Roommates, cheap dates and more.

thSick of sharing the bathroom, and maybe even a bedroom? Understandable. But the solo life can cost you. The chance to walk around in your underpants and watch whatever you want on Netflix means paying up to 44 percent more for the single life.

That’s why I suggested this as a topic for Money Talks News: “Done with roommates? 48 ways to afford living solo.” Some of those 48 tactics are fairly easy things like researching the rental market, watching for move-in specials and entertaining at home vs. making every occasion an expensive one.

Others are simple, but not easy.


Stuff like sticking to a very careful budget and nixing restaurants and takeout are easy enough in theory but not always fun. Then again, neither is sharing a one-bedroom New York apartment when both you and your roommate have boyfriends. (A woman I know actually did this. Ick.)

As noted, one way to keep more money in your budget is to look for affordable fun. For examples, check my latest on the GO Banking Rates website. “21 free or cheap date ideas” offers some obvious ideas (picnics, gallery openings, free movie screenings) and some not-so-obvious (take the Megabus to a neighboring city for the day, bake and decorate cupcakes and give them all away).

I also contributed to a post on the GBR site, “23 reasons why you will always be poor.” Spoiler alert: My tip has to do with not knowing where your money is going. If you don’t know that, then you won’t be able to plan. You’d be amazed how those casual expenses (a soda, a magazine, coffee with a pal) combine to break the bank.


Living on a prayer (and some plastic)

Although I’m still not back on staff at Get Rich Slowly, I’ve agreed to do more articles from time to time. My latest is “Alternatives to the multi-generational survival tool,” which has nothing to do with those Leatherman devices.

The tool in question is the credit card, which far too many Gen Xers and Boomers are using with abandon. A new survey from Allianz reveals, among other things, that:

  • Almost half of both groups think of plastic as “a financial survival tool”
  • 43 percent believe that “lots of smart, hardworking people who are careful with their spending also have a lot of credit card debt
  • 20 percent of Gen Xers and 14 percent of Boomers think going into debt for day-to-day purchases is “just a fact of life”

Anyone but me find this disturbing? Discuss.


‘The walking dead of story topics’

As always, I’m writing about writing. On my writing course blog I’ve got advice both short and long:

60-second writing tip: Close the dictionary” sounds counterintuitive. Shouldn’t writers know lots and lots of words? But that’s not the point of this quick-hit piece. If you’ve ever been tempted to begin an article with “Webster’s defines (whatever) as (whatever),” please read this post. Please.

Why writers shouldn’t give up” isn’t necessarily just for writers, since its topic is on persevering through slow or even awful times in your life. In it I admit that at my lowest point I couldn’t really see any kind of future for myself. However, I could not have imagined the life I have right now.

Short form? “You have no idea what might be just around the corner. But if you stop moving forward, that corner will never be reached.”

Luke Landes invited me to the Plutus Awards website for a long Q&A about what I call “the walking dead of story topics – one(s) that you cannot escape and that will never, ever die.” In newspapering we called them “evergreens,” i.e., ones we had to do regularly (state fair, holiday shopping, etc.)

In blogging, some people call them by not-very-nice names. Clearly those people should sign up for my writing course, or at least read this interview. “Combating ‘Oh-no-not-again syndrome’” offers a lot of practical advice for making these stories not just readable but maybe even life-changing.

Remember, guys, it’s all new to somebody, and your article on getting out of debt or dealing with a chronic illness might appear exactly when someone needs to read it.


Hear me, hear me

Recently I’ve been featured on two personal finance podcasts, which is something I don’t usually do but apparently something I need to do more often. At least that’s what all the PF kids say.

In the “Over Coffee” podcast, indie broadcaster Dot Cannon and I dish about stuff like how I became a newspaper reporter with no college degree and why I became a professional blogger for MSN Money even thought I didn’t know exactly what a blog was. The result is called “Game-changing the future.” Enjoy.

And (almost) live from his parents’ basement (not really), Stacking Benjamins blogger and podcaster Joe Saul-Sehy and I talked about another topic that even non-writers can use. “7 strategies to avoid burnout” apply to almost any job or life situation. In a culture that seems obsessed with multitasking and 24/7 availability, we are at risk of short- or long-term physical and emotional harm.

Full disclosure: I actually mention “multitasking” as a strategy. What I don’t do is suggest you check e-mail while driving or spend an evening blogging while your partner and/or kids sit there feeling ignored.

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  1. Ive been listening to the so money podcast with Farnoosh Torabi — i think you would be an awesome guest on that show!

  2. Carolina Cooper

    “You have no idea what might be just around the corner…” Yes to that!!! Just curious: you put that in quotes & I am wondering who you were quoting.

    • Donna Freedman

      I was quoting myself, actually.

      • Carolina Cooper

        Reading your stuff since 2009, I should have known better. With your permission I am going to use the quote, giving you (OMG, THAT Donna Freedman) the credit.

  3. Your “Living on a Prayer” caught my eye – as a credit card user, but not in debt (paying it off every month) I am very concerned about the young people and their perception of consumer debt as normal and natural. How do we instill in our young generation the ability to use a credit card (as our society basically demands) but not be used by the credit industry? My 18-year old receives credit cards in the mail! We have taught, and discussed this with all our children, but let’s face it, that decision to buy what you want, regardless of your budget, is a personal one – usually a private one, and I’m pretty sure they won’t call me to ask my opinion. I wish the credit card companies were not permitted to solicit business of such young people! Thanks for your words of warning!

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