Episode #147: “I don’t trust him with money, so I check his cc accounts”

Ashley and Christopher, 30 and 28, recently got engaged and look forward to planning a wedding, having kids, etc. But Christoper has lived with credit card debt his whole life. As an accountant, he feels like he’s got it under control. Ashley worries about what his spending means for their future.

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Christopher: Based off my past decisions, she doesn’t trust me to make the future decisions. I don’t have her 100% trust, but when it’s like vice versa, I feel like I trust her. So it feels like I always have to prove myself.

[00:00:15] Ramit: How much credit card debt do you have?

[00:00:17] Christopher: I have two credit cards, so 13,500, I believe, is combined. It’s bad. I know that for sure.

[00:00:24] Ramit: What did it used to be?

[00:00:25] Christopher: At the beginning, about 22,000, or even probably 24,000, if I’m correct.

[00:00:32] Ashley: I just turned 30, so this is my year that I said that I’m going to get everything figured out. I’m going to get it set up.

[00:00:40] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:00:41] Ashley: But right now I’m not working, so it’s really bad.

[00:00:45] Ramit: Didn’t I hear something about how you log into his credit card to check into it anyway? Ashley, is that true?

[00:00:50] Ashley: That was true.

[00:00:51] Ramit: Until when? She’s like, until two days ago.

[00:00:55] Ashley: I haven’t done it in months.

[00:00:57] Ramit: Okay.

[00:00:58] Christopher: Come on now.

[00:00:59] [Narration]

[00:01:00] Ramit: Most of the time I speak to couples who are already married, but today I’d like you to meet Ashley and Christopher. Ashley’s 30, Christopher’s 28, and they are recently engaged to be married. Christopher is in credit card debt, and Ashley has become increasingly distrustful of the way that he handles money.

[00:01:17] They fight about money, then they stop talking about it, and then another fight comes up again. How do you get on the same page with your partner before you get married? That is what we’re going to discuss today with Ashley and Christopher.

[00:01:30] Let’s start with a recent situation that happened with Ashley and Christopher at the car dealership.


[00:01:35] Ashley: Chris had to get his oil change, so we already– you know when you go to the car dealership, they always suggest you to get something extra. Like, oh, you need to do this. You need to do that. Usually, in a case, you really don’t need to get those things done, and they were like, all right, Chris, your car is ready. And so they were like, oh, we suggest that you get the–

[00:01:58] Christopher: The transmission.

[00:02:00] Ashley: Yeah, the transmission.

[00:02:01] Christopher: Cooler, all this stuff.

[00:02:02] Ashley: Yeah, transmission done. I was like, oh, maybe we can wait a little bit. You could just get the oil change. The total was $817, and I was like, wow, that’s a lot. I asked Chris, I was like, well, how much money do you have? He was like, I have $814 in his bank account. I was like, okay, so let’s get the oil change done and we can come back in a couple weeks and get everything that they’re suggesting. But he went on and got everything done knowing that he only had $814 in his bank account.

[00:02:40] Ramit: What happened in the car ride home?

[00:02:43] Ashley: It was a little tense. I don’t think we discussed it. The tension was there. We didn’t really go into detail about why he made that decision. When we’re tense, we let it rock for a little bit, and then we–

[00:03:02]  Ramit: What does that mean?

[00:03:04] Ashley: Let it rock. We let the tension ride out. We don’t go into it right away because we don’t want to say things that we don’t mean.

[00:03:13] Christopher: I was going for an oil change because I knew it’s been a while since I got my car serviced. Beforehand I knew that I needed to get some things done extra because, again, it was that time to get service. So I knew when the oil change was being done, something else was going to be also spotted on it.

[00:03:30] So it’s like I’d rather get it done at that time and then figure something out afterwards. So I decided to pay the whole $800 and split it between checking $400 and then also $400 of my credit card. And I let Ashley know, I made the purchase. And then when I came and sat down, she was like, oh, I can’t wait to tell Ramit about this. And it threw me off.

[00:03:56] Ramit: When she made that comment, what did that feel like to you?

[00:03:59] Christopher: Like she didn’t trust me.

