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PFB Spotlight: Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge

Who is Mapgirl? She’s an aspiring yarnsmith who is forced to be a code monkey to feed her knitting addiction and writes about personal finance because her boyfriend is tired of hearing about it. She’s part of an army, inspired in part by Boston Gal’s Open Wallet [3] (interview [4]), Savvy Saver, Sitting Pretty Financially [5] (interview [6]), and other notable female bloggers; of bloggers who have started writing about their personal finances from the fairer perspective.

jim: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Mapgirl: By day I used to have two jobs, but now I am down to one. My primary job title is System Engineer. I write a lot of SQL queries, reports, ironically, to save my company a lot of money in a way that I can’t quite seem to do with my personal expenses. In short, I am a database monkey, white-collar office lackey. I live inside the DC Beltway in a small condo my parents helped me purchase a few years ago.

My side job was working in a yarn shop to pay for my knitting addiction. It was well worth it since my yarn budget was the same as my take home pay from the shop. The discount made it very worthwhile and I liked helping people with their projects. Plus it was helpful networking for future teaching gigs.

jim: What kind of car do you drive, did you buy it new/used, and how long do you plan on driving it?
Mapgirl: I drive a 2001 Nissan Altima SE. It started as a lease when I was underemployed with very little money. I bought out the lease 6 months early since I realized I was throwing away my money on the lease due to the mileage overage. I just recently finished paying off the loan on it and I’ll probably keep it until I run in into the ground or make enough to buy that BMW I’ve always wanted. Or get a job where I don’t need a car for commuting.
jim: When and why did you start a blog?
Mapgirl: I started this blog in January 2006 because my boyfriend and other friends were tired of me obsessing about money in another blog I keep.
jim: Is there anything that makes your perspective unique?
Mapgirl: I think I offer some good advice about how to fix things and do things yourself. I also feel that I’m a pretty average representation of who’s 30-something in America with credit card debt and a mortgage. (I just recently finished off my student loans, but like so many PF bloggers, I have been there too.) I don’t think I’m any more frugal than other people or making more money than others through the stock market. I hope I have an ‘Everygal’ sensibility to how I make financial decisions, be honest when I’m lost in a sea of options, etc.
jim: What’s your favorite personal finance book and why?
Mapgirl: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Personal Finance [7]. When I first graduated from college, I lived with my older sister. She had a copy of this book and a few others which she encouraged me to read. (There was an out of print guide to personal finance from Money Magazine which was really fantastic. She bought it used, but sadly I can’t find a newer copy anywhere and she specifically told me that I could not have it when I moved out.) She worked at the time for a large bank and so she really knew how to explain money and personal finance issues to me. Honestly, sometimes I think trigonometry and calculus were easier than making financial decisions.
jim: Which of your posts do you think all your readers shouldn’t miss?
Mapgirl: The Buying Gas series (Part 1 [8], Part 2 [9]) I ran this week is pretty good, and the post about how to make more money by finding a new job [10]. I think some of my mind-money relationship posts are important reads. So many people don’t realize how irrational they are about the subject of money. I think it’s ok to be irrational sometimes, but if you are aware of it, then maybe you can counteract it. People shouldn’t let their irrational thoughts sit in a blind spot and continue bad financial behaviors.
jim: What financial “mistake” bothers you the most?
Mapgirl: Oh boy! Where to begin! Choosing a private college tuition? Choosing to run up credit cards? Choosing an initial career path that paid peanuts? Not buying a home sooner?
jim: What was your best financial decision to date?
Mapgirl: Asking my parents to help me buy a home. My downpayment was a gift that allows me to get a tax benefit, hold an asset, and have some peace and quiet. I know that DC is a market where the tide is turning in favor of renting, but truthfully, I still think you’re throwing money away by renting.
jim: What is your favorite personal finance blog and why?
Mapgirl: As a class, I like reading the general personal finance blogs by women. I like the content. It’s often very readable in terms of writing and design. It’s hard to pick just one, but I enjoy Boston Gal’s Open Wallet, My Open Wallet, Savvy Saver, Sitting Pretty, Budgeting Babe. I first found out about PF blogging when a friend directed me to Boston Gal and it’s been an interesting ride ever since.
jim: If you found yourself with $100M and had to spend it (can’t save it), what would you get?
Mapgirl: If I had $100M and absolutely had to spend it, I would buy myself 1 or 2 houses in places I really want to
live, like San Francisco and Rome. After that, I’d devote most of it to charity. I have a personal dream to endow a scholarship at the school I attended since without my scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to go. I’d also endow a professorship or two in East Asian languages at my old college. A bunch of us did the research and found out to endow a chair takes about $5 million.
jim: Finally, If your blog ended today, how would you like people to remember it?
Mapgirl: I hope that people remember it as being useful. I hope I can remain relavant to the average person looking to learn more about personal finance, how to fix something, bargain for the best deal, find a new job. I am working on my writing so that hopefully I won’t be remembered for my typos and rambling prose!

Read my blog! http://www.mapgirl.net/mfc/ [3]