December 8, 2019

Seasonal centerpiece strategies

You’ve trimmed the tree, festooned the windows and bushes with lights, hung up your stockings with care, and strategically positioned the mistletoe up high. But there’s still one item waiting to be crossed off your Christmas prep checklist: Your holiday table.

Whether you plan to provide a festive feast on it or have it simply serve as a decorative focal point noticed by visitors, a handsomely appointed holiday table can make all the difference in December, the experts contend. Find out why and how by reading my article on this topic, published in The Daily Herald.

December 1, 2019

Low cred? Your mortgage dreams aren't dead

Comparison shopping can yield all kinds of bargains, whether it’s a car, groceries, gift, or other item you’re hunting for. And the same is true for mortgage financing. By getting quotes on interest rates and financing fees from different lenders, you’re more likely to score a deal. Now, new research suggests this is especially true for home buyers with less-than-stellar credit scores.

A recent report by Zillow found that those with poorer credit—particularly buyers with scores ranging from 620 to 679—experience more variation in rate quotes than those with better credit. In fact, the median spread for standard mortgage loans (excluding loans that require PMI, private mortgage insurance) was nearly 97 basis points vs. 109 basis points for VA loans and 86 basis points for jumbo loans. That means the rates for borrowers with poorer credit often ranged by around a full percentage point or more. Costlier markets like Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco had the widest gulf in rate quotes—probably due to a bigger share of quotes sought for jumbo loans.

The moral to this story? It’s worth your time to shop around for a mortgage loan, particularly if your credit score is less than 700. Learn more by reading my newest article for CTW Features, published in the Dallas Morning News, available here.

November 25, 2019

Gigantic news at The Atlantic

When you’ve been in the publishing business since 1857, you can rightfully say that you’ve learned a thing or two about longevity and how to make a product continually appealing to ever-changing consumers. The key to maintaining that allure today, apparently, is to make things look simple without losing your sophistication. For The Atlantic, that means taking an A-to-Z approach, beginning – literally – with a capital “A” and ending with a close eye on Gen Z, your future readers.

To better compete for eyeballs in the increasingly digital world of journalism, the publication recently undertook a significant redesign of its magazine, website, and iOS app and rolled out a new digital subscription service. In my latest piece for Digital Content Next, I interviewed Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor of The Atlantic, to learn more about the revamping. Check it out here.

November 17, 2019

Live every day like you're on a vacation by owning a second home and renting it out

Here’s a fun thought: Why not own your own vacation property and make some money on it, too? This is possible if you purchase a vacation home in a good location and rent it out. Research shows that renting out a vacation home can help pay for most of the mortgage on it.

But to get cheap financing and potentially turn a profit on your getaway house, you’ll have to shop around carefully for the best vacation home mortgage rates.

In my latest article for The Mortgage Reports (available here), I explore the top markets for buying a vacation home, why second homes are becoming more popular, how to purchase an inexpensive one, and more.

November 11, 2019

That was then, this is noir

For Cineversary podcast episode #17, host Erik Martin welcomes guest Eddie Muller, host of Turner Classic Movies' Noir Alley, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, and author of several books including Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir. Erik and Eddie commemorate the 75th anniversary of one of the all-time great noir films "Double Indemnity," and investigate why this masterwork is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more.

Eddie Muller
To listen to this episode, click the "play button" on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Google PodcastsGoogle Play MusicApple PodcastsiTunesAnchorBreakerCastboxOvercastPocket CastsPodBeanRadioPublicSpotifyStitcher, and TuneIn.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at and email show comments or suggestions to

November 3, 2019

Closing time

The ABCs of business—“always be closing”—aren’t easy to master. Turning a prospect into a paying client involves hard work and a lot of attention. In fact, three out of four companies indicate that converting leads into customers is their top priority; yet only around one in five businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.

Of course, there is no single magic tactic for landing clients and closing deals. But attempting different approaches can increase your chances. In a recent piece I wrote for the US Chamber of Commerce's CO site, I reached out to a handful of experts for advice, and they suggested three key strategies, found here.