Best of Both Worlds Podcast: Budgets and more with YNAB’s Jesse Mecham

Sarah and I combined forces for today’s Best of Both Worlds episode, in which we interviewed Jesse Mecham, founder of You Need a Budget (aka “YNAB”). Sarah has been a loyal user for years! Yep, just like I track all my time, she tracks all expenditures.

In this episode, Jesse explains his philosophy of money management, how his personal budget has evolved, what he’s spending more on these days, and why he really does think you — and that means everyone — need a budget. He also talks about family life with seven kids, teens to toddlers (I can sympathize, though they outdid me!) This was a podcast swap, and you can hear Sarah and me on a recent episode of the YNAB podcast.

In the question section, Sarah and I address a very budget-oriented query: Is it normal for two professional career couples to spend more on childcare each year than they would on a new car? Spoiler alert: yes. But we still hope you’ll listen to the episode to hear us elaborate on this topic! And then please leave us a rating or review wherever you listen to podcasts, or share this episode with a friend (particularly any friends who use You Need A Budget!)

11 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds Podcast: Budgets and more with YNAB’s Jesse Mecham

  1. But what about the people who don’t make $200/$300k each per year? My husband and I combined make less than $100,000. We still need childcare. Childcare providers for all income types need to be fairly compensated with a living wage. There is no way we could ever afford the type of setup that you both describe. I would love to hear more on the podcast from moms who are on the more typical income spectrum.

    1. When our kids were little, my husband made significantly less than he does now (12-13 years later) and our income was nowhere near the $200K range either. The only thing we found to kind of work out (and it was STILL really expensive) was intentionally splitting our schedules to reduce the amount of daycare days needed. I’m a nurse, so at that time, I worked every other weekend and also tried to work out a set schedule with my employer. I always worked a couple of fixed 3-11:30 pm evening shifts per week so that most weeks we only needed 2-3 days of daycare (we had a sitter cover the 2:00-5:00 time frame for my p.m. shifts before husband got home). It was quite complicated in many ways (combo of daycare + babysitters…) and scheduling was a constant headache, but we did make it work- and at least it helped a bit to cut the cost overall. For a while, I voluntarily worked a “double” every other week (16 1/2 hour shift!!) in order to get an extra week day off. Good times. Ha. I believe the most we ever budgeted for daycare for our 2 kids was $1,200/ month total (for part time!) which still seemed like a ton to me at the time, especially on our previous incomes. I think we usually spent in the $900/month range though for ~2 days/ week at daycare center ($55/day x2 kids in midwest). (This was years ago now, though-my kids are 11 and 12 now, so I guess I’m not sure what current daycare rates are). However, if you are both in a set Monday-Friday job, I suppose this splitting shifts idea might not be an option, either!!

  2. I enjoyed his point about adjusting your budget if it is really unreasonable/not attainable.
    I enjoy reading frugal blogs etc but am really not very frugal myself. I am never going to make my own laundry detergent or bake all my own bread. I prefer to increase my income by working as a locum at urgent care if money is tight.

    1. @Sarah K – I would imagine you’d probably make more working at the urgent care than you would save by making your own laundry detergent!

  3. It seems like a lot of these male time/productivity/money guys have stay at home wives. I’d love to hear from some successful men who also managed to support and prioritize their wives’ careers. Also agree with the poster above about discussing women and couples who make more typical incomes.
    The episode was really interesting though!

    1. I agree. Almost all of the male senior executives at my company have stay at home wives. It would be great to hear the male perspective on how to make dual careers work.

    2. @CZ – yep…something I have noticed as well. I am a curious person, so I have thought about why. I guess on some level it’s because people who want to make a name for themselves tend to be very ambitious (as one needs to in order to even want to be seen as a guru/expert/thought leader). The default mindset for an ambitious man is to have a partner who down-prioritizes a career in order to prioritize theirs. Of course, this doesn’t have to be the mindset. I consider myself very ambitious and aspire, on some level, to be a guru/expert/thought leader. But it never occurred to me that I needed to seek out a partner who with limited ambitions so he could make sure the house was quiet while I recorded my podcast, give input on each draft of an article, or read my manuscripts aloud to me so I could hear how they sounded (as I recall from one acknowledgements…)

      1. Oh academia is notorious for this “And my wife, Gloria, who compiled all the research, transcribed interviews, and edited the book…” Well if they did all that, their name should be on the cover too.

  4. I’d be willing to participate in a survey about childcare. Others on Sarah’s blog also have said they would participate. Our kids go/Will go to a Spanish immersion daycare and then public school so our cost is much lower. But we work in finance and neither of us travels for work (I used to but stopped when we had kids and now biz travel is going to be super low going forward – at least for the foreseeable future!). So a daycare that is open from 6:30-5:30 works for us but I can see why people go the nanny route when they travel and have less flexible jobs with odd hours/call time like physicians! I’m not surprised how much that couple spends for a nanny + Montessori school, especially with twins! It can be depressing to add it up but it can be temporary and it’s worth it to be able to continue to work (if that is what you want to do!). I don’t even think about the expense because I know it’s non-negotiable!

  5. Laura, thank you for continuing to remind those of us who have working spouses to split the childcare cost in two and apply it to each of our salaries. Despite hearing you say it many times, when I heard $75k on the podcast I immediately subtracted it from my after tax salary. I appreciated that you challenged that thought. As a parent of one toddler who is currently managing with daycare, $75k did sound shocking to me. I am so thankful to have your openess as we are considering #2 and likely will both start traveling more for work again.

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