Episode #134: “I make $24K a year but my truck costs $1,600+ a month” (Part 2)

Part 2 with Becki and Dustin drops us right back into a contentious conversation about Dustin’s 6-wheeled truck, but his and Becki’s misalignment runs a lot deeper than that. Once their numbers are revealed, painful truths come to the light—and life altering changes are put on the table. 

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Show Transcript

Download the full transcript PDF.

Dustin: [00:00:00] I’m nervous about the financial stuff. I don’t want to do that the rest of my life. Always have a credit card. I never know where the money went. Always just climb up a ladder for no reason.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:12] Okay.

Becki: [00:00:13] It feels like I am in a position where, one, I am having to prove myself that I’m worthy of being a partner, that I have to show him that I can be responsible with money in order for him to want to build a life with me. I feel like the root of the problem is that I don’t have a really good sense of who I am. I feel very lost. I don’t know. Like it’s my fault. Like I’m not worth marrying. 


Ramit Sethi: [00:00:58] Welcome back to part 2 of my conversation with Becki and Dustin. Just to remind you, at the end of the conversation last week, I found out that Dustin made $24,000 last year, and yet, he bought an F-350. That’s a huge truck with six tires. And I hit my hand on the desk because I was cracking up so much, and the video cut out. That’s the first time this has happened in over 100 episodes of this podcast.  

So we’re back. And as a refresher, Becki wrote the application to me. She’s frustrated because she moved across the country, moved in with Dustin. She’s frustrated that their money is separate. Frustrated that he doesn’t seem to have money to renovate the house, which is important to her. Frustrated that he hasn’t proposed. But Dustin is frustrated because Becki is not keeping up her end of the bargain and paying off her credit card debt as she agreed to.  

Before we dive into the episode, look back on this year. How well do you think you lived your rich life? I think at this time of the year, it’s natural to start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. But often we miss an important step, which is to look back on the year and think about what we loved, what we wish we had done more of. I call this an annual rich life review, and my wife and I do this at the end of every year. 

Our rich life reviews have helped us make amazing plans for the upcoming year, like spending months living in New York, traveling, being more generous, and just getting control over our money. This Saturday, December 16th, in my newsletter, I’ll be sharing how to do a rich life review, and you can only get it by signing up at iwt.com/podcastnewsletter. Here is Becki and Dustin. 


All right. Now, listen, I did a little research. A lot of truck guys out there, I’d like you to know that I know what a dually is now. That’s what you see on Yellowstone. They’re hauling around 10 horses. Is that true?

Dustin: [00:02:52] I mean, that is what it’s for.

Ramit Sethi: [00:02:54] Okay. I love that big smile on your face. Like, yeah, that’s what it’s for. And then what do you haul in your truck?

Dustin: [00:03:00] Like skid steers, excavators, materials.

Ramit Sethi: [00:03:04] I don’t even know what any of that is. What’s is an excavator?

Dustin: [00:03:07] Heavy machines that dig swimming pools, just earthmoving equipment.

Ramit Sethi: [00:03:12] All right, this is not getting me the answers that I thought I was going to get, but all right. Fine. You got the F-350 since we talked, which you filled it up with 200 bucks of gas on Monday. How much have you put into it since then?

Dustin: [00:03:26] Oh, shoot, that was probably two Mondays ago, and I just filled up, and it was 180.

Ramit Sethi: [00:03:32] 180. Okay. All right. That’s a lot of money. What do you do while you’re filling up the gas for 25 minutes each time? What do you do while it’s there pumping?

Dustin: [00:03:43] Cry.

Ramit Sethi: [00:03:44] All right. So I still don’t understand how somebody can afford a $65,000 truck on a $150,000 gross income. 

Dustin: [00:03:56] That’s net, what I brought. That’s my money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:01] What?

Dustin: [00:04:02] That’s not what the whole business made. That’s just my portion of it. That’s all the profit.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:06] 150, you made?

Dustin: [00:04:09] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:09] Last year?

Dustin: [00:04:13] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:13] That’s different than what I see on this thing.

Dustin: [00:04:16] I own the business, so yeah, I made it. It’s my money at the end of the day.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:22] And where is it? 

Becki: [00:04:23] This is the problem.

Dustin: [00:04:25] In the business account, and took some of it last year.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:28] How much?

Dustin: [00:04:30] I don’t know.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:31] Am I being punked right now? What the hell is happening?

Becki: [00:04:34] This is the problem. This is why when we sat down to split our finances, he doesn’t know what’s his and what’s the businesses, and he just takes a little as he needs it.

Dustin: [00:04:44] More than a little sometimes, as I need it or want it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:48] Okay. And then what about when you need to, say, eat?

Dustin: [00:04:52] I would just use the company card and just eat.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:56] So you’re taking the company card. You’re like going up to Chick-fil-A, or whatever, and you’re like, all right, eight bucks.

Dustin: [00:05:04] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:05] Okay. And how does your bookkeeper feel about this?

Dustin: [00:05:08] Oh, it’s been a fiasco.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:10] They don’t like that, huh? Oh, that’s better. All right. So you said you netted 150K. You. How much did the business make top line or gross?

Dustin: [00:05:20] Top line was 499.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:22] Wow. How long ago would you start this business?

Dustin: [00:05:25] Ten years.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:26] Okay. That’s impressive. Half a million dollars doing pool installs. And that was in one year?

