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Scams and Other Business Ventures

April 1st, 2016 by judytalks

Scammers target everyone and anyone. Older persons are particularly vulnerable. Many people in this age group live alone, and many are in the stages of bereavement. Their emotional resistance is low, and they generally are not suspicious people. Here is a sad but true story of one woman who believed the documents she received were authentic. Education is the best preventive measure for stopping crimes of this kind. You can find relevant information on the Internet and from banks and other financial institutions.

 

Scams and Other Business Ventures

Will you be next? Can you protect yourself or your loved ones from fraud? Stories like this one happen to millions of people every day.

The first letter was sent out on letterhead, informing her that she was a winner in a promotional draw.  Her prize was $850,000.00. It had been deposited in Bank of America, and had been insured.

The letter appeared to come from the International Gaming Commission Sweepstakes & Lottery in Washington, DC. It stated that she should keep the entire details of the award “strictly from public notice”. In other words: Don’t Tell Anyone. The recipient of this letter was a 79-year-old woman, widowed, with a modest income and some investments.

The second letter appeared to come from the US Department of the Treasury, acknowledging her as a winner, stating the amount of her prize, and informing her that  “… the amount you will have to take care of is $30,000.00 and it will have to be made payable to our chief accountant which that name will be given to you later.” The rest of the letter gave instructions to contact her “representative” whose name and phone number were provided, with a security code she should use.

Despite the impressive letterhead, the documents had numerous mistakes.  There were typos and   poor grammar throughout. For example, the first sentence of the letter from the Gaming Commission  says:  “Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice, the results of the First (3rd) Category draws of International Gaming Commission SWEETSTAKES.” And in paragraph three “… the total prize money of US$ 29,000000.00….”

Many people receiving such correspondence would immediately recognize it as fraud. This particular woman did not. She believed it to be authentic and promptly called her financial planner to pay the alleged taxes. She insisted that she couldn’t tell him why she needed the money.

Needless to say, this was a red flag to him. He was reluctant to make the transaction and asked her to wait until he returned from his vacation a week later.  Somehow, she was able to make the payment herself.

The $30,000.00 is gone. The lady is poorer but wiser. But the scammers probably will never be caught.

Don’t let yourself be the next victim.

Grief and Financial Security

March 25th, 2016 by judytalks

Grief and Financial Security

Bereavement is a period of time in which grieving persons mourn the loss of a loved one. Ideally, the griever begins to rebuild his or her life and move forward. Letting go of that essential person is nearly impossible. Counting all the other losses takes some time.

When someone dies, there is often a change in the financial picture for survivors. A spouse, with or without children, may experience a considerable reduction in resources, especially if the spouse is female.

Recovery is hard enough. Moving on with diminished finances puts her and any dependents at risk.

The following article is one I wrote and posted on LinkedIn. It explains this critical and frightening situation.

 

Do You Know Where The Bones Are Buried?

What happens to the household income when someone dies? For as many as half of all widows, fifty percent of household income may be lost when a spouse dies.

At the same time their expenses only decrease by one-fourth to one-third. What happens to that household income? Where was it coming from and where did it go? Why are women so adversely affected by financial issues?  The fact is, when a man loses his wife, the financial situation is minimally affected.

The problem really starts much earlier. Work patterns of women are, first of all, considerably different from those of men. Full time work for many years isn’t the norm. Women may work part time, take time out for child care and/or caring for parents or other family members, and wages for women continue to lag behind pay for men. By the time they retire, their social security is less, and often there is no pension. Is it any wonder that of the 3.4 million elderly poor in America, 70 percent are women?

For a widow to avoid a serious drop in her circumstances, she needs to know where the bones are buried. This begins with educating women about earning, investing, and spending from a young age.

Older women usually have little knowledge of finances. And many younger women with careers prefer to leave the investment decisions to spouses or professional money managers. Busy with family and job responsibilities, they leave their future up to people who don’t consider the disparities in retirement benefits.

Couples may both retire at the same time, or not. But the wife’s social security benefits are almost always lower than the husband’s. Whatever they may collect when both are alive, if she survives him, she must choose whose benefit she receives – hers or his but not both. If she doesn’t receive a pension, or his doesn’t have survivor benefit checked, her resources may be slim.

Couples can begin to plan for her security while both are still working. Life insurance is a very good option, but many couples are underinsured. Updating to accommodate the rising cost of living is necessary, because if she is the survivor, her expenses will only decrease by one-fourth to one-third. Life insurance is not taxed and may be distributed in several ways.

