Where I Got Published Today: Bankrate, Lifehacker

Bankrate: Which credit cards earn rewards for Airbnb and VRBO stays?

Many travelers have discovered that Airbnbs and VRBOs offer great ways to save money and enjoy the comforts of home while visiting another city or country. When you book an Airbnb or a VRBO, you have the freedom to cook your own meals, let your kids run around in the back yard and experience a neighborhood from the perspective of a guest, not a tourist.

But some travelers might not realize that they can also earn credit card rewards on Airbnb and VRBO bookings.

Lifehacker: How to Choose Which Passive Income Stream to Pursue

If you want to earn more money, passive income is one of the best ways to do it. Earning money through a job or side hustle is great, but if you can set up a passive income stream that generates money even when you’re not actively working—well, that’s kind of the dream, isn’t it?

Lifehacker: Track Your Activities Before You’ve Done Them

By filling out my spreadsheet before my day started, instead of using it as a way to report how the day had gone, I found myself pre-committing to my positive habit changes.

Which meant that I stuck to my habits.

Because I’d already told myself I had.

Book Review: Laura Vanderkam’s Juliet’s School of Possibilities

I really liked this book—but it took me a while to like the ending.

Here’s what you need to know: Juliet’s School of Possibilities: A Little Story about the Power of Priorities is by time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam (whose work I’ve referenced both on my blog and in my online classes).

The novella-length fable introduces us to Riley Jenkins, an overworked consultant who is doing her best to meet everyone’s expectations but keeps falling short—and the more she works, the worse her personal and professional relationships become.

After spending a weekend at Juliet’s School of Possibilities and learning how to prioritize both her workload and her personal values, Riley lands the big client, salvages a professional contact, makes up with a friend, and begins a new romance.

The lessons Riley learns are all really solid, and I am all about creating boundaries and setting priorities, but at first it felt like the end of the book didn’t match the beginning. Why? Because although Riley learned about the value of delegating tasks and ignoring email and not spending every hour of the day at work, when Riley used what she learned to land the client, etc., she drew on resources she had developed during her years of putting in long hours.

The old business plan she was able to quickly repurpose for her new client? She wouldn’t have been able to do that without having done the work of creating the original business plan (and the hours of work that went into learning how to create a business plan). The contacts in her virtual Rolodex? Those were hard-earned; they didn’t appear out of nowhere.

The reason Riley was able to work less now was in part because she had worked so hard before.

It made me think of Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, which I reviewed on this blog earlier this year, and the way Newport explained that you have to build the skills and earn the career capital before you can navigate your way into a job where you can set your own hours and priorities.

In other words: this is another book that isn’t for everyone. A young person who hasn’t built up Riley’s contacts and expertise, for example, won’t be able to implement as many of the lessons from the book.

But then I saw that tweet about when to ease up on the hustle, and Riley’s ending suddenly made sense.

This is a story about a woman who is learning to delegate and prioritize and set boundaries, but it’s also about a woman who is moving out of the hustle stage of her life and into the harvest stage. The sustainability stage. The long-term vision stage.

Some people don’t ever get to reach that stage, unfortunately.

But if they do, and they’re having trouble navigating the transition, it’s worth spending a weekend at Juliet’s School of Possibilities. ❤️

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Use Your Destination Wedding as a Way to Invite People Who Won’t Come

This particular hack might sound a little evil, but it could turn out to be a win-win for everybody. After all, the family and friends closest to the wedded couple will still find a way to be there, anyone who chooses not to attend gets to save on the cost of travel, and the wedding itself might be less expensive overall, depending on the location and the ceremony.

What to Consider About Working With International Clients When You’re Freelancing

If you’re a U.S.-based freelancer, working with international clients can be a good way to expand your portfolio and earn extra money—but it can also come with some unexpected costs.

When to Ease Up on the Hustle

I don’t know if you saw this tweet or not, but I’ve been thinking about it all weekend:

The screencapped text is from Brandon Stanton’s Patreon, and I will admit that I feel a little weird about sharing text he originally reserved for Patreon subscribers (and did not elect to tweet himself, as you’ll notice), but maybe more people will subscribe after seeing the tweet? Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself?

Anyway, if you don’t want to read tiny print, here’s the important part:

I think for every successful artist and entrepreneur, a good portion of their psychology remains anchored in the early days. When nothing was working. When nobody cared. When nobody was paying attention. When it felt like you were in a giant hole and the only way out was to work harder, and harder, and harder. And you were always scared that you were going to fail, unless you stay focused. And don’t stop. Don’t ever stop. Then suddenly it’s ten years later, and somehow you’ve made it. But you feel like the only reason you made it is because you didn’t stop. And you must keep going. Because there’s an hour of daylight left. And you can still fit in one more interview…

But you shouldn’t.

Because things are different now.

Things are definitely “different now” for me. I’m not worried about whether I can pay my rent this month, or whether I’ll be able to build a career and a reputation as a writer. On the other hand, I’m nowhere near the point where I can afford to go without continuous paying work—and I’m smart enough to know that if I want to keep booking work a year from now or two years from now, I need to keep building my skills and portfolio and network and readership.

