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.

What?!

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.

Emmy Announcements Were Actually Revelations

There is no clearer evidence that I don’t watch as much TV as I used to than watching the Emmy Award nominations and not seeing my people.

Oh, I recognized the show titles from media coverage, hype or actors I love but have abandoned because I was doing other things – or they were on cable channels that don’t come with the basic package.

Take the drama nominees:

Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones on HBO, Homeland on Showtime, Breaking Bad and Mad Men on AMC and Downton Abbey on PBS.

I’ve never seen five of those six shows – and I missed the entire last season of “Mad Men,” a show I like but couldn’t watch on Sunday nights. I liked Don Draper the way I liked Archie Bunker. He was proof of what we knew and needed other people to know we weren’t lying about.

Where were “Justified (FX),” “The Good Wife (CBS),” “Blue Bloods” (CBS), “House (Fox) and “Smash” (NBC)?

And among the comedies, I can recite the dialogue from two nominees – The Big Bang Theory (CBS) and Modern Family (ABC). But I haven’t seen an episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in years.  Larry David is Garry Shandling who was every other constipated unmensch who complained All. The. Time.

But I’ve never seen “Girls” or “Veep” on HBO – and the only time I laughed at “30 Rock” was at Alec Baldwin’s highly inappropriate impersonation of Tracy Morgan’s mother. I was so embarrassed I never watched again.

But just when I thought that no one in the Academy was watching what I was watching, my people showed up: Jim Parsons for Actor from “Big Bang;”

Jon Cryer for Actor from “Two and a Half Men,” not because I watch the show any more but because he deserves it just because;

Mayim Bialik for Supporting Actress from “Big Bang;”

Kathryn Joosten for Supporting Actress from “Desperate Housewives;”

The women of ‘Modern Family” – Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen – for Supporting Actress;

Kristen Wiig, one of the best two things about “Saturday Night Live,” for Supporting Actress;

Bill Hader, the other best thing about “Saturday Night Live” for Supporting Actor;

The four guys from “Modern Family – Ed O’Neill, Jessie Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet for Supporting actor. (If they’d nominated Rico Rodriguez for a second time and his cousin, Nolan Gould, for a first, it would have been a sweep)!

I was happy to see Loretta Devine nominated as outstanding guest actress in a drama for portraying Adele Webber and her descent into Alzheimer’s as well as it has been done on television. And I’m glad that “Smash” got a nomination but couldn’t believe it was for Uma Thurman. Did they WATCH the show?

Not winning “American Idol” was the best thing that ever happened to Jennifer Hudson. Soon, the same will be said about Katherine McPhee, who OWNS “Smash.” She is not the same girl she was during Idol’s fifth season five years ago. She has grown up.

But I was most heartbroken not to see nominations for Timothy Olyphant and Nick Searcy from “Justified.” They not only to get utter some of the best writing on TV every week. But the show is just darned good. It’s in a new class of dramas that I’m watching that includes the new “Longmire,” which will be nominated next year. (Lou Diamond Phillips is going to win an Emmy for Henry Standing Bear; you read it here first.)

And how could anyone not cheer most episodes of “Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime)?

There were enough worthy nominations to compel me to watch the Emmy Awards on September 23.

But when I tune in, I’ll be watching for three things:

For Idris Elba to win as John Luther (Actor in a Miniseries for BBC America’s “Luther”) in the finest performances that happened on the planet last year.  (Sorry Woody Harrelson; you were great in “Game Change” but have you SEEN “Luther?”)

For Betty White to win an Emmy (I don’t care what for);

And for The Kennedy Center Honors (the best presentation in years) to win for Outstanding Variety Special. (Kathy Griffin can be a “Tired Hooker” some other night.)