Insider Tip: My Strategy for Saving Thousands of Dollars

To save money, I act like I don’t have any. 

That may sound odd. So I explained exactly how I do it in a recent story I wrote for Business Insider.

First, I actually like putting away money. As a child, I had my own little bank in the shape of a mailbox. I remember it being a gift from my grandfather, who’d worked for the United States Postal Service. I’d slide coins into the shiny mailbox and grew up learning that it was important to have my own money so I could take care of myself.

As an adult, I’ve set savings goals like traveling and having an emergency fund. The savings strategy that has consistently worked for me is the one where I transfer money out of my checking account, put it in a separate, online savings account with a higher rate of return — and then pretend like my stash doesn’t exist. 

If we’re lucky enough to be working, and to be able to save some extra money, this mind and money trick can be a way to save for education, debt reduction, a “freedom fund,” and more.

I think this strategy can be especially important now, especially for people who are fortunate enough to have additional money as typical spending activities are off limits.

Having savings in the form of an accessible emergency fund is important for many reasons. It provides some cover if things suddenly go south (with jobs, health, or other unexpected expenses). And having savings allows us to have a bit more freedom when it comes to choices like travels and even how we earn money.

Unfortunately, we can’t go to Europe now from the United States—or really move about freely. But, if we’re lucky enough to be working, and to be able to save some extra money, this mind and money trick can be a way to save for education, debt reduction, a “freedom fund,” and more. (I once used it to fund travel to Europe, across three countries, for a month.) 

Even with $20, $50, or $100 at a time. We CAN do it. 

So have you met your savings goals? Or do you want to? I’ll plan to revisit this topic again because it’s so important.

Read my story in Business Insider to see exactly how this game of pretend has helped me — and could help you. (Just remember this is not financial advice.)

Then feel free to follow me on this blog, and on Instagram and my YouTube channel (!) to keep up with my latest tips and news. Or feel free to comment or email me if you have questions.

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How 5 Lessons I Learned from a Furlough Can Help You in Today’s Economy

In the days before Christmas 2018, I’d been working as a writer and editor for a federal agency when I learned we needed to prepare for a possible government shutdown. 

On December 22, 2018, part of the federal government did shut down. In my office, the shutdown meant we were furloughed alongside hundreds of thousands of others. We could not report to work or receive pay; meanwhile, other federal employees had to work without pay.

I never imagined the shutdown would extend for more than a month, into 2019, and become the longest federal shutdown in history. You’d think I would have been worried, but I felt fine.

During that time, I did freelance work, reduced my expenses (while still enjoying life), kept my mindset positive, and more. In the end, the furlough was a helpful part of my financial journey.

If you want to learn more about working for yourself, I’m opening up a few spots in my coaching calendar to help anyone who wants a free chat about how to write or edit professionally—or how to move up in your career or make extra money freelancing from home.

Recently, I wrote about this furlough experience for Business Insider. You can read the entire article—including details on my five personal finance tips for then and now—on BusinessInsider.com.

And if you’re looking for a way to make extra money now (like I did then), it is possible. If you want to learn more about working for yourself, I’m opening up a few spots in my coaching calendar to help anyone who wants a free chat about how to write or edit professionally—or how to move up in your career or make extra money working from home. Because we do have some options, even when times are hard. And it can help to learn, and then take steps to get there.

P.S. In the end, the furlough confirmed for me (like other things in my life) that many events can help us grow. And even things that seem bad for us at first can be helpful. At least … they’ve been helpful for me.

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Video: 7 Ways to Fight Loneliness

Did you know feeling lonely can affect your health? It’s been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diminished sleep quality, and more, even after controlling for various other factors, reports University of Chicago Medicine.

And with social distancing in effect, we can really feel lonely. ⁣

I reported on this topic for Sisters From AARP, where I’m a freelance contributing editor— and again, just recently, on my YouTube channel.

In this new video, I reveal seven ways to grow your relationships and feel more connected. Right now. ⁣(Even if you watch this video after distancing has been lifted in your area, the tips still can apply.)

Please watch and share. And feel free to subscribe to my channel.

How are you feeling as we physically distance? ⁣I hope this info helps you or someone you know. 🖤

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I Changed My Travel Plans Because of COVID-19. Why I’m Not Changing My Investment Strategy

I was scheduled to travel to Germany from DC during the first week of March and had been looking forward to the two-week trip. I thought the European travel would give me time to see the sights, write, and rest.

But then news of the spreading coronavirus and its fallout began to get worse, and I read about travel restrictions, quarantines, illness, and deaths. It was sobering — and really sad. I realized I needed to cancel my trip. In the days that followed, I watched the markets fall and saw worldwide news continue to worsen.

But even though reports have been rough, I’m not panicking. And even though I’ve changed my travel and social plans to be cautious, I haven’t changed my investment plans.

I’ve been writing about personal finance quite a bit lately, as the coronavirus pandemic also has had a real effect on our money. In this story for Business Insider, I revealed the three reasons why I’m leaving my investments as is.

The short version: I can stick with my investment plans because I have savings, I trust the market will recover, and I know the market isn’t the place to be emotional.

Check out the full story for the details, including info on how to avoid being an emotional investor—and why I think this market situation will change.

And feel free to pop onto on my Instagram page to tell me what you think about this topic. No matter what, I know this time is tough. Hope you are hanging in there as much as you can.

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Want to Quit Your Job? Ask These 4 Financial Questions First

If you’re longing to quit your job, you’re not alone. In fact, 3.6 million people quit their jobs in one recent month, according to a September 2019 release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And a third of US workers seriously considered quitting in the three months prior to one 2019 survey.

