Give Yourself Permission to Dream

The year 2020 was unlike any other. The difficult times affected people around the world. But, for many of us who remain, it also had beauty. Sunsets. Phone calls with loved ones. The ability to wake up to new days.

In 2021, I hope you can still dream big—even if it scares you. Then reach for it anyway.⁠⠀

We can certainly note what we’ve experienced. For me, it’s also important to remember that I am still here. And that I have much to be thankful for.

So, as we enter a new year, I am wishing you joy, good health, peace, and success. And I thank you for reading my work across publications and websites, and for staying in touch here and on my Instagram, YouTube, and other pages.

In 2021, I hope you can still dream big—even if it scares you. Then reach for it anyway.⁠⠀

Look, sometimes we can talk ourselves out of opportunities, because we think we’re not ready. But we may not ever be 100 percent ready. So let your heart dream in the coming weeks. Reflect. Research. Ask for help from your loved ones—or even a professional, mentor, or other coach—if you need it. Then take steps to make it happen. ⁠If you’re afraid, acknowledge the fear, but still do what you can. For me, doing this has been a gift. Though it has not always been easy.

As 2020 proved to us, life is unpredictable. But growth is possible.

As I close this post, I also want to share: If you’re working toward something—whether it’s writing, financial goals like saving money, a mindset shift, or something else—and you haven’t seen the results you want yet, please know that with faith and hard work, things can change. Suddenly.

The journey will have hard spots. But, to make it to the place you dream of, keep believing in yourself and do the work along the way, if you feel led to a particular result. ⁠

Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have thoughts about this post or questions about how you can work on your goals for the new year. Best wishes for 2021, no matter what. ✨

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Bitcoin Hits All-Time High. Why It—and Other Cryptocurrencies—Matter

Tweet by lesliequander reading "Well, this has been a day" about bitcoin

If you’ve ever wondered if you should take cryptocurrency seriously, you should.

On December 16, 2020, Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency (but not the only one by far), hit $20,000 for the first time ever. It then went on to more than $21,000. By the next day, it was at more than $23,000.

After its lows of around $3,600 in March (when the pandemic affected global markets), this all-time-high is major. And it’s particularly interesting for U.S. investors during our current economic times, as the dollar has been down when compared to currencies like the euro. Plus, everyday and institutional investors have been buying Bitcoin. ⁠

What does this milestone mean? Well, if you’ve ever wondered if you should take Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency seriously, you should. I certainly do.

As I write this post, the global market cap of cryptocurrencies is more than $600 billion, CoinMarketCap reports. Yes, billion with a B. This is clearly something to pay attention to.

For now at least, as news continues to break, be aware that cryptocurrency—decentralized digital currency—exists. (The paper money in the background of the photo in this post is not the only game in town.)

Also remember: Bitcoin is a leader, but thousands of other cryptocurrencies exist at varying price points, including Ethereum (aka Ether or ETH), XRP, Litecoin, and Chainlink.

Also know that the crypto market is volatile and care is needed when investing, as you can see from Bitcoin’s intense price fluctuation just within a day (and during this year). And every currency is not something to invest in. So know that investors can have real gains and real losses.

Note: This blog does not offer investment advice. Always do your own research if you decide to invest in any financial market.

So have you heard of cryptocurrency? Do you find it confusing?

If you follow this blog and my YouTube channel, you may know one of my core subject matter areas is personal finance. And that I like to share what I know and encourage people that success and a wealth mindset are possible. This post is just a quick look at the landscape; there are many other things to discuss including the importance of blockchain technology, pros and cons of holding or investing in cryptocurrency, and more.

In closing, remember news is happening in this sector, which is one worth tracking. Please stay tuned. And feel free to share your thoughts or questions here, or on my Instagram page. 💥

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Video: How I’ve Saved Thousands of Dollars—and Built a Freedom Fund

I get questions on money since I often write about it. So I wanted to share more on my savings savings strategy, as promised in a previous post. It’s my secret to stashing cash for lots of things—though not as secret since I shared in a story I wrote for Business Insider. ⁠

Unfortunately, many things are different now with this pandemic, including our ability to make money in some cases. But I’ve been able to seek out and find new sources of income this year. And still save and invest money in the process.

If you have questions about how to make money as a professional writer, also check out my related YouTube video, where I share five key things to know.

So, if we’re lucky enough to be working or to find other ways to get income, this mind and money trick can be a way to save for education, debt reduction, an emergency fund, investing, a “freedom fund,” and more.

In fact, I’ve saved thousands of dollars like this. We can do it. Even with $20, $50, or $100 at a time.

Please watch, share, and subscribe to my channel. Then consider: Do you view money as a tool? I do. And do you have a plan for how to save money (and potentially invest) in the coming months?

Finally, if you have questions about how to make money as a professional writer, check out my related YouTube video, where I share five key things to know.

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What 3 Self-Made Millionaires Want You to Know About Building Wealth

I’m a contributor to Business Insider and often write about personal finance. I recently participated in an important project there about the racial wealth gap, which was developed by my editor.

For instance, the United States has the greatest number of millionaires — 18.6 million, or 40 percent of the world total, according to the 2019 Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse — but that doesn’t mean millionaires are the majority of this country’s population. In fact, the report notes that the level of wealth inequality “is high, both within countries and for the world as a whole.”

Since knowledge can help others, I want to make clear that I don’t think sharing your story is bragging at all.

The gap is even wider when we look at Black and white Americans. In recent decades, the median net worth for white households has “far exceeded” that for Black households, according to the Brookings Institution, and the gap is only growing.

Still, I think it’s important to highlight the Black people who have found success in America over the years. Knowing our history matters, but we also can consider how to grow beyond our original circumstances. I decided that I wanted to write a story about it. I pitched my editor, and got the assignment.

By the way, if you want to learn how to be a professional writer, or write for outlets you love, check out my recent YouTube video.

So how can we build wealth? One way is to know what’s possible and how to do it. But we don’t always discuss money openly in America.

I’ve dedicated my career to sharing information. And since knowledge can help others, I want to make clear that I don’t think sharing your story is bragging at all.

So see my story over on businessinsider.com for straightforward advice on building wealth from three Black millionaires—who didn’t start out that way. Then check out the other stories in the series, including my second piece on how to bridge the investing gap.

Do you realize you can build wealth? Do you want to learn more about how, including advice on investing? I’ve written about this in the past (and done YouTube videos) and plan to keep sharing on this!

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Insider Tip: My Strategy for Saving Money

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.

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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The World Still Needs Our Skills and Small Businesses

Pondering life in Washington, DC, in this throwback photo.

We’re in difficult times now. The news is sad, and this pandemic has changed our everyday lives and movements in ways we’ve never seen. As we’ve been encouraged to physically distance—leading to stay at-home-orders and business shutdowns—I’ve been thinking about what it means to own a business. And the role we can play in our economy, even as the economy contracts.

I settled on this: The world still needs our skills and small businesses. And we should continue to market them. Even now.

If you work as a consultant or freelancer, or own a small business, you might wonder if it’s still okay to sell your services. I wondered about this myself, especially since I’ve been developing more offerings for my success coaching program. And after doing some reading on this topic, I think it’s absolutely okay to market our services. And that we should.

⁣Small businesses contribute to the economy. And small business owners need our help right now. I just bought a face mask and earrings from Etsy sellers. I’m still assigning stories to writers as part of my consulting work.

For my part, I’m going to keep writing for media outlets and clients, working to grow my business, and supporting other business, too. If you’re able, I hope you will join me in giving that support.

With this in mind, I’m also keeping a few spots in my coaching calendar available for anyone who wants a free chat about how you can find success working for yourself (including as a writer or editor); find new clients; or just make extra money on the side, from home.

Our stories should be told. And companies still need help telling theirs.

Please feel free to email me or comment to learn more. Or if you just want a word of encouragement.

Your wellness matters. And your work does, too. ✨

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Video: How to Stay Calm in the Stock Market

Emotions are understandably high now as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, the stock market is up and down, employment situations are becoming more shaky, and times can be hard as we physically distance. But if we can keep our emotions out of investing, that change can help us in that arena at least.

I’v been busy writing and editing the last few weeks, with a major focus on wellness and personal finance. As we continue to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and watch the news from home, things can be difficult. Which is why I’ve been making an effort to deliver positive news as I can.

With all of the writing I’ve been doing on personal finance, including a story on six things to know about investing for Sisters From AARP (where I’m a freelance contributing editor), as well as my articles for Business Insider (where I’m a contributor, too) it seemed like an appropriate time to do a quick video message, too.

Please watch the video to see more on why we shouldn’t panic about investments now (including our retirement accounts and others), even though we’re in turbulent times. I think points two and three—on keeping emotions out of investing and understanding that the market will turn around—are especially key to remember.

Sending you all my best during this time.

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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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