Category Archives: blogging

Obama and the Talmud

mask sink

Saw this quote from The Talmud in huge letters on the side of a building:

“The past we inherit, the future we create”

Which reminded me of a more recent quote, from President Obama:

“Our destiny will not be written for us, but by us”

Both quotes reminded me of this blog, which I’ve neglected over the past few months.

The longer you go without a new blog post, the harder it gets because it feels like you have to break that silence with something awesome. But I just broke that silence with something…less-than-awesome?

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Meet Your Meat

My friend Rose from Our Lady of Second Helpings posted her version of our trip to the farm to buy our cow. She’s a food blogger, so her article focuses more on the nutritional aspects of grass-fed beef. It’s a great compliment to the articles I’ve written on the cost-savings potential in buying an entire cow.

For instance, here’s her take on grass-fed vs. whatever-junk-they-use-on-feedlots beef:

Taste and Nutrition – We would rather not eat greasy food. Compared to factory raised grain fed beef, grass fed beef is extremely lean. We prefer the more meaty and slightly gamey flavor of grass fed beef. Studies have shown grass fed beef to be higher in nutrients, minerals, and “good” fats.

Go read the whole article, it’s interesting.

What if this was a blog about building a house?

not our future house (hopefully)Mrs. Foundry and I are on month four of a house-hunt in the Seattle area. I enjoy looking at real-estate, weighing pros/cons of various floor-plans and neighborhoods, figuring out mortgages, etc. However, it’s a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process. For those not familiar with the parcularities of the Seattle area, we’re experiencing an unprecedented shortage of homes for sale, which is driving up prices and generally making it a less-than-awesome time to look for a house.*

We’re working with an awesome agent, Sheley, who is being patient with us, since we’re being very picky about where we spend a gajillion dollars and park our tuchases for the next few decades.

I recently got turned on to the blog A House By The Park, which details a local dot.com millionaire’s process of buying land and building a very expensive modern home. Even though we have a fraction of his budget, the thoroughness of his writing inspired me to check this option out. In addition, I have a soft spot for modern home architecture, but always assumed it was out of my price range.  Since housing is artificially inflated by low inventory, wouldn’t that make building a home a relatively cost-efficient thing to do?**

And why not blog about it along the way? I figured my blog name is already appropriate: the “foundry” being the home and the “forest” being Seattle. I can write about how we’re challenging the status quo in order to save money, which is pretty much my favorite thing to do and to write about.

So please pardon the mission creep, and indulge me while I write about buying, remodeling, and/or building a home, from identifying the property right up until moving in. Maybe some readers have experience with this already? Either way, I think we’re all in for a wild ride.

* An architect/builder friend explained that banks aren’t lending money for high-density condos, so developers are building lower-density townhomes and single-family homes. The lower density leads to less properties for sale, which leads to the classic supply-and-demand problem that isn’t unique to housing. I’m sure this is a simplified view of the situation, but it’s a more satisfying hypotheses than “nobody wants to sell their house right now.”

** This statement only applies to the house itself. Apparently I’m not the only person in town who came to the conclusion to build, as Vacant lots are also being subjected to the current mini-bubble.

Cow Number 2

car full of meatLast weekend we bought our second full cow from 3 Sisters Farms. We kept 1/4 of it (about 150 lbs) and divvied the rest up between a few other families. The first one lasted us 18 months, which means we ate just over 1.5 pounds of beef per person per month. I’ve heard a healthy red meat portion is 6-oz, so if we were eating right-sized portions each time (I probably ate more than my fair share), that comes to 4 servings of meat, or once a week. That’s probably about the optimal frequency for consuming red meat. However, we often brought the meat to potlucks and entertained guests with red meat dishes, so not all of it was actually consumed by our family.

If you compare the picture above to the one I took for the blog post about our first cow purchase, you can see how much better I’ve gotten at efficiently loading up the back of the car with boxes:

18 months ago

You can also see the difference between an old camera-phone, and Mrs. Foundry’s nice DSLR.

This year, the farmers weren’t making trips into the city so we drove to Whidbey Island to pick up the meat. Originally, I thought it was going to be a hassle (and negate the savings of buying bulk meat), but we made it into a fun day trip with Rose from Our Lady of Second Helpings and her son who’s about the same age as our youngest. We had a picnic lunch at Deception Pass and rode the ferry, so even though we logged over 150 miles onto the car (more than I drive in 3 months) I think it was well worth it to meat…I mean meet the farmers and the future hamburgers. The animals were well treated, and seemed very happy. The pigs had an unobstructed view of Puget Sound, and as much as I love the view from our back deck, I must admit I was a little jealous of those porkers.

