You tell us!

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{Money} Big dream, small budget? That’s okay.

Meet 3 FOFs who have used a clever online tool to raise thousands of dollars and fund their dreams.

How it works: Kickstarter is a website where individuals can raise money based on the crowd-funding model. Instead of taking an idea to angel investors or venture capital firms, Kickstarter members share their dream projects with the general public for funding. A fundraising campaign can last up to 60 days, and a “backer” can opt to pledge anywhere from $1 to $10,000. The money is not collected unless the goal is met by campaign’s deadline.

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FOF Jane Jensen, Computer Game Designer

Kickstarter project: Moebius, the first adventure computer and tablet game from Jane’s new studio, Pinkerton Road.
Goal: $300,000
Funds pledged so far: $193,824 (at the time this article was published)
Days left of her campaign: 30


Moebius Concept Image

FOF Jane Jensen, a veteran computer game designer, is best known for her adventure game, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, published in 1993 by Sierra On-Line. The game was named “Adventure Game of the Year” by Computer Gaming World magazine and was a huge commercial success. Jane went on to publish two more games in the Gabriel Knight series. Then, doom struck–literally and figuratively. “Doom, “a first-person “shooter” game, was also released in 1993 and “basically the whole industry moved in that direction and everyone said, ‘adventure games are dead,’” says Jane. “Sierra On-Line shut down their line dedicated to this genre.”

Jane has spent the last ten years working on “hidden object” games. “It hasn’t been super satisfying.” says Jane. “It’s been my dream to get back into adventure games.” This past year she took a first step when she opened her own Pennsylvania-based adventure game studio, Pinkerton Road.


Jane’s farm, where Pinkerton Road, her new adventure game studio, is located.

“I reached a point in my life where I decided I didn’t want someone else telling me what I should be doing,” says Jane. “I have fifteen years left to make an impact in this industry.” To fund production of her studio’s first game, Jane launched a Kickstarter campaign on April 5. In just 13 days, backers have pledged $193,814. (Jane says the majority of them are strangers). Jane’s project has been promoted as a “Project of the Day” in a Kickstarter e-mail, which she says has been instrumental to her success. She’s also worked very actively to keep the momentum up by answering hundreds of e-mails each day from backers and posting new video updates. “It’s practically a full-time job,” says Jane. She has thirty days left to raise a total of $300,000. Follow her project’s progress or pledge a donation, here.

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FOF Donna Guthrie, Documentarian
Kickstarter project: The Wedding Gown Project
Goal: $11,500–met on April 17, 2012!


A still from “The Wedding Gown Project.”

FOF Donna Guthrie devoted her career to short films and documentaries. She co-founded both the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival and The Six Women Playwriting Festival; and she founded Meet Me at the Corner, video field trips for kids. However, she has never produced a documentary of her own or fulfilled her lifelong dream to enter a film festival.

Last year she set out to make her own film by traveling around the country and interviewing women about the stories behind their wedding gowns. “I wanted to find some universal conversation women can have. Every woman has a story about her wedding dress,” says Donna.

Donna had enough money to film the interviews and produce a Kickstarter trailer but still needed money to produce the documentary. She had known about Kickstarter and even backed about ten Kickstarter projects, including an umbrella company and a movie about monopoly. “If I think it’s a good idea I’ll put $10 towards it just for their darn creativity,” she says. “I like the idea of giving a hand up instead of a hand out.” Last month, Donna launched her own Kickstarter page to raise $11,500 for production of her film. “I wrote a letter to friends and they passed it along; sent out an e-mail; blogged about it; my kids posted about it on their Facebook…It was a challenge,” she says. The hard work paid off–on Wednesday, April 17, she met her goal. A combination of “friends and strangers” pledged $11,540 ($40 over what she had requested). Now, it’s off to the editing room for Donna.

Find out more about the Wedding Gown Project, here.

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FOF Anna Donahue, sculpture artist
Kickstarter project: “Face Me” kinetic sculpture
Goal: $2,500–met on September 14, 2011!


Anna’s “Face Me” kinetic sculpture.

FOF Anna Donahue is a Michigan-based interior designer who is passionate about sculpting. Each year, for the past three years, she has entered ArtPrize, an art contest in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a grand prize of $200,000.

