Budgeting

episode 56. I quit!

On this episode,we delve into just one topic: Kelsey. Quitting. Her. Job! We describe how we came to this decision, what it means for the family, and how we planned our finances in order to make it work. Kelsey also talks about how she is planning to use her time, what opportunities it affords and what is scary about such a big life transition.

In non-job news, Chris also gives an update on our solar panel system and how it's shaping up financially and ecologically.

Finally, in Love Notes, Kelsey talks about the fun 'Turning the Page' party we held to celebrate her change in work situation (and thanks to Uprooted Kitchen for hosting us!), and Chris thanks Kelsey for helping us ease into such a major transition.


episode 52. How to have a financial summit

In our first episode of 2018, we discuss our favorite event of the year, the Team Wharton Financial Summit! And we describe how you can have one, too (they really can be fun, we promise). We also go through the highlights and lowlights of our spending, where we hit our budgets and where we busted them, and what we're looking to improve upon for 2018.

Also, to ring in the new year, we're proud to offer our first giveaway: a pair of amazing Sudio earbuds. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this episode! Well choose a winner on Thursday, February 1. WINNER: Sara K - congrats!!

It's our annual financial undressing, so tune in and enjoy (and please don't judge...or do, whatever is more fun for you).


episode 51. Happy (not-too-spendy) holidays!

This is our final episode of the year, so we celebrate the holidays by - how else? - talking about the financial implications of gift-giving! We also discuss our differing reasons for buying the gifts we do and we offer up some giving ideas that don't contribute to the build-up of stuff in people's lives.

Throughout the episode, we mention a few interesting sites and resources. One nice article from A Cup of Jo about creating a weekly ritual helped us think through how we could do the same. We also mentioned a great place to buy bikes for kids (Islabikes) as well as a couple of sites that could make great gifts for those interested in learning new skills and enhancing creativity (such as Storywonk and Creative Live).

Have a great holiday season everyone! We'll see you in 2018.


episode 46. One crazy summer

We're back, and we missed you dear listeners! In our first episode of season 2, we catch you up on the heckuva summer we experienced...the good and the bad. In our new Home Economics segment, Chris talks about his new job and how we decided, together, to take it. We also talk about the crazy expenses that came up for us and how we handled them.

In Article Club, we discuss a great piece from the Boston Globe on recent research related to clutter and stress. Reserachers from UCLA followed 32 middle class families and documented all the ways stuff gets in the way of life.

And, in Love Notes, Kelsey talks about how much she appreciates the time Chris gives her to get away from the madness of a household of 2 (+1) boisterous boys. And Chris talks about how appreciative he is that the philosophy of less is a shared and cherished one at the HiFi House.


episode 31. Real-time budgeting

Today's show is a wee different. We've had a number of issues and decisions come up that potentially require us parting with many of our dollars. So, we decided to temporarily forego our standard format and instead record a live Wharton Family Financial Meeting! A fun experiment that could either be super-interesting or way boring. Enjoy!


episode 23. The truth about fighting

In this episode, we have an agreeable conversation about disagreements. We talk about our latest desperate attempt to improve our toddlers' sleeping behaviors, and we officially unveil our freshly painted house's name along with the phrase to be painted on our back wall.

In money, we discuss the extremely foolish cost of outsourcing jobs we can probably do ourselves. We lament.

We also cover a great listener question about how to budget and save with consistency despite having variable month-to-month income.

Finally, in One Big Thing, Chris discusses the financial power and satisfaction of 'insourcing' (see also: lamentations above) and Kelsey talks morning dates!


episode 19. February brewery

In this tongue-twisting episode, we discuss our love of Home Away and Air BnB for frugal, yet higher-quality traveling. We also chat about our upcoming anniversary and Chris's penchant for indiscriminate, non-special day-adhering gift-giving (which Kelsey doesn't mind since she's got a sweet new Letterfolk letterboard hanging in our kitchen for future Mother's Day).

Chris beseeches you, dear listener, for advice on his ailing knee. And Kelsey teases a fun game from Feisty Harriet's blog about how we'd spend various amounts of money if we had to. The question: if you had to spend the money (i.e., you're not allowed to save it), how would you spend $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, or $1,000,000? We'd love to hear your answers to this question, so leave them below in the comments section or shoot us an email!

In Money, we discuss Chris's sage financial advice (lifted brazenly from the internet...and his elders). We also feature another great listener profile. This time, we have a couple living in Nashville, TN, who are near and dear to our hearts. We cover questions about how to partition saving for various short- and long-term goals as well as the benefits and detriments of paying a mortgage down more quickly than their loan requires.

