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PFB Spotlight: Boston Gal’s Open Wallet

This is the first edition of the Personal Finance Blogger Spotlight [3] and we’re going to start this off with a bang. List off all the personal finance bloggers you can think of. Now list the ones who are women. And this is exactly why I think you should check out Boston Gal’s Open Wallet [4], written by Jane Dough. Jane is a thirty-something single, smart, and successful Bostonian woman who has been blogging for less than a month.

I originally erroneously implied that there weren’t many female personal finance bloggers. I realized that was a mistake, I just didn’t know that many (or I didn’t know a particular blogger was a woman) but I’ve since been enlightened. 🙂

jim: Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Jane: I work in a technical capacity in the financial services sector. I was born and raised in the Boston area and except for a four-year stint in the Midwest for college; I plan to always reside in this area.
jim: Rough baseball post-season this year huh? Or did you not really care?
Jane: Rough yes, but at least the Yankees did not win and I have the photos of last years World Series Champion Parade to console me. At least now I know what a winning season feels like! [The Boston Red Sox were swept by eventual the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox while the New York Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the most confusing name in baseball, in five]
jim: What kind of car do you drive, how long have you had it, and how long do you plan on driving it?
Jane: I own a 2000 VW Jetta which I purchased new in June 2000. I hope to drive it for 10 years. Between the harsh weather, salt air, pot holes, and city driving we shall see if I make that goal!
jim: Good luck! So when and why did you start a blog?
Jane: I started my blog in October of 2005 as a way to gain insight and control over my net worth. Speaking publicly about your personal finances has always been a no-no in my family. The result of this is that I often felt unprepared and uneducated about financial matters. I am now in my mid-30’s, single, with a fairly well established professional career. Because I live alone I make all the financial decisions in my life – good or bad. My blog is meant to be a tool for me to tackle and hopefully accomplish various financial goals while along the way hopefully educating and preparing other woman and men who read it for their financial lives.
jim: You have listed in your net worth on your blog that you have an investment condo, how did you get involved in that?
Jane: When I was young (and some would say stupid) I rebelled at the idea of living at home after college. However, my income was low and the cost of living in the city was high. It was 1996 and so many people had lost so much money on investment condo’s that the market was flooded with them. I went to an FDIC auction for a small two bedroom condo located in an old brick building that at one time had been a three family, but in the 1980’s had been chopped up and converted into a 6 unit condo building. The condo association had zero money in the reserve fund and three out of the six units was in foreclosure. I walked out of my first (and only) auction the owner of my unit.

Luckily the FDIC was so desperate to unload the unit that they gave me a no down payment 30 year fixed loan at 8%. When I moved in I was the only owner occupant in the building. I finally moved out after living there for 5 years and now rent the condo. I hope to write more about my experiences owning an investment property in future posts on my blog.

jim: Outside of your main job (and your investment condo), do you have any other sources of regular revenue?
Jane: I do rent out the basement of my current single family home – so that is another income stream. Other than that, no. I would like to someday establish additional revenue sources, but have not yet found a side job that interests me enough to pursue.
jim: What would you say makes your perspective unique?
Jane: Being a single, professional woman who is accumulating, growing, and maintaining her net worth without the help of another contributing adult sets me apart. I think of my Great-aunt Jane who was educated, worked as a nurse, and never married – yet because she was born in 1895 she lived her entire life in her parent’s house. As they aged[, Jane acted] as their caretaker, and when they passed, [Jane acted] as the babysitter, companion, and general household help for the families of her 8 siblings.

Hopefully by blogging about my financial ups and downs other singletons will see that you can and should plan for your financial future yourself – if someone else should come along eventually to share your life, great! But it is not as necessary as it was 100 years ago.

jim: How’d you pick the moniker of Jane Doe? Was it inspired by your aunt?
Jane: The Jane was in part inspired by my great aunt and the Dough was just a financial play on Doe as in Jane Doe (Jane Dough) or any anonymous woman.
jim: So what’s your favorite personal finance book and why?
One Grain Of Rice : A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
[and] I know that this is not a traditional personal finance book, but it is my favorite. The beauty of it is in the simplicity of the tale and the power of the message. A young girl outsmarts a very selfish raja and saves her village. When offered a reward for a good deed, she asks only for one grain of rice, doubled each day for 30 days. As you can image by the end of the book she has an amazing amount of rice. I like to use this tale that shows the power of doubling as a reminder of what saving and compounding interest can someday do for your retirement fund. I have given this book to each of my nieces and nephews and hope that they will benefit from its message.
jim: Which of your writings do you believe are must reads?
Jane: I have not been blogging long, but these would be my picks:
jim: What financial “mistake” that you’ve made bothers you the most?
Jane: The 401(k) account that I cashed out when I left my first professional job. At the time I used the money to pay off credit card debt, but now I see that I should have left that money alone and allowed it to continue to grow in my retirement account. As the years pass, I see that my retirement funds really need to grow much faster than they have to date.
jim: How about your best financial decision to date?
Jane: Getting a college education. Without my diploma, I would not have had the opportunities that I have had in my career. While my degree is not specific to what I currently do, having that degree has definitely opened doors in the past. I strongly feel that education is the best financial investment anyone can make.
jim: Of all the personal finance blogs out there, which one is your favorite and why?
Jane: It is really hard to choose just one, since there are so many great ones out there. But if I had to choose one I guess it would be My Open Wallet [9] since it was the first personal finance blog that I read that I could really identify with. Here was another single, 30-something, professional living and working in a big city. Reading this blog is what inspired me to create my own.
jim: How would you like people to remember your blog?
Jane: As that true account of how a woman supported and succeeded on her own – and if she could do it, so can I.
jim: Lastly, are there any questions you think I should’ve asked that I didn’t?
Jane: Maybe – What is your ultimate financial goal?

For me it is not about become rich. Rather it is a desire to be self-sufficient and able to support myself up to age 100. While I think it unlikely that I really will see 100, it would be nice to know that if I was lucky enough to reach that old age my retirement dollars would still be there for me.

Thank you Jane for your time and thank you all for reading! If you haven’t had a chance to read her posts, I invite you to visit her blog [4] and subscribe to her full RSS feed [10]!