Don’t let your past mistakes get in the way

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Don’t let your past mistakes get in the way

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No one is born with money management skills

The only financial education I got when I was a teenager was one day in class the teacher showed us how to fill out a check. She didn’t discuss how to balance the checkbook or anything else about money. Even then I thought that was so odd. I couldn’t figure out why she was only teaching us how to spend money. 

My mother was a bookkeeper but never taught me how to manage my accounts. Actually, she never said anything about money until one day when I was already an adult and had a business. I had received a check from a client that bounced which created a ripple effect and caused all kinds of problems. I called my mother and yelled at her. Why hadn’t she taught me anything about accounting or bookkeeping?  She came over the next day and taught me how to balance my check book and told me to not spend money I received until the check had cleared the bank.  Helpful information but still not all that I needed to know. 

By the time we’re adults, we are expected to be able to manage our money effectively; however, few of us are taught how. Therefore, many people experience the usual emotions that occur when they don’t know how to do something well.

These may include: 

  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Envy
  • Anger
  • Shame
  • Disappointment

Like driving a car or playing an instrument, the skill of managing money must be learned – and it’s never too late to start! If you put fear to the side, doing so can lead to immediate benefits. You won’t necessarily make more money if you have a budget and track your spending, but you will be able to use the money you do have to make your life more joyous now and in the future. Learning how much your life really costs might just motivate you to look for ways to increase your income so you have more money for the things you desire.  It’s likely that you will also feel more deserving of making more money now that you are a skilled money manager. 

If you manage your finances responsibly you will have peace of mind and know how to:

  • Get the most from the money you have
  • Live without debt
  • Save for the extras that make life enjoyable
  • Avoid constant money anxiety
  • Save for unexpected expenses and life events

The foundation of sound money management is a budget. However, for many people, the word “budget” evokes feelings of fear, frustration and shame. Your budget is simply your plan for how you will use your money. It is based on choices you make and priorities that you identify. You are in control and can allocate your money to be used for the things you care about and give your life meaning.

Creating a spending plan, or budget, is a step–by–step process. Once complete, your budget is a tool you can use to plan for future possibilities.

If setting up a budget is something you have been putting off or are afraid to tackle please think about hiring a money coach to help you. Taking control of your finances really can change your life.

Sheryl  Kosovski

Sheryl Kosovski

Money and Business Coach

I think of myself more as a self-love or self-worth coach than as a money coach. I help my clients see their value, so they come to believe they are worthy of more. Sure, I also teach them to make spending plans and how to get out of debt and save. More importantly, I help them to see that by taking care of their money they can better take care of themselves and the people they love.

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless

Financial steps widow first year

Ask An Expert

Ask an Expert – What financial steps should a widow take in the first year?

Jason Conger Financial Advisor

Answered By

Linda Lingo

Money Coach


What financial steps should a widow take in the first year?


You may be experiencing a range of emotions when your spouse dies. Unfortunately, these feelings don’t go away instantly, and when you start working with your finances, you may feel emotionally overwhelmed. What you are feeling is normal.

However, now is the time you must start pulling the pieces together so you can protect yourself and be your own advocate. It will also be helpful to have a trusted friend or relative help you through this period.

Get a notebook/journal and start writing everything down, because you will not remember having some conversations and certainly not the details. You will feel like you’re operating in a “fog” the first couple of months.


Begin to organize information:

1. Start a filing system for quick and easy retrieval of information.
2. Create a calendar with important due dates.
3. Keep a log in your notebook of actions taken, including the date and contact person.

Contact your professional team: attorney, tax preparer, financial advisor:

1. Gather your estate documents like will, and trust.
2. Talk to your tax preparer about pertinent tax issues for the current year.
3. If you’re the executor of your husband’s will, manage the estate settlement process with the guidance of your advisors.
4. Discuss your finances with your financial advisor.

Review your cash flow for the first year:

1. Prepare a statement listing where money will come from and where it needs to go in the first six months to a year. Include a list of regular bills.
2. Liquidate certain assets that don’t have a penalty such as certificate of deposits or annuities with a death benefit.

Collect benefits:

1. Locate your spouse’s birth certificate, Social Security number, marriage license, military discharge papers, financial account statements and company benefits brochure you may need to collect certain benefits. Keep these papers in your organizational folders.
2. File for Social Security benefits at
3. Contact your life insurance agent to start collecting benefits. Review payout options.
4. Collect veteran’s benefits by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs if your spouse was in the military.
5. Rollover your spouse’s IRA into your own.
6. Contact the HR Department of your spouse’s employer to collect unpaid salary, vacation pay, sick pay, bonuses, pension benefits, and other benefits due.
7. Take a pension from your husband’s qualified retirement plan or roll it over to your IRA after reviewing the options and your financial circumstances.
8. Contact the financial aid office if you have a child in college. They may be eligible for increased financial aid.

Adjust health and other insurance coverage:

1. Make sure you have your own medical insurance coverage.
2. Notify all insurance agents for auto, homeowners, liability, long-term care, and any other policies.

Review assets and liabilities:

1. Create a financial net worth statement, a list of all you own and what you owe.

Complete the estate settlement:

1. Change the title and beneficiaries on investments, life insurance, vehicles, safe deposit box, retirement accounts. When you’re ready to change the names on your credit card, send it in writing with a copy of the death certificate.
2. Joint checking account should be left open for a year so you can deposit checks payable to your spouse.
3. File an estate tax return if federal or state estate tax is owed. This is due nine months after death.

Take care of yourself:

1. Consider joining a support group for widows or talk with a counselor.
2. Remember self-care including exercise, yoga, meditation, massages, bubble baths, facials, and chocolate!
3. Read a good book about widowhood. There are several good ones, including “For Widows Only!” by Annie Estlund.
4. Keep in touch with your female friends.

