I used to think it was normal to wait in the car while your dad checked into a motel.
When I was a kid and our family would take a road trip, my Dad would tell us to stay in the car while he checked us into a motel. That’s because, to save money, he would get a motel room with 2 single beds — for a family of 6. Then once he got the key, we would quietly go into the room, avoiding the lobby.
When we got up there, my dad would make “the phone call.”
“Hi, this is room 324,” he would say. “Could you bring some more towels to our room?”
“Yes, sir. How many do you need? 1? 2?”
“How about 4? And if you can send 2 cots, that would be great.”
“Sir, this room is booked for double occupancy only. We cannot–”
Dad: “Thank you!”
HAHA! WE THOUGHT THIS WAS NORMAL. Only later did we realize how hilarious it was to squeeze 6 people into a room for 2. When we finally talked about this over dinner recently, he laughed so hard he almost cried. But without things like this (and little Ramit sleeping on a couch), it gets pretty expensive to take a family on a trip.
Other things I remember growing up:
- We only ate out about once a month — when we had a coupon for the local pizza place
- When we were at that pizza place, we would only ask my parents for 2 quarters to play video games. Anything more than that was too much
- Our vacations were simple: road trips to visit our family in LA. That was it!
There weren’t extravagant meals or trips, but we all had a great childhood. I learned about spending on what’s important from them. My parents’ philosophy: “If it came down to school or sports, we’d always find a way to find the money.” Where do you think Conscious Spending came from?
All in all, I was a happy kid — but I had no idea that I was only seeing a sliver of the world.
Then something changed.
When I was in college, I got an interview at Microsoft. They flew me to Seattle, put me up at a swanky hotel, and effectively gave me an unlimited spending account while I was in town.
Microsoft does this for all candidates. They encourage you to rent a car, go to any restaurant, the Space Needle, museums, etc…and just send them the receipts. They’ll reimburse you because they want you to fall in love with the area. A few hundred bucks means nothing to them if they get the candidate they want.
I had no idea what to do with my unlimited budget, but man, I was excited. That night was the first time I’d ever ordered room service.
It felt like being in a movie. I could call downstairs without a care in the world and get WHATEVER I wanted. I decided to go all out and order an appetizer, a burger, and a drink. Total price was over $50 plus delivery fee and tip. 50 BUCKS FOR A BURGER!!
Who the hell were these people??
I couldn’t believe people did this.
All of a sudden, as the attendant wheeled the food into my room and whisked the metal tops away, I realized that there was an entire world all around me — a world of MORE — but I had no idea how it worked.
I had always thought about focusing on what I had and being happy with it. That’s just how I was raised.
But as I started looking around, I realized Banana Republic wasn’t the most luxurious place to buy clothes. (If you look at magazines, they have sweaters for $600 or even $3,000. Does anyone really buy those?)
I realized there were places to eat that cost 50x what I had paid for dinner. (What kind of restaurant could justify that?? Why would anyone pay that?)
Best sushi I’ve ever had. Chef’s table with Chef Ichimura at Brushstroke, NYC
I even realized that Microsoft had been focused on getting the best people, not on pinching pennies and trying to cut costs. (One great hire would more than make up for the expenses for 10 non-hires.)
I got curious. What was this world where price and cost wasn’t the first thing you thought about? How do you get into it?
Not just the “spending money” part, but about the psychology behind it: What kind of person can just decide to travel somewhere and book a last-minute flight? If you have that level of freedom and flexibility, what would you do with it?
I was happy with where I was, but I wanted to know about this invisible world.
Then, a few years ago, I moved to NYC. There’s no place like NYC for understanding the concept of “more” — more people, more jobs, more opportunities, more fun, more dating, more EVERYTHING.
I started to learn about things I had never been exposed to: custom suit makers who measure you in a suite at the Plaza (or come to your apartment or office)…personal trainers and nutritionists…and even concierge doctors who come to your house so you never have to wait in line.
