Financial goals

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 50. Happy-making

Holy cow has it been some time since we last posted an episode. Sincere apologies all around; life and a bad back have slowed us down. But we're back with episode 50, in which we spend a bunch of time discussing the all-important question of how to make, and sustain, happiness. We run through a great list of ideas and consider their implications. We also catch you up on our finances, Chris's purchase of a new iPhone using drug money (I kid...there's no need to alert law enforcement), and other fun things. Finally, in Love Notes, we show some gratitude for all the little ways we've been keeping each other afloat in busy times.

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 13. My hair is perfect

In this episode, Kelsey and Chris rejoice in the greatest holiday gift of all: two boys sleeping through the night to start 2016. We also review our amazing Christmas trip to Austin, Chris's out-of-character-but-not-really gift-shopping spree, and how our gifts to each other turned out to be great additions to our lifestyle.

Chris also reveals a bit of hair-related vanity, sending us down memory lane to one of our first dates at a quirky concert by Zack Weisinger (opening for Chris's guitar hero, Steve Vai). Kelsey mentions some great listener stories about couples creating budgets and setting great financial goals for 2016. And we resolve the cliffhanger: did we make our savings goal of $20,000 for 2015??

A listener question on life insurance has us discussing our insurance plans, including the monthly cost they incur as well as the 'real' cost over their 30-year term. Finally, we discuss our 'one big thing.' Chris makes a common enemy of common enemies, and Kelsey talks about getting even more productive time out of the 4am in the morning.


episode 12. The Year of Me

As the year comes to an end, it’s all about getting past semester-end stress-heaps, looking back at the year that was, and looking ahead to our big plans for 2016. For Chris, 2016 is the Year of Optimism and the Campaign of Kindness*, and for Kelsey it’s the equally lofty Year of Kelsey.

In our money, we admit to our major seasonal financial downfall, the delicious Peppermint Mocha Latte we won’t stop buying until Starbucks cruelly pulls it from our caffeinated clench.

We also answer a listener question about how couples handle disagreements over money (or could maybe even avoid them).

On a less consumptive note, we review how we’ve done trying to get to $20,000 in savings towards paying off our mortgage (update: we made it!!). The year ahead will present some financial pressures, including some big travel and home improvement needs. Even so, we’re still hoping to repeat the feat of another $20,000 saved.

And of course, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season filled with family, fun, and financial planning. We’d love to hear what plans you make for your own money-related goals!

Feel free to share them here!

*Chris refers to an online article related to his Campaign of Kindness, which can be found here. And you can learn about his specific approach to being more optimistic and kind on his blog.

episode 11. Rethinking paying off the mortgage

Whew, life is crazy lately and we are looking forward to getting through this week and into the holidays. We're also spending a bit more on Christmas than we had anticipated, womp womp. But in better news: Kelsey got a 4% raise!

An awesome listener question has us revisiting our goal to pay off the mortgage and drives home the benefit of being honest about your personal finances. This also launches us into a more philosophical conversation about what it means to lead a fulfilling life and how getting your finances in order can enable that kind of life. 

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 8. How love is like the stock market

Happy November, friends! We are excited to share a new feature of the show. We invited interested listeners to submit some information along with money-related questions. We plan to occasionally feature listener profiles and share our advice for these listeners on the show. So if you're interested please use this form to submit your info. Thanks!

In this episode we discuss the very sad state of sleep in our household. But at least life hasn't been too busy lately and we have a super fun date night to look forward to: Book of Mormon with friends!

In money talk we give an update on our progress towards saving up to pay off our mortgage. We're at $17,300 and hope to make $20,000 by the end of the year. And just a reminder, we are investing that savings in a Vanguard total stock market index fund. The specific fund is VTSAX, which has a $10,000 minimum. A similar, alternative account with no minimum is VTSMX.

We answer a listener question about our process for deciding to have two working parents. Of course, this is not a financial decision alone and each family situation is unique. But here's a summary of what went into our decision: the fulfillment of our jobs was a big factor along with financial benefits in the short-term and long-term, and living near/being after to afford excellent childcare. Currently we pay about $2,000/month for childcare for two young children and Kelsey takes home $2,800. Because Chris has always earned more and been in a tenure-track or tenured university position we never considered a situation in which Chris would leave his job and stay home full-time. At face value that may seem like it does not make financial sense for Kelsey to be working but there are other financial benefits such as health insurance, dental insurance and a great retirement match (Kelsey and her employer both contribute 7% to her retirement account). 

And in one big thing, how love is like the stock market: when things are tough is the best time to invest.

episode 7. Awkwardly slurping tea

It's cool enough to sip tea but it's throwing Chris off his podcast game. We talk about Chris's recent trip to Austin, Kelsey's weekend managing the tots (which included an update to our gallery wall, below) and the spa vacation that Kelsey deserves in the near future.

Matrimoney podcast

We combine our money talk and listener questions and start off with a clarification on our strategy for paying off our mortgage early. Our strategy is this: each month we put $1,000 or more into a Vanguard index fund. We plan to continue to save money into this account and then pay off our mortgage with this money in one fell swoop in about five years. We are doing this instead of making extra mortgage payments each month because we expect the money in our index fund to earn better interest than our mortgage interest rate (4%). 

We also answer a listener question about saving and budgeting for spending around holidays and for gifts. This is something we have been working on and we've had disagreements about it! We now budget about $100 per month or $1,200 per year for birthday gifts, Christmas and holidays. We don't find that we spend much on holiday decor each year so this budget really goes to gifts and Christmas gifts. 

In One Big Thing, Chris is loving Mugglecast and is looking forward to speaking along side Peter Singer. Kelsey is loving the slightly cooler weather.

We are loving your emails and questions, keep them coming!

episode 3. A peaceful cushion of cash

We're heading back into our school year routine which will hopefully include weekly coffee dates and a clean kitchen. Chris reveals his trick for convincing his students that he's brilliant and our baby has been super cute this week.

In money discussions, we give some details of our budget including our monthly income, biggest expenses and where we've found big savings.

Several listeners have asked how to balance saving versus paying down debt versus retirement contributions.

Our approach has been to first identify life goals and opportunities. Our two main goals are to (1) build a strong savings that will (hopefully) enable early retirement and (2) maximize flexibility in our time.

To support these goals our financial approach has been:

Step 1. Build some emergency savings. Which Kelsey occasionally refers to as a peaceful cushion of cash. We used to maintain an emergency savings of living expenses for 3 - 6 months, but with Chris getting tenure in 2013 we've felt comfortable with just a couple months' worth. 

Step 2. Eliminate expenses. For us this has included a mix of big and small savings. We've found big savings by refinancing our mortgage, being a one-car family and paying off one of our student loans. Smaller savings have come from switching our cell phones to an MVNO (we use a company that isn't taking new residential customers at this time, but check out Republic Wireless), not having cable and not using paper products in the kitchen, among other things.

Step 3. Invest. Debt reduction versus savings can be a tough decision. It depends on goals, but comparing what you’d lose to interest on debt payments vs what you’d gain on returns with investments can help answer that question in a lot of cases. We strategically reduced debt to start and since have gone to town on investing.