Episode #145: “Am I a bad mom if we can’t do a $7k Disney trip?”

Kristin is 32 and David is 38. They share five kids in a blended family and David is getting close to military retirement. The problem is their spending—fueled by emotions alone, they make purchase after purchase, soaring over set budgets and putting the future of their family at risk.

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:05] Ramit: You guys like getting played by your kids?

[00:00:06] Kristine: I think it’s guilt. Me and their dad divorced, so I feel like maybe I put them in a bad situation. When they’re with me, I don’t want them to feel sad, or I don’t want them to feel hurt, or I don’t want them to have negative feelings when they’re around mom.

[00:00:23] David: Regardless of what we set down, I’m going to be a complete pushover for my family, especially my wife. If she says, well, I want to do this, I’m not going to put my foot down and say no, we’re not.

[00:00:34] Ramit: You’re a pushover for your wife. Your wife’s a pushover for your kids. Who runs that house?

[00:00:39] David: When it comes to running the house, it’s me. When it comes to rules, and chores, and things like that–

[00:00:46] Ramit: How about if they say, I want to go to Disneyland, five of us. I want to go to Disneyland. How about that?

[00:00:52] David: If they ask me, dream on. Yeah, good luck. No.

[00:00:56] Ramit: And then they ask mom, and then what does mom say?

[00:00:59] Kristine: Let’s plan a trip to Disneyland.

[00:01:01] David: Let’s go to Disney.


[00:01:02] Ramit: Meet Kristine and David. Kristine is 32. She’s a business operations manager. David is 38. He’s in the military. He’s actually about to retire now. They have five children together in a blended family, and they’re here today because they have serious spending issues. It all starts with them describing a recent trip to Disneyland. But what you’re going to hear in our conversation today, our skills around setting boundaries, around working as a team, and even parenting.

[00:01:32] What do you do when you’re in debt, you can’t say no to your kids, and one of you is about to retire? Let’s listen into today’s conversation with Kristine and David.


[00:01:44] David: Disneyland in October. I spend my money on my kids, my wife, and my family. And that’s just how it works. When it comes to eating and things like that, where we go to Disneyland, and it’s $40 for a plate, and I’m looking at it like, it’s a bag of chips and a sandwich, guys.

[00:02:00] We could have saved literally hundreds. We had five kids with us that we were paying for hundreds of dollars on the three days that we were there, not to include the drive there and then the drive back.

[00:02:11] Ramit: You went to Disneyland for three days?

[00:02:13] David: Yes, sir.

[00:02:14] Ramit: If you had to underline it in a sentence or two, what is your issue with the Disneyland trip? Is it that you spend too much on sandwiches, or is there something bigger?

[00:02:23] David: We did not identify a budget. It was just a free for all. And even I had requested like, let’s look at 100 bucks a day. For fast math, a hundred bucks a day? And it was more like $250 a day. And I’m like, what is going on here?

[00:02:39] Ramit: Could you afford “$250 a day”?

[00:02:44] David: Absolutely. Yeah. But it’s what I like to spend my money on.

[00:02:50] Ramit: Okay. Well, you did say you like to spend your money on your wife and your kids.

[00:02:54] David: You’re not wrong.

[00:02:56] Kristine: I think it was poor planning, honestly. The whole trip was a fiasco to begin with. So we rented out a 15-passenger van. I’ll set up the scene. My mom, my stepfather, our four kids, my daughter’s friend, my husband, and I were all traveling. We rented this van. We started to go, and all of a sudden, in the middle of the freeway, the van broke down.

[00:03:21] Ramit: Oh, no.

[00:03:22] Kristine: Yes, this is very scary. Here we are panicking. The kids are upset. We had just started our journey to Disneyland, and that was the first thing for me, was, hey, let’s just rent another vehicle from budget. It’s going to be easier. We’ll take off. We’ll go.

[00:03:40] Ramit: Okay. How much did that cost?

[00:03:42] Kristine: That was about $2,000.

[00:03:44] Ramit: 2000 for the rental. How much, the Turo, would that have been?

[00:03:49] Kristine: That was only $500.

[00:03:51] Ramit: Okay. I assume you didn’t have to pay for the Turo, right?

[00:03:53] Kristine: No, no, no We didn’t have to.

[00:03:55] Ramit: All right. So you spent an extra 1500 bucks, which is a lot on, this rental. Okay. So you’re already starting off way over budget. What happened then?

[00:04:02] Kristine: So it’s like, okay, well, let’s go get some snacks for Disneyland tomorrow. And we went to a Walgreens, I believe was the only thing open at the time that was nearby. They had very limited snacks at this Walgreens that we went to. I was very surprised. I thought there would’ve been a lot more options. So I grabbed as many snacks as I thought would last us the couple of days at the park.

[00:04:26] Come to find out with five kids in a park all day, those snacks were pretty much gone the first day. And so after that, it was like, well, we don’t have any more snacks, so let’s just buy them food from around the park. And limit to a point where it’s like, we’re not going to buy a hot dog, and an ice cream, and a popcorn, and this, and this, and that for each one. It’s like, we’re going to eat one meal, and then we’ll find some snacks in between.

[00:04:53] Ramit: Okay. Where’d you stay at Disneyland?

[00:04:55] Kristine: Our suite had two rooms. My daughter and her friend slept out in the living room, pullout bed. And then there was a bunk bed where our three boys, 12, 14, and four all slept on the bunk bed.

[00:05:08] Ramit: Perfect Disney hotel. I love it.

[00:05:09] Kristine: Yes.

[00:05:10] Ramit: Okay. And then how about the tickets? How much was all that?

[00:05:14] Kristine: So all together the tickets came out to about 1,500.

[00:05:18] Ramit: 1,500. Okay. For the tickets, 1,500 for the van. That’s 3,000. About 500, probably more like 700 for the hotel with taxes and all that stuff. We’re talking about 3,700. What else? How much does it all end up being?

[00:05:34] Kristine: For the kids mostly, I want to say maybe 300 a day for food and drinks, maybe anything and everything that we were paying for all of us a day.

[00:05:47] Ramit: That’s 300 a day total. So talking about 5,000 bucks for the trip. Probably there’s other stuff you’re not including here, so 6,000. Would that be fair? Six to 7,000?

[00:05:59] Kristine: Yes.

[00:06:00] Ramit: All right. What do you think, David?

[00:06:01] David: Sounds about right.

[00:06:03] Ramit: Okay. Is this normal? What did you think it was going to cost before you went?

[00:06:07] David: We were out of whack on the coordination and communication to begin with. The whole purpose for the trip was my daughter was turning 16. It was on her birthday. We were there for the weekend. It just so happened to be their spring or their fall break. My intention was to take my daughter, her friend, and my youngest being that her two boys, who at the time that we planned this, lived in Tucson, were not going to be on fall break.

[00:06:33] But then that switched because last minute her oldest came to live with us, and then her youngest basically just took the time off and joined in. So it turned from going with five of us to going with seven of us.

[00:06:47] Ramit: But did you have a number in mind before you went? It sounds like you didn’t.

[00:06:51] David: 3,500 bucks. Yeah, that was my idea.

[00:06:55] Ramit: Okay. What about you, Kristine? Did you have a number in mind?

[00:06:59] Kristine: It probably would’ve been close to 5,000, but honestly, that’s one of my faults, is I don’t put numbers on things before I go or spend things.

[00:07:09] Ramit: How come David’s shaking your head? David, why?

[00:07:12] David: That was an initial conversation. I was like, we need to talk about how much we’re going to spend. And she’s like, okay, if you want to. Basically like, we can, but not going to stick to it.

[00:07:25] Ramit: How do you know you can afford it?

[00:07:26] Kristine: Based on what I know is in my account and what I know is in our shared accounts. I know there’s enough money in there to pay for that.

[00:07:35] Ramit: Okay. And what about if you had to buy something like a car? You don’t have that much money in your checking account. How do you know if you can afford that?

[00:07:41] Kristine: So I look at our bills, look our income and outgoing. I use a spreadsheet. I have it very detailed as to everything that comes in and everything bills wise, we need to pay. So there’s always going to be enough and then some in that account to pay our bills. And then I know how much after that David and I both have in our accounts approximately.

[00:08:05] Ramit: Very nice. All right, so you go to Disneyland. Unfortunately, the van thing happened. Fine. It was unplanned. You come back. Did you talk about the spending at any point?

[00:08:17] David: I told her she spent too much.


[00:08:18] Ramit:  Consider the following. They had no clear communication about the trip. He had one vision, she had another. There was no real conversation about the financial part of it. Then unintended things happen, like the van breaking down. Now that can’t be predicted, but it can be planned for.

[00:08:33]  Finally, speaking of planning, there was poor planning. The kids ran out of food, meaning that they had to spend a lot of money at the park. As you can see, bad outcomes are most commonly a result of several layers of poor communication and decisions. This is why I use techniques like the five whys to really get at the root of what’s going on. It’s not about the pretzel at Disneyland. It’s much deeper than that.

[00:08:58] Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.

[00:09:01] Now back to the show.

[00:09:02] Incidentally, doesn’t this story read like so many typical American vacations? Mom is excited, dad is grumpy about the budget, and somehow it all works out. Except if you actually see beneath the surface, you realize that it didn’t work out, and this trip is just a symptom of how both of them do not have a shared vision around money.


[00:09:27] Kristine: I was like, yeah, it’s definitely more than you probably would’ve wanted, but don’t worry, it’s covered.

[00:09:33] Ramit: Is it?

[00:09:34] Kristine: I will use our credit cards, right? We have our credit cards. They have high spending limits on it. We’ve always had the idea that if we put it on a credit card, we’re going to pay it off as soon as possible.

[00:09:45] And we’ve pretty much stuck to our guns on that. There’s been some times where we’ve gotten to places where we had to put it off a little bit, but we’re really good about paying off our credit cards. For me it was like, it’s all covered, and I told him within the next month, it’ll be paid off. And it was.

[00:10:03] Ramit: Okay. I respect that you have a vision, you have a point of view on your credit cards. I’m a little nervous how you said, we pretty much stick to our guns.

[00:10:13] Kristine: Our mindset is that we have to have no credit card debt. We should not be using it. David’s very much so like, let’s save. What are we going to do? Let’s save and then do it. Where I’m like, okay. well, we have the credit card. Let’s do it, and then we’ll pay it off.

[00:10:30] Ramit: Well, are you going to pay it off that month?

[00:10:33] Kristine: Not always. I don’t know. That’s why I’m struggling, because I don’t know if that is my upbringing, or it was like, it’s fine. If we need to put it on a credit card, we’ll put it on the credit card and pay it off later.

[00:10:49] Ramit: Come on. You know. You’ve heard a million people talk about pay off your credit cards every month. This is not new. You don’t need me to be here telling you that. You know that, right?

[00:11:00] Kristine: Right.

[00:11:00] Ramit: Why are you BSing me right now?

[00:11:03] Kristine: Because I don’t want to be the problem.

[00:11:07] Ramit: Can you reconcile that with what you just told me about Disneyland?

[00:11:11] Kristine: I’m building on my business and gaining more money and seeing that I have a lot more money than we’ve had in the past, so those things are easier to get paid off of. But it just feels like we make more money, but it’s always going out, and we don’t really know.

[00:11:29] Ramit: It is not a feeling, it is reality. You make more money and you spend more money. That’s not a feeling.

[00:11:34] Kristine: mm-Hmm.

[00:11:35] Ramit: Do we agree?

[00:11:36] Kristine: Yes.

[00:11:37] Ramit: It’s math.

[00:11:38] Kristine: Mm-hmm.

[00:11:39] Ramit: So can you connect what you just said to the Disneyland story you told me about?

[00:11:43] Kristine: Well, for me, is that I’m not budgeting. I’m just saying, well, we have all this credit card. We can just use that. And I’m not focusing on actually what’s coming in when it comes to spending, making those– or budgeting, or doing things like that. I’m like, we can just spend it.

[00:12:00] Ramit: Okay.

[00:12:01] Kristine: Because I’m okay using credit cards. I’m okay spending out, but I guess being okay that when we get to a point when David is retired and we don’t have that money, making sure that it’s there is credit card debt okay. Being able to–

[00:12:19] Ramit: No. You said, I’m okay using credit cards. You have credit card debt right now? Right?

[00:12:31] Kristine: Yes. Yes, we do. Yes, we do.

[00:12:33] Ramit: So you’re in credit card debt right now. And David, you’re going to retire pretty soon, like in about two months. Correct?

[00:12:42] David: Correct. 

[00:12:44] Ramit: All right. So you’re definitely going to have credit card debt then.

[00:12:47] Kristine: Mm-Hmm.

[00:12:48] Ramit: So what are we talking about here? We know exactly what’s happening today, and we know exactly what’s going to happen tomorrow. What’s the question?

[00:12:59] Kristine: There’s things that I like to buy. One of the things, my biggest thing, and we argue about this all the time, is to ensure our kids are happy. That’s probably a big, huge thing when it came to the Disneyland fiasco.

[00:13:16] Ramit: Why is it called a fiasco? I thought it was totally fine, besides the van thing. Why do you call it a fiasco?

[00:13:22] Kristine: Just because we did go back and forth a lot about taking all of the kids. It was a sweet 16 trip. My thought was that we were taking everybody. His thought was, it’s just my daughter and her friend. So when I brought up, okay, well, we can’t leave the other kids out, that’s not fair, he’s like, why does that matter?

[00:13:41] Ramit: I have a question. So I understand that, as parents, you don’t want to leave kids out. You want to bring them along, make everybody feel welcome. I totally get that. But putting that aside, financially speaking, did that affect your decision as to whether to bring two kids or five kids?

[00:14:02] Kristine: No. To me, I didn’t even think about those numbers because I figured, you know what? We’ll get it paid off. It’s going to be fine.

[00:14:10] Ramit: Right. We’ll figure it out. Okay. And David, two versus five kids, was there a financial component to that for you?

[00:14:16] David: 1000%, yes. I literally broke it down saying– her two boys, one of them is 14, one of them 12. They’re both the same size. They’re monsters when it comes to eating. We can’t go to McDonald’s anymore and just grab a happy meal and everybody’s happy. They’re literally eating as much, if not more than me. Not to mention the tickets. Also the snacks, the food, all that stuff. And I said just alone with the food, we’re probably looking five or $600 for the four days.

[00:14:48] Ramit: You said that to her. And Kristine, how did you reply to that?

[00:14:52] Kristine: I was just thinking of feelings. I was thinking, how do we left the kids out? They’re going to be upset. And I think that’s a huge thing for me. I always think about their feelings, and David’s quite the opposite.

[00:15:05] Ramit: What do you think about, David?

[00:15:07] David: I didn’t have the best upbringing. We had issues. And I tell her all the time, I’m like, these kids– I feel like I’m a very good dad, and I feel like she’s an amazing mother. We give them the world for them to skip a Disneyland trip, which mind you, we go almost every year. It is like, okay, so you’ll go next year, or we’ll take you on your birthday to go, do something else with just you.

[00:15:31] We have the finances for that. That’s not a problem. And I have no issues telling my daughter, hey, dude, we took you to Disneyland. I’m taking this kid to Universal. See you later.

[00:15:40] Ramit: I hear that, Kristine, there’s a lot of feelings. Of course, you want to bring kids together. You don’t want anybody to feel left out. I totally get that. And David, I hear that two additional kids, two or three, especially at that age, they’re going to eat a lot. They’re going to take up extra hotel room. You’re going to need a bigger vehicle. I totally get that as well.

[00:16:02] What I don’t hear is the two of you breaking it down in a way that takes the antagonism away and says, hey, we’re a team. Let’s look at our plan. Because we’re not fighting each other. Kristine, you’re a great mom. Kristine says, David, you’re a great dad. We all know that. But we got to have some vision, some plan that we work through together.

[00:16:30] Kristine: Yes. I think we have our own separate plans and our own separate ideas, and then we just go along that path and not really put them together when it comes to things like planning a trip, and how much money we’re going to spend, and who’s coming, and all that. It’s always just, oh, well, I thought it was going to be like this. And he thought it was going to be like that.

[00:16:53] David: The planning thing is– how to say it– is good in theory. I always try to have a plan. I always try to say we need to do this, this, this, and that, and regardless of what we set down, I’m going to be a complete pushover for my family, especially my wife. If she says, well, I want to do this, I’m not going to put my foot down and say, no, we’re not.

[00:17:20] Ramit: You’re a pushover for your wife. Your wife’s a pushover for your kids. Who runs that house?

[00:17:27] David: When it comes to running the house, it’s me. When it comes to rules, and chores, and things like that, no, absolutely. Nobody is going to push me around when it comes to that kind of stuff. I tell you to wash dishes, you’re going to wash dishes.

[00:17:41] Ramit: Okay. How about if they say, I want to go to Disneyland, five of us? I want to go to Disneyland. How about that?

[00:17:47] David: Most likely, if they ask me, dream on. Yeah, good luck. No.

[00:17:52] Ramit: And then they ask mom, and then what does mom say?

[00:17:55] Kristine: Let’s plan a trip to Disneyland.

[00:17:57] David: Let’s go to Disney.

[00:17:58] Ramit: All right. So you guys like getting played by your kids?

[00:18:03] David: I don’t want it to make it sound like our kids just run all over us and they can do whatever they want. But when it comes to– for example, my daughter’s a sophomore right now. She’s like, hey, for my graduation, can we go to Hawaii? And I’m like, for your graduation, I got a backyard barbecue, and you’re asking for a– I can’t even tell you how many thousand-dollar trip it would cost us to go to Hawaii. And also, can we bring my friend? And I’m like–

[00:18:28] Ramit: Wait, hold on. That’s actually a really interesting example. So when she asked that, what exactly did you say to her?

[00:18:37] David: My initial response was, you’re tripping. That was verbatim.

[00:18:41] Ramit: Okay. And then what did she say then? Did she say, come on, dad?

[00:18:45] David: No, she was basically like, why? It’s like two years away. I’m sure we could save for that. We as in she helps with the–

[00:18:50] Ramit: Uh-huh. And then what did you say?

[00:18:52] David: At that point, that’s when I was like, okay, a two-year away trip, we could definitely plan for that.

[00:19:00] Ramit: I feel like I’m in a horror movie right now, and it’s all clear. And then I’m turning the corner, and I just saw a freaking zombie walking towards me. Does anybody else see what I just saw?

[00:19:10] David: Yeah.

[00:19:11] Ramit: All she had to do was be like, come on, dad. And you were like, sounds good. We’ll save for it. No problem. I think I’m starting to understand what’s going on. Kristine, you want to add anything?

[00:19:20] Kristine: No, that’s pretty much what it is. It’s the convincing. If you could give him a good– He’s very logical. So if you can convince him logically, and the kids can convince him logically of something, they’re like, oh, okay, well, maybe we can do that. We’ll discuss it. Sometimes we’ll discuss it. Sometimes I’ll just take the kids and we’ll do whatever it was.

[00:19:42] Ramit: Okay.

[00:19:42] David: I stand my ground as much as I can, but, come on. Let’s be real. Yeah, we’re probably going to do it.


[00:19:47] Ramit: People with spending problems almost always have problems saying no to their children. The two are highly correlated. In these situations, we almost always have one parent– overwhelmingly, it’s mom– who feels bad if she says no and wants her kids to have everything. And almost always, this has a lot to do with how she was raised.

[00:20:08]  Notice also that in heterosexual relationships at least, dads are very quick to say, it’s not like they walk all over me. And then it turns out that, actually, yes, the kids do walk all over them. The only exception was Episode 102, where you didn’t even hear the slightest pushback from dad.

[00:20:28] Here’s the point. This isn’t just about dollars in the bank. Their financial troubles, like so many overspenders, are almost certainly due to an inability to set boundaries. There’s no shared vision of how they want to use their money. They don’t have any process for making decisions. In fact, the way it usually goes is Kristine says, come on.

[00:20:49] David says, really? And then they end up doing what Kristine wants. This is so common. It’s literally a sitcom trope. This is not a healthy dynamic. In fact, it’s one that’s perpetuated across generations. Mom and dad couldn’t say no, so we never learn to say no, so our children are not going to learn how to say no, and so on.

[00:21:09]  We’ll be right back after this.

[00:21:11] At this point, I decided to take the conversation in a different direction.


[00:21:15] Ramit: I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to jump right into your numbers today. I would like to understand where you both are with your numbers, and I think that’s going to affect the trajectory of what we talk about. How’s that?

[00:21:26] Kristine: Sounds good.

[00:21:27] Ramit: Kristine, why don’t you read off the words in bold and then the number next to it? Let’s start with your net worth.

[00:21:33] Kristine: Okay. Assets, it’s 696,349; investments, $9,054; savings, $7,049. And then debt, $700,338

[00:21:54] Ramit: Okay. Total net worth.

[00:21:55] Kristine: Is $12,140

[00:22:00] Ramit: Al right. How do you feel about that number?

[00:22:02] Kristine: Not good. I think for me, I want to grow. I wanted to see I have that million-dollar mindset where I want to have that money and that wealth. So to me, it doesn’t seem good at all.

[00:22:17] Ramit: And you’re both in your early to mid-30s.Correct? How do you feel about the number David?

[00:22:23] David: It’s astronomical.

[00:22:26] Ramit: Which number’s astronomical?

[00:22:28] David: Pick one. But to me, I’ve never had a savings account– not a deliberate one. How about that? The fact that we are able to afford and purchase a 630,000-dollar home with just saying like, that’s what we want. It blows my mind. I also want to have that mentality of like, let’s be millionaires. I do. But that’s why I try to tell her like, we can. We make a lot of money.

