Episode #139: “I’m afraid he’ll leave if I don’t stop stressing about the budget” (Part 1)

Sandra is 46. Brad is 48. They have four children and are living a high lifestyle as a result of two generational income explosions tied to Brad’s work in the home lending industry. That variance, though, seeded issues in their money psychology—leading to risky investments and trust issues.

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“He put our $1M into one risky investment. Will we lose it all?” (Part 2)

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Sandra: For me, I felt like he wasn’t doing his job.

[00:00:02] Ramit: Because his job was to earn money.

[00:00:04] Sandra: Yes. Sometimes I just say, well, I don’t know what else to do. I’m working as hard as I can. I guess we’re just going to be in the red. I can’t do anything about it. I guess we’re just going to be broke.

[00:00:15] Brad: That’s where my empathy ends. I get very frustrated with that same conversation over and over and over, whether we’ve got a lot of money in the bank account or whether we’ve got very little money in the bank account. I feel like we’re playing a very, very opposite game.

[00:00:31] Sandra: On paper, we’re not broke, but it just feels like we are.

[00:00:34] Brad: I’ve supported the family for the last 25 years, and then she reminds me about that one year where we had to sign up for discounted school lunches. And yeah, it can be pretty nasty.

[00:00:47] Sandra: Because I can’t ever hit the number. And I feel like we try really, really hard, but I just don’t think it’s even possible.


[00:00:55] Ramit: Meet Sandra and Brad. Sandra is 46. Brad is 48. They have four children, and they are living a pretty high lifestyle, private school, ballet, sports camps. They have a bedroom set that costs $25,000. In the past, they have had a very high income, but things have changed. When their income went down, they started to get a lot more stressed out about money.

[00:01:22] And now they are both resentful for different reasons. She resents him and his income. He resents her and her anxiety around money. Well, I’ll tell you that this conversation had a ton of surprising turns. So I want you to pay close attention today. I’m going to make sure that throughout the episode, I share what I’m thinking and a little bit of the psychology that I am observing.

[00:01:47] Now, in their application, Sandra mentioned that Brad has had to ask for money in the past to buy a Slurpee. And I want to start there because that origin of the story has affected the way that they both think about money for a long time. Listen in.


[00:02:04] Sandra: When we were first married, we made $11,000 the first year that we were married, and we were in school, very poor, and I managed the budget from the very beginning. And there was no room for anything extra. Literally, nothing extra. So in the beginning, it was very contentious when he would want to go and get something. And I didn’t grow up in a house where he’d go to get Slurpees.

[00:02:28] That was a luxury to get sodas and things like that. But for him, that was something he just wanted to enjoy. And so it became something where he would say that very thing, that I have to get permission to go and get a Slurpee. And eventually we tried to make it into a positive thing and have it be our Slurpee fund.

[00:02:47] So each of us had a Slurpee fund, and you could spend it on whatever you wanted, but in the beginning, it was really negative, and it is something that’s still brought up, I don’t think, in a very positive way.

[00:02:57] Ramit: That’s interesting. Do you still have a Slurpee fund?

[00:03:02] Sandra: No.

[00:03:03] Ramit: What happened to it?

[00:03:04] Sandra: Our money has gone so up and down over the years that if we have extra, then the Slurpee fund is massive and you can buy anything you want and come home with ATVs and whatever. And I just go, oh, you bought another ATV. But when money’s tight, I’m watching every single thing and texting him and saying, what was this for, and what was this $12 for? When I’m balancing the budget. So it dies when there’s not excess. When there’s excess, we have Slurpee funds.

[00:03:33] Brad: For me, it was comic relief. It was a way for me to joke around about this new environment that I was experiencing as a newlywed. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy home, but I didn’t ever felt like I was an extravagant spender. But when we first got married, this whole idea of a budget was a new concept to me. And I felt like it was pretty harsh and it was pretty severe. We canceled our telephone for 25 bucks a month. So like we were living lives of a nomad.

[00:04:08] Ramit: There were no cell phones, right? You had no phone.

[00:04:11] Brad: Yeah.

[00:04:11] Sandra: We have no phone.

[00:04:11] Brad: Yeah, and this was back in 1998, and there was no cell phones. So we were saving 25 bucks a month, but we didn’t have a phone. It was a shtick that I used to just try to find some white heartedness in the whole situation. It was difficult dealing with this budget into that extreme. I think we had $100 per month set aside for food when we were first starting to figure it out.

[00:04:33] Ramit: How long have you been married for?

[00:04:37] Sandra: 25.

[00:04:38] Ramit: Okay. Congratulations.

[00:04:39] Sandra: Thank you.

[00:04:40] Ramit: 25 this year?

[00:04:41] Sandra: 25. Will be 26 in 2024.

[00:04:44] Ramit: Oh my gosh.

[00:04:44] Sandra: So yeah, 25 this year.

[00:04:45] Ramit: Congratulations. That’s a big deal.

[00:04:47] Sandra: Thank you.

[00:04:48] Ramit: Okay. All right. So I have a question about money and being married for 25 years. I completely understand that when a lot of couples get married, coming together is hard enough. And oftentimes, if you’re getting married pretty young, it’s doubly hard because you’re not making a lot of money. Okay. So I get that. Has it changed over time?

[00:05:16] Sandra: Which aspect as far as–

[00:05:18] Ramit: Did money ever become easy?

[00:05:20] Sandra: Yes, but it doesn’t stay easy. It became easy when we were making a lot of money.

[00:05:28] Ramit: Okay. And when you say easy, describe that for me. What does easy mean to you?

[00:05:32] Sandra: We didn’t worry about budgeting things. I always knew there was plenty and then some to work with. I didn’t have to ask permission. He didn’t ask permission. We just bought what we wanted to.

[00:05:44] Ramit: Okay. That’s easy. Okay.

[00:05:46] Sandra: Yeah, it was so easy.

[00:05:47] Ramit: And just so I understand, when you say there was plenty, you mean there was plenty of money in your checking account, right?

[00:05:53] Sandra: And we were putting money into 401k, and we had self-directed IRAs and things like that. Because there was so much money we needed something to do with it. But mostly, there was plenty in checking. I never had to worry that a bill was going to come out and it was going to overdraft. I could plan an extra day on our trip and stop at Disney World on the way home and take the four kids and not worry about it.

[00:06:15] Ramit: And then what about when it was not easy?

[00:06:18] Sandra: That’s been, I feel like, more of the time that it’s not been easy in that way. When it’s not easy, it’s watching everything and being meticulous with where the money’s going and keeping track of it and being stressed about it.

[00:06:37] Ramit: Just like you used to do when you made $11,000.

[00:06:40] Sandra: Yeah, yeah. Actually, that probably felt less stressful because I knew we were so dirt broke that nothing was an option. And I didn’t have any kids that needed anything, and I was very good at self-sacrificing, and so it wasn’t a big deal to me. I’ve thought about this a lot. I think it was like a badge of honor. Look at how much I can do with so little.