[00:04:01] Ramit: Is that a recurring pattern when it comes to money?

[00:04:05] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:04:06] Ramit: Okay.

[00:04:06] Christopher: Especially when it comes to my credit card debt and stuff like that, it was tense for a little bit. I feel like once we had that conversation at the dealership, I just let it go, and then I believe it got brought up again, and I didn’t know we were going to talk about it because I thought it was over. But we talked about, and it was just like, why did you make that comment regarding Ramit?

[00:04:28] Why do I need another person to tell me if I’m making a right decision or wrong decision because I feel like I made the best decision for myself as well. I don’t need– it’s my car. I need for my transportation, and I don’t want to inconvenience myself or inconvenience Ashley if something were to happen. So I felt like that was the best time to do that.

[00:04:49] Ramit: Okay. So if I’m hearing right, Christopher perceives Ashley not to trust you about your money decision, specifically credit card debt. Ashley, is that fair to say?

[00:05:02] Ashley: Yeah, that’s very fair.

[00:05:04] Christopher: I feel like she doesn’t trust me sometimes when it comes to those money decisions or if she feels like some of the– or I feel like– let me just preface it like that that based off my past decisions, she doesn’t trust me to make the future decisions, and I feel like that’s problematic.

[00:05:20] Ramit: All right. And does it work in reverse too? Christopher, do you not trust Ashley for her financial decisions?

[00:05:28] Christopher: Not at all.

[00:05:29] Ramit: Okay, so it’s, Ashley, you don’t trust Christopher.

[00:05:34] Ashley: Yes. That’s why we’re here.

[00:05:35] Christopher: It’s a handful. It’s usually big situations that–

[00:05:38] Ramit: Oh, big. Like what?

[00:05:40] Christopher: We’re trying to plan a wedding in a year or two years. Just even when it comes to saving for the future, when it comes to having kids, or do we plan to stay where we are in the next five years, seven years, I feel like there’s that trust factor. You need to make those big decisions. And I feel like sometimes when it comes to me, I don’t have her 100%, but when it’s like vice versa, I feel like I trust her. So it feels like I always have to prove myself.

[00:06:19] Ramit: All right, so I have a question. If I were not here, how would you resolve this? Let me guess. Just ignore it and then paper over it, and then never talk about it again until the next thing comes up.

[00:06:35] Ashley: Basically.

[00:06:36] Christopher: Basically.

[00:06:39] Ashley: Yeah.

[00:06:40] Ramit: That sounds familiar. I also love to avoid– it’s like, ah, fine, whatever. But the problem is it comes up again and again in different forms, right?

[00:06:49] Ashley: Yeah.

[00:06:49] Ashley: Mm-hmm.

[00:06:50] Ramit: It’s not about the transmission fluid, it’s about the trust.

[00:06:53] Christopher: It doesn’t feel good at all. I feel like I’m in this weird space where I could get judged very easily if I make the wrong decision.

[00:07:03] Ramit: If it were up to her, what do you think she would’ve done if she were in a similar position as you?

[00:07:09] Christopher: Probably waited.

[00:07:11] Ramit: Okay. Ashley, pretty fair what Christopher’s saying, right?

[00:07:16] Ashley: Yeah.

[00:07:17] Ramit: Why did you make a different decision? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. You made a different decision. You’re a different person. I’m just curious why you made the decision that she would not have made.

[00:07:27] Christopher: I just felt like, again, even though I don’t have the money, the money will come soon because I was getting paid on Wednesday or the next following week. So I felt like okay, even though I put on my credit card, I could pay that $400 portion and still be okay and I still have my car. You know what I mean?

[00:07:46] Ramit: Quick question. How much credit card debt do you have?

[00:07:49] Christopher: Right now, I have two credit cards, so 13,500, I believe, is combined.

[00:07:55] Ramit: That’s a lot, right?

[00:07:56] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:07:57] Ramit: Doesn’t everyone start off the same way? Like, oh, I’ll just put on the credit card and then I’ll pay it off next week, and then they blink their eyes and they have $13,500 in credit card debt.

