CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Doris Wilson lost her husband way too soon.
"My husband and I had been married about ten years when he passed away," says 62-year-old Wilson. "He had cancer."
But she is hardly alone.
New 2010 census figures show women are continuing to outlive men.
In fact, they're twice as likely as men to turn 85 years old.
And Ursula Strong, a financial planner with Edward Jones in Ballantyne, says when you combine the number of widows out there with this country's divorce rate, the numbers will make you rethink everything.
"About 90 percent of women at some point in their lives are going to have to manage their own finances," Strong says.
And they're not prepared for it.
Wilson was a career woman, a principal at a local middle school, and still, "he ran all the money, he did all of the money," she says.
Strong says that's typical, and it can lead to big mistakes, especially when it comes to collecting social security.
The government will let you start collecting at 62, but you won't get full benefits unless you wait until you're 66.
So that's exactly what Wilson started doing...
"But the important thing to realize is even if you start drawing it at 62, you are potentially lowering the amount you can receive by as much as 30%," Strong says.
If Wilson waited just a few years, she'd be getting $600 more a month.
And Strong says there's another thing many women miss.
"Once they're retirement age, they can start drawing half of their spouse's benefit and delay getting their benefit until their full retirement age," she explains.
If you have questions, there are local classes and seminars available to you. Strong will be holding several in June:
To make it easier for women to understand their social security benefits, Strong is holding workshops where women can meet with John Heath, a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration, on Friday June 3 and Friday July 8.
The events are free. For more information, call 704-544-6360.
Copyright 2011 WBTV. All rights reserved.