Dustin: [00:05:34] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:35] So you’re making half a million in the last year. And the year before, what was it?

Dustin: [00:05:40] The year before was probably 250 to 300 range. I’d have to look, to be honest.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:47] Okay. Impressive. All right. And you got a nice profit margin. Okay. You got the truck. Sounds like the truck’s necessary. Fine. This is helping me understand what’s going on. I got you. No problem. All right. Now, you said you yourself netted 150. Where’s the 150?

Dustin: [00:06:05] Some of it’s probably still in the business. Some of it’s probably in my savings. I bought a Jeep, things like that.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:12] Okay. Your savings has $70,000, and of that, 67 is yours. So some of it’s in there?

Dustin: [00:06:19] Yeah. Should be. Yeah. And then spent some of it, I’m sure. Bought stupid stuff, and went places, and lived.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:27] Do you mean the Jeep, or is there other stupid stuff?

Dustin: [00:06:29] There’s probably a lot of other stupid things.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:32] Okay, we’ll get to that. But can we fix this number? You do not make $2,000 a month. That’s ridiculous.

Dustin: [00:06:38] So all this year, all I’ve done, it automatically drafts to 2,000 to cover my fixed expenses.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:45] This is the way that you do it. We’re going to up level you here a little bit. Let’s just say, for easy math, that you would make 100K salary. Let’s even say you’d make 150K salary on the open market. That’s your market rate. And you go, hey, I don’t want to pay myself full-market rate. I want to pay myself 100K this year. But when I get my business a little bit bigger, I’ll pay myself full-market rate.  

That’s how entrepreneurs do it. So you go, all right, I need to give myself– we know exactly how much you need to give yourself because, guess who else in this relationship makes exactly $100,000? That’s right Becki. So why don’t we go ahead and just literally copy and paste her information? So now you make 8,333. Wow. This actually makes things really easy. Now, I’m not saying this is how you got to make your final numbers, but this makes my job a lot easier, and I’m all for making my job easier. What do you say?

Dustin: [00:07:43] I’m with it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:44] Ramit just copies and pastes, and then he calls it a day. He goes, wow, great job, Ramit. See you later.

Dustin: [00:07:48] So right now we’re going to say I make $8,300 a month. What if I’m not making the money like I normally– like this year, I’m probably going to be close to 250.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:01] That’s a problem.

Dustin: [00:08:02] Do I maintain the same eight grand?

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:06] You need to pick a number that you can confidently deliver on. All right. Watch. So both your gross is 8,333, for a total of 16,667 per month. Bringing us to– how much is your annual gross household income?

Dustin: [00:08:26] 200.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:27] That’s a lot of money. Where do you live again?

Dustin: [00:08:30] North Carolina.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:32] How do you all feel about making a lot of money in North Carolina?

Dustin: [00:08:38] Becki probably thinks we don’t.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:41] Uh-huh.

Becki: [00:08:41] No, that’s really good.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:45] It’s pretty good. Why are you looking like that?

Becki: [00:08:50] I guess your reaction caught me off guard because it doesn’t feel that good sometimes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:59] Oh, it doesn’t?

Becki: [00:09:01] No.

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:01] And how much would feel good, Becki?

Becki: [00:09:05] I don’t know. I guess if I was over the 100 mark, I would feel better. If I was closer to 120 or between 120 and 150, I think I would feel a little bit better. I don’t know why. I don’t know if that’s a number I made up in my head.

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:26] Yeah. You made it up. What do you see on screen right now?

Becki: [00:09:29] A calculator?

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:30] Okay. Watch this. I just love what you just said because this is amazing. Watch this. $8,333. And you said, I need to be over 100 to feel good. Can we just look at how much– if we add it all up, you make $99,996 per year. You want me to hand you $5 right now? I’ll literally Venmo it to you. Will that make you feel better about money?

Becki: [00:10:00] No. I guess in my head, I always thought– when I first started looking into going back to school and saw the range of income, I think a part of me was like, oh my gosh, I’m going to make 100 grand a year. That’s a lot. I feel like growing up, in the late ’80s, early ’90s, it was like, you made six figures. 

And I guess now having it, I still feel like I’m broke most of the time. Again, the logical part of me understands that I’m broke because of my actions, what I do with my money, not what’s coming in. There’s still just that piece of me that’s like, if I just made another one or two grand a month, it would just make such a huge difference.

Ramit Sethi: [00:10:42] Can you put that cup down for one second?

Becki: [00:10:43] Yeah. I’m sorry.

Ramit Sethi: [00:10:44] That’s okay.

Becki: [00:10:45] That was my emotional safety cup.

Ramit Sethi: [00:10:47] That’s okay. So you just said, with my head etc, etc, etc. Put your hand here. Tell me what you feel about your money right now. $99,996 per year. What do you feel?

Becki: [00:11:13] I think I feel a little embarrassed.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:18] Keep it there.

Becki: [00:11:20] I feel ungrateful.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:23] Ungrateful to whom?

Becki: [00:11:24] Myself.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:27] Okay. Keep going.

Becki: [00:11:28] I just feel like I’m very fortunate to not only probably make that kind of money but make it doing something that I genuinely enjoy, and that the only thought I have about it is if I had more, I’d be happier.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:51] Wow. That’s honest. Thank you. Think you ever realized that before.

