I am an award-winning journalist with more than 17 years of experience writing about personal finance. My work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, Huffington Post, Money, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. I currently am the Life + Money columnist for GOBankingRates.

U.S. News & World Report named me one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named me one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. I have appeared on MSNBC, CNN and “Fox & Friends” and have been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. I also have been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, BBC.com, MarketWatch and more.

I have an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.

Who am I really?

I’m a mom of three young kids — who are so stinking cute, smart and awesome (most of the time). My husband is an economics professor at a state university. So you can imagine what life must be like for our kids. When they want something, Dad makes them do a cost-benefit analysis, and I tell them to wait for it to go on sale or use their own money to buy it.

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But my husband and I take every opportunity to teach our kids about money and how to be responsible with it. We want them to understand the difference between needs and wants. And we try to set a good example for them by not living beyond our means.

We don’t live in a McMansion, drive fancy new cars or buy expensive designer clothes. We like to travel – in fact, it’s our goal to visit all 50 states with our kids by the time they graduate from high school. But we don’t stay in luxury resorts. And when we buy most anything, we look for the best deal.

I’m also part of the sandwich generation because I’ve been juggling raising my kids while caring for my mom, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a stressful situation I wouldn’t wish on anybody, but it’s given me great insight into how financially devastating Alzheimer’s and dementia can be. And it made me realize how important it is for adult children to be having conversations with their parents about their finances before a health issue or other emergency leaves their parents unable to manage their finances on their own. That’s why I wrote Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances (available June 2019). In the book, I offer encouragement and guidance to people who want have an open dialogue with their parents about their finances but don’t know where to start, what to ask or how to get Mom and Dad to feel comfortable discussing a topic they might consider off-limits.

Why I care about personal finance …

When the topic of personal finance comes up in conversations with friends or family, they often comment that they’re glad they know me because I know a lot about money and can offer them advice. But I wasn’t born knowing the best ways to save on everyday purchases, strategies to pay down debt or the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. In fact, when I was told by my first employer that I could participate in the workplace 401(k), I didn’t know what the heck that was.

The thing is, I had to learn about personal finance. Some of that learning happened by trial and error. But most of it has happened over more than a decade as a personal finance journalist because I’ve had the opportunity to talk with countless experts and translate their knowledge into actionable advice for readers. After writing about personal finance for so many years, I guess you could call me an expert (of sorts) on the topic of money.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that no one cares more about your personal finances than you. I care about my finances because I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck or always be worried about money. I want to be able to afford the things I enjoy, be free of financial stress and be able to retire on my own terms.

Understanding the basics of personal finance allows you to take control of your money rather than spend your life struggling to get ahead. That’s why I care — and you should, too.

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"An excellent step-by-step guide to navigate what can be time-consuming, uncomfortable conversations."

- Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post

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