Episode 52. He hides purchases from me–and I let him

Lisa and Jeff are in their forties and have a blended household. They had about a $300k net worth before they were awarded a $1.275M settlement in January of this year. What’s important isn’t the details of the settlement, but that they don’t know what to do with it.

She doesn’t trust him—and for good reason. He opens lines of credit and makes secret purchases while also refusing to participate in financial planning, leaving Lisa to carry the burden. She’s looking for a teammate, but he’s happy to simply send her his paycheck and make jokes about their toxic dynamic.

They’ve invested the windfall in a few places (yes, one of which is a bad financial advisor), but they lack a vision—and the communication to build one. Before they decide what to do with the settlement cash, they need to be honest with themselves, and with one another. That’s where I come in. Let’s see if we can bring some clarity to their situation. 

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Ramit Sethi:  [00:00:02] You got a windfall. I want to talk about that. You said it’s seven figures. Can you tell me how much it was for?

Lisa:  [00:00:08] Yes. So specifically, it was $1.275 million. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:00:15] So how should we even begin?

Jeff:  [00:00:17] This is tough to admit, but let’s be honest. I hide purchases from her, and it’s for the sole purpose that I don’t really have to discuss the purchase.

Lisa:  [00:00:28] I will try to bring something up and he will aggressively tell me no. And he will shut me down and turn away. And I will be like, okay.

Jeff:  [00:00:38] I don’t know if I agree with that.

Lisa:  [00:00:39] It is totally true.

Jeff:  [00:00:41] I usually make jokes. I usually tell you, hey, whatever you want goes. I get out of that conversation as fast as I can. She feels a sense of loneliness, aloneness. I have absolved myself of any responsibility of making a mistake.

Lisa:  [00:00:57] It’s somewhat disheartening and kills the dream of– it leaves me like, well, what should I do? I think this is going to be great for us and he doesn’t want to talk about it.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:01:15] How do you deal with money if you are the person in your relationship who handles it and your partner doesn’t want to talk about it at all? Well, that’s the situation today with Jeff and Lisa, who are in their 40s married and they have a blended family with three teenage children. Lisa feels overwhelmed because Jeff does not want to be involved with money whatsoever. In fact, he’s developed all kinds of strategies to avoid talking about money. He even hides some of his purchases so he doesn’t have to talk about them with Lisa. 

But as I asked him questions about this, I discover how many layers there really are in their relationship. I asked Lisa, how do you feel hearing that your husband hides purchases? And you know what she says, I feel bad for him. She takes on the burden of managing the money. Sometimes she worries that they don’t have enough to go out and eat. And yet, they are paying a huge amount unknowingly to a financial advisor. So there are relationship challenges, there are psychological challenges, there’s flat-out lies, and of course, technical challenges with understanding how money really works. 

I want you to listen to this episode, especially noticing the way that they talk about money. There’s lots of circular logic, lots of words that don’t really mean anything. And I point this out to them, and they are quite startled. So listen to the episode, and definitely listen to the follow-ups that they send me. You can get them from iwt.com/followups, and I hope you listen to the entire episode first. I’m Ramit Sethi, and this is I Will Teach You To Be Rich.


Lisa:  [00:03:00] I was doing well. He was doing well. We were high earners. We didn’t have too many financial problems. And in January of this year, roughly six months ago, I was awarded a seven-figure settlement. And it’s obviously life-changing for anyone to come into seven figures.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:03:25] Can you tell me how much it was for?

Lisa:  [00:03:27] Yes. So specifically, it was $1.275 million. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:03:34] Okay, great. Let’s call it 1.3. Is that post-tax? 

Jeff:  [00:03:38] Yeah. 

Lisa:  [00:03:38] Yes. 

Jeff:  [00:03:39] Our collective income before this happened was about 150 a year. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:03:46] Before this came in, what was your net worth? 

Lisa:  [00:03:52] It was around 300K. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:03:58] Okay. And that’s yours or the two of you?

Lisa:  [00:04:01] Anything that we have now is what we’ve built together.

Jeff:  [00:04:07] I’ve always counted her money is her money and my money is her money. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:04:11] I think that’s a cute phrase, but I actually don’t think that’s doing you any favors. 

Jeff:  [00:04:14] It’s not doing me any favors, but it’s also true.

Lisa:  [00:04:17] And it’s the same with the settlement. And I find it’s like really grates on me that he’s like, that’s your money. That’s your money. That’s your money. And I’m like, no, it isn’t. It’s ours. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:04:30] This dad joke is quite revealing of Jeff’s overall mindset on money. And it really bothers Lisa. It’s our first clue at the larger problems with communication. Unfortunately, Lisa and Jeff can’t disclose the details of the settlement due to an NDA, but it doesn’t really matter. They have a $1.275 million settlement. We’re here to figure out how they’re spending it, how they’re investing it, how they’re managing it, how they’re even thinking about it. If you were in their position in your 40s and you received a $1 million settlement, what would you change? 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:05:07] So you have this windfall. Lisa, you are currently handling the money? 

Lisa:  [00:5:12] Yes. Is this the part where I get to ask you a bunch of questions?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:05:16] Well, we can talk about your numbers. I know you came prepared. Go ahead.

Lisa:  [00:05:21] I will start with because we exchanged a couple of pieces of information about the financial planner, and– 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:05:28] You have a financial advisor. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:05:31] Oh, God, there we go. You’re going to hear about this financial advisor throughout this episode. I want to emphasize the importance of why this advisor is such a central figure in today’s conversation. First off, a lot of people believe that sometimes they need help. I don’t mind it. You want to hire somebody to come clean your apartment every month? Fine, no problem. You want to hire a personal trainer? There’s lots of things you can do. I have no problem with that at all. But you will often see people with money delegating this thing, treating a financial advisor like somebody who mows your lawn. Oh, I don’t want to mow my lawn. I’ll just pay the experts. No big deal. 

To me, this represents a central irresponsibility in life. You cannot simply delegate one of the most important things in life without understanding the basics. And the basics of personal finance are not that complicated, but they are tricky. And they are full of pitfalls. And guess who takes advantage of most people’s ignorance, the financial industry. So I understand why they have a financial advisor. I actually don’t even mind if people have a certain type of financial advisor. But you’re going to hear how this person represents a much larger problem in their relationship. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:07:01] Let’s talk about it. So if you want a financial planner or financial advisor, you can certainly hire one. I’m not opposed to them, but you should never ever pay a percentage-based fee. They call it AUM, assets under management. You’re paying 0.9%. And I’m about to show you why you should never pay that. 

Jeff:  [00:07:24] You’re going to make me cry on here. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:07:26] I hope so. So how should we even begin? How did you find this financial advisor?

Lisa:  [00:07:33] This is a man that helps my mom with her financial plan. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:07:39] What a surprise. And how did she find him? 

Lisa:  [00:07:41] From what I understand, he was offered at work.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:07:41] Oh, god. Talk through that. Oh my God.

Lisa:  [00:07:42] I’ve talked to him several times over the years. He helped me allocate my 401K several years ago. It performed really well. But now–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:07:57] It performed really well between what years? Good years? 

Lisa:  [00:08:03] Yeah, that’s what I was just going to say now that the market is tanking at the moment, it’s like, okay, well, yeah, that was probably pretty easy. And he’s made these choices now and am I in a bad spot.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:08:16] Well, you’re not in a bad spot. You’re rich. 