[00:22:56] Ramit: Okay. So you never had a savings account, so for you, $7,049, what does that feel like in a savings account?

[00:23:05] David: To me, it’s crazy. It’s crazy that we did that on purpose and we said we’re putting money away. I’ve just never in my past relationship. As a kid growing up, that was never a thing.

[00:23:17] Ramit: And what do you think about the debt amount? It’s $700,000 of debt. What do you think about that, David?

[00:23:23] David: So it doesn’t scare me too much. The fact that I know that obviously the house is the huge majority of it. My truck is at 0% interest. So the loan that we have on my truck, that’s one of the things that I’ve learned, is if you have 0% interest loan and you’re paying it off on time, it’s free money. It’s just sitting there. Again, you take away a 630,000-dollar house, and that makes it for a lot less.

[00:23:53] Ramit: Your current household income is $213,000. Did you all know that is how much you make household income?

[00:24:01] Kristine: It’s almost like a delusion me. I can see it. I can see things getting paid off, and I’m like, ah, it’s good. And I don’t see the true depth of what it can cause down the line. Like said, instant happiness. But it’s not setting us up down the road.

[00:24:18] Ramit: David’s about to retire. David, you’re going to have a pension. What percent is your pension going to give you?

[00:24:24] David: Top three, 50%. I think I’m going to be getting, let’s call it 2,700 a month.

[00:24:32] Ramit: What? Are you serious?

[00:24:34] David: Now, mind you, I’m looking forward to and fully anticipate to be getting 100% disability, which adds another roughly $4,200 a month. I’ll be roughly back at 7,000.

[00:24:47] Ramit: 7,000. And you currently make 8,000, so you’re going to make about 7,000. Okay, fine. So it’s like roughly the same minus 1,000 bucks a month. Fine. Let’s look at the rest of the debt. So you mentioned some credit cards here. Kristine, what are these credit cards you have?

[00:25:02] Kristine: The Amex was the 47, Discover is the 7,000. And then if we scroll over a little bit so I can see. Yeah. The Zales is the 3,000. The other Amex is David’s Amex, so it goes along with that explanation.

[00:25:16] Ramit: What do you guys have $3,000 on a Zales card?

[00:25:19] David: Would you like for me to explain?

[00:25:20] Kristine: Yeah, go on.

[00:25:21] David: Happily. Five-year anniversary, five-year wedding anniversary. I said, let’s upgrade your ring. $5,000 to what we saved. You got your budget ready to go. You spent $8,300 and something.

[00:25:35] Ramit: So that’s the extra money on the Zales card.

[00:25:38] David: Correct.

[00:25:39] Ramit: Okay. What do y’all think about this? Seems to be a pattern I see.

[00:25:49] Kristine: When I think with that one, it was 0% APR. Let’s pay it off before it gets any–

[00:25:55] Ramit: Did you?

[00:25:57] Kristine: It’s still going. We still have time.

[00:25:59] Ramit: How long?

[00:25:59] Kristine: Until September. So we’ve been paying about 600, $700 to it.

[00:26:08] Ramit: All right. What interest rate is on your house, your mortgage?

[00:26:14] Kristine: So we’re actually going to sign for it tomorrow. It’s a 6.125.

[00:26:20] Ramit: Wait a minute, you’re signing for a house tomorrow?

[00:26:23] Kristine: Yes. So that house–

[00:26:24] Ramit: Are you serious?

[00:26:25] Kristine: Yes. Yeah. So that’s what we’re budgeting in.

[00:26:27] Ramit: What?

[00:26:27] Kristine: Uh-huh.

[00:26:28] Ramit: Wait. Hold on. I did not know this. Okay, so you are getting a new house. How much are you putting down, and what’s the mortgage?

[00:26:40] Kristine: So we have a VA loan. We don’t have to put any down. We did put down a 4,000 deposit. But the mortgage is going to be, I believe a 4,100 and something payment a month.

[00:26:57] Ramit: It’s for $630,000?

[00:26:59] Kristine: Yes.

[00:27:00] Ramit: Okay.

[00:27:01] Kristine: Yeah. I can up my screen.

[00:27:02] Ramit: Let’s just do it online here. We’ll just do it right here. Watch. 30-year fixed. What’d you say? You got six point what?

[00:27:11] Kristine: 6.125.

[00:27:13] Ramit: Okay. So your payment is what? 3,828 about?

[00:27:19] Kristine: Mm-hmm.

[00:27:20] Ramit: How did you decide to buy this house? How’d you decide if you could afford it?

[00:27:25] Kristine: I plugged it into the spreadsheet, saw what the house payment was going to be, make sure that we still had the amount to put in, we’re still going to be able to have the amount after extra for anything we needed. And then that’s how we decided.

[00:27:40] Ramit: Why are you guys buying a house, by the way?

[00:27:42] Kristine: [Inaudible] that comes in. So was that 900?

[00:27:58] Ramit: What a surprise!

[00:28:03] Kristine: So we need to do percent. I’m bad at quick math.

[00:28:08] Ramit: How much is it?

[00:28:10] Kristine: Yeah.

[00:28:10] Ramit: Huh. That’s nice. And of course, you’re not factoring in maintenance on that. You’re not factoring in the opportunity cost of, I know it’s a small down payment, but investing that amount. Not factoring in any of the labor, in terms of going to Home Depot, etc., etc., etc. Oh, and of course, not the transaction costs of buying it and selling it, which will be tens of thousands of dollars. Do you have to get this house, out of curiosity? Is it too late to say no?

[00:28:41] David: We would lose the $4,000 escrow, but it’s not too late to say no.

[00:28:46] Kristine: So for savings it–

[00:28:47] Ramit: Okay. Look, I’m not going tell you to change something at the very last minute. Most people are not particularly savvy on how the financials work behind buying and selling a house. There’s a lot of hidden costs, a ton, so much that it could make up for all the money you’re trying to save in other areas.

[00:29:05] I’ll simply say this. You have an amount that you’re going to commit to buy the house for and to spend every month. Fine. So you’ve locked that in. Fine. That’s part of your rich life? I don’t mind it. We now got to make everything else work around that. But I have a question because I’m looking at your CSP and when you say extra, if we just skip down really quick to investments, you have zero. And savings, you’re saving $175 a month. How do those numbers strike you?

[00:29:43] Kristine: I want to see more in investments, to be educated more on where to put that funding. I think neither of us were educated. It’s acting off a feeling versus actually diving into the numbers.

[00:29:58] Ramit: What feeling?

[00:29:59] Kristine: A Disneyland trip, the kids, us, I know we’re going to come out of that feeling happy. It’s a great experience. It’s memories. It’s things we can look back on. Having the vehicle, a vehicle big enough to fit my kids in a safe– like with the truck. He’s wanted a truck, so I know that it’s going to invoke a feeling of happiness and being able to carry things in the truck that he couldn’t in a smaller vehicle. The ring. To me, it was the first ring that I actually got to pick.

[00:30:29] Ramit: Okay. So you’re happy. You bought the ring. You bought the truck. You bought the vehicles. You bought the Disneyland trip. So if all that worked, then why are we here?

[00:30:42] Kristine: I think it’s thinking about the future and those spending habits and whether or not we’re actually making the right decisions. Like, okay, what’s your rich life? What does your rich life look like? For me, it’s being able to take the kids to Disneyland. It’s being able to splurge a little bit on a ring. But looking at the other side of it is that when we’re moving on into the future, is that truly going to bring us happiness down the road or is it just instant gratification?

[00:31:11] Ramit: Can I be honest? I think that both of you like to make impulsive decisions and now that it’s starting to catch up with you where you have debt and you’re realizing that you’re spending thousands of dollars every month paying off debt, you have essentially very little in savings and investments, especially at your income level. I think you came to me so I could be the responsible one and you could keep doing the fun stuff.

[00:31:41] Kristine: It’s someone actually saying, no, you cannot do that. And I think–

[00:31:46] Ramit: Why do you need a parental figure like you’re a child to tell no?

[00:31:51] Kristine: I’ve never had someone say, no, you can’t do that. Or if I ever did as a child, honestly, I did it anyways.


[00:31:59] Ramit: Did you catch that? Kristine said she’d never had someone tell her no. And now she’s passing that exact same money message along to her kids who will pass it on to their kids. Remember what I said a few minutes ago about perpetuating money attitudes across generations? Well, I had to get really honest with Kristine and David about my role right now.


[00:32:22] I’m just going to tell you right now, I don’t do the parental thing. I don’t like treating adults like children. I think if you want to be treated like a child, there are other people who will do it. And I also find that when people try to enter into these dynamics, they’re not actually serious about changing. You’re nodding.

[00:32:44] Kristine: Yeah. And I can see it in other aspects of our life.

[00:32:46] Ramit: And I’m actually really happy we get a chance to talk. I am. I genuinely want to help you, but I think you expected me to give you some razzle dazzle, Excel math, and a couple of tips, and it would all be fixed. And that’s just not what I do. David, I see you nodding.

[00:33:08] David: I think not necessarily that exactly, but yes, I think she wanted to get some justification in a sense of, if you just change this one thing, then you’d be fine. But not the one thing that you know is obvious to change in the spending. Something else maybe.


[00:33:26]  Let me cut in here really quick. Notice how David is trying to assign and delegate the problem to Kristine when he himself is involved in it too.  Sure. Kristine might be unable to set boundaries, but so is David. The only difference is he pretends by saying, no, we shouldn’t do that, until his family says, come on, dad, and then he agrees.  


[00:33:48] David: For me, the consequence is what keeps me from being stricter with our money. Again, I have no problem saying no. But then it looks into, okay, well, what’s the consequence of saying no? I tell her no, and stick to it and say, no, we’re not doing that. It’s going to be, in my mind, a spiral of unhappiness. We never get to do anything. And then it turns into fighting, and then it turns into just unhappiness.

[00:34:18] Ramit: But here’s my question. Why does it have to be this dynamic where he’s “putting his foot down?” I don’t like that dynamic. It’s very present in heterosexual relationships with money. The guy has to come in and put his foot down for the frivolous woman spending. I hate that shit. It’s so reductionist.

[00:34:44] It’s disempowering for you, Kristine, because you are treated like a child, and he doesn’t even want to do it. Nobody wants to put their foot down for their intimate partner. This whole conversation has been dictated by this frame that somebody has to say no, because they’re the adult and then someone’s the frivolous butterfly just spending and doing what they want. So emotional. I don’t accept that. I think that’s a story you tell yourself. And honestly, that story, it’s going to set you up for a really bad time over the next few years.


[00:35:26] Ramit: This is very hard to hear because what I’m really saying is that the entire way you look at the world is not serving you. They both have adopted this frame that spending is bad, that one person is an adult, that another can’t be controlled, that kids need a lot of money and experiences to be happy. Just think of how hard it would be to change even one of those worldviews. Honestly, in my experience, people will not change a deeply held worldview unless they absolutely, positively have to. And sometimes not even then, even when the stakes are life and death.

[00:36:07]  Let’s take a quick pause for a message from our sponsors

[00:36:11]  Let’s get back to our conversation.


[00:36:13] David: Our youngest at the time, Doodle, turns 18. He’s gone, and he’s going to go live his life, and he is going to be gone. And who’s going to be left? It’s going to be me and you. And that’s it. And we need to understand that it is a team. We are a team. Sure, as a family, we’re a team, but ultimately, me and you only are a team, and we need to stick to that when it comes to anything.

[00:36:36] I’m already looked at as a tyrant because, like I said, if I say wash the dishes, you can’t negotiate that. You’re going to wash the dishes. So I have to, in order to not seem like the complete dictator of the house, give in in other ways. And it definitely shouldn’t be the money, but that’s the one that obviously I’ve chosen to not put my foot down and say, no, if we’re going to go to Disneyland, we’re going to be frugal. It’s not being sheep, it’s just better planning.

[00:37:07] Ramit: Was your dad a tyrant?

[00:37:09] David: I didn’t have a dad. My stepdad came in when I was about 12, almost 13. But yeah, very much so. What he said goes, end of story.

[00:37:23] Ramit: Would you say you’ve adopted some of those principles into your own parenting style?

[00:37:28] David: Very few. I really try to not be the–

[00:37:36] Ramit: Did you just say two seconds ago that I’m pretty much the tyrant in the house?

[00:37:40] David: Yeah. In a sense of like I know what needs to get done, and I’m not going to– I’m not going to live in a dirty house, and I’m also not going to clean up after you.

[00:37:49] Kristine: I know he can probably attest to it, but I have come a long way from the beginning, from when we first got together, of telling them no. It’s not always easy, don’t get me wrong.

[00:38:01] Ramit: Why do you not like to tell them no, out of curiosity?

[00:38:06] Kristine: I think it’s guilt with my older two

[00:38:09] Ramit: Why?

[00:38:11] Kristine: Me and their dad divorced, so I feel like maybe I put them in a bad situation, where when they’re around me, I don’t want them to feel sad, or I don’t want them to feel hurt, or I don’t want them to have negative feelings when they’re around mom.

[00:38:27] Ramit: And if you were to describe your identity today as a mom, give me a couple of words that would come to mind for you. Giving, caring. What else?

[00:38:37] Kristine: Understanding.

[00:38:38] Ramit: Nice.

[00:38:39] Kristine: Supportive.

[00:38:40] Ramit: Love it. Okay. If you were to say no to Disneyland now, describe who you would be as a mom.

[00:38:50] Kristine: Not caring.

[00:38:51] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:38:53] Kristine: A bad mom. My rich life would be able to when someone needs help in my family or anything like that, that I can guilt-free give them the money

[00:39:05] Ramit: How much?

[00:39:05] Kristine: And not have to feel bad. If I could give my mom enough money that she needs to be able to be comfortable to stop working, I would say maybe $100,000. I think it’s a hard truth that I don’t want to accept at times because I’m like, no, they need me. And it’s not allowing them to see those things that they need to do to build, or grow, or to be, and get that we are at.

[00:39:37] Ramit: Can’t really think of a worst thing for a mom to think of herself as, when it comes to parenting, a bad mom. Okay?

[00:39:52]  Kristine: Right.

[00:39:52] Ramit: All right. So your mom, you mentioned. Are there others that you want to help out financially speaking?

[00:39:57] Kristine: My sister. I help out financially with things every once in a while. I have my best friend, my goddaughter. Being able to them be successful and not have worry about things.

[00:40:09] Ramit: Wait. Hold on, hold on. Aren’t you worrying about stuff?

