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!

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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!

More from:

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.

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.

More from:

where are you? where am I?
October 4, 2007

It’s been a fantastic whirlwind with out of town family visiting this week.

Housewifery will continue to track zany realities in personal finance (and more!) later this week.

Until then, stay true & stay frugal!

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?!);

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.