Remember when I did a happy dance 4 years ago because I wouldn’t be commuting to work again every day? Yeah, then I started pet sitting. Then I got popular. Now, I drive more than ever, BUT books on CD from the library are helping me stay sane!
My Recent “Reads”
- If you have a chance, the Lucy Kincaid series by Allison Brennan is VERY good, especially as an audio book. The plots are exciting and the narrator, Ann Marie Lee, is excellent. I will warn you that this is ADULTS ONLY since the topics are around serial killers, rapists, and a former victim with a very sad past who has transformed herself into a very knowledgeable and strong woman trying to get into the Cyber Crimes division of the FBI.
- For a more family-friendly series, although it still has death as a main topic since it’s set in the 1400’s, I’ve been loving the Crispin series by Avi. It’s a three-part series following the main character from the day of his mother’s death to what he matures into along his journey.
- I had a great time listening to dozens of suspense romance short stories about love, taking down the bad guys, and mystery with Love is Murder.
- I’m currently listening to Dean Koontz’ What the Night Knows. Koontz’ very descriptive writing style takes a little getting used to in the verbal form, but the book grabbed me from the first few minutes. I’m betting that some sort of demon or psycho haunting is causing the new murders…
Overall, I’ve listened to more than 100 hours of books while on the road in the last month or two, and I am enjoying getting back to my book-reading roots…even if it does mean I’m driving more. And I love our library system. Thank you to the public libraries! I may be volunteering for them soon.
Have you been able to read much lately?
Three to four weeks ago, I would need to be writing this from the floor since sitting down to work hurt my lower back too much. I used to make little “old people” jokes to my parents and my older friends about back pain and their bodies breaking down when they mentioned being sore…
Yep, I’m stupid. When it hurts, it REALLY hurts. And it is scary when your body can’t do what it used to do every minute of every day.
Licensed Chiropractors Aren’t Quacks
When this all started, I put off getting help for about 2 weeks. I thought that I could just do some stretches, sleep more, and it would all go away. That didn’t work. Then I contacted a friend of the family on my husband’s side. She’s a licensed chiropractor that worked miracles on my in-laws over the last 10 years, and she fixed my husband when he had major back pain right out of college.
After the first 3 appointments 2 weeks ago, I could sit for 30-45 minutes and then just needed to lay down to rest my back for 10 minutes or so before trying again. Last week, after the next 2 appointments, I was able to do nearly everything I did before over this past weekend. My back was just generally sore and tight. The past Monday, after my 6th appointment, it was just lightly sore and I was able to sit to work and I went swimming for about an hour. Yay!!!
I only have one real appointment left next week and then I’m done until I need help again. Woot!
Thank you, Dr. Dawn!
Taking Care of Myself
From here on out, I will be doing the daily stretches and exercises that Dr. Dawn teaches me. I’m already exercising more thanks to dog walking and my more active friends, but I’m adding in yoga too.
My worries about my weight no longer pertain to my clothing sizes at all – just my overall health. I never want to feel so helpless again. I know that I will be in pain at some point thanks to age in general, but I can hold that off for another decade or more by strengthening my core and keeping my weight down enough to keep my joints happy. That’s my goal.
How do you manage your own health? What works for you?
If you’ve hung around the personal finance blogosphere, you probably have heard of Donna Freedman from Surviving and Thriving. I know Donna mostly as a supportive blogging buddy and friend, but she is known online for starting the Smart Spending and Frugal Nation blogs for MSN Money and was also a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly (I loved her posts!). She’s now at Money Talks News and freelances for lots of other sites and magazines like Consumers Digest and Woman’s Day.
And if you didn’t see her yet, she has been a speaker at the Financial Blogger Conference every year since it started – about writing, of course. After each talk, people come up to her or e-mail her later to ask lots of questions about how they can improve the way they write.
That’s why Donna created Write A Blog People Will Read, a 12-part online course that draws on her 31 years of professional writing experience (including eight years online). Because I’ve been so busy with pet sitting through Spring Breaks and recovering from my stupid back problems, I haven’t had time to read her course. So I’ll let a few other people give you the skinny:
Phil Taylor, PT Money and FinCon founder: “Don’t waste your time creating the wrong type of content. In this course…Donna goes the extra mile to teach you exactly how to create engaging content that is going to keep your readers coming back. As a bonus, she provides some solid strategies for sticking with it. New and experienced bloggers can both benefit from Donna’s advice.”
