housewifery blog has moved to jillfoster.name … stop by anytime!
June 9, 2008

It’s easier to find stuff!

More wacky personal finance video.

More mobile blogging.

More DC social media.

And where Friday’s Fiscal Tickle continues each week.

Stop by anytime.

You’re always welcome at the new digs!

friday fiscal tickle: new video series gets weekly & wacky
June 7, 2008


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Note from the wacky:
Sharing my family’s high, low, & zany moments in personal finance (…via short-winded video) remains a passion at Housewifery’s blog. Those quirky cuts will continue.

I’m also learning more slowly but surely about larger financial events & concerns along the way. I’d like to learn more about financial scenes beyond my own backyard. And hopefully not take it all too seriously despite the world’s often sober fiscal reality.

Thus comes Housewifery’s new weekly series: the Friday Fiscal Tickle. For a smirky digest on world financial events, take a peek each week. By all means, your thoughts & eye rolls are welcome anytime.

30 second video: protect your emergency cash like a chess match queen
May 22, 2008

New shoes, new iMac, & old cash worries:
It’s fun spending cash reserved for emergencies.

Even more than fun – it’s bloody easy!

It’s easy to break discipline & access those dollars meant to protect from rainy days. But since that approach has made my family more vulnerable financially, it’s time to rethink. The short-term benefits of a change are clear.

Emergency cash reserves & chess: create the pawns

After 7.5 years of marriage, these prove true:

  • if we have only one stash of cash, we’ll spend it. It matters not if it’s reserved for emergencies. We’ll spend it on non-urgent desires. Do these desires help us be more effective sometimes? You bet. But occasionally our compulsion runs rampant.
  • it’s time to view emergency reserves like a chess queen and find ways to protect her.
  • thus it’s time to create the ‘chess pawns’ in our personal finance life.

The Pawns are the soul of the game. -Francois Philidor

For the past few months, I’ve tested a new strategy. And it’s producing positive results for Sean and me. The goals are two-fold: truly learn to reserve emergency funds for unforeseen, urgent cases; and next, create a system to enable that habit.

Here’s what we did:

  • set-up (10) online sub-savings accounts via ING Direct, in addition to our main emergency cash reserves account. These are metaphorically ‘chess pawns’ protecting the emergency cash ‘queen’. In the past, we dipped into cash reserves for these reasons; so we decided to designate sub-accounts to ideally prevent future dipping.
  • each month, monies direct to these sub-accounts i.e. medical/dental; clothes/dry cleaning; annual visit to parents; pet care; computer/tech; family gifts; books/education; condo; Alaskan trip for parents by 2012; relocation expenses.
  • each pay cycle, 12% auto-deposits into emergency cash savings with app. 3% funneling to the sub-account buckets. And so far for one business quarter, the emergency bucket has stabilized and steadily increased since we use those other sub-accounts for spending choices. Hooray!
  • Note: at least so far, we don’t necessarily spend monies each month that were allocated to those sub-accounts. Yet if for example my husband needs Ruby on Rails books for his coding library, he has accessible, dedicated funds for that decision.

Pawns, marriage partners, & the psycho-summary:
It’s just another way to budget. But the tangible existence of these ‘pawn’ sub-accounts has helped us stay on track with building emergency cash. And it’s helped to clarify spending priorities.

It’s working too from a psychological perspective aka it’s less stressful in the guilt department. In the past, I’d mentally beat up on my husband and me for dipping into emergency reserves for play or even basic needs like new shoes (…to replace that broken heel). Footnote: guilt drains marital trust and fun for sure!

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my husband, me, & our financial habits make front page of business section in washington post
February 10, 2008

wash post photo jill sean
photo by Lois Raimondo, Washington Post, 2/10/08

What a blast!

It was published today, in the Washington Post’s business section — with our happy mugs below the fold (& as the second photo in the online slideshow).