Lisa:  [00:8:18] Well, that’s tough but yeah.

Jeff:  [00:08:20] No, you’re rich. Do you know you’re rich?

Lisa:  [00:8:25] Maybe.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:08:26] Oh, God, not this again. Every time I have a rich couple on this podcast they go, I don’t know if I’m rich. I guess I am comfortable. Ah, not this again.

Jeff:  [00:08:39] Ramit, it comes from–

Lisa:  [00:08:41] I wasn’t. It’s very new.

Jeff:  [00:08:42] It comes from a place of– I mean, dude, I have a tough time with it. It comes from a place of I’ve seen it disappear over the years, and it’s fear-based. I hate to say it, but that’s the whole thing here. That’s why I’m cringing about the percentage talk of this financial advisor. It’s like, I know that it’s just some guide just to put shit in markets that some other person is buying and everybody’s got their finger in the pie, and everyone’s taking a taste and it’s dwindling the savings. And then when I lose, they win. And when I win, they win, and it drives me crazy. But I also don’t know what to do instead.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:09:21] I’m going to go over the numbers about their financial advisor a little later in this episode, but I can already tell you, they need to get rid of this guy. And I want to understand how they got here in the first place. Before they came on the show, I asked them to fill out a conscious spending plan. [Get your own free conscious spending plan here] That breaks your spending down into four categories, fixed costs, saving, investing, and guilt-free spending. You can get your own copy of the conscious spending plan at iwt.com/episode52. What this allows me to do is to take a quick back of the napkin-look at their spending. And to them, it’s just numbers, but to me, it reveals a whole lot more. Now I know what their numbers are. Now I want to ask them about how they talk about money. Listen it. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:12] When you talk about money right now, which is never, what’s the tenor of those conversations?

Lisa:  [00:10:18] I will try to bring something up and he will aggressively tell me no. And he will shut me down and turn away. And I will be like, okay.

Jeff:  [00:10:30] I don’t know if I agree with that.]  

Lisa:  [00:10:31] It is totally true.

Jeff:  [00:10:31] I usually make jokes. I usually tell you, hey, whatever you want goes.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:35] This is a common thing with couples. So here’s how it works. I’m just going to break it down. One person, usually the person who likes to be in control and is checking all the apps every day, they see something. And they stew over it for hours, days, sometimes weeks. And then something sets them off. And it’s like this controlled fury. It could be, I love you, and I care about you, but if you answer this question wrong, I am going to murder you. I’m going to cut your neck and you’re going to bleed out here on the bathroom floor. It’s right between those two. You can’t really tell. They go, so what’s this purchase? Like that. It’s like a tiger just making one little sound. Jeff, anything sound familiar? 

Jeff:  [00:11:26] Yes, it’s funny you said that because she does that. And I immediately assume the knife is coming. And the knife never comes because she doesn’t do the knife. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:11:33] That’s correct. That’s correct she doesn’t do the knife. And so you overreact, don’t you? 

Jeff:  [00:11:39] Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:11:40] You come out guns blazing and you use all your unconscious and conscious techniques– diversion, haha jokes, and also just over the top aggressiveness, and then you get what you want, don’t you? Which is what? 

Jeff:  [00:11:54] I get out of that conversation as fast as I can. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:11:56] That’s correct. You escape. So you still remain the pursuee. Lisa, you’re the pursuer but you walk away steaming, frustrated. And that’s it. You take it on yourself. Not very productive. Pretty interesting. I liked that Jeff is being honest, maybe a little too honest. Jeff is admitting to everything, which is in itself a technique. How would you describe the way that you treat money, Jeff?

Jeff:  [00:12:28] There’s always going to be more, but there’s never going to be an abundance if that makes sense. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:12:36] No, can you explain that? 

Jeff:  [00:12:37] I’m always going to be able to make more money. It’s like if I go and I buy a car– first time when I was a kid, the first new car I bought, I technically couldn’t afford say, new car, but within three months, I was paying for that car, no problem. I was making more money than I made before. It’s like when I adjust my spending habits up, the money comes. I mean, that space in career where I’m always making more money. 

It’s always been sales or some kind of business development. I always figure it out. If you came to me and said, I got to figure out how to pay an extra $1,000 a month for something, I’ll find the $1,000. I’ll make the $1,000. Lisa will tell you. I’m working on this business. I’ve been very much attuned to the P&Ls, paying attention to the financials. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:12:37] How about on your personal finances? 

Jeff:  [00:13:26] Zero. I’m not doing it. I rely on Lisa. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:13:29] And does that work for you?

Jeff:  [00:13:32] It works well for me, yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:13:34] Yeah, that’s an honest answer. It does. And since it seems to work well for you, I bet you there’s no real reason to change.

Jeff:  [00:13:43] There is no real reason to change other than I realize it’s not fair and it’s not honest and it’s not a good thing.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:13:53] What he just said is the key phrase. He said, there is no reason to change. Jeff is just here because Lisa wants him to be. But he has no real desire to change because he has no real incentive to change. You have to listen in for the key phrases that reveal everything. People will tell you 10 minutes of stuff, and oftentimes in that 10 minutes, there’s one sentence that is the only thing that matters. And Jeff just set it for us. Now, what about Lisa? What does she get out of all of this? 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:14:29] Lisa, how would you describe the way you treat money?

Lisa:  [00:14:36] I want to control it. I actually think that’s pretty good. I want to control the money. So I want to be in control of it.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:14:47] Let me ask a few questions about control. How often do you log into your apps?

Lisa:  [00:14:53] So currently, I do that probably daily or close to daily.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:15:00] When you look at your numbers, you type in your password and you click Submit and you’re waiting for it to load, what’s the feeling you have as you’re waiting to see the numbers every day?

Lisa:  [00:15:17] Again, there’s actually some negative feelings, some dread, and this has to do with the market, the current market conditions. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:15:25] So would you say that you react emotionally based on what’s going on in the market? 

Lisa:  [00:15:31] Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:15:31] Do you think that’s good or bad?

Lisa:  [00:15:33] I know it’s bad. It’s a little bit of self-torture because I’m likely to probably blow up one day and have a seemingly overreaction. And that could cause a big fight, I suppose.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:15:49] Can I give you a candid piece of feedback? 

Lisa:  [00:15:52] Yeah. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:15:53] I would actually love to see an overreaction from you. 

Lisa:  [00:15:56] Yeah, many people would. 

Ramit Sethi] 15:59] Yeah, if anything I feel like you have underreacted. What would your overreaction be?

Lisa:  [00:16:08] Oh my gosh, I might yell. Honestly, I typically treat my anger with silence. And so I won’t look at him. I won’t make eye contact. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:16:22] Wow. What an overreaction. I’m so scared of– let me put myself in the mind of Jeff for a second. Let me see if this is working out just the way I want. I don’t want to talk about money. I just want to drop a bag of money and have you handle it. And if she gets really mad at me, then you know what she’s going to do? She’s not going to make me talk about money at all. Whoa, so scary.

Lisa:  [00:16:44] Yeah. 

Jeff:  [00:16:45] Ramit, you are the overreaction. The reason we’re here is because you’re meant to– it’s what’s happening. You’re putting me in my place. It’s she needed help. It’s all coming together really fast right now. You’re having a conversation that she’s not having.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:17:01] Jeff, you said something really interesting, I’m putting you in your place. What does that mean? 

