Vanessa Richardson

San Francisco, CA 94107 USA

Professional Experience

My motto: "Dry" topics don't have to be dull. My areas of expertise and interest: business management and entrepreneurship, personal finance and investing, and urban planning and agriculture. These topics are far from boring to cover -- I've tagged along with a Secret Service agent hunting identity theft gangs online, and got my "investing fortune" read by a palm reader/technology consultant. * I was a staff writer for Self, Money and Red Herring magazines. Now as a San Francisco-based freelancer, I write for print and Web publications including Bankrate, Entrepreneur, Financial Planner and Money. * I was editor of, covering finance and small-business topics for 2.5 million users. * I currently edit Undercurrent, a magazine for scuba divers and marine-life lovers, which Business Week called 'The Consumer Reports of diving.' * I also write and edit for nonprofits, most recently The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ashoka and the University of California.


Content Editor (online)
10 Years
10 Years
15 Years


10 Years
Business (general)
10 Years
Personal Finance
15 Years


Broadcasting - News - Radio (National)
5 Years
Magazine - Large Consumer/National magazines
15 Years
Online/new media
10 Years

Total Media Industry Experience

15 Years

Media Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

Financial Planning (10+), (10+), Bankrate (6-10), Entrepreneur (10+), Money (10+)

Corporate Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (3-5), University of California (3-5), Ashoka (10+), Intuit (10+), MoneyTrack (PBS) (10+)

Other Work History

* Previously, I was a staff writer for Self, Money and Red Herring magazines. Now as a San Francisco-based freelancer, I write for print and Web publications including Bankrate, Dow Jones MarketWatch, George Lucas' Edutopia, Harvard Management Update,, Self and Women's Health. * On the Internet side, I was Editor of, a Web site covering finance and small business topics for 2.5 million users. * For TV experience, I worked with the producers of MoneyTrack, a personal-finance program airing on PBS stations, to research topics, interview "real people" and write scripts. * In the radio arena, I was a freelance producer for "Forum", a critically-acclaimed public affairs program on the National Public Radio affiliate in San Francisco. * I also do pro bono work as a Web and print copywriter for nonprofit organizations.

Technical Skills

I use InDesign on a regular basis, and can easily learn custom content-management systems. I use a variety of photo editing programs , and I use WordPress and Blogsmith for posting on clients' blogs.

Foreign Language Skills

I am fluent in Spanish, proficient in French, can get by in Italian, and know a smattering of Turkish and German.


Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Journalists and Authors

Computer Skills

I am skilled in both Mac and PC applications. Also skilled in HTML and InDesign.


I come with a laptop, digital camera, mini-video camera, and professional recorder to produce slide shows and audio/video interviews.


I belong to the Society of Professional Journalists. I am also Programming Chair for the Commonwealth Club's INFORUM division in San Francisco. The Commonwealth Club is the oldest and one of the most respected public affairs organizations in the U.S., and I put together panels and speaker events on everything from national elections to nanotechnology for Club members in their twenties and thirties. Recent speakers I persuaded to come include King Abdullah of Jordan and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Work Samples

