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.