Move forward with new goals and your new life:

1. Create an updated financial plan focusing on short-term goals first. Keep it simple and manageable.
2. Update your will and estate plan.
3. Expand your social circles. Meet new people who know you as yourself and not as half a couple.
4. Be careful about entering a new relationship too quickly. Be wary of guys looking for a “purse.” Keep your finances to yourself.
5. It may not seem like it, but there is life after grief.

It’s ok to postpone major decisions during the first year when possible. You don’t need to rush, especially with your big decisions. You will be bombarded by well-meaning friends and family with their suggestions for what “the right decision” is. It can be very helpful to have a trusted friend help you think through some decisions you’ll make. For example, do you pay off your mortgage, or move in with your daughter?

You are at a very vulnerable time following your spouse’s death. Go slowly. Be gentle. Give yourself time to heal.

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless

Singles taking Ownership of their money

Ask An Expert

Ask an Expert – How can recently single people start to take ownership of their money and money management, especially newly divorced people whose exes controlled the money.

Jason Conger Financial Advisor

Answered By

Maggie Koosa

Financial Planner


How can recently single people start to take ownership of their money and money management, especially newly divorced people whose exes controlled the money.



One who is newly single should take a thorough look of their cashflow, including expenses and income. Living with one income is quite different and affects what excess (not necessary) expenses are tenable.


After working through a divorce, the household assets may be in disarray. One should organize their debts, including mortgage, credit cards, etc and understand due dates and interest rates. They should organize their savings, checking, and investments and understand interest rates, rates of return, allocations, and strategies.


After one has a working understanding of their cashflow, debts, and savings, one can develop a strategic plan to work toward increasing savings (personal and investments), decreasing debts, and working toward their future goals.

* On a side note, newly single people should update their beneficiaries on all of their insurances, financial accounts, estate documents (will, power of attorneys, healthcare proxy, trust), etc to reflect their post-divorce intentions.

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless

Beginning a Budget


Beginning a Budget

You’ve committed to setting a budget. Good for you! The trouble is, making that decision leads to a long, difficult list of other questions. What am I spending? What’s my real income? What are my goals? Most important of them all: Where the heck do I start?

Crafting a sensible budget that fits your needs requires a little legwork. Here’s a helpful list of questions to ask as you begin your journey. Follow this guide and you’ll be headed down the road to better financial health no matter what your goal is.

How are you going to keep track?

To be successful, you need a process of accountability and consistency. Figure out what computer programs you’ll use to assist in tracking your dollars. I recommend You Need a Budget. There’s a $6.99 monthly fee, but the comprehensive suite of budgeting tools is powerful and fairly easy to navigate. Mint is popular and free but with fewer bells and whistles. I highly recommend Trim, an free tool that watches your accounts and alerts you to issues. With a little research, you might find another that works for you.

Why do you want a budget?

Determining your motivation informs the decisions you make. Looking to bolster your retirement funds? Concerned about overspending in certain areas? Thinking of upgrading your house? Dying to take a vacation? Itching to travel or backpack across Europe? Getting married? Starting a family? There’s no wrong answer. There might even be more than one. You just need to figure out what you are driving towards to make sure you get to the destination.

What are your necessary expenses?

It’s likely you’ll be able to come up with these easily. This list includes mortgage or rent, credit card bills, groceries, insurance and car payment.

What are your irregular expenses?

Even mindful money people tend to forget certain expenditures. How much do you really spend on Starbucks? Do you go to the movies more than you realize? A quick peek at your online bank and credit card statements can be eye-opening. Go through them with a fine-toothed comb to get a strong handle on where your budget can budge and where it can’t.

What’s your total income?

You’ll never be certain about how much you’re making until you take stock. Include your wages, but don’t leave out investment income, child support or alimony, and anywhere else you are earning money (dog walking, a side gig or that illegal poker night you are running).

To be successful, you need a process of accountability and consistency.

What are your financial goals?

This step takes the first question on this list and expands upon it. For example, you want to retire when you reach 65. Or, you’d like to set sail on that dream cruise two years for now. Take your motivations, and turn them into goals by making them specific. For some helpful perspective, check out this piece on SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goal setting.

What are the numbers?

Time to drill down and determine how much you need to reach your goals. Say, how much will you need to save to retire comfortably? How much is your ideal house likely to cost? Or, what will tuition be at your kid’s chosen school when it’s time to enroll?

Do you need to talk?

If you’re the sole member of your household, there’s less need for a conversation. If you’re married, or living with kids or other family, it’s time to chat. The conversation topic: spending to reach your goals. Make sure everyone knows where to pull in the reins on those irregular expenses and determine together what is unnecessary. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have that Starbucks or new purse, but determine what is more important and worth giving up to reach that bigger goal. Further, ensure no one makes a big spend unless they check with others in the house.

What kind of budgeting approach is best?

There are many different tracks to take when working towards a budget. For example, the zero-sum philosophy dictates every dollar you take in has a home. That means whether you’re spending it on expenses, savings or discretionary stuff, you know where it’s going. A similar approach is 50/30/20–50% toward needs, 30% for things you want, and 20% to savings.

No matter what your approach, you will need to evaluate your regular and irregular expenses and make some choices.

Once you’ve answered all of the above questions, it’s time to take action and enter the numbers. Budgeting isn’t by any means an easy process. It is, though, but necessary to achieve your dreams. Need a hand? Contact Purse Strings–we’d be happy to connect you with a Purse Strings Approved Professional who is an expert at walking women like you through the process.

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless