What We Are & What We Aren’t

Who We Are. Who We're Not.

Johnny and I have had this blog for over a year now, and it’s high time we explain what makes us tick. If you’ve been reading our blog since the beginning (I can name a few of you by name, but I won’t :)), you probably already know more about us than you’d like to. Like how Johnny doesn’t like having his picture taken. Or how I’m opposed to driving a minivan. But when it comes to personal finance, Johnny and I have never really laid out just how we feel. That’s right, this is a post about feelings. How can we take this Internet-stranger relationship to the next level if we don’t express how we feel, right? So let’s get started!

What We Are & What We Aren’t

We’re all about getting the best deal. We aren’t all about getting the cheapest thing.

As we’ve documented on this blog, Johnny and I will spend hours figuring out how to get the best deals on the Internets or on an upcoming vacation. But we aren’t just looking for the cheapest deal. If the best deal also happens to be the cheapest deal? Well, that is a unicorn that we will tame and make our pet.

We’re adamant about having a budget. We aren’t adamant about how to budget.

The important thing is having a budget. And we do think budgets should be regularly updated and somewhat itemized. But we don’t think there’s any one way to do that. Whether it’s a spreadsheet, an app, or a piece of paper, someone’s personal method of budgeting is just that — personal.

We’re going to live within our means. We aren’t going to vilify living comfortably.

As long as we’re living within our means and meeting our savings goals, we’re also going to take part in some of the comforts of life. Johnny and I splurge on cable, and we probably always will. It’s not a necessity, but we like it, and it fits into our budget.

We’re going to save every day of our lives. We aren’t going to resort to an extreme lifestyle to retire early.

While we believe in saving, we will never take it to the extreme. We’re not trying to shock others with our transcendent view on personal finance. The way others choose to live is their decision to make, and we’re not gonna preach hell and damnation to ye all. We will work hard, play hard, and save hard. And we’re not gonna wait until we’re old and wrinkly to do it.

We’re against going into debt. We aren’t against having nice stuff.

Johnny and I like nice stuff. And we don’t think that’s a bad thing. But staying out of debt and saving will always come first. Aside from a future mortgage, we’re committed to avoiding the Debt Monster at all costs.

How do our feelings align with your feelings? How are we all feeling? Did we hurt any of your feelings? Let’s just talk about our feelings.

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  • Reply Lara C. March 3, 2014 at 9:19 am

    No feelings hurt here! I really enjoy all of yours posts and how relatable they are. Although, I don’t have a adorable kiddo, I feel like I get all the things you talk about (avoiding debt, really try to budget, check reviews before purchases, cheap but funny gifts).
    Quick question, have you done the money-habitudes card game? It tells you what your money habits and attitudes are (carefree, spontaneous, giving, security, planner, status) and gives your habit-tude tips and tricks to work on. It would be interesting to see what your two styles are. Anywho, have a good one!

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      We’ve never heard of that game, but now I’m super interested. I know it’d expose some interesting differences… maybe it’s better we don’t play and pretend like we agree on everything. 🙂

  • Reply Little House March 3, 2014 at 10:11 am

    We also like nice stuff and try (notice I said ‘try’ – I’m not perfect) and stay out of debt to obtain these “nice” things. Sometimes, I think I really could live a more “extreme” lifestyle, but Mr. LH couldn’t and for now I’m very comfortable with what we have and how we’re achieving our goals. I personally believe that each person needs to find their own way to being debt free and saving more (because everyone should probably be saving more), but how they do it is their choice. I’ve also been trying to remind myself that not every decision needs to revolve around money – hard for me to do sometimes, but important to really think about the ‘why’.

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      I’m very similar. I have to constantly remind myself that money shouldn’t be the basis of every decision. There’s much more life than those dumb, but important, pieces of paper. Joanna usually helps to give me perspective, and for that I’m grateful.

  • Reply andee March 3, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Everything you said is just common sense but as a society I feel like we’ve wandered so far from common sense. I love that you are so clearly committed to staying out of debt; it makes your life so much more free.

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      You can take our money, but you can’t take… our freeeedddoooommmm!!

  • Reply Mrs PoP March 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I think our philosophies are pretty similar. Lee live a really nice life, but try and do it without spending a fortune. We did it when our incomes were a lot lower, and now since they’ve increased we’re still living that nice life, we’re just banking more money away. It might look “extreme”, but really it isn’t.

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      While I wouldn’t wish debt upon anyone, our getting-out-of-debt days helped us to learn that lesson — you don’t need much to be happy. It’s a great reminder when debts go away and income increases.

  • Reply Meghan March 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Your feelings align quite nicely with mine, which is one reason I have kept reading. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      If there was a thumbs up key, I’d use that right now. Thanks, Meghan.

