Episode #146: “I'm jealous when I see friends' vacations on Instagram”

Erik is 44 and Andrea is 43. They’re trying to determine what to do with a bump in income. Andrea wants to save for college tuition, because that’s what her parents did. Erik’s did not, so he’d rather use it elsewhere. Can they overcome their inherited patterns and come together on a shared vision?

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Show Transcript

Download the full transcript PDF.

[00:00:05] Andrea: We never get around to the dreaming, vision casting as much. We just talk about the hard stuff.

[00:00:12] Erik: I think we used to talk about the good stuff, even when we had way, way more debt than we do now.

[00:00:18] Andrea: When I think about money, I am afraid of not having enough. I feel like it’s never going to be enough. I don’t know that there will be a time when I say, oh, I feel secure.

[00:00:26] Ramit: What do you say to your husband about money? What are the most common phrases you say to him?

[00:00:32] Andrea: We can’t afford it. We need to make more money.

[00:00:35] Erik: Maybe you need to make more money.

[00:00:37] Ramit: And what do you say to yourself?

[00:00:40] Andrea: I say to myself, if you stop being hypervigilant about money, it’s all going to go to shit. There’s something wrong with you.


[00:00:49] Ramit: Meet Erik and Andrea. Erik’s 44. Andrea’s 43, and I really love this episode because you’re going to see how many of our worries and fears about money are unexamined. How many of us worry if we’ll have enough, or if our kids will have enough to pay for college? Those worries are real. But have you ever tried to actually answer the question?

[00:01:13] For most of my guests, they will spend decades worrying about money, but they haven’t even spent a few minutes trying to find out when their debt will be paid off or if they can afford to retire.

[00:01:26] Erik and Andrea are going to walk us through a beautiful example of how you can go your whole lives worrying about money, but I think there’s a different way, a different way you can choose that lets you feel confident about money by becoming competent.

[00:01:42] Let’s get started with Andrea and Erik.


[00:01:45] Erik: We were sitting in our TV room. I think the kids had just went up for bed. So Andrea had a raise going into the new year, and one of the things that’s come up is putting money away. We have three kids. One of our kids is in eighth grade, and one of Andrea’s things is she wants to start putting money away for the kids’ college, and we’re not on the same page about that at all.

[00:02:13] And it was a reoccurring conversation, but it really came up again heavy. I think at the time we were sitting on separate couches. We have two couches that make a little corner in our room. And I don’t know, I just felt the distance because we’re so different when it comes to that stuff.

[00:02:33] Ramit: Let’s talk about it. So what was the number of the raise? Andrea, in dollar values, how much of a raise did you get?

[00:02:40] Andrea: It’s about $400 a month.

[00:02:43] Ramit: $400 a month. Okay. right, cool. Congratulations.

[00:02:47] Andrea: Thanks.

[00:02:48] Ramit: And so did you bring up the topic of the raise and where you wanted to put the money?

[00:02:53] Andrea: Mm-hmm. I did. I said I want to take my raise, and I want to funnel it into a college savings fund. I said, I don’t want to put it in our savings account with our other money. I want it to go into a different account that’s dedicated to saving for college.

[00:03:09] Ramit: So that’s how you started the conversation, Andrea, no preamble?

[00:03:15] Andrea: No.

[00:03:15] Ramit: What do you think, babe? I love you.

[00:03:18] Andrea: No, because I was already mad because we had already talked about this and Erik had said, they can figure it out. Nobody paid for my college, and I was fine. And I said, we’re still paying off your college loans to this day. We’re in our mid-40s. We still have 30 grand paying off in your college debt.

[00:03:37] My parents paid for my whole college. Erik’s mom couldn’t. It is no shame on her. She was a good person, but she couldn’t help him. And Erik’s like, well, they’re going to be fine. They’re going to figure it out.

[00:03:49] Ramit: All right, so this has been a heated topic already. So you came in guns blazing. I’m getting this money, and I want to put it away for our eighth-grade son, right?

[00:03:59] Andrea: Yeah.

[00:04:00] Ramit: All right. And what do you remember his reaction being?

[00:04:05] Andrea: I think he immediately turned cold.

[00:04:08] Ramit: Money and I want to put it away for our eighth-grade son, right?

[00:04:14] Andrea: Yeah.

[00:04:14] Ramit: All right. And what do you remember his reaction being?

[00:04:20] Andrea: I think he immediately turned cold. In conversations with Erik, I typically feel very unsafe because he shows little to no concern about the future, and he’s always been like that. So he doesn’t think a lot about tomorrow. He just thinks about what feels good right now.

[00:04:39] Ramit: Okay. And just a question for you. Is it to worry about the future, or is it to properly plan for the future?

[00:04:46] Andrea: They’ve been synonymous for me for a long time.

[00:04:50] Ramit: Do you think that they are inherently synonymous?

[00:04:52] Andrea: No. But that results in me feeling really anxious and upset every time we talk about money.

[00:04:59] Ramit: Hence, starting the conversation fairly aggressively.

[00:05:05] Andrea: Yes.

[00:05:05] Ramit: Do you recognize that that was a bit of an aggressive way to start the money conversation?

[00:05:09] Andrea: Yes. But I didn’t feel bad about it because I already was feeling so angry. I just felt like I needed to just say, hey, throw down a gauntlet. This is what we’re going to do.

[00:05:22] Ramit: Very righteous.

[00:05:23] Andrea: Very self-righteous.

[00:05:24] Ramit: This is how going to be.

[00:05:24] Andrea: Very self-righteous.

[00:05:25] Ramit: This is how going to be. And, in fact, no matter what he says, that’s actually going to fuel my anger and make me even more angry.

[00:05:33] Andrea: Yes. If he disagrees with me, I will get even more angry.

[00:05:36] Ramit: Okay. So in your mind, saving for your son’s college fund is, a, the right answer.

[00:05:43] Andrea: Yes.

[00:05:44] Ramit: Okay. That’s based on the math?

[00:05:47] Andrea: I think it’s based on that’s what my parents did for me. I didn’t have to worry about where’s the money going to come from. They just paid for it because they had saved over the years.

[00:06:01] I don’t agree with a lot of my parents’ decisions, so across the board, I don’t try to emulate them. But in this situation, when I think about my child’s future, I would rather tell him, don’t go to college, go to trade school. Because I don’t want him to walk away with 100 grand of debt.

[00:06:21] Ramit: Okay. So your decision, would you care to restate your answer? How do you know that you are right about taking your money and putting it away?

[00:06:33] Andrea: It seems to be the responsible thing to do for my child so he won’t have to worry about his future and he won’t be saddled with a lot of debt.

[00:06:43] Ramit: Okay. All right, Erik, what do you remember happened next in that conversation?

[00:06:50] Erik: In the most recent conversation, I just felt resigned. She came in a little hot, which isn’t her typical posture. On paper, we put down $350 a month, and I’m like, well, that’s not a huge amount. I don’t want to argue about it. I’m over that argument. It doesn’t feel like we’re going to get anywhere different on, so I just kind of felt resigned.

[00:07:17] Ramit: And is there any element of, she got the raise. She obviously is working hard, being recognized at work, therefore she should be able to make the decision, or are your finances decided jointly?

[00:07:32] Erik: There was a little of that in this instance, but for the most part, we have always and do consider our incomes one, which, what she makes what I make, we’re in it together.

[00:07:45] Ramit: All right, so how’d you end up resolving this?

[00:07:50] Erik: We have a line item in the conscious spending plan for the kids’ college fund.

[00:07:54] Andrea: Yeah, it’s true. That’s what we landed on. Yeah. But I think we just know that we’re so different fundamentally when it comes to money that we don’t hope for perfect harmony. It’s not going to happen.


