My Top-Earning NewsBreak Story in January was about Hoarding

What happens when a state government holds money

Andy Spears


Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Well, no. Not like an episode of the show “Hoarders.”

Not like that.

But still, the idea is similar. Holding onto something in order to use it later.

Ok, let’s back up. This story is about NewsBreak.

It’s a platform I’ve written about before.

It is, as the name implies, a site that focuses on news stories. NewsBreak says it wants local news and lots of it. Stories can be as short as 100 words.

It has also been a reliable source of writing income for me over the past year. Often far surpassing my Medium numbers in terms of earnings.

At the end of each month, I take a look at my top earning stories. This helps me decide what to write about. Using the stats like this gives me a chance to focus my writing (and time) on the stories that people will read (and share). That boosts earnings.

Ok, so. Back to hoarding.

Here’s that top story from January.

It’s pretty interesting that a state government would just keep a bunch of money designed to help families in need. That is, TANF — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — sends money to Tennessee based on estimates of need. This money can be used to help cover a range of expenses for those who qualify.

One explanation might be that Tennessee has met all the needs.

However, as the article notes, advocates don’t believe that’s the case. And, the state has considerable leeway in using the funds to provide assistance.

$700 million is a lot of temporary assistance.

Rather than being creative about how to spend those funds, however, the state is simply hoarding it.

Another explanation is that the state is keeping the money in reserve in case there’s a larger need down the road (think recession or pandemic).

However, another line of thinking suggests that if the state spent the funds, that could help shore up economic conditions for working families — and perhaps even lessen the chances of a recession or other economic crisis.

The key takeaway as it relates to writing on NewsBreak: Connecting policy with people gets reads.



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .