Sunday, January 15, 2006

widowhood, preparing for

One of the most difficult adjustments in becoming a widow is learning to live independently. Formerly shared decisions must now be made alone. Chores and jobs never done before now become one's responsibility and learning to cope can be a painful process. Relying on the experience of someone who has been through the process can be helpful, and one widow, Anna Averyt of Mobile, Alabama, offers the following interesting advise.
1. Learn to manage your finances-balance your budget, learn to write checks, and balance your bank statement. Don't let outgoing funds exceed income.
2. Get an idea of what your monthly bills are and also how seasonal bills, such as utilities, vary from month to month.
3. Put some money aside for emergencies- medical bills, car repairs, or home maintenance.
4. Look at your payments for the year, including bills that come quarterly, such as home and auto insurance, health and life insurance, and property taxes. Plan for them in your budget.
5. List those months when you can expect to receive additional income, such as dividend checks or interest on certificates of deposit or stocks. This will help you know your real annual income and help you plan for the extra expenses listed above.
6. Keep a list of reputable repairmen and their phone numbers. When major repairs are necessary, check with the Better Business Bureau or a local consumer protection office before hiring a worker.
7. Establish credit in your own name.
8. Appoint someone to sign checks In emergency.
9. If you do not already know how to drive, learn. Friends will take you places, but it makes you dependent.
10. When you go out with friends, don't let anyone "foot" the bill. Even if you're on a fixed income, pay your own share. This way you'll get more invitations.
11. Let your neighbors know your routine: what lights are usually on at night, whether you generally keep your shades up, and so forth. Also, let them know when you will be out of town, so that they can keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
12. Have a peephole put into the door and use it before opening to strangers.
13. Don't list your first name in the telephone book. Strangers will know you're a woman living alone. Use your first initial instead.
14. Keep in your wallet at all times: name, address, telephone number (home and business) of someone to contact in case of an emergency; health insurance card; and if desired, a card that says "In Case of Emergency, call minister" and phone number.
15. Keep a phone, a flashlight, and emergency numbers by your bed.
16. Keep items such as soup and Jell-O in the house in case you are sick and can't get out to the store.
Averyt, A. Successful Aging. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987.

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