Talking with Post reporter Nancy Trejos was a comfortable, positive experience. She expressed a lot of interest in different facets of family finance, especially in the face of a slowing economy & home sales.

Thanks Shashi Bellamkonda for connecting Nancy, Sean, & me.

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sin stocks are hopeful bets … but what do your morals say?
February 5, 2008

The history of sin stocks shows consistent or even strong performance in downturned stock markets.

I grow more and more willing to embrace imperfection & inconsistency, especially when it relates to my own character (& the stock market). 🙂 But heck, I don’t know if my moral code – whatever the heck it is – can bank on humanity’s weakness.

And that type of hesitancy can make those more willing some big bucks.

Where do you stand on investing in people’s vices?

More from:

  • Science Daily’s take on sin stocks & moral judgment;
  • Kiplinger & their insight into how vice stocks can be virtuous in a very bear market.
  • $5million & your piggy bank: financial planners’ standard target for retirement
    January 14, 2008

    “Mrs. Foster, you & your husband should save at least $5million for retirement…at least!”

    [THUNK]

    That’s my psychological (& literal) piggy bank passing out from that advice. Most all financial planners I met with last year suggested $5million be our retirement savings target (east coast).

    What the SAM HECK do we need to save that amount for?! I’ll calm my drama-momma attitude … & attempt to answer with some calm. Feel free adding ideas to this list:

    • Longevity (age 100 to be commonplace)
    • Health care (allocate $150k-200k for health care costs excluding long term care)
    • Inflation
    • Housing (assuming a paid-in-full home, consider property tax per US Treasury)
    • Food
    • Fun (one trip annually)
    • With above factored in the equation — leaving $1k/mo for health care costs during retirement — our current retirement savings quest is $2.5million. It makes financial planners smirk but, although hefty it’s an aggressive goal that doesn’t leave my mental or literal piggy bank in shock.

      More from:
      FreeMoneyFinance writes on the $5million topic with an active discussion thread;

    Fraud is the new … green?! charging customers for bulbs they didn’t buy
    January 14, 2008

    It could’ve been a winning green initiative: educating customers on energy-efficient CFL light bulbs.

    Yet instead, a Maryland power company‘s approach has left a green campaign wanting — and their customers screaming mail fraud.

    More from:
    An Allegheny Power customer in the thick of it, Jimmy Gardner reports at East Coast Blogging.

    2007 goals met & missed (plus recalling family mantra for ‘tell the truth!’)
    January 7, 2008

    [blip.tv ?posts_id=588693&dest=21480]

    I heard that as a kid growing up from Oklahoma relatives – said when it was really time to tell the truth! I love it. And for whatever reason, it surmounts my agnosticism & paraphrases the need for honesty to this day.

    In that spirit…:

    Life balance goals met & missed (2006 vs 2007)

    Come to Jesus 2006:

    -on dining out: spent $11k (what's that phrase…'ignorance is bliss'?!)

    -on cooking for family: avoided learning how

    -on retirement savings: had diddle for a plan

    -on spending habits: didn't have a clue

    -on tax protection: accrued $7k tax bill (paid for via credit card…gulp)

    Come to Jesus 2007:

    -on dining out: cut that puppy DOWN & roughly ended year spending app. $1.5k

    -on cooking for family: learned! We spent app. $5k on groceries this year. And my husband was fantastic in brainstorming ideas & being patient with sometimes a very smoky home (I'd like to think my self-esteem is pretty strong being 37 and admitting this … or just SILLY)

    -on retirement savings: met with financial planners & invested 12% income toward a specific plan (as in we now know 'the number' to save for by retirement age). I disagreed with some planners' suggestion on how much to save for. More on that later.

    -on spending habits: set an actual plan and more regularly audited habits via Quicken. Frankly I didn't audit them habitually. I attempted tracking via our spending plan which wasn't comprehensive. It's time for me to buck up and do that download account process per Quicken.

