On October 11, 2013, my husband, Jamie, collapsed while playing with our boys who were six and nine at the time. Unfortunately, he had an enlarged heart (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) that we didn’t know about. I remember the call telling me he collapsed like it was yesterday. I can still remember our last phone call, the last time I saw him, and the last time he kissed me goodbye.
Looking back on my “old life,” I saw myself as four parts-the wife, the mom, the teacher, and me. On that day, I was no longer a wife, and I had no idea who I was anymore. Everything that I enjoyed doing reminded me of my life with Jamie and the grief made it too hard to enjoy. Because I was a single mom now, I decided that I needed to leave my job as a personal finance teacher that I had for 16 years to focus on raising my kids. Let me tell you, raising kids on your own is a whole new beast. As time moved on, I have started to figure out who the new Tina is, how to raise boys on my own, what my new career path looked like and what I wanted in my next husband.
Before my husband passed away, I was a high school personal finance teacher for over 16 years. I enjoyed teaching my students about topics like taxes, budgeting, insurance and credit cards. During our marriage, my husband and I made financial sound decisions. We bought a house that we could afford and had one car loan. Together we had around $30,000 is student loan debt. Even though I could manage the money, my husband had that primary role. We would have bi-weekly meetings to go over the budget.
Luckily, my husband and I had purchased life insurance. This has been a complete blessing. I paid off my car loan and my student loans. Jamie’s federal student loans were forgiven. I decided to pay off half of the house loan because I didn’t know how long I would be staying in the house. The life insurance has allowed me the freedom to leave my full-time job to work part-time so that I can raise my kids. I taught personal finance at the college level for three years. Also, I have tutored student-athletes at a university on various topics including personal finance.