I was one of the people who considered quitting in recent years — and actually did it! — so I know how you may be feeling. But whether you want to get a new job (perhaps with a better salary or more growth potential) or work for yourself (like I do now), it’s important to think ahead. And a certified financial planner can help.

So I wrote about four questions to ask a CFP before you resign. Or, at minimum, four questions to consider for yourself. Because quitting can feel great. But being well prepared for your next phase can feel even better.

Check out my story on BusinessInsider.com to learn more.

And if you’re thinking about quitting to become a writer or editor, work in communications, or even to work for yourself, feel free to send me a note. Maybe I can help!

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6 Rules Any Investor Should Follow

I love writing about personal finance and helping people learn how to meet their goals in this area. That said, when it comes to investing, I know it can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. And even if you have experience, it never hurts to keep learning and improve your strategy.

For instance, many of us may have learned more about shoe shopping than buying stocks—and we pay for this lack of knowledge when we miss out on the returns investing can bring.

Meanwhile, some people in older generations are working longer than they’d planned. So it’s important to have an effective investing strategy for the short and long term.

To help, I recently wrote about six key investing tips for Business Insider.

Topics include:

ŸŸŸŸ–what to know about emotional investing (there are ways to avoid it)

–what it really means to diversify your portfolio (people are getting this wrong, ya’ll); and

–how much cash it actually takes to start (it’s not as much as you might think).

So how much do you actually know about investing?

Read the story to see my six tips to help you get started or grow your money. Then feel free to comment or email me and tell me what you think!

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Writing Tip: Where to Find Inspiration

I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade. (Where did the time go?!) And I wrote for fun for many years before that.

One question that comes up when it comes to writing and creativity is this: Where do you get ideas? Whether we’re writing on deadline or writing just for fun, our ideas have to come from somewhere. And, in my experience, ideas for stories can come from all around us.

For instance, I wrote about the benefits of training for surgery for The Washington Post after I discovered a related study—and dug in for more research. And I wrote about five tips to protect your hearing for Men’s Health after noticing loud sounds in my own environment.

Recently I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a ballet. There, I ran into this exhibit of worldwide photos of hope and resilience (see above). It was another example of how surprises can pop up anywhere and at any time–and how we should be open to them. But it also reminded me that inspiration for writing, other creative pursuits, and even life plans can come from all around us. In fact, I think it’s really cool that we can soak up creativity even in our hometowns—without trying hard or traveling far.⁣⁣

(Side note: If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center, do check it out when in DC—for everything from opera to ballet. This free exhibit via the National Geographic Photo Camp features photos from at-risk and refugee youth and runs through June 20, 2019.)

So here’s the takeaway: Story ideas and life inspiration can come from anywhere. And they can come by surprise. If you’re looking for ideas for your next piece of writing, look around you. Explore your hometown. Travel. Read something you typically wouldn’t. Start a new conversation.

You can find plenty of inspiration if you pay attention.

For more writing tips and daily snapshots, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram!

Or feel free to comment or email me your thoughts or questions about writing and creativity.

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Spotlight: “Will GoFundMe Become America’s Largest Private Insurer?”




Stories of healthcare issues abound, and I’m seeing headlines that continue to pop up. People are suffering, and their insurance—if they even have it—doesn’t always provide all needed financial support. Enter online crowdfunding campaigns, where people ask everyone from friends to strangers to help them pay for expenses, including those for health care.

I recently reported on this topic for Playboy, and medical crowdfunding campaigns continue to mount even into the early days of 2019. These campaigns are helping people who are fighting for their lives or dealing with health complications and bills. GoFundMe, for instance, is one of several crowdfunding platforms that helps people raise funds for personal causes. And with a giving community of more than 50 million people worldwide, it’s reportedly the largest social fundraising platform.

But what’s the future of these fundraising platforms? And who’s really vulnerable to having unexpected medical expenses?

Please click through to see what health care experts and GoFundMe users told me about this situation and its potential effects.


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5 Tips to Protect Your Hearing



So I love getting out to events and listening to live music. But these fun activities can have a down side. Sadly.

If you’re around loud sounds, you should know that you could be at risk for tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, too. These sounds can show up anywhere, from your favorite sporting events to concerts and bars.

Because this topic is so important, and because it can affect so many people, I wrote about how to avoid hearing loss and damage earlier this year for Men’s Health. Even now, the topic keeps coming up in my everyday life. Maybe because I know so many other music lovers.

The facts: Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Those higher than 85 dB can permanently damage the hair cells in your inner ear with extended exposure, leading to hearing loss or actual damage. And it can be years before you start to notice the effects.

Please check out my story for five tips on how to protect your hearing. I do these things myself. Then tell me what you think!

Have you ever had a hearing scare, or noticed when sounds were too loud? Taking action now can help you later.


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Training for Surgery? Yes, You Can



These days, Americans train to get in shape for marathons, weddings and backpacking trips. So why not train for surgery? Tens of millions of surgeries are scheduled each year in the United States, and each can result in complications such as shock, infection or pulmonary issues: A 2012 study citing hospital data from the American College of Surgeons on 551,510 general surgery patients found a complication rate of almost 17 percent.

I recently wrote about training for surgery for The Washington Post, and interviewed several doctors to explain why it can be helpful. Posting about the topic here in the name of blog updates. (I promised I’d be back.)

Providers at several hospitals believe better preparation could help patients awaiting elective surgeries—those planned in advance, such as hip replacements or cosmetic procedures, rather than done in an emergency—avoid those problems. They designed programs to help ensure that patients enter surgery in the best condition possible, with preparation including physical and mental components.

If you’re planning a surgery, or know someone who is, please check out the story online. You’ll see the four training steps to consider and discuss with your surgeon, even if your facility doesn’t offer a formal program.



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