    -on tax protection: our pre-tax retirement contributions lowered our taxable income; I also worked from home (resigned from high stress management job & made far less money). That fact as pros & cons but it was a great year for re-gaining sanity, renewing/building communities online and off, & gaining a few clients. And the reduced stress enhanced the marriage (ain't that right honey??). NOTE: That $7k tax bill balance decreased some (see below).

    The main goal for 2008 is two-fold: to completely pay-off that '06 puke-vomit-ick-tax-bill (paid for via credit card in '07) and to build six months worth of savings.

    QUESTION TO YOU:

    What life balance/personal finance goal motivates you for 2008? …Any come-to-Jesus moments of your own last year?

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! And thanks for your ideas & motivation throughout last year. Your insight and humor strengthened resolve.

    MORE FROM:

    Get Rich Slowly shares factory worker's story to millionaire retirement. This guy's simple, prudent decisions inspire!

    – Playful, honest journey through spending plans at Budgeting Babe;

    -Clear, actionable approach for starting 2008 … Chirs Brogan shares (3) words that help him decide or decline next steps.

    stock market meets the drakestail & the millionaire mommy next door
    November 29, 2007

    Good ‘ole Drakestail keeps saying the same phrase throughout the story, most seriously toward the King who owes Drakestail cash.

    Quack! Quack! Quack! When shall I get my money back?

    That’s how I feel when seeing our investments take dives with the shaky Dow lately. Wise folks emphasize the long view when investing which I intellectually support and understand. But Holy Smokes I’ve really become addicted to torturing myself by looking daily at our accounts’ performance.

    And it’s a habit I’VE GOT to break less I go bonkers.

    So I laughed out load reading Drakestail over the weekend (…sucker for fairy tales which of note I didn’t become until after age 30). I emotionally, desperately wanted to some how chase the stock market as if it was an actual person – or the would be King being chased by Drakestail – and demand our lost investments back.

    Alas the personal finance blogosphere has been AWESOME in rejuvenating and stabilizing my investment outlook. Take the long view sista.

    If Drakestail were real and here today, he might say…:

    QUACK QUACK QUACK THINK LONG TERM ON YOUR MONEY TRACK!

    More From:
    The goddess of all things financially independent on how her portfolio continues to thrive despite current market pukeville.

    $1million by 2012: dream it, plan it, live it
    October 13, 2007

    So it’s time to take ownership & aim big.

    I remember once being fearless in the face of challenges and dreams — going after them was the fun rush of life. Then on the financial front – I learned how much it costs to retire, to retire with decent health care protection, to raise children and their education, to run one’s own business, and more …. my momentum to achieve sobered-up.

    Why is that? Maybe it’s just looking at too much at once -vs- one step at a time. Maybe it’s taking one’s self too seriously. Maybe dreams were too high with resources & energy too low. Is it even possible to have dreams too high?

    …a mix of all likely but here’s the sitch: family members need our help. They’d never, ever ask for financial support. But bottom line, their situations are precarious & their means too small to evoke stability on their own. My judgment could be off but after reviewing all up, down, and sideways my husband and I agree taking action helps more than fretting.

    And results just don’t fall from the sky. So can we realistically help? yes. Can we preserve our basic needs & personal savings plan too? yes. So is it time for a plan?

    Yes and here it is:

    $1million by 2012 (that’s $1million in overall paper value vs net).

    It makes my stomach tight writing this out, tight as in nervous. But Jonny Goldstein just published his big dream. And his resolve and zeal are contagious.

    So here it is:

    Summary of Intent:

    We are millionaires by 2012. By that year, we will have built our financial wealth to at least $1million through dedicated & united partnership to include: multiple income streams, property ownership in secondary cities, tax control, & wealth protection. Our love of life motivates this intent – and our family, whom we most dearly want to help.

    It’s posted at our desks.

    …along with the plan, the numbers, the benchmarks, a list of mentors (…need to contact them), & somewhere deep down is something that feels like resolve.

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