[00:08:06] Christopher: It’s bad. I know that for sure. But it’s something I’m working through as well and also trying to get to the point where it’s going down. So she also sees that progress as well.

[00:08:19] Ramit: What did it used to be?

[00:08:21] Christopher: At the beginning about 22,000.

[00:08:24] Ramit: All right.

[00:08:25] Christopher: Or even probably 24,000, if I’m correct.

[00:08:29] Ramit: All right. How long have you two been engaged for?

[00:08:33] Ashley: It will be a year.

[00:08:35] Ramit: Nice. Congratulations.

[00:08:36] Christopher: Thank you.

[00:08:37] Ashley: Thank you.

[00:08:38] Ramit: And how long had you been together before the engagement?

[00:08:44] Christopher: A year and a couple of months.

[00:08:45] Ashley: One year. Yeah.


[00:08:47] Ramit: Sure, they may not be communicating in the best way about money, but the thing I notice is that if they fix this now before they’re even married, they have so much time to live a Rich Life together. With that said, it is a huge red flag if one partner does not trust the other around money.

[00:09:07] Remember, money is not just the amount in the bank. It’s not just some number on a spreadsheet. Money is about how you approach decisions, like getting your transmission fluid changed, buying a house, deciding whether or not you’re going to have children or if you can afford to get childcare, retirement, even life or death decisions. And Christopher admits that he struggles with credit card debt. He says it’s bad. So I don’t quite know what to make of this situation yet, but I’m hearing lots of clues.

[00:09:36]  We’ll be back after these messages.

[00:09:39] Now back to Ashley and Christopher.


[00:09:41] Ashley: I don’t think I’m good with money. I just think I’m a good saver. I don’t know how to disperse my money. I don’t have the Roth IRA or I don’t have the high yield savings account. I just have money in a bank, which I know is not really good.

[00:10:00] Ramit: How come you haven’t gotten better at money? I’m curious.

[00:10:06] Ashley: I don’t know. I just turned 30, so this is my year that I said that I’m going to get everything figured out. I’m going to get it set up.

[00:10:15] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:16] Ashley: I grew up in a home where we didn’t have that financial security, so I want to break that generational, I don’t know if I’ll call it curse, but I want to break that trend and have that for my family of we’re good with money.

[00:10:35] Ramit: Good. What does that mean? We’re good with money. Describe that to me.

[00:10:39] Ashley: That we don’t have to worry about anything. We have money in a bank for savings, for vacation, for just pretty much to do whatever we want that makes sense for us.

[00:10:53] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Just a quick question. If you’re good at something, do you worry about it or no?

[00:11:01] Ashley: Mm. I feel like right now I worry about it. I don’t like to see myself as a worrier, but that probably is true.

[00:11:13] Ramit: Hold on. Tell me that. You don’t like to see yourself as a worrier. I love to hear that. What do you like to see yourself as?

[00:11:20] Ashley: I guess someone who is levelheaded when it comes to making money decisions. I want to make the right decisions.

[00:11:30] Ramit: Okay.

[00:11:31] Ashley: But I think when I get to the point of having that, I don’t know, income, I probably wouldn’t worry about it as much.

[00:11:44] Ramit: Okay. Listen to this podcast before?

[00:11:48] Ashley: Yeah, I know–

[00:11:49] Ramit: What do they all say? What do they all say? Hey, Ramit–

[00:11:52] Ashley: They say the same thing. They say the same thing. I know.

[00:11:56] Ramit: But that’s okay. At least we’re here talking. I appreciate that. Christopher, what about you? When you think about money, what words come to mind?

[00:12:03] Christopher: I see more as a tool or stability, a means of progressing to the next stage of your life. Stability and more of like investment wise, making sure we’re on the same page. Stability when it comes to retirement funds as well, just having that stable stream of money coming in.

[00:12:22] Ramit: Okay, let me ask you a question. Can you be financially stable and have credit card debt at the same time?

[00:12:30] Christopher: No.

[00:12:32] Ramit: Okay. Are you financially stable right now?

[00:12:35] Christopher: No.

