Author Topic: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G  (Read 12570 times)

SantaFeSteve

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Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« on: December 16, 2014, 02:17:53 PM »
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/heres-household-budget-family-6-180000302.html

Ok,
I just read this article and all I could think about was how much these people need a punch in the face!
These people run a financial management website but have a budget category for fucking parking tickets!!!!!
Am I really supposed to take advice from people who can't figure out an even/odd parking rule?

Gahh!!

slugline

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2014, 02:25:17 PM »
Actually, the most glaring problem for me is that they have a main category of "Other" that accounts for a third of their spending, including their kids' school tuition. Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!

irishbear99

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 02:49:41 PM »
Can you even call it a budget when their largest category is the nebulous "other expenses"? On top of that, how can they deem themselves fit to give financial advice when their savings rate is barely 5%? My largest budget category is savings. If I ignore retirement savings, it moves to the second largest (right behind housing). And I guarantee you, I'm NOT hardcore Mustachian.

Sheesh. Facepunches, indeed.

greenmimama

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2014, 04:31:26 PM »
Color me jealous that this couple can make enough on a financial blog to both work at it full time, and I never have even heard of them till now.

Their budget is not detailed enough to be giving advice, maybe it is the working over it that people find worth listening to.

arebelspy

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2014, 04:57:53 PM »
Yeah, I listened to an interview with them on the Radical Personal Finance podcast the other day, and was not real impressed.

Sounds like they make money from their couponing site, and selling recipes/grocery lists in pretty PDFs for people too lazy to do it themselves (they admitted it could be done free, but they charge for a nice looking package).

Good for them, I guess?  But no, they didn't sound too Mustachian.  Many MANY personal finance writers seem to be a "look at me screw up so much and learn from my mistakes" and then get rich (or make a living) giving financial advice that is piss poor.  I haven't checked out their blog to see if this is the case, but based on that article, it wouldn't surprise me.

That's one reason why I like MMM - he actually went out and did it first.  He became FI through smart use of money, and now shares.  Most of them seem to be bad with money, and don't ever really get good with it, they just use their poor money skills + decent writing skills to earn money.  It's a shame.  (Again: I don't know that this is the case with this couple.)

http://radicalpersonalfinance.com/achieving-the-american-dream-yes-it-is-still-possible-interview-with-mark-and-lauren-greutman-from-i-am-that-lady-and-the-simpler-happier-life-podcast-rpf0108/
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dios.del.sol

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2014, 05:21:45 PM »
These people run a financial management website but have a budget category for fucking parking tickets!!!!!
I have a budget category for tickets, 'cause... well... my wife ain't perfect. She's great in so many other ways, I'll take the "parking ticket" on my budget sheet; no doubt about it.

tofuchampion

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2014, 06:17:19 PM »
On the bright side, a quick glance at the comments section shows quite a few people calling out the BS.

mindaugas

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2014, 09:15:41 AM »
So I figured they were doing enough not be smacked on the wall of shame. They have a budget, they are saving, they keep a reasonable amount aside for their treats (envelope of coffee funds). They spend on things the MMM community in general wouldn't choose and they don't run as tight a ship, but compared to the average American do they really deserve the wall?

arebelspy

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2014, 09:20:29 AM »
compared to the average American do they really deserve the wall?

They're not claiming to be the average American though.

They're putting themselves up as financial experts.  Running a personal finance blog.  Giving advice to people on money.  Running webcasts of them talking about money.

Given that, yes, absolutely.

They may be doing a little better (only a little, mind you) than the piss poor shape of the average American, but they're acting as personal finance writers!

As one commenter writes (I haven't double checked their math, but assume it's accurate):
Quote
So the article says they bring home $4900.00 a month and the pie chart shows their budget for the month of November. Now if you take all their expenditures for that month, according to the pie chart provided the total comes out to be $5246.36. Now unless I fat-fingered a few buttons I'd say they over budget by $346.36. And why would I take this advice? So I can be negative in my account by $346? I pass!

That's pretty Antimustachian, yes.

Another well said comment:
Quote
What kind of budget has 40% allocated to "other," especially when the only categories are largely fixed expenses? The whole point of a budget is to limit expenses in controllable expense categories.

The November budget is $5200, which is more than their $4900 monthly income. So these budget experts are over their budget?