Jeff:  [00:17:08] You’re calling me on my BS. I’m unfortunately a little too honest with myself and other people, even though I hide behind this crap sometimes. But the reality is, one of the things about Lisa here is she will endure worse than I can dish out. She has endured worse than I can dish out. I don’t take advantage of it. But at the same time, it’s a fact of our life that she will– I can make some jokes and I can have some fun with the fact that she’s running our finances, and even if it’s a big problem for her, for the most part, I know she’s not coming at me about it. So I’m taking advantage of that to a certain extent.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:17:55] You said, I don’t take advantage of her, and then five seconds later you say, I’m taking advantage of that. Let me play that back for you again. Listen and see what you notice.

Jeff:  [00:18:08] She has endured worse than I can dish out. I don’t take advantage of it, but at the same time, it’s a fact of our life that she will– I can make some jokes, and I can have some fun with the fact that she’s running our finances. And even if it’s a big problem for her, for the most part, I know she’s not coming at me about it. So I’m taking advantage of that to a certain extent. I’m not purposely trying to take advantage of her, but it is certainly convenient that I don’t have to worry about her coming at me about it. 

Lisa:  [00:18:46] I find you two very puzzling. And I find you both very interesting. I’ll tell you why. 

Jeff:  [00:18:52] Why?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:18:53] I looked at your application. I studied it very carefully. I spoke to my colleague about it. And one thing that I noticed was that you both self-edit a lot. You talk in circles if you can cut through the way that you both talk around the problem. But in order to get there, we need to be honest. So it’s either you’re taking advantage of her or you’re not. It’s one or the– it cannot be both at the same time. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:19:21] What a stark contradiction on Jeff’s part. First, he said he’s too honest that he doesn’t take advantage of Lisa. And then just seconds later, he calmly explained how he goes about taking advantage of Lisa. And they do this throughout today’s conversation. They contradict themselves. They talk in circles. They edit themselves. Keep an ear out for this. 

This is a very common deflection technique for people who have developed conscious and unconscious strategies to get what they want. They talk, they spin, they pull out their bag of tricks of jokes and aggression and silence and end up changing nothing. No wonder they’re having a hard time talking about money. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:20:07] Lisa, how would you describe the way that Jeff interacts with your personal finances?

Lisa:  [00:20:17] 

He is mostly hands-off. Day to day, he hands his paycheck over to me. And it seems legitimately fine with that unless there is something that he wants to purchase. And then he will make comments that I control the money and he doesn’t want to ask permission for large purchases. A specific example, he charged a couple of pairs of running shoes to some credit cards.

Jeff:  [00:20:54] I got a PayPal line of credit that’s in my name only.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:20:58] Hold on. Can we just start again? Can you just tell me what happened with the shoes?

Jeff:  [00:21:01] This is tough to admit, but let’s be honest. I hide purchases from her and that’s how she found out about these credit cards. And it’s for the sole purpose that I don’t really have to discuss the purchase with her. I don’t have to, in my mind, get permission. And also in my mind, I’m pushing the problem to later. 

And ultimately, in my head, I think I’m going to pay it off before she even really knows about it. But that doesn’t really ever happen. So ultimately, I just have to have a little bit of a come up and I go, yeah, I did this. Sorry, I should have told you. But I do feel a little bit of guilt about it because there’s a mild sense of hiding, of lying, even though I’m not lying necessarily. I’ll tell her what I did later. But it’d be better to be honest and truthful about it.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:21:52] When you say you’ll tell her later, is that because she finds out about the purchase and then asks you?

Jeff:  [00:21:58] Yeah, I mean, the shoe show up. The shoes show up and I put them on. And she goes, where did those come from? And I tell her, yeah, hey, I bought some shoes.

Lisa:  [00:22:09] I don’t recognize that I didn’t charge and I’ll say what was that for? And that will frustrate him, being asked about the purchase.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:22:18] And so as a result, how do you approach money in your relationship now?

Lisa:  [00:22:23] So I don’t want to start any conflict. And as Jeff very well knows, I’m averse to conflict, so I will avoid it. If it’s potentially something I have a problem with, it would have to be a pretty big problem for me to bring it up. I would just let it go and deal with it financially on my own, in my own mind and in our financial plan make plans to pay it off. There’s a little somewhat like this attitude about money. It’s just like he’ll have an attitude, it’s just money. I’ll make more. And again, it’s not in a reckless sense. He’s actually pretty frugal. So this beginning paints him in a less frugal light. He’s super frugal.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:23:14] Notice what’s happening here. He just admitted to hiding purchases from his wife. And then seconds later, here’s Lisa saying, I don’t want to start a conflict. I just let it go. And even he’s super frugal. She’s not even reacting to what he just said. She’s back in her own story, a story that’s focused on putting Jeff at ease, making Jeff feel comfortable, not rocking the boat. I think if I called Lisa tomorrow and I asked her what she remembers saying after Jeff admitted to hiding purchases, she would not remember. I’m not sure she would even remember this 10 minutes from now. Lisa is in total automatic response mode. As you can see, there are a lot of layers here. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:24:08] How much were those shoes?

Jeff:  [00:24:08] These were $149 I think. I believe that’s what they were.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:24:16] What do you think is going through my head right now? 

Jeff:  [00:24:18] It’s not that big of a purchase. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:24:20] Mm-hmm, yeah. What else?

Jeff:  [00:24:24] I would bet you probably think it’s a bit ridiculous to try and hide that kind of thing from your wife.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:24:28] Well, I try not to make judgments. Hearing that your husband is first of all signing up for a PayPal line of credit, what is that? For $149 it makes no fucking sense. That’s absolutely absurd, a PayPal line of credit to buy– what brand of shoes are those? 

Jeff:  [00:24:50] They’re Altroz. They’re really nice. 

Ramit:] 24:52] I don’t even know what that is. But I really don’t give a shit. He’s showing me red shoes. Oh my god. They’re like red, just some kind of athletic shoes. They’re orange. I was trying to do you a favor. 

Jeff:  [00:25:05] They’re incredible. 

Ramit Sethi: 25:08] No, they’re awful. Also, who the hell opens up a line of credit to buy shoes? This is actually a great example of how people’s psychology can lead them to make extremely peculiar money decisions. There is no reason on planet Earth to open up a line of credit for shoes. But Jeff is avoiding. And he does not understand money. So he will use any technique he can to avoid learning about money and having honest conversations with Lisa. I suspect there’s a lot more beneath Jeff’s behavior. Also notice that we’re hearing a lot from Jeff. But I’m wondering, how does this example make Lisa feel?

Lisa:  [00:25:52] Honestly, I was really mad when I found out about these.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:25:56] Oh, you were mad? 

Lisa:  [00:25:57] Yeah. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:25:57] How did that manifest itself when you were mad?

Lisa:  [00:26:01] Jeff didn’t feel it at all. I just stood and burned inside. It’s irritating. So it points back to the fact that he won’t discuss our finances with me. If he’s uncomfortable or dissatisfied with something or unhappy about something, he’s very assertive and very vocal about it. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:26:26] You realized this technique, right?