[00:40:15] Kristine: Yes.

[00:40:15] Ramit: So why are you helping them out with money when you don’t have extra money?

[00:40:25] Kristine: I guess I’d rather see them being able to be okay, knowing that eventually I’d pay off whatever I need to pay off, and I’d be okay.

[00:40:34] Ramit: It makes me sad that you would see saying no to a $7,000 trip make you a bad mom. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think you’re a bad mom. In fact, from what I’ve heard, there’s a lot of things you do really well. But the fact that you have created an identity where in order to be a good mom you have to what?

[00:41:04] Kristine: Spend money on my kids.

[00:41:05] Ramit: Spend every dollar you have and never say no. That is the trap that you have created in your own head. And that’s why it will be so hard for you to change. And there’s even one more wrinkle. David, how do you think you play a role in this?

[00:41:30] David: Very much an enabler.

[00:41:33] Ramit: Yes.

[00:41:35] David: We have this conversation. It is, if not weekly, bi-weekly, of you do not have to buy them stuff so that they’ll love. They’ll love you regardless. You’re an angel to them.

[00:41:50] Ramit: David, does it work?

[00:41:52] David: No, absolutely not.

[00:41:53] Ramit: Has it worked for the last 10-plus years? Maybe if you try it for another 20 years, you’ll get her. What do you think? Okay, so that doesn’t work. What do you get out of it?

[00:42:09] David: Frustration. I know that seeing her happy makes me obviously feel better, but that’s really it’s her.

[00:42:19] Ramit: Mm. If that were the case, then you would literally just be like, I have a blanket yes to everything you ever want from me. I’m not going to snipe at you about the Disney lunches. It’s all good. Yet you don’t do that.

[00:42:31] David: Correct. I still try to be the voice of reason.

[00:42:33] Ramit: Oh, what does the voice of reason do?

[00:42:39] David: Being reasonable.

[00:42:41] Ramit: Well, she thinks she’s being reasonable too.

[00:42:44] David: No, she knows she’s not.

[00:42:47] Ramit: She has very good reason. She goes, I got my spreadsheet. I’m creating memories for the kids. I don’t want to be a bad mom. Those are all things she thinks are reasonable. So what do you think is reasonable? To say no, put up a false fight, and then give in. Is that reasonable?

[00:43:03] David: No.

[00:43:03] Ramit: Well, you do it.

[00:43:04] David: Correct.

[00:43:06] Ramit: I think what you get out of this is you can inject a feeling of financial conservatism. You can be like, we really should be looking at our spending. We should be careful. And then you go, all right, I said my part. I don’t need to have any responsibility in this. I’m the responsible one, but she doesn’t listen. And then you dump it on her.

[00:43:29] David: Sure.

[00:43:31] Ramit: What do you think about that, Kristine?

[00:43:34] Kristine: I can agree. It’s the burden of, he told me, but if I make the wrong decision, then it is my fault, whatever decision was. I think to try and convince that whatever I’m saying, or the way that I think we should go is the right way.

[00:43:51] Ramit: Yes. And why do you want to do that? Why do you want to convince him?

[00:43:56] Kristine: So I can keep doing what I’m doing.

[00:43:58] Ramit: Yes. And so that what?

[00:44:04] Kristine: And so that the kids happy and I’m happy.

[00:44:06] Ramit: And that he’s happy too.

[00:44:09] Kristine: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:44:11] Ramit: You want him to like you. And you want the kids to like you. Has he ever really gotten mad about the spending, like really gotten mad?

[00:44:22] Kristine: No.

[00:44:23] Ramit: No. Has he ever made a household-wide change because of the spending?

[00:44:31] Kristine: No.

[00:44:32] Ramit: Wow. That’s so interesting. Okay. What are both noticing about this conversation right now?

[00:44:42] Kristine: I feel like what’s more going into thinking about it, it’s changing. I think at the beginning we’re throwing out all these reasons and all these things, and now it’s like, okay, looking deeper into it and listening.

[00:44:59] Ramit: What do you see?

[00:45:00] Kristine: A shift.

[00:45:01] Ramit: What shift?

[00:45:03] Kristine: Mood. I know for me, it’s finally finding these pain points of, I knew they were there, but I couldn’t them. And now that it’s looking at it and realizing where it’s coming from, it’s just different.

[00:45:25] Ramit: I don’t know if I understand it. Can you explain to me in a different way?

[00:45:27] Kristine: So at the start, I came in here, like you said. I have my spreadsheet. I know what I’m doing it’s fine. And then realizing, no, down the line. It’s not going to be fine. It was like you saying, a justification as to, yeah, yeah. You’re doing what you need to do. Just some money into stocks. Do this. And it’s truly a deeper fix than just on-the-surface spreadsheets and looking at numbers. It’s like, what’s the root cause? Why does this keep happening?

[00:46:03] Ramit: What is the root cause as far as you understand right now?

[00:46:06] Kristine: For me, it’s no consequence. I have no consequence. I’m going to do whatever it is that I want do, no matter what. I don’t see a consequence. And if there is a consequence, I’m already like, this is how I can fix it. This is how I’m going to fix it.

[00:46:20] Ramit: It’s very tempting to start rerunning these stories because they’re so visceral and vivid to both of you. Do y’all notice that you do this a lot?

[00:46:30] David: It literally just happened last week.

[00:46:33] Ramit: Okay. Kristine is nodding.

[00:46:37] Kristine: We don’t come up with a plan together. We could talk about it, yeah. But when we sit down and do the plan, I’m the one doing the plan.

[00:46:45] Ramit: Why is that?

[00:46:48] Kristine: Because David just sits there and lets me put the numbers together. He doesn’t really double check it or anything.

[00:46:54] Ramit: Why?

[00:46:57] David: Because I think ultimately, I know she’s going to do whatever she wants anyway, so what’s the point?

[00:47:04] Ramit: Maybe it’s a lack of trust here.

[00:47:07] David: My part or her part?

[00:47:10] Ramit: You tell me.

[00:47:13] David: I definitely don’t trust that she’ll stick to a plan if we make one.

[00:47:17] Kristine: Yeah. I can see he’s filling that way. I’ve definitely set a plan and gone over budget. I could put two spreadsheets all day, every day, but do I stick to it 100%? No.

[00:47:34] Ramit: So why do you even do it?

[00:47:35] Kristine: It gives me that sense of, we’re okay.

[00:47:38] Ramit: Feelings.

[00:47:39] Kristine: Or we’re going to be okay. Yeah. It’s the feelings.

[00:47:41] Ramit: Feelings are important, but they’re not the only thing, and I get the sense that you let feelings control what you do with your money.

[00:47:50] Kristine: Yes.

[00:47:51] Ramit: Do you think that maybe there’s a different way to manage your money?

[00:47:55] Kristine: Yeah, and I think the feelings can sometimes drive away from what your ultimate goal is, I think.

[00:48:04] Ramit: But you don’t have a goal.

[00:48:06] Kristine: No, not right now. I think it’s an idea of the goal. I think it’s an idea of what we want, but it’s not put out there. It’s just, keep making money, and then keep growing, keep buying things.

[00:48:22] Ramit: Well, that’s America. You are like literally tens of millions of Americans. You could do it. It’ll be fine. And then at some point, one of you’ll get sick or you’ll get laid off, and it will be a panic. You’ll go into more debt, and then you’ll just do that for the rest of your life. You know people who’ve done that?

