Worried You Might Run Out of Money? Survival Strategies

These tips will help you start overcoming fear of running out of money now and in the future. Financial fears are a serious reality for women over 50, but they don’t have to rob you of happiness!

The roots of money fear extend back to our childhood, sometimes beyond our ability to even remember why we’re so scared of not having enough money. Now, in the present moment, our fear of running out of financial resources isn’t just a remnant of lingering past experiences. Not having enough money is a serious and real concern for women over fifty.

“Financial considerations are a big thing now, and will continue to be after my divorce,” says Darby on How I Invested Money After Separating From My Husband. “Will I have to work long hours to make enough money for retirement? Marriage can be good if we have someone to share our financial goals and money fears with, but that’s not a possibility for everyone. How do you cope with fears of not having enough money, especially as a divorced or single woman with elderly parents who may need care?”

Having no money and no family makes it hard to survive in midlife and beyond, much less blossom. Retirement and financial freedom can stop women from fully enjoying the second half of life.

In this post, I’ll share the main reasons why running out of money is a realistic fear for most women. Knowing what to expect in retirement and why financial security is elusive will help you plan for the future. Here’s how to overcome fear of running out of money, plus tips for ensuring financial security.

Overcoming Fear of Not Having Enough Money

Take time to get to the root of your financial fears. You may be worried that you won’t have enough money for legitimate reasons. But, your anxiety about money may be unfounded.

Most of my financial fears are based on my childhood (my mom suffers from schizophrenia, and we were on welfare). The rest of my fear about running out of money before I die is my own anxiety-based thoughts about the future.

If your fears are realistic but you’re doing everything you can to overcome them and prepare for your future as an older woman living alone, then you have nothing to worry about.

7 reasons women fear not having enough money

  1. Women typically live longer than men, and fear running out of money before their life ends. If you outlive your financial resources and have little to no retirement or pension income, then not having enough money is frightening.
  2. Women often earn less than men their age. A same-same comparison of a man and a woman’s income in the same career over the same amount of time is dramatically unequal. The gender pay gap is a serious reality for women. Further, women are far more likely to work at home (e.g., taking care of the home and children, caregiving for elderly parents or family members, etc) instead of earning a paycheck and pension savings from an external job. A woman’s career interruptions result in far less lifetime earnings and savings than men have.
  3. Healthcare costs are typically more expensive for mid to late life women versus men of the same age. Women 50+ are more likely to encounter health issues that require expensive medical care, including long-term care in costly nursing home or extended care facilities.
  4. Women don’t save as much money for retirement. After I separated from my husband, I realized my retirement savings are about 25% of what my husband saved for when he retires. Preparing for my retirement is my responsibility; the fact that I didn’t makes me fear that I won’t have enough money when I’m 70s and beyond.
  5. Separation, divorce and widowhood has serious negative effects on a midlife woman’s financial situation. Like me, many women rely on their husbands to be the primary income earners. This decreases our financial security and increases the chances we’ll run out of money. Further, widowhood can result in the loss of a husband’s pension or Social Security benefits.
  6. Many women also experience a lack of financial confidence. When I was married I let my husband make all the money decisions, pay the household bills, and plan for retirement. I was 52 years old when I left him, and had no financial confidence – much less the ability to make money decisions for investment and retirement! Limited knowledge about financial products, resources and strategies makes us fear we’ll run out of money when we’re old.
  7. Women take on the caregiving responsibilities for family members, even after age 50. Yesterday I met a 72 year old grandmother who adopted her three young grandchildren! Providing care for aging parents, partners, or grandchildren adds to our financial burdens and limits our job opportunities and chances at advancing our careers.

Acknowledge your fear of not having enough money

It’s crucial to recognize that financial fears are valid and common, especially for middle and older women. By accepting your fear and realizing that you are not alone, you can start to address them constructively.

While the first step in overcoming the fear of running out of money is to acknowledge and accept it, the second step involves making plans to move forward. This involves reflecting on your financial situation, understanding the root causes of your anxiety, and being honest with yourself about your financial challenges and goals.