Lisa:  [00:26:30] Yeah. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:26:30] He may not even realize it, but that is a technique. People do things for a reason. We’ve all seen these videos on Instagram. I saw one today. This dog got injured in his little paw. He was limping. And so everyone was giving him more treats. Now the dog’s healed. And anytime he wants a treat, he starts limping. In many ways, we do the same thing as humans. We find what works and then we double down on it. 

Jeff:  [00:26:58] I’m learning that she feels a sense of, I don’t think abandonment is the right word, but a sense of loneliness, aloneness, her against the world. She made a comment a couple of weeks ago that if she screws up with any of this, she’s afraid I’m going to give her all of the blame. And I can’t say that she’s wrong. I would love to say she’s absolutely wrong, but I have absolved myself of any responsibility of making a mistake. It’s a big deal to Lisa. So even though we’re picking on this one specific item, that’s not the real heart of the problem that she has. She feels very alone in the operations of our finances.

Lisa:  [00:27:47] Yeah, so again, yeah, correct. That’s just a small scenario. But it’s so much bigger because it’s somewhat disheartening and kills the dream of– it leaves me like, well, what should I do? I think this is going to be great for us. And he doesn’t want to talk about it. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:28:08] We’ve established that Jeff is uninterested in money. He’s unbothered by money and he does not want to talk about it at all. We’ve also noticed that he usually gets his way. Where do you think he might have picked up these attitudes and behaviors from? Jeff, what happened in your childhood with money? Talk to me about your parents. 

Jeff:  [00:28:10] Oh, there was never enough. There was never enough money. My parents split up when I was very young, and their fights were always about child support, always about not having enough money. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:28:45] Who said what? 

Jeff:  [00:28:47] My mother never got money from my father. The money was late. The money wasn’t that much in the first place. But he never wanted to pay it. He’d show up in a new car and child support hadn’t been paid in six months. It was those kinds of conversations around money.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:29:06] Why do you think that he didn’t pay the child support and then showed up in a new car?

Jeff:  [00:29:18] I can’t honestly say what was the thought process behind? I screw the ex-wife and screwed the kids. I’m going to go get a car. I don’t know. I never went to restaurants with my mom and my stepfather because we never had any real money. When we go over to his house and now we’re going to restaurants, I love restaurants. Lisa will tell you to this day I love a good restaurant.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:29:43] What do you love about them? 

Jeff:  [00:29:45] Service. I love good service.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:29:48] So when you went to your dad’s house, what did it feel like?

Jeff:  [00:29:53] It felt like going to another world like I were in another world where you had money.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:29:59] And money meant what? 

Jeff:  [00:30:02] You got what you wanted. You got what you wanted. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:30:08] And then when you went back to your mom’s house? 

Jeff:  [00:30:10] There was a sense of loss. You go back and there’s– and looking back, huge amounts of respect, huge amounts of respect for how she had to work and scrap and fight for all of that stuff. But yeah, I fell back on 12, 10, 9, 11, 12, and at that age range, and I’m going backward, this sucks. You don’t have any candor when you’re young. And like, this sucks.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:30:40] How did your mom talk about money?

Jeff:  [00:30:42] It was disappearing fast. It was never there and disappearing fast.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:30:48] You remember any phrases?

Jeff:  [00:30:53] We don’t have enough. We can’t afford it. We don’t have it. No. Yeah, that was the primaries.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:31:03] And so when you would go back to your dad’s, and he would have the car and the restaurants and the nice things, again, what message do you think that he was sending to your mom?

Jeff:  [00:31:20] I think he was giving her the finger. Now they broke up in a very bad way. And I never knew about this when I was younger, obviously. But there was some cheating and infidelity. There was some serious bad feelings in there that I didn’t understand or know about at the time. Yeah, I’ve had lots of opportunities to look back. I got divorced, I have a daughter, I’ve paid child support. I’ve paid a clock. I’ve always supported my daughter. I’ve visited my daughter. I’ve bought her things and haven’t taken them out of the child support or anything. There hasn’t been returned trips to court. 

I think the result of it is when that marriage failed. I did all the things I thought my dad should have done. And I think I went over and above in that space. I still pay for things. And she’s now over 18. I don’t have any legal responsibility to pay for anything as of today and I’ll still cover things, I still slide money here and there to take care of her. So that’s what I think I came out of that with. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:32:28] What other lessons have you taken away? Think about what your dad did, the way he treated money.

Jeff:  [00:32:38] So it’s kind of a mirror of my situation with Lisa in the sense that the– I haven’t thought about this, but it’s the same thing that we’re doing. Unfortunately, I never thought about it. But he went made the money and always made more money and always made more money and always made more money. He had $400,000 a year in the ’80s and ’90s. And the two wives he had or stepmoms both of them were responsible for the spending and the paying of the bills and the spending of that money. And he just delivered the bag of money to the table. And then he went back out and made more of it. And I think that’s probably why I think the way I do about this stuff now that I’m thinking about it. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:33:32] It’s pretty interesting. 

Jeff:  [00:33:34] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:33:34] What does it make you think as you make that connection for the first time?

Jeff:  [00:33:38] I honestly don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it before. Really, I’ve never really thought about it before. It’s the same thing. It’s like, I like the cars. I like the money, though my key difference is I make sure that the people around me don’t suffer. And I don’t like the responsibility of managing the money.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:34:01] Out of curiosity, if they don’t suffer, then why did Lisa ask to speak to me?

Jeff:  [00:34:07] She’s suffering, so I’m doing something wrong.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:34:11] Can you rephrase that again for me? This time, let’s make it accurate. I do the same things as he did. The only difference is?

Jeff:  [00:34:25] I’m doing the same things he did. The only difference is now I’m placing the burden of managing my finances on Lisa, and I’m giving her no support in that space. So I’m making her suffer.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:34:42] Any difference from what he did?

Jeff:  [00:34:47] Probably not. If I really think about it, probably not.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:34:52] I appreciate you being honest. It can’t be easy, especially recognizing it for the first time. 

Jeff:  [00:34:57] I certainly I never thought about that. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:35:00] Even in that example, you can see how Jeff used a variety of techniques to avoid confronting the real lesson. And that lesson is that he’s doing exactly what his dad did. He circled around the point, he admitted to part of his culpability, but not to all of it. And he spun around using all these clever phrases like, I’m doing the same thing my dad did, but the only difference is, I’m not making the people around me suffer when Lisa is very obviously suffering. 

Jeff plays a lot of games. It’s easy to admit to the knucklehead stuff, like buying $150 pair of shoes. But that’s just on the surface. Jeff is comfortable on the surface. He talks and jokes, he goes in circles. I’m sure it’s charming to the people around him. But I’m not really entertained by this. If you boil down what he just said into plain English, he’s lying to Lisa. He’s avoiding talking about it. And he’s doing the same thing his dad did while hurting Lisa in the process. That is not okay. 


Lisa:  [00:36:05] That makes a lot of sense. I have seen the correlation of his attitude with money that he can always make more and connect that to the way his father handled money. And I’ve heard stories about his stepmoms, but I also never really– I think they were a lot– and he gave me the credit that they were a lot more irresponsible with money and that he’s fortunate in that I’m not irresponsible with it. So that’s certainly a key difference. But I also had not really put those together. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:36:42] And so hearing that, what does it make you feel? 

Lisa:  [00:36:45] It’s a little bit negative because– 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:36:53] Can you give me a different word? Negative like what? Use the word so I can understand it.