Will Chen, Killer Aces Media: “Donna Freedman is one of the best writers in the blogosphere, and a great measure of Wise Bread’s success is due to her tutelage and insight. Her wonderful writing course offers unique tips for bloggers in every genre. ‘Write A Blog People Will Read’ is required reading for anyone interested in taking their blogging to the next level.”
Liz Weston, Reuters columnist and personal finance book author: “If you want to be a writer, take this course. Donna Freedman has 30 years of writing experience, and it shows. The woman knows how to tell a story. She also knows about reporting, interviewing, generating ideas, developing a voice, organizing your time, and balancing your day job with your personal passion. ‘Write A Blog People Will Read’ can teach you how to craft an irresistible tale and also offers valuable info on how to create a writing life that meshes with your real one. P.S. The course is useful for writers of all stripes — not just bloggers.”
Linsey Knerl, Knerl Family Media: “One of the most challenging parts of blogging is coming up with fresh ways to share ideas with readers. Donna’s inspiring tips for projecting personality – while maintaining professionalism – are tools that bloggers at all levels can use EVERY DAY. I wouldn’t hesitate to follow her advice on anything related to writing; unlike many other “experts” with courses, she has years of success in an ever-changing industry with which to teach others. Learning to adapt is key, and Donna embraces change while never compromising on her values.”
Donna Freedman Q&A!!!
Interested? I’ve gotten permission to give away a copy of the course to one lucky reader! Read this Q&A with Donna and then I’ll tell you how to enter to win.
Q. Why a course for blog writers?
A. Plenty of info is out there about the mechanics of blogging, such as how to do a podcast or which plugins to use. But blogging isn’t just about tactics. It’s also about technique.
More than 152 million blogs exist. What makes the successful ones work? Those blogging mechanics, to be sure – but good writing is essential, too.
Currently the blogosphere is top-heavy with sites that are dull, wordy, badly organized or irrelevant. Why should someone take time out of his or her busy day to read this kind of thing? To be worth following, you’ve got to be worth reading.
Q. What does Write A Blog People Will Read cover?
A. Among other things, you will learn how to:
- Make your point quickly, clearly and irresistibly
- Focus, then flow
- Find a distinctive voice (without being annoying)
- Speak directly to readers
- Tell people why they should care
- Never run out of ideas
- Discover ways even the busiest person can find time to write
- Avoid burnout
Q. What’s the biggest misconception about blogging?
A. That it’s easy. Like anything else worth doing, creating a good website takes work. Some people still seem to believe you can slap together a blog, monetize it, and then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Q. Does that mean blogging is too hard for most of us?
A. Not at all. If you truly want to reach people, you can learn to do it.
Plenty of bloggers don’t have any formal training in writing or journalism. I don’t have any myself; in fact, I didn’t get a college degree until I was 52 years old. Although I’ve never taken a single writing course, I was an award-winning newspaper journalist for 18 years, freelanced for magazines, and then started the Smart Spending and Frugal Nation blogs for MSN Money.
Q. What makes blog writing different than journalism?
A. My editor at MSN Money told me bloggers have just 2.1 seconds to grab a writer’s attention. Sure, you can tease them over with effective SEO or a clickbait headline. But if you want readers to stick around, you need good writing. Powerful, intriguing, entertaining, impossible-to-ignore, all-around-swell writing.
That’s not to say that newspaper and magazine readers will spend a ton of time reading an article that’s slow to get started. But they’re kind of stuck with the source, whereas with the Internet a single click instantly takes readers back to their search engine results. If you don’t grab their attention right away, they’ll go look for a site that gives them what they need from the get-go.
Another thing that makes blogging different: Unlike print journalists, we have the blessing/curse of immediacy. We get to weigh on what happens while it’s still happening, instead of waiting for the next day’s issue. But that immediacy makes for fickle readers. If they’re looking for current info and you don’t give it to them in a readable way, they’re gone – and they might never come back.
The better you write, the better your site.
Q. How long will it take to get through the course?
A. That’s up to you. Write A Blog People Will Read is a 12-part course. You can move through the lessons as quickly or as slowly as you like.
Personally, I’d recommend doing a quick read of each section and then going back to focus on the key points to compare what you’re learning with the way you currently write. Those who haven’t started blogging yet can use those points to create their game plans, e.g., “How I will look for topics” or “Ways I’ll make time to write even though I’m already very busy.”
Another reason to do a quick read and then a slower focus is that it will make the course assignments easier to complete. You’re supposed to use everything you’ve learned that day – and also previous ones – to improve your writing. That’s harder to do if you’ve just galloped through the lesson.