[00:06:59] Ramit: Right. And who taught you that? Your mom?

[00:07:02] Sandra: Mm, definitely. Yeah.

[00:07:03] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Okay. Brad, has money gotten easier since the Slurpee stuff? Harder or both?

[00:07:14] Brad: It’s been a rollercoaster. Good years and bad years. So for better or worse, I’m an entrepreneur in my guts. So we had an opportunity to make some entrepreneurial moves, commission-type moves, 100% opportunity base.

[00:07:33] And for the most part, it’s been steady. In some years, they’ve been like out of control when we’re bringing in 70 to $100,000 per month. And those are some of the best times of our marriage, when we aren’t having that level of friction or stress that’s pressing down on the marriage. But there’ve been some lean months too.

[00:07:56] Ramit: What made it the best years of your marriage?

[00:07:59] Brad: The financial considerations weren’t the top considerations.

[00:08:04] Ramit: What was?

[00:08:06] Brad: Where we were going to travel, where we were going to go to, what opportunities we could provide to our kids, not having to worry about that dreadful end of month coming-to-God moment when we have to reconcile the budget.

[00:08:21] Ramit: How many times do you remember, over the course of a 25 year marriage, you’ve had that coming-to-God conversation?

[00:08:31] Brad: 25 times 12.

[00:08:34] Sandra: Minus a couple of years. It’s pretty much monthly.

[00:08:40] Brad: Minus a couple of years.

[00:08:43] Ramit: So Sandra, when you’re doing these end-of-the-month calculations, walk me through what you’re calculating.

[00:08:52] Sandra: I feel like you’re going to make fun of me, but I have a lot of spreadsheets and lots of categories. Too many, I am sure.

[00:08:59] Ramit: Can we just hear what some of those categories are? Read them off. I know they’re on your computer right now in front of you.

[00:09:03] Sandra: They are.

[00:09:04] Ramit: Of course. One click away. They’re never closed.

[00:09:07] Sandra: I know. They’re never closed. You’re so right. I was just working on it, so I would blame some of it on that.

[00:09:12] Ramit: Shocking. All right. Just read some of those categories off. Love for the whole world to hear it.

[00:09:16] Sandra: Okay. We have auto repairs, auto registration, ballet camp, basketball, camp, books, birthdays, Ryan Cancun trip. I don’t know how to take them off once I put a trip on there. I don’t lump them all together. Every trip is separate.

[00:09:30] Ramit: You break out by trip. Not just travel, but by trip. Okay.

[00:09:33] Sandra: Yeah, because I feel like you have to budget for each trip. Dog food, cinema.

[00:09:37] Ramit: Dog food wet, dog food dry, dog food organic.

[00:09:42] Sandra: No, I only have one line for that, like clothing. I put Costco annual fee because it surprised me, and I was like, I’m going to put that in there.

[00:09:50] Ramit: How much is the Costco annual fee?

[00:09:52] Sandra: It was $193.

[00:09:54] Ramit: Okay, let’s talk about this for a second. So $193, and you have a line item for it.

[00:10:00] Sandra: I know it only comes up once a year. I didn’t know what to do with it.

[00:10:03] Ramit: Okay, so talk me through your thinking because I want to understand this meeting. And part of this meeting is the intense amount of categories. So you have a Costco renewals, $193.

[00:10:14] Sandra: Yeah.

[00:10:14] Ramit: You didn’t know where to do it, so you added a category, right?

[00:10:17] Sandra: Yeah. I just put a category.

[00:10:19] Ramit: How many categories approximately? To the closest 50, show many categories do you have?

[00:10:26] Sandra: Oh, it’s not that bad. Okay. I have 82.

[00:10:32] Ramit: Okay. This is going to be good. When you look at this spreadsheet, when you look at it, what do you feel? First word?

[00:10:43] Sandra: Sick.

[00:10:44] Ramit: So walk me through– what happens around the 25th of the month? What do you do?

[00:10:51] Sandra: Lately, I’ve been doing it every week. But just because things are pretty tight, it feels like to me they’re really tight. And normally, I’ll go through all of our credit cards and our checking and everything and put all of the charges in and then categorize those super manually.

[00:11:07] Ramit: So you log into whatever credit cards you have, and there’s a thing that says $13 and 64 cents, and you copy that and paste it in to the spreadsheet.

[00:11:16] Sandra: Oh my gosh. I feel like you’re laughing. Okay. Yes. That is what I do. And then I have to take all of those numbers and put them into the budget spreadsheet because I don’t really know how to make them talk to each other. So there’s two different spreadsheets. One that’s the charges and one that’s the budget. So I literally am manually putting them over, which is why I started doing it once a week, because once a month, it was really big and took forever and overwhelmed me.

[00:11:38] Ramit: Yeah, if you do something that’s stressful and makes you feel sick and then your husband hates it, you definitely want to do it four times as much. I got you. Okay. Stick with me. Stick with me. So you’re doing all this, and as you are doing it, what do you feel?

[00:11:57] Sandra: Guilty.

[00:11:59] Ramit: Why?

[00:12:00] Sandra: Because I can’t ever hit the number.

[00:12:03] Ramit: Right. The numbers that you set up for yourself.

[00:12:06] Sandra: Yeah. And I feel like we try really, really hard, but I just don’t think it’s even possible.

[00:12:13] And if it is good, I don’t know. It’s nice. I’m like, oh, we did really good. But usually by the first week in the month, I already know that all that money’s allocated. And so the whole rest of the month, it’s super stressful to buy anything, even if it’s stuff that we need, because I know that we’re already like at our capacity.

[00:12:31] Ramit: It’s like you’re failing a test. You’re back in school. You’re failing a test. But it’s every single week.

[00:12:39] Sandra: Yeah. I’m a straight A student. It’s very frustrating.

[00:12:42] Ramit: Yeah, yeah. Well, that can’t feel good.

[00:12:47] Sandra: No, and I’m always the one that’s done it. It’s always been me doing it. And so it just has been a lot of years of being stressed by it.

[00:12:56] Ramit: You do this alone in your office?

[00:12:58] Sandra: Mm-hmm.

[00:12:59] Ramit: Okay. So you’re taking the numbers from the credit card, you’re putting it into this spreadsheet, you’re looking at these numbers most of the time, not really adding up, so you end up in the red.

[00:13:09] Sandra: Yeah. Sometimes I just say, I don’t know what else to do. I’m working as hard as I can. I guess we’re just going to be in the red, because I don’t know what else to do with it. I sometimes ambush him at inappropriate moments and tell him about how bad our money looks for the month before we’re going to bed. And it’s late, and we’re tired.

[00:13:33] Ramit: What do you say?

[00:13:33] Sandra: Oh, we have no more money left this month. And it was probably like the eighth of the month.

[00:13:39] Ramit: Okay. Is that true? You have no more money by the eighth of the month?