[00:08:10] Ramit: I asked Andrea, how do you know if it’s the right decision to save for your son’s college? And she basically said, “Because that’s what my parents did.” This is the life of most Americans. What I am begging for you to do is to actually learn how to make these decisions the right way, to take even 15 minutes and run a few numbers, to read a single book on personal finance like I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

[00:08:37] I’m begging you to take this seriously. This is your rich life. What could be more serious? Making impulsive decisions about multi-hundred thousand dollars decisions is how you end up with no income, no investments, living solely off Social Security, the exact thing that my guests often worry about. What they don’t realize is they have the power to craft their own future, and you can’t do that just blindly following what your parents did.

[00:09:06] We’ll be right back.

[00:09:09] Okay, now back to Andrea and Erik.  


[00:09:11] Ramit: What was the worst dish your parents ever cooked for you?

[00:09:13] Andrea: Okay. So my mom made this scalloped potato casserole with cut up hot dogs and green beans in it.

[00:09:19] Ramit: This is disgusting.

[00:09:21] Andrea: I grew up in the Midwest, and that’s just–

[00:09:22] Ramit: I knew it.

[00:09:23] Erik: Yeah. Welcome to the Midwest.

[00:09:24] Ramit: When you said the word casserole, green beans, and then you threw in hotdog, I’m like, this is like Midwest as it comes.

[00:09:31] Andrea: Yes.

[00:09:31] Ramit: Now, do you make the same thing for your kids?

[00:09:35] Andrea: No.

[00:09:35] Ramit: Why not?

[00:09:36] Andrea: Never. I never even thought about it.

[00:09:39] Ramit: Isn’t it, a, right to do what your parents did for you?

[00:09:46] Andrea: I see where you’re going with this.


[00:09:47] Ramit: I just had to show Andrea how following what your parents did with money doesn’t automatically make it the right decision. And the best way to illustrate that was with a disgusting casserole meal with green beans and hot dogs. Please, everybody listening to this and watching this on YouTube, do not write me to tell me how it’s actually good, and you just have to use the right spices like your mom did. Black pepper is not a real spice. Send your emails, your angry furious emails to culinary feedback that Ramit will never read at iwillteachyoutoberich.com.


[00:10:20] Ramit: How long have you been married for?

[00:10:22] Andrea: Almost 16 years.

[00:10:24] Ramit: Oh, congratulations.

[00:10:26] Erik: Thank you.

[00:10:26] Andrea: Thank you.

[00:10:27] Ramit: What’s your wisdom for couples who want to have a long marriage?

[00:10:31] Erik: We’ve actually talked about this. Have fun together. Yeah, I think in the past, we had regular date nights. We would try to get out and do things together. It’s often been work trips for Andrea or for me, and we’ve tagged on some us time, and we can leave the kids behind. I have really fond memories of those trips when we get to get away and spend some time together, even if there’s work mixed in.

[00:10:59] Ramit: When was the last time you took one of those trips?

[00:11:02] Erik: Together? Probably been a year and a half.

[00:11:06] Ramit: Okay.

[00:11:07] Erik: Or more. Maybe two years.

[00:11:10] Andrea: We were trying to reinstitute this date on Thursday night. We just got back from the date and Erik was like, I did not have fun. And I was like, you didn’t have fun on our date? He’s like, no. We just talked about heavy things the whole time. We just talked about money the whole time.

[00:11:25] I want to have fun with you. And I said, well, our lives don’t have any fun in them, babe. We don’t have fun. And so then we just looked at each other like, what is happening? Why don’t we have any space for fun in our lives? Which I think a lot of that for me is my fears about money prevent me from the freedom of, hey, let’s take a trip, or, hey, let’s go out for this really nice dinner. Because, in the back of my mind, I’m always like, oh crap. We’re going to pay for this later.

[00:11:59] Ramit: Can you give me the full sentence on that? When I think about money, I am afraid of– finish the sentence for me.

[00:12:09] Andrea: When I think about money, I am afraid of not having enough.

[00:12:13] Ramit: What is enough?

[00:12:19] Andrea: I don’t know. I feel like it’s never going to be enough, which is what tells me that the problem is me. I have the scarcity mindset of, I’m always going to need more. I don’t know that there will be a time when I say, oh, I feel secure.

[00:12:37] Ramit: What do you say to your husband about money? What are the most common phrases you say to him?

[00:12:45] Andrea: We can’t afford it.

[00:12:47] Ramit: Okay. What else?

[00:12:49] Andrea: We need to make more money.

[00:12:51] Ramit: Uh-huh.

[00:12:53] Erik: Maybe you need to make more money is the–

[00:12:56] Ramit: Is that true? Andrea?

[00:12:59] Andrea: Yes. I have a lot of feelings about money, but they’re not based on anything like empirical evidence. It’s just based on, well, that’s not enough, and we need to have more.

[00:13:12] Ramit: And what do you say to yourself?

[00:13:16] Andrea: If you stop being hypervigilant about money, it’s all going to go to shit.

[00:13:22] Ramit: Good. What else?

[00:13:24] Andrea: And there’s something wrong with you.

[00:13:36] Ramit: Like what?

[00:13:39] Andrea: There’s something wrong with you that you’re in your mid-40s and you don’t have the kind of financial security that your friends have. You aren’t taking the trips that your friends take. You don’t have the kind of cars that your friends have, and you worry about money constantly.

[00:13:57] Ramit: What kind of cars do they have, the one that sticks in your brain?

[00:14:02] Andrea: I’m not even a car person, but we have these dumpy cars. So my friend just got a brand new brand new Toyota Sienna, which is the car that I drive, but it is the new model and it is super nice. It’s loaded.

[00:14:18] Ramit: Okay. How old is your model?

[00:14:21] Andrea: It’s a 2011.

[00:14:22] Ramit: Okay, so 13 years old, and theirs is new. And the trips, can you remember, are you sitting on your couch and you see a friend on vacation on Instagram? Is that how you experienced that?

[00:14:36] Andrea: Yes, a lot of the time. Or my best friend, they just have more money to spend, and they go on a ton of trips. And I’ve even told her, I said, I feel jealous of the fact that you get to go on these trips.

[00:14:53] Ramit: You said that.

[00:14:54] Andrea: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:55] Ramit: How did she respond?

[00:14:57] Andrea: I think I apologized because I could tell that my jealousy was leaking out, and I think I had made a comment to her, like, I’ve never met anybody who takes as many trips as you. And I caught myself and I said, that’s just straight up envy. So I apologized to her about that.

[00:15:20] Ramit: You ever bring up trips at home?

[00:15:22] Andrea: Yeah, we talk about it a lot.

[00:15:24] Ramit: What do you say?

[00:15:25] Andrea: Most recently I said, I want to go on an Alaskan cruise. And I said, but when I looked up how much Alaskan cruises cost for a family of five, I was like, probably not going to happen. Yeah.

[00:15:36] Ramit: Did you actually say probably not going to happen out loud?

[00:15:40] Andrea: I might have said it through my facial expression. I don’t think I actually said it out loud.

[00:15:45] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:15:45] Andrea: But I did put it down when I was writing my out my rich life. I wrote, Alaskan cruise.

[00:15:54] Ramit: Okay.

[00:15:54] Andrea: So I’m holding onto it still.

[00:15:56] Ramit: It’s interesting. Whether out loud or to yourself, you said probably not going to happen. Do you believe that, that it’s probably not going to happen?

[00:16:06] Andrea: Yes.

[00:16:06] Ramit: Because?

[00:16:10] Andrea: I think the past predicts the future.

[00:16:14] Ramit: Meaning, you haven’t been able to save or accumulate enough money, so it’s unlikely you will change in the future.

[00:16:20] Andrea: That’s right.

[00:16:21] Ramit: Have you been diligent about your finances in the past? I mean, here’s what you wrote in your application. This was in the first two lines. “We have spurts that trying to get on the same page, get on a budget, and have a conscious spending plan, but then we get tired, or busy, or just forget about it. Then a month later, we’re back to the usual.

[00:16:45] Erik: Exactly.

[00:16:46] Andrea: Yeah.

[00:16:47] Erik: I’ve always been super meticulous about tracking the money I have.

[00:16:51] Ramit: Uh-huh.

[00:16:52] Erik: And so when we got married, I was already meticulously tracking the money I had. It rolled over into me tracking the money we had. And then often when it wasn’t much, Andrea would just get anxious about it, so she would step back and just be like, yeah, you do that because then it would alleviate her anxiety for a short period.

[00:17:13] Ramit: Okay. Are you still meticulous about tracking?

[00:17:16] Erik: Mm-hmm.

[00:17:17] Ramit: Okay. And does it work?

[00:17:26] Erik: It works okay.

[00:17:30] Andrea: When I was single, I was very diligent. I saved a lot. And then when Erik and I got married, we got into a ton of debt and really struggled to pay that off. We started having kids right away, not purposefully, but we’d only been married a year when we had our first kid, so we never got on our feet financially.

[00:17:51] Erik ended up losing his job right after we got married, so it’s just been super rough. Our whole marriage has been rough, and so it’s hard for me to have an imagination for what life looks like when money is not an issue.


[00:18:03] Ramit: What I hear is Andrea being fearful of money, worried about money, and even envious about money. And what I also notice is these are all feelings, but she and Erik haven’t really taken effective action to change their situation. Remember what I say. People with problems love to talk about their problems.

[00:18:24] And people who feel bad about money, love to talk about how they feel bad. But very few of them are willing to take specific steps to change their financial situation. Emotions matter. Feelings are real, but your personal finances are not going to change with your feelings alone. You need automation, investments, calculations, all the things I teach in my book and my coaching program.

[00:18:49] We’ll be right back after this.

[00:18:51] Let’s get back to the show.

[00:18:53] You can hear Andrea and Erik going the rest of their lives feeling bad, not enough, can’t afford it, you don’t earn enough. What a dismal life. I wonder where all of this came from. That’s what I started asking about next.


[00:19:09] Andrea: My parents worried about money constantly. They did not spend money ever.

[00:19:14] Ramit: Telling me two Mid-western parents were worried about money and passed that down to their daughter?

[00:19:21] Andrea: Yes.

[00:19:23] Ramit: Everybody who comes for me about Mid-western culture, money culture, don’t. Just stop. We’re seeing yet another example. Okay, just a couple questions about this Mid-western upbringing. Parents didn’t talk about money very much in front of you because money is for adults, not for kids. True or false?

[00:19:43] Andrea: True.

[00:19:44] Ramit: Your parents own their house. They did a few things around the house. Probably your dad did it. Maybe your mom. I’m talking about renovations, stuff like that, repairs. He did it himself. He was very proud of it. True or false?

[00:19:57] Andrea: True.

[00:19:58] Ramit: Hmm.

[00:19:59] Andrea: You have to save. You have to save. You have to save. And it’s never enough.

[00:20:11] Ramit: What did they say exactly that made you feel that?

[00:20:14] Andrea: Can I tell you something I observed?

[00:20:16] Ramit: Please.

[00:20:17] Andrea: When we would go to visit my grandparents, which is what we did once a year, that was our vacation, my mom, she had a notepad, and every time we stopped for gas and we stopped at Burger King to get a fish filet, she used coupons.

[00:20:33] And then she would take out her notepad and write down exactly how much we spent. There was always a running tab. There was no sense of freedom, like, we’re just going to go have a good time. It felt constrained by over responsibility, if that makes sense.

[00:20:54] Ramit: What did you take away from her pulling that notepad out and writing down the fish purchase?

[00:21:02] Andrea: I, in my young mind, thought, that’s how you have to do it.

[00:21:09] Ramit: When did things get tough in your family?

[00:21:12] Andrea: So my dad lost his job when I was in high school. He was a chemical engineer. He lost his job. He didn’t really work again for the next decade. He ended up going back to school to be a teacher, and that didn’t work out. He was a car mechanic out of our garage for a while. That didn’t really work out.

[00:21:28] My mom was working. This is just a little caveat. My dad, the people that he worked for, somehow they ended up scamming him. They reported his salary as twice what it was, and they ended up scamming him out of all this money. So I remember playing in the background. That was the narrative of scary, bad things or will happen to you with money.

[00:21:53] Ramit: So therefore you need to?

[00:21:57] Andrea: Be hypervigilant, write everything down.

[00:22:01] Ramit: Well, I’m sorry to hear about dad losing his job. And you were what, a young teenager at the time.

[00:22:09] Andrea: I was 17. Self-deprivation became the way I kept myself safe. So if I didn’t spend the money, I somehow felt powerful and in control. If I spent the money, it was like I was suddenly vulnerable.

[00:22:25] Ramit: What does this sound as you say it out loud? What other parts of life have you heard people talk like this? Deprivation as a virtue.

[00:22:38] Andrea: Well, besides Mid-western culture, I think a lot of religious– yeah, I don’t know what else other than that.

[00:22:46] Ramit: You’re nailing it. Midwestern culture, totally right. I hear this all the time. Some religions, eating disorders. Listen, sometimes we do need to cut back on certain things. There’s no doubt about that. If we want to save more for retirement, maybe we can’t go out to eat as much.

[00:23:05] That makes perfect sense. Hey, if we’ve got coupons and we’re going to go out to eat, okay. Why not? Fine. But it can go too far. And in fact, you then redefine that self-restriction as a virtue. Have you continued doing that until today, age 43?

[00:23:30] Andrea: Yeah. I can’t even go to the grocery store because I feel so anxious about spending over $100.

[00:23:37] Ramit: Well, you do spend over $100 because I have your CSP, so this is the worst of all worlds. You feel horrible and you still do it anyway.

[00:23:45] Andrea: Yeah.

[00:23:46] Ramit: So where did your mom learn to be scarce with money? Where’d she learn that from?

[00:23:51] Andrea: Oh, that was from her parents. These were my paternal grandparents

[00:23:55] Ramit: Ah.

[00:23:56] Andrea: That we went to visit.

[00:23:58] Ramit: Got it. So you learned the scarcity from your mom, who learned it from her mom. How many generations do you think it goes back?

[00:24:04] Andrea: At least back three or four generations, at least back to the Great Depression.

[00:24:10] Ramit: Definitely.

[00:24:11] Andrea: Probably farther.

[00:24:12] Ramit: And of your three kids, I know you have an eighth-grade son. What are the ages of the other two, and what’s the gender?

[00:24:19] Andrea: We have a sixth-grade daughter and a third-grade boy.

[00:24:23] Ramit: Okay. If I talk to your sixth-grade daughter right now and I asked her, what do you feel about money today? What would she say?

[00:24:33] Andrea: It’s a very sad to me, she would say, we can’t afford it.


[00:24:40] Ramit: Parents, if you don’t spend time searching out your invisible scripts, interrogating your invisible scripts, and working on improving your invisible scripts, you will pass along your parents’ invisible scripts with money right to your kids. If you’re scarce with money, you’re currently doing 20 unconscious things right now today that your kids are picking up on.

[00:25:05] You’re saying, we can’t afford it. You’re wincing whenever they bring up taking a school trip. You’re rolling your eyes when they talk about another family friend’s vacation.  We spend a ton of time working on helping our kids have a healthy relationship with food. I want you to start developing your own healthy relationship with money and then pass those lessons onto your kids.


[00:25:27] Ramit: If I asked, when does mom put herself first, what would she say?

[00:25:33] Andrea: She’d probably say, I can’t think of a time that she did.

[00:25:39] Ramit: Okay, let’s fast forward. Does she put herself first?

[00:25:49] Andrea: No. She would potentially follow in my footsteps because I may have unwittingly communicated to her that it’s selfish to put yourself first.

[00:26:06] Ramit: What do you want her to be saying and doing when she’s 30 years old?

[00:26:10] Andrea: It’s not selfish to enjoy your life. It’s not selfish to ask for what you want. It’s not selfish to invest in yourself or however you want to say, give yourselves the things that you want and deserve.

[00:26:31] Ramit: Hmm. It’s passing on these invisible scripts generationally.

[00:26:40] Andrea: Yes.

[00:26:42] Ramit: Sometimes our parents taught us something, and they did their best, but they didn’t have access to the type of information you do. They certainly didn’t have podcasts they could go on and all these books on Kindle. They did their best and they passed on certain messages.

[00:26:54] The difference is that you two live in an abundance of information, and you actually have the ability to decide which of these messages you want to continue passing along. Some of them are very good, some of them, like that disgusting casserole, you do not want to pass on.

[00:27:15] The funny thing is you know that. You knew that casserole, you’re like, oh, it’s never occurred to me to make that, but somehow your sixth-grade daughter has absorbed the phrase, we can’t afford it. She’s only in sixth grade.

[00:27:29] Andrea: I hate it. I hate it so much. I’m embarrassed about it.

[00:27:34] Erik: For me, I grew up single-parent home pretty poor. My mom worked two or three jobs a lot of times when I was growing up. I don’t know exactly precisely where it came from, but I just always got the message, like, if you have it, then you spend it. And when you don’t have it, you clamp down.

[00:27:52] Ramit: If you have it, you spend it.

[00:27:55] Erik: And if you don’t have it, then you just clamp down and you eat ramen noodles for the month, or something like that.

[00:28:00] Ramit: Would you describe your family as poor?

[00:28:03] Erik: Yeah, growing up. And I had a job out of college that was a little bit feast or famine. When I had good months, I lived well.

[00:28:13] Ramit: What’d you do?

[00:28:14] Erik: Oh yeah. I would go out with my friends. I would eat wherever I wanted. I like nice things. So I’d buy a new pair of shoes or spend a pair of jeans, or when I had it, I would spend it, and then months I didn’t have it, I was like, I was okay with that too, because I just knew those months, I was eating ramen that month. I like ramen.

[00:28:36] Ramit: Are you okay to do feast or famine now?

[00:28:41] Erik: No, I’m not.

[00:28:44] Ramit: Are you seeing Andrea’s face, by the way?

[00:28:47] Erik: No, I wasn’t watching.

[00:28:48] Ramit: Andrea, what were you just doing when I asked that question?

[00:28:50] Andrea: Raising my eyebrows because I do think that Erik has a very high tolerance, I think an abnormally high tolerance for financial insecurity.

[00:29:08] Ramit: Would you agree, Erik?

[00:29:09] Erik: Yeah, absolutely. I just can’t foresee a scenario where we would wind up in a famine where we just wouldn’t have money to pay the bills, or something like that. I’m just not worried about that. No doubt we’ve had lots of times when things are tight and we’ve had seasons where we’ve lived on credit cards, but we’ve never missed a payment.

[00:29:32] Ramit: A minimum payment?

[00:29:34] Erik: Yeah, yeah.

[00:29:35] Ramit: Are you okay with that, Erik?

[00:29:36] Erik: There have been seasons where that was what we could do. And as long as we were doing that, I had a sense, you know what, it’s going to be all right. This tight time is not going to last forever. We’ll get through this. It’ll be fine.

[00:29:51] Ramit: How did you know when you were paying the minimums on your credit cards that it was going to be okay?

[00:30:00] Erik: It just always has been. I’ve always gotten through those times, and I’m a person of faith, so I have a trust, hopefully not a trust I want to take advantage of, but I have a trust that I think God’s going to provide for us. Honestly, my story is I feel like He has. That kind of faith or trust or just confidence in the future is something I don’t want to take advantage of.

[00:30:29] So I think I have to participate. I have to do the work. I have to have a goal. I have to take advantage of opportunities. I’ll always be able to find something and figure it out. That’s one of the things I’ve learned in our relationship. Not to say, although, it’s constantly in my mind.

[00:30:46] Ramit: Figure it out.

[00:30:47] Erik: Yeah, we’ll figure it out. It’ll be fine.


[00:30:49] Ramit: Here we have it. Andrea is a worrier, and Erik is a believer. Andrea loves to worry. It’s become a habit to her, even something that comforts her. Erik, on the other hand, waves away the worries. It’ll be fine. We’ll be okay. These are common phrases, especially from men who see their role as a provider or someone to take away their partner’s worries.

[00:31:15] It’s also common to hear from people who grew up poor. You’ll notice, for example, his comparison to famine and feast, and when he says, if you have money, spend it and also his description of, we’ve had times where we made minimum payments, but we were fine.

[00:31:32] So not only do we have two people with vastly different views on money, they’ve never really talked about what their views are, and they’ve never come up with a vision of their life that fits them together. What I really needed right now was for Andrea to get specific about what she wants, and I wanted to see if she could ever talk about money without worrying about it.


[00:31:55] Andrea: In contrast with him, I sound like the biggest buzzkill in the whole world because Erik’s like, we’re going to figure it out. Everything’s going to be okay. We’re going to work through this. I continually say, no, that’s not good enough and we need to do more. And Erik at times will just be so irritated with me because I keep putting these kind of expectations on him that he’s just like, oh, oh. He doesn’t want that.

[00:32:26] Ramit: Do you know what you would want?

[00:32:28] Andrea: Right now, what I would say, and I’ve said this to Erik before, is that I would like him to get another job, not just with the one he has and get another one, but an additional one because I feel like he has the time and the energy to do it. I just want to see him making what I personally consider the same amount of effort that I am making. I would like to have $10,000 a year to go on trips.

[00:33:00] Ramit: Yeah. Where’s the vacation that’s coming to your mind?

[00:33:03] Andrea: The Alaskan cruise.

[00:33:05] Ramit: Beautiful. What do you see?

[00:33:07] Andrea: I see us on the deck of a huge ship, and we’re just looking at this crazy beautiful landscape with bears, and moose, and all kinds of wildlife.

[00:33:22] Ramit: I love that.

[00:33:23] Andrea: I would like to have a 401K and be on track by the time I’m 67. I think you’re supposed to have 10 times your current income. I would want to be on track towards that.

[00:33:35] Ramit: Okay.

[00:33:36] Andrea: I would want to have a three-month emergency fund.

[00:33:40] Ramit: Okay.

[00:33:41] Andrea: Three- to six-month emergency fund. I would guilt-free for Erik and I to each have fun money that we can spend every month. Right now, we just don’t have that.

[00:33:52] Ramit: Okay. How much?

[00:33:53] Andrea: 200 bucks.

[00:33:54] Ramit: 200 bucks a month. All right. Fine. What else?

[00:33:57] Andrea: I would like to be able to help my children, $5,000 a year per child.

[00:34:04] Ramit: That’s $15,000 a year for four years, so 60k.

[00:34:07] Andrea: Mm-hmm.

[00:34:08] Ramit: What if they want to go to grad school?

[00:34:09] Andrea: I had never considered that actually. I would really like to be able to help other people pay off their debt.

[00:34:20] Ramit: Hold on. Hold on a second. I love that. But don’t you two have a considerable amount of debt right now?

[00:34:31] Andrea: Yes, we do. I was thinking ideal scenario. I would want to have enough money that not only am I personally out of debt, but that I could help other people get there too.

[00:34:43] Ramit: Why don’t we just focus on ourselves for right now? Huh?

[00:34:47] Andrea: So I told you we’ve been in a lot of debt over the years, and I heard, this was probably five years ago, that there was a church or an intentional community where they paid off each other’s debts. So they didn’t necessarily just pay off their own debt. They helped each other to be debt-free. Something about that stuck.

[00:35:17] Ramit: I bet it did. What about it stuck with you?

[00:35:20] Andrea: Feeling like you have somebody on your side, somebody on your team, that you’re not all alone, that you’re not drowning. Somebody will come alongside of you and help you.

[00:35:33] Ramit: That was a very, very perceptive answer. Have you both ever been debt free?

[00:35:39] Andrea: I was before I was married to Erik.

[00:35:43] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Erik, how about you?

[00:35:51] Erik: No. I remember I played tennis in college and I got my first credit card.

[00:35:59] Ramit: What did you get? Bank of America?

[00:36:01] Erik: Yes, it was Bank of America. And we would go on these big tournaments, especially for spring break, and I would rack– I think had 100,000-dollar limit. That’s huge, and just rack it up. So since college I probably always had debt.

[00:36:18] Ramit: It’s interesting. You’ve learned to live with debt, Erik. It’s like someone learning to live with some pain in their leg. After a while, they’re just like, oh yeah, this is life. I can’t remember what life was like before it. And your wife who’s been in debt for 16 years, but before then, has this window of time, Andrea, where there was no debt, and even though you were still worried about money, you had no debt, does it almost seem like paradise, those first few years of not having debt?

[00:36:53] Andrea: Yeah, I can barely remember what it even feels like. I don’t want to carry balances on our credit cards. I don’t want to be in debt anymore.

[00:37:01] Ramit: Okay. What do you want to do more? Do you want to be debt-free, or do you want to help your kids with college?

[00:37:08] Andrea: Oh, geez. That feels impossible to answer. I think if you held a gun to my head, I would probably say I’d rather be debt-free.

[00:37:22] Ramit: It’s okay if your kids listen to this. Say that I want to prioritize being debt-free. It means that I’m not a good mom?

[00:37:29] Andrea: I think it just means that I would be prioritizing myself. I typically prioritize what’s best for others, especially my family. I try to think about what’s best for the family. It works for me a little bit for my ego to know that I can anticipate their needs and I can meet their needs and that they don’t have to they don’t have to struggle.

[00:38:00] Ramit: All right. Erik, what do you want? We heard a lot of what Andrea would want. What about you? You ever thought about it?

[00:38:08] Erik: Yeah. I just want to not worry about it.


[00:38:11] Ramit: For anyone keeping track at home, here’s what Andrea wants. She wants Erik to get a second job and to put in more effort. She wants $10,000 a year to go on trips, a 401k at 10 times the current income, a three-month emergency fund, a guilt-free spending account of $200 a month each, a college fund, a $5,000 a year times three kids is $15,000 a year, times four years, $60,000.

[00:38:36] She wants to be debt-free. She wants to help other people with their debt. Now, I got to say, I do love the specificity. And you can see what happens when you spend decades worrying about money. It narrows your field of vision to negative feelings about money, but you literally don’t spend 10 minutes working on a plan to see what’s possible.

[00:39:01] In a way, worrying becomes a protective cocoon against reality. It’s easier to worry about what might happen than to actually look at what is going to happen. Incidentally, what does Erik want? He just wants to not worry about it.


[00:39:19] Ramit: Andrea wants an Alaskan cruise.

[00:39:21] Erik: Yeah.

[00:39:22] Ramit: That’s exciting. What do you want?

[00:39:25] Erik: I want to travel. I want to go to Europe, and travel, and see cathedrals, and vineyards. That’s one of the things I haven’t ever done, is traveled internationally much. And I want to do that. I want us to be able to take a vacation to the beach and not have to argue over the $100 extra for the nicer Airbnb. I’d love to do that at least once a year, if not twice.

[00:39:49] Ramit: Okay, great. Anything about debt in there? Anything about savings, anything like that? If no, that’s okay. Just tell me.

[00:39:56] Erik: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Specifically in our relationship, in our family. And honestly, when I turned 40 was probably the first time I ever felt anxiety about money because I realized just one of those moments you’re like, oh, we don’t have any retirement. We haven’t been able to think forward at all.

[00:40:17] And so since 40, I read a half a dozen books on finance and all those kinds of things and try to figure it out, and we just didn’t have the money at the time to go forward with some of that, but I think that’s why debt didn’t pop up in the list I made because I feel like, oh, we’re on our way with that. I’m not worried about that, but maybe that’s a pattern.

[00:40:43] Ramit: I think so.

[00:40:45] Erik: I don’t foresee ever retiring. I love what I do, and so I could see myself to some extent doing it forever, but when our kids are out of the house, I want us to be able to travel together, and I want us to be able to do what we want. It revolves around freedom. I think a lot of the things I would say specifically revolve around freedom to go and do.

[00:41:10] Ramit: Out of curiosity, Erik, how would you travel when you’re both empty nesters, if, as you put it, you still have your job because you want to keep working for a long time? How would you do that?

[00:41:20] Erik: I do coaching, spiritual coaching, spiritual direction for pastors, nonprofit leaders, ministry leaders. So it’s really flexible. I can work wherever. I love it.

[00:41:33] Ramit: All right, so you can do that lifestyle wise. Okay, great. And Andrea, what about you? Would you be able to travel in the next few years or later?

[00:41:45] Andrea: Not with what I’m doing right now. I’m a director of communications for an Anglican diocese. My goal in my life is to become a novelist. So if I ever was able to realize that dream, then yes, I would be able to travel. I’d be able to write from anywhere.

[00:42:02] Ramit: What about if not?

[00:42:03] Andrea: I guess just take my three weeks of vacation a year and we would go somewhere together.

[00:42:10] Ramit: Would you be okay with that?

[00:42:13] Andrea: I’d be okay with that.

[00:42:14] Erik: There’s a little town on the coast of Italy that a friend of mine, he traveled the world for a year and lived in, I think it’s Positano, Italy, for a month and a half. And I just remember seeing those pictures and being like, I’m going to go there one day and get a little villa on the side of a mountain, drink wine, just see the sights. I could imagine being on a little patio with Andrea as we look over the coast and having a glass of wine and having fun and laughing.

[00:42:52] Ramit: I love that. And I love Andrea’s reaction too here. Big smile over there. All right. Did two ever talk like this about money?

[00:42:59] Andrea: We never get around to the dreaming, vision casting as much. We just talk about the hard stuff.

[00:43:07] Ramit: Hmm. We never get around to the good stuff. We just stay stuck on the bad stuff. Hmm.

[00:43:14] Erik: I think we used to talk about the good stuff, even when we had way, way more debt than we do now, I think we would dream a little then.

[00:43:22] Ramit: So what happened?

[00:43:24] Erik: I think we just have gotten a little worn down.


[00:43:26] Ramit: I think that’s a really honest description of living in America today for a lot of people. You struggle to make it with expensive housing and healthcare prices, and after years of doing this, you just feel worn down. And this is one reason that I think everyone should experience at least one moment of awe every year.

[00:43:46] Now, it could be a beautiful sunset in a national park, could be a glamorous hotel with incredible food, but we need a way to shake us out of our day-to-day, and to inspire us to think bigger.

[00:43:58] Let’s pause for a quick message from our sponsors.

[00:44:02] Let’s get into the numbers. I’m going to do a deep dive this week, and you can follow along visually on YouTube. Let me give you the quick numbers right here. Assets, $689,000; investments, $49,000; savings, $3,600; debt, $610,000. That includes a mortgage, student loans at 2.4%, and IRS taxes owed, which are two to 4% interest rate.

[00:44:27] Their net worth is $132,000. Their combined income is $147,000. And if we drill down further, we find some interesting signs. Their fixed costs are 63%. Housing is 28%. Monthly loan payments, $569. Car payments are $0. Very nice. Family mental health is $580, which includes marriage counseling and children’s counseling. Love that. Now, let’s hear some of the details beneath these numbers.


[00:44:57] Ramit: $132,000 net worth in your early 40s. How do you feel about that, Andrea?

[00:45:01] Andrea: I don’t feel great about it.

[00:45:05] Ramit: Is there a number that you would feel great about?

[00:45:09] Andrea: Five to 700,000, I would feel good about that.

[00:45:12] Ramit: Think so?

[00:45:14] Andrea: I don’t know. That seems so out–

[00:45:16] Ramit: That’s an honest answer. I don’t know. Thank you. Okay. That’s an honest answer. Erik, what do you feel about that number?

[00:45:24] Erik: I feel pretty good about it. We’ve recently paid off a car. We’ve paid off our last credit card, so our only debt left is some IRS we have left to pay for from the last couple years and my school loans. Now it’s like, all right, how do we figure out how to begin to really save and invest and move forward, being future minded?

[00:45:52] Ramit: What’s the answer to that?

[00:45:52] Erik: Yeah, I think the answer is, learning from you, and this is one of those things I know it and we haven’t implemented it, is just automating that. And I talked about that. We really need to just say, okay, we’re putting this somewhere. We’re not thinking about it. It’s coming out right away every month.

[00:46:17] Ramit: Okay. The interesting question is, why haven’t you done it? I’m not judging, but I think this is the crux of it. If you know it, why haven’t you done it?

[00:46:26] Erik: I think the reason I haven’t done that is things have been tight enough, especially for the last seven years or so. Every month I feel like I’m like, all right, we have money to put into our investment account. Do we have money? So I feel like I’m always nervous to automate it because then we might not–

[00:46:51] Ramit: That’s 84 months. 84 months, it’s been tight?

[00:46:53] Erik: Yeah.

[00:46:54] Ramit: I don’t know about that. Do you believe that story?

[00:46:56] Erik: I think my actions would say yes, but my mind knows better. Things were a little bleak in our life. I had started a business. I planted a church, and that failed. And so we did that for three and a half, four years. It was just a pretty hard season of life, and that was reflected financially as well. And I think that’s one of the reasons I was trying to learn about so many things, because things were so hard. I’m like, all right, if I can just get some knowledge. But it just didn’t feel like we had the resources to implement a lot of that.

[00:47:36] Andrea: I can’t point fingers at him because I’m also 100% in the black hole of debt, but I think you’ve really hit on something that is holding us back. We cannot get past it. We just are so stuck.

[00:47:52] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Why?

[00:47:53] Andrea: I think we’re stuck looking at our bank account and seeing, hey, we’re making good money, but it’s not enough to cover all of the– there’s so many things that we have to do, especially with our kids. It’s not enough. It doesn’t stretch that far, so it’s super hard for us to even think beyond that. I don’t think we know how to do that.

[00:48:24] Ramit: Let me put a pin in that and we’ll come back to it because I want to see where the rest of the spending is. Okay?

[00:48:30] Erik: Yeah.

[00:48:30] Ramit: All right. Your investments are– well, this is simple box. Hey, Erik, why don’t you read this number to me on your investments? What’s that number?

[00:48:37] Erik: No, thanks.

[00:48:39] Ramit: No. Yeah. Andrea, care to read the number here on investments?

[00:48:43] Erik: Zero.

[00:48:44] Andrea: Zero.

[00:48:45] Ramit: So it’s just $0 going to investments.

[00:48:49] Andrea: I will sporadically, occasionally put a hundred bucks in our investment account or–

[00:48:55] Ramit: What is that? Sporadic?

[00:48:56] Erik: I worked for Apple for two years. I quit that job maybe a year ago or so, and so for those years we did have regular investment coming through.

[00:49:06] Ramit: And during that time, did your investments grow?

[00:49:09] Erik: Yeah, it was great.

[00:49:13] Ramit: All right, I think we have an area of opportunity here. We could probably work on that. Again, I want to remind you, investments are not just for the sake of it. This is where true wealth is created, true wealth.

[00:49:24] Erik: Yeah.

[00:49:25] Ramit: Grows, compounds. Talking about safety, you’re talking about knowing if you have enough, talking about being able to take a trip without looking at the price of drinks, that’s this investments. All right. Next up we got savings. Andrea, what do we got here?

[00:49:45] Andrea: Savings, $400.

[00:49:47] Ramit: 400 bucks a month, which is 3%. Okay. And by the way, I like how you broke this down. You got 150 bucks a month on vacations, 50 bucks a month on gifts, and 200 bucks a month on personal goals and travel. Is that accurate, or did you just fill that in for this CSP?

[00:50:01] Erik: I would say that that’s our goal, so we try to put that away, but we don’t always hit that goal.

[00:50:11] Ramit: Would it be more accurate to say this is zero?

[00:50:16] Erik: Not zero.

[00:50:18] Andrea: I think it’s close to zero.


[00:50:20] Ramit: Let me just step in right here. I don’t care if you’re 97 years old. If you’re alive and breathing oxygen and you wonder, why don’t I have more saved? This is the answer. If you try to save money sporadically, you will never win. It’ll be like trying to teach your kids to read sporadically.

[00:50:37] Unless you’re planning to win the lottery or IPO, you cannot grow any substantial amount of savings or true wealth without making it automatic. This single decision right here is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s the difference between taking a nice tour with your friends in your 70s versus sitting around watching Vanderpump rules in the dark while eating a stale bag of Doritos for the rest of your life.

[00:51:03] Please, if you’re going to make one decision in life, do not make it, should I get these kibbles and bits for my dog? Should I buy this soup spoon from Target because it has such a cool design? It just came out. I love it. No, make it to set up your automatic savings and investments. That single decision alone will guarantee that you have more money than you ever thought possible.


[00:51:26] Ramit: All right, zero, which leaves in your free spending 37% or $4,337 a month on guilt-free spending.

[00:51:40] Erik: Our son’s taking violin lessons. Our daughter doing cheer camp and things like that. We have a budget for each of us for spending money, like going out for lunches and things like that. We have a family entertainment budget we have in there, and that’s where all that gets eaten up.

[00:52:00] Ramit: Does your budget map to $4,337 a month or even in the ballpark?

[00:52:07] Erik: No. So the other thing is literally just last month, we paid off our last credit card and we paid off my car. We had been putting a thousand dollars a month on that credit card. The car, that was a 350-dollar car payment. So some of that is pretty new as of this year.

[00:52:27] Ramit: What are you going to do with all that extra money? Did you talk about, hey, our car payment is about to end?

[00:52:32] Andrea: We talked about the debt snowball. We’re just going to roll it onto the next debt.

[00:52:38] Ramit: Did you?

[00:52:39] Erik: That’s not reflected in this document, but that is what we have talked about.

[00:52:43] Ramit: Oh, wait. Talking about versus done.

[00:52:46] Erik: That’s what we’re going to do.

[00:52:48] Ramit: Why didn’t you do it? The car’s paid off.

[00:52:51] Erik: Well, this is the month we would do it.