[00:48:41] Kristine: Mm-hmm.

[00:48:43] Ramit: How is it for them?

[00:48:45] Kristine: Not good.

[00:48:46] Ramit: Why?

[00:48:47] Kristine: Not good. I’ve seen even my parents. They can’t retire. They’re still working. My mom has fibromyalgia, and so she’s always pain, and she’s always hurting. But she can’t not work. She has to work right now to make the money.

[00:49:08] Ramit: I hate that.

[00:49:09] Kristine: Mm-hmm.

[00:49:10] Ramit: I hate that for her. I hate that for your family. I hate that for you. Did you see the show that I had on Netflix?

[00:49:18] Kristine: Mm-hmm.

[00:49:18] Ramit: Okay. Do you remember the couple, Millie and Christian in New Jersey? Christian was the one who wanted to retire his mom. Do you remember this?

[00:49:28] Kristine: Yes

[00:49:29] Ramit: Does that connect with you?

[00:49:30] Kristine: It did. Yeah. I am the person that will buy stuff for people because I know that they are struggling. And he tells me that all time. We go to dinner. We’re going order food, and I’m like, what does everybody want? Because I want to take care of everybody. I want be able to know that I can take care of people. And buying things for my mom, or they came on the trip. And there’s some things I did pay for for my mom. It’s like, for me, I’ll let friends borrow money. And so to me, it’s like taking care of others.

[00:50:13] Ramit: When do you say no?

[00:50:18] Kristine: If someone’s hurting, it’s very rare that I say no.

[00:50:24] Ramit: When was the last time you said no?

[00:50:26] Kristine: I couldn’t tell you.

[00:50:33] Ramit: You say yes to everyone except for the two of you. Because yes would mean saying no to certain other things. And Kristine, if you said no to the people in your life, what would that make you?

[00:50:59] Kristine: It’d be hard. It would be hard because I feel like I’ve taken of a lot of my family and a lot of the things for them. So to me, it almost feels a failure. Not being able to be there for them, not being able to help them. It would be hard. It would be hard. I would feel like I’m abandoning or not giving my 100% to help them.

[00:51:27] Ramit: Do you have to help them through money?

[00:51:37] Kristine: I think that’s the only thing I feel like I can help them with right now. I can be there for them. It just doesn’t seem enough when I see that they’re struggling or that they need something. So I’m like, well, let’s figure out how we can get that for you.

[00:51:53] Ramit: I can understand when somebody’s struggling. That I can understand. But I see the same principle with taking five kids to Disneyland. Kids don’t need to go to Disneyland. Right?

[00:52:08] Kristine: No.

[00:52:09] Ramit: Can I ask you something? You ever give them an amount and you say, here’s what this amount is for. It’s up to you how you want to spend it. Have you ever done that?

[00:52:23] David: Sort of.

[00:52:24] Ramit: Yeah? How so?

[00:52:25] David: School shopping.

[00:52:26] Kristine: Spend money on–

[00:52:28] David: We had all the kids, and I said, I think it was $200 per, and that includes clothes, backpack, shoes, all this stuff. I don’t know that either of them stuck to it. She was just like, that’s fine.

[00:52:40] Ramit: And then what happened when you took him out, Kristine? Okay. So what lessons do you think they took away from that? Yeah. Okay. Going forward, for school shopping, clothes, etc., how does it work, Kristine? Tell me. We’re going to pick a number and put it on here for the month for conscious spinning plan. So if your kids come to you and they go, I need this, I need that, what are you going to say to them?

[00:53:37] Damn. Okay. Round of applause. That was so good. You caught that ball and you handed it very lovingly right back to them. Are you seeing this, David?

[00:53:47] David: Mm-hmm.

[00:53:47] Ramit: It’s a beautiful skill. You can adapt this for your own style, but there’s something reall– Kristine is very talented at this. It’s amazing. I think there’s a been a bit of a breakthrough here, Kristine, that I see in you. You’re skilled for sure, which is amazing, but also, you’re starting to develop this visible confidence, like, yeah, I can do this, and I actually like it. I’m I reading this correctly?

[00:54:13] Kristine: I’ve read it. It’s understood. I just thought that being able to pay it off eventually, it’s fine.

[00:54:26] Ramit: Yes, yes. You’re a good mom. Yes. You’re a good mom. If sometimes you say no, you can do it lovingly, but you’ll teach them a lesson along the way. They won’t realize it for a while, but you are teaching them something. Okay. Fantastic. Can you imagine in an alternate reality where you had a fund you were saving up for the Disney trip, and one or both of you overspent on something and you just couldn’t afford to go to Disneyland that year? And what would you have told your kids? Sorry, we overspent on Christmas lights, therefore we can’t go to Disneyland this year. How do you think that would’ve gone over?

[00:55:08] Kristine: Well, they’d be all sad and upset, but it is what it is, and we have to cover what we need to pay for.

[00:55:15] Ramit: Yeah, but there’s never been that conversation in your family ever, right?

[00:55:18] Kristine: No. Not at all.

[00:55:20] Ramit: No. I give it about one night, one night where you tell them we’re not going to Cheesecake Factory. Everybody starts crying, freaking throwing things across the room, breaking glass. And you go, okay, fine, fine, fine. We’ll go to Cheesecake Factory. It’s fine. And that’s the end of that. So what do you want to do?

[00:55:44] Kristine: I want to change. I want to be able to be that partner where he’s not tyrant. He and I are on that same page where I can also say no.

[00:55:59] David: Partner.

[00:56:02] Ramit: I love that. Hey Kristine, what do you do for work, by the way?

[00:56:05] Kristine: A business manager. I run different parts of businesses. I do operations for one business. I manage contracts for another business.

[00:56:14] Ramit: Love it. You got people you can count on at work who you know will always deliver?

[00:56:20] Kristine: Yes.

[00:56:21] Ramit: Love that. How’s that feel to have that person or people at work that you know you can always count on?

[00:56:26] Kristine: Amazing. Because I know there’s not a lot them. So when have that one that can just deliver, it’s amazing.

[00:56:32] Ramit: I love that. Now, what if David was that for you and you were that for him, when it comes to your finances?

[00:56:41] Kristine: It would be amazing to be able to just both be able to count on each other with those and immediately know that whatever those decisions, we’ve already discussed them together as a team and we’re sticking to it.

[00:56:55] Ramit: I love this. It’s a totally different way of looking at your relationship with each other and with your kids. It’s like, no, we’re partners. We’re going to talk about it. We’re going to discuss it. We might disagree on certain things, but we’re going to come up with something that works for both of us. And I know 100% I can count on him and he can count on me.

[00:57:13] Kristine: Yes. And I think being to be that accountability for me, because he does. We do come with plans, and it was always like, it’s going to be fine, but now this is what we decided. We’re a team. You’re only as strong as your weakest player. And right now, I am the weakest player, so I need to step up and be that partner with him.

[00:57:38] Ramit: Okay. I love that. I think it’s very admirable. David, I know that you know what it’s like to work with a team. What would it be like to have a partner when it comes to your finances?

[00:57:52] David: It would be almost a sense of relief. Again, I’ve used that term many times to say, we need to take care of each other. Our kids are great. Our kids are taken care of. Our kids are living a very, very nice life, especially compared to what we grew up with. We don’t have to do all this stuff.