[00:13:43] Sandra: No, it’s just that it’s all allocated. Something will be charged on the 25th of the month on our account, but I allocate it at the beginning, so I know it’s going to be coming out.

[00:13:53] Ramit: When you bring up something like that at night before you’re going to sleep, what happens?

[00:13:58] Sandra: Usually Brad doesn’t want to talk about it. Shocker. And so I’m not really good at letting things go. I feel like I need resolution, and so I will press it, and then it usually ends up with a little bit of stonewalling and a little bit of a fight. And then it sits really uncomfortably. It just stays with me. And I don’t know how to let that go, so it affects a lot of things.

[00:14:22] Ramit: Does it change the financial reality?

[00:14:27] Sandra: No.

[00:14:28] Brad: Even these last couple of months, I’m driving 66 miles down the freeway so that we can hit our gas budget. So when she’s measuring and managing the budget, I’m all in, doing everything that I can so that we can hit those numbers, but the numbers are difficult to me.

[00:14:42] Sandra: Which is why some months I just say, well, I can’t do anything about it. I guess we’re just going to be broke.

[00:14:49] Ramit: Okay. Well, you’re not broke, and I can see Brad’s eyes. Okay, Brad. All right, Brad. Come on in. Brad’s eyes just went extremely wide, like some type of cartoon character. Brad, would you care to chime in here? Are you broke? Yes or no?

[00:15:06] Brad: No.

[00:15:07] Ramit: All right. I agree you’re not broke. Sandra, are you broke? Yes or no?

[00:15:13] Sandra: On paper, we’re not broke, but it just feels like we are.

[00:15:16] Brad: When I hear Sandra go through this process in her room alone, and I see the tears, it makes my heart hurt. And there is turmoil at the end of the month when we have those late night conversations. But that’s where my empathy ends.

[00:15:39] I get very frustrated with that same conversation over and over and over again, whether we’ve got a lot of money in the bank account or whether we’ve got very little money in the bank account. I feel like we’re playing a very, very opposite game.


[00:15:55] Ramit: Just notice this set of highly detailed rituals that Sandra has created for herself with her financial system. All for what? Why create 82 categories and manually copy and paste in tiny expenses every single month? Well, the answer is control. Most people genuinely believe that this process of tracking every last cent puts them in control of their money. And in fact, this is what they saw their parents doing, usually their mom. People even describe this process as managing money. But it’s not.

[00:16:34] The reality is that most of this is pointless. Manually copying in values from a website to a spreadsheet is not high value work. Nor does it change your financial reality. Sandra can do this for the rest of her life, and it won’t change a thing. And we know that’s true because she’s been doing it forever and she still feels awful about her money.

[00:16:59]  In my opinion, managing money is focusing on high value areas, like deciding what your rich life is, setting up appropriate categories, and discussing what kind of monitoring you want for those categories. Managing money is deciding on critical questions like your savings rate and your debt payoff date.

[00:17:20] Those decisions are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Driving 66 miles an hour to conserve gas might feel like it’s giving you control, but it’s ultimately pointless. And I suspected this might be the central issue between Sandra and Brad, but I was wrong.

[00:17:38] We’ll be right back.

[00:17:40] Let’s get back to the show.


[00:17:42] Brad: I feel like Sandra is playing a fixed income must be greater than fixed expenses on a monthly basis, and that’s where the A comes into place, or the F depending on how we’re doing in a particular month. I’ve always played the net worth game. And even more than that, I play the, I trust myself to generate income game during those late-night conversations.

[00:18:12] And she expresses we’re failing this month because the fixed expenses were higher than our fixed income. And I say something along the lines of, listen, I’ve supported the family for the last 25 years, and then she reminds me about that one year where we had to sign up for discounted school lunches because adjusted gross income allowed us to participate in that. It was a lean year. 

[00:18:38] I say something along the lines of I’ve done good in the past, and I believe that I’ll be able to do good in the future. That has no weight or any credibility, because the only thing that’s on the table is September 20th of that particular month.

[00:18:59] And it gets nasty. I think she might’ve actually underestimated the stonewalling and the fighting. There have been nights where we have ended in a scenario where we don’t talk for the next couple of days. And yeah, it can be pretty nasty. And then frankly speaking, when we start looking at in the future– now, I love this woman in my guts. She’s my partner. She’s my person. 

[00:19:26] But there have been times where I’ve thought to myself, I’m not going to do this for the next 25 years. I’m 48. She’s a couple of years younger. We’ve still got many, many years behind– if we had got to do this every single month and go to a level of mental poverty, even though we’ve got $1.3 million worth of assets, I have a hard time existing in that space.

[00:19:50] Ramit: Okay, okay. Thank you for being honest. Obviously, this has been going on for decades.

[00:19:58] Brad: Yeah.

[00:20:01] Ramit: Sounds pretty serious. Would you both agree?

[00:20:04] Sandra: Yeah. We had a conversation, and it just went south real fast, and we didn’t talk for a while afterwards. And that was when I thought, we need to see if maybe we can get some help with this to see it the same. And I don’t need to have him see it my way. We need to see it more commonly. That was what I think led me to turn in the application.

[00:20:27] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:20:28] Sandra: It was one of those days.

[00:20:29] Ramit: At this point, what percentage of money conversations between the two of you are positive and what percentage are negative?

[00:20:42] Sandra: I’d say probably 20% positive and 80% negative.

[00:20:47] Ramit: Okay. Brad?

[00:20:48] Brad: I agree with that.

[00:20:49] Sandra: That makes me super sad.

[00:20:52] Ramit: Tell me.

[00:20:54] Sandra: Because I’ve always thought that we have more potential than where we’re at currently, right this minute. And I think there’s been times where we’ve definitely exceeded and done a really good job with things. Not growing up with a lot of like extra money, I just have always thought eventually we’d like make it. And I don’t really know what make it means, but we would get where it was different than I felt growing up, but it still feels the same, so I would not want to feel this way always.

[00:21:21] Brad: Then I’m ashamed to say it’s very real in my mind when I’m in that space. Yeah, I was there this last winter. I’ve peaked. I’ve got no more ambition. I’ve got no more energy. I’ve gone through all this entrepreneurial stuff. It’s time to just settle down.

[00:21:40] Ramit: Right, right. Almost like you’ve lost the game.

[00:21:43] Brad: Giving up.

[00:21:44] Ramit: Yeah, you gave up. You hung up your jersey. You go, I couldn’t cut it on the field. And so now I’m not even playing anymore. All just so my wife can get an A in this game that I think to you feels meaningless. Is that accurate?

[00:22:08] Brad: Not meaningless. So if we’re continuing on the sports metaphor, it’s like the game of basketball, is more than just getting rebounds.

[00:22:16] Ramit: You’re going to have to walk me through this because I’m on thin ice right now, understanding where we’re going with this basketball. So walk me through the analogy.

[00:22:23] Brad: Sandra is playing a very small portion of the overall game. She’s playing the monthly portion or the monthly budget portion of the game, which, as part of the analogy, would be just rebounds in basketball. And you’re never going to win a basketball game if you’re only focusing on rebounds and you’re not playing offense and you’re not playing defense.

[00:22:43] Ramit: But would you agree that it’s important that you have to get some number of rebounds?

[00:22:49] Brad: Yeah. That’s why I didn’t want to say that I felt like the game that Sandra’s playing is meaningless, because it is a vital piece of the overall game.

[00:22:57] Ramit: But it’s a small piece in your–

[00:22:58] Brad: But it’s a small piece. And for me, the game is much bigger.

[00:23:03] Ramit: Okay. Fair enough. Sandra, let’s stick on this basketball analogy. Do you agree that rebounding or what you do with tracking the spending is a small part, or do you see it as the part when it comes to money?

[00:23:20] Sandra: I think for me it’s been the part, but a large portion of that is because until a year and a half ago, I didn’t provide much income to the family. And so that was my version of contributing was to manage the money that came in.

[00:23:35] Ramit: Manage means what?

[00:23:37] Sandra: Oh, you’re going to laugh at me again. Just watching how much we’re spending and paying the bills. I realize that’s not managing. I know a computer can do that. But that is what I did because that was what was my responsibility from the time that we were very first married. And so it was the whole game to me because that was the only position that the coach gave me.

[00:23:59] Ramit: Mm-hmm. By the way, did you ever discuss this? Did you ever discuss your roles formally and explicitly?

[00:24:06] Sandra: I don’t really think so. We were so young. I was only 20 and Brad was 23. My mom had always managed the money. His parent had separate accounts and each paid for different things in the family and didn’t have combined finances. And I always thought that was a sign of a poor marriage, that you should do it together and whatever.

[00:24:25] Ramit: But you don’t do it together.

[00:24:27] Sandra: No, we don’t really. But my mom wears the pants in my house growing up. And so my dad brings check home and just give it to her, and then she would stretch it.

[00:24:38] Ramit: Okay. Play that analogy out for me. She wears the pants means he went to work. Did your mom work?

[00:24:44] Sandra: She always did little things to supplement, but she never worked full-time outside of the house until we were all grown.

[00:24:49] Ramit: Okay. So when you say your dad handed the check over to her, what’s the implication when he hands the check over to her?

[00:24:57] Sandra: That she’s now in charge of it. It’s her money to manage, and it’s his job to earn it.

[00:25:01] Ramit: Okay. And if I were to ask them, are they both alive?

[00:25:06] Sandra: Yeah, they are.

[00:25:06] Ramit: Okay. Both still married or no?

[00:25:09] Sandra: Still married 40-some years. Mm-hmm.

[00:25:11] Ramit: Wow, cool. Congratulations to that. That’s amazing. So if I were to ask them, do they agree with your assessment, like he makes the money and her job is to manage it, would they both agree?

[00:25:23] Sandra: 100%. Yes.

[00:25:24] Ramit: All right. And then what about decisions like buying a house, buying a car, investing? Who made those decisions?

[00:25:34] Sandra: I’m not sure if they made them together. It was always my mom that seemed to be the driver of it, but I’m sure they talked about it. They didn’t ever talk about it in front of us, like who was making a decision. They would just come and tell us we’re moving or we’re selling the house, or we’re going somewhere different. And we moved a lot, so it was a conversation we got to have, like 14 times, growing up, we moved.

[00:25:56] Ramit: And you ever remember mom talking about money when you were a kid?

[00:26:00] Sandra: Only to say this is all we have for the rest of the month, or you can’t get new shoes for school, but we’ll buy shoe laces, and we’ll wash your shoes, and that kind of stuff.

[00:26:11] Ramit: How old were you when you heard that?

[00:26:13] Sandra: Young, starting eight, nine years old. We always bought everything from thrift stores. I had one pair of shoes for track and cross country through high school, and she told me, you have to make those last. How do you make them last when you’re running 15 miles a day in practice?

[00:26:28] Ramit: How do you think your mom’s comments and behavior towards money shaped your own?

[00:26:36] Sandra: Makes me scared that there’s not going to be enough and that it’s all in me too to make sure that there will be enough. I have to be the safe one.

[00:26:47] Ramit: Can I ask the question again? I’m not sure you heard me. How do you think that your mom’s comments about money and her behavior towards money shaped your views of money?


[00:26:59] Ramit: I just want to cut in here to point out what just happened. Did you catch it? I asked, how did your mom’s comments and behaviors towards money shape your own? And Sandra just launched right back into her own story. I’m scared there’s not going to be enough. I have to be the safe one. She didn’t even hear what I asked.

[00:27:17] And this is common with people who have created narratives about themselves. People with problems love to talk about their problems. And people who live a story love to talk about that story. But the truth is, those stories often aren’t even true. The stories are often something we just slid into. I much prefer to create my own story. It’s empowering. I can be funny. I can be fit. I can be compassionate. I choose my story. But to choose your own, you have to first understand the story that you’ve been telling yourself.


[00:27:53] Ramit: How do you think that your mom’s comments about money and her behavior towards money shaped your views of money?

[00:28:02] Sandra: I think I probably see it the same with her.

[00:28:06] Ramit: Tell me about that.

[00:28:09] Sandra: There’s just not enough. There’s just never going to be enough. And as soon as you have some, something’s going to happen.

[00:28:16] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:28:17] Sandra: And then it’s all going to be gone again. So you have to l hold onto it.

[00:28:23] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:28:24] Sandra: But even when you try things outside of your control are going to occur, and the money’s going to have to be spent on some things. You’re never going to get ahead.

[00:28:33] Ramit: So that’s life. You try as hard as you can, and then you die.

[00:28:37] Sandra: Pretty much. Yeah.

[00:28:39] Ramit: Hmm. Religious family, or no?

[00:28:42] Sandra: Yes, very, very religious. Christian.

[00:28:45] Ramit: What if your family had started making a lot of money? What would’ve happened?

[00:28:54] Sandra: I don’t think my mom would’ve acted any different. She was very judgemental at people who had a lot of money.

[00:29:00] Ramit: Oh, that’s so shocking. I had no idea that I was going to get to that with one question. She was judgmental because?

[00:29:10] Sandra: She felt like they flaunted it, that it became the thing that was most important to them, that they didn’t service and other people, that it was all about the money.

[00:29:21] Ramit: Where do you think she got that message from?

[00:29:28] Sandra: Would she have got those ideas from religion? Is that what you mean? Oh yeah. Yeah. That you have to be giving and generous, and that it makes other people feel bad about themselves if you show that you have all this money.

[00:29:38] Ramit: Right. And are you two religious?

[00:29:41] Sandra: Yes.

[00:29:41] Ramit: Okay. Has that shaped your views on money? Actually, let me ask the question a different way because already know the answer to that. It definitely has. How has your faith and your religious background shaped your views of money?

[00:30:00] Sandra: Brad, you answered that one first because I’m not sure. I’m curious what you’ll say.