Also, who takes advice from people saving 5% of their income, a mere $3200 per year? It's great that they give money, but they need the $550 per month they are donating; they'll be the charity cases if they continue giving away more than they save.

And why are people who save nothing for themselves or for college sending their kids to private schools? Their kids will end up taking out huge education loans and they will have no retirement savings as a result. A private elementary school is an unaffordable luxury for this family.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2014, 09:25:11 AM by arebelspy »
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mindaugas

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2014, 09:26:15 AM »
compared to the average American do they really deserve the wall?

They're not claiming to be the average American though.

They're putting themselves up as financial experts.  Running a personal finance blog.  Giving advice to people on money.  Running webcasts of them talking about money.

Given that, yes, absolutely.

They may be doing a little better (only a little, mind you) than the piss poor shape of the average American, but they're acting as experts!

Well, I was going to say that at least they are offering some advice and getting some press. But then I saw they charge for their site. So this is all just part of a marketing push to gain traffic to the site and increase signups. We're playing into their hands! jk, but we probably did gain them a few thousand hits. Had the site been free I could write them off as just poor advice, but better than nothing.

Yes, they deserve a good wall smashing.


Frankies Girl

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2014, 12:25:59 PM »
From their site:
After your free month, the small cost of $3.97/month is greatly worth the financial investment.

Why would people pay to have these two clowns "teach" them anything???

Because when you're up to your eyeballs in shit, the person that is only up to their waist in it looks pretty darn smart. That's the only thing I can figure...

Gone Fishing

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2014, 12:28:30 PM »
With a savings rate of 5%, they will be able to retire in a mere 66 years!

Sad thing is I know several families like this. They are dedicated to their church, breed like rabbits, and are a financial train wreck.  Good people though, they just can't seem to get their financial house in order.  Fortunately their church communities and families seem to provide a safety net that keeps them afloat.       
« Last Edit: December 17, 2014, 12:35:41 PM by So Close »

arebelspy

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2014, 12:34:01 PM »
With a savings rate of 5%, they will be able to retire in a mere 66 years!

5%?  They have a negative savings rate.  They line item $266 for savings, but their overall budget is $346.36 higher than their income.. so even with a 0% savings rate they're spending more than they bring in, for a negative savings rate.

(There could be monthly anomalies, but one-off spendings happen more than you'd think, and this is given as an example of a typical budget for them.)
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r3dt4rget

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2014, 03:44:30 PM »
Could someone listen to their most recent podcast episode? I can't seem to get it to play here at work. They talk about the response to the article. I would be interested to hear what they have to say about it.

BTW I checked out their site, watched a couple videos, and these guys have no clue. They are the typical American family. Spend nearly everything you earn because it makes you happy. In their most recent budget video they actually went over budget. In many cases they spend more than they earn. You should listen to them if you want to get out of debt and then continue the same practices that got you in debt in the first place.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2014, 03:56:29 PM by r3dt4rget »

mindaugas

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2014, 03:50:28 PM »
Could someone listen to their most recent podcast episode? I can't seem to get it to play here at work. They talk about the response to the article. I would be interested to hear what they have to say about it.

Can you provide a link?

mindaugas

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2014, 03:51:14 PM »
Because when you're up to your eyeballs in shit, the person that is only up to their waist in it looks pretty darn smart. That's the only thing I can figure...

lmao, yes exactly.

Jags4186

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2014, 04:32:23 PM »
I always laugh when people list "giving" or "tithing" as one of their budget categories when they aren't rich or are just getting by.  I'd rather give nothing my whole life and leave a fortune to charity when I die than give away 10% my paycheck away every week.  If you give them $500/month you know that gets pissed away like water, but leave $1,000,000 in a chunk and you hope that gets used for something meaningful.   Not only that...tithing goes to pay some pastors salary and household expenses...doesn't even go to charity!!!!!!
« Last Edit: December 17, 2014, 04:35:04 PM by Jags4186 »

r3dt4rget

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2014, 04:39:43 PM »
Could someone listen to their most recent podcast episode? I can't seem to get it to play here at work. They talk about the response to the article. I would be interested to hear what they have to say about it.

Can you provide a link?
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/simpler-happier-life-podcast/id918194028?mt=2

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2014, 04:47:40 PM »
These people run a financial management website but have a budget category for fucking parking tickets!!!!!
I have a budget category for tickets, 'cause... well... my wife ain't perfect. She's great in so many other ways, I'll take the "parking ticket" on my budget sheet; no doubt about it.

