Archive for September, 2007

QOTD: mr. c shares 10 seconds on fiscal restraint
September 26, 2007

beckoning budgets & cursing like a turk
September 24, 2007

Yikes it was a tough call — listening to that inner budgetary voice vs the call to wander lust.

For a few weeks, I planned on going with Sean to Istanbul and producing a few live Web shows like Jonny Goldstein does each week.

Yet the truth is, we already savored Hawaii this summer – an opportunity brought about through Sean’s work as well. My expenses for that were out of pocket too, like Istanbul would’ve been.

I’m not sure what tipped the final call not to go…except going to Istanbul felt like it would undermine this year’s financial goals. And the husband doesn’t need the wife going everywhere with ’em, eh?!

Ah but we’ve tested the Web cams for live overseas chats during his trip!

More from:
Get Rich Slowly offers an encouraging post on living debt-free (…a key reason why Istanbul was let go; wow could I sound more pathetic?!);

love songs & google docs: increased efficiency with vendors
September 21, 2007

There’s a great tech group in town who specifically encourages women in the Web industry — DC Web Women. I chair their events committee & regularly sleuth for partners around DC to support our special events.

Rhodeside Grill is a fine new vendor hosting our Back from the Beach party tonight; I updated and approved our contract this week via Google Docs.

Loved it. It streamlined accessibility by having one central place for the document (vs emailing drafts back and forth).

Hmm – converting our personal financial docs to Google’s platform might be an apt next project!

More from:

negotiation tactics & feeling strange: haggling down your credit card rate
September 18, 2007

I called two weeks ago to request our credit card rate be reduced; they complied with a one percentage point reduction.

I’m torn on this whole issue. Because for the sake of true blue ownership — I knew the terms of this card and used it anyway, fully aware. Yet at the same time, my husband and I have been steady customers/consumers for years. I’d like to lean on our long term customer relationship with this company and re-negotiate, again, a better rate.

I’d rather my husband and I not apply for another card since it dings one’s credit report. Our available credit-to-debt ratio is reasonably healthy as well; this single VISA is our sole credit card with a balance (and the only one we utilize in emergencies).

By golly I’m knockin’ on their door again and will relay results.

More from:
CNNMoney just celebrated their 35th year; they released sound wisdom on improving one’s credit score plus included effective tips on negotiating lower credit card rates, assessing your salary is on-par with industry, & claiming tax exemptions to avoid overpayment to the Fed.

cooking with camera samurai: photographer pal teaches how to save $11k
September 14, 2007

We’ll be in the kitchen tonight learning acorn squash & eggplant.

Look out for on-video results next week and more tips on how at-home dining can preserve your bottom line.

Have an awesome weekend.

More from:
Camera Samurai’s fine photo education;
DC Media Makers, a media literacy group specializing in online video; Carl & I are both members.

edelman’s financial planner, part 2: integrity trumps a short-term sale
September 12, 2007

Last week’s Edelman rep owns a completely different philosophy.

After a few hours of reviewing our situation, he offered to draft an official financial plan – an $800 service. But he immediately said directing that $800 toward our debt pay off would be his first recommendation … vs investing it toward his fees at this time.

Impressive.

More from:

  • Edelman’s financial planner post, part 1
  • Code of Ethics per the folks at Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards.

reviewing one’s portfolio, investing money, & the duh factor
September 11, 2007

I meet with the administrator of our retirement plan tomorrow and look forward to nailing down:

  • what our monthly contributions should be to retire age 65 with 75% of current salary;
  • what our monthly contributions should be to retire age 65 with 100% of current salary (omg that seems nuts but heck why not know the number);
  • and the biggie: what our current allocations should be to achieve any or all of above.

I predict we have too many domestic equities (vs having at least some international stocks). But at this point I’m talking out the wazoo.

Considering one’s age & risk tolerance are key, sure. Yet it’s perspective and context that I crave from tomorrow’s discussion (a follow-up to this first meeting).