Becki: [00:12:02] Not that specifically. I know I struggle a lot with just gratitude in general. It’s like something I know is really hard for me, or that I know causes a lot of my own self-inflicted issues. But I didn’t realize I specifically felt that about what I make.

Ramit Sethi: [00:12:23] It seems to me a lot of what’s going on here is about how both of you feel about money individually and with each other.

Becki: [00:12:32] Yeah.

Dustin: [00:12:33] 100%.

Ramit Sethi: [00:12:33] I’ll suggest some things that I’ve observed just in this conversation about money. Becki, I think that Dustin doesn’t trust you with money, if we’re just cutting to the chase.

Becki: [00:12:46] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:12:47] And I think that, Becki, he has some legitimate reasons not to trust you because you overspend, and you haven’t told him about the spending problems for a long time. Stop me if I’m wrong. Please. I want to make sure that I’m not saying anything that’s inappropriate or inaccurate. Becki, your thoughts?

Becki: [00:13:06] Fair. That’s fair.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:07] Dustin?

Dustin: [00:13:09] Yeah. Feel like that’s fair. When we first met, she said, I’ll just give you all my money, and you take care of it. She doesn’t believe she’s good with money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:19] Exactly.

Becki: [00:13:19] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:20] Becki, do you see these feelings of self-worth, of connection, of do I need to prove myself? They’re deep. Nothing we can tackle on one call, but something that you will work on for many years, and it will be worth it.  


There’s so much for Becki to dig into here. Personally, I love the opportunity that she’s going to get to discover more about herself and her own behavior. What a gift to get to study the most interesting person in the world, yourself. That’s the way that I want us to all think about self-development, whether it’s coaching, books, podcasts, therapists. This is an opportunity to gift to learn more about herself. So I’m excited for Becki.  

It’s also important because the way that she talks about money, and behaves with money, and feels about money is being colored and distorted by the way she sees the world, and that includes her own self-worth. I really want her to tackle these things because, as you heard from her comments about feeling good about money, if she made 100K– quick reminder she makes $99,996– that’s just not true. And much of this is not simply a money problem. It almost never is. 

We’ll be right back. Now, back to the show. 


All right. And then down here, we got guilt free spending. So this is where the lies happen. How is it possible, Becki, that you went on all these trips, and you’re telling me you only spent $500 a month on this?

Becki: [00:15:00] Yeah, I probably just added my monthly guilt-free spending, things that are on automatic. I don’t think I went back and looked at–

Ramit Sethi: [00:15:12] Well, we’re definitely not accounting for all your expenses here, which is a real problem. And I suspect, Becki, that’s probably where a lot of some of the issues lie. How do we start actually getting accurate numbers here?

Becki: [00:15:30] Yeah, I guess when I was doing it, I was just thinking what comes regularly. I didn’t even think to add up–

Ramit Sethi: [00:15:36] Holiday trips, anniversary vacation, one-off expenses, mistake fees, all that stuff.

Becki: [00:15:44] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:15:45] Well, let me tell you something, Becki. I think this is important. One of the reasons you feel anxious about money, among others, is that essentially, your fixed costs are 71%, which is a lot. And that means, by the time we get down here to your guilt-free spending, you actually, according to the math, only have 500 bucks a month to spend. And so what you’re doing is you’re basically like, I don’t care about that. I’m just going to spend what I want. Right?

Becki: [00:16:13] Yeah.

Dustin: [00:16:14] And then how does that make you feel?

Becki: [00:16:16] Shitty. Anxious.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:19] So what do you want to do?

Becki: [00:16:20] I guess I have to get my fixed costs more comfortable, and I probably need to be more aware of my guilt-free spending.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:33] I think that’s right.

Dustin: [00:16:36] Once you pay off your credit card, you’ll have a 1,000 bucks right there.

Becki: [00:16:42] Yeah. Which was the hope, but I have to get there, which shouldn’t take very long.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:52] Do you know?

Becki: [00:16:54] No, I have to do the math.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:57] Should we just do it right now?

Becki: [00:16:58] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:59] How much do you owe on credit cards?

Dustin: [00:17:05] Thought it was seven something.

Becki: [00:17:06] Yeah, seven. Just under seven.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:10] And how much are you paying towards those?

Becki: [00:17:13] I guess I’m taking the Dustin approach. I try, every paycheck, to put four or 500.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:20] Excuse me. Do you try to brush your teeth in the morning?

Becki: [00:17:22] Try? No, I do brush my teeth.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:26] Okay. So then why are you trying to pay off your debt at a certain amount? It’s actually easier to automate your debt than to brush your teeth. What is the word try have to do with paying off debt?

Becki: [00:17:41] It doesn’t.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:43] Why would you set it up automatically?

Becki: [00:17:45] I think when I went to do it, I was like, well, I’m going to put it at this amount, and then I had it there for a month, and then that made me nervous because there’s already one time where I was like, when the payment was about to come, I didn’t have the money. So I was like, I’ll just do it when I get paid every payday.

Ramit Sethi: [00:18:02] Why didn’t you have the money? You get paid the same amount every month.

Becki: [00:18:07] But because I had already spent it on something else.

Ramit Sethi: [00:18:09] Ah.

Dustin: [00:18:10] Guilt-free.