So in my case, it’s figuring out the balance between not hustling every second and not letting my hustle slide to the point where I’m not growing.

I am very sure I haven’t found that balance yet.

What about you? ❤️

On Content That Makes Money and Projects That Don’t

Matt Zoller Seitz: Avengers, MCU, Game of Thrones, and the Content Endgame

This weekend saw the release of “Endgame” and the premiere of “The Long Night,” the longest and biggest episode of “Game of Thrones,” the most lavishly produced fantasy series in TV history, and one of the last series that people watch as a group, episode by episode, week by week, experiencing big moments as a single unified audience. One is a movie experience that takes many of its stylistic cues from television. The other is a television experience that strives to be thought of as cinematic. Both are mega-entertainments that are meant to be experienced on the largest screen possible (theatrical or home) in the presence of others. Both will ultimately be viewed on the handheld device that (according to our own statistics) 65% of you are using to read this essay. They’re just two more pieces in the content stream, bigger and shinier than all others, but ultimately things to discuss on social media, bond over, and quickly move beyond. The state of the art. 

This is it. 

This is where it was all leading, whether we realized it or not. 

This essay is SO GOOD and SO TRUE.

Seth Godin: When Your Project Isn’t Making Money

It might be that you’re too early to the market.

There are early adopters, certainly, but maybe not enough, or not willing to pay your price…

Being too early also means that your costs are higher and your forward motion is slower.

And it might be that you’re too late.

Which means that the people who were interested, interesting and willing to pay extra already have their needs met, and all you’re left with is bottom-fishing, bargain-hunting late adopters.

This piece lists all of the reasons why small projects fail. It’s already digging into the dark sticky parts of my brain, the small percentage of my mindset that isn’t perpetually optimistic.

It’s honest, in a way that all of the “try hard and you can succeed” essays are not.

It also offers some hope, at the end. ❤️

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

When Is it a Bad Idea to Write Your Own Will?

Like it or not, you may want to contact an attorney before drawing up your will (and refer back to that attorney if you plan to revise the document). This could cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of your estate. However, a well-written will can save your beneficiaries a lot of time and hassle, and it can help ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Find Out How Your Retirement Savings Compare to Others in Your Age Group

The Transamerica study suggests that my retirement savings might be higher than my generation’s average for two reasons: my annual income is over $50,000, and I have a graduate degree. (The more education you have, the more money you are likely to save for retirement—or so the study reports, anyway.)

I’d argue that my retirement savings are higher than average because both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were fully funded, because I have no children and live in a low cost-of-living area, and because I’ve spent the past five years writing about personal finance.

In other words: I’ve had some financial advantages that the average millennial hasn’t.

Friday Open Thread

Happy Friday! Happy Open Thread!

The NEXT BOOK draft is currently at 28,594 words.

I get to perform the Brahms Requiem this weekend.

I am tired, but it isn’t the physical/emotional/mental exhaustion that comes with putting long hours towards stuff you don’t want.

It’s more like “tired but happy.” ❤️

How about you?

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Let Your Kids Go Into Debt

There are a lot of reasons to give children allowances. Letting children earn and manage small amounts of money teaches them about budgeting, spending, saving, and giving.

Plus, if you’re in a home where allowances are tied to chores—or a home where allowances are given freely but extra money can be earned by completing certain tasks—children learn what it feels like to earn fair financial compensation for a job well done.

However, you should also teach your children what it feels like to go into debt.

Tie Your Financial Goals to Results, Not Numbers

There are two reasons why focusing on what you do with the money is more important than focusing on how much money you have.

First, because it’s always a smart idea to have a plan for your money. Sometimes there’s a specific plan: maybe you’re saving for retirement, for a down payment, or for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Other times, you’re saving and investing money now because you want more options in the future. (That still counts!)

On Storytelling and Perspective

So I wanted to give you a quick NEXT BOOK update!

First, the word count has ticked up considerably since I switched back to writing in the mornings instead of the afternoons.

(Current word count: 28,010.)

Second, I spent all of last week doing what I initially didn’t want to do with this book: jump out of the protagonist’s perspective and into somebody else’s head.

But I’m at the part of the story where the protag gets separated from the other characters, and so it felt like a natural opportunity to see what those other characters were thinking and feeling.

Maybe I’d set it apart from the rest of the book by making it a unique section, or something. Or maybe I’d like it so much that I’d go back and include multiple perspectives from the very beginning!

Nope.

None of that.

Turns out I hated it. I mean, it was a fun way to explore some of the secondary characters a little better, and I’ll use what I learned in the rest of the draft, but… it’s not their story.

Also, turns out those characters weren’t doing all that much, in terms of plot-relevant stuff. They had plenty of thoughts and feelings, but there was a limit to how much they could sit around and think about the BIG EVENT to come, or meet up after work to discuss how they felt about what might happen next (which can’t happen until the protagonist gets back).

So that was a learning experience, and a digression well worth taking, and an interesting reminder that my instincts, at least in this case, were correct.

This story is best told from a single person’s perspective.

It’s her Hero’s Journey, after all. ❤️