What the hell?
As I really started to study this world, I discovered a ton of Invisible Scripts I never knew I had. For example, my first reaction to this world was to scoff and say, “WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY!”
- “Only snobs eat at expensive restaurants…I don’t need all that”
- “Ugh, I would never buy a $500 coat. That’s so superficial.”
- “Why would you pay someone to tell you how to decorate your apartment? Just get things you like.”
And yet, people DID pay money for these things. A lot.
Guess what? They’re not all snobs or elitist asses. I learned there are reasons OTHER THAN THE ACTUAL FOOD to go to a nice restaurant. I started to learn how the bizarre worlds of fashion and art work. Mostly, I learned how much I still had to learn.
What really pushed me forward was knowing that I didn’t understand the game being played around me. All I saw were people telling me NOT to want more — to be satisfied with what I had (and never want more). In fact, they’d point to people who spent money on things like amazing experiences or even an expensive coat…and call them stupid and superficial.
Go look at any site about money! They tell you that spending money on anything besides subsistence farming is a waste of money. They make you feel guilty about ever wanting more.
My take: People who spend that much money aren’t stupid. Neither are people who want more out of life.
I realized that most people want you to stay exactly where you are in life — and if you explicitly talk about how you want more, they get really uncomfortable.
This is why you see people telling you to “just be happy you have a job in this economy” if you talk about finding a Dream Job.
This is why if you tell your friends you want to lose weight (especially if you’re a woman), your friends will say, “Why? You don’t need to change. You look amazing!”
And this is why, if you tell your friends you’re staying in tonight to work on a project or study for a class you’re taking, what will they say? “Come on, man…it’s Friday. You can do that any time.”
But I also realized, ONCE YOU MADE IT, everyone loved it!
For example, people used to make fun of I Will Teach You To Be Rich when I started out. One guy said, “When are you going to get a real job?” Can you imagine how that feels when you’re starting something new and aren’t even sure it will ever work? I was already hating life since nobody read my site…and then to have comments like that?
But once IWT turned into a serious business, with hundreds of thousands of students, then the tune changed. My favorite phrase was, “It must be nice to work from home.” Yes, it is…and I also worked from home when I made $11,000 a year because I couldn’t afford an office. People don’t want to see the process. They only want to see the results.
They want you to cut back on everything. Spending, fun, everything — until some mythical day when you retire and you can sparingly enjoy a few things.
I wanted MORE. And I wasn’t going to wait 30 years to get it.
I started to change my mindset from “cutting back on everything” to something you’re familiar with: Spending extravagantly on the things I loved…as long as I cut mercilessly on the things I didn’t.
Spending EXTRAVAGANTLY. Not just money, but time and attention.
A personal trainer…a personal chef…beautiful clothes…traveling to Asia for a last-minute vacation with friends, or whatever a rich life is to you.
By the way, imagine the look on the face of most “money” experts upon hearing about spending time and money like this. The color would drain from their face, their eyes would skittishly shift from side to side, and they’d nervously stammer, “But…b…but….what about saving money????”
NOTE: Of course it’s important to save and build a solid financial infrastructure. That’s why I released my book before I ever wrote about earning more, negotiating salary, or starting a business. But unlike most other financial advice, I don’t believe in cutting costs on minutiae like lattes or medium Diet Cokes. I believe in Big Wins — and if you tackle those, you can live a Rich Life. Hundreds of thousands of my students have.
And that’s why this year I want to focus on MORE.
Welcome to the Year of More
This year, instead of cutting back on everything in life, we’re going to demand MORE of ourselves.
More fun. More success. More investing in ourselves to take us to the next level.
It could be insane once-in-a-lifetime events you go to this year:
I never thought I’d get texts like this
Or it could be something much simpler.
2 weeks ago, I called my parents to ask what they were doing for Christmas. My mom said, “We’ll probably just stay here.” I asked why they didn’t come to NYC since we’re all out here.
