Hey, I’m Tyler!


1 Comment
Tyler Introduction

Greetings from the Lone Star State! I’m Tyler. I’ve been a longtime OFB reader and have had an even longer interest in personal finance. My wife hails from Hawaii, and I’m a Southern California native. We met at school in Utah, and we have spent time living in Hawaii, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Currently we are doing our best to beat the heat and raise our two young children (ages two and four) in Austin, TX, where I work in the financial industry for a trading firm.

I grew up in a home where financial matters were a common topic of conversation. My father works in his own accounting practice, and to this day I regularly use him as a sounding board and lean on his financial expertise. My parents tried to teach us about managing our money from a very early age. Here are a few examples: I opened my first checking account around age eight and my Mom would make me reconcile it via Quicken regularly; during one family road trip my parents decided we should all listen to the book on tape, “Buffettology”; once my dad bought all the kids their own financial calculators to teach us about interest and the time value of money; we utilized various systems of chore charts/allowances from very early on so we had more than just birthday money to think about. Though these and many other efforts were helpful and well-intended, I was the youngest in the family, and the lessons didn’t always sink into my young brain.

My wife and I met in college and were married in 2008; we each brought very few financial assets to the marriage, but that also included no debt. My wife had an earlier scare with some consumer spending and credit cards, but she had worked hard and dutifully paid it all off. With some help from family, government grants, and both of us working part-time, we were set to graduate from college debt free until we ran into some unexpected medical expenses in our last year of school. We took out student loans to cover them, and we ended up graduating with about $20,000 in debt.

Over the last six years we’ve jumped through a myriad of financial hoops, tried various budgets/systems, bought a house, brought two humans into the world, changed jobs, added a dog to the household, and much more. Amidst the chaos, we’ve tried to balance living frugally while still allowing for fun and vacations along the way. Little by little through hard work and discipline we were able to pay off our medical debt from school and live debt-free until we bought our house in 2013. We continue to actively save (especially for retirement), but life changes and unexpected opportunities mean our goals haven’t always stayed the same.

You’d think growing up with a solid financial education and being married and on our own for eight years would mean we’d have our system all figured out, right? Nope. I’m a tinkerer and constantly looking for improvement, which means my dear wife has to suffer through me coming to her with “the next best thing” for our budget every few months or so — I’m getting better, I swear. Growing up under the roof of an accountant and working in the finance world, it should be no surprise that I really enjoy this numbers stuff (even if they don’t always work in my favor).

I’m excited to share some of our successes, failures, tips, tricks, and goals we’ve picked up along the way.

OFB Update and News!


1 Comment
OFB Update

Johnny and I spent the weekend folding laundry. Weeks’ and weeks’ worth of it. It was getting to a point last week where I’d have a mild panic attack each morning when it came time to dress the girls. Do they even have any clothes left in their closet?? Please, please say they do. Kind of embarrassing to admit, but this is the current state of our lives. We’re currently living in a constant state of playing catchup. There’s just so much to get done all the time, and we’re running around like crazy people trying to stay afloat. We’ve been doing this for several months now, so it doesn’t actually feel all that hectic. I think we’ve accepted that certain things won’t be quite up to the standards they once were. Homemade dinners are more semi-homemade now. Our home is never clean, more just clean-ish. Our sleep consumption has plummeted, and our caffeine consumption has skyrocketed. But this is the new normal, and we’re okay with it. Actually, we’re really enjoying it because it’s all for a very good cause called Letterfolk. Remember back when we posted about starting a small business? Well, it’s been keeping us busy. And for that reason, OFB has been kind of neglected lately. But we’re here today to hopefully remedy that. Before I spill the beans on the remedy, first I wanted to share a bit about our new business venture.

Letterfolk

We’ve been thrilled with the response that Letterfolk has received, and at times we’ve been downright shocked. We’ve experienced so many high moments, but we’ve also had many moments of uncertainty. I feel like we learn something new each day, oftentimes the hard way! But we just keep chugging along together and trying to be better. But what does this have to do with budgeting?! Well, the thing I keep repeating to Johnny over and over again is that we never could have started Letterfolk if we hadn’t gotten out of debt and prepared ourselves financially. We had to invest a large chunk of money up front, which we never would have done if we’d still been carrying debt or if we hadn’t had a fully-funded emergency fund. We owe this venture completely to that day when we decided to get serious about budgeting.

I could write thousands of words about all my current feelings about life with a small business. But don’t fret! I’ll keep this short and sweet. For me, the hardest part of running a business has been wanting it to succeed and wanting to do every possible thing to make that happen while also trying to reconcile being a mom and homemaker. It’s a struggle! Our kids are young, so I feel like they need me around, but I also feel like our business is important, too, because it affects our future. I know Johnny feels the same pull. He’s still working some for another company, so he feels stretched as well. In short, though, we are loving it despite the craziness. We really enjoy building something together, and although being in charge means the future is more uncertain, we both love a good challenge.

OFB Remedy

And now onto some exciting OFB news! This site has always been a labor of love for us because it’s a topic we’re passionate about, and we love connecting with other people who are trying their darndest to get ahold of their financial future. But it’s been soo difficult with our limited time. In order to try to keep a more regular flow to things, we’ve enlisted the help of two new contributors! And “contributor” is really a fancy way of saying “good friends who are passionate about budgeting and love to write about it.” We’ll still be posting regularly, but you’ll also be hearing from two other personal finance nerds just like us! The more money nerds the merrier, right? We’re so, so excited about this, mostly because we know how awesome these two people are.

Behind contributor door number one is Tyler, someone Johnny has been geeking out over budgeting with since the two of them were in diapers. Usually you and your childhood friend grow up to be nothing alike, but this was not the case with Johnny and Tyler. When it comes to personal finance, budgeting, saving, and investing, they’re like two peas in a very nerdy pod. Tyler has unique (read: more technical) personal finance experience that’s gonna bring a whole new perspective to OFB, and we can’t wait!

Behind contributor door number two is our friend and down-the-street neighbor Ashley. When we moved back to Utah last August, I met Ashley while our kids were playing at the playground, and it was love at first mention of Dave Ramsey. Ashley and her husband are closet-budgeters just like us, and her passion for pinching pennies will motivate and inspire all of us.

Tyler and Ashley will both be doing their own introductions later this week, and we can’t wait for you guys to meet them and hear what makes their budgeting hearts thump! Now you’ll be hearing three perspectives instead of one. This is a big change we’ve been wanting to implement for a while, and we’re thrilled it’s finally happening.

Any particular topics or questions you’d like to see covered in the coming weeks/months? We’re all ears!

Six-Month Budgeting Checkup


6 Comments
Six-Month Budgeting Checkup

Hello, is this thing on? Hi. It’s been a while. Almost a month, actually. And here we are in July, halfway through 2016. Where has the time gone?! Well, we know exactly where it’s gone, but more on that in an upcoming post. It’s July, people! And you know what…

Continue Reading

Budgeting To-Do List


4 Comments
Budgeting To-Do List

Johnny and I both have an affinity for to-do lists. Surprise, surprise. His are often found in different areas of our home, atop various counters or desks. They’re scribbled on tiny sticky notes with even tinier handwriting. Mine are found in my planner or notebook, with jumbled notes flowing into…

Continue Reading