I live at the bottom of the country, just beyond London, while my family live in Scotland, so when my father died suddenly, I was bereft. Christmas had just passed and we had returned home from our festive celebrations with the family in Scotland and we’d just been settling in when my father was taken ill. He went into hospital and sadly before I could even arrange anything he’d passed away.
It hadn’t been a great year financially and so when my father died, I was completely lost. But, thankfully, I could act fast and apply for financial help with travel and other expenses.
Travelling at the Last Minute
One of the major things I’ve discovered is that booking a journey even a few days in advance is quite cheap. However if you’re booking something the next day, even a plane flight that I showed up for which I found out was under-booked, is still very expensive: incredibly expensive. But there were other things I had to consider too – I had to find somewhere to stay. My mother and father live in a tiny house and she had to put her mother-in-law in the guest room. I was happy to stay elsewhere – so my brother, sister and their families all stayed in a nice hotel. It was tiring to deal with for the duration, but I felt that it also took pressure off my mother.
I soon realised very quickly that everything became about money as although my father had insurance, my mother just didn’t know where to start and I really couldn’t blame her. Furthermore, because I was away for a whole week, I wasn’t working which in turn meant that I wasn’t getting any wages – it didn’t count as sick days, it counted as compassionate leave. So I had to cover that too.
Simply an After-thought
When something happens that throws your world into confusion like that, you don’t think about money till much later – and that’s important to do. You’ll find that it’s something that you just don’t think about at first, but if you can make plans to ensure that you’re covered for any eventuality, you should. We changed our lives around this though – sorting out our budgets and ensuring that I was putting away some money every month, just in case. One of the major problems that we had with that was changing our lifestyle – we needed to put some money away each and every month until we’d saved up and set up a buffer. It’s recommended that you set up a budget of around 3 times your living expenses, but it became a lot easier when we finally got his redundancy pay. We found that one of the issues that we were facing was our budget shortfall wasn’t obvious – on paper we were managing, but with all of the frivolous expenses, we actually weren’t. When we finally solved that, and his redundancy pay was approved, it got easier.
Coping with change
I’m very sad that it took my father’s death to show me how vulnerable my family was and how much we needed to save to make it right, but it was the wake-up call we needed. We all moved back to Scotland soon after, to live nearer my mother and work within driving distance of her – so we could get to her if she needed us and so we could all be together as a family. It became so much easier when we did and now that we’re all settled, I’m finding it much easier to budget and prepare for the worst, knowing that I’m nearer to my family.
Paula Whately is a writer who understands how hard it can be mentally and financially when there is a death in the family. Therefore she suggests the importance of researching secured loans to help you out when the unexpected happens.