[00:30:03] Brad: This a mess. This is something that I really struggle with.

[00:30:06] Ramit: Tell me.

[00:30:07] Brad: So in our belief system, we are taught that if you’re righteous, then you receive blessings.

[00:30:16] Ramit: Righteous means what?

[00:30:18] Brad: Living the commandments, for lack of a better term, to a high degree. And if you’re unrighteous, then those blessings are taken away from you. And so that puts us in a situation where when things are going good, you’re scratching your head thinking, boy, I must be really doing good. I must really be living by this belief system.

[00:30:41] Or when things are going bad, you and or your spouse might feel part of the problem is that you’re not living righteously enough. And so that’s something I struggle with, and frankly, I’ve been doing my best to separate that belief system and just try to just be a little bit more dollars and cents with them.

[00:31:06] Sandra: I do know that when we had more fluence, we were more liberal with our donations to our church, like tithes. And since things had been tighter, that’s not happening as much. And so, yes, in my mind, there’s some belief correlation that we should be paying tithes even when things are hard, because that’s where you sacrifice and get blessings.

[00:31:28] Ramit: Right.

[00:31:29] Sandra: Whether they’re financial or not.

[00:31:31] Ramit: Okay, okay. All right. Well, thank you for walking me through that. So you manage the money, as you put it, which means you pay the bills. And in that way, Brad’s responsibility has been what?

[00:31:47] Sandra: To earn the money, just like my parents.

[00:31:49] Brad: So I think a common thread through the beginning of our talk until now is that we really don’t have specific conversations about finances other than to just argue right and wrong and take our positions. So no, we don’t have those conversations. How I would describe it is there’s jabs that are taken that, hey, maybe we’d be in a better position.


[00:32:12] Ramit: What I just learned is that Sandra and Brad are repeating several money stories, stories of their parents, of their religion. And that alone is fine. Most of us have stories that we repeat from those who came before us. That’s okay. But I also learned that they don’t talk about these stories. They never do.

[00:32:32] In fact, when they talk about money, it’s almost always negative, and it’s filled with jabs, to the point that Brad has mentioned he’s considered divorce. And the longer you go without acknowledging your stories and talking about them, the more entrenched they become.

[00:32:49] Soon, you start to believe your stories, and you and your stories become inextricably intertwined. But they’re not. You are not your stories. And I hope that as you hear this, it empowers you to question the beliefs that you grew up with, the beliefs that you have now, and also, the beliefs about who you want to be in the next chapter of your life.

[00:33:09] It might be that, I wasn’t good with money growing up, but now I’m changing that. It might be, nobody taught me how to connect with my emotions growing up, but I’m learning the skills to be able to do that with my spouse. Whatever your story was, interrogate it and ask yourself, do I want to change that story for the next chapter of my life? Because you have more control over your story and your money than you can possibly imagine.

[00:33:39] Let’s take a quick pause for a message from our sponsors.

[00:33:43] I now turn to Brad to ask him about his career.


[00:33:46] Ramit: You were in the mortgage industry. I think you were doing very well. Mortgage industry came to a standstill. How much were you making at the peak in that industry?

[00:33:57] Brad: So there were two mortgage eras. The most recent mortgage era was 2020 through 2022, and we were at 25 or 30,000 a month.

[00:34:08] Ramit: Okay. And that’s just you?

[00:34:10] Brad: Yeah, that was just me.

[00:34:11] Ramit: All right, cool. What about before that?

[00:34:14] Brad: So, back in the 2013 era, it was the peak. There was about two years where we were hitting between 70 and 60,000 per month.

[00:34:25] Ramit: For two years?

[00:34:27] Brad: Close to. There was also an event business that was built into that. So we hit two home runs at the same time. And I would say that, yeah, for that two year period, we made a lot of money.

[00:34:39] Ramit: That’s a lot of money. So what’d you do with all that money?

[00:34:42] Brad: We had some lean years.

[00:34:47] Sandra: Yes, it got cannibalized when we didn’t have money.

[00:34:51] Brad: And we spent a lot.

[00:34:52] Ramit: Hold on, hold on. Let’s get into this. 70,000 a month. So you’re making 800,000 a year, which is a tremendous amount of money. Is that ballpark right?

[00:35:03] Sandra: I think it was about that because when you were doing the events, some weekends you’d make a $100,000 in a weekend gross. So it was probably about 800,000.

[00:35:15] Ramit: All right. So you made a couple of million bucks or 1.5 to $2 million over two years. And what’d you do with the money?

[00:35:22] Brad: We bought a house.

[00:35:25] Ramit: How much?

[00:35:26] Sandra: At the time, it was only 550, And we put down a pretty big down payment. So we were only–

[00:35:32] Ramit: How much?

[00:35:33] Sandra: About 300,000.

[00:35:34] Ramit: So you put 300k into a house. What else?

[00:35:38] Brad: We paid lot of taxes.

[00:35:42] Sandra: ATV.

[00:35:42] Ramit: Taxes. Let’s say you paid half. All right, so 700,000 has gone to taxes. So now you have 700,000 left. 300 went to the house. You got 400 left. What’d you do?

[00:35:52] Brad: Yeah. So then we paid living expenses for those two years. We bought ATVs. We bought furniture sets. And even after the income dried up, we had a good nest egg, but then we had lean years moving into 16, 17, and 18. So we still had some event income coming in, but we bridged the delta with the savings from the previous years.

[00:36:20] Ramit: How long did it take you to cut your spending down after the high income dried up?

[00:36:28] Sandra: We never did.

[00:36:29] Ramit: Exactly.

[00:36:31] Sandra: We never did. Our kids had no idea that we weren’t making the same amount of money.

[00:36:36] Ramit: You never told them.

[00:36:38] Sandra: No. It was never really a conversation. And we just kept going off of the savings because we aren’t huge spenders as far as like big lavish things. I bought a bedroom set.

[00:36:48] Ramit: What are you talking about? What did you just spend the last three minutes talking about?

[00:36:52] Sandra: Those are his ATV toys. I just bought a bedroom set. Okay, it was a lot. It was Restoration Hardware. It was $25,000.

[00:36:59] Ramit: All right. So just a cruise liner is very difficult to stop, it can’t stop on a dime, people spending, particularly when they’re making a lot of money, is incredibly difficult to slow down. It’s like an NFL player. They finally get cut. They don’t stop spending. This is really common. All right. So that brings us into about 2020 when you started making a bunch of money again.

[00:37:24] Brad: When we first started making some money with the last refi boom, it was just an opportunity to breathe. It was so nice to have some money that was coming in again, but there was still this thought looming in the back of our head that this opportunity is going to dry up at some– at least it was in my mind.

[00:37:45] Ramit: Should be in everyone who works in any mortgage industry. It’s boom and bust.

[00:37:50] Brad: Yeah.

[00:37:51] Ramit: All right. But what was the first thing you bought when the income started coming back in?