[00:52:53] Ramit: How much money have you paid off that you are now about to redirect more rapidly paying off your debt? How much per month?

[00:53:05] Erik: $1,350.

[00:53:05] Ramit: All right, so you’re about to put 1,300 bucks a month for years towards low interest debt. How did you guys decide that you wanted to pay a lot more money towards your low interest debt?

[00:53:19] Erik: Yeah. Our mortgage we got in before it spikes. Our mortgage is 4.3, I think.

[00:53:25] Ramit: Mm-hmm. But there’s no discussion about, hey, we’re going to have hundreds of dollars a month free. Maybe we should save it or invest it. It was just, let’s roll it over and pay off more debt?

[00:53:41] Andrea: Yeah.

[00:53:41] Ramit: Where do you think that came from?

[00:53:45] Andrea: A bad place.

[00:53:48] Ramit: Tell me. It’s really important for us to know where that came from because it will come up again. It’ll come up for the rest of your lives. I want you to understand where that came from because it will come up again.

[00:54:05] Andrea: I will. I’ll own that. I just don’t want to have debt. I don’t want to have debt. So I think it’s probably 95% me.

[00:54:14] Ramit: Why?

[00:54:18] Andrea: Because I have a lot of shame around having debt.

[00:54:21] Ramit: Okay. What is that shame?

[00:54:24] Andrea: That I’m a bad person if I have debt.

[00:54:30] Ramit: Wow.

[00:54:30] Andrea: If you’re not good with money, you’re a bad person. I know. It’s there, though.

[00:54:36] Ramit: Where’d that come from? Parents? Religion? Mid-western culture?

[00:54:41] Andrea: My parents.

[00:54:44] Ramit: And is that true, if you have debt, you’re a bad person?

[00:54:49] Andrea: No.

[00:54:51] Ramit: How come it’s so easy for you to say no?

[00:54:54] Andrea: Well, because I have known that in my mental world. I haven’t been able to move it down to my emotional world.

[00:55:08] Erik: And I’ve told you that as well. The debt doesn’t mean we are bad people. It might reflect some bad decisions, but it’s not even this stamp that we’re just horrible people or decision makers even. And I have jostled back and forth. I’m like, I don’t care if I die with that stuff. Put the minimum on it. If we can ever pay it off, great.

[00:55:36] But my thought has been to try to really tackle all the debt, college and mortgage, but I hadn’t really thought about the interest rates so much. It’s just really nice not having– there is a psychological component of not having any, what feels like consumer debt.

[00:55:55] Ramit: Here’s the thing. When you say, I’m going to die with it, you may say that, and you may be half joking about it, but Andrea doesn’t receive it as a joke. What does she receive it as?

[00:56:06] Erik: Like a weight.

[00:56:08] Ramit: Yes, yes. It is a weight. Well, it’s not just a weight. She thinks that having debt is morally back. So she’s like, you’re making me a worse person.

[00:56:18] Andrea: I think I default to money because that’s what my parents did for me. My parents were super emotionally unavailable, but they always provided for me financially.

[00:56:27] Ramit: What the hell? How come this just came up right now? Your parents were emotionally unavailable, so they gave you money and now you’ve become very fixated on money, money, money, but only fixated on enough to worry about it, but not to make a plan about it.

[00:56:49] Andrea: Mm-hmm.

[00:56:52] Erik: The other thing, Andrea, you wanted to do was put your raise, which is around $350 a month, away toward college fund.

[00:57:04] Andrea: So what if we didn’t just save it? What if we invested?

[00:57:08] Erik: We would have to do something different. Or can you take a college money out of an Roth IRA?

[00:57:15] Ramit: Well, you can, and you can always take your principal out after having it open for a few years. The real question, you have $350 extra every single month. Where do you best want it to go?

[00:57:30] Andrea: I wanted to go into a college fund.

[00:57:32] Ramit: Okay, tell me why. Tell me with numbers.

[00:57:35] Andrea: I don’t really have any logical answer for that.

[00:57:39] Ramit: Well, we need to have it. We can’t make multi-thousand-dollar decisions based on just a feeling. So tell me, let’s come up with the numbers.

[00:57:46] Andrea: Okay. If my kids go to an in-state school and they get scholarships, it costs 10 to $15,000 a year. I would expect them to work and contribute. The way I came up with the $5,000 per kid is it definitely felt like, okay, well, you still have to figure it out, but we’re going to give you a little safety net. It’s going to be a launching pad, so you’re not starting from scratch.

[00:58:20] Ramit: That’s not numbers, that’s a feeling.

[00:58:23] Andrea: I don’t know how to use numbers instead of feelings. Can you help me?

[00:58:29] Ramit: $350 a month. First of all, how much will that turn into when your kids go to college?

[00:58:36] Andrea: Jack will be going to college in four years, so that’s 48 months, so that’s $16,800.

[00:58:47] Ramit: Isn’t that way more than you need for him? How much do you want to give each kid?

[00:58:55] Andrea: I wanted to give each of them five grand.

[00:58:58] Ramit: Okay. Didn’t you just finish off everything right there?

 [00:59:03] Erik: And that doesn’t account for any interest that may be earned.

[00:59:04] Andrea: Okay.

[00:59:12] Ramit: So what have you learned already?

[00:59:14] Andrea: I’ve already learned that if you do the numbers, it eradicates all of the crazy feelings you have about it because you just see right there.

[00:59:24] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:59:24] Andrea: That’s the answer.

[00:59:25] Ramit: They’re not crazy. Your feelings are not crazy. You’re not crazy. Your feelings are real. But let me just tell you what would’ve happened if you had only used your feelings. Even if you were saving money for the kids, you still would’ve argued. We need to save more. We need to save more. Why are we going to this trip? Why are we ordering drinks? We could save for the kids more. And you would’ve saved and saved and saved.

[00:59:43] And then when it came time, you would’ve given more without any regard for numbers, and you would’ve been even more worried afterwards. What are we going to do? Erik, go get a better job. I don’t know what we’re going to do. So your feelings are not crazy. Your feelings are real, but they’re incomplete. And that’s why in just 25 seconds, we discovered if indeed you truly want to give your kids $5,000 each, we get knocked that out right now, but I suspect it’s not really about 5,000.

[01:00:27] Andrea: I don’t think it’s about 5,000 either.

[01:00:29] Ramit: What is it about?

[01:00:33] Andrea: I think it’s about me being afraid that my kids will grow up, look back on their lives, and say, why didn’t mom and dad help us more? Oh, it’s because they were broke. They were bad with money. They were broke. They couldn’t help us. That just feels so crushing to me for my kids to feel like I wasn’t able to provide for them in the way that they needed me to.

[01:01:02] Ramit: How do you know that they would think that? Because Erik’s family didn’t provide for him and he never once said, oh, my family was broke, and they were terrible.

[01:01:13] Andrea: You don’t think that about your family, Erik?

[01:01:15] Erik: We have difficulties in other areas, but no, I’ve never thought that. I’ve never resented my mom or family for not helping me with school.

[01:01:25] Ramit: Your kids have time, even if they go into debt. A little bit of debt is not a horrible thing for student loans. It’s not. You two have far less time. You’re in your 40s. You have very low savings. Your investments, you’re at about $50,000. If you want to have a retirement, if you even want to be able to do the things that you talk about doing and take a vacation, unless there’s a dramatic increase in income coming tomorrow, your kids have time, and you two have far less.

[01:02:05] And I say this as the son of Indian parents. Indian parents give everything they have to their kids, and so I understand that culture. But I would say that there’s nothing wrong with putting yourselves first, financially speaking. You can still teach your kids a lot. You can still help them get their footing. You could provide for them, but I really would love to see the two of you put yourselves first.