In early 2011, Anna submitted an idea for a 6-foot-tall sculpture made from salvaged metal that moves upon human touch. The sculpture was meant to represent the loss of physical human interaction with modern technology. ArtPrize accepted her entry, at which point Anna realized she needed to raise money in order to create her sculpture.


Anna at the scrap yard where she salvaged metal for her sculpture.

With less than two months until ArtPrize, Anna launched a 45-day Kickstarter campaign. In the end, her goal of $2,500 was met, with most of the donations coming from friends and friends of friends (although she estimates that 20% of the money came from strangers.)

She didn’t win ArtPrize 2011, but her sculpture sold. “That was huge,” says Anna. “The whole purpose was to get my name out there, and overall, I think I was successful.”

Find out more about Anna’s sculpture, Face Me, here.

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Two more FOFabulous Kickstarter projects you should know about:

SuperHairoine children’s TV series by FOF Irene Smalls
43 days left to raise $19,950 (at the time this article was published)

Children’s book author (Jonathan and His Mommy, 1992, Little Brown and Company) and FOF, Irene Smalls is in the process of developing a children’s television series based on a “hairoine” named Rin whose hair is her superpower. “Hair is something that women agonize over,” says Irene. “I thought, let me turn this on it’s head and make hair a source of empowerment.”

Body Memories coffee table book by FOF Susan Falkman
14 days left to raise $4,516 (at the time this article was published)

A friend’s breast cancer diagnosis and eventual mastectomy inspired FOF Susan Falkman, a sculpture artist, to carve a marble breast as a gift for her friend. From there, Susan carved 28 similar marble sculptures which became a traveling exhibition. Now, she is raising the money to print a coffee table book with pictures from the show as an inspiring and healing tool for female cancer patients.

What do FOFs save and splurge on?

Some things are worth a splurge, such as cashmere sweaters, sustainable seafood and tweezers, according to our most savvy FOF experts. But other things, such as drugstore nailpolish, fashion watches and eyeshadow, are better when you buy them cheap.

Intrigued? Flip through this slideshow to see the beauty, fashion, food and home items FOFs splurge and save on. Then, tell us below, do you agree? Is there something you’d add to this list?

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{Poll} Do you have (or give your spouse) an “allowance”?

The other day, we overheard an FOF say she gets a monthly allowance from her husband…we also know FOFs who enforce monthly spending limits on their spouses. It made us wonder — just how many of you get or give an allowance? Take our poll, then find out what financial expert, Elle Kaplan, thinks. (Elle is a financial advisor who specializes in helping FOFs manage their money.)

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


Financial expert Elle Kaplan on “allowances”:

FOF: Do you think setting an allowance is a good way to protect a couple’s finances?
Elle: Marriages are complex, so what works in one marriage may not work in another and I don’t judge that. What I would say is whether you are the recipient of an allowance or a provider of the allowance it is your financial responsibility to know about the entire financial picture. I don’t care if you are spending 5% of it, as long as you have active awareness of where the other 95% of it is. I encourage and even insist that both parties participate in financial conversations.

FOF: Why is that?
Elle: It’s not a place where you can just leave it up to your partner. I’ve seen this happen, then tragedy strikes and all of a sudden your partner’s not there. Life will be hard enough with heartache and grief, you don’t want to add this to the tragedy to-do list, you really don’t.

FOF: What if you’re worried that your partner’s spending will have detrimental effects on your family finances?
Elle: Honesty about finances is important. Often you and your partner will have different spending styles and that’s fine. Even though the spending will be different, your ultimate financial goals are going to be the same. No matter what you’re spending or whether you’re the giver or receiver of allowance, you can help to get on the same page about these goals by being honest and transparent about your finances.

FOF: Is there an approach you suggest, other than setting spending limits, to help curtail a partner’s spending?
Elle: There’s nothing wrong with what I call the ‘Ménage à trois‘ approach to spending, where there’s ‘his’ money and ‘her’ money and ‘our’ money. The key is transparency; you should both know how to access everything.

FOF: Do you have clients in happy, trusting marriages who set spending limits on each other?
Elle: I’ve seen it work quite well when couples have a baseline understanding about what’s reasonable to spend. That doesn’t mean a wife is calling her husband every time she makes a purchase saying, ‘This is $300, can I buy it?’ or visa versa. Instead, they might have set amount, say $500, that before either of them spend they will have a discussion about it. But below that amount they have the trust and ability to do what they like.

Elle Kaplan is the Founding Partner and CEO of Lexion Capital Management. Elle provides a broad range of wealth and risk management advice to individuals, foundations, trusts, and endowments.

{Money} “I’m 54. Is it too late to save for retirement?”

We recently received this question from an FOF member:

“I’m 54 years old, and I have nothing saved for retirement. Is it too late? Can I live on social security?”

Yes, this sounds scary. It’s also an all-too-common scenario for FOFs: Almost 50% of boomers don’t have enough money saved for retirement, according to a 2010 report by ERBI.org.

But when we posed this question to Elle Kaplan, a money manager who specializes in helping FOF women plan for retirement, her advice left us feeling surprisingly empowered and optimistic.

Says Elle: “Look at your financial assets the same way you look at your health. You wouldn’t wake up at 54 and say, ‘Well, it’s too late to be healthy so forget about exercising and eating right.’ It’s definitely not too late; you can have a wonderful financial future,
but start today!

“Step 1: For the next two months, write down everything that you spend, and all your bills. That way you can really see what money is coming in and what money is going out.”

“Next, figure out what your social security payment is going to be each month. The Social Security Administration will provide this information and tell you how much you’ll get if you retire at 67 or if you put it off until 70.

“Seeing these numbers–what you’re spending and what you’re going to have from social security–will let you know how much you need to start saving to fill the gap.

“Some women may find that by cutting costs here and there, they can save enough to fill their retirement gap. Where can you easily cut back? Do you buy your coffee every morning? Do you pack a lunch or buy it? How often do you eat out? Do you buy clothes on sale? Are these expenditures a necessity? Because saving for retirement is a necessity.

“For some women the gap may be quite large–they need to take a more aggressive approach.

“Three more aggressive, but very doable strategies:
1. Stop taking care of your adult children. This is a problem with so many FOF women. You need to tell your kids: ‘The most loving thing that I can teach you at this point, is how to be self-sufficient. So that hopefully one day you won’t be stressed about retirement the way I am right now. I’m giving you that gift.’

2.  Change your location. I have a client who works in New York City, however she’s from a small farming community where she still has friends and family. Her retirement strategy is to return to that community where the cost of living is significantly less and her dollar will go much farther.
3.  Consider semi-retirement. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about second careers to keep some income coming in. It doesn’t have to be a full-time gig. Consider some aspect of your job that you enjoy–how can you continue it on a part-time basis?

“Now that you know how much you need to save, you need to figure out where to put those savings.

“First, is there an employer match for your 401K? If so, you need to max that out immediately. If not, a beautiful option for this woman is a Roth IRA.  The IRA is the asset class, but then you have to choose what goes in the IRA. There are a number of really nice market-based index funds. They are inexpensive and you’re going to have instant diversification. You’ll own a basket of 500 different securities and they’re low cost–low fees.

“The most important thing: Saving for retirement doesn’t have to be radical. It’s like anything else in life. If you said to me tomorrow that you were going to be on an all-vegatable, 1,000-calorie diet, how long would that really last? An hour!  It’s too extreme. But if you said, ‘instead of a donut in the morning, I’m going to have whole-wheat toast,’ that’s realistic.

“Retirement is no different. If you’re 54 and you’re retiring, let’s say, at 70, you’ve got 16 years.  You can change your reality in that time.”

Elle Kaplan is the Founding Partner and CEO of Lexion Capital Management. Elle provides a broad range of wealth and risk management advice to individuals, foundations, trusts, and endowments.

{Careers} No experience? No degree? No problem!

These 5 FOFs started profitable second-act careers without going back to school or working their way up the ladder. Our FOF career gurus say you can, too…

B&B Proprietor

“My client Melanie, 54, was an executive with a major airline for over 20 years, but she always had a passion for cooking–especially breakfast pastries,” says FOF Career Guru Jane Angelich. “Her dream was to open a small B&B where she could live, earn an income, and enjoy baking for her guests.”

