"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.

*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***

http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Having an End of Life Discussion

For many of us, it's difficult to have a talk with our family members about our "end of life" wishes.  We don't have to talk about it with them because, for some reason, we think that talking about it will:
  • upset them (or upset us)
  • make it happen faster
  • make it more "real"
  • make them think we are waiting for their death
We may think it's too soon to talk about death.  The truth is that it's never too soon.  The difference between a good death and a difficult death seems to hinge upon whether the dying person has shared their wishes.

Robby and I talked about our wishes, but (unfortunately) never in a very serious way.  Robby always joked that he wanted a black gospel choir to sing at his funeral.  He loved gospel music and grew up playing bluegrass and gospel, so it was an obvious choice for him.  Unfortunately we don't have any all-black churches or gospel choirs in the area.  But my daughter did find a recording of a gospel singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing "Peace In The Valley."  We played it at Robby's service.

Knowing what kind of care your loved one wishes can make their passing much easier - for them and for you.  We (my daughters and I) were able to plan a memorial service that we knew would make Robby proud, from the music to the Marine Honor Guard to the BBQ and beer we offered at the get-together after the service.  We could picture him, watching the whole thing from heaven, smiling and laughing as we told stories and shared memories of him and all that he loved.

If you are wondering where to start, check out The Conversation Project.  Here you can find a starter kit that will help to break the ice, and make your discussion much easier.  You can also see what others have said about their final wishes.

It's never too soon to have a talk like this.  And it doesn't have to be a "grim reaper" talk.  Having these talks around the kitchen table, before the doctor's office or the emergency room, lessens stress for everyone.

What is something you would like to tell your family about your final wishes?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Six Small Steps to A Money Makeover

Here are a few more tidbits of information about managing our finances.  These can apply to anyone, widow or not.  Got them from the September 2012 of "O" Oprah Magazine.  I hope you find these helpful!  :)

Do This Now:
  • "Electronic bills are great - unless they are lost in a crowded in-box.  Set up a separate e-mail account (e.g. alexa.bills@emailhostdotcom) to keep your e-bills orderly."  -  Alexa Von Tobel, founder of the personal finance Web site learnvest.com
  • "Challenge yourself with a 21-day financial fast, during which you eliminate all spending except or the bare essentials.  Halting unnecessary purchases forces you to reflect on how much you consume."  -  Michelle Singletary, "The Color of Money" columnist for The Washington Post.
  • "Stop delaying your savings!  So many women say they haven't done enough research to enroll in a 401(k) plan, but it's far better to act now and tweak your allocations later than to delay building any security at all."  -  Mary Caraccioli, host of We Owe What? on the Live Well Network.
Do This Soon:
  • Step back and look at the big picture.  Fifty percent of your take-home pay should be allocated for essentials, 20 percent should go toward savings and debt, and 30 percent can cover everything else."  -  Alexa Von Tobel
  • "Keep a spending journal for 30 days.  A month's worth of data makes it easier to see where you can cut back."  -  Michelle Singletary
  • "Pick one intimidating financial situation - whether it's saving for a house or getting rid of your debt - and meet with a financial advisor.  You can find one through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org).  A single session can put you on the right path."  -  Mary Caraccioli
What's your favorite financial hint?  Share it with us so we can all benefit.  :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Put your wallet on a diet! - Money-saving ideas

Did you know you could save about $400 per month with just a few changes to your spending?  Depending upon how much you are spending each month (and we are already spending as little as possible, so I don't see how we could save $400/month) you can make a big dent in your expenses each month, and hopefully end up with a fatter wallet/bank account.

Here is the link to the site:  http://www.thebudgetdiet.com/cut-your-spending-by-400-a-month

I found this on Pinterest, and while many of the suggestions we have already done and/or they won't work for us (we live 10 miles from the nearest small town, so walking or riding our bikes into town for errands is not gonna be an option), there is a lot here to take from (and make changes with) for most people.

One thing I just got done doing - and this won't necessarily save money but I feel I am doing my part for the environment - is to go to www.DMAChoice.com and opt out of several kinds of junk mail.  You can go there and opt out of catalog lists, pre-approved credit offers, magazine lists, etc.  If it's clogging up your mailbox, you might as well get rid of it!

Another thing I am going to look into is getting rid of the "phantom" energy around our house.  I never thought about it, but by leaving my charger plugged in all time but only charging my phone at night I am wasting energy.  I need to go around the house and unplug chargers and appliances like that that may be "leaking" energy when they are not in use.  Maybe after a month or so of that I will have a pleasant surprise in my electric bill!

So what is your favorite saving tip?  What have you found you and your family can live without in order to save a little money here and there?  Share with us - and help us all to save!