Friday, January 29, 2010

Punks Doing Awesome Stuff: Dr. Eamonn Vitt

I'm constantly blown away and inspired by my friends. In this way and of course in tons of others, I am EXTREMELY fortunate. One of my friends has taken the cake recently in the inspiration department. That's Dr. Eamonn Vitt.

Eamonn recently returned from a mission with Doctors Without Borders in Madi Opei, Uganda. The work this organization is doing is crucial and urgent. The work that Eamonn did in Uganda was equally crucial and urgent. His blog and photos can be found here. They speak for themselves.

Most of us are more familiar with Doctors Without Borders now, thanks to the work they're doing in Haiti. They need our help and support now more than ever. Please donate if you can.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian and a mother of modern feminist theology, died Jan. 3 at the age of 81

From the National Catholic Reporter:
Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian and a mother of modern feminist theology, died Jan. 3 at the age of 81. She was one of the most influential voices of the radical feminist movement through the later 20th century.
Daly taught courses in theology, feminist ethics and patriarchy at Boston College for 33 years. Her first book, “The Church and the Second Sex,” published in 1968, got her fired, briefly, from her teaching position there, but as a result of support from the (then all-male) student body and the general public, she was ultimately granted tenure.
The full obituary is here.

Some of her sweet quotes here:

"You guard against decay, in general, and stagnation, by moving, by continuing to move."

"There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to do so.

“Ever since childhood, I have been honing my skills for living the life of a radical feminist pirate and cultivating the courage to win. The word ‘sin’ is derived from the Indo-European root ‘es-,’ meaning ‘to be.’ When I discovered this etymology, I intuitively understood that for a woman trapped in patriarchy, which is the religion of the entire planet, ‘to be’ in the fullest sense is ‘to sin.’”

“Women who are pirates in a phallocratic society are involved in a complex operation. First, it is necessary to plunder--that is, righteously rip off gems of knowledge that the patriarchs have stolen from us. Second, we must smuggle back to other women our plundered treasures. In order to invent strategies that will be big and bold enough for the next millennium, it is crucial that women share our experiences: the chances we have taken and the choices that have kept us alive. They are my pirate's battle cry and wake-up call for women who want to hear.”

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The New Year Financial Planning File Folder System

I love a list and I hate filing. Part of my barrier to filing is there never seem to be the right categories or there are too many empty categories. I caught this list during a rare Today Show viewing the other day. It’s from a book called Start Over, Finish Rich which I don’t like the title of but I’m all for starting fresh and being secure. I’m doing my filing and purging today with the help of this list and thought I’d share this in case anyone else needs a little sorting help too.

Start with a 14 fresh file folders (13 if you don’t have kids). These should be:

1. ‘Tax Returns.’ This hanging folder should contain four file folders, one for each of the last three years plus one for the current year. Mark the year on each folder’s tab and put into it all of that year’s important tax documents, such as W-2 forms, 1099s, receipts to support deductions or credits, and (most important) a copy of all the tax returns you filed for that year. Generally speaking, you don’t need to keep tax records for more than three years, although some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, retirement accounts, and business or rental property — should be kept longer. I keep all my tax documents for at least seven years, but that’s an individual decision.

2. ‘Retirement Accounts.’ All of your retirement account statements go here. You should create a file for each retirement account that you and your partner have. If you have three IRAs and a 401(k) plan, then you should have a separate file for each. The most important documents to file are the quarterly statements. If you have a company retirement account, you should also definitely keep your sign-up package, because it lists the investment options you have — something you should review at least once a year. You don’t need to keep the prospectuses that the mutual-fund companies mail you each quarter.

3. ‘Social Security.’ Keep your most recent Social Security Benefits Statement in this folder. If you haven’t received a statement in the mail in the last 12 months, request one by going online to or telephoning the Social Security Administration toll-free at (800) 772–1213.

4. ‘Investment Accounts.’ This folder is for every statement you receive related to any investments you may have (mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc.) that are not in a retirement account. Prepare a separate file folder for every brokerage account you maintain.

5. ‘Savings and Checking Accounts.’ Keep your monthly bank statements here, with a separate file folder for each account. Generally speaking, you don’t need to keep bank statements for more than a few months — certainly not more than a year. If you get your statement online, print out a copy and stick it in the file.

6. ‘Household Accounts.’ If you own your own home, this hanging folder should contain the following files:
“House Title,” for documents such as title reports and title insurance policies. (If you can’t find this stuff, call your real estate agent or title company.) “Home Improvements,” for all your receipts for any home-improvement work you do. (Since home improvement expenses can be added to the cost basis of your house when you sell it, which means a bigger tax deduction for you, you should keep these receipts for as long as you own your house.)
“Home Mortgage,” for all your mortgage statements. (Which you should check regularly, since mortgage companies often don’t credit you properly.) If you’re a renter, this folder should contain your lease, the receipt for your security deposit, and the receipts or canceled checks for your rental payments.

7. ‘Credit Card DEBT.’ Make sure you capitalize the word “DEBT” so it stands out and bothers you every time you see it. I’m not kidding. In my view, credit card debt is the biggest problem facing American consumers today. In Step 3, I will lay out a detailed plan for how you can pay down your debt as responsibly and quickly as possible. Right now simply create the folders — a separate one for each credit account you have — and keep your monthly statements in them.

8. “DOLP™ Worksheet.” DOLP stands for “Dead On Last Payment.” This is the system for paying down debt that I have taught for nearly a decade. I will explain exactly how it works in Step 3. In the meantime, make a copy of the DOLP worksheet on page 44 and put it in this file. (You can also download the worksheet from

9. ‘Credit Scores.’ This folder is for your most recent credit scores, along with the credit reports on which they are based. See Step 4 for details on what these are and how to get copies.

10. ‘Other Liabilities.’ This is where you keep all your records dealing with debts other than your mortgage and your credit card accounts. These would include college loans, car loans, personal loans, etc. Each debt should have its own file folder, which should contain the loan note and your payment records.

11. ‘Insurance.’ Make separate file folders for each of your insurance policies, including health, life, automobile, homeowner’s or renter’s, disability, long-term care, and so on. Each of these folders should contain the appropriate policy and all the related payment records. If you have any employer provided insurance (e.g., medical coverage), include all the brochures and other informational material you’ve received from your company.

12. ‘Family Will or Trust.’ This should hold a copy of your most recent will or living trust, along with the business card of the attorney who drafted it.

13. ‘Children’s Accounts.’ If you have children, create a folder for all statements and other records pertaining to college savings accounts and any other investments you may have made on their behalf.

14. ‘Latte Factor®.’ Here is where you keep your Latte Factor worksheet. For some of you, this may be the most important folder you create.

• Outdated warranties
• Outdated instruction manuals
• Outdated wills or trusts (provided you created a new one)
• Canceled insurance policies
• Credit card statements for closed tax years
• Canceled checks for closed tax years
• Old brokerage statements for closed tax years (unless they have cost-basis information you might eventually need)
• Old annual reports from stocks and/or mutual funds
• Old investment newsletters (some people keep these things for years because they paid for them — let them go)
Organize your financial life online