Why spouses need to face their fears and prepare for uncertainties early on

out two years ago, through a matrimonial site. Life is uncertain in the armed forces and that was the biggest fear for Gauri who decided to take the plunge anyway, little knowing that she would have to face her fear in just about three years.

Gauri Mahadik (left), who is now training to become an Army officer, got her life back on track when her husband died about three years after their marriage as her finances were in place; Uma Kunal Gosavi took up a job to stay financially afloat after her husband died in a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir.Losing her spouse at such a young age was traumatic for Gauri, but she was able to get her life back on track as her finances were in order. “We prepared an excel sheet with all our investments, loans and other financial details. We even noted down the policy numbers for our insurance policies, and passwords for various accounts. We made each other the nominee for all the financial instruments. He made some changes to his will as well. All this was done very early on,” said Gauri. The couple had also put aside four months’ worth of expenses into an emergency fund. The investments along with the pension money Gauri is entitled to was enough for her.

The next step for her was to conquer her fear. Gauri recently joined the Officers Training Academy in Chennai to become an Army officer. “I’ve seen the honesty with which he served the nation. Him getting martyred shouldn’t be the end. That’s why I am joining the Army,” she said.

While Gauri has carved out a new life for herself, her case is more an exception than the norm. Moving on with zero knowledge of household finance can be overwhelming for many women who are widowed, especially those with children. “It’s important to be fully aware of one’s family finances because the threat of losing the breadwinner who is in the military is very real and can happen any time. The spouse needs to be financially equipped to make all important money decisions; otherwise it will only add to the stress of shifting responsibilities and deal with the kids,” said Lovaii Navlakhi, managing director and chief executive officer, International Money Matters Pvt. Ltd, a financial planning firm.

Unlike Gauri, Uma Kunal Gosavi, 33, who lost her husband Major Kunal Gosavi to a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016, didn’t have complete knowledge about their savings. “I had an idea of the investments that were made after we got married but I didn’t know about the investments that were made before marriage. He had invested in some fixed deposits that I didn’t know of,” said Uma.

She decided to go back to work, which she had quit after marriage, to stay financially afloat after she lost her husband. Major Gosavi was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his bravery and service. “I went back to work as I thought having a source of income other than pension would make my financial life smoother and help me in times of crisis,” said Uma.

Uma, whose daughter Umang is seven years old, now teaches mathematics to primary schoolchildren in Pune.


If you are a military personnel’s spouse, it’s important to be completely clued in when it comes to money matters. You can start on this by having a financial plan in place that captures your goals and manages risks. “Having a plan will help deal with any unforeseen situations like death of a military spouse, so that in his absence, the family is taken care of without any compromises,” said Navlakhi.

What helps in the case of a defence person is that the widowed wife gets pension for life. For instance, in Uma’s case, she is entitled to Kunal’s basic salary plus dearness allowance as per the Seventh Pay Commission. But over time, with inflation rearing its ugly head, even this could be insufficient; so it’s important to keep a tab on cash flows. “Two things are very important—budgeting and investing. We often ignore the small expenses and when the breadwinner of the family is no more, these could add up to the worry. Investing for the long term is something that is often ignored,” said Shweta Jain, certified financial planner, CEO and founder, Investography, a financial planning firm.

What also helps is to find work to earn a regular income. So even as it’s difficult to work while you are married to a military personnel, keep updating your skill sets to stay relevant in the job market. It’s never too late, so start today to ensure you are financially prepared for uncertainties.