Money isn’t the only answer.

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The first time I got what I wanted even though I couldn’t afford it was a complete accident.

My daughter has special needs and when she was younger, nobody could understand what she said. Her sensitivity to noise and touch made even small groups of people challenging for her.

I knew that the calm, small classes at a private elementary school nearby would make a huge difference for her. The only problem was that it cost more than I made in a year.

I felt sending her to that school was worth any price — but the reality was that…

It involves a simple index card.

Author’s photo.

Despite following writing and submissions advice to the letter, investing in courses and even a writing degree, the acceptances came in dribs and drabs. When my mentor saw how discouraged I was, she shared a small submissions trick she’d been using for several years that had helped her reach her own monthly publication goals.

After hearing how it worked, I realized that I didn’t need to learn or “know” anything more. My writing skills and knowledge weren’t the problem. That day I went home and completely changed my submissions approach. It involved one index card and a completely new strategy.

Why common writing & submissions advice isn’t enough.

I help people move here, but now I wonder if that’s a good idea.

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I used to listen to my ESL students talk about their challenges and feel lucky to live here. Lately when I read the earnest hopes of visa applicants, I feel something else: a sinking feeling that what they want to find, isn’t here anymore.

In the midst of unemployment and anger and finger-pointing, I see our language changing. Following in the footsteps of unprecedented and cancel culture and toxic comes a new word that’s overrun a lot of conversations: fragility. The fragility of small businesses. …

Savings are everywhere if you take the time to look.

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My sister recently used her skills to find a home that cost $80,000 less than others in the neighborhood. The sellers hadn’t gotten many requests for tours, and Sherie almost wrote off the house, too. The online pictures made it look like a money pit, but she thought something different could be going on: poor marketing by owners who needed to sell asap. It turned out she was (mostly) right.

By building a habit of searching for savings, she’d trained herself to spot a deal that most people overlooked.

We’re always told that if it sounds too good to be…

Don’t let insecurity derail your progress.

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After getting married, my husband and I chose an untraditional path. During the years that most Americans build careers, buy homes and start families, we biked through Europe and continued our education.

We returned to the U.S. full of stories and broader perspectives, but discovered that we’d fallen far behind our friends in every way traditionally used to measure success.

It felt awful.

I knew that our priorities and timelines were different, but still felt frustrated after hanging out with them. They led successful businesses while I worked in an entry level teaching job. …

That have nothing to do with money.

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When we decided to pay off our debt, I didn’t expect our new frugality to change our lifestyle so completely. But once we stopped using money as our solution for entertainment, motivation, and everything in between, I was stunned at how our attention refocused on what really matters.

Here are a few of the benefits I’ve discovered since we started living frugally three years ago.

Revealing your flaws develops true friendships.

For a few years now, we’ve rented the second floor of a 300-year old house that isn’t maintained very well (though it has an attractively low rent). …

My toddler’s accident offered a glimpse of who she’d become.

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I refuse to let go of your hand as the EMTs wheel your stretcher down the hallway, so I’m dodging empty hospital beds and machines and drip bag poles at an alarming rate. I feel people staring at you: wondering what happened; thinking how small your 2-year old body looks in all of that plastic garb.

I vow that the next time I see a parent in this situation, I will squeeze her arm in silent, unquestionable encouragement as they roll past. …

Then she broke her promise.

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Having just gone through the nerve-wracking process of writing and submitting an article, I was dying to hear someone else’s experience. After a quick search, I found a post by Jill, a new writer with a detailed plan to become a freelancer. She was planning on submitting that week and told readers to come back on Wednesday for an update. Yes!

I immediately followed her blog and made a mental note to check back the following week. Finally, someone to commiserate with. The following Wednesday, I checked her blog a few times.

No updates.

Thinking that she could have forgotten…

This is how I’m figuring it out.

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Have you ever snooped through freelancers’ websites trying to figure out what the going rates are? It’s so hard to know what a fair rate is, especially if you’re a newer writer starting out with small businesses or startups that have limited budgets.

I looked up the websites of both newer and more seasoned writers to at least get a ballpark, but none of them list their rates publicly — and for a good reason, as it turns out. …

Don’t ignore your inner critic. Do this instead.

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This isn’t the first time I’ve leapt into freelance writing, and up until now I didn’t think those past failures were a good thing. Instead they were a reminder that I can’t seem to stick with it and get to the danged place I want to be.

As I set out to build a stronger business than last time, one persistent doubt keeps nagging: why should this time be any different?

I’m the same writer I was before, with the same perfectionist tendencies and mental blocks. But there’s one good reason that this time will be different. …

Colleen Wright

Lessons from the road less traveled. Personal finance & more |

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