Penny and Rich are cousins who literally grew up next door to each other in a small town. They built snow forts, played video games, and pondered the meaning of life together for 40 years. Yes, they could talk at birth.
They don’t live near each other anymore, but they have ongoing conversations about money, happiness, and books. This blog is a glimpse into that correspondence. It’s real — they don’t edit each other’s posts.
Penny is a stay-at-home mom who wants to get out of massive student loan debt, while Rich is a highly paid professional who wants to be a millionaire. They find it fun, and fascinating, to discuss personal finance openly and honestly across the gap of income inequality. Beyond money, they are just curious about seeing life from different perspectives.
Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. They’d love to hear from readers or to answer reader questions.
By coin flip, Rich gets to explain himself first.
Hey, I’m Rich. I’m 41 years old, and I am NOT going through a midlife crisis. I have a beautiful wife (Mrs. Rich), and 2 ill-behaved kids. I’m originally from the rural Midwest like my goofy cousin Penny, but now I’m a city mouse — currently based internationally but always on the move. You could say I’m an international man of mystery. Or the most interesting man in the world. Or a tired dad who is NOT going through a midlife crisis.
Financial Background and Status. Awwww shucks! My dad was a farmer, and his dad was a semi-illiterate farmer, and his dad was probably some sort of pirate, because I just know I have some ocean mischief in my blood. But I digress, land lubber. I grew up working on the farm every summer and lived right next door to Penny. Our paths diverged when I started traveling the world and went off to college. With a little education and a lot of luck, I’ve ended up with a great career that I actually enjoy. You’ll learn more on the blog.
I don’t care about status but here you go number lovers. My annual salary is $130,000. Mrs. Rich also works full-time and earns $120,000. We have your typical retirement accounts as well as some atypical investments that I’ll blog about. Our net worth is $550,000, and I’d like to get that number to $1 million by age 45 and $2 million by 55, my tentative retirement year. We’re not perfect financially, but we’re doing well. And just to stir the pot I’ll add this: we’re renters. We don’t want to buy a house, or a car for that matter. Why? Because we like to throw our money down the toilet! And then make the landlord fix the plumbing! Ha. Kidding, but only partly kidding.
Philosophy of Money and Happiness. Books and blogs abound on this topic, and I don’t think there’s one right answer. If you’re looking for another blogger who hates cubicles and wants to escape the corporate world in order to cut coupons, build cabinets, and volunteer at preschool, I am not the droid you’re looking for. To me, that existence sounds like a chapter from Dante’s Inferno. I get a lot of satisfaction from my job. I’ve been to preschool many times — that sh*t is crazy. And you’ve probably guessed: I’m not frugal, I’m anti-frugal.
My personal philosophy has a lot to do with financial security for my family, opportunities for my kids (yes, that expensive college degree), and the freedom to enjoy life. Freedom to me is not escape, it’s having unique experiences, like eating fresh fish with my kids on an Irish lobster boat, snowboarding with my wife in France, and dog sledding with friends in the extreme cold. I’ll never forget those experiences … and they weren’t cheap. That said, I don’t need a yacht, and I know experiences are worthless without family, friends, and a touch of hygge.
So why would I start a blog with my cousin? Well, I’m fascinated by the intersection of money and happiness. I’m also fascinated by my cousin Penny. We’ve been talking to each other about this stuff for a while now, and our situations are really different. She doesn’t make beans and is still very happy. Maybe I could teach her (or you, dear reader) something about sensible money management. I know I can learn things from her as well, but frankly, she’s nuts. You’ll see.
Hi, I’m Penny. I am a 39 year old mother of four kids, ranging in age from toddler to teenager. I work very minimally as a photographer, but mainly prefer to stay at home with my kids. I am a free thinker who has alternative views on things like birth, health, technology, schooling, and well… money. My husband owns and operates a relatively new chiropractic practice. We live in the Midwest. You betcha.
Financial Background and Status. My husband and I have never made a lot of money. Before he went back to school to become a chiropractor, he was an elementary teacher. Making $18,750 a year. Now, he is slowly building his chiropractic practice, currently earning about $40,000 a year. I add about $3,000 to that, with the piddly little photography things that I do, bringing our household income to a grand total of, wait for it… $43,000! (This may seem small to you, especially for a family of six, but it is actually the most money we have ever made in a year. Pop the bubbly.) But, the thing is, we owe $173,000 in student loan debt. We have a 13 year plan to pay it off, which means putting over $20,000 a year toward that debt, leaving us very little leftover to live on. Impossible? Nah. Follow along with us to see how that goes.
Philosophy of Money and Happiness. I don’t fully understand why Rich wants to have so much money or the appeal of what he does with it. Snowboarding in France? Big deal. Dog sledding in the extreme cold? Sounds exhausting. Money may buy these experiences, but I don’t think it buys happiness. I believe the best things in life are free: family, friends, and BOGOs at Coldstone Creamery. Rich didn’t even know that BOGO stands for Buy One Get One because he pays full price for everything! The free one ALWAYS tastes better!
Even though our philosophies differ, I actually like thinking and talking about money, just like Rich. I like making graphs and charts on where my money goes, and I like pondering how it affects humanity. Some people would be freaking out about my financial situation, but not me. I embrace my inner quirkiness and I don’t need money to be free. I might even be able to teach you a thing or two about life. Ultimately, I want to show people (like Rich) how they can live and be happy with less money and focus on more important things.