If you’re separated or divorced – or you’re interested in investing your money – read How I Invested Money After Separating From My Husband.

Take one small step forward every day

Being aware of the reasons why women should be and are concerned about the future is important. I shared alot of scary reasons to fear running out of money, and it wasn’t good news. But this blog post isn’t over yet.

The most important thing you can do is take a small step every day towards financial security. Do not allow fear to overwhelm you! Instead of drowning in anxiety, make a list of ways to you can start protecting yourself from not having enough money in your retirement and old age.

I can’t share every possible strategy for financial security for women 50+ in this post, but I can share what helps me. You’re a smart, creative, independent woman who has the ability and energy to create a financial plan that will not only support you, but help you overcome your money fears.

Overcome Financial Fears and Get Good with Money

Educate yourself about money for women 50+

Reading books geared towards midlife women and financial literacy will help you overcome your fear of not having enough money. If you don’t like reading books, attend finance seminars and workshops through your library or community center.

The Seniors Resource Center in my city often offers free tax clinics, investment sessions and even meetings with retirement and divorce lawyers. A senior’s center is also a great place to learn about the various resources and options available to retired or semi-retired women growing older alone.

Online courses and webinars for women over fifty and seniors are available every day. Learn about budgeting, investing, and retirement planning. By increasing your knowledge, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to manage your finances and make informed decisions.

Trust that you will get the money you need

In one of Martha Beck’s books — I think it was Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny — she described how drug addicts manage to gather over $100,000 per year to feed their addiction. They’re homeless, unhealthy, unemployed, and often uneducated. They don’t file taxes, or have a retirement plan. They don’t even have a bank account! And yet they manage to spend thousands — often hundreds of thousands — of dollars a year to support their habit.

If a homeless, unemployed, uneducated drug addict can somehow find $100,000 per year to feed her habit, then you could probably find creative ways to cope with whatever financial troubles you’ll face in the future! Or that you’re facing now, in fact.

I know it’s not easy, and the fear of not having enough money when we’re older and unable to work isn’t easy to overcome. I understand; I’ve slept on the street and eaten out of garbage cans. And you know what? It’s awful, but it worked. It was temporary. I found creative ways to get through the situation and secure a place to live. My difficult financial past helped me see that I can overcome my fear of running out of money in retirement.

Rest when you can’t act

Even if you had a million dollars saved for your retirement, you’ll never have control over your future. Nobody knows for sure what’s in store, and the worst problems aren’t solved by money. Your health, relationships, and emotional freedom aren’t secured by your finances. Your family can’t be protected by money. Neither can your marriage, home, or retirement.

In fact, you may reach the end of your life and realize that you had more than enough money. Not only did you not run out of money, you have more dollars than days to spend them!

Give yourself the freedom of rest. Instead of constantly and frantically trying to learn how to overcome your fear of not having enough money or protect yourself for when you retire, take time to rest. Find the balance — that sweet spot — between faith and action. Sometimes you need to actively searching for ways to survive when you have no money.

Do your children or relatives asks to borrow money? Read How to Say No When Your Family Asks for Money.

Set your financial boundaries

Firmly set and stick to your money boundaries and financial limits. I know many women – some who are grandmothers in their 70s – who are worried about paying for a child’s college or university education, paying for an expensive wedding, buying expensive cars, renovating their homes and buying organic groceries. These are luxuries that are unnecessary.

Sure, paying for your kids’ or grandkids’ university tuition or wedding is nice. Maybe. Or maybe you’re just putting yourself at financial risk so your children can have what they want.

I had to work for my education and my current lifestyle, and I’m grateful. I took out student loans for all three of my degrees. I have a Psychology degree, an Education degree, and a Master of Social Work. And I’m not even formally working in the fields of psychology, education, or social work! Good thing my mom didn’t struggle, scrimp and save to find enough money for my education.

Stay physically and emotionally healthy

One of the biggest barriers to employment and financial security for women in their 50s and beyond is illness. Physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual illnesses can destroy your ability to take care of yourself financially and in all other ways. Illness is not only expensive financially, it also drains your time, energy and creativity.

