End of financial fast is beginning
of different economic living

So what happened to the end of the 21-day financial fast, you wonder?

I completed it. But more important, I paid attention to the things I learned on it.

I paid off my car (and am about to pay off one of the only two credit cards I have).

I do not buy anything major now without giving myself a week to think about it.

And I’m cleaning up my house and life, getting rid of all the crap and not replacing it with things I don’t need.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.09.35 PMWhen I began Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary’s 21-Day Financial Fast, I figured I’d save a few bucks, learn a few things and go back to business as usual.

I saved a lot. I learned more about myself than my money. And things will never be the same.

Example? I went to have my annual teeth cleaning. I’m a big baby at the dentist’s office. The hygienist said “You want nitrous (the wonderful gas, nitrous oxide that makes you not care that she’s in your mouth)? Rather than immediately say “Yes!”, I asked “How much?”

It was $40. I said no.


I needed a new wallet. I went shopping in my closet. I found one with the tag still on, and I have had great compliments on the style and color. I don’t even remember buying it.

My next task is to clean the garage, so I can take the stuff I have in storage and put it in the garage. That stuff has been there since April 2012 because I didn’t have time to deal with it. When I realized that the money I’d spent holding onto it would have paid for a trip to Paris, I got motivated.

checkbookSo I want to thank Michelle and the fast. And she’ll be happy to know that, unlike some people who might not have wanted people to know what they were doing, I talked to everybody. The best encouragement I got was a gift from a dear friend, who knew that I would be experiencing several special occasions occurring during the fast, including my birthday. She gave me a checkbook whose checks were actually dollar bills.

“Snack on these and stick to your fast,” she told me.

And the moderator at my church now wants our entire church council to do the fast and give the proceeds to the church.

Now that’s spreading the good word and good habits in a good way.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

Thanks for the memories, 2013!

As I wind down 2013 and begin a vacation that takes me to 2014, I want to thank everyone whose spirits touched my life, whose goodness made my heart soar and who forgave me when I forgot to do the same! It was a pretty daggone good year. (Yes, I’m still from North Carolina. I still say daggone.)

derek lukeI won a National Headliner Award. I dined with really interesting people (Spike Lee) and met quite a few others (Derek Luke among them).

I kissed a boy, and I liked it (Hollywood actor who shall not be named. No, it wasn’t Derek Luke.).

I watched women ascend to top spots at one of the Big Three and got to write about them – Mary Barra, the soon-to-be CEO of General Motors and Alicia Boler-Davis, a senior vice president who is one of the top two African American women in the entire auto industry. They were huge news event and ones that, as a woman, I had to privately applaud.

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 12.39.18 PMI was honored to be part of a United Way for Southeastern Michigan campaign to inspire children.

I didn’t go to Africa this year, as I did for the past three (to Senegal and Kenya). But I spent a great deal of time planning my trip to South Africa in the spring.

Instead, I did further exploration of my own country, eating oysters every day for a week in New Orleans and drinking great wine for a weekend in Napa, walking parts of New York, that even after all these years, I had not seen.

I hosted the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame inductions and watched my friend, the late, great photographer Hugh Grannum, join the number.

I went to the Final Four with my cousin Roderick for the third year in a row, keeping intact our promise to go together every year. God, I love NCAA basketball.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 3.19.19 AMI saw “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and loved it. Yes, a Peter Jackson movie is still an event.

But it was the little moments that mattered most. I visited my mother, and she knew who I was. I made a dish, for the first time, uh, ever, at Thanksgiving dinner, and my family loved it.

My daughter sent me a note about my Mandela column – “Good job, Mom!” – I felt like I was 9 and had gotten an A on a major test!

I survived illness, and last I checked, my brain works just fine.

Thank you, my friends and fellows, for being parts of my life. Thank you, my Face Friends, colleagues and inspirations, especially you inspirations, you sisters and brothers who do what you do (Gwen Ifill), who provided opportunities I would never have had otherwise (DeWayne Wickham, John Yearwood), who introduced me to great wine Jocelyn K. Allen), who made me laugh (all my classmates from Tarboro Senior High School and THE mighty University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Bird and Bonita Perkins Newby), who taught me new things every day (Revka Stearns), who listened for hours during my dark times and who trusted me during theirs – and who connected with me without spoken words across untold universes (Charlie Haviland).

IMG_6324And thank you to Desi, the Wonder Dog, the world’s best dog, whose infinite patience is unbelievable – even for a dog!

See you next year!

With a friend like Mark . . . and an Otter Box

Celebrated the eve of my birthday with wonderful friends in Washington, D.C. and learned two valuable lessons. My friend, Mark and I had a small accident on the way Jaleo’s, my favorite restaurant, in Arlington, Va.

We were chatting and laughing and Mark turned the corner to sharply, running over the extremely high medians (as Arlington tends to have in the city center). He got out and tried to push the car back over the nearly-foot high concrete barrier. No go. So he asked me to get behind the wheel.

I was holding my coat (The weather was gorgeous!) and my phone in my lap. I jumped out, ran around and took the wheel. I steered in reverse, while he pushed us out of a predicament.

Only when I got to the restaurant a little while later and got read ty take photos, did I remember that my Iphone had been on my lap!

Mark dutifully went back to the car to, hopefully, find it on the floor.

We got worried when he had been gone for more than 20 minutes.

Suddenly, he walked in and handed me an Iphone. I said “This isn’t mine.” LOL! Silly me. Of course it was mine, minus one Otter Box case that had kept my phone from being destroyed when it landed in in the street and was run over.

Yes, run over.

When Mark didn’t find the phone in the car, he dialed my number, and a Marriott-Crystal City Gateway employee who had found it on the street answered, saying “Is this your phone?” Mark drove over to get it.

Phone is FINE!

Two lessons: 1) Everyone should use an Otter Box to protect their Iphones.

2) Everyone should have a friend like Mark.