[00:12:36] Ramit: Okay. What would it take in order for you to become financially stable?

[00:12:40] Christopher: To Reducing that credit card debt, for sure.

[00:12:43] Ramit: To how much?

[00:12:45] Christopher: Zero.


[00:12:45] Ramit:  I have to cut in here really quickly. Notice the language Christopher used right there. He said, in order to become financially stable, I’d have to reduce that credit card debt. And then I asked how much, and he admitted zero. Now this is fascinating.

[00:13:01] People who have problems often know what success would look like, but they are scared to say it out loud. He is scared to say, I need to pay off all my credit card debt. Instead, he uses the word reduce. It makes it less intimidating. It’s also less precise. And this is exactly what’s going on.

[00:13:21] People are scared to say what they actually need to do out loud because, one, they don’t trust themselves to achieve it, and two, they believe that once they say it out loud, they have to do it, which brings us back to number one, they don’t trust themselves. Your language determines your destiny.

[00:13:38] If you say, oh God, fine, let’s talk about money, then you probably hate money and you’re probably going to hate talking about money and dealing with money for the rest of your life. If on the other hand you say, wow, amazing. We get the chance to sit down and use money to live our Rich Lives, then you’re going to start to love your Rich Life, and you’re going to be grateful, and appreciative, and even generous with the money that lets you live it. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it. It affects your partner, it affects your children, but most of all, it affects you.


[00:14:14] Ramit: What was the first time you really talked about money together?

[00:14:18] Ashley: That first night that we met.

[00:14:20] Ramit: Oh my God. Hold on, hold on. Before you describe this to me, every single finance nerd is going to love this because this is their advice. They literally tell people, guys, you really should talk about your financial philosophy on the first date. You should talk about your Roth. I’m just looking at them, and I’m like, have you ever been on a first date? Even I’m not pulling out my portfolio to discuss it, but you did. Tell me what happened.

[00:14:49] Christopher: Yeah. So I’m more of the financial nerd of the couple. So for my living, I’m an accountant. Again, what Ashley said, trying to break generational curses. I didn’t know a lot. I’m a first generation African kid, so it’s like a lot of everything I know I had to learn myself when it comes to investing, when it comes to a Roth IRA, 401k, all those things. So I knew I wanted somebody not on my level, but also to take money serious. We’re going to have kids. What is our plan? What are our goals in the future? So if I know that she’s good with her money, and she’s understanding, I know it could go like a long way.

[00:15:31] So I brought it up. And plus too, I’m very transparent when it comes to my finances. When we first started dating, I told her about my credit card debt. I let her know everything because, again, I don’t want her to come into a situation and not know what’s going on.

[00:15:47] Ramit: All right, so Ashley, what was it like early on dating to talk about money? It’s pretty unusual.

[00:15:54] Ashley: It was fine. We started off long distance, so our conversations were over the phone, so I didn’t– yeah, he did tell me about credit card debt, but I guess I didn’t really understand it until–

[00:16:10] Ramit: What does that mean? What do you mean you didn’t understand?

[00:16:14] Ashley: I’m getting into credit. I never knew about credit. I never had a credit card until I met Chris. I don’t know. I wasn’t educated on credit cards.

[00:16:32] Ramit: Wow.

[00:16:32] Ashley: But I started listening to financial podcasts and shows.

[00:16:39] Ramit: Hm. Like what? Like which ones?

[00:16:41] Ashley: Dave Ramsey.

[00:16:44] Ramit: How’d that go for you?

[00:16:45] Ashley: Yeah, I was very passionate. I was like, we’re going to get rid of this debt. This is unacceptable. You need a sense of urgency. This got to go. I don’t understand why you would have all of this debt.

[00:17:01] Ramit: I have a question. Why are you talking to me and not Dave Ramsey? Serious question.

[00:17:08] Ashley: Because I like the way that you go about financial talks. It’s not like, rice and beans starving yourself. You encourage people to still live their Rich Life and still get to a point of financial freedom.

[00:17:28] Ramit: All right. I appreciate that. It is interesting to me that Ashley didn’t have a credit card, didn’t know much about the basics of personal finance, but Christopher, you’re the one in credit card debt.