[00:37:56] Sandra: I don’t think we bought anything. We moved to help my son, our son, and we moved somewhere–

[00:38:04] Brad: That’s fast forwarding to 20–

[00:38:06] Sandra: 2021, the summer of 2021. I don’t remember going and buying anything. 

[00:38:13] Brad: We saved most of that. 

[00:38:14] Yeah, we did because it had been so lean. It was really stressful, and I was still driving the same Honda Odyssey I’d had forever. I drove until it had 250,000 miles on it.

[00:38:23] Ramit: Okay. I have to say I’m impressed. I’m impressed. A lot of times it’s like finding water in the desert for the second time, and you just gorge yourself.

[00:38:35] Brad: No, just wait. It’s coming.

[00:38:36] Ramit: Wait, at least let me appreciate it. I didn’t even know what’s coming.

[00:38:40] Brad: It’s a mirage.

[00:38:42] Sandra: So that was 2020. So a year later, my son was finishing his sophomore year in high school and was really, really struggling. Brad is from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That’s where he grew up, and it’s one of the most expensive counties in the entire nation to live in.

[00:38:57] And his family is still there. His parents are there, and we love it there. And we went up to visit, and it was the summer of 2021. And my son had a fantastic experience up there and was a new kid and came back to life. We had been so worried about him that I just saw that as a good opportunity to maybe help him.

[00:39:16] So within a month, we moved the entire family. It was a huge shift. We rented out our house that we’d been living in that was our dream house or whatever. And rents up there were close to $10,000 a month for just a house. It was the only house we could even find to rent. And so all that great income that we were being careful to preserve really quickly went away because cost of living there was probably about 30% more than it was where we were living.

[00:39:45] Honestly, I would do it again because it really did save my son. And he’s in college now. He had no ambition or intention to do anything like that. And the environment was perfect for him. So yeah, but that’s where all of it went. And it was really hard to have this great income coming in and it all being spent and knowing that it would’ve been totally different had we not moved. So it was rough.

[00:40:10] Ramit: I get you. Who can tell a parent, oh, you shouldn’t spend money knowing that– as you put it, your son came back to life. Who can ever tell any two parents that? Not me. It’s not my money, and it’s not my right. And honestly, the way you talk about it, I respect that you said, look, I would do it again.

[00:40:30] Sandra: Mm-hmm. It was the right move.


[00:40:32] Ramit: I love that part where Sandra and Brad spent several minutes telling me how they made 800,000 a year and bought a new house and ATVs and a 25,000-bedroom set, and then Sandra casually goes, we aren’t spenders as far as big, lavish things. Do you understand what I’m talking about when I say that money is at least as much about psychology as it is about numbers?

[00:40:59] Sandra loves her money stories. This story is we’re not lavish spenders. We’re just simple people, even though the numbers clearly say the opposite. And the truth is, all of us do this in one way or another. We’ll say, I’m not good at money, but we never bought a single book about personal finance, such as the best-selling book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

[00:41:21] One last thing. My comment about spending a ton of money for their son might surprise you. How can I be okay with people spending or even overspending on their kids? Well, sometimes you have to make decisions that aren’t in the spreadsheet.

[00:41:37] And if that comes to your kid’s mental health, then maybe that’s one of those times. I’ll tell you what. When I talk to people and they tell me what they care about, deep down it is rarely an ATV or a couch. It’s their family. It’s their time together. It’s creating memories and experiences. So sometimes you have to take that carefully manicured spreadsheet and throw it away for the love of the people around you.


[00:42:00] Sandra: It was the right move, but it wasn’t the right move forever, so we are not living there anymore.

[00:42:04] Ramit: He graduated, and then you all decided, okay, it’s too expensive here. We’re going to go somewhere else.

[00:42:11] Sandra: Yeah.

[00:42:11] Ramit: What’d you do then?

[00:42:12] Sandra: So we moved suddenly as well, but in the meantime, we had sold our home. So currently, we don’t own a house, and we’re renting a house.

[00:42:22] Ramit: How much did you sell it for?

[00:42:24] Sandra: What?

[00:42:24] Brad: 1.2.

[00:42:25] Ramit: 1.2. And how much did you take after all this stuff?

[00:42:30] Sandra: We took about 8–

[00:42:33] Brad: Close to 850.

[00:42:33] Ramit: How much had you bought that house? Just so I know.

[00:42:34] Brad: 565.

[00:42:38] Sandra: Yeah, about 565. And then by the time we landscaped it, it was about 650 for the whole thing.

[00:42:43] Ramit: 650. And you sold it for 1.2 minus all that stuff. Okay. So you walked away with some amount of money. Good. And that money, I understand, you’ve kept it. It’s sitting in your accounts.

[00:42:56] Sandra: Mm-hmm.

[00:42:57] Ramit: Did you feel different when you made $80,000 in a month?

[00:43:01] Sandra: Do you know what? Actually, it was really nice. I don’t feel like I stressed. I know it’s supposed to not make a difference really, but I think it was enough over the threshold that it was like, this is so great. It was such a contrast to what we’d had, so I was very much more relaxed, but I found other things to be unhappy about, I’ll be honest.

[00:43:19] Ramit: Really?

[00:43:19] Sandra: Yeah.

[00:43:20] Ramit: Like what?

[00:43:21] Sandra: Just whiny stuff. I had kids at home. I just complained about the kids and my schedule and I wasn’t even working. Looking back, I have no idea why I was complaining. I had a bougie life.

[00:43:32] Ramit: Hold on. Zoom in on that. Looking back, why do you think you found something else to be unhappy about?

[00:43:39] Sandra: Partly because I feel like you’re always supposed to be growing and getting better. Partly because I wasn’t doing a lot of self-growth at that time. Everything was focused on my kids, and I wasn’t really doing a lot for myself at the time. And so I think I just got really whiny about that. But I did it by expressing discontent in a lot of areas in life.

[00:44:05] Ramit: Okay. But what happened when Brad stopped earning 80,000 a month? Sandra, what happened in terms of the dynamics in the relationship?

[00:44:16] Sandra: In a way, for me, I felt like he wasn’t doing his job anymore.

[00:44:21] Ramit: Because his job was to earn money.

[00:44:22] Sandra: Yes. His job was to earn money, and I did all the other things. I took care of the kids in the house and all the things. We started an event together, and until that point, I hadn’t done anything. Once our kids got a little bit older, I hadn’t done anything outside the home to contribute financially.

[00:44:42] And then once we did that, it felt like we’d opened up a stop gap where then my contribution for everything I was doing before that time wasn’t as valuable because now I had shown that I could actually take care of the home and the kids and do something that earned money.

[00:44:58] And so I felt like after we did that– that was in 2011. But then there was an expectation that I would always do something that would help to earn more money as well, and I didn’t like that either. I felt like I didn’t sign up for that. I signed up to be a mom and take care of my kids until they were grown. So I think there was just a lot of role changing and confusion and not talking a lot about it directly.