Lisa:  [00:36:59] I feel bad for what he endured growing up. I feel bad that he’s just made that connection right at this moment. It’s a very strong word, but there’s some financial infidelity in there clearly. And so it also makes me feel uncomfortable and scared a little bit. I’ve dealt with financial infidelity in my past, and so some of my concern and my reaching out is because I want to fix it here.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:37:51] We’ve made some pretty good progress reverse engineering Jeff’s money mindsets. But if you caught that, I asked Lisa, how she felt about this. And her response was to tell me how bad she feels for Jeff. Another clear pattern here. Lisa is taking on more than just the basic money management day to day. She’s taking on a whole another burden. It’s much deeper than that. What was money like for you growing up?

Lisa:  [00:38:18] I don’t remember hearing my parents talk about money. I can tell you from experience when my dad was worried about money because he would drink and stay up all night and play super loud music and just isolate. And I take after my mom in that I won’t confront things. I don’t want to talk negatively about situations or people or things and so– 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:38:50] Because?

Lisa:  [00:38:52] Because it will hurt people’s feelings that will cause confrontation. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:38:59] And that would result in? 

Lisa:  [00:39:03] Discomfort. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:04] For? 

Lisa:  [00:39:05] Me? 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:06] No. 

Lisa:  [00:39:07] For her? 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:08] For them. 

Lisa:  [00:39:09] For them. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:11] You don’t want to cause discomfort for them. You don’t care. If you’re uncomfortable, you take on the discomfort, don’t you?] 

Lisa:  [00:39:20] 

Yes. Actually that’s pretty accurate. And how I’m actually feeling throughout this call is that I can feel Jeff’s discomfort. This feel really uncomfortable conversation for him, you calling him out, him having this realization. I can feel his discomfort and I don’t like it.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:40] This have been twice now. I’ve asked you, how do you feel about this? And do you know what your response has been? 

Lisa:  [00:39:44] I start talking about his feelings. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:46] Correct. I’m not interested in how you feel about him as much as how you feel. Some people take on the burden of others so much that they lose themselves in the process. Does Lisa even know what she really wants anymore? If she doesn’t know what she wants, then how can she expect to be clear about what she wants with money, what she wants in a relationship, how she wants the two of them to build a rich life together? Listen to this. What are you getting out of this? If Jeff is being extremely, as you call it assertive, he called it aggressive, he’s getting control over what he wants. And Lisa, if you quote, “stew,” what do you get out of that?

Lisa:  [00:40:35] I get nothing.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:40:39] No, you get something. Think really hard. Think back to your mom. What did she teach you?

Lisa:  [00:40:47] To keep the peace. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:40:50] Mm-hmm. So when you stew? 

Lisa:  [00:40:52] I’m just keeping the peace. Keeping discomfort with me and not allowing anyone else to feel discomfort.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:02] That’s right. You get to feel angry, disappointed, frustrated, whatever it may be. In some ways, you may even start to thrive on those feelings, maybe feeling righteous about, oh my gosh, why doesn’t anyone else understand this? But the one thing you won’t do is what?

Lisa:  [00:41:28] Confront the other person. Give them the discomfort.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:33] Yeah. Can I use a different phrase? 

Lisa:  [00:41:34] Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:34] Share your feelings with them. 

Lisa:  [00:41:37] Yes. That’s very accurate. Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:41] You don’t have to confront. Confront is a very loaded term. It suggests you’re going to go up there and my fists are balled up, and I’m just going to tell him how I feel. No. Sometimes we can just share our feelings. You two share anything positive? You ever have a great day at work or something good happens and you go, oh, my God. I got to tell you this awesome thing happened. You ever do that?

Lisa:  [00:42:02] Yes. But so this is– 

Jeff:  [00:42:04] One of us does. 

Lisa:  [00:42:05] Really? Really interesting because I–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:42:07] This is such an interesting reaction. Oh my god. Can I just tell you what I just observed here? I ask a very simple question, you two ever talk about anything fun, anything nice? And I see Jeff’s face light up. He goes one of us does. I assume he’s talking about himself. And then Lisa goes, yes, but, and she already starts to qualify. I don’t even know what she’s going to say. What is this? 

Lisa:  [00:42:07] This is a problem I’m working on separate from our finances in that I am trying to be better about sharing. I can’t even express what I want. I have so much trouble just telling even my husband I want this. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:42:52] Okay. First of all, it’s not separate from your finances. It is inextricably tied.

Lisa:  [00:42:57] Which is why it came to you, Ramit. I know that you can help me put it all together.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:43:02] Well, we’re doing it together right now. Let’s keep going. Are you talking to other people getting some help for this? It’s a pretty deep-seated issue. 

Lisa:  [00:43:09] Maybe once. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:43:11] How about after this, I suggest that the two of you separately go talk to a therapist. I think that would be really valuable for you. 

Lisa:  [00:43:21] Okay. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:43:23] There are a lot of deep issues here. What really made me recommend therapy, especially individual therapy is Lisa’s inability to ask for what she wants, and Jeff’s techniques that take specific advantage of that vulnerability. This is really unhealthy. And a therapist would be able to work with her and perhaps them over a long period of time to untangle these issues. As a reminder, one of my goals is to de-stigmatize getting help, whether it’s from buying a book or hiring a coach, or of course, seeing a therapist. Can we refresh and reframe the way you talk about money? 

Jeff:  [00:44:04] Yeah, we should. I don’t know why I have a problem with it. I honestly don’t. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:44:09] You don’t? I do. 

Jeff:  [00:44:10] Okay, why? Please tell me because I have a tough time with this. I have a hard time claiming which is earned in her lifetime as mine, though I don’t have a problem sharing mine with her in the deepest of my soul. I don’t have any problem. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:44:27] You don’t have a problem with it until you want something. That’s a problem. Let’s get honest about the problems first of all. You can’t present yourself to yourself as this virtuous soul who then hides purchases. 

Jeff:  [00:44:43] True. Okay. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:44:45] Lisa, can you reconcile wanting to be in control, but also wanting your partner to be involved? If you two are in the car, one of you is driving, one of you is in control, you’re not sharing the steering wheel, so do you think it’s possible for you to be in control, but for Jeff to be involved in the money?

Lisa:  [00:45:06] Yes, I can be in control and he can be involved, and it would take some of the burden off of me to feel completely responsible for it so that I know whatever decision we’ve made, we’ve made it together. And good or bad, we made it together and it’s less pressure on me to make it work.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:45:35] That’s what you want. You want less pressure, you want to share the responsibility. Am I hearing you right? 

Lisa:  [00:45:40] Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:45:41] This is really starting to take the dynamic that you have created grooves around and change it. And I think the beautiful part is you can change it to whatever you want. It’s fascinating to watch as the two of you come to some of these deep realizations, and I just love watching the dumbstruck look on your face. I love it because it tells me you’re really digesting this. This stuff is deep. 


Ramit Sethi:  [00:46:08] Jeff and Lisa both had a totally dumbstruck look on their face. No more jokes, no more spinning, they’re really starting to grasp how complex their communication challenges are and how deep these issues go. They need to get more help.] What I want to do now is turn back to their settlement and work through the numbers. 