[00:17:43] Christopher: Mm-hmm.

[00:17:45] Ramit: That’s an interesting dynamic between the two of you, don’t you think?

[00:17:50] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:17:50] Ashley: I think so. Yeah.

[00:17:52] Ramit: Didn’t I hear something about how you log into his credit card to check into it anyway? Ashley, is that true?

[00:17:58] Ashley: That was true.

[00:17:59] Ramit: Until when? She’s like, until two days ago.

[00:18:03] Ashley: I haven’t done it in months.

[00:18:05] Ramit: Okay.

[00:18:06] Christopher: Come on now.


[00:18:08] Ramit: Some of the most jaw-dropping moments on this podcast are when I ask people what their occupations are. On this podcast, we’ve had people in serious financial trouble who are brokers, accountants, even personal finance teachers. It’s just a reminder that you can be skilled at one part of finance and unskilled at personal finance, which is totally distinct from loans, and investment bankings, and private equity.

[00:18:34] In fact, you can read all about personal finance, but when it comes to your own money, you may not be managing it effectively. Notice the dynamic, by the way. Christopher knows a lot about money, but he’s the one in debt. Then we have Ashley who didn’t even have a credit card until recently, and now she’s the one who’s worried about how Christopher treats money.

[00:18:56] What do you make of that? I wanted to know more, so let’s listen to how they were raised, which is going to give you a lot of clues. As we go through the next few minutes, notice the generational patterns that are revealed.


[00:19:08] Christopher: So I was raised by a single mom because my parents got divorced at two. Just her being by herself, not really having a lot of family here because a lot of them were in Ghana. It was more about trying to figure it out, just getting by. I got everything that I needed at the time, but it was just more like, she would just work nonstop just trying to support me and her.

[00:19:31] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:19:32] Christopher: And then that’s what I’ve seen growing up, just like her work ethic.

[00:19:36] Ramit: And you’re the only child?

[00:19:39] Christopher: No, I have a younger brother and sister. At 13, my parents remarried.

[00:19:45] Ramit: Whoa.

[00:19:47] Christopher: Yeah. Then they started having kids, so my little brother and sister, but they didn’t talk about money because there was constant distrust in the relationship.

[00:19:57] Ramit: Who distrust him?

[00:19:59] Christopher: Both equally, honestly.

[00:20:01] Ramit: Why?

[00:20:03] Christopher: They had a lot of baggage from when they first divorced, and they never reconciled on that. So when they did get back together, they thought it was good for a little bit, and then once money got involved and started a bigger decision started happening, that’s when the problem started to arise.

[00:20:21] Ramit: Are they still married?

[00:20:24] Christopher: Not happily.

[00:20:25] Ramit: Gosh. You see any connections between your parents and what’s going on right here?

[00:20:29] Christopher: Yeah. I see a pattern, especially when it comes to Ashley, and it scares me because I know when it comes to trust, it’s like if you can’t trust somebody on a small issue, it becomes a huge issue, and it bothers the next generation coming up. It was a huge hindrance for me, and it’s still a huge hindrance for my siblings.

[00:20:48] Ramit: Yeah. And imagine that the two of you have kids.

[00:20:51] Christopher: Exactly.

[00:20:52] Ramit: What age do you think they’re going to start realizing mom and dad don’t trust each other about money? What age do you think?

[00:20:58] Christopher: Very soon. Shoot, I knew it as soon as I got in.

[00:21:02] Ramit: Bingo. Five, six, they know. This is quite interesting. Now, what I’m puzzled about, Christopher, especially now understanding how you were raised, is why? Why isn’t this a red alert for you?

[00:21:21] Christopher: Again, watching my mom as I was growing up, she used credit card debt to get through.

[00:21:27] Ramit: Your mom was a single mother from Ghana in the United States.

[00:21:31] Christopher: Yeah. She was using credit cards. Didn’t have credit cards in Ghana, West Africa. So again, she was trying to do the best that she could at that time.

[00:21:40] Ramit: You think you know a little bit more than your mom?