When you purchase life insurance, make sure you know how it will be distributed – lump sum, quarterly, monthly, or checks you write for a specific amount until it’s gone. You may or may not have a choice.

If the deceased spouse had a long illness, the wife may have taken time off from her career to care for him. Expenses for the illness may also have decreased their investments. By the time she is alone, all of her resources – mental, physical, emotional, and financial are very low.

According to wife.org, one-third of widows are under sixty. Since widows can’t apply for social security until they are sixty, she will have to figure out how to pay the bills from what she earns and what she can take from other sources. If there are children still living at home, the financial problems can be severe.

I was widowed when I was fifty. As an author and educator, my involvement with the grieving community has taught me a great deal about death and the problems of survivors. The plight of widows in America is greater than that of other developed countries. What can we do – what can you do – to change this unacceptable situation, and provide women with the same financial security that men have?

It’s your future. Manage it well.

 

 

Where Has All The Comfort Gone?

March 20th, 2015 by judytalks

Time has passed. The Holidays are over, and everyone else’s life seems to go on with all the daily and ordinary things they do. Yours seems to stand still. People you talk to just assume that you feel better, that you are nearly “over it” and your brand new life lies ahead, clear and straight.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Is there a disconnect somewhere?

The answer is yes. The disconnect occurs because comfort comes in rushes at first, everyone wanting to help and console you. The sadness and shock of losing this most necessary person has you in its grip.  You still can’t imagine how life can go on.

Staying connected is difficult during bereavement. Family members are at different stages of mourning. Friends are busy with lives that haven’t been as disrupted as yours. Everyone wants you to feel comforted, but knowing what that takes, long-term- is far from their minds. Ours is a society that moves on.

It is up to you to maintain those close relationships. Stay in touch by phone, email, or in person. When someone invites you to an outing, meeting, or social gathering, go. Whether you feel like it or not isn’t the issue. Being with caring and relaxed people is the beginning of learning to live alone.

Comfort has all kinds of faces and isn’t well-defined. Just getting out there helps you to take a look at the world again and see possibilities. Old friends may bring new friends. New groups, hobbies, or interests develop while you’re testing the waters, surrounded by people you can trust. They are there to support you. Let them.

I wish you well,

Judy

 

From surviving to thriving

July 15th, 2014 by judytalks

Can  you remember the last time someone in your family died? Perhaps you were a child whose elderly great-uncle died, or maybe someone young was tragically killed in an accident. Consider for a few minutes where comfort came from. Who reached out to you, to your family?

Surviving the loss of a loved one is very difficult and very personal. To begin to move toward healing and a sense of yourself as a thriving person requires an understanding of what has happened to you, not just your loved one.

Where do we go for the death education we never got? There are many resources available today that weren’t around 20 years ago. The internet is an ideal place for up-to-date resources. Books, articles, e-books, groups, camps, professional counselors, and faith-based spiritual centers are in touch with the needs of grievers.

For my part, I have just published an e-book on Kindle, titled From Surviving to Thriving  Finding Comfort Following Loss. Based on personal experience, and research from the professional community, this e-book gives comfort, support, and clear directives for processing your grief. It takes time to manage the pain and begin to move forward.  As you walk through this difficult time in life, you will become aware  of the resources already inside you.  Emerging whole and confident allows you to begin to visualize a new life built on memories and a clear sense of who you can become.

I wish you well,

Judy

For my Kindle books:  www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

Book Marketing Challenge

June 6th, 2014 by judytalks

Judy Strong  Learn Plan Act!

I’m here to say that this has been inspiring and motivating. The marketing tool I believe will be the most beneficial to me right now is teleseminars. As a grief facilitator, I like to work directly with people. Face to face or by phone gives me an opportunity to get to know them and for them to see who I am. Helping others with change and loss means building trust, and I think the teleseminars will work beautifully. I can deliver information, answer questions, clarify meaning, and generally relate and interact with people, as they share their individual needs and concerns. It was very encouraging to me to hear so many interviewees say that they were scared, had small lists, and began on a shoestring. I can relate to all of that. Just getting out there, I believe, is the way to start, and I think my audience will benefit from the experience of the teleseminar as we address their issues. The variety of ways to do teleseminars is also a huge advantage. By phone, by webcam, with slides, or whatever you choose, the follow-up options are exceptional. Being able to send a transcript or audio reinforces the whole experience, and I’m especially interested in doing e-reports and e-books to further my business and offer more to my audience. Grief work takes time, and it’s always my hope that people I meet or who read my books will stay in touch. Offering a chance to get together on the phone or webcam is a personal invitation to give comfort and support, throughout their bereavement and beyond. It’s establishing a sincere friendship.