Personal Finance

(Money Magazine 3/1/2012)
For Money's "Financial Fix" column, I profiled a single mom in Seattle who is learning to start over again, both personally and financially, after a recent divorce.
(Bankrate 11/7/2011)
Open enrollment is as joyful a time as tax season or will-making. But I found some wise ways to pick a health insurance plan that fits one's needs -- and also lowers healthcare costs overall.
(AOL 4/1/2011)
For AOL's personal-finance website, I covered multiple money-related matters, from the future of America's malls to how college graduates with liberal-arts degrees can get jobs in this tough economy.
(Money Magazine 5/1/2012)
With $600,000 in mortgage debt, can this soon-to-be-married couple afford to start a family on just one income?
( 7/15/2006)
Seven ways small donors can make the maximum impact with their charitable contributions.
(Diversity Woman 7/1/2012)
For this quarterly aimed at women in management and executive positions, I wrote this Money story about a new batch of 401(k) rules, and steps to take for maximizing returns. Page 1 covers the newest 401(k) rules put in place by the Feds.
( 7/1/2012)
For Mint's personal finance blog, I write about all types of money topics, from how to have a "money talk" with your significant other to the best ways to invest in your local small businesses.
(Diversity Woman 7/1/2012)
Page 2 of this story covers the steps to take for maximizing 401(k) returns, from checking those plan fees to asking for that free advice your company wants you to get.
(Bankrate 1/21/2009)
Besides dealing with unemployment and disintegrating 401ks, parents now have to explain their bad financial situation to their kids. What information do you give them about your finances? How do you explain that a layoff may be looming? And how much input should kids have on family finances?
( 2/10/2006)
Because they're facing stagnating incomes, housing prices out of reach and mounting credit-card debt and student loans, it's unlikely that Generations X and Y will surpass or even equal their parents' standards of living.
( 5/31/2010)
You found some suspicious-looking charges to your credit card or bank account. You're covered by the bank's zero-liability policy, right? Not so fast. Depending on what type of card you use and how you use it, you could end up eating the fraudulent costs.
(Bankrate 10/6/2011)
It's been a banner year for natural disasters worldwide. You want to help, but where do you start? Here's how to ensure your charitable donation can have the best effect in a place that needs it most.
(Bankrate 6/7/2011)
Yes, you can negotiate prices down anywhere these days, from flea markets to Saks Fifth Avenue. Here are seven strategies for negotiating with the shopkeeper to lower the sales price.
(SigFig and AOL Daily Finance 12/31/2014)
As a contributing writer for the money management firm SigFig, I write about stock market trends that affect all types -- and ages -- of investors. In this story for AOL DailyFinance, I took a look at SigFig's Baby Boomer-age investors, and found a red flag many of them have in their portfolios.
(Bankrate 3/30/2010)
Looking for a place to live in Texas, my husband and I were offered the opportunity to rent a house with the option of buying it in three years. A good opportunity or a waste of rent checks? The editors of Bankrate let me investigate and write this story.
(Bankrate 3/23/2010)
Do you cringe every time you get a medical bill in the mail, and wonder why you end up paying so much? Actually, many medical bills are negotiable -- it's just a matter of reading the right documents, asking the right questions and negotiating with the right person.
(MSNBC 8/18/2006)
The "latte factor" states that by skipping the daily $3 coffee run, you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars, a year. But if don’t drink that much coffee and are still short on savings, what do you do? Two women explain how they gave up their daily luxuries -- and improved their lives.
(Bankrate 12/16/2009)
If you're facing an astronomical hospital bill, denial of insurance coverage or refusal of treatment, help is on the way. A new type of health professional called a patient or health advocate is helping to haggle with health care providers.
( 6/16/2006)
Young bloggers open up their wallets online -- and they invite you to critique and improve their financial habits.
(Public Broadcasting Service 10/1/2009)
I work with the producers of this personal-finance program airing on PBS stations by researching program topics, finding and interviewing "real people" to highlight, and writing scripts and summaries.

Business Management

( 7/1/2008)
Are dental students today learning the medical, financial and business-management skills they need to practice dentistry in the 21st century?
(AdvisorMax 8/1/2007)
If done right, conferences can be career boosters -- how you can come away from your next one with more than a tan and a tax write-off.
(PBS - NextAvenue 5/3/2012)
For PBS's new multimedia venture focused on Baby Boomers, I write for its "Money" and "Work" sections, and my first story for those thinking about starting their own business offers up 8 questions they should ask themselves before taking the plunge.
(Meeting Professionals International 5/1/2009)
Forget about Rolodexes and business lunches. Today’s business people, all generations of them, use smart phones and social online media tools to network. But Boomers, GenXers and Millennials still differ on their opinions of what works best for making connections and getting the dream job.
(Intuit 5/15/2012)
I am a contributing writer to Intuit's Small Business Blog, profiling small-biz owners about how they run their companies, and writing articles to help entrepreneurs start, manage and build up their business empires. Most recently, I did a series of articles on the SXSW Fest and Austin's business-friendly environment.
(Bankrate 9/13/2011)
Many people think a recession is the wrong time to start a business, but that's not always true -- Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Disney and Google got their starts during tough economic times. Here's some tips for overcoming today's economic obstacles and getting your business up and running.
(AdvisorMax 3/15/2007)
For this subscription-only website geared toward financial advisors, I wrote about how financial advisors can use outsourcing to better serve their clients -- and their profits.


(Texas Journey 1/1/2012)
Downtown El Paso has come a long way from its origins as "Ponce’s Rancho." First started as a farm in 1827, El Paso has since evolved into a lively district of shops, restaurants, and entertainment that reflects the cultures on both sides of the border.
(Undercurrent 8/1/2007)
Even though many resorts have Web sites promoting their services, not all have full information -- especially about extra fees and charges.
(Undercurrent 2/1/2008)
Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" has gone upscale, but developmental run-off and fish-grabbing dive guides means diving has gone downhill.

Environmental Issues

(Undercurrent 10/1/2007)
When divers take cheap flights to dive exotic reefs, and use dive gear manufactured in Third World countries, can they be considered friends of the environment? Some dive businesses are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints.
(Undercurrent 3/1/2008)
Part II of the dive industry's lax view towards touching and feeding marine life, and why that attitude needs to be changed if they want to keep offering dive trips.
(Undercurrent 2/1/2008)
Part I of the dive industry's lax view towards touching and feeding marine life, and why that attitude needs to be changed if they want to keep offering dive trips.