She said, “Oh…well…it’s expensive to come at the last minute.”
I smiled. The next day, I sent them the tickets I’d booked for them to come to NYC.
Ramit, Mom, and Dad. NYC, December 2014
This is exactly what a Rich Life is for.
Price had nothing to do with it — the tickets could have been $4,000 each and I would have paid it. I just wanted my parents to be around all of us for Christmas, and I was fortunate enough to be able to make it happen.
See, wanting MORE isn’t just about buying nice coats or expensive dinners. A Rich Life can let you travel, spend time with your family, buy your time back (e.g., by hiring someone to clean your apartment), and accelerate your results (like with a personal trainer).
I’m not talking about spending money you don’t have. In fact, I don’t allow people with credit card debt to join my premium courses for just that reason — a decision that costs me over $2 million every year. I’m talking about breaking out of the normal, expected path so you can get MORE success, more results, and more out of life — guilt-free.
Whatever your definition of a Rich Life is, in 2015, I’ll help you get it.
Here, for example, are just a couple of IWT students who went after MORE instead of LESS:
MORE: Learning new skills
MORE: Choosing where you want to vacation
Now, a deeper question for you:
What if I had listened to all the people who wanted me to just be satisfied with where I was in life?
Shit, I would probably be an engineer wearing an ill-fitting Cisco t-shirt in Silicon Valley. Ramit Sethi, network engineer. UGH
Think about the subtle comments I got, like, “Don’t you need more experience for that?”
Or “Do people really make money doing that? Don’t you want a real job?”
If I’d followed what the world told me to do, I would be working an ordinary job. I’d probably be making decent money, but life is about more than money. Every day, I’d go to work on someone else’s schedule. Every day, I’d open up my email and answer emails from other people making demands on my time for things they wanted. Every Sunday night, I’d sigh.
If there’s one thing I never want to be, it’s average. WHO WANTS THAT SHIT?
Actually, the world wants us to be vanilla. They tell us to save as much money as possible right now so that one day, 40 years from now, we’ll magically be able to somehow enjoy it. They never realize that by creating a lifetime of deferred enjoyment, you never built up the muscle to know how to demand — and enjoy — more.
Yes, saving and investing are important. I’ve covered them for years and years in my material on personal finance. But as I’ve always said, money is only a small part of a Rich Life.
I think a lot of us feel this way. We’re made to feel guilty because we want more than 2.5 kids, a white-picket fence, and the so-called American Dream.
We WANT to go out and have amazing experiences — traveling, buying a round of drinks for our friends, and even splurging on ourselves once in a while. No, that doesn’t mean we’re greedy.
We WANT to look and feel amazing — No, that doesn’t make us superficial or shallow.
We WANT to live a Rich Life — building incredible relationships, eating at amazing restaurants, using systems and even hiring to help manage our lives, and focusing on the Big Wins of life. Not counting how many pennies we can save by disabling the oven light (yes, that’s a real tip from a money “expert”)!
Beware, though. When you tell people you want more, it doesn’t usually go over well.
Brainwashed into settling for less
Witness what happens when we decide we want more out of life. It’s not pretty because it’s not uncommon!
It’s no secret where reactions like this come from. Since childhood, we’ve been raised with dozens of invisible scripts that tell us NOT to want more.
They make us say things like, “I should just be happy where I am.” Here, these are from my own life:
I WAS TOLD: “Just focus on your education”
I HEARD: “You’re just a skinny Indian guy. Don’t worry about working out or building muscle…that’s not for guys like you. Just get good grades”
I WAS TOLD: “Be nice to girls and eventually you’ll be the kind of guy who they want to marry”
I HEARD: “So I have to wait for 10+ years until some girl decides to marry me?”
I WAS TOLD: “Get a good stable job and by the time you retire, you can have $1mm in your bank account”
I HEARD: “Wait 30 years and maybe, just maybe, I can go experience a few of the things I want? I don’t want to wait 30 years for that.”