I have published two print books. No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing addresses both the emotional and practical issues associated with loss. It’s a primer that can be used by individuals, professionals, and groups.
My second book, A Child’s Grief Surviving the Death of a Parent, gives relevant information to those persons helping a child who has lost a parent. Seen through the eyes of 7-year old Johnnie and his mother, it emphasizes the need for comfort, truth-telling, and the consistency required for healing to take place.

My blog:  http://survive-strong.com/blog-2/?pg=blog
My website:  www.survive-strong.com
My e-books:  www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

Grief What does money have to do with it?

April 26th, 2014 by judytalks

The grief that engulfs a survivor pushes all thought of practical issues away. Nothing matters but the loss of the loved one. It’s unthinkable that one has to handle the budget, pay the bills, and buy the groceries. But unless one has no responsibilities in the practical side of everyday life, those issues have to be faced.

It isn’t fair that time and energy must be siphoned off from the important task of mourning. The grief process takes every ounce of energy you can muster. And when you just can’t think straight anymore, focusing on your cash flow and wondering how far the insurance will go seems trivial. But those who have lost someone can attest to the fact that money problems become apparent, sooner rather than later.

I have spoken with widows who thought there would be security “if anything happened”. Men have a habit of saying, “If anything happens to me, you’ll be fine.” Unfortunately, that usually isn’t true. When there are minor children involved, it can become especially frightening. Unless you know where the paperwork is, and what the circumstances are, you may find yourself making critical, but hasty decisions without knowing all your options.

In my own situation, I found myself scrambling to put my affairs in order. Because my husband didn’t have a will, and I had minor children at home, I had to go to probate court. I had no idea what resources were available, and the financial world, though helpful, has its own set of rules and methods for handling death benefits.

I began to write about grief a few years after my husband died. Along with the emotional and personal aspects of loss and bereavement, I also addressed the practical issues. I believed that if these were problems to me, they probably were to many others in the same circumstances. Knowing the simple facts of your situation can give you peace of mind, and also a sense of security that you need, whether you are alone or have children to care for.

My first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing, has chapters that explain the financial and legal issues you may face. Resource pages give you added information to guide your decision-making, as you move through the mourning process and gain your sense of independence. Two e-books on these subjects may be found on Kindle E-books. Getting Your Affairs In Order is a short outline that explains the procedure you may take before something happens, or after. It’s Your Money Take Charge of It is longer and clarifies some basic ideas about money and how to handle it wisely.

My books are found on my website, www.survive-strong.com.  The paperback books and the e-books can be accessed on my Amazon author’s page, www.amazon.com/author/judystrong along with my biography. Best of all, the paperback books, No time to Grieve and A Child’s Grief are often on sale. Understanding what you may need to do in the event of death and loss helps you to devote your time and energy to the essential task of grieving your loved one, while managing the practical issues that will keep you and your family afloat.

I’m so glad you are reading my blog. It’s designed to give comfort when you need it most, and information that will help you keep your feet on solid ground. There is a place for comments on my website. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Judy

Death Education and the School of Hard Knocks

March 18th, 2014 by judytalks

As I look through my blogs and articles material, I realize I’ve covered many aspects of grief and loss. I began writing about grief following the death of my husband. My first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing, was taken from my journal, and documented the struggle I experienced finding answers and support. A Child’s Grief Surviving the Death of a Parent, resulted from personal experience – my own and others – and general research. I began giving seminars, writing articles, and doing radio interviews shortly after, and have gathered considerable information on this important aspect of life.
In our society, death education usually comes after the fact. Though there are classes on various topics concerning dying and bereavement, most of us learn how to help ourselves and others the hard way – through personal experience, when emotions are out of bounds and cognitive abilities are diminished. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s safe to say nearly everyone will face the death of a loved one and need comfort and support. We also find ourselves in a position of wanting and needing to help someone else to cope with a loss. As a writer and educator, I love to teach. My website displays my books with a synopsis you may read. My blog appears there and on Authors Den and Good Reads. My articles may be read on the website and also on www.ezinearticles.com and www.scribd.com. If you haven’t checked them out, please be my guest.
My current writing project is in full swing. Longer articles and little e-books are in the making and will appear on Kindle. More informative, these additions to my teaching tools will give you the knowledge you need when you want to reach out with comfort and support to a grieving friend. You don’t need a Kindle to read them. For $0.99, they can be downloaded and read on your computer, or printed out.
My work as a grief facilitator with children and the Flying Solo group I started for adults has taught me the importance of giving clear, honest, reliable tools for everyday use. Death knocks on every door, and when it does, a solid foundation for healing begins with confidence and knowledge. Whether you need comfort for yourself or for a friend, your death education can begin now.
I wish you well,
Judy

Where Do I Go For Help?

