Tips for Dating During This Pandemic: What to Know Right Now

Dating in 2020. Is it still possible? How can you adjust? And what exactly should you consider before meeting in person? Things are different now, and there are many issues to navigate, so I wrote about some tips to consider for Men’s Health.

Here’s an experience I had: After mainly staying home during the coronavirus pandemic and not seeing most of my family and friends for months, I reopened dating apps just to check out the scene. Things got a little weird.

The thing is, meeting someone IRL can mean having to be confident in their COVID compliance—and even then, it can still feel off. And I wasn’t the only one concerned about how to navigate using dating apps right now, as dating experts shared with me.

If you’re considering using dating apps, but feel confused without a roadmap, it’s normal. I did some research (for myself, Men’s Health, and humankind), and now I present…a plan that can help.

Some apps are trying to help daters navigate these uncertain times. For instance, Bumble now allows users to show which dates they’d be comfortable with (e.g., over video or socially-distanced with masks) and has encouraged people to date virtually.

Still, this pandemic can feel uncertain when it comes to our health and relationships. If you’re considering using dating apps—or considering meeting someone new in general—but feel confused without a roadmap, it’s normal. I did some research (for myself, Men’s Health, and humankind), and presented…a plan that can help.

For instance, when considering whether you want to meet, it’s okay to ask people questions about habits and preferences that matter to you, including whether they’ve been hanging out in crowds and who else they’ve been seeing. That might be different than what you’re used to, but these times can call for adaptation.

It’s also totally appropriate to be more selective about who you meet in person, and to establish ground rules if you decide to connect. Being more direct and particular about what we want actually can be helpful.

So would you go on a date with a new person now? See my article for more specific tips, as news continues to develop. Feel free to share this story with a friend or even a would-be date. (I’m here to help if you need a conversation starter!) And stay safe out there.

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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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Video: You CAN Make Money as a Writer—5 Truths

Want to make money as a writer? You can. You just have to know the truth about common myths, and then push forward to get there. 

Some background: If you’ve visited my site before you know my writing has reached tens of millions of readers over my career. And I’ve worked as a freelance writer, magazine editor, staff writer and editor, and more. 

During this time, I’ve seen similar questions from people who want to get started writing or get better at it. And I’ve often seen writers make the same mistakes. So in this video, I present five myths about professional writing—and share the truth about each one.

If you want to get paid to write for a career, or even for a side hustle as we work more from home, this video is for you. 

Watch for the facts about how you can get started—or get better!—writing for magazines, websites, and more. And info on how you can make money in the writing business. 

Then feel free to like or share this video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Or comment or email me if you have any questions about professional writing or want a free consult for my coaching program.

And stay tuned—I’ll be sharing more videos with you!

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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.
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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!✨⁣⁣⁠⠀

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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: 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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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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