The following is a guest post from Elsie Brown. Elsie is a college student and phlebotomist who writes about frugality and personal finance at her blog,
 Gundo Money. Check it out!

If you don’t know me personally I’m a professional blood sucker. I work at a hospital and basically my job is to walk around with needles and draw blood all day. Lately at the hospital we’ve been training new phlebotomists and man do they suck. They don’t know how to order the tests correctly, they can’t figure out our computer program, and they miss like every other patient. It’s frustrating to deal with and it’s got me wondering was I ever this bad? The answer is yeah, I really was.

When I started my phlebotomy career I was 18 with all the confidence of a baby sheep. I was a good student and aced all my tests, but somehow when the job started it was a completely different world. The medical terminology didn’t make sense, none of the doctors’ writing was legible, and I just generally felt like I wasn’t doing a good job. I’d call a patient back and not be able to get their blood. Some patients were understanding but others told me I needed better training or “where’s the other lady I want her to draw my blood.” I would go in the back and cry and feel like I was no good, that I really wasn’t cut out for this job. But something happened over time. The more I failed the better I got and eventually I didn’t feel out of place. I actually liked the job.

All this has me thinking about focused effort vs. natural skill and how our beliefs about what we can and cannot achieve leak into every area of our lives including our financial situation. No one is born with the natural ability to draw blood, sure some are better than others, but it’s a skill that everyone has to practice to master. In the same way, no one is born knowing how to handle money. We all learn it the same way, one blog post or school lecture at a time. I think we can agree that there are gifted people in the world and when a gifted person works hard to develop a skill they may out-achieve a person with average abilities. However, there is no replacement for hard work. Whitney Houston didn’t just know how to sing well, Bobby Fischer didn’t just exit the womb with a chess piece in his hand–they had to practice like we all do.    [click to continue…]

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How to start a blogYears ago, someone asked me the tired but inevitable question, “what do you do?” and when I replied, “I’m a freelance writer,” a cheeky friend butted in, “She’s mostly a blogger.”

At the time, I was insulted (and I’m pretty sure it was meant to be an insult). I felt the need to defend my medium and what I did for a living. Things have changed quite a bit, though. Years later, I get emails from people asking, How did you become a blogger? How can I become a blogger? These days, “blogger” carries a wider range of impression.

Some of the best writing I’ve recently read has been blog writing. And some blog writing is so good, those blogs go on to become wildly popular books (Okay, I Can Haz Cheeseburger isn’t the best example, but think I Will Teach You to Be Rich). Blogging has become a practical, promising platform for creatives, freelancers, and solo entrepreneurs. You might consider starting a blog because:

  • You want to build your brand or business
  • You’re trying to break into freelance writing and you need a portfolio
  • You want to improve your writing skills and gain some experience
  • You have something important to say and you want a place to say it

If you’re thinking about it, I say jump in. And here are six steps to help you get started.   [click to continue…]


SCARCITY (2)Last week, I got an inspiring phone call from my mom.

“I have to tell you something about my job,” she told me. She and I have been talking a lot about empowerment lately. We come from a family of professional pushovers–we immediately say yes to everything. We take on other people’s stress. We accept low rates for our work. We don’t negotiate.  Recently, we both vowed to put an end to it.

“I did it,” my mom told me. “I stuck to my guns.” Specifically, this meant she resisted the urge to drive an hour to help someone find an office supply at work. She would’ve been stuck in traffic for half the day, which meant she wouldn’t be able to get her own work done, which meant she’d spend the night working, resentful. This is a typical scenario for both of us: we go out of our way to serve others, putting our own work on hold, and then we end up feeling bitter, weak, and powerless.

I can’t speak for my mom, but for me, this behavior has everything to do with fear. I’ve always had a big fear of losing everything, so I say yes and take on the role of good employee so I’ll keep my job and avoid losing everything I’ve worked for.

In the personal finance world, this is often referred to as the “scarcity mindset.”  And anyone who grew up broke can probably relate to it. [click to continue…]


master your moneyI don’t have an aha! money moment. There’s no life-changing, turnaround moment that put me on track with my finances. That would make for a more interesting story, but the truth is, my parents have always been pretty good with money. They taught me some valuable lessons that stuck, and they allowed me to fail just enough to learn from my failure.

One of the biggest lessons they taught me was the power of control.   [click to continue…]


Student loans are no joke. In the United States, student debt is growing at a rate of over $2,000 per second. A YouTube viewer asked me to dig into federal student loan repayment options, so in this video, I do just that. Here are a few things I discuss.

[click to continue…]

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