A few years ago my sister was trying to subtly ask her husband what he wants for his upcoming birthday, his response was, "Instead of a gift, can you just not give me grief over parking tickets this year."

PS241

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2014, 06:05:00 PM »
Obviously they value tithing and educating their children in a christian school. If you took out those 2 and did some of the shady math others do on this site, their savings rate would be near 40% which is not "that" bad. If they want to sell personal finance advice that's fine with me, but I am not buying.

mindaugas

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2014, 06:36:54 PM »
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/simpler-happier-life-podcast/id918194028?mt=2

Listened, here are my notes ...

podcast has a professional intro done by voice guy, wonder what that cost?
see criticisms as attacks against their beliefs and values. That is repeated several times.
did not max contribution to retirement because they had to launch a new website
they hired a part time nanny. Yep, they are just so busy with the site they need a part time nanny 5 days a week.
they depleted their savings, won't share how much website cost but it sounds like a lot since little retirement contribution and also deplete savings
kids go to private school. oh but it's not "uppity"
529's for kids
xmas spending is the biggest expense you can plan for, saving $50/month for 12 months for xmas in betterment account
betterment account for purchase of new van, they already have an "awesome" van but they need a new one
they need 2 vans, yes they are saving to buy another van not just replace the one they have.
everyone went right to the pie chart and focused on that
$600/month in food is more accurate than $400
the pie chart isn't accurate

$1900/other expenses
$740 - kids tuition
$60 - valet parking
$300 - health
life insurance
medication $50
$200/month in spending
$200 for some natural doc
wedding expenses, $200 for tux
$200 for travel to family for turkey day

they gross more than $59k but they have to pay for biz and employees, etc
they value sending kids to private school more than early retirement
budget varies from month to month, $4k - $5500. They decide instead of actually budgeting.
they are not very transparent
they could have easily lied, but they didn't. it's "real" numbers
Keep claiming they aim to teach real people how to handle real money
they didn't defend decision except to say people attacked their values

arebelspy

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2014, 10:50:51 PM »
I don't see people questioning tithing and private school as "attacking values" but I can see how it can be construed as such.

Still, the myriad of other problems with what they do remain relevant.

And I lol'd at the two stay at home parents hiring the nanny.

Can't help but just shake my head.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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Dan_at_Home

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2014, 10:59:26 PM »
LOL, I just realized that this is another form of free yet fun entertainment, especially in the winter.  That is making fun of other people's budgets who are not mustachian 

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2014, 07:47:53 AM »
Just because it's in "Other" doesn't mean they don't know where it's going. That can just be a lot of small expenses that are grouped together.  Their "miscellaneous" category is only $50 a month.

$200 a month on groceries is fantastic. $400 total isn't bad either for a family of 6.

And someone made a great point that 59k net =/= gross. It's about 100k gross.

r3dt4rget

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2014, 09:36:05 AM »
Just because it's in "Other" doesn't mean they don't know where it's going. That can just be a lot of small expenses that are grouped together.  Their "miscellaneous" category is only $50 a month.

$200 a month on groceries is fantastic. $400 total isn't bad either for a family of 6.

And someone made a great point that 59k net =/= gross. It's about 100k gross.
Their "other" category includes fixed monthly expenses like private school tuition, and some other monthly bills and expenses I forgot. It's as if they were making a budget, got lazy, and just lumped everything else together. The funny thing is that they have a weekly budget night video on their blog in which they go over their detailed budget, but they don't have an "other" category on there, it is more detailed.

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2014, 09:47:23 AM »
it's only a "other" or Misc catagory because they haven't set it up in mint yet. It honestly doesn't even look like they set up a budget. They just tracked it in MINT and then did a screen capture of the pie chart. Check out MINT and look at the chart. So not only do they not budget well, over spend, but they just print up a picture of a mint graph. Which hasn't been categorized well yet.

RelaxedGal

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2014, 10:43:48 AM »
"Mark left his job as an actuary early this year to join Lauren in running their money management website"

All the actuaries I know make 6 figures or more (Boston area).  I wonder how much of a pay cut the family took to bring him on full time at the website.  I also wonder if this IS his "early retirement" like Mr Money Mustache - a gig that brings in some money and he enjoys more.  Maybe he burned out on actuarial things.

eyePod

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2014, 11:17:33 AM »
Just because it's in "Other" doesn't mean they don't know where it's going. That can just be a lot of small expenses that are grouped together.  Their "miscellaneous" category is only $50 a month.

$200 a month on groceries is fantastic. $400 total isn't bad either for a family of 6.

And someone made a great point that 59k net =/= gross. It's about 100k gross.
Their "other" category includes fixed monthly expenses like private school tuition, and some other monthly bills and expenses I forgot. It's as if they were making a budget, got lazy, and just lumped everything else together. The funny thing is that they have a weekly budget night video on their blog in which they go over their detailed budget, but they don't have an "other" category on there, it is more detailed.

I agree. We have a monthly budget and any recurring monthly expenses that are fixed are in one category (even daycare which fluctuates if there's an extra week in the month). Categories like car insurance aren't in the same group because we save for it monthly but only pay it twice a year.

Dan_at_Home

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2014, 08:51:40 PM »
The first time I looked at the title for this thread I panicked.  I thought it said "Mike and Lauren" which is a youtube channel that I enjoy.  They are also fans of MMM as well.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 08:57:39 PM by Dan_at_Home »

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #29 on: December 24, 2014, 09:27:14 AM »
I tried their podcast after they were interviewed on Stacking Benjamins.  Awful.  The one on how to make a budget for a family was just a specific as this article was.  They had very, very large "everything else".  They don't get a ton of information across for the amount of time they spend talking.  I tried 2 episodes and gave up.

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2014, 09:37:05 AM »
compared to the average American do they really deserve the wall?

They're not claiming to be the average American though.

They're putting themselves up as financial experts.  Running a personal finance blog.  Giving advice to people on money.  Running webcasts of them talking about money.

Given that, yes, absolutely.

They may be doing a little better (only a little, mind you) than the piss poor shape of the average American, but they're acting as personal finance writers!

As one commenter writes (I haven't double checked their math, but assume it's accurate):
Quote
So the article says they bring home $4900.00 a month and the pie chart shows their budget for the month of November. Now if you take all their expenditures for that month, according to the pie chart provided the total comes out to be $5246.36. Now unless I fat-fingered a few buttons I'd say they over budget by $346.36. And why would I take this advice? So I can be negative in my account by $346? I pass!

That's pretty Antimustachian, yes.

Another well said comment:
Quote
What kind of budget has 40% allocated to "other," especially when the only categories are largely fixed expenses? The whole point of a budget is to limit expenses in controllable expense categories.

The November budget is $5200, which is more than their $4900 monthly income. So these budget experts are over their budget?

Also, who takes advice from people saving 5% of their income, a mere $3200 per year? It's great that they give money, but they need the $550 per month they are donating; they'll be the charity cases if they continue giving away more than they save.

And why are people who save nothing for themselves or for college sending their kids to private schools? Their kids will end up taking out huge education loans and they will have no retirement savings as a result. A private elementary school is an unaffordable luxury for this family.
I don't plan to save for college, yet I plan to put my kids in private school.  But that is because high school private school is more expensive than state schools (even counting inflation), so as long as I budget for high school costs all the way through 22-24, I'm fine.

gimp

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2014, 02:38:55 PM »
Sounds hair-splitty. You're budgetting for education, secondary and post-secondary.

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2014, 02:46:05 PM »
Sounds hair-splitty. You're budgetting for education, secondary and post-secondary.
But that may be exactly what those people are doing.  So I don't understand the issue with sending your kid to private school but not saving for college which was the critique.

arebelspy

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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2014, 06:59:24 PM »
Sounds hair-splitty. You're budgetting for education, secondary and post-secondary.
But that may be exactly what those people are doing.  So I don't understand the issue with sending your kid to private school but not saving for college which was the critique.

I think the commenter's point was they are saving basically nothing for the future (either for themselves or their kids) while spending a lot now.

That's fine though, I think even if valid ot's it's was a minor point to nitpick on an overall good comment.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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Re: Financial Bloggers Mark and Lauren G
« Reply #34 on: December 26, 2014, 11:44:14 AM »
The first time I looked at the title for this thread I panicked.  I thought it said "Mike and Lauren" which is a youtube channel that I enjoy.  They are also fans of MMM as well.

I've seen them too! They're so personable, and fun to watch.