These numbers quickly become very surprising. Chet, your friendly neighborhood financial advisor, comes in and tells you, I can help you. We have a sophisticated algorithm, and blah, blah. I have all my partners at work. We constantly monitor the market, some bullshit. And you go okay, cool. You sent him what? 500,000? 

Lisa:  [00:46:49] Yeah. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:46:50] I saw the PDF you sent me. He took his fee schedule, which by the way is fucking hilarious.

Lisa:  [00:46:56] Crazy, yeah.] 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:46:58] Just so everybody knows, I’m looking at this fee schedule. The assets 0 to 400,000 have a 1.75% on the first $400,000. That’s outrageous. Next, from 400 to 750k 1.25. Let me explain what’s going on here. The firm makes money by charging investors a percentage of their portfolio. The more you invest with them, the lower their fees. For example, between 0 to $400,000, they charge 1.75%. That is astronomical. Absurd. That is ridiculous. For comparison, that’s like charging you $500 for a bag of popcorn. Even paying 1% AUM is outrageous. 1.75% is truly ripping you off. I’m going to show you why. Oh, what a nice decreasing ladder, you fucks. And then 750 to a million is 1%. And then from 10 million to 25 million is 0.5%. 

First of all, I love the audacity. I don’t love them. Actually, I think that I’ll meet them in hell. But I love the audacity that actually takes something that is totally screwing mom and pop and actually makes them think they are getting a favor out of it. “You know what? As your money grows, we’re actually going to charge you less. So we have our incentives totally aligned. We just want to help you grow your money and keep it safe. And as you make money, we make a little money.” Fuck off. So on this page, page 1, Chet wrote 0.9% family rate. That’s another way of saying I’m totally screwing you, but I’m going to make you think that it’s doing you a favor, just so everybody knows how these financial advisors work. 

So I looked at the investments that this person put you in, they’re dogshit. One of the funds– you don’t even know this, but one of the funds that you’re in for $13,000 has a 1% fee on it. So not only is your advisor making money with your 0.9% family rate, but he’s also getting a cut through some of the investments that he’s putting you in. That’s how Wall Street makes tons of money off mo and po. Mo and po don’t want to read I Will Teach You To Be Rich for a weekend and learn how to do it themselves, so they get taken to the cleaners. 

Now, shall we go over and just look at how some of these numbers add up? Lisa, you log into your apps every day. You’re tracking these unknown $150 purchases. Sometimes you tell your family, we can’t go out to eat at a restaurant because money is tight. If you put a million dollars with this guy and let’s just say it’s 0.9% for your family rate. Over 25 years, how much do you think you will pay in fees total?

Lisa:  [00:50:04] I don’t know. If you gave me five minutes, I could probably try to run a calculation. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:50:06] Just guess. 

Lisa:  [00:50:11] $50,000.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:50:12] That’s a good guess. So you think $50,000 in fees over the next 25 years total in exchange for this person who I’m calling Chet to manage your money.

Lisa:  [00:50:25] Okay. Maybe I would up it a little bit.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:50:28] Go ahead. What do you want up it to? 

Lisa:  [00:50:30] 100. It could go to even 100.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:50:33] Cool. 100K for 25 years of work. And if you found out that were true, how would you feel about it?

Jeff:  [00:50:42] I’d be pissed. 

Lisa:  [00:50:43] Well, I would want to see it against the returns, and then maybe I’d feel better about it. But 100K is a lot. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:50:49] It’s over 25 years. 

Lisa:  [00:50:51] You’re right, it’s over 25 years.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:50:52] So what do you think about that?

Lisa:  [00:50:54] And if he takes it from the million to six, then what’s 100? Not to be disrespectful, but 100K to quadruple it or whatever seems fair.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:51:08] That’d average out to be about 4,000 per year. Would you like me to tell you what the number really is?

Lisa:  [00:51:18] Yes, because I don’t know.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:51:23] It’s about a million dollars. It’s like 40,000 a year in fees. Did you know you paid 40,000 this year? You just don’t know it yet. It’s going to come out on the back end.

Lisa:  [00:51:35] Oh, is it more because I’ve already– yes, I’ve seen the 40,000 not there anymore. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:51:40] Well, that’s because of the market. 

Lisa:  [00:51:42] I know. 

Jeff:  [00:51:45] $40,000 in fees this year? 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:51:46] Yeah, let me explain what I mean by that. So a million dollars over 25 years is how much you’ll pay this advisor. Now, if you divide that, a million over 20– it’s actually $40,000 average per year. So–] 

Jeff:  [00:52:04] I don’t mean to cut you off? Is that straight fees or is that the loss I take on the money coming out of the investment in the first place, that straight fees?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:52:12] What does that mean? Both yes to the same question.

Jeff:  [00:52:14] You’re not figuring in that if I had left the $40,000 in the market, it would have grown. It’s straight fees. It’s like that $40,000, I’m really just surprised by the number that 1% is $40,000 a year in fees for 25 years. I have to sit down with a calculator and figure that out.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:52:35] No, what you need to do is read my book, not peruse it because I cover this in my book.

Jeff:  [00:52:30] I will. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:52:40] Chapter 6. 

Jeff:  [00:52:40] I absolutely will, chapter 6.] 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:52:43] This fucking book is 10 bucks. 

Lisa:  [00:52:45] We have it. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:52:45] Yes, I know you have it. It’s right there. Okay, I love it. This is why I’m never afraid to promote my own material because I’ll save you a million dollars for the price of a $10 book and my rich life system. No, I’m going to sell that all day. I want you to take control of your money. Now whether you need the help of a financial advisor who’s going to charge you an hourly fee, that’s fine. Whether you want to do it on your own, you want to get help from rich life system, whatever you choose, but right now, what you’ve got is costing you more than you can even imagine. 

Now, if you want to have a little fun, you can text this guy, you can say, hey, by the way, how do you charge us? I’m really curious. Can you explain the fee structure again? And then his intent are going to go up because he’ll go, oh, shit, did they read that book, I Will Teach You Be Rich? Anybody call their financial advisor and fire him live on the podcast? 

Jeff:  [00:53:08] Let’s do it. That’d be my fantasy, Jesus. A million dollars.

Lisa:  [00:53:43] So a million dollars is the sum of the fees. It’s not the fee plus the loss of the return? 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:53:51] What? 

Lisa:  [00:53:53] So like, if I’m paying him the $4,000 a year, that 4,000 isn’t going into an investment where it’s going to create a return? Does that make sense?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:54:04] It’s going into Chet’s fucking pocket. That’s why Chet drives a BMW. And it is a loss, but it’s your loss.] That’s a million dollars that could be in your pocket. Now think about it. What are the things that you focus on when it comes to your money? You’re tracking shoes, you’re tracking eating out. Are you tracking groceries? 

Lisa:  [00:54:30] Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [00:54:31] You’re tracking these things, and you probably should. It’s good to keep your eye on the ball. But if you keep your money here, and if you were to put just a million dollars in this account, just for simplicity, over 25 years, you would pay out roughly a million dollars in fees and you would never even know it.

Lisa:  [00:54:52] Yeah, I didn’t know about this 1% on the–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:54:56] It’s outrageous. 

Jeff:  [00:54:57] I did. I knew about it. I didn’t think it’s subtle this big. That’s why I’m really surprised by the finances because I looked at it and I went 1% to manage our money and be smart and grow it and I thought I was buying into his sales pitch.