And, in One Big Thing, Kelsey chats about the fun of Easter, and Chris meanders down an intellectual path to nowhere.


episode 10. The joy of having less stuff

This episode brought to you by cough drops and sick days from work, ugh. But even when we're sick we love to talk personal finances.

In our money, Christmas spending is upon us! We have budgeted $500 for Christmas including gifts, Christmas cards and a Christmas tree. We're already $120 in, we hope we can stick to it! We also wax on our love of living with less stuff which has been life-changing for us.

Several listeners have asked about saving to help your kid's pay for college so we share our strategy. We have 529 accounts set up for each child (we chose the Arizona plans but as a U.S. resident you can choose any state's plan, it does not restrict the schools where the money can be used). We chose the 529 because of the tax advantages (we an write off our contributions and withdrawals from the accounts for qualifying educational expenses do not incur a tax) and because it is easy for relatives to contribute, if they are so inclined. We are not contributing much to college savings at this time because we are saving up to pay off our mortgage. But once we save up and pay off our mortgage we will turn our attention to saving for college.


episode 9. Advice to our younger selves

Our children are sleeping! Kelsey is podcasting at work! Chris sold his side business and made zero dollars! In other news, our full work calendars have us buying lunch and coffee out way too much - shut it down!

We also share some advice for getting a budget started. Budgets can seem stressful but are, in fact, a helpful and powerful tool. A budget puts you in control of your money because you can track where your money goes, and you can identify areas for improvement (such as increasing savings, or cutting down on certain expenses). We use a budget in an Excel spreadsheet (see our budget here) along with Mint to track our money. We've also heard good things about the You Need A Budget software, but haven't tried it yet ourselves.

We are big proponents of making financial goals and working with your partner to achieve them. It might be saving for a down payment on a house, paying off a debt or something smaller like spending less on coffee (not to name names...). As you work toward your goal, celebrate along the way. We've found it to be a powerful tactic to keep us motivated as we work to accomplish a financial goal.

A listener asked a great question about what advice we would give our younger selves. We said:

  • Save like CRAZY! You'll never be so flexible as you are when you are young (and pre-kids) so sock away as much cash as you can.
  • Don't buy a house with a notion of a "starter home". Buy the best quality house that you can while keeping the mortgage payment as low as possible and plan to stay.
  • Get rid of stuff a la The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and don't accumulate crap.

episode 4. Beatboxing a budget

We reflect on how we're doing on getting into a school year routine so far (dishes front: good; coffee date front: not so good). Kelsey is eager for fall weather but all Chris wants to talk about is his birthday.

In money talk, we look back at August, as tracked in Mint, and reveal how we did at sticking to our budgets. We had wins and losses. For those of you who love to break it down graphically, here's what our August spending looked like:

  Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 11.14.17 AM

We budget a total of $6,100 for our expenses each month but in August we spent $6,800, womp womp. We had overages in the categories of childcare, home repairs and car repairs although we did well on our entertainment spending (a challenge for us!). We also determined that our coffee habit is the gateway for unnecessary spending and we need to do some soul searching about it. Overall, our spending resulted in not being able to save as much last month. 

And we've got our current budget to share with you! Find it on our Resources page.

We also give some more context to our advice that you probably don't need a financial planner. First, let us say that for some people a financial planner could be a great resource. This might be if you have overly complex finances (many rental properties, self-employed, are so intimidated by your finances you don't know where to start or you are preparing to retire soon and draw down your investments).

If you do plan to see a financial advisor we recommend choosing someone who does not work for a large investment firm and therefore will be more likely to evaluate your finances objectively with your goals in mind and not push a pre-determined investment strategy or products. And be sure to choose a fee-only advisor and not fee-based advisor. Fee-only means you will pay a flat fee.

We have gotten by without a financial advisor following these steps:

  1. Identify life goals and the financial strategies to support those goals.
  2. Increase income (only partly under our control, such as raises and changing jobs).
  3. Drastically reducing expenses (nearly completely under our control). This is where we have done a lot of work. We discuss several of the ways - big and small - that we have decreased our living expenses in episode 3

To determine where and how to invest our money we did lots of reading and research and determined that Vanguard investment accounts are the right choice for us (low fees and perform well). We invest in an index fund, which means that the fund is a diverse portfolio of stocks, is not actively managed and tracks with the stock market (goes both up and down with the stock market).

We close the show with Chris reflecting on the philosophy of creating more value than you take in and both of us getting emotional about how fast our boys are growing.

If you are in the United States, happy Labor Day! We hope you have the day off and are relaxing, perhaps by budgeting and finding new ways to save.