[00:58:13] And again, it’s the putting the foot down thing, say, I hate that mentality of doing that. They need to understand like, look, man, you guys are in a great house. You don’t want for anything. Just because you can’t go to Hawaii for your graduation– a bad dad. You’re not being a bad mom. That would be awesome. But not at an expense of us not having anything to show for our own retirement and our own savings.

[00:58:42] Ramit: Really good. I love everything you said, and I’m going to give you a couple of subtle reframes because I think these will come up later. The idea that if we say no to our kids, we’re bad parents. Let’s reframe that into, we’re going to put us first, mom and dad, as a unit first, and we’re going to provide a great, safe, fun life for our kids, but as a unit, our plan comes first. How would that feel?

[00:59:18] David: It’d be awesome.

[00:59:18] Ramit: I know you like it, David. How about for you, Kristine?

[00:59:22] Kristine: Like I said, it makes. That’s what we need to do, us first. So it’s better to build it and to be on that same page where I know that when I say no to my kids, David’s there with me, and we have each other.

[00:59:34] Ramit: You can be a strong, capable person who’s taken seriously. And you can do with love too. You can be like, you know what? I wish we could fly. We’re not able to do that based on our plan for this year. End of discussion. Why are you smiling, Kristine? She’s like, yes, yes. That’s what I’ve been telling him. I’m like, what the hell? Why smiling? Yeah.

[01:00:06] David: I get told it’s my tone all the time.

[01:00:08] Ramit: Okay, that’s yeah. Okay. This is incredible. Look at this, you guys. Look at the smiles. I love it. Okay. This is a way to connect. This is so amazing. So now that we’ve established that the two of you are going to be a unit, can we come up with a name for this unit? Call it anything you like, team, whatever, or The Go-to unit, whatever. Give me a name. Okay. David, are you on board with that?

[01:00:47] David: Oh yeah.

[01:00:49] Ramit: Okay. Love it. Love it. Team Herm, that’s the two of you. I would recommend you come up with a little logo. Two of you can draw it out. Pick something fun that the two of you come up with together, just the two of you. Team Herm. How would you describe Team Herm? What is Team Herm like? Love it. What else? Let’s go back and forth. Toss the ball back and forth to each other..

[01:01:23] David: Driven

[01:01:24] Ramit: Driven. Keep going back and forth.

[01:01:30] Kristine: It’s true. It’s a lot of the coming into it initially. He is a lot more strict than I am, a lot more strict. And he has opened my eyes to some of those things.

[01:01:40] Ramit: Okay, hold on. I got to take a round of applause. Now when you make decisions, you also want to ask, who’s David on Team Herm? Y’ll seen those shows where it’s like American clay or whatever they are like, 6″4, from Belgium, whatever. So David in the past would have been? Tyrant. What else?

[01:02:08] David: Strict

[01:02:12] Ramit: Strict. Yeah, that’s good. What else? Rule setter. Uh-huh. And what about when somebody said, come on, dad. What would you have done then?

[01:02:20] David: A pushover.

[01:02:21] Kristine: He ended up doing the dishes. He just stayed up reallylate.

[01:02:24] Ramit: Pushover, yes. That’s the old Dave. What’s the new David in Team Herm?

[01:02:30] David: Just a leader.

[01:02:33] Kristine: I think it is a mom thing. I think it’s that, like, oh, they’re my babies. I need to protect them and make sure that they’re doing all fun.

[01:02:41] Ramit: I love that. Damn. Round of applause. So good. There’s such an immediate vivid difference between a tyrant and a leader, right? What’s the difference, David?

[01:02:49] David: A leader, I think, is a little more respected over feared, and a tyrant is feared over respected.

[01:02:53] Ramit: Yeah, I like that. And a leader inspires you because ultimately, like you know, at work, your leader has to get you to do what you’re going to do and do it well without them being there. Just as you do. But a tyrant always has to be watching over you. I love that. Okay. David used to be a pushover, but in Team Herm, David is a? Wow. I bet you David, you would’ve never thought of that one.

[01:03:27] Kristine: Yeah.

[01:03:28] Ramit: So rather than being a pushover where you say yes, but you pretend it, but then you say no, it’s actually like, you know what? I’m going to listen. Kristine, do you see how much work David’s going to have to put in here? Okay. Exactly. And I think that he would be willing to put that work in.

[01:03:48] Kristine: Yeah.

[01:03:48] Ramit: If you are putting in equivalent work and you’re both talking about it and sharing, right?

[01:03:56] Kristine: Same. I think we should be more, I think just from– it’s the comparison thing. It’s like, okay, well, these people have this much in their investments and savings.


[01:04:08] Ramit: I found this conversation really difficult. The reason that I do what I do is that I went through my own process of learning about money. I know how hard it is to change the entire way you look at the world. It’s not easy. But I’ve also seen what happens when you can do it. When I see couples talking about money in a way that drives them apart, it doesn’t bring them together.

[01:04:36] It’s painful to see, especially when I know that they could live an incredibly rich life. I can see their numbers. I can see that with a few changes, they could bring their family together. They could have their kids participate in paying off debt, and saving, and investing, and yes, going to Disneyland, but of course, it’s not my journey. It’s not my rich life, it’s theirs. So what I can do is to have a conversation with them, hopefully bring them together, and show them a path of what’s possible.

[01:05:07] Today, in the end, I was able to give them a few gentle suggestions. When I saw how deeply held their worldviews were, I realized the best thing I could do would be to allow them to build a connection between the two of them so they could see themselves as a united team.

[01:05:23] The rest would take a lot of work and also a lot of luck. I spent a lot of time demonstrating specific word for word scripts that they could use in certain situations they’re going to encounter, like how to respond to family members who want money, and kids who want a trip that they can’t afford. But again, changing someone’s worldview is incredibly difficult, and it’s nearly impossible in just a few hours.

[01:05:45] The fact is they’re in debt. They can still afford to have a nice house and take some trips and cars. There’s nothing right now that’s going to force them to change. So while I genuinely hope they make a huge change, honestly, I would be surprised if they do. Let’s hear their follow ups. Starting let with Kristine.

[01:06:04] Kristine: The biggest takeout of all of it for me was that I can help others, and not necessarily solve their problems, but be there to support them in other ways other than money. And also David and I are number one always when it comes to our finances and our team so that we always focus on each other’s goals and what we want to build versus going off and doing our own thing.

[01:06:37] So David and I have sat down, looked at our finances, and have already started setting towards our goal. So we appreciate you giving us that little kick in the butt that we needed, and we look forward to meeting those goals that you helped us to see clear. 

[01:06:54] Ramit: Let’s move on now to David’s follow up.

[01:06:57] David: One of the things that I learned that I think is going to be most impactful to me and my wife and our family is that this is not going to be an easy track. This is going to be something that we’re going to have to put some serious effort into. Changing our habits, it’s going to be tough, but I know after we’ve talked, that this is important to us, and we do intend to make it a priority.

[01:07:25] I think that was our biggest thing. We would always talk about doing it and never actually writing it down, never making it a goal. We’re going to be moving forward with doing better for us, me and her specifically. But again, thank you so much. 

[01:07:40] Ramit: I appreciate their follow-ups, but it is notable that I didn’t get any specifics about what they’re going to change. Kristine and David, I wish you the best and I want to thank you for coming on here and discussing your finances with me.