[00:45:26] Brad: Feels like a full-blown midlife crisis from where I stand.

[00:45:32] Ramit: Tell me. Why?

[00:45:33] Brad: Last winter, I remember having a striking thought that I’ve peaked. And then you start looking at examples of individuals in your life that are a little long in the tooth. And then imagining that that’s– and they’re never positive examples. They’re always negative examples.

[00:45:54] And I won’t bring up any names, but you look at those people, and we actually use those individuals as ammunition against each other. We’re going to end up just like such and such. Sandra and I will lob those bills back and forth. I don’t want to end up like so and so.

[00:46:11] Ramit: Wow.

[00:46:13] Brad: And so it’s pretty heavy, and it’s pretty deep, and it only adds to the stress and the pressure of the monthly budgeting conversations. I think the darkest thought is you just wasted all that potential and all of those dreams that you had when you were a kid you never fulfilled on turn into nightmares, and you’re wallowing, and it’s all just this imagination creeping in.

[00:46:42] And then I’m ashamed to say it’s very real. In my mind, when I’m in that space– yeah, I was there this last winter. I’ve peaked. I’ve got no more ambition. I’ve got no more energy. I’ve gone through all this entrepreneurial stuff. It’s time to just settle down.


[00:47:01] Ramit: There’s a lot to notice from that last exchange. Did you catch the clues? Even during 60, 000-dollar months, Sandra was unhappy. Now that she’s working, she feels resentful. She expects him to bring in an income. Brad calls their situation a full-blown midlife crisis. And what’s perhaps most disturbing is that they’re sniping and jabbing at each other using other couples as negative examples. Lots of clues here, mostly negative ones.

[00:47:34] We’ll be back after this.

[00:47:37] Now, back to the show.


[00:47:39] Ramit: And so that brings us to today. Correct? You’re renting. You’ve got some cash in the bank because of the house sale. And would you say that that house sale represents the bulk of your net worth?

[00:47:50] Sandra: Yes.

[00:47:51] Brad: Yes. But there’s a couple of other details that I would add to this web that we’re weaving. The house sale was a difficult decision to come to. We thought that that was always the plan B. And these words coming out of my mouth are interesting to hear, but we’ve invested the majority of the money from the house to an oil operation on a project that I had been watching for the last several years.

[00:48:25] Ramit: What’s an oil operation? What is that?

[00:48:28] Brad: It’s a fracking unit out in the middle of a desert that’s pulling oil out of the ground. And the entity that is managing the project was looking for investors. Generally speaking, it’s a $200 million project. I’ve got some buddies that are playing a much bigger game than I am, but I had an opportunity to go in with them.

[00:48:50] Ramit: How much did you invest?

[00:48:51] Sandra: All of it.

[00:48:52] Brad: A million.

[00:48:54] Ramit: Is this a joke?

[00:48:55] Brad: No.

[00:48:58] Ramit: You invested one million, which is basically almost all of the investment money into one fracking operation.

[00:49:08] Brad: Several different fracking operations. I’m watching Sandra’s face there as we’re coming to an unbiased third party to hear our story.

[00:49:21] Ramit: Well, what do you think I’m going to say?

[00:49:23] Brad: I haven’t listened to all of your podcasts, but let buckle in. I’m ready for it.

[00:49:29] Ramit: Before we go on, let me just get this one thing out, which I’ve been wanting to ask you about. So you have a part-time job right now.

[00:49:34] Brad: Yes.

[00:49:35] Ramit: Which is what?

[00:49:38] Brad: Teacher.

[00:49:39] Ramit: What do you teach?

[00:49:40] Brad: Personal finance.

[00:49:42] Ramit: Okay.

[00:49:43] Brad: We’ve been playing the traditional game since day one. So we graduated from college back in early 2000. And at that point, one of the reasons why we were managing our budget as low as we could, is so that we could max out our 401K’s.

[00:49:57] Ramit: All right.

[00:49:58] Brad: So we could max out our IRAs. And that was 25 years ago. And so back in those days, we were living under the same documentation that’s found on the textbooks, 8% compound interest. Einstein, compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. And this is the way to do it. We don’t have much to show for those initial investments.

[00:50:18] So in 2000, Sandra and Brad were making decisions for future Sandra and Brad, thinking that those investments were going to grow significantly in a straight line overtime. And at this point, after all of the eating ramen and not having telephones and all these other things that we were doing so that we could invest while we were young, those accounts suck right now. They didn’t pan out like the textbook said.

[00:50:47] Ramit: Hold on. Hold on, hold on. Before we go on. Tell me what you mean by that. These accounts suck right now. What does that mean?

[00:50:54] Brad: We went back and did some analysis, and they’ve averaged about a 3% rate of return year over year for the last 25 years. So we thought that we could make those investment– and they were all diversified, which we fired a financial advisor, guiding us along the way.

[00:51:13] Ramit: How long was your advisor with you charging you–

[00:51:15] Brad: 24 years.

[00:51:15] Ramit: 1%. It’s so nice of them. It’s so nominal. Anyway, so they charged you. And then what did they put you in? That’s what I want to know. Because 3% per year is horrible.

[00:51:24] Sandra: Yeah. Right? Horrible.

[00:51:26] Ramit: I bet you they didn’t put you in growth stuff. They go, we’re going to make sure your money’s safe. We’re going to keep you safe because we’re not– our aim is not to beat the market. It’s simply to provide a nice return for safety and security, some bullshit like that.

[00:51:37] Brad: And it gets complicated. They use language along the lines of, when we were first starting, you’re young, we’re going to put you in growth caps and international funds, and we’ve got this allocation. And they come in to give us a yearly review. And I’m relatively educated. I’ve got an MBA, but you can’t dazzle with brilliance, baffling with bullshit.

[00:51:58] Ramit: Yeah, you’re right. You can’t make sense of it. If it’s good, they tell you that. If it’s bad, they razzle dazzle you. I get it. And I’m angry on behalf of you. I am not sure that I agree with your conclusion.

[00:52:18] Brad: And I get that.

[00:52:20] Sandra: And I don’t agree either with his conclusion.

[00:52:25] Ramit: What is your perspective?

[00:52:26] Sandra: I’d like to max out every Roth 401K, IRA. If I could open a Roth for my kids, I would. So I’d like to have all of that going so that we are diversified.

[00:52:38] Ramit: Okay. And when you don’t, the fact that you’re not doing that, how does that make you feel?

[00:52:44] Sandra: Like we’re going to end up just like my parents, on our reverse mortgage, because they couldn’t afford to buy a house and stressed about money every single month with no investment, savings, no retirement.

[00:52:55] Ramit: It seems like that gives you a lot of fear.

[00:52:58] Sandra: It does because they tried so hard, if that makes sense. And they tried so hard, and they’re in not a great spot. And I worry that we’re going to end up needing to take care of them. And I love them, and I will if we need to, but I tease with Brad about we’re going to need to build a compound, and on one side, build an apartment for your parents, and on one side, build an apartment for my parents. His parents are probably going to be fine financially, but mine will definitely need help. So I worry about that.