[00:21:43] Christopher: Yeah, and I still did it.

[00:21:45] Ramit: You still did it. Why?

[00:21:47] Christopher: Honestly, again, the same mindset, just getting through. Even going through undergrad years, I had to pay for school because they couldn’t come to agreements, so they couldn’t– again, they had the combined neck income for me to go to school for free, but I had to go pay everything out of pocket. And I knew for me, it’s like I didn’t want to not go to college, so I got a credit card to put myself through college.

[00:22:15] Ramit: That’s how you paid for college?

[00:22:17] Christopher: Yeah, and then also I did my masters. Did the same thing. But at that time, when I did my masters, I was a little bit more responsible. When I went to my jobs, I was able to get some tuition reimbursement, so I was able to do it that way. But I still have some credit card debt that I have get rid of.

[00:22:35] Ramit: What lessons do you think you learned from credit card debt in your life?

[00:22:44] Christopher: Probably nothing because I’m still using it.

[00:22:47] Ramit: So maybe lesson number one is that credit card debt is not so bad.

[00:22:53] Christopher: Yeah. Because I’m pretty casual about it. Yeah.

[00:22:56] Ramit: Yes. Let’s go all the way back to your mom. Your mom comes here, single mom from Ghana trying to figure out what to do. She’s using credit cards. What lesson do you learn from that?

[00:23:08] Christopher: It’s okay to use it.

[00:23:09] Ramit: Sure, it’s a little bit of debt, but whatever. At least we have food to eat, right?

[00:23:13] Christopher: Mm-hmm.

[00:23:13]  Ramit: Credit cards are not an enemy to you. Credit cards are one of your best friends.

[00:23:17] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:23:18] Ramit: So when Ashley tells you, pay off these credit cards because they are bad, what are you unconsciously saying inside?

[00:23:28] Christopher: I don’t want to give it up.


[00:23:30] Ramit: Bingo. This is one of the greatest gifts I can give someone, which is a fresh way to look at something that they’ve been thinking about for decades. Christopher just doesn’t understand his own behavior. How can he be in debt just like his mom when his mom was in a much tougher position?

[00:23:50] Now, when most of us have something about ourselves that we can’t understand, like, why don’t we save more, or why don’t we eat more healthy food, or why don’t we stay in better touch with our loved ones, you know what we mostly do? We avoid it. Why would we want to think about something that we’re failing at?

[00:24:08] And that’s what Christopher’s doing. He’s put blinders on around credit card debt, and on the rare occasions when it comes up, like at the car dealer, he creates a narrative that sounds logical. Well, for convenience I got to pay it. And I had the money, but I didn’t really have the money, but I’m just going to put it on there, and it’s fine. That lets him push the problem away. The real danger, of course, is that he doesn’t change anything with the way he treats money. And if that happens, he’s very likely to live a similar life to his parents.

[00:24:40] We’ll be back after these messages.

[00:24:42] Let’s get back to the show.


[00:24:44] Ramit: So Ashley, you mentioned something about generational curse and that you didn’t grow up knowing anything about credit.

[00:24:51] Ashley: It was always that we never had money. It was never in abundance, so my mom, she passed away three years ago.

[00:25:03] Ramit: Sorry to hear that.

[00:25:03] Ashley: She was always trying to figure it out. She was a single mom of five kids. It was five of us. She did work, but the job that she had, it just wasn’t enough to provide for all of us. Our church family, they helped us with whatever, like clothes, food, whatever. We always had what we needed. It just wasn’t money.

[00:25:25] Ramit: Your family, would you describe them as middle class, lower middle class poor? How would you describe?

[00:25:36] Ashley: I guess poor to lower middle class.

[00:25:40] Ramit: Okay. All right. And as you got older with four other siblings, let’s say age 10, age 13, what do you remember about money in your family then?

[00:25:52] Ashley: I knew that we didn’t have a lot of money.

[00:25:56] Ramit: How did you know?

[00:25:57] Ashley: Just because I wasn’t able to get all the clothes and cool shoes that I wanted to. If I wanted to go out, go to the movies or something, my mom, she might not have the money, so I wouldