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.

Share

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!

Share

Panel Presentation: How to Connect With Diverse Audiences

A screenshot from the ASJA line-up.

Diversity may seem like a buzz word these days. But it’s more than that—and it’s important to keep in mind if we’re communicating with other people for work…and beyond.

As writers, we seek to develop and share stories that are well-reported, accurate, and engaging. To do this, we should know when stories are indeed ours to write, how to connect with sources who are reflective of the landscape, which terms to use (and avoid) to help provide clarity and avoid stereotypes, and more.

A few weeks ago, I hosted a panel at the American Society of Journalists and Authors virtual conference to talk about all of this. And to share tips and considerations for reporting and writing stories that can accurately represent a variety of sources and effectively connect with diverse audiences.

By the way, diversity doesn’t just refer to differences in race and ethnicity, though those are often discussed. It also can refer to differences in gender identity, ability, religion, political affiliation, and more. Basically, we just need to keep in mind that everyone isn’t like us—and remember that our experiences are not necessarily those of our readers. We also can actively seek out interviews and discussions with people outside of our typical spheres. If we’re striving to be objective and inclusive in our story-telling, this is a start.
⁣⁣⁠⠀
So how’s your communication going these days? Are you facing any hurdles in this area?

If you missed the session, you can access the replay via ASJA. You’ll see my tips on how to find new great sources, how to connect with people who are different than you (and why you should!), and how to get introspective about your own thoughts and potential limitations so you can find success.

Talk soon!✨⁣⁣⁠⠀

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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. ✨

Share

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.

Share

Snapshot: Even Hard Days Can Lead to Joy

Look deeper. Feel stronger. Go farther. Be you.

Just a reminder that even the hard days—when you look in the mirror, and feel confused and tired—even these days can lead to joy.

I am in a great place now as a writer and editor working with national media outlets and other national clients. I’m thankful for this. But I had to start somewhere and learn along the way.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the early part of my early career, and ruminating on Instagram. So I figured I’d make a note here, too.

I’ve had success over the years. But these days, I still make an effort to network. And continue to amplify my knowledge by reviewing information from reputable sources and experts.

In my goal to help others, I also provide coaching to help people get started with professional writing—and to help them find success and branch out. Always feel free to contact me if you have questions about what I do. I’m happy to help and want you to know success is possible.

For now, I’m recognizing you if you’re trying to motivate yourself to go after a goal. Or pushing through difficult times. Believe in your purpose. And I’ll believe with you.

Share

Do You Say What You Want?

If you want something, say it. Claim it.

This statement just came to me out of the blue, and I (of course) shared it on my Instagram page. It sounds simple, but how often do we really do it?

Sometimes I think we can be afraid to say what we really want. Maybe some of us don’t want to admit what we really desire. Maybe we think we can’t have it. Maybe we don’t even consciously know what we crave!

But one of the first ways we can manifest what we desire is to SAY what we want. That’s because having success and freedom can start in your mind.

So will you join me in saying what you want? Even just quietly to yourself? The point is to get comfortable with your goals—whether they relate to your career, relationships, investing, or whatever—and to believe they are possible.

Tell me what you think? Or feel free to comment on Instagram.

Share

Want Success? Freedom? Why It Starts in Your Mind

I’ve been feeling free. Light. Accomplished. And extra independent. Things I’ve been wanting and working toward are happening. It feels great to see things that I’ve imagined actually come to pass in real life.

And that is the key, in part. The thought. The willingness to believe that good things are coming and that I am—and we are—worthy of them.

Our thoughts matter and can affect our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. This concept shows up in science, in the law of attraction, and even in faith-based teachings.

So if you want to feel free—or more successful, content, or relaxed—a big way to shift is within your mind.

For example, taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself has psychological and physical benefits, suggests 2019 research from the University of Exeter. In the small study, participants who listened to an audio recording that encouraged them to be kind to themselves reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others. These participants also had a physical response consistent with relaxation and safety, including a drop in heart rate and a lower sweat response. Meanwhile, those who heard an audio inducing “a critical inner voice” had a higher heart rate and higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of distress.

More mind-power info? As you may know, the benefits of meditation, the practice of training and focusing your mind, are myriad and can include helping with stress reduction, pain control, and even improving sleep.

So this July, and beyond, remember: If you have a dream in your heart, think of it positively in your mind. Believe in yourself, put in the work, and have faith. Think of the thing as already yours. ⁣You might be surprised to see the good things that can follow.

⁣So do you believe in yourself? Want some encouragement? Maybe I can help–especially if you have questions about moving up in your career (including full-time or freelance work in writing, communications, or editing) or how to shift your general mindset. Drop me a comment or email me!

⁣P.S. In this photo, I somehow managed to channel the tropics—from the city. Come hang with me on Instagram @lesliequander to see my other adventures. ☺️?

Share