Debt, Marriage, Weight & Clutter

Catching up with some stories from the past few months, I’d like to note these two personal finance pieces I wrote for

The first explores what to do if you’re engaged to marry someone with a lot of debt. The second looks at the connections between debt, weight and clutter.

Interesting insight from experts in both pieces.

Glutei Maximi in Cathedra

The novelist David Westheimer (Von Ryan’s Express, My Sweet Charlie) was my grandfather’s first cousin, although, born 20 years later, was closer in age to Grandpa’s children and attended high school with some of them.

I never met first-cousin-twice-removed David in person; he moved his family from our hometown of Houston to California around the time I was born. For a while in the 1990s, however, we struck up a friendly e-mail correspondence. He was kind and generous — inquiring about the leaves on my branch of the family tree and providing writing advice when I asked.

I no longer have easy access to our emails. On my end, they arrived via now long-retired AOL software — the kind you could load from floppy disks — on my IBM desktop with 14.4 dial-up modem. (I think the computer came with a coupon for a free Windows 95 upgrade.) If you’re 30 or older, you remember those heady days, right? My e-mails and other digital correspondence from that time are saved on a couple of CDs and, I suspect, are irretrievable except by the most savvy and costly computer sophisticate.

Anyway, while I may not recall the exact words, I do remember a helpful bit of writing advice from David Westheimer: Keep your seat in the chair. As in, keep your bottom in that startup-photos_writerchair and keep writing.

Sure, this advice may fly in the face of the current medical consensus on the dangers of sitting all day, but it’s great advice for making progress on your writing projects. The advice may seem obvious, but for us fidgety, short-attention-span types, it’s sometimes easier said than done. Lately, though, I’ve been pushing through more often, keeping my seat in the chair for longer stretches, even if they’re interrupted by bursts of activity to ward off premature death from a sedentary lifestyle (here’s hoping).

Doing this leaves me with a good, productive feeling, and for good reason — I’m getting more done, sooner, than I would otherwise.

Whether working on the great American screenplay or the next women’s literature bestseller, covering hedge funds or reporting on warehouse logistics trends, writers generally benefit from keeping seats in chairs. For the sake of health, the concept extends to standing desks as well. In that case, keep your feet on the floor? Keep standing, and keep writing. -By Dinah Wisenberg Brin

Workplace Issues

Some of the more interesting topics I write about involve the workplace: business leadership, office politics, hiring, layoffs, technology, liability, emotional intelligence. If you’re interested in these issues, you can see several of the articles I’ve done on these topics here.

Personal Finance

Summer is moving quickly and those too-too-early back-to-school catalogs are showing up already. Before the frost hits the plastic pumpkins, time to catch up on some recent work. Here are a couple of pieces I did for, one of which made its way to the Money magazine website. That one has to do with sophisticated programs that advertisers use to follow your activities and purchases across different devices.

The other focuses on the kinds of folks who may need to toss their credit cards and live on cash — and how to do it.

More to come soon. Stay safe and enjoy summertime!