Becki: [00:18:11] Guilt-free, not free.

Ramit Sethi: [00:18:14] That’s true. You had spent it on something that was guilt-inducing, but part of the guilt-free category. You’re not paying yourself first. Paying yourself first is talking about savings and investment, and your debt, at 27%, is draining everything else from you. So we got to pay that stuff off first, and whatever’s left– that’s why it’s at the bottom.  

Guilt-free spending is at the bottom of the CSP because that comes last. Let’s look at this. Your monthly payment, you’re paying for $1,000 a month. You’re trying to, which I don’t like trying. I’d rather have you automate $800 a month instead of trying to do 1,000. I don’t want trying at all involved. I just want it to happen. All right, let’s look at this. I’ll do a little calculation here. 7,000 bucks is your balance. I’m going to say 27% on your interest rate because it’s probably around there.

Becki: [00:19:09] They’re zero. Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:11] Really?

Becki: [00:19:13] Mm-hmm. They’re zero until next July.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:19] So six, seven months. All right. Okay. That’s cool. We’ll put that in. Let’s see what happens. This is going to be really good news. So you’re going to pay it off in seven months if you pay $1,000. It’s just simple math. Okay. But I want to show you what happens if it’s 27% interest, which, by the way, if you don’t pay it all off, they might retroactively go back and charge, which we do not want. 

Okay. That’ll take you eight months. It’s not a huge deal, but you would pay 700 bucks in interest. That would suck. And let’s say you end up sort of doing it but sort of not. Some months you do. Some months you don’t. So it ends up being 500 bucks a month. Want to see what happens? It sucks. 18 months to pay this stupid debt off, and you pay over 1,500 bucks in interest. What do you notice, Becki?

Becki: [00:20:15] That’s a lot.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:17] Yeah. So what’s the conclusion?

Becki: [00:20:20] Just commit to the 1,000 and be done with it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:23] Correct. You want to set it up automatically right now?

Becki: [00:20:28] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:29] What’s stopping you? I want to make sure I’m not pressuring you into anything.

Becki: [00:20:33] Nothing. I can do that. I can do that. Do I do 500 on each of them? I have two credit cards. Or do I do 1,000 on one until it’s paid off?

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:44] Okay, don’t confuse yourself. Hold on. Just listen to me. Listen to me closely. What’s the balance on each of them?

Becki: [00:20:50] One is 3,000, and one is 4,000.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:53] So does it really matter? You have 0% interest, so that’s not a factor. You have seven months to pay these off. So both of them are going to be paid off at $500 a month, right?

Becki: [00:21:09] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:10] Becki got there a lot faster than I did, but we’re both here. We’re ready to click it. Go ahead. Set up automatic payments. Read it to us, Becki.

Becki: [00:21:21] Set up automatic payments for your credit card.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:24] Wow. Round of applause. Take the win. What do you say? Becki, how do you feel right now?

Becki: [00:21:33] Fine.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:34] Wow. All right. One of us had a good time. All right. Dustin, how do you feel?

Dustin: [00:21:42] Great.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:43] All right, we got another one, Becki?

Becki: [00:21:45] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:46] Go ahead.

Becki: [00:21:51] I don’t want to pull this one up for you. Not because of the amount, but because of where it’s from.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:57] bankofamerica.com. Wow, wow.


I couldn’t script it better. This is one of my least favorite banks, second only to Wells Fargo. I can’t wait for Becki to pay this debt off and close her account so BofA loses yet another I Will Teach You to Be Rich customer. 


Becki: [00:22:15] It feels like a little bit of a weight off my shoulders, just like that’s just what it is, and that’s where that’s going to go, and I don’t need to think about it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:22] Right. All right. And come June, July, when that’s paid off, what are you going to do? What’s going to change in your numbers?

Becki: [00:22:33] Oh, $1,000 is probably going to go to 50%, 55% maybe.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:38] What will that mean for you?

Becki: [00:22:41] I’ll have more guilt-free spending, or more money to save, and probably more money to invest.

Dustin: [00:22:47] She means spending.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:48] You don’t need to lie to me. It’s your money. It’s not going to affect me. I want you to choose. You’re going to do what you’re going to do. All right. So we’re going to take this down to 400. Your fixed costs are now 53%. 


Now that we’re looking at our numbers without the debt payment, things feel a lot better. We increased her guilt-free spending, increase her investments, and her savings goal. But you’ll notice that she still doesn’t feel good about money.  

We’ll be right back after this. Now, back to Becki and Dustin. 


Becki: [00:23:19] I feel like this is the responsible thing to do, and it will make me actually feel better in this moment right now. I feel a little bit like a little kid who’s like, that’s not that much fun money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:38] Tell me what you really feel, not what you think you should be saying.

Becki: [00:23:42] Yeah. When I look at it, I’m just like, that’s going to go– no, that’s not true. When I look at it, I’m like, that’s a lot of money. That should be plenty of money to spend and have things that I like and do things we want to do. But there’s definitely a piece of me that’s like, but I feel like that’s going to go really fast.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:04] And how would it go fast? Lay it out for me.

Becki: [00:24:07] It’s probably frivolous things with me. Dustin would say it’s coffee. Dustin loves to blame everything on my coffee purchases, but it’s probably just mindless. It’s not intentional spending. I just buy things when I think I need them or want them, but there’s no real joy or intention behind it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:30] The way you’re talking about it seems like so insulting to yourself. Would you talk about a friend like, oh, it’s so mindless, and you don’t even think about it, and it’s not even conscious? Would you say that to a friend?

Becki: [00:24:46] Probably not.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:48] So why is it so easy to say it to yourself?

Becki: [00:24:53] I’ve mastered self-criticism over the last 42 years, I guess.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:59] Yeah. And does it get you anywhere?

Becki: [00:25:01] Sometimes I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of things probably by telling myself I should do them or should be somewhere, but not particularly.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:14] I hate that word should.

Becki: [00:25:16] Yeah. I tell my patients not to shit all over themselves all the time.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:22] Oh, so you have really good advice that you tell them, but you just don’t do it.

Becki: [00:25:27] Yeah, all the time.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:29] What I hear from you is a lot of self-deception, and it makes me sad because, for me, if you want to make a change with your money one of the first things that you have to do is accept what you have been doing and deeply understand why. So when I ask like, hey, how do you feel? If I were you and I was looking at this, I would say, I feel like a little child, which you said. 

That felt really true. I would say, I feel like this is going to be no fun. I’ll say, I feel like I can’t do this. I feel like I’ll be able to do this for two months, and then I’m going to go right back to where I was. And I don’t know if I believe in myself to be able to do what’s on this page.

Becki: [00:26:17] Yeah, that probably feels more accurate.

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:21] But you gave me all these other things. I probably should do that. It’s probably responsible. Why don’t you give me that? I notice you’re crying as we’re talking about this.

Becki: [00:26:35] Probably because a little bit of a– I don’t know. I guess I’m a little bit of like a hater or a people pleaser. I’m pretty good at giving the right answers or saying what I think people want to hear.

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:53] But you’re not here to impress me. Why are you here? You wrote the application. You have the application here.

Becki: [00:27:00] For me, I thought you were going to be a lot harder on Dustin. I didn’t know this was going to be–

Ramit Sethi: [00:27:03] I know you did.

Becki: [00:27:04] On me. Yeah. Because I want to change. It’s like I have good self-awareness in some ways. I know that that’s the problem. I know that I overspend. I know I do all these things, I feel like the root of the problem is that I don’t  know I have a really good sense of who I am, which sounds so lame at 40 years old. But even trying to go through the workbook and stuff, what sounds perfect, it’s just like, I don’t know.  

And I think that’s probably why it’s triggering that. I’m just so surrounded by Dustin’s house, and Dustin’s life, and Dustin’s family, because it’s just– I feel very lost. So I think sometimes the spending is not very intentional, because I don’t really know what really lights me up or brings me joy.

Ramit Sethi: [00:28:23] Like, what am I missing? Why am I not happy? If I just had $4 more, or $4,000 more. If only X, Y, Z. Maybe it’s Dustin. Maybe it’s this house. Or is it me?

Becki: [00:28:42] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:28:42] What have you done as you hear these voices in your head? You see these feelings. They circle once in a while. What do you do when you feel those things coming close?

Becki: [00:28:57] I don’t know. I guess sometimes lash out or– 

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:02] How do you do that?

Becki: [00:29:03] Pick a fight.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:05] In your application, you told me that you feel like you have to do everything on Dustin’s timetable? And you told me that he had even gone. A long time before he said, I love you. How long did he go?

Becki: [00:29:26] Almost four years.

Dustin: [00:29:31] I want to mean it. And I’m scared. I’m nervous about the financial stuff, if that’s– I don’t want to do that the rest of my life.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:46] Do that means?

Dustin: [00:29:49] Always have a credit card. Never know where the money went. Always just climb up a ladder for no reason.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:57] Okay. And when you say that, you mean you don’t want Becki to have credit cards? Can we be specific?

Dustin: [00:30:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I don’t want Becki to do that. And that’s not just for my benefit thing. It’s for the team. You know what I mean? Because I know she feels certain ways, and there’s a lot of stress every time she signs on every two weeks to look at her debt. Maybe she spent more money on it. And now, in the morning, I’m going to be in trouble because I slept in.

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:29] You find a correlation between the credit card debt payoff and you two getting in fights?

Dustin: [00:30:35] Not necessarily, but possibly, if I look back and had a calendar and jotted it all down, it might correlate. You know what I mean? So it’s like, that’s a life I live when we don’t have to.

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:49] Right. I got you. You know I’m married. So if we’re being honest here, each of you cannot control what the other person spends. And so, Becki, what does that make you think?

Becki: [00:31:04] I don’t know. We have separate decisions to make.

Ramit Sethi: [00:31:08] Might it be that you are struggling to make decisions together, but actually, it turns out that everything in your life is fairly separate when it comes to your finances?

Becki: [00:31:22] Yeah, 100%. I didn’t know anything about how much he had. I didn’t know his business made half as much money this year until five minutes ago.

Ramit Sethi: [00:31:33] What? What?

Becki: [00:31:34] No, I had no idea that he was going to make half as much money. So that’s what I mean.  It’s very separate, and I have no idea at any moment what’s going on. And he talks sometimes like we have all this money and we can do all this stuff, and then the next minute, he’s telling me that I want all this stuff, and I’m going to drain his bank account for things that we’ve talked about. It’s just very confusing.

Ramit Sethi: [00:32:02] Okay. Would you like to ask him some questions to clarify? Because if it’s confusing, I’m here to help facilitate. I don’t want you to be confused. I think you might not like the answers you get, but at least I want you to have some clarity. Are you ready to get some clarity?

Becki: [00:32:21] Yeah, that was why I came here, I guess.

Ramit Sethi: [00:32:26] All right. What do you want to know?

Becki: [00:32:30] I guess, first and foremost, why are you going to make half as much as you made last year?

Dustin: [00:32:39] Because it didn’t sell as many pools because the COVID times were really great.

Becki: [00:32:46] Do you genuinely feel like you tried hard to sell pools this year?

Dustin: [00:32:51] I’ve tried to sell all the pools that people have called me to sell.

Becki: [00:32:55] But you didn’t do anything to do any marketing. You took all the business that came to you by happenstance. But you didn’t do anything.

Dustin: [00:33:08] I’ve never done anything to get to this point.

Becki: [00:33:13] So just because you’ve never done it, that’s okay? If I just told you tomorrow that I’m going to work 20 hours a week and bring in half as much money, is that okay?

Dustin: [00:33:27] No, because my financials are different.

Becki: [00:33:34] Okay, but what about next year?

Dustin: [00:33:37] The I feel like, for me, this is this is a given thing. I could have spent $5,000 and maybe sold three more pools. That cool, but did it really get me anywhere? No, I’ve never advertised. I’ve never spent money on any of that. So I just do what works.

Becki: [00:33:59] But it didn’t work this year. If you made half as much as you made last year, then it didn’t work. How do you think that makes me feel, especially when– I know we joke about it a lot, but your hours that you work are pretty lax. And so to find out there’s other ways to sell and try and make more money than just paying for marketing, you said yourself last night. You could do fencing. I don’t know. That doesn’t feel good sitting over here knowing that and knowing that you’re home every day at 3:30 in the afternoon, sitting on the porch. I’m sorry if that’s mean, but that doesn’t feel good.

Dustin: [00:34:46] And I understand that, that I’m home at 3:30 because I’ve made half the amount of money, because I don’t have the work, and I’m trying to figure out a few other things, like where to spend money, like do I hire another guy so I can make a bunch of money, or do I want to enjoy my life and– there’s a fine balance when more money comes, more problems, you know? So it’s like, for me, I’m trying to obviously grow and learn. And also, nothing about what made this year has affected anything in our life. Nothing.

Becki: [00:35:28] So I guess going forward, are you going to feel comfortable committing–

Dustin: [00:35:33] I told you the other day. I told you a couple of weeks ago, I’m probably going to do 4,000 a month. And then I’ll write myself a big check at the end of the year. I told you long ago, whatever you want to put in an account, let’s do it. If you got five grand to put in an account tomorrow, let’s go put five grand in an account tomorrow. And if we put 50 cents a week in an account, that’ll be our money, and we’ll put it where we want to put it.  

I’ve said that multiple times. I’m willing to do my portion. I’m not going to bring all of mine to the table to piss it away. I’m not going to wake up in two years and be like, oh, I wonder if we pissed my money away, and I wonder where it went. And we don’t know. Because that’s what’s happened. For two years, we’ve made $180,000, and we have nothing except you live with me in my world that I help facilitate, take care of things, and try to make your life easier for nothing, for you to sit here and say, you’re going to make half as much money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:42] Can I step in here for a few? Is that back and forth more typical of the type of conversations you have? 

Becki: [00:36:57] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:58] Dustin, what would you say? Is that more typical?

Dustin: [00:37:00] It’s probably more real. We normally don’t get that real. What I would want from it is to understand why me making less has changed drastically our life or something. I don’t understand why it’s that big a deal.

Ramit Sethi: [00:37:18] What do you want from the relationship?

Dustin: [00:37:24] To be a team.

Ramit Sethi: [00:37:25] But Dustin, the way you described it when you were speaking to her was, I don’t want to put any more money that’s going to be pissed away. Nobody wants to be a team mate with someone who approaches money like that.

Dustin: [00:37:43] Okay.

Dustin: [00:37:47] Would you? If your partner said, I don’t want to put my money any more than this much because it’s just going to get pissed away. That’s what’s been happening for the last two years.

Dustin: [00:37:55] I guess I would understand where they were coming from. They don’t want to just throw money away.

Ramit Sethi: [00:38:05] Do you think that there might be a way to say it that, if you truly want to be a team, might actually make your partner understand you more?

Dustin: [00:38:16] There’s probably definitely a better way.

Ramit Sethi: [00:38:18] I agree. And I think that the way you said it actually pushes her away. I know it. I could see her body language. Becki, I just want to check in with you. Did that push you away?

Becki: [00:38:29] Yeah. 


Ramit Sethi: [00:38:30] I wish I had stepped in earlier. That conversation was frankly a little mean, and I did strongly recommend that both of them see a therapist to help them communicate more effectively. I hear what Dustin is saying, that he wants a partner who is financially responsible. But the way that he approached it, and you could see how quickly that escalated, that is no way to communicate with a loved one.  

Let’s take a quick pause for a message from our sponsors. Let’s get back to the show. 