Lisa:  [00:55:10] Look at him wrap his head. Look at him wrap his head.

Jeff:  [00:55:12] I’m in the same boat. I wrap my head five minutes ago.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:55:15] It’s not someone who’s mowing your lawn for 100 bucks. It’s not there. Let me explain why 1% got that reaction from you. It’s not an accident. Every mo and po in America says the exact damn same thing. Why? It’s been field tested and engineered to get exactly that reaction. 1%? And I have a whole team that’s looking out for me. And if something goes wrong, I have one person I can call with questions, and then every quarter they send me my financial update, and they walk me up. Fuck off. That’s the reason they position it like that. You’re a sales guy. You know that’s why they did it. And they get that reaction. And there’s only a few people who actually tell you what’s really going on. 

Now, if you were to go, hey, it’s actually worth $100 to pay somebody mow my lawn or change my oil, I got no problem with it. Fact, you want to pay a premium provider 500 bucks? God bless. But 100% of the time when I show people the numbers– excuse me, not 100%, 99% of the time I show people the numbers, they had no clue whatsoever. So, Lisa, hearing this, how do you feel?

Lisa:  [00:56:31] Closed out. I want to move it. Where do I put it?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:56:39] We’ll talk about that. 

Lisa:  [00:56:40] Let me control it.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:56:44] That is funny, though. You love control, but you delegated control of the most expensive thing in your life. Why is that?

Lisa:  [00:56:49] So the concept of having that check written to me, I have no idea. It was a crazy experience. I think like you’re saying, I did not know what to do with it. So it seems to make sense that this provider has been helping my family member and so he’s the professional.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:57:17] He’s been ripping your mom off too. 

Lisa:  [00:57:19] Yeah, it makes me upset. How am I going to convince her to get out of there?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:57:25] That’s a whole different– you’re probably not telling the truth. Here’s the thing. I have no problem if you wanted to hire a financial advisor who charges an hourly fee, or a flat fee, or project fee, I don’t even mind if they’re a premium advisor, they charge a lot. I’ve hired a financial advisor myself to do a second set of eyes on my portfolio because everybody needs somebody to help them out once in a while, but I paid an hourly fee. I was happy to pay. I paid full rate and it was good. 

If you truly want somebody to help set this up for you, you could go out and find a fee-only planner. You do not want to pay someone who’s charging you a percentage, full stop. There are no exceptions. Or you can manage it yourself. I talk about how to do it in the rich life system program that I launched, step by step, how to set up your allocation. And most of this is pretty simple stuff. You have a pretty straightforward time horizon, etc., but you do have some complications in terms of legal issues, which I want to talk about in a second. But looking at your portfolio that he set you up in, I mean, you could basically do the same thing with a single target date fund.

Lisa:  [00:58:49] And that’s what I was thinking. So even the first fee I could see was 400. And I’ve been interested as the months have gone on, I really want to dig into and see what’s going on. And after reading your book, it seems like I could probably do the same thing.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:59:07] You could definitely do the same thing. You actually get better results. You know why? It’s all about costs. So in investing, there’s no secret guy, particularly not this jackass Chet, who has some secret access to investments. It’s all about costs. Now, when you go you eat sushi, if you pay like 300 bucks for your alma kossei, you’re going to get better sushi, most likely, you’re going to get better service, you’re going to get cool stoneware at your table. 

But in investing, it’s not like that. You want to manage the cost carefully because those costs are zero-sum. They’re either coming out of your pocket or somebody else’s. It’s usually yours. So you want to minimize those costs and keep as much of your money as possible, particularly on a percentage basis and especially when you have a large net worth like yours. 1% is a huge amount. 

Jeff:  [01:00:01] That is the one question I asked, the first meeting we had with them is how do you charge us? How much money do you make? And he explained it. And I feel so stupid, especially now sitting back this far hearing it’s $40,000 because it didn’t sound like $40,000 when I was sitting there talking to him. It didn’t sound like a million dollars when I was talking to him.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:00:18] What a surprise. 

Jeff:  [01:00:19] It’s like nothing. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:00:21] Well, what do you think so? The sales pitch has been engineered. 

Jeff:  [01:00:25] It’s the sales pitch. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:00:26] So it’s the same thing when you go to a car dealership and they talk about the monthly payment. And actually, you’re actually going to make money buying this car. And I’ve seen it, there’s some guys on YouTube, they show how these car sales guys do it. And it sounds really good unless you know a couple of key things that they neglect or skew. That’s the same thing here. It’s just multiplied by a lot of money. 

Okay, by the way, that does not assume you add any more money to your investments. You to make pretty good money. If you were to add $10,000 a year, $20,000 a year, the amount you would lose in fees is way more. You actually can’t even fathom it. 

Jeff:  [01:01:04] We’re just paying our fees by adding money. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:01:06] Let me just do the calculation for you real quick. How much would you say you might add on average year to your portfolio?

Lisa:  [01:01:12] We like to get at least another 12 grand a year in there.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:01:17] So if you were to add $12,000 per year, you would pay roughly $80,000 additional in fees over those 25 years, 25 years only. The longer it goes, the more you pay because it’s 1% compounded on a larger amount.

Jeff:  [01:01:39] So the first seven years it’s just fees.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:01:42] It’s like a mortgage. So I think you get the point. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. Get out of this guy’s thing. 

Jeff:  [01:01:51] You said legal ramifications. So if we should [inaudible 01:01:55] the guy do we get sued? What do you mean by legal?

Ramit Sethi:  [01:01:56] Here’s what you need to know. Lisa, I want to talk to you about this. So you’ve got this settlement came to you. This is your second marriage, correct? 

Lisa:  [01:02:03] Yes. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:02:04] Have you two discussed a postnup?

Lisa:  [01:02:07] No. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:02:08] Okay, I think you should. I think you should talk to a lawyer. I think you both should. And it is a second marriage. And you can have the money be used for both of you. However, in the case of a separation, Lisa, I think that should be your money. And you can even clarify what happens if you do get separated. You’ve probably known people who have done prenups. This is a huge life-changing amount of money. At the very least, you should have a conversation with a lawyer. Fair enough? 

Lisa:  [01:02:40] Fair enough.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:02:41] Okay. I say that as somebody who signed a prenup with my wife. And it’s actually the origin of this podcast because our conversations were so difficult when we had that. I was like, how the hell are other people talking about money? And so when I hear somebody on a second marriage in their 40s who has a seven-figure settlement, $1.2 million, I go, in the worst case, if this marriage does not succeed, you need to protect yourself. And of course, you two need to come to an arrangement together. Cool? 

Lisa:  [01:03:13] Okay. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:03:14] That’s really important. That’s going to be some of your homework, Lisa. And, Jeff, I would encourage you, separately to speak with an attorney on your own as well. You will need to if you go forward with that. So right now we’ve already saved you a million dollars on this call. That’s pretty good. We found it in the calculation.

Lisa:  [01:03:32] Live long, Ramit.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:03:33] Thank you. Okay, I think they got the message about this financial advisor. What should they do now? With the money itself and with this context that they’re wealthy, that something has changed in their life and they should probably acknowledge.

Lisa:  [01:03:51] We never got your answer on what you would do with a $1.275 million settlement.

Ramit Sethi: [01:04:00] Great question. 