Q. Assignments? Does this mean you have to turn in homework
A. No! Each lesson does have an assignment, but it’s not for me – it’s for you, the writer. Many of them could become blog posts you can publish.
Q. Can this course help entrepreneurs or those who blog for their day jobs?
A. Yes. Putting up a blog about your business is a great way to explain what it is you do. Obviously it will describe the services you offer, but it can also demystify your industry. Suppose you’re a financial planner. Your blog could include articles on topics like ways to save for your child’s college education, how much insurance a family needs or a proposed change in retirement funding options.
If you work for a company and your boss expects you to write for the company blog, the same 2.1 seconds apply. Create posts that read well and you will be well-read.
Q. Is it possible to get one-on-one instruction?
A. You bet. I have just added a “coaching” string to my professional fiddle (http://writeablogpeoplewillread.com/coaching/). It’s not a long-term commitment, though. Rather than keep clients in the teacher-student dynamic indefinitely, I’ve got a get-in-get-out-get-on-with-it model:
- We discuss (briefly, by phone or e-mail) what you’re trying to do with your work.
- You choose three samples (published or not) that you’re not happy with and send them to me.
- I read the pieces, critique them and send them back for review.
- Finally, we have a one-hour telephone conversation about issues that popped up in the critique, and brainstorm tactics to get you past those stumbling blocks.
Although it is possible for coaching clients to check back in later if they like, my goal isn’t to keep people on the string indefinitely. It’s to help them figure out, as quickly as possible, what’s keeping them from doing the kind of writing they want to publish on their sites. Thirty years’ experience + a fresh set of eyes on your words = a professional GPS to get you back on the road toward a website with a confident, unique voice.
Want to win a copy of this course? You can enter three different ways:
1. Mandatory entry: Leave a comment below about writing and what you hope to get from this course.
2. Optional entry: Follow Donna on Twitter and leave a separate comment below letting me know.
3. Optional entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment below letting me know.
This giveaway will be live from March 24, 2015 through April 7, 2015. Random.org will pick the winner on April 8, 2015.
Unfortunately I have only one copy to give away. So if you don’t win but still want to take the course, click on this link and use the discount code FINCON20 to save 20 percent on your purchase.
Are you stuck in a rut in your job? Maybe you’re looking for a whole new career path or a way to get ahead in your current one. For today’s workers with chaotic schedules, an online degree can be the key to improving your prospects. Check out these highly paid jobs you can get with an online degree.
Speech therapists, also called speech-language pathologists, work with people who have difficulty with verbal communication. Their patients have a variety of medical conditions; some are recovering from strokes or traumatic brain injuries, others may be hearing impaired or have structural problems with the mouth or jaw. About 50 percent of speech therapists work in school systems, and the others are split among hospitals, rehab clinics, and outpatient facilities. Speech therapists can work full or part-time, either as employees or under contract.
After completing a master’s degree program and passing licensure exams, new speech pathologists make around $60,000 per year. The median salary is $69,870 per year.
Image via Flickr by devinf
It’s no secret that healthcare is a hot field, and few professions are as in demand as nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are often primary care hospitalists, and many work in private practice, sometimes specializing in pediatrics or geriatrics. Nurse practitioners have extremely flexible scheduling options; it’s a great choice for moms with young children.
Graduates of an online master’s in nursing degree program can expect to earn about $90,000 per year if they work full-time.
Market Analytics Expert
Big Data is the buzz word in business right now, and market analytics experts have the keys to unlock its secrets. They mine and analyze huge quantities of data to help businesses identify and capitalize on market trends and consumer behavior. The demand for market analytics experts is exploding; graduates of the online master’s in analytics program at Villanova University can pick from the most prestigious companies all around the world.
The salary range for analytics experts starts at about $100,000 per year for new grads; experienced analysts and managers can see salaries in excess of $150,000 per year.
Public Relations Specialist
PR specialists help individuals and entities craft and promote a positive image, manage any events that have the potential to tarnish their employers, and cultivate relationships with prominent journalists and media outlets. PR specialists need excellent written and verbal communication skills, an outgoing personality, and the ability to multi-task. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in public relations jobs is expected to be 12 percent in the coming years, a higher than average rate.
PR experts work in government, business and industry, and for nonprofit organizations. The average pay for graduates of an online bachelor’s degree in communications is about $60,000 per year.
