When Rita Moreno’s husband of 46 years, cardiologist Dr. Leonard Gordon, died five years ago, the legendary Hollywood and Broadway actress didn’t know what to do. Not only was she overcome by the loss of her sweetheart, she also didn’t know how to take on the responsibilities of her deceased partner, particularly finances.
“He took care of everything. He was one of those husbands, very careful and detail-oriented,” the barrier-breaking Puerto Rican star told Latina.
At 84, Moreno was forced to understand the intricacies of finances and insurance, a difficult feat that inspired her to encourage Latinas of all ages to acquaint themselves with money management. That’s why she has partnered with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which educates consumers on their insurance needs, as a spokesperson for its “Life Unscripted” initiative.
“I think I can be used as a real-life example of what can be done and how important it is to be involved,” Moreno said.
Ahead, the megastar offers some lessons on finances for Latinas.
1. When someone offers to teach you how to take care of finances, jump on the opportunity. Many of us have spouses, parents or friends who handle our finances for us. Sometimes they offer to teach us a few things and we almost immediately decline, thinking that person will always be around to handle these matters for us. Moreno wants you to reconsider and take advantage of the crucial free teaching. “My husband would say, ‘you want to see what I’m doing,’ and I’d say, ‘oh, God no. I’m an artist.’ And now I regret it,” she said.
2. If not, there are organizations out there that want to help. So you don’t have the privilege of knowing someone with financial smarts, don’t fret. Organizations, like NAIC, exist to help you, through like everything. “What’s wonderful about it is they do all the dirty work, as I call it. They will find you your state insurance commissioner, without bias, and will answer just about any question,” Moreno said. “On their site, there are tips, games, infographics, just so much to help you, with tools for seniors, ‘Bloomers,’ young singles, young families and more.”
3. Most life choices will impact your finances. Don’t make major life decisions without thinking about the financial impact, Moreno warns. “You need to understand that buying a car has an important place in insurance, even getting married or having a child. There are different types of insurance: life, home, health, automobile.”
4. Even the smallest of accidents will affect your insurance. Moreno, or at least her daughter, learned this lesson the hard way. “When my grandson was 16, he drove into a tree. The car wasn’t so bad, so [my daughter] went into shock when she found out that the car, even if it didn’t look it, was totaled and made her insurance rate go up.”
5. Are you – or have you ever been – in the military? You might qualify for some special privileges. The military offers benefits that rival those offered to other civilians, from health care and life insurance to other advantages. “Things change when you’re in the military. Look into it,” Moreno suggests.
6. Still confused? Don’t worry. Finances are difficult, and not being a money wiz doesn’t make you less intelligent. Moreno admits that she’s not ready to give up her career in the arts for finances just yet. “I’m an actress. That’s what I do. I don’t do insurance,” she says. Honestly, while the megastar can handle the basics, so much of it, including the lingo, is still tough to comprehend. That’s OK. She doesn’t want any Latina to feel inadequate because they don’t understand.
“It doesn’t mean that women are ignorant or stupid or disinterested. It’s just that we – and I’m talking from my experience in my Latino family and the ones I saw around me; It isn’t true for all of us – we have been taught for a long time that it’s not our purview to take over such important matters. So those specific people who need the help, who have made the errors I did, it’s all right,” she reminds us.
On that note, head over to NAIC to get some of your insurance and financial questions answered before the year is over, ‘cause come 2017, it’s going to be hard to stop you from binge-watching Moreno in Netflix’s Latino remake of One Day at a Time.