[00:53:27] Ramit: Okay.

[00:53:27] Brad: Listen, this is a bold move, and I am super clear that it’s a bold move, and I’m so grateful that–

[00:53:37] Ramit: Is that a word that you chose? Bold.

[00:53:40] Brad: Yeah.

[00:53:40] Ramit: What’s another word for bold? Do I need to open up the Thesaurus?

[00:53:44] Brad: I’ll go down to [Inaudible]. Bold.

[00:53:46] Ramit: Bold.

[00:53:47] Brad: I’m a bold gambler. But listen, I feel like the system is rigged, right?

[00:53:54] Ramit: Yeah. Against you.

[00:53:55] Brad: Right. With all the IRAs, and 401K’s, and mutual funds and money advisors.

[00:54:01] Ramit: No, no, no, not that. The oil game is rigged against you.

[00:54:04] Brad: No, see, I don’t see it that– I see it like when the deck is stacked against you and every now and again, you get a perfect hand, and you go big with it. And that’s where I’m at. And see you grimace, and I’m sure that people are listening are thinking that I’m absolutely out of mind. I’ll tell you, when we do get to a full payoff with those dividends, it’ll be a huge sigh of relief.


[00:54:31] Ramit: This is so messed up. They start investing early in their marriage, only to sign with an unscrupulous salesman who calls himself a financial advisor, bleeds them dry of their money via fees and horrible funds, then they finally catch on, 20 years later, only to make the completely wrong conclusion.

[00:54:51] Brad’s conclusion is all traditional investing routes suck, and I need to put our entire family life savings to good use into an oil well. Ramit’s conclusion is we probably should have read a single book about personal finance, not paid huge fees. And when we were making $80,000 a month for years, we probably should have invested a huge amount of that money into low cost index funds, which would have set us up for the rest of our lives.

[00:55:23] Of course, one of the primary reasons for Brad’s extremely risky approach with money is that once people feel behind, once people feel like they have to catch up or even that it’s too late, they start to make increasingly frantic, risky decisions, which, of course, is a cycle. Just like you would imagine a gambler In Vegas, that leads to simply more poor outcomes. Again, remember, Brad teaches personal finance.


[00:55:56] Ramit: So this is a single investment that pays out. It pays you some monthly dividend. Correct?

[00:56:03] Brad: So there’s two projects. Yes, it pays dividends.

[00:56:06] Ramit: All right. And how long has this been going on for?

[00:56:09] Brad: So we made the first investment of May, ’22 right after the house sold. And we made the second investment of January of 2023.

[00:56:22] Ramit: All right, so you invested in two tranches. And how much are you getting paid? From a million dollars, how much are you getting paid out per month?

[00:56:29] Brad: So the first project has been paying since January. And so we’re pretty close to the end of the year where like 40% of the initial investment has been paid back.

[00:56:42] Ramit: So you put in 500k.

[00:56:44] Brad: Yeah, just to do easy math. So we put 500k. So far it’s paid back like–

[00:56:49] Ramit: 200k.

[00:56:50] Brad: 200k. We’ve got another couple of months. They’re coming through. The second project kicks in. Actually, the first dividend should be coming here in this next week.

[00:57:00] Ramit: How much?

[00:57:02] Brad: The first is I took a flight out to the oil field then it was spectacular and got to touch the dirt. And I have some oil from the project. The first one is going to be about a percent and a half, but then when we start getting into December, January, it should start getting about 3.8 to 6% per month.

[00:57:21] Ramit: For how long?

[00:57:23] Brad: Till the oil dries up.

[00:57:26] Sandra: The percentage changes.

[00:57:28] Brad: Yeah. So there’s two variables. The percentage changes after they have a 100% payback. Then the investor payback goes from 100% of net income down to 70% net income. The traditional trajectory for the oil projects in this particular area, they peak at year three or year four. And then it’s a relatively steep decline. But there will be oil that comes out of these projects for the next 20, 25 years.

[00:58:00] Ramit: So I know you can’t predict it because it’s one oil operation. It’s not hundreds that you can average out. But what percentage annual return can you expect, ballpark?

[00:58:15] Brad: So for the first year, it’ll be pretty close to 50%. There’s a lot of variables in play, but I would anticipate, after we peak and we start going down into years 6, 7, 8, or 9, maybe 15 to 20% per month. The other nice thing about the project is it–

[00:58:33] Ramit: Per month?

[00:58:33] Brad: Sorry, sorry, I miss poke. Per year.

[00:58:35] Ramit: Okay.

[00:58:37] Brad: 15, 20% per year. The other super nice part of this oil operation is that it’s domestic based, and so we get a 70 cents per dollar tax deduction. So for every dollar that we invest in the project, we get a 70% tax opportunity.

[00:58:56] Ramit: You have a huge deduction. All right, fine. What can go wrong with this?

[00:59:02] Brad: The price of oil can drop below, break even, which is sitting about 30% or $30 per barrel. They can miss the oil. Both projects are currently on the oil. There’s regulation issues that could come up with EPA. There’s some presidential risk. But I’d say where we’re at now is about as bad as it’s going to be. So there are significant risks, and I’m crystal clear on that.

[00:59:30] Ramit: Okay. All right. Well, listen, so far, your answers are good. I’m not sure if I agree with your conclusion, but I like that you have your numbers. You know the projections. You know the risks. All right.

[00:59:44] Brad: So for the short term, I do believe that there’s opportunities that can pay out, and I believe that I found one.

[00:59:50] Ramit: Can I ask you a question? I understand why you chose to go into a highly risky investment. You looked at your investing for the last 25 years and said, this is not good. The account’s horrible. We found out we were getting charged 1% after 24 years. Even when we look at the returns, it was horrible. I want no part of this long-term investing stuff.

[01:00:20] And every month, I’m getting these text messages and conversations from my wife that I don’t want to have a part of anymore. So I’m going to take this money from selling our house, and I’m going to put it in something that’s going to pay off big. I’ve done the risk evaluation, etc. And look, it’s paying me 20 to $60,000 a month right now. Here. Haven’t I earned some peace? Look at what I’ve delivered to our family. Is that accurate?

[01:00:53] Brad: More than 100% perfect. This was a project that I’ve been watching for two years. I had researched inside and out, and I feel like we’ve got the perfect hand with it. In the way that it’s structured, we get the tax opportunity, and we’re seeing a 50% return per year on the first project that we’re into. The second one is tapping into the same oil reserves. And I know that it’s getting tedious and into the details, but it does feel like this is a nice chance to crush it and to get out of that rat race where we’ve been stuck in the last 25 years.


[01:01:37] Ramit: Okay, based on what Brad just told you, do you think this is a good idea? If you’re watching on YouTube, just leave your comment below. And next week, we’ll pick up on our conversation with even more numbers, which, I promise, will surprise you.