I’m trying to give you the tools to be able to actually connect emotionally. Trust me when I say that you getting some spreadsheet together is not going to change anything about your relationship. Do you both see that? It’s not the numbers that are stopping you from being connected. Becki could pay off her credit card debt in exactly seven months, which she will. It would not change a thing about this relationship. Dustin could double his business income. Would not change a single thing about this relationship. Why?

Becki: [00:39:39] Because it’s not about the money.

Dustin: [00:39:41] I guess that’s how I really feel, but I’m probably not good at conveying it, obviously.

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:47] Yeah.

Dustin: [00:39:48] Because that’s how I feel. I guess it just makes me anxious just doing it, and then not knowing and not having the plan and understanding, and everybody being on board.

Ramit Sethi: [00:40:01] But what I didn’t hear is what you actually want. You’re anxious. Things feel bad. But what I heard you is fixating on all the bad stuff and not talking about any of the good stuff.  So if I were on the receiving end of that, I would feel like, oh my God, is this relationship even meant to be? Does he want to be in a relationship? All he’s telling me is all the things I’ve done wrong. And I don’t hear any love at all. I hear no care, no nothing.  

I want you to reflect on that for a minute. I’m here to help. I’m here because you both showed up. I love that you’re both engaged and engaged in this conversation. And I’m here to help as much as you want me to. I think that there’s so much behind what you’ve said today. If I zoom up, I see a woman who’s craving connection deeply. Connection with your family who lives across the country, connection with your partner who didn’t say I love you for years and who won’t talk about money, and therefore, won’t talk about a future together.

Becki: [00:41:19] Yeah. I’m lonely.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:26] And the spending?

Becki: [00:41:33] It’s probably the one thing or one thing that, I don’t know, makes me feel good at the moment.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:43] How you doing, Becki?

Becki: [00:41:45] I’m okay.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:48] Stuff is hard to talk about. The least of it is the numbers and cents on a screen, right?

Becki: [00:41:55] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:57] What is it? Money reveals so much about us. What do you think it’s revealing about you and Dustin and your relationship right now?

Becki: [00:42:07] So I thought that was a big disconnect where we’re at, and where we’re going, and how we both want to get there.

Ramit Sethi: [00:42:16] Okay. Where you’re at today is what? Let me ask both of you. Today, where you’re at is, Becki?

Becki: [00:42:24] Separate.

Dustin: [00:42:27] Uh-huh. Dustin? 

Dustin: [00:42:28] Two individuals, basically.

Ramit Sethi: [00:42:30] On your current state, if you keep going the same path where you’re going is where, Becki?

Becki: [00:42:39] Not together.

Dustin: [00:42:41] Yeah, seems that way.

Ramit Sethi: [00:42:44] Where you want to go is, Becki?

Becki: [00:42:49] Together.

Dustin: [00:42:50] To the team. Together.

Ramit Sethi: [00:42:53] How do you want to get there?

Becki: [00:42:57] I guess I want to have a plan. How do we merge together a little bit and not be just two individuals living in the same house? I obviously want to do a little bit more me stuff so that I can be a little bit more content as myself so I can be a better contributor to the relationship.

Dustin: [00:43:31] I think we sit down and figure out how we come together. What does that look like money-wise? We got to start somewhere. So we just start, and have a plan, and move together in that plan.

Ramit Sethi: [00:43:45] You guys have me with you right now, so is there a better time than right now?

Dustin: [00:43:51] Let’s do it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:43:52] I’d like you to start by spending at least 30 seconds talking to the other person, saying something that has nothing to do with money. Who wants to go first?

Dustin: [00:44:11] I can go. I do love you. I know it took me a while. I 100% believe in you. I’ve believed in you since I’ve met you. I admire a lot of things. I don’t want to get too emotional. I admire so much about you. And in a way, I look up to you and wish I could be more like you in many ways. I think you’re amazing. 

I think you live way too much inside of your head, to my detriment sometimes, maybe. And I try to navigate the best we can and play my position in that. And I truly want to be a team. I’ve told you we can do it, not overnight, but we can get you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and most of it that you haven’t. What’s that? 30 seconds?

Ramit Sethi: [00:45:35] That’s the best thing you’ve said since we talked, Dustin. Thank you for being so honest. That was amazing.

Ramit Sethi: [00:45:43] Becki?

Becki: [00:45:47] It’s really nice to hear. It’s not funny, but it’s, I guess, sad because everything you just said, I feel the same. I admire you so much. And I try to tell you that all the time about you. You did something that most people can’t do and something that I don’t feel strong enough to do. So it’s like I admire you and look up to you so much and everything you’ve done and accomplished. And I just want to be part of taking it to the next level.  

And I think that we can build something really beautiful. And what I want is you. I want you to open up, and I want you to feel safe being vulnerable and emotional with me and not have to hide behind the silliness and the jokes. That’s what I want from you. I want a partner. That’s really all I’m craving. And I love you. I adore you. I’m here, and I want to be here because I think we could have a really special life.

Dustin: [00:47:14] I believe all of that, and I agree. We can.

Ramit Sethi: [00:47:23] You two are at your best when you are being honest, when you are sharing what you love about your partner, when you’re also admitting that there are things you don’t know how to do or things you want to change. You can do all of those things, but you can’t do any real changes until you are connected to your partner. Jumping into numbers, do you now see how trivial it is? Do you see how pointless it is if you’re not connected to your partner? Now, the feeling you have about each other, do you think that we can make a plan together?

Dustin: [00:48:16] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:17] Yeah. Because there’s a reason. There’s a love, and it’s out here. You don’t need to keep the love secret. If you love your partner, tell him. If you love things about him, tell him. And now that it’s out there, now we can make a plan.

Becki: [00:48:34] I would really like us to sit down weekly and have a conversation about what the next week looks like, and what our plans are, and what we want, and some reflection time every week that’s serious. That’s not joking. That’s not goofing around. That’s like, hey, this is how my week went. This is what was hard for me. This is what I want to do next week. I don’t know. I guess I want to trust myself because then I feel like Dustin will, in turn, trust me.

Ramit Sethi: [00:49:22] You want to trust yourself. I love that. How are you going to do that?

Becki: [00:49:27] By sticking to the plan that we put together.

Ramit Sethi: [00:49:32] Dustin, take the ball. She’s bouncing you the ball now. Go ahead. Catch it. How do you want to respond to that?

Dustin: [00:49:38] However that looks, we go out to eat a few times a week, so maybe one of the times, that’s what we are doing. That’s our agenda. We know we’re coming together once a week and having that conversation.

Ramit Sethi: [00:49:53] I love that.

Dustin: [00:49:54] Every Wednesday.

Ramit Sethi: [00:49:56] Okay. Done. Wednesday at 7:00, or whatever. Sunday at 4:00. Is Wednesday at 7:00 the real number? You pick it right now. I want it to be real.

Dustin: [00:50:04] It’s Sunday night before the week starts.

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:07] Ask her. How does she feel about that?

Dustin: [00:50:11] How do you feel about that?

Becki: [00:50:13] I think our weekends get in the way too much. I think we know we eat out once a week, and we know that’s going to happen, so let’s just make Wednesdays our night out. It’s the middle of the week. We’ll just know that’s the night we’re going to dinner. Let’s just make that the day.

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:29] Love that. Okay, this was so cool. That was so great, you guys. So Dustin threw it back. He said Sunday, which is actually a really common answer for couples. And then I love that Becki was like, hey, I actually don’t think that works for us, but why don’t we try Wednesday at 7:00? That was awesome. Teamwork. And then I love that Dustin was like, yes. And he leaned forward and wrote it down. Right, Dustin?

Dustin: [00:50:51] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:51] Fucking awesome round of applause. That was teamwork. That was fantastic. Take the win. That was awesome. You guys, it sounds so trivial, but that’s how we build a partnership together. One decision at a time. 


I’m hopeful for Becki and Dustin, but I also recognize how difficult their journey will be. The fact that, in our conversation, they admitted they have never really said anything positive to each other, that’s the tough sign. The fact that they keep their money separate and have difficulty communicating about it, that’s tough. And the fact that they have expectations of each other, but they are not being forthright about them, that’s also difficult.  

But with all that said, I did see glimmers of hope, where, with a little bit of help, they were able to communicate and say something nice to each other. And you could almost see their partner melt. It’s always in there. The question is, do they have the skills and the desire to be able to connect regularly when it comes to money and their relationship? And that is what I hope for them.  

So Becki and Dustin, thank you for coming on here and sharing. Now I’d like to turn it over to their follow-ups, which they sent me shortly after our conversation.

Dustin: [00:52:08] We greatly appreciate all the time you spent with us and everything you taught us. Moving forward, doing a whole dinner date once a week, going over everything financial-wise in efforts to build a connection and more trust that way. 

One of the biggest key things I learned was how to separate the business from my personal income. So I know what I’m working towards personally, so I can enjoy my personal money, and that the business is going to be fine. That’s a big weight lifted off my shoulders.  

One of the things I was really surprised by was that we don’t really effectively communicate, so we therefore don’t really get to a solution. So trying to put measures in so we gradually get to our solution and don’t just spin our wheels constantly, not really getting to anything. Really appreciate everything you did for us and taking your time with us, and we’ll forever be indebted to you for that.

Becki: [00:53:07] It was a really great experience. It was definitely very difficult, way more difficult than I anticipated. I was just really surprised at how much emotional things were tied into this issue that we’ve been having that felt like it was over the numbers. And even though I watched the show and listened to the podcast, you just don’t think it’s the same when it’s you until you’re in it and getting asked hard questions that I personally have probably been avoiding answering for 20 years.  

And I just didn’t really realize how much my financial behaviors were really driven by this, I guess, almost a little bit of hole in myself that I’ve had for a long time, that I’ve felt for a long time but just didn’t realize it was manifesting itself that way. So that was definitely really eye-opening and, again, difficult, but in a good way.  

What I learned is that it really wasn’t as scary as I was making it. When I sat down and redid the CSP and just looked at the numbers, it felt so much better. I just avoided it for so long, and that made it so much worse. 

And going forward, I’m going to be able to have one card paid off by the end of this week. Going to able to have the other one done by March at the latest. So that’s just really exciting. And I think when we looked at that together earlier today, it was just a big relief off of both of us and a really good step in the right direction for us in our relationship.

Ramit Sethi: [00:54:47] Well, that’s as good of a follow-up as I could have possibly hope for. Becki and Dustin, thank you for coming on the show. I want to encourage you to get help so that you can connect, communicate effectively, and talk about money and your rich life. I think this conversation was great, and I also think it was just the beginning of your journey together. Thanks, again.