Beckoning to tomorrow’s planner:

Help us afford more than tooth picks & water during our sunset years!

More to follow post meeting manana.

More from:
Our retirement plan administrator TIAA-CREF

Edelman’s financial planner, part 1: my credit card & the taj mahal
September 10, 2007

In my quest to find a financial planner for my family, I met with one last week from Ric Edelman’s firm. I’ve read a few of Ric’s books & appreciated his no-nonsense style & wit. I theorized associates working for his company would espouse similar credibility.

And that proved true with the planner I met.

On credit card debt:
I liked how he asked questions about my family’s entire financial outlook before honing in on the credit card reality. I was fully prepared to defend my debt philosophy on that topic when he casually whipped out his calculator.

He said:

Well you’ll pay xxx in interest payments and lose xxx percent in interest gains despite your current investments. I’d suggest your top goals to accomplish are to continue retirement contributions toward the 403(b), continue saving toward your emergency cash reserves, pay off the credit card debt, get a will, and then max out your retirement contributions once the card’s paid off.

His suggestions did not surprise me; what did surprise & appeal however was how debt pay-off was one factor in a greater proposal — a rounded outline for our circumstance. Granted it was our first meeting but he wasn’t condescending about credit card debt or my resistance to pay it off.

He came across as very credible. I look forward to further debriefing our meeting via Housewifery this week. What do you think of his suggestion?

More from:
Liz Pulliam Weston & her keen reasoning on when – ironically – not to pay off debt.

new book … rich and thin: slim down, shrink debt, & turn calories into cash
September 6, 2007

I’ve only read excerpts from this book, plus a book review by Michelle Singletary.

Singletary cites major statistics on obesity within the book’s context: better eating means good news for your health physically & financially.

It’s a familiar theory. But Singletary describes a financial tool from the book called the Money Calorie Counter. How many calories annually to you ingest from sassy coffee drinks? And how much could you gain in savings by not buying that designer caffeine?

I’d like to read more on how Rich and Thin authors Deborah McNaughton & Melinda Weinstein address these questions.

Thanks to poet & pal Mary Fumento for the tip.

More from:

financial roots: your fiscal beliefs, fears, confidence must come from … where?
September 5, 2007

In preparing for another financial planner interview this week, I imagined how a certain discussion could play-out regarding our debt:

Planner to me: So do you have credit card debt?

Me: Sure do.

Planner: So why don’t you pay it off right now or at least increase your payments?

Me: Because the thought of having zero dinero in our emergency reserves makes me vomit.

For my family right now, it comes down to rebuilding habit.

For a while, it’s been ‘pay off the card’. Then a perceived emergency that warrants use of it occurs again (we wouldn’t have much in emergency reserves since we focused on debt pay-off).

And the cycle played out many times in our lives.

So I shared this tact with husband Sean – to which he concurred on changing focus. He was creeped-out by the card balance (predominantly tax payments) but appreciated the underlying philosophy: build up cash reserves to prevent credit card usage in emergencies.

Then comes the self-reflection:
What has the most impact on one’s financial beliefs? Is it more than just live-and-learn as an adult?

That must be a complex answer for everyone.

Yet these two childhood memories stand out as canyon-wide influences on my financial beliefs:

  • family thrived with their business during the Oklahoma oil boom;
  • family sank deep into fiscal ick-ville when that boom went bust

Don’t wanna go back there … ever.

So what’s the first step – forming a positive vision to strive toward (vs always looking back at that which we want to avoid)?

More from:

  • WiseBread’s Sarah Winfrey outlines those wise, internal questions that can frame what we really want. …joy? chocolate? companionship? love? a Twinkie bath? Winfrey’s reflective approach proved a useful tool to carve out purpose — financial or otherwise.
  • Request:
    Please treat yourself to Jonny Goldstein‘s above Twinkie bath clip, 3 minutes. The ribs crack from cackling every time.