Penny Reviews Her 2016 Spending in Excruciating Detail

Dearest Richard,

Thanks for sharing where your money went in 2016! I love looking at that stuff. I’ll share mine in a minute here.

A couple of things:

1) I didn’t see a category for charity. Please explain.

2) Like you, I don’t budget either. Like I said, I’m trying to teach myself how to spend more money. I’m in no danger of overspending. I always know where my money goes and for what reason it is being spent.

3) You are not materialistic, but (and this is just an observation), it seems that you like to amass experiences (big, expensive experiences) the way other people like to amass material possessions. Still seems like a form of materialism, even though you are not actually collecting material things.

4) I liked your charts, but I was kind of hoping for more. Like, how does your food money breakdown between what you spent at restaurants compared to the grocery store. What exactly does your category of “House” entail (like, toilet paper and contact solution and stuff like that)?

I think you told me once: It would take me 2-3 full days to list out all our expenses and categorize them in detail. Not gonna do it! But I’d love to see these details for a rich person. This is the kind of money porn that people love to look at! Isn’t that what financial voyeurism blogs are all about?!

Anywho, so, without further ado, here is where the Penny family’s money went in 2016, in all of its gloriously excruciating detail…

Continue reading “Penny Reviews Her 2016 Spending in Excruciating Detail”

Rich’s Travel Journal: 3 Key Ingredients For A Great Vacation

Dear Penny,

You might be wondering what a Rich family vacation looks like, especially after I revealed that we spent $36,000 on travel in 2016. Well, thanks for asking! I’ll be posting regularly about my travels, but first I need to describe our recipe for cooking up a great vacation.

Every Rich family vacation has to have 3 key ingredients: Exciting Destination, Comfortable Lodging, and Memorable Activities

1) Exciting Destination: It starts here. Are Mrs. Rich and I genuinely excited about the location? I’m always surprised when people tell me about their planned vacation with precognitive dread. And often, they’ve done the same mediocre trip multiple times. Typical conversation:

Me: “So Jimbo, are you excited to go back to Florida this year?“

Jimbo: “Yeah, well, we have the timeshare. It’s ok. Wouldn’t mind trying something new, but been going there since ‘05. Last year there was a funny raccoon … ”

Me: “Zzzzzzzzzzz.”

Jimbo: “Zzzzzzzzzzz.”

Why do people do this? They already know the trip is boring! And when we’re excited, the kids get excited by osmosis.

Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway, Ireland

2) Quality Lodging: Is there a conveniently located hotel that will provide enough space and comfort so that we all don’t drive each other completely bonkers? HINT: THIS MEANS A SEPARATE ROOM FOR THE KIDS. (In case you missed that, I bolded, italicized, and underlined it for emphasis. And made it blue.) What can we do with the kiddos when they wake up at 5am or get bored at 7pm? And how’s the food, and the gym/spa?

Continue reading “Rich’s Travel Journal: 3 Key Ingredients For A Great Vacation”

Rich Reviews Where His Money Went in 2016 — His Future Self Will Be Proud

Dear Penny Pincher,

Unlike you, I have no problem spending! Especially when that spending aligns with my philosophy of money and the meaning of life. I set aside savings first, but as long as I’m on track with savings goals, I see little value in hoarding money for my future self.

In his book Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert argues that people are really bad at predicting what their future selves will want. Moreover, studies often show that older people wish they had traveled more when they were younger rather than saving for a hypothetical trip in retirement. Mrs. Rich and I have taken these ideas to heart, especially since we’re not trying to retire super early like Mr. Facial Hair and the FIRE crowd. (Note: I love the FIRE crowd and their blogs, it’s just not my destiny.)

I think the future Mr. and Mrs. Rich will be proud of how we spent money in 2016. Before I reveal the numbers on expenses, let’s talk income. Our gross income was $250,000 (not including illiquid investment earnings). We worked hard and had our best year so far. I’m not sure why, but I think income often gets lost in personal finance articles. It’s hard to manage money if you don’t have any, and education + career choices matter when it comes to income.

Here’s a chart showing our expenses by category, such as Investments, Travel, Food, Taxes, etc. Can you guess what the percentages are referring to?

Rich’s 2016 Expenses By Percentage

Continue reading “Rich Reviews Where His Money Went in 2016 — His Future Self Will Be Proud”

Book Review: The Cozy Life — Penny Is A Hygge Expert

This post has affiliate links to products we endorse. Full disclaimer.

Dear Rich,

I love that The Cozy Life has added a little bit of magic to your life! I have to say, when I was reading it, I was mostly patting myself on the back for already doing the majority of the things mentioned. I think it is a way of life that comes naturally to me. You could say I’m a hygge expert. It did inspire me to add glogg (mulled wine) to our Christmas celebration though. It’s those little comforts and special things in life that can add up to something transforming.

I think that hygge can come at any price point. It sounds like your expensive Greece vacation had a lot of it, but, then again, a less expensive excursion could have done the same thing. Money is not really the point.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Cozy Life — Penny Is A Hygge Expert”

Book Review: The Cozy Life — Why Rich Puts Cinnamon in His Coffee

This post has affiliate links to products we endorse. Full disclaimer.

Dear Penny,

I drink a lot of coffee. When I say a lot, I mean 2.5 cups minimum before 8am. That’s just a warm up for the day. Blame it on kids, work, habit, or addiction. I’m ok with it, because I love every sip. And I love my Le Creuset french press in Marseille blue.

So, I’m not exaggerating when I say that the book The Cozy Life has instantly and dramatically improved my existence. You see, I now add a pinch of cinnamon to my morning cup o’ joe. YES, CINNAMON!

The fragrance of cinnamon, especially in winter, epitomizes this Danish idea of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) for me, evoking comfort, warmth, and and a touch of nostalgia. Think Christmas morning in comfy pajamas and pancakes on the stove. Think cookies and wine in front of the fireplace. Am I exaggerating? No. Cinnamon in my coffee does all this.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Cozy Life — Why Rich Puts Cinnamon in His Coffee”

How Penny Spends So Little: She Doesn’t Value Much of Anything (Much Less Cheese)

Dear Rich,


Well, what can I say about your Philosophy of Money and the Meaning of Life? You’ve made some great points that I can’t really argue with. I admire what you want to do with your money. It is aligned with values I hold dear as well.

It seems that when many people earn money, they acquire a lot more material things to go with it. Rich people tend to move into big houses, even though they have a very small number of people in their family. Or they’ll have more than one house. I’ve never understood that. Seems like such a waste to me. I’m glad that’s not the case with you.

I still don’t fully understand how one goes about spending millions of dollars (I’ve seen Brewster’s Millions, it doesn’t seem like an easy task) when the MOST valuable things in life can be acquired for a lot less. But, I digress. You’ve made some good points.

I’ve been actually working, in my own personal life, on learning how to spend MORE money. I’m no good at spending money. I am naturally inclined to not spend, to make due, and I get a tremendous high out of getting things for free. For example, here’s a ridiculous story about wanting something just because it was free.

Continue reading “How Penny Spends So Little: She Doesn’t Value Much of Anything (Much Less Cheese)”

Rich’s Philosophy of Money and the Meaning of Life (and the Value of Cheese)

Dear PenPen,

You wrote: As for you, congrats on your plan to amass your Scrooge McDuck-like fortune. A couple of questions: What do you plan to DO with all that money anyway? 

Actually, I never expected to amass anything, much less a pool of gold coins to swim in with ducks. I’m from a small farming town (you know, you were there), and I have a BA in Theology and an MA in Religion. Not exactly a fast track to investment banking. After grad school, I moved to Paris for 6 months (rather aimlessly) to learn French, and I lived on baguettes and peanuts. Literally.

Earn your way to happiness … by spending those earnings wisely …

That’s when opportunity knocked. I landed my first “career” job because of the French skill and I’ve hustled to move up in my company ever since. And, like a lot of people who have advanced degrees and decent careers, my wife also has an advanced degree and a decent career. Double high income.

So, whether I expected it or not, here I am with plenty of money. Is it important to me? Yes, but mostly in terms of what I can do with it. Which leads to your other questions: What will I do with all this, and what’s the point? For the answer, I need to get a bit philosophical. As any good Theology major would.

The Meaning of Life and Death … and Happiness

Whoa, this is getting heavy! Bear with me. Everyone faces these questions: “What should I do with my life? What is the meaning of life, or how can we find meaning in life?”  Continue reading “Rich’s Philosophy of Money and the Meaning of Life (and the Value of Cheese)”

Penny Tells Rich What She Thinks of His 3 Year Plan to Pay Off $173,000 in Student Loans

Dear Rich,

Okay, here’s what I think of your 3 Year Plan for us to pay back our student loans:

Let’s start with your first scenario…

Slow and Steady + Increase Your Income. Well, duh. If we wanted to do this, we would be doing it already. Ultimately, we value me staying at home with the kids more than we value having money and paying down student loans. But, as my husband’s chiropractic business continues to grow every year, we will hopefully be able to put more money toward the student loans every year. So, yes, this plan makes sense, and we will implement it when we can.

Here’s a graph on how the net income of my husband’s chiropractic practice has grown since it opened:

​So, ideally (and presumably), it will continue to grow and we will be able to throw money at that great wall of student loans that much more.

Now, onto your second scenario…

Go For Broke! Literally. You’ve already acknowledge that this is a risky and bad idea, so let’s just move on.

Your third, and favorite, scenario…

Continue reading “Penny Tells Rich What She Thinks of His 3 Year Plan to Pay Off $173,000 in Student Loans”

Rich’s 3 Year Plan for Penny to Repay $173,000 in Student Loans

Dear Penny,

I don’t want to dwell on the past. At some point I want to hear the story of how you amassed $173,000 in student loans, but right now I’m more interested in where you go from here. Still, let me take one moment to process your situation …

Holy Mother of Zeus By The Power of Greyskull Sweet Aunt Jemima that is a CRAPLOAD of bad debt!

Ok, I feel better. And you seem to feel ok, too. Most people would be completely down in the dumps, but you are maintaining good humor. I respect that. Now, what to do?

You probably don’t have HBO, but here’s my analogy. You are in the midst of a very brutal story called Game of Loans, in a fight to the death with The Mountain … of Debt. The question is, are you a Lannister, always paying your debts? Are you a Snow, magically rising from the dead? Or are you every other character, getting the crap beat out of you? Join me, the Father of Dragons, and let’s figure out how to defeat this enemy. Continue reading “Rich’s 3 Year Plan for Penny to Repay $173,000 in Student Loans”

Penny’s 13 Year Plan to Repay $173,000 in Student Loans

Dear Rich,

I find it amusing to think that in 13 years you will have amassed close to your 2 million dollars in savings and I will just be breaking even. Ah, life! Crazy, isn’t it?

I think your plan looks great. But, then again, what do I know? We have $173,000 in student loan debt! Ha ha. Anyway, so here is my plan to pay back pay our $173,000 in student loans in 13 years. My handy dandy spreadsheet with yearly numbers is at the top of the post.


We are currently putting $20,000 a year toward our student loans. Right now, it feels like we’re throwing money at a wall, like it’s doing nothing. So much of it is going toward the interest. We have to pay $918 a month just to keep the loan from growing any bigger. Which sucks. At the end of the 13 years, we will have paid over $86,000 on the interest alone (which is 49% of where the loan is at now), but what can you do? (Seriously, what can you do? Do you know of a better way???) Continue reading “Penny’s 13 Year Plan to Repay $173,000 in Student Loans”