Getting a degree while juggling work and family isn’t the formidable task it used to be thanks to today’s online degree programs. The best colleges and universities offer online degrees in disciplines that lead to high-paying jobs. So get out of your rut and into your future with these high-income careers.
If $500-$1000 of unexpected expenses just popped up in a random month 5-10 years ago, I would have had a mini-tantrum and grumped about it for days if not weeks…in my head if not out loud. But probably out loud. Yet, these last 4 weeks have been all about unexpected expenses, and I don’t feel like I’m going to blow up or shut down. I just feel like “Yeah, it happens”.
My new car, bought in April 2014, already had to have 2 of its tires replaced. One of them developed an air bubble after I hit a pothole I couldn’t avoid about a month ago, and both front tires had low tread anyway. I replaced both of them for right around $280 at Discount Tires. Bleck.
About three weeks ago, I started having intense lower back pain when I was sitting down to work. It felt like all of my muscles were bunched up down there and alternated between feeling hot and feeling numb…but just in the one area of my lower back right above my butt.
I tried stretching, had my hubby stretching me out before bed too, and even started looking into strengthening my core with yoga. But none of the stretches worked and it was just getting worse. So I booked an appointment with a family friend, a licensed chiropractor who has worked on my in-laws for years on and off as needed. She even cleared up my hubby’s back pain when he first got out of college and it hasn’t returned.
The positive? I’ve had 4 sessions (going to my 5th today and have another one Monday), and I can sit for more than an hour at a time. My entire back is generally sore now after a while of doing any specific activity, but no one area is so bad that I have to lie down or sleep off the pain.
The con? It’s costing us $500 out of pocket even with the friends and family discount since the first appointment included xrays. Those xrays helped find the problem in my lower back – my lowest vertebra needs more support and my muscles are trying to compensate. But, the $230 first appointment was definitely a downer compared to the $45 follow-ups.
Then I Got a Ticket
If an unplanned $500 for chiropractic help wasn’t enough to deal with, I also received a ticket for running a stop sign in one of my pet sitting neighborhoods last week. I was taking an immediate right at a 3 way intersection with zero traffic, and I just glided around the corner at 10 miles an hour.
Boom, that’s a ticket for either $170 OR $115 plus a $20 defensive driving course and a $10 driving record. I’m going with that option, so there’s a $145 expense that I could have avoided. Not to mention that the 6 hour online defensive driving courses are tedious. It’s definitely a punishment that’s annoying enough to have me looking out for stop signs.
Oddly enough, I was indignant the day it happened, but yeah, I have probably driven safely through a ton of stop signs in my 14 years on the road. I’m not a suburban speed demon out to kill anybody, but if no one is around, I know I don’t follow every, single traffic law. Meh. Cops happen.
Unexpected Expenses Suck, But…
We’ll be okay. In fact, we’re great. We aren’t making as much money as in years past, but our emergency fund is healthy and stuff happens. I needed tires, I need my back, and I got caught running a stop sign. Mr. BFS and I are just chalking the $925 up to a bad spending month. In fact, he even gifted me with a $50 massage certificate to use to work the last kinks out when I get my chiropractor’s approval.
Is it weird to be writing about money flying out of my wallet and still be thinking “Life is good!”? How do you handle unexpected expenses?
While I was browsing my recent posts, it dawned on me that I will write about anything. There are the classic updates on published goals, a post about retirement, and even yesterday’s puke pics of pet sitting. There also seems to be similar numbers of comments on each post. So, my question is, why do you tune in to BFS?
Why I Write
In the meantime, I was asked recently once again about why I started this blog. If you weren’t around in 2010, here’s what happened:
Two main things ended up driving me to jump into blogging. First, FMF at Free Money Finance enjoyed my comments on his site and pushed me to start my own. It’s hard to ignore someone you respect. I was flattered and motivated.
Secondly, commenters on a post on Get Rich Slowly ticked me off by attacking someone’s money choices. The guest poster on this specific day had sold a business for a million bucks, and she spent some of that on luxuries like hiring a housekeeper. Some commenters got ugly about outsourcing when you don’t physically have to. I highly believe that there is no one right answer for everybody when it comes to money, so I wanted to voice that opinion on my own site.
You can save for your future and spend on the fun stuff in life at the same time. I wanted to prove it by writing out my story at the time. Over the last 5 years, that story has had some extreme twists and turns, but that ideal is still the main reason that I write.
Why Do You Read?
Do you like my financial musings, pet sitting updates, posts about goals, or my general life ramblings? I figured if I asked, I’d know what to write about a little more often.