  • Reply EcoCatLady March 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Hmmm… well, I’m certainly NOT about suffering or deprivation, but I think I probably tend to be a tad bit more on the extreme side of things. But I think it may just be a different definition of what “living comfortably” means.

    I HATED having a job… like hated it with an extreme passion – even though I loved the organization that I worked for, and the people, and I wasn’t anywhere near corporate America… I just had some sort of a profound and deeply seeded resentment for the fact that my time was not my own.

    So, for me, “living comfortably” meant finding a way to make ends meet without employment – which I managed to do by age 39. I guess having my time and freedom, and not having to “play the game” was just infinitely more important to me than having nicer things.

    That being said, I think that for people who can stomach the 9-5 thing without feeling like slitting their wrists on a regular basis, the “middle road” is definitely the way to go. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Great, great point. “Comfort” is totally in the eyes of the beholder. I love the idea of being self-employed by 40, but I think I’d lose my mind. So “comfort” for us looks a little different. And that’s just fine and dandy.

      And good for you for making it a reality. That’s seriously impressive.

  • Reply Alyssa March 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I’m not a pf blogger, but I am an avid reader of pf blogs {and a newish reader + first-time commenter here — hey guys!} and I have to say, I love your views on how to live and save. They definitely align with mine, though sometimes reading so much in the pf blogosphere makes me feel a bit guilty for treating myself to something I can afford and would enjoy, but don’t necessarily need. What’s the point in saving and budgeting if you can’t use your good sense to determine when you deserve a little something that’ll make you smile?? That’s my philosophy at least 🙂 Glad I stumbled across you guys to take the edge off the early retirement/”never treat yourself, ever” messages that sometimes make the pf circle feel a little scary!

    • Reply Johnny March 4, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Alyssa! We like your philosophy, and we feel that same anxiety sometimes in the PF world. We should always look to better our financial standing, but that quest needs to be balanced. Money’s cool, but being happy is cooler.

  • Reply Rob March 3, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Hi guys! Well, as you know, I’ve been a faithful reader of your blog for quite some time now and, as you also know, you guys and me and my wife are pretty much on the same page relating to financial matters. We believe in all things in moderation, being disciplined and will to make sacrifices (as needed) to get those things that we consider to be important in our lives. That all said, however, I figure that we may differ in one area and that is going into debt.

    You state “staying out of debt and saving will always come first.”. And to that we agree – however – I feel that managed controlled debt is not always a bad thing if handled correctly. Besides taking on a mortgage (which I think we both agree is “good debt”), I’ve also in the past gone into debt for things like tuition expenses, home purchases, and money used for annual retirement investment contributions. I’ve always done this though with the strict intention to always fully paying these debts off promptly, with a minimum of service charge interest incurred, and usually within one year. This has also been done with the goal of improving our credit score long term. Of course, as we know, mortgages are a long term thing but here too one must be practical and not take on too much long term debt, current low interest rates notwithstanding. Just my personal opinion and certainly not one that others need follow. Just so you know.

    • Reply Johnny March 5, 2014 at 12:18 am

      We probably should have asterisked our remark, because I think we mostly agree with your views on debt. Had we decided to pursue graduate school, that would have likely been another worthy debt, in addition to a future mortgage (which we’ve mentioned previously).

      I’d be interested to hear more about going into debt for your retirement investment contributions, because that’s the one where I think we might differ. Knowing you, I’m sure it was for good reason, but that one doesn’t come across my radar as something I’d be willing to zero out my account for.

      • Reply Rob March 5, 2014 at 6:12 am

        Johnny, regarding my occasionally going into debt for my retirement investment contributions – a couple of additional points to make to further clarify:
        (1) I would only do this when I didn’t have sufficient cash to top up my RSP yearly contribution limit.
        (2) Back in those years, the interest on a Canadian RSP contribution loan was tax deductible (sadly, this is not so today).
        (3) Point (2) notwithstanding, if you read my original comment I mentioned “fully paying these debts off promptly, with a minimum of service charge interest incurred, and usually within one year.” The “within one year” being the important part.
        (4) When I would later receive my tax refund (after having made an RSP contribution in this manner), I would throw the entire refund against paying down the debt faster. That way it was a win-win in the goal for saving for a better retirement funding using leverage. Catch my drift?

        • Reply Johnny March 6, 2014 at 12:48 am

          Ahhh, yeah. That makes a lot more sense, especially with #4.

  • Reply Kelly March 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Oh, man! I love your humour Joanna. That last paragraph about feelings had me giggling.

    The reason I follow you on Bloglovin’ is precisely due to what other’s have said: I identify with your reasoning and aspire to be as financially capable as your wee family. As it stands, I’m neck-high in debt at present…mortgage, student loan, car loan…ugh.

    Reading pf blogs and knowing what potential debt free living has for me keeps me focused!

    • Reply Johnny March 5, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Thanks for your comment, Kelly! And good for you for staying on the horse. Nothing kept us more motivated than reading and listening to others’ successes. Neck-high will become chest-high, then knee-high, then nada, zilch, zero. Keep at it!

  • Reply Diane March 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I really thing most of your views make sense, and are in alignment with mine, though it took me a lot longer in life to figure it all out. I had the disadvantage of starting out with a husband who had wildly different views on debt and spending money, though that was not apparent until after we were married. Live & learn…

    Staying out of debt (within reason) and living within your means are key! I’m all about getting the best deal possible, without buying the cheapest thing possible. My general rule is to go with the upper middle quality of an item, while getting the best deal possible. I don’t want the cheapest and I don’t need the most expensive.

    The places we don’t agree include Johnny’s dislike of having his picture taken and your totally unreasonable position on mini-vans~ LOL! Sorry, Joanna, but when it comes to families, minivans RULE! 😉

    • Reply Johnny March 5, 2014 at 12:35 am

      Your “upper middle quality” is probably a good benchmark for where we strive to buy.

      I will say that since Sally’s birth, I’ve gotten incrementally better at photos (since I don’t want to be the reason we don’t document her growing up) AND Joanna has become much more open to the idea of minivans. No breakthroughs yet, but we’re getting there. 🙂

  • Reply zoe @ my unhoardED life March 4, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I love that you’re one of the few blogs I see that focuses on moderation and balance. Extreme just drives me insane! Definitely hear you on the “no debt, but we like nice stuff” point. We just redid part of our kitchen and intentionally went with the best contractor we could find. We’re paying an arm and a leg, but I saw what happened when my parents went with cheap (not frugal, but super cheap) contractors. We had to skip getting new cabinets in order to make it happen and unfortunately took out a 1.99% interest loan on half the cost of the renovation, but in the end we wanted quality work.We don’t like debt but were okay with a small loan with a super low interest rate. Balance helped us find that point, and we love our new kitchen!

    • Reply Johnny March 5, 2014 at 12:37 am

      While I’m excited for a stage of life when kitchen remodeling is a possibility, knowing the horror stories of cheap contractors and shoddy work makes me glad we haven’t had to cross that bridge yet. Congrats on your kitchen, though! Super exciting.

  • Reply Melanie March 4, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    This might be my favorite post yet! I love that you guys want nice things, want to have a fun and happy life, and arent looking to live a completely minimalist life to achieve your goals. I like that you aren’t going to vilify certain things. Sometimes Dave Ramsey gets on my nerves because he seems like such a Debby Downer all the time… sometimes I just want to say “Okay, I go to Starbucks sometimes!! But I use a gift card, or I use a coupon! But I LIKE it even though the price is ridiculous!” So this post felt like a breath of fresh air. Yes, I’d have a lot more in savings had I not traveled here or there…but I think a balance of being conservative w/ your money and reaching goals, along with enjoying life, is truly the way to go 🙂

    • Reply Johnny March 5, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Haha. Spot on. We’re already hard enough on ourselves with our finances and budgeting, the last thing we need is someone else breathing down our neck and making us feel like failures. 🙂 It’s all about balance. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply Michelle March 5, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Why pay more just because you can? That would be silly and you two are smart-that’s why your philosophy totally makes sense to me. We are on the same page!

    • Reply Joanna March 6, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Glad to hear it, Michelle! We just get each other, don’t we? 🙂

  • Reply Bean Bytes 80 March 10, 2014 at 12:00 am

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  • Reply Hollie March 10, 2014 at 5:38 am

    I am glad I just found your blog. All your reasoning speaks so much to me. The best deal might not be the cheapest but why go cheaper if it’s missing something you need? I love your approach to budgeting and I cannot wait to read more of your blog!

    • Reply Johnny March 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Hooray for new friends! We agree with your agreement. We’re always slightly surprised when people agree with us and don’t just point their finger and laugh at us. So thanks for stopping by and making us feel normal.

  • Reply Alysia @ Slim Sanity March 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I love your outlook on this. I think it’s good to have a comfortable middle ground. My fiancé and I are starting our debt snow ball and trying to pay as much debt as we can, but we aren’t going to only eat Ramen noodles for a year to get it done that much earlier. Although we’ve joked about that before!

    • Reply Johnny March 12, 2014 at 12:46 am

      Hold up, you mean you’re not going to eat 2000% of your daily sodium intake in order to debt snowball? That’s crazy talk. But for real, congrats on starting your debt snowball!

  • Reply Michele March 12, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Just came across your blog from BeanBytes at Lean Green Bean! I am thankful I have a snow day today so I can read through all the links off this post. And no hurt feelings, I think I am really going to like you guys 🙂

    • Reply Johnny March 18, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Haha. We could really go for a snow day right about now. But since we’re in Utah and snow-packed streets is the norm, that doesn’t happen very often.

      Thanks for your comment!

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