Where do I go from here? What do I do? What is the next step? and How do I handle all of this? All of these issues are common questions of the surviving spouse.  If the deceased was the one to make decisions, pay the bills, and take care of all of the major arrangements in the family, their death can leave the surviving spouse feeling crippled.

The newness of the loss of the spouse can exaggerate concerns about surviving.  Realize that everything your spouse did was not a mystery.  You can learn how to handle the finances, make decisions and control your own life.  Remembering that you are in control is the single most important thing to carry on successfully.  Don't let life control you, reach out and take control. It's your future!

If you have never been the one to handle the finances, then ask friends or family members to give you some help.  You can also go to your bank and request some financial advise or instructions on how to handle your banking, i.e., balancing checking accounts, ATM how- to's, Saving accounts, etc. 


Taking control is knowing where you stand.  Make a list of your income, pensions, annuities, death benefits, social security, savings interest, stocks dividends and other assets. Thus, will give you a clearer picture and a place to start. You may not realize what "assists" you have until you contact banks, your spouse's employer, stock brokers, and social security administration, etc.  Go through old mail and bills and look for life insurance policies, bonds, stock certificates etc.  

Once you know what your monthly income is you will o know how to budget it.  Picking up a few books on budgeting may be helpful. Your public library is a great source for book.


A budget is merely a list of expected income and expenses.  Most bills and loan payments are due on a monthly basis.  The majority of budgets are prepared on a monthly basis.  From your list of your bill, which you will be able to find in your files, you should be able to make a list of monthly expenses.  Using simply mathematics you can make your budget, (Income minus expenses).  

Budgeting Guidelines

Below are some safe general guidelines for budgeting.

  • Domestic.....................................31%

(including mortgage, home maintenance,   electricity, water, trash, telephone etc.)

  • Food and Clothing .......................15%
  • Transportation .............................10%
  • Medical and personal care  ...........23%
  • Miscellaneous ................................ 8%

Until you learn to balance your budget and feel more comfortable handling your finances it is a good idea to steer clear of credit cards.  But the rule of thumb is this, credit cards should be used for convenience rather than for purchase of goods or services which cannot be afforded at present. If you make a purchase make sure you pay off the balance when the next statement arrives.  The incurring interest of credit cards can be staggering and paying off just the interest can become a full time  occupation.  Don't use your credit card unless you can pay the balance when due.  Or at a minimum within two payments.

It is an important rule to set aside a percentage of your monthly income into a savings account.  This will help with the unexpected things that may arise.

There may be times you feel that these issues are overwhelming.  During these moments, take some time for yourself.  When you return to the job-at-hand, handle just one thing at a time.  Don't look at the whole picture all at once.  One thing at a time. One day at a time.

As you feel more comfortable handling your finances, you may want to think about delving a little further into investments.  This will help to create the funds for your golden years.

Remember, everything you know today are things you have learned.  YOU CAN LEARN how to be independent and SUCCESSFUL.



Copyright 2000 Patricia Mischell & The Positive Living Center
 All Rights Reserved

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