How she made it work: “Before Melanie made the leap, she spent a few days shadowing a B&B owner using this site: www.vocationvacations.com. Then, confident she’d enjoy B&B ownership, she sold her home (she was in the middle of a divorce), and rented while looking for an existing B&B for sale. By purchasing a property that was already active, she could build upon the prior owner’s customer base. She also didn’t have to worry about getting the zoning permits from scratch because that work was already done. Melanie is now making a comfortable living and having a blast creating new and exciting recipes for her guests.”

How you can, too: First, find a B&B you like and ask to shadow the proprietor for a few days. Even consider offering to work there a few weekends doing odd jobs. Then, salivate over all the fab inns for sale at www.bnb4sale.com. You’re on your way….

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“Workshopper” in a Retirement Community

“Anna, another client, was a bank executive who spent several years visiting her elderly aunt in a retirement community. She also hobbied as an actress in community theater. She loved listening to her aunt’s stories and decided she wanted to create a documentary to capture them. She created a series of workshops, using the documentary as a tool to help residents tell their stories. Since then she’s booked her workshops across the country and is paid as a workshop leader.”

How she made it work: “Anna landed her first ‘gig’ by trying out her material for free at her aunt’s retirement community to refine her delivery and material. She asked for testimonials and used them to build her marketing material. She attended a trade show geared for retirement community/assisted living providers and networked like crazy so she could follow-up after the show.”

How you can, too: What knowledge would you love to share? Consider your passions–history, gardening, art, shopping(!)–and offer to teach a seminar or run a workshop at your local assisted-living facility. Search for one in your community, here: http://www.alfa.org/

FOF Career Guru Jane Angelich is a serial entrepreneur. She’s been a business coach for over 30 years, helping women find their career zen. Today she is the CEO of Bright IP Concepts, manufacturer of the supercollar® and the author of two books about in laws, http://www.inlawexpert.com.
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Professional Downsizer

“My client Susan was a stay at home mom for many years before her kids left for school and her marriage fell apart,” says FOF Guru Kathi Elster. “She found her calling when she artfully downsized from a 4,000-square-foot home to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, sanity intact. Today, Susan helps families downsize when their kids move out, when someone moves to a retirement home or when divorce comes late in life.”

How she made it work: “Susan got her first client by visiting the newest Adult Living Facility in her community, describing her services, and offering a finder’s fee for any clients they recommended. She did the same with several local moving companies and quickly got clients. Then she started getting referrals.”

How you can, too: If you’re willing to pay a few hundred dollars, you can take organizing courses and get certified by NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers (classes average $40 for members and $140 for non-members). Alternately, offer to help a friend downsize for free, and learn while you do.

FOF Guru Kathi Elster, founder of k2 Enterprises, is an executive coach and nationally recognized business strategist.
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Home “Redecorator”

“An over-50 attorney I know loved home decorating and had a natural eye for it,” says Lauri Ward, president and founder of Use What You Have Interiors. “She watched HGTV and read decorating magazines religiously. Her friends always oohed and ahhed when they came to her home and begged her to help them with theirs. She knew this is what she wanted to do as her second-act career.”

How she did it: “She took a week off from her practice and completed my Redecorator Training in New York City. By the end of the week she had learned everything she needed to help clients re-do their rooms using what they already had on hand. This allowed her to jump right in, without having to create relationships with suppliers and designer showrooms. In addition to the practical redecorating skills, she learned best-business practices, pricing, marketing and even got some hands-on experience shadowing a re-decorator on the job. Plus, she was able to start off slow. She accepted clients on nights and weekends and only closed down her practice when she felt financially comfortable.”

How you can, too: Lauri Ward’s New York City Redesign training programs are offered 3-4 times per year. The $3,500 cost includes your tuition and lunch for the week. If you can’t make it to New York, Lauri offers an online training program (which provides the same certification as the live class) that you can complete at your own pace (typically 2-4 weeks) for $2,000. Once you get your business off the ground you can expect to earn a minimum of $250 per room (each room typically takes a couple of hours to complete).

Lauri Ward, president and founder of Use What You Have Interiors, an interior design business that helps people use what they already have in their home as the foundation to create a fresher, updated, more elegant look, without spending a lot of money.
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Dessert Caterer

“Andrea, a music industry exec was burnt out from her high-stress job and baking was the only thing that relaxed her,” says FOF career image specialist Lisa Johnson Mandell. “She recently started a dessert catering business. She makes treats for showers, teas, engagement parties and sets up dessert tables for kids parties. She plans to quit her day job when she can make enough from the business to keep up with her payments.”