The price went up compared to 18 months ago ($4.25/lb vs $4.00/lb last time) but that’s about the pace of inflation. To make it an even better deal, they threw in the organ meat (heart and liver) along with some dog bones that we gave to the other families who have dogs (and kept some for ourselves to make soup stock…shhhh).

Maybe I should have put a warning at the beginning of this post for vegetarians to skip over it? Nah.

PS: Happy Birthday to my sister, Mindy! I won’t divulge her age, but as of today, it now ends in a zero!

MMMMM (Me Merrily Meeting Mr. Money Mustache)

mustache bearMonday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers, Mr Money Mustache. Along with blogger pal Erica from Northwest Edible Life, he hosted a little get-together here in Seattle for his readers. There was even an offer of free beer if you rode your bike, but unfortunately I couldn’t take advantage of it as I rode the scooter to get home in time to take the Foundry Boys to Cub Scouts.

It was really fun to see MMM and watch him dish out advice face-to-face. I didn’t hear it all but the most commonly repeated refrain of his was that everybody should be riding a bike. I wholeheartedly agree! As I told someone there Monday night, replacing most car commuting with bike rides is the 2nd biggest improvement to my quality of life (marrying Mrs Foundry is #1 of course).

I knew I was among my own kind when someone in a group asked how many people love making spreadsheets, and everyone proudly agreed “I do!”

I got a warm feeling from being able to give some investing advice, based on the Gone Fishin’ In the Foundry portfolio.

But mostly it was great meeting others who share a passion for frugality, finances, and good beer. Hope to see you again next time!

What do you think of this new tagline?

oxygenNot that it makes a huge difference in the whole scheme of things, but I put a new tagline up at the top of my blog. Here’s why…

I figured that there are a thousand frugal blogs out there (even though this was the only “frugalism” blog), so I needed something more unique and inspiring. The new tagline is:

Work to earn. Earn to save. Save to invest. Stop working.

It was inspired by this awesome article on what “retirement” means in this day and age. The full context is:

I demonstrated a very typical Generation X attitude to finance. Rather than thinking of it as having a pension plan, getting vested, putting in my time, and making monthly installments on my defined contribution plan, I looked at the “rules” of the game. How does the money system work? Should I work to earn and earn to consume? Or should I work to earn and earn to save and save to invest so I can stop working?

I broke it into four sections that are really the four main topics of Foundry in the Forest

  1. Work to earn means Maximizing Income. Reading your average frugal blog has a diminishing return on your time, since there’s a limit to how little you can spend (Jacob, the guy who wrote the above article, seems to have found that limit, $7k a year per person). On the other hand, there’s no limit to how much you can earn. That’s why I recommend most people focus their efforts on maximizing income. Once you’re past 6 figures, you’re probably good in this department.
  2. Earn to save means Minimizing Spending. Figure out how much is enough and don’t spend a penny more. If you increased the frequency of your breathing, you could gulp up so much more oxygen. But you don’t because you have all the oxygen you need.
  3. Save to invest means Educating yourself about Investing. I wrote a series of posts on this topic that will help start your investing education. But never stop learning!
  4. Stop working means Becoming Financially Independent, and no longer requiring paid employment. That part should be self-explanatory. But maybe not, since smart people are still re-working the definition of “retirement” these days.

So that’s the new tagline. What do you think?

Foundry Goals

Once you’re past Freshman year of Frugal School, you’ll understand the importance of setting goals. What you might not have learned is that one effective way to stay accountable to your goals is to publicize them.

Like the old management quote says, you can only change the things you monitor.

In this spirt, the goals for my family and this website are listed on a new area called Foundry Goals. Just like in a role-playing game, each goal has levels that are more challenging then the previous ones.

You’ll note that there are no dollar signs to be found on these goals. That’s because the amount of money the Foundry makes is somewhat irrelevant. What’s more important is keeping a high savings rate by minimzing spending and maximizing income, which in turn will drive up the amount of investment income our savings can provide. When investment income matches spending, you don’t require paid employment any more, if you don’t want. While it’s important to track and optimize spending/income (which are measured in dollars), they aren’t goals in and of themselves.

I’d love to hear suggestions for other goals, or hear about your goals.

See the Foundry’s Goals here.