November 2nd, 2012 by judytalks

Crisis and loss come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. The devastation that results from natural disasters is enormous, counting loss of life, property, and your sense of security.

Today it’s the East Coast, with the aftermath of Sandy. Tomorrow it may be in another part of the world. Regardless of location, this planet is mourning its losses every day. With or without warning, the human race takes a back seat to every kind of destructive act of nature.

Finding comfort when you need it most is difficult. In a disaster, numerous organizations rally to preserve life and property. When it’s safe to return, assessing your damage can be heart-rending. Personal property, those sentimental items so dear to you and to family, may lie amongst the debris, damaged beyond repair.

The job of the work crews is to get things up and running. When businessess, transportation, utilities, hospitals and the like get going again, it brings back a sense of normalcy. But no one is assigned to retrieving the lost personal items. Though these things seem irreplaceable, other family members, friends, or neighbors often have copies of pictures and memorabilia like those you lost. When you get yourself settled, contact everyone you can think of and ask for help. As items begin to surface, you can restore your memories in your treasure chest. It’s the beginning of healing.

Emotions are not usually reliable in a crisis, but contact with others and having them share memories with you is the beginning of hope, and pushes the fear and sadness away.

If you are grieving for any reason, stay in touch with those who love you and let them give comfort. Mourning takes time and energy. Take care of yourself.

Judy

A Look At Grief – When Life Stops

October 29th, 2012 by judytalks

When the life of someone you love stops, the part of your life that you shared with that person stops also. It’s abrupt and it’s painful. Suddenly everything changes because life as you knew it has stopped.
Does it matter whether there was time to prepare? Having your loved one in hospice care may give you the opportunity to talk about life, death, survivor concerns, and last wishes. But this isn’t always possible, or isn’t discussed. Talking about the past can take precedence over the present moment, often leaving survivors with no knowledge about the state of affairs they will have to handle.
Death education is almost never talked about in our society. We have a denial/dismissal attitude, preferring to believe that we’ll “cross that bridge when we come to it.” But, often, there is no warning, or the subject never comes up. The face of grief is more than emotional pain and confusion. Though deep sadness accompanies the death of a loved one, time and energy may have to be devoted to legal and financial issues, sometimes with little knowledge of the facts of the estate.
As a survivor, speaker, and grief facilitator, I have looked into the faces of many people of all ages who were overwhelmed with responsibility. Women, especially, are affected by financial issues, though men may be also. Men usually are not prepared to run a household or prepare meals.
Is there a reason we, as a society, can’t face the fact of death? Can we begin to educate ourselves as to the realities of loss and survivorship? Where did this come from, and how can we change it?
I’d like to make a difference in this aspect of life. As a survivor, my children and I know the pain of losing someone. With minor children and no will, I had to go to probate court. I needed a better job, and there weren’t the grief groups around then that there are now. But we can still do better.
Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Please email me. jstrong@survive-strong.com
Judy

The First 24 Hours

October 16th, 2012 by judytalks

When crisis strikes, the first 24 hours are crucial to everyone’s well-being. Shock and emotional upheaval take over and render you helpless in a situation that requires calm and clear decision-making. What do you do?

Sudden illness, accident, or assault are all critical situations that affect not only the individual in crisis, but those who care about them. You may find that you must make important choices that will affect everyone. Where do you go for help?

When my husband was in ICU, I had to make critical decisions about his treatment that would affect the whole family, immediately and for the rest of our lives. I found that there are professionals who can give good insight, without persuading you of any particular choice. They see these situations daily and can guide you to a conclusion that you can live with. I also realized that my own intuition gave me a good idea of what we needed as a family.

Friends and extended family members sometimes offer advice that is well-intended, but this is your situation, not theirs. Standing your ground may be difficult in the face of what is happening. It’s important that you understand who will be living with these choices, and make that clear to others.

When you find yourself in turmoil, whether the first 24 hours or days or weeks afterwards, you may need to center yourself and take time to think clearly. If you are in the habit of giving yourself quiet time or meditation every day, this will serve you well. If not, now would be a good time to begin your own program for peace and clarity.

Trauma can strike anytime. It’s impossible to be completely prepared for the awfulness that can result from a sudden illness or accident. But when you have devoted yourself to a calming frame of mind, you will be able to implement it anytime, anywhere.

Think about setting aside a few minutes today to begin quiet time for yourself. You may find you can’t imagine a day without it.

Judy

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