Fifty-five, Unemployed and Faking Normal

Most of us who are, already know this: It’s much harder, financially, to be single than to be living with someone in a relationship. There’s a basic cost of living that includes rent or mortgage, insurance, utilities, food, cable, phone and transportation. That’s just the basics. You pick the amount, but let’s call it $1,500 to $2,000 net per month.

For us singles, we’re paying that full amount. For those who are married, living with a partner or roommate, it’s almost the same amount, other than a small increase in food costs. Rent or mortgage payments don’t change if it’s one person or seven people paying it and  your cable company doesn’t care how may people watch what they’re billing you each month.

For women who are widowed, divorced or single it’s even harder. Arguably, they are paid 15 to 25 percent less than their male counterparts. They also have a harder time finding a job – especially in the last 12 years since the 2008 economic meltdown.

So I wanted to share an excerpt from a book called: Fifty-five, Unemployed, and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White. You can order it from Mosaic or online. Here’s an excerpt of the books’ introduction:

“You know her. She is in your friendship circle, hidden in plain sight. Her clothes are still impeccable bought in the good years when she was still making money.

To look at her, you would not know that her electricity was cut off last week for nonpayment or that she meets the eligibility requirements for food stamps.

But if you paid attention, you would see the sadness in her eyes, that hint of fear in her otherwise commanding voice.

These days she buys the $1.99 trial-size jug of Tide to make ends meet. You didn’t know laundry detergent came in that size.

You invite her to the same expensive restaurants that the two of you have always enjoyed, but she orders mineral water now, instead of the $12 glass of Chardonnay.

She is frugal in her menu choices, meticulous, counting every penny in her head. She demurs dividing the table bill evenly to cover desserts, designer coffees, and second and third glasses of wine, she did not consume.

She is tired of trying to keep up appearances. Faking normal is wearing her out.

There are no media stories about her. Her slide out of the middle class is not sensational enough.

A friend says she’s broke, not poor, and there’s a difference. She lives without cable, her gym membership, or nail appointments. She discovered that she can do her own hair.

She has no retirement savings – no nest egg. She exhausted that a long time ago. There is no expensive condo from which to draw equity and no husband to back her up.”

Kind of makes you think – and hopefully to be on the lookout for someone in your circle of friends.

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