This husband and wife team are both extremely intelligent; It’s no surprise that they are keeping a side project going with all that extra brain power. Emily is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering and her husband Kyle has a BS in biology, computer science, and is about to receive his PhD in computational biology. Personally, I’m happy they’re keeping a fun personal finance blog. With their combined skill sets, they could be building Terminators and programming Skynet. Instead, they spend their time helping complete strangers with their personal finance. Well done guys! We chose them as our first winner in the “Unbiased Personal Finance” blog awards for 2012.
1) Your blog is wonderfully candid. Are there any fiscal events in your lives you elected not to blog about? Has this ever been a source of disagreement?
In short, no, we haven’t omitted mentioning any fiscal events that have happened since the blog started. Sometimes we are cagey about exact numbers, but essentially any information that we withhold is for the sake of brevity, not secrecy. I imagine when we get our first post-graduate real jobs we will have to stop sharing our exact income as we are not anonymous.
One disagreement we have had is over tracking our net worth on the blog. Kyle is more conservative about revealing information than I am, so we generally allow his preference to win out on how much to say. We share our savings rate on the blog but not the growth in our retirement and investment accounts, for instance.
One area that we often think to write about but usually don’t is about our parents – what they taught us about money when we were growing up, the examples they set, our ongoing fiscal relationships – but we don’t want to share any information they might consider sensitive so we refrain most of the time.
2) When you guys were dating, did you talk about money?
Certainly. We met in college so neither of us had much of a financial life at that time – we sort of grew up together in terms of becoming financially independent from our parents, so we were always talking. Kyle knew that I had student loan debt from early on, and we talked over the stipend offers we received as we were accepted to grad schools. Kyle introduced me to Mint.com and my example of saving for retirement spurred Kyle to max out his Roth IRA. During premarital counseling we dug more into the influence of our families of origin to anticipate how that would affect our marriage. During our engagement we also decided that after we married we would completely join our money and use Kyle’s savings to pay off Emily’s student loans.
3) Has blogging helped you be accountable to your goals? If you weren’t publishing everything, would you still be doing this?
We are not very involved in making financial goals. We meet our high-level priorities first (giving, retirement savings) and try to stick to our budget, which accounts for irregular expenses. Our main goals are career-oriented right now and I think that surviving grad school with no debt and decent savings is pretty impressive! (Editors Note: Heck yes it is!) We are looking forward to making more goals with our future real-job incomes. I think the monthly budget reports we publish on the blog have helped us stay on track and not blow our budget in the small ways we might be temped to. And honestly, we may not have moved last summer if we hadn’t been blogging – we were able to admit we were paying too much in rent to ourselves, but to admit it to all our readers was too much!
4) What’s the most aggressive personal finance goal you’ve ever set? Did you accomplish it?
Our most aggressive goal was trying to max our both our IRAs and we didn’t meet it. Kyle maxed out his IRA before we were married and so after we were married I wanted to save just as much as Kyle, but we didn’t have room in our budget. I did incrementally increase my savings rate several percentage points and at times that was really a stretch but we never backed down. We wouldn’t have increased our contribution that high if we hadn’t had the goal of maxing out in mind so it was beneficial even though we didn’t reach it.