Being a widow is hard work. You may have to be mom, dad, chauffeur and maid all rolled into one.

Here are a few of the things I’ve found that make my life a little easier. I’ll add to this list as I find more.

(Note: Some of these are affiliate links which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking. There is no additional cost to you, and I only include products and services I have personally tried. Thank you for supporting The Mighty Widow!)

Groceries

Local HarvestRight after my husband died, we spent a couple years living off McDonalds and delivery pizza. Last year, I decided it was time to get back to whole eating, and I joined a CSA — otherwise known as Community Supported Agriculture. I get a bag full of fresh veggies from an area farm each week, and I’ve found that it has greatly improved our diets. It’s a hefty upfront cost and some of it went to waste last year, but I found it forced me to add in more greens and fresh foods to our diet. Since I had already paid, the frugal zealot in me felt compelled to use everything I got. If you live in West Michigan, I recommend Chimney Creek Farm, but for my other readers, you can find a CSA through Local Harvest.

Zaycon: Buying a half hog or a quarter cow locally is, in my experience, one of the most inexpensive ways to buy meat per pound. However, you need a lot of freezer space and a lot of money upfront. What’s more, not everyone lives in an area where this option is readily available. In that case, Zaycon Fresh is my next preferred way to buy meat. You’re still buying in bulk so the upfront cost is more than what you’d pay if you were picking up a few packages at the store. The chicken breasts are HUGE (although the company is adamant they are all-natural) and the beef comes in a tube (and I’m always a little skeptical of meat that comes in a tube), but we’ve always been very satisfied with the quality. To get your meat, you pay in advance and then there is a two hour delivery window where you pull up to a refrigerated truck, and a worker loads up your order for you. I’m trying the shrimp for my next order and am hoping it’s as good as the other meat we’ve had.

Clothing

Stitch Fix Since I work from home, I could probably get away with wearing yoga pants and t-shirts most days, but I find I feel better when I look more put together. However, who has time to go shopping when you’re a single mom? I used Stitch Fix for a few months and was able to pick up some nicer clothes as a result. You fill out an online survey of your style preferences, and then a Stitch Fix stylist selects five items to send you to try. There is a $20 styling fee which is credited toward the price of anything you buy. If purchase all five items, you receive a discount as well. I picked up some nice items from Stitch Fix, but they don’t cater to XL women and once I put on a little weight (probably from all that McDonalds and pizza), I found most of their items no longer fit me

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11 Comments

    1. Here is the scenario: Wife is 75, receiving S.S. benefits but still contributing as an author; spouse is 80 and receives only the minimum S.S. benefit because of federal government employment. Can spouse claim 1/2 of wife’s S.S. benefits now through the “Suspend and File” option? Will wife’s benefits be reduced?

      1. Hi Carol,

        Thanks so much for your question.

        I’m assuming the spousal benefit from the wife is greater than the 80 year-old spouse’s Social Security benefits and that is why a File and Suspend is being considered. While taking a spousal benefit should not reduce the wife’s benefits, it’s my understanding the government only allows people to suspend their benefits through age 70. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like a File and Suspend strategy can be used here.

        Wish I had better news for you!

        Maryalene

        P.S. And of course, this response comes with the disclaimer that I am not a financial planner, and it’s always best to consult with a pro for a definitive answer.

      1. You know, I can’t find it either!

        Obviously, this website is still in rough shape as I learn the ropes of blogging. I’ll have to see about getting an RSS feed up.

        Thanks for the heads-up!

        Maryalene

        1. I would like to contact you regarding the Household Maintenance Plan. Can you share your contact information. I apologize in advance for posting here, but several feeds are closed for comment and this one happened to still be open.
          – Catharine H. Freeman, Esq.
          DivorcedGirlsGuide

    1. Hello Maryalene,
      I’m very sorry to hear that you lost your husband, so please accept my condolences. From what I can tell after reading your blog, you and your husband must have really loved each other very much. (I have several friends who are both widows and widowers, but I must say that you are definitely a “mighty widow” and I admire you for being so committed to your husband.) I believe that you will receive many blessings, because of the love that you continue to have for him.
      Roger

      1. Thanks so much for your kind note Roger. We were high school sweethearts and felt fortunate to have found each other so young. We thought we were a shoo-in to hit our golden anniversary, but it wasn’t meant to be apparently. Before he died, Tom used to say I should think about dating again. However, I think I’d rather pine away for him. 🙂

        Maryalene

    1. I will by 66 years old on April 5, 2016 and am currently eligible but have not filed for SS. My husband is 73 and is taking SS, however it is minimal because most of his income comes from a government pension. Can I still “file and suspend” so he can take advantage of getting up to half of my ss benefit (which is greater than what he receives now from ss). Is there a limit as to how much he can make on his government pension before we can take advantage of “file and suspend”?

      1. Hi Sue,

        The good news is you’ll be in right under the wire and should be able to take advantage of the file-and-suspend strategy. The door closes on April 29, 2016 for that option. So as long as you file and suspend your benefits right away after your birthday, you should be all set. At that point, your husband should be able to switch to his spousal benefit.

        The bad news is his spousal benefit could be reduced significantly if his government pension is from a job in which he didn’t pay Social Security taxes. According to this information from Social Security Administration, spousal benefits are reduced by two-thirds the amount of the pension payment:

        https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/gpo.html

        However, I must stress I am not a tax professional. If the above information doesn’t apply to your husband’s pension or if you have other questions, I would encourage to seek out a tax or finance pro who’s well-versed in Social Security. That person should be able to answer questions regarding how your husband’s pension will affect his benefits. Plus, they may be able to walk you through the process of filing-and-suspending if needed.

        Hope this helps!

        Maryalene

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