How she made it work: “Andrea rents out a local kitchen for just $15 per hour and bakes on the weekends and by moonlight.  So far, it’s been a  minimum financial investment but it takes a toll on her, it’s physically draining and an enormous sacrifice of time. But, she thinks eventually she’ll be able to profit doing what she loves. She hopes to have her cake and eat it too.”

How you can, too: Many bakeries offer reasonable “cupcake camps” or workshops in cake decorating and baking. See if your local sweet shop has a class schedule. If not, ask if you can “stodge” (work in exchange for experience) at your local patisserie or shadow a pastry chef in your area. If your baking style is more homestyle than haute, market yourself that way! ‘Mrs. Fields’ never attended LeCourdon Bleu, and you needn’t either. When you’ve built up enough cooking confidence, check out this directory of commercial kitchens for rent and get baking!

FOF Lisa Johnson Mandell is a Career Image Specialist, an award-winning multimedia journalist, host and author of Career Comeback—Repackage yourself to get the job you want.

{Poll} Which celeb is the stingiest?

We hear so much gossip about the lavish lifestyles of loaded stars, but, talk is cheap…and so are these 4 FOF celebs. In your opinion, who is the stingiest?

Barbra Streisand

The frugal facts: Barbra is the veteran of vintage. A 1997 New York Times article about the rising popularity of vintage clothing credits “Babs” as the first female celeb to perform in thrifted togs.

The multimillionairess allegedly left $10 on a $457 bill at a New York restaurant. Shortly after she was heard singing all the way to the bank….
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Madonna

The frugal facts: Everyone knows “we are living in a material world” but did someone forget to tell the “Material Girl”?  A 2007 novel by a New York waitress exposes Madonna for not leaving a tip after being served in a restaurant. Hey, Madonna, we have a tip for you: Pop icons aren’t excused from dining etiquette!

In a book about Madonna, her own brother calls her “stingy” for giving their grandmother only limited financial help: “But my sister –who in 2008 is worth in excess of $600 million…opted at the time to send our grandmother just $500 a month and to pay her monthly household bills, for Madonna, a drop in the ocean,” wrote her brother. “When I think of Madonna’s wealth, I can’t help but think she’s being stingy with the grandmother who helped raise us.”

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Teri Hatcher

The frugal facts: Almost-FOF Teri Hatcher plays a well-off Desperate Housewife on television, but in real life this single mom desperately pinches pennies. The actress, estimated to be worth $50 million, told People magazine, “I’m a very conservative person. I drive my cars for 10 years until they have 100,000 miles on them….I don’t spend my money on sports cars or new million-dollar houses. To me, feeling comfortable means having way more than I need in the bank.”

And there’s no costly outsourcing for this Supermom, who “stayed up half the night to turn out such extravaganzas as 300 individually wrapped homemade chocolate butterfly lollipops” for her daughter Emerson’s school, according to an article in Vanity Fair.
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Queen Elizabeth

The frugal facts:
The recession has even Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s largest personal landowner tightening her royal purse strings. According to FrugallyMinded.com, “The British tabloids frequently allude to the Queen’s passion for turning-off the lights around Buckingham Palace, and tongues have wagged about her cautions to the princes, saying that she sternly has warned them not to flaunt the royal wealth.”

A royal Thriftmas? In 2008 the queen cut back with £7.95 crown decorations to decorate her Christmas tree and by having her presents made in China to save money. “It’s not just at Christmas but right throughout the year that she tries hard to keep costs down.” A spokesperson told Britain’s Hello! magazine. “The queen has been extremely thrifty all her life and jokes that it’s her Scottish blood.”

The spokesperson may not have been kidding about thriftiness being in the queen’s blood… Her mother had a reputation for frugality. According to a recent Telegraph article the Queen Mother “refused to buy a TV…and relied on an ‘antiquated’ video recorder to watch horse racing.” She also “regarded her favourite Burberry jackets as “old friends” from whom she was unable to part. He [her aide] said he did not see her wear a new raincoat during his 28 years of service.”
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Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Images via Zimbio: Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Teri Hatcher, Queen Elizabeth