Lisa:  [00:  [01:04:02] Thank you. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:04:01] I would sign a postnup. That would be the first thing I would do. In that postnup I would agree on terms. And that would be, look, hey, I want to take part of the money that was created for the IRS payoff. Working with Jeff, I want to pay that off immediately from this. That’s what it was designated for. Let’s do that. I want to take my 25K or whatever it is, I want to pay that off. 

I want to put this money in an account. I want to invest it and I want to keep it separate. And then I want to have some money that could be designated jointly. And that should be a discussion between the two of you. If you two separate, you discuss terms with your attorney on what happens. But second marriage, huge windfall. These are things that’s no-brainer. That’s the first thing I would do. 

Next, I would get rid of this financial advisor, and I would join the rich life system. I would work through it together, each week, the two of you going through the program together and coming with an agenda and saying, oh, my gosh, I learned this. What did he mean by that? Oh, we should do this exercise together. Wow, let’s try that tool that’s in the fourth playbook and put our investment money and see where could we simulate it to work. That would be a way to come together. 

And then personally, if I were you, I would start it off on my own, I would go slow, you’re in no rush. I would start to dollar cost average money in. And if at a certain point, we go, numbers are getting pretty big, I’m getting a little nervous, I might hire a financial advisor for a few hours, and just be like, hey, can you look over our stuff? Are we on the right track? Great. 

Next, I would take a look at your conscious spending plan. I noticed that the incomes you’re paying yourselves, like you’re losing money every month. It’s not quite working right. And so I would rationalize those numbers and start getting more honest. You have to pay yourself enough in your own business that you two can afford to eat and just the basic stuff. That’s what I would do. 

Now, because of this settlement, it’s possible that you might ease off of some of your long-term investments, it’s possible. I’m not saying you have to. It would obviously be smart to keep aggressively contributing, particularly because, Jeff, you’re 49, so you really want to be investing aggressively. But you’ve also bought yourself a little breathing room. 


Ramit Sethi:  [01:06:47] 

What we learned is that most people focus on $3 questions and ignore the $30,000 questions, for Jeff and Lisa situation, the $1 million questions. It’s much easier to log into apps and track your target spending than to learn how investment fees work and realize you’re being ripped off for over a million dollars. This is the point of my book and all of my programs, to show you the actual things you should focus on, whether you’re managing your money, starting a business or finding a dream job, and to ignore the tiny questions that don’t mean anything anyway. 

You do not want to be 89 years old and look back on your life and see that you logged into your Wells Fargo app 46,000 times. Actually, if you’re 89 and still using Wells Fargo, just look upwards, ask the Lord to take you away. You’re done. You took a wrong turn somewhere in life, your time on this planet is over. Lisa and Jeff are going to plug their numbers into the conscious spending plan and be blown away with what they can do. They have an extra million dollars. By the way, if you want to get your own conscious spending plan, go to iwt.com/episode52. As for Jeff and Lisa, my question for them now is what can they do to start talking about money in a more healthy way? 


Ramit Sethi:  [01:08:09] For the two of you, you have a lot of stuff to do to just simplify your finances. So what are you going to save? If you actually calculate it out, what are you going to, quote, “lose” from paying it off early? What are we talking about? Like a few 1000 bucks?

Lisa:  [01:08:25] Less than I’m paying my financial planner. 

Ramit Sethi:  [01:08:27] Yeah, for sure. You already saved a million bucks in a couple hours here. So in my suggestion, I was looking over your finances and I go, there’s too much complication here. It’s way too complicated. So I like the idea of prioritizing simplicity. Now, sometimes you might lose a little. Technically, you could probably save a few thousand bucks, depending on the interest rate, whatever. But what do you care? You’re millionaires. 

So I actually love the idea of the two of you having a very simple financial system that you can deeply understand. In order to change, if you guys really want to live a rich life, just start thinking and acting with money totally differently. That’s why we spent the majority of this call talking about the way that you think about money, the way that you talk about money. And so it would be a tragedy, in my opinion, for us to finish this call, and you learned a couple of cool things and how to have better conversations, but you go right back to thinking about money and acting with money like you used to. That actually did not get you the kind of results you want.

Lisa:  [01:09:31] Yeah, and it needs to be a new day.

Jeff:  [00:  [01:09:35] There you go.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:09:35] The symbolism is so important. Closing accounts that aren’t serving you anymore, creating this breakfast routine the first Saturday of every month, paying off past things. This is how I would do it because symbolism really matters with money. You should not be fighting and hiding money. And in order for that to happen, I would have a series of conversations together. What do you need to feel good about money? You want to have 300 bucks a month for just your own spending, no questions asked? Cool. Let’s make that happen. 300? 400? Let’s figure out the numbers. And I would set up a structure that brings out the best for both of you rather than that brings out the worst.

Lisa:  [01:10:21] That makes sense. I think I can do that. I want to do that. 

Jeff:  [01:10:25] Yeah, I can do that. 

Lisa:  [01:10:26] How do you feel about that? Do you want to do that with me?

Jeff:  [01:10:29] It’s certainly better than what I’ve been doing. So yes, I do want to do that.

Lisa:  [01:10:33] I would really love it if you would do that with me.

Ramit Sethi:  [01:10:37] That’s awesome. That’s what I was hoping to hear. I really enjoyed speaking with Jeff and Lisa. After listening to this episode, it would be easy to label Jeff as the villain. I think the story is more complicated than that. The truth is that we all have invisible scripts around money, often created in childhood and they guide our behavior today, decades later. Jeff came on the show. He didn’t avoid it. How many of us can say that we’ve taken a step like that. 

I received follow-up letters from both of them. To read the full letters, you can go to iwt.com/followups. Here’s what Jeff wrote, “In the days since the call with you, I needed a lot of thinking to process the experience and the feelings it created. I was cold and angry after the call, mostly angry at myself, angry at the truths about where I put her and us, angry that I did not take the time to fully understand what I was getting into coming on your podcast so I set myself up for pitfalls that would be obvious and avoidable to a regular listener. I was angry how I came out 100% on the side of wrong, regardless of all the rights I think I bring to our life together. It was self-centered thinking. After a few days, I think I worked through it. Regardless of how I felt about the experience with the show, right is right and I owed her far more support than she was getting. I committed to move ahead with what we’d agreed to on the show. I committed to help her however she felt help was needed. I love her. I value her. I don’t want her to feel otherwise. Saturday morning, I reminded her of our Saturday meeting, hoping to show her that I cared about keeping the appointment. We kept that meeting. We stayed focused and productive. Neither one letter followed. It was an equal dialogue. In her mind, this meeting was definitely a milestone and she expressed it she was very happy about this. I was too. I enjoyed the conversation and the sharing. My previous beliefs about financial conversations often turning contentious were proven wrong. And I think that we can have normal even keeled conversations about finances.” 

I really appreciate Jeff’s candor here. These conversations are not easy, especially at first. And I’m happy to hear that he worked through those emotions to create the beginning of a positive change in that relationship. This is quite remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is Lisa’s letter, which I want you to read. You can get it at iwt.com/followups.

Thanks for listening to I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I’m Ramit Sethi. Please follow the show on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you haven’t read, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, my book, pick up a copy. You can get it at any bookstore or any library, and it will show you the specific tactics for how to build the I Will Teach You To Be Rich system into your personal finances.