[01:02:33] Andrea: I don’t even know what to say to that. I’ve never thought that I even had permission to put myself first. And what you said about they have time and we don’t, that’s so absolutely true, and never crossed my mind, like, I can help them by taking care of myself.

[01:02:54] Ramit: And I think this would be an amazing exercise for the two of you to talk about, hey, what do we want for each of our kids? Let’s sketch it out. Let’s script it. And what would that look like? And if we want them to know that they are valuable enough to spend their money on, how are we going to demonstrate it?

[01:03:11] We better be doing that, and we better tell our kids, you know what? Saturday afternoons, mom and dad are going to be here, and we’re going to be talking about money, and we would like you to respect our time. In the last half an hour, yeah, we’ll bring you in and we’d love to talk about a few things with you because money is part of the family. Andrea, I see you lighting up when I’m talking about this. Why is that?

[01:03:33] Andrea: It’s just so exciting. It’s so fun. It’s so hopeful to be able to think like, maybe I’m not going to perpetuate this generational attitude towards money, and maybe I can do it differently and I can bring my kids along on the journey. I love that concept of bringing them along.

[01:03:55] Erik: It almost connects to what we talked about early on where I was like, I want to have fun with you. I don’t want it always to be this heavy stuff. And to think and have the encouragement that that doesn’t have to be, that means we don’t talk about money, but maybe actually, even these money conversations, like we can have fun, and dream, and hope together.


[01:04:19] Ramit: You can see the path that I took to get here. A lot of you message me every day telling me about your partner who won’t look at the spreadsheet, who is always worried about money, and look at how I gently got Andrea to consider another way. One, I listened to her a lot. Number two, I asked her to tell me about her worries and her fears around money, but I did not let her dwell on them.

[01:04:44] Number three, I got really curious about the things that she wants to do one day, like the Alaskan cruise. I was genuinely interested in that. Four, I included Erik because he absolutely plays a part in this. And finally, I helped her run a couple of simple numbers that she can deeply understand.

[01:05:04] This is transformative for her because she now went one level deeper than the numbers, and she realized, oh my gosh, I can give myself permission to put myself first. Isn’t this amazing? This is why I love my job, and I love being able to share this whole experience with you, because a rich life is about so much more than just the numbers or blindly following what we think we are supposed to do. It’s about understanding what your rich life is and then using your numbers to start to live it.


[01:05:39] Ramit: So you told me 1,300 per month, right?

[01:05:45] Erik: Yeah.

[01:05:45] Ramit: All right, so let’s just pretend for easy math you have $0 invested and you’re currently going to do, let’s say 15,000 bucks a year approximately. That’s how much it is approximately. That’s 1,300 times 12, again, approximate 22 years because you’re in your mid-40s. What does that number say? Read it out loud, Andrea.

[01:06:05] Andrea: 786,542 and 11 cents.

[01:06:12] Ramit: Your belief about debt would’ve just cost you $786,000.

[01:06:20] Andrea: Damn. I just didn’t know that.

[01:06:23] Ramit: Honestly, what most people don’t ask themselves is if we put all of our resources towards paying off our debt and we’re debt-free at 68 years old, what then? We have a house. We have no debt. What do we have? We have no income anymore because we retired. We have a little meager Social Security check coming. What are we doing? We have nothing to go and live the kind of life we claim we want. That’s not good planning.

[01:06:47] Andrea: It’s very empowering to know that I could make a choice to increase my wealth pretty drastically.

[01:06:59] Ramit: And by the way, if you did this, you know how often you’d have to make this decision to invest?

[01:07:06] Andrea: I think you just keep it going. You make it once and let it go.

[01:07:11] Ramit: Set it and forget it. One decision making you three quarters of a million dollars. Now, if your interest rate for your debt was at 7% or 8%, or 26%, I would be like, pay that off as quickly as possible. But when it’s 2.4%, mathematically speaking, it makes no sense to pay it off.

[01:07:32] Erik: Yeah. Andrea, how do you feel after seeing those compounding numbers? What do you want to automate toward investments, and what do want to put towards debt?

[01:07:45] Andrea: Well, my mind is blown, so I just want to put it all towards investments. I had no idea that that kind of money was even possible for us. Yeah, I feel shocked.

[01:08:02] Ramit: Shocked?

[01:08:03] Andrea: Mm-hmm.

[01:08:04] As you described, for the next 20 years, trying to pay off the debt and then ending up empty handed at the end, I don’t really have anything to my name, but I’m debt-free. But just seeing the possibility of accruing that kind of wealth is just super empowering.

[01:08:28] That impulse to protect yourself and to guard what you have is essentially just squeezing the enjoyment out of your life. It’s not actually working. It’s not keeping you safe. And what you think it’s doing, it’s not doing. It’s actually doing the opposite. It’s like creating this life of scarcity.

[01:08:56] Ramit: That’s powerful.

[01:08:58] Erik: I think that’s what stood out to me, is like, can you drill down to the specifics of why you feel that way, where you’re going, and what you want.

[01:09:06] Ramit: And what’s crazy is in the rare occasions where you row in the same direction, what happens?

[01:09:13] Andrea: We make progress.

[01:09:15] Ramit: Huge progress, faster than you ever thought possible. What would it feel like if you were able to do that with your money?

[01:09:23] Andrea: I would feel so much hope. I would feel excited for the first time in a long time.

[01:09:33] Erik: I think that would begin to really help with my desire for freedom from the weight of money and feeling like the money could actually serve freedom for the things I want to do.


[01:09:50] Ramit: The final thing I did in those last few minutes was to show Andrea with real numbers what her fixation on debt was costing her. And the answer was about $750,000. Your life is too important to blindly follow some random path that you haven’t even questioned or interrogated or decided for yourself. That is what I want you to take away from this episode and from this entire podcast. Now, let’s hear Andrea’s follow-up.

[01:10:20] Andrea: Hey, Ramit. One of the things that surprised me is that debt repayment is not necessarily the best focus for a couple in their 40s and that it’s actually dumb to end up 65 and debt-free but have nothing to our name. And one thing that I learned is that paying for my kids’ college isn’t the end all, be all.

[01:10:47] That money isn’t necessarily a sign of love, and that there’s other ways I can support them and be there for them, and that they will value those ways just as much as money. And a change I’m looking forward to making is staying fully engaged with the money, not just avoiding it, hiding from it, letting Erik deal with it, and then nagging him, but to actually dive in and to be unafraid, to be hopeful, to just know that I’m empowered to play a role, that there’s good things out there for us, and that we’re not going to continue living lives of scarcity. We have agency.

[01:11:28] Ramit: And now, Erik’s follow up.

[01:11:30] Erik: Andrea and I learned a lot, but probably the most powerful thing was just the idea of inviting a third party into these important and often difficult conversations. You’d think I’d understand that. I do that a lot with the work I do. But when it comes to money, I think a lot of us don’t think about taking that step was just a really powerful experience. And we’re thankful for that for sure.

[01:11:52] So it was really encouraging to hear that, and even though we’re a little behind, that we can do it, and that there’s hope if we take action. We’re definitely going to be making a bunch of changes, cutting things and thinking about money in a little different ways, but probably the biggest change that we’re already starting to make is to prioritize our future, prioritize making money a positive experience for our family.

[01:12:20] Those are probably the two big things. It’s time to invite our kids into this conversation and to invite them into some of the responsibilities of our conscious spending plan as you invited us to do, and that’s really exciting. That’s really good. It’s okay for us to prioritize our future. We want to be generous. We want to be generous with our families. We want to be generous with others, but it’s okay to be generous with our future selves as well.