand just in case should be just fine. BUT what I hope this does is make us all more aware, not of #panicbuying but of true #Preparedness. Because this is mild compared to the extreme weather phenomenon associated with global warming. Or the possible migrations and war that may result if we don’t pull our heads out our a$$es on that one.
Which brings me to the final one, and not one that is likely relevant in this situation, at least to most people, but one that does merit longer-term consideration. That is your housing. Shelter is one of Maslow’s foundational physical needs. You have only to observe the homeless or refugees to know the devastating and demoralizing impact that the lack of this one can cause. So, what are your plans?
Yes, in a total meltdown, a piece of paper that says you own your home/land is not anymore good than that dollar bill or tenner in your wallet. If our government and financial markets have collapsed, those things aren’t valid.
But possession is. And that is worth considering. Not now.
Let me say again, this one is mild. For most people, this is a blip on the screen. We will get through it.
But as I said what I am hoping happens is that #Covid19 is a wake-up call that makes people truly understand that #Preparedness makes sense, not just now, in this crisis, but longer term. We all need to put in place basic measures to ensure we, our families, and our communities can withstand upheavals. Yes, that means having food stocks on hand, but it also means having an awareness of where we stand legally and a plan in place ensuring the long-term financial stability of those we care about.
So, is this as rash a decision as my friend and quite frankly the ladies in the registrar’s office seem to think? I don’t think so. Not for us, for our unique situation.
And that is the thing, #prepping is about YOU and your family. Each of us is unique and what one needs is not the same as others. But we all need to be aware of our situations…and those are constantly changing. not just in crisis but every day.
Now, I’m off to #prep of another sort…for my wedding.
Goddess bless and take care of each and every one of you,