If you’re struggling to stay positive and healthy, read 7 Ways to Keep Busy When You’re Bored of Retirement. You may not be retired or bored, but you will find ways to get healthier. The better you feel, the more natural endorphins flow through your body and help you stay calm. It’s impossible to worry about not having enough money when you’re active, healthy and involved.

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+ women who are scared won't have enough money

Consult this checklist of money action steps

Here’s a list of things you can start doing to overcome your fear of not having enough money:

  • Build a retirement fund
  • Learn about tax-free savings accounts
  • Diversify your investments
  • Research health care costs for midlife women
  • Research government subsidies and options for single women 50+
  • Talk to a financial planner
  • Learn about the financial resources your city or community offers
  • Read books about overcoming money fears
  • Learn how to set financial boundaries with family and friends
  • Start contributing to an emergency fund
  • Plan how to repay credit card or other debt
  • Create a budget
  • Talk to a financial advisor who specializes in retirement planning for women 50+
  • Maximize your social security or old age benefits
  • Consider part-time work
  • Learn how to make money from home, such as by starting a freelance writing business

Take it one step at a time. When you find yourself ruminating in fear about your financial future and retirement options, look at your checklist. What one small step forward can you take?

If you or your partner is overwhelmed with fear of not having enough money, read A Surprising Warning Sign of Dementia: Money Problems.

Your comments – big and little – are welcome below. How are you overcoming your financial fears about the future?

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  1. Hi everyone,

    I’m 39 and I’ve been feeling really anxious about getting older. The problem is, I can’t quite figure out what exactly I’m scared of. I just have this general sense of dread and worry whenever I think about aging. I know I should be looking forward to the future, but instead, I’m feeling overwhelmed by anxiety.

    Can anyone help me pinpoint what specific fears I might be dealing with? Maybe understanding them better will help me manage this anxiety. I’d really appreciate any insights or advice.

    Thank you so much!


    1. Good question, Jessica. I did some research on women and aging. While money is one of the top financial fears women have about growing older, there are several more.

      You inspired me to write this blog post:
      What Scares You the Most About Getting Old? Top 10 Fears

      I hope it helps you identify your fears. As you said, awareness can help you understand and manage the anxiety that aging brings. You’re a smart woman!

      All good things,

  2. Not my real name of course. You made some very good points here. Money can’t make you healthy. All money does is help.

    I asked God this morning to heal me of this fear of not having enough money. It’s not a money issue, it goes deeper than that, I’m aware. But it springs into focus in the form of money.
    It’s fear. Fear of _____. anything, everything. He told me once I had a fear on top of a fear. I’m wondering if this is the bottom fear. Or if legalism is the bottom fear.
    Probably legalism is.
    I don’t have financial problems. I have a fear of lack. Of not having enough. I’ve often not had enough. Of ____, fill in the blank. Love, money, friends, food. So there’s an issue below all this and I want to get to it. Holy Spirit has done SO MUCH for me in deliverance, inner healing, teaching, growing me up. This is another fear that I KNOW after I face it and Walk Thru It – < that's the big deal, most people aren’t willing to put in the work – I’ll come out healed on the other side.

    I DO want to be free of this fear of lack.

  3. What makes things really hard is that I am a black woman and there isn’t any real support for women like me. I’m in a constant state of confusion. Every time I think he’s ok he does something that really offends, hurts me and makes me think about leaving him. We have been married almost 5 years; we have financial hardships but worse is that he keeps getting my intentions wrong. He accuses me of things not even in my character. How can he spend so much time with me and not really know me?

    When other races of women are in bad predicaments, people want to lend a helping hand (sometimes), but for black women they somehow think that you deserve it. They don’t care or think you did something wrong. So a lot of black women suffer in silence.

    1. Thank you for your perspective, Darlene. As a white woman I honestly don’t know what it’s like to face racial discrimination. We need more women like you, women who are brave enough to speak out and honest enough to share what it’s really like to be afraid of running out of money.

      It’s even more difficult when you’re in an unsupportive or hostile relationship, isn’t it? I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope you find the support and encouragement you need, and that you and your husband find your way back to the love that brought you together.


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