Goodbye For Now, But Please Stay Frugal

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The personal finance columnist makes her final appearance on Day to Day. She reflects on past conversations and looks forward to her new book: The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom.


From NPR News, this is Day to Day. Michelle Singletary has been the personal finance contributor for our show for the last five years. She's been with us nearly every Tuesday during that time. Well, our final show is Friday. So, today is the last time we'll hear from you, Michelle. I'm kind of sad about that.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY: I'm very sad, very sad.

BRAND: You've been with us from the very, very beginning. Tell us how talking about personal finance has changed since then.

SINGLETARY: Well, obviously, the biggest change has been the economic - I call it mudslide - that we're going through. When I first began, things were pretty good. I mean, although, at the time, I was trying to tell people, you know, things are good but you always have to prepare for the worst. And obviously, the worse has happened. And over the years, you know, many people have sent in questions and emailed me, and the listeners have just been wonderful. And I think I helped a lot of people. I do hear from people who took the advice and got their lives together, and some people who took the advice and are weathering the economic storm because they were prepared.

BRAND: And have you changed your advice over the years?

SINGLETARY: No. ..TEXT: (Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Na-ah, I didn't think so.

SINGLETARY: You know me. Listen, I'm all about the basics and I've always been that way. It's something that I learned from my grandmother, Big Mama, who taught me, you know what, there are going to be seasons of plenty, and there are going to be seasons of famine. So the way you get through it is you have a basic way you handle your money, when things are good and when things are bad, so that when the bad happens - because listen, this is not the last recession we're going to have - you're able to weather it a little bit better. You may not be able to weather the whole thing, but you'll be better off than your neighbor who overspends.

BRAND: I remember earlier on in the show's lifespan, how you and I would argue a little bit over boots.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: How I wanted to spend my extra money on a pair of boots, and you were like, Madeleine, come on now, put that away for rainy day. Well, now the rainy day is here and I, well, I do have a very nice pair of boots.

SINGLETARY: That's why you need an umbrella.

BRAND: However.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SINGLETARY: Well, you know, it is a good analogy. It's like, you know, you keep the umbrella around. Once it stops raining, you don't get rid of the umbrella, you keep it in the closet. It's the same with your savings. Even when you're doing well, you still have to put something away for the time that it rains, because guess what, it's always going to rain.

BRAND: So, what are you going to miss most, do you think, about being on the show and giving advice to the radio audience?

SINGLETARY: Well, obviously the staff, you know - and you know, I don't want to get so melancholy but I have to tell folks that I have never enjoyed working with a group of people more than I have here at NPR. Really smart, caring people who wanted to produce a segment like this to - you see, I'm getting ready to cry - to really help people. This is the one job, and I've got like 10, that I love getting up to go to. And I'm going to miss the listeners. NPR listeners are the most thoughtful, and I get a ton of email - even from those who disagree with me, it was always in a way that was very respectful. And that says a lot about the people who listen to this program.

BRAND: Well, Michelle, we are going to miss you so much, but our listeners, they'll still be able to keep in touch with you, right?

SINGLETARY: Absolutely. I'm going to still be doing my column for the Washington Post. You can go to I have my own personal Web site, And I've got a book coming out in the fall that I hope people get a hold of because it will help you during this crisis and afterwards. It's called "The Power to Prosper: 21 days to Financial Freedom." And I'm going to, hopefully, come to some communities, and I hope people come out for some of the book readings.

BRAND: All right Michelle, it's been a great pleasure interviewing you and speaking with you over the years. I've just loved your energy and your advice, and I wish you the very best, and thank you so much for being on our show.

SINGLETARY: You're so welcome. I'm really, really going to miss it.

BRAND: Michelle Singletary, personal finance contributor for Day to Day. Also, she writes the "Color of Money" column for the Washington Post.

Day to Day returns in a moment.

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