35 minutes | Dec 16, 2018

How to Make a Budget

Episode Details Air date: December 16 , 2018 Guest: Joe Tierney Runtime: 35 minutes, 18 seconds Summary: In the third episode of Season 2 and the final episode of 2018, Jen invites her husband into the studio to talk about the best thing he’s ever made for her: their family budget! Joe explains why the budget was made in the first place, how it’s changed over time, and what it’s given to their family. Other topics include making family traditions for the holidays and the motivation behind making. What I Made This Month Getting these three sweaters made in time for the big reveal on Thanksgiving day was challenging to say the lease. I knit up all three in two weeks. From the transcript: “And now I’d like to tell you about something I made this month. I started making it a few months ago and will keep on making it until June of 2019. And to be fair, it’s something that my husband and I are making together. We’re growing our family and having a third child! this makes our budgeting even more critical heading into 2019 as we move around numbers and figure out how to make room for a fifth member of our family. This means so big changes ahead for the Tierney family. And I’m so excited to have one more tiny person to share all of these inspiring and empowering stories with. Thank you for continuing to take this journey with me!” Episode Transcript  Introduction Hello, and welcome to “How to Make a Memory,” the show that explores the items we make for one another and how they impact our relationships. My name is Jen Tierney and today I have a very special guest in the studio. I see him every day but so far he’s been spared from having to sit down in front of my microphone as the subject on one of my episodes.  Jen: I’m excited you’ve decided to sit down with me, because… Joe: Thank you for having me! Jen: (laughter) because it’s helpful and its exciting because I know you better than anyone alive on the planet. I feel like we could potentially have a very good conversation. Joe: You probably know our kids better.  Jen: Than I know you? That’s true. Because I’ve know them their whole lives. Joe: And they don’t have very long lives. Joe: That was me being judgmental. Jen: Yes, that’s right. I do know them very well, that’s a really good point. Jen: You’re being helpful, right? You’re helping – correcting me! On my own show. Thank you husband. That’s right, my husband Joe is here to talk about the single greatest thing he’s ever made for me and our family. Conversation Joe: I make spreadsheets. I know, this sounds like we’re taking a one-way trip to Nap Town. Once upon a time, I would have thought the same thing. But spreadsheets can tell astounding stories.  Joe: I make lots of different spreadsheets. Today we’ll be talking about my family budget spreadsheet, which has been ongoing since before we got married. Before we dive into this shared budget and all that its brought to our life together, I asked Joe to give me a little history into what inspired his love for spreadsheets, statistics, and tracking. Which is particularly impressive considering this all began in a pre-wearables world. Joe: My love of spreadsheets really started with tracking time and really just tracking things. Even in high school, I tracked what I did every day for an entire summer. But not in a diary way, just in a “where was I and for how long?” And I concluded that I spent more time at my friend Seth’s house than I spent at my own house that summer. Then I took that love of spreadsheets to professional life as a structural engineer, which was more profitable. (laughter) But I’ve also kept track of different things along the way. As just a personal love and passion. Like gas mileage and D& D sessions. The turn-to-turn dice rolling I kept track of for entire campaigns. So now that you understand Joe’s humble spreadsheet beginnings, we can get into where I come into the picture and how spreadsheets became a critical part of our relationship. Joe: Then it developed into a financial hobby because we moved in together right out of college. And with that, we needed to start sharing expenses. Jen: Yes. Joe: And we were both confident and adamant that we kept everything straightforward. Not with the expectation that we weren’t going to be together. But in the case that we didn’t, we knew to the dollar how much each one of us owed the other. Jen: At any given time. Joe: At any given time. It started off also because I was unemployed right out of school in 2008, right before the stock market crash. And I was in the negative. Jen: Yes, by a lot. Joe: You were paying rent and then I went on a trip to England with my bros. Jen: Your “bros”? Joe: (laughter) By the end of the summer, in which I still owed you a good amount of money. And then I got a job. But we kept up the spreadsheet. And then it got to a point when you owed me enough money that I needed to make the decision that “Oh, we’re going to be together so I should stop holding you to this…” Jen: Unimaginable amount of money. Joe: Not unimaginable. It was a lot for then. Jen: It was a lot for then. For now it’s not so bad, but for then… Joe: That was fun. So anyway, then we started budgeting for our wedding. which was our first real collaboration on… Jen: Oh yeah. On a budget. Joe: Yeah, and a big one, as well. Jen: Yes. Joe: And that, we had a lot of fun with. And you kind of gave me the reigns to decide what could fit in the budget and how it would work. And that started our initial – that tug-of-war of… Someone in a couple – someone’s going to want to spend more than the other. It could be different on each transaction. It could be in general. But there are going to be things that one person wants, and… Jen: Yeah, there are certainly parts of our budget that you spend more on than I do and vice versa. Joe: And through those conversations you kind of figure out how all of that is going to work. Jen: Yeah, it’s all a negotiation, like a relationship negotiation. Joe: And just learning how to communicate that without being overly judgmental (laughter). Or being able to do that without hiding things. Being able to do that without feeling overly criticized. All of these were challenges that came up. And once we got married, I started the Family Spreadsheet that lives to this day. So we got married, our expenses truly combined, and things were going pretty smoothly. But what was the point of the budget now? What was all of this for? Joe: So each month I had a – well each year, I set out yearly expectations on how much we would make and how much we would spend on each category. And then each month I would adjust it based on upcoming expected expenses. And the reason that became important was because we were saving to buy a house.  Jen: Yes. Joe: And saving to put 20% down in the Boston area is a lot of money. Jen: Mmmhmmm. Yes it is. Joe: And so to do that, we needed to be pretty knowledgeable about where our money was going and were it was coming in. So as you can probably tell, my husband is a pretty level-headed guy. And his version of making is very different from my previous guests. So I wanted to dig a bit further and see if he is more like my previous guests than he lets on. Jen: So you’ve given a very thorough description of what the budget looks like and all of that stuff. And I think that its good for you to go through that because it gives people an idea of the level of detail you go into and your personality in that it is very detail-oriented, that you’re very realistic and reasonable and how you plan these things. You want there to be reasons. You want there to be goals and all of that. But I think that the part that’s most interesting to me and the part that we don’t necessarily talk about as often is the “why” behind that. The podcast is very much about “You make a thing. That’s great. Tell me a little bit about why you make that thing. And why it’s important to you and why it’s important to other people.” And I think that we just sort of started to touch on it in that we were saving for a house. And the budget, to me, is valuable and important because of everything it has allowed us to do. And because we’ve been frugal and thoughtful and smart about what we’re doing now and where we want to go into the future we’ve been able to do a lot of things that I don’t think we would have been able to had we not been planning and thinking critically about what we were doing on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis. So I’m interested in the “why” behind the budget for you personally. Joe: Yeah, so personally, it’s a personal challenge. And there’s nothing I love more than a personal challenge. Something that I’m excited about and it makes me excited to not only to reach the goal. Actually the goal isn’t really as big of an excitement for me as the process of “how can I – how can we better manage our day-to-day expenses or how can I better manage our monthly bills so that we can be the most efficient we can with the money that we have?” And that challenge is something I really enjoy. Which is why I do it and it’s why most people don’t. Because it’s not rewarding in itself. Unless you enjoy that challenge. Unless you enjoy that puzzle. It can be very daunting to look at your past spending. To have discussions about what that spending means for you and your partner and your family. It can be daunting to have to – one of my personal challenges i
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