The media tells you that wanting more is ridiculous. Instead, we should…wait for it people…MAKE OUR TOILETS MORE EFFICIENT. I SHIT YOU NOT:
This is complete bullshit.
The media automatically takes the approach of (1) distracting you with minutiae like toilets because it generates clicks, and (2) making you feel guilty for ever wanting more.
And in a vague toilet-optimized stupor, they figure we’ll keep clicking on their websites and buying their magazines to inflate their ad revenues.
TIME FOR SOME REAL TALK, PEOPLE.
Do you know why most personal finance experts don’t write about earning more? They don’t know how.
More importantly and beyond money, most people have never been exposed to the world of more. If their whole life is lived in a scarcity mentality — where they’re just lucky to have this job, where there’s no way to be able to take 6 weeks off, where it seems impossible to start your own business — OF COURSE they’d advise everyone else to take the safe route.
It’s all they know.
Want more from life? Witness the deranged comments you’ll get
It’s easy to dismiss “more” as a luxury for someone else. When we read examples like these, we automatically think, “That’s nice for THEM, but that’s not me.”
Just like when I was a kid — getting room service wasn’t even something I considered. It wasn’t something “I did.”
Do you see how not wanting more can become part of your identity? How it can skew your perception of the world and what’s possible?
Let me show you what I mean.
“Hard work generally gets OTHER people rich…”
“I don’t think anyone has ever gotten rich without screwing other people out of their money”
“How could you want that when other people are starving?”
A guy asks, How can I buy a Lamborghini? Predictably, the respondents finger-waggingly tell him he SHOULDN’T want that.
If *I* made that much, I would totally live like this! Seriously bro!
THESE PEOPLE’S ENTIRE EXISTENCE IS ABOUT BELIEVING ANYONE WHO WANTS MORE IS EVIL, GREEDY, AND HORRIBLE.
How could they ever tell you anything other than “Keep your head down and be satisfied you’re even alive?” Cutting back is all they know.
The result of this drum-beating over and over again: We feel guilty for wanting more. ‘I guess I should just be happy with what I have. In fact, I don’t really want to go to Australia this year. It’s so frivolous…’
We end up feeling like shallow sell-outs for wanting more out of life. Guess what? It’s normal to want more and more out of life. In fact, you want more now than you wanted 10 years ago, and 10 years from now, you’ll want even more.
This is a truth that seems so obvious, yet is rarely acknowledged. You can tell whenever you hear a little phrase called the “Hedonic Treadmill.”
The truth: The Hedonic Treadmill is REAL
How many people have you heard saying, “When you get a raise, KEEP LIVING AT THE SAME LEVEL YOU WERE LIVING AT?”
Tons — in fact, most “personal finance experts” will tell you that. And while I agree with the sentiment of living beneath your means (which I do myself)…
…THEIR ADVICE DOES NOT WORK.
If you suddenly got a $25,000 raise, would you honestly live exactly the same way you were living? Of course not.
So why do they continue to pretend that we’ll all want exactly the same thing for our whole lives?
In fact, it would be better to ACKNOWLEDGE that we’re going to want more, and proactively plan for it. This is the precise point I make when I talk about how delusional we are about our future weddings — and how to plan for reality.
As I’ve written for 10 years, if you get a big raise and get results like this, you should spend some of that on something you’ve always wanted. Yes, you should save more. Yes, you should invest more. But you should also enjoy what you’ve earned.
Btw, I’m no saint. I used to be as guilty of the finger pointing as anyone else. For example, I had a friend in college tell me he was going to move to NYC and live in the cheapest apartment he could find. When he got a high-paying banking job, he suddenly changed his mind and instead picked a luxury apartment in Manhattan.
I thought “Ha, what a hypocrite”…UNTIL I DID THE EXACT SAME THING.
Why shouldn’t he? He could afford it. He was hitting all his savings goals. This is why my post on how it’s OK to spend $5,000 on shoes was so controversial…but also resonated with millions of readers. The ones who decided to automate their savings and investments…and then demand MORE of themselves and of life.
My point: When you grow, your life changes. You wear different clothes. You live in different places. You even hang out with new people. Don’t deny it, acknowledge it.
As part of that, it’s NORMAL to want more.
Right now, you might be totally comfortable living in a cheap apartment with roommates…but you won’t be forever. Like 25-year-old Ramit, you might not see the point in buying a nice suit when you can get something for 1/5th the price. But if virtually every grown man says, “Buy one nice suit,” there’s probably something to it. In other words, admit you’re like everyone else — you’re not a special snowflake!
And I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about anything that helps you live a Rich Life.
The Hedonic Treadmill also means that in the future, you’re not going to want to keep doing the same thing you’re doing now. You’ll want to explore new places on vacation, to learn new skills, to meet new people. You’ll want to grow. You’ll want to live MORE.
Let others be satisfied with expecting less: less fun, less opportunity, less ability to invest in the things you love that will help you improve.
NEW APPROACH: WANTING MORE IS GOOD
Mark Cuban wrote a memorable post where he described The Most Patriotic Thing You Can Do:
“Bust your ass and get rich.
“Make a boatload of money. Pay your taxes. Lots of taxes. Hire people. Train people. Pay people. Spend money on rent, equipment, services. Pay more taxes.
“When you make a shitload of money. Do something positive with it. If you are smart enough to make it, you will be smart enough to know where to put it to work.
“I don’t care what anyone says. Being rich is a good thing. Not just in the obvious sense of benefiting you and your family, but in the broader sense. Profits are not a zero sum game. The more you make the more of a financial impact you can have.”
You have permission to want more.
Not just more money. More fun, more success, MORE.
As I’ve become more successful, so have IWT readers and IWT staff. Success is additive — the more of it you get, the more you can share with others.
Here’s an unconventional example of wanting more: Decide who you want to surround yourself with.
Years ago, I used to refer to myself as a “personal finance blogger.”
But I never refer to myself like that anymore. I hardly write about personal finance anymore (I shared my best material in my book, and now I’ve moved onto other areas of living a Rich Life).
There are some amazing personal finance bloggers. But in any community, there’s a certain type of thinking. And if I’d stayed in the personal-finance community, I’d be attending the same events, surrounding myself with people who primarily focus on affiliate revenue and writing about budgets and the latest credit card deal.
I didn’t want that. I wanted to move beyond that label.
Today, I run a business with dozens of world-class experts in psychology, design, technology, marketing, and customer service from my home office. We’ve helped millions of people live Rich Lives (see a few examples here and here).
And helping them allows me to do things like take a last-minute trip to Asia, travel to a friend’s bachelor party in Medellin, or fly my parents business-class across the world.
I can also volunteer my time helping people who aren’t as fortunate.
We’ll talk more about those areas — and new ones — this year.
This year, what do you want MORE of?
I’m staking a claim on demanding MORE instead of LESS.
If your focus is on cutting back, this site probably isn’t right for you.
But if you want more — more travel, more success, more opportunities, more fun — I can help.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about what this kind of a Rich Life means, including specific examples of what it means to me (living in NYC and SF), as well as many IWT students.
We’ll also tackle the subtle psychological “scripts” that have been programmed into us since childhood.
Now, a question:
What does MORE mean to you? I’m not here to judge — in fact, if you tell me, “I want a $2,000 coat,” I’ll be thrilled to show you how to get it.
So maybe it’s a new piece of clothing. Maybe it’s the trip of a lifetime to Australia. Maybe it’s the ability to pay your parents’ debt off. You tell me!
Tell me 2 things (I read every comment):
- What does MORE mean to you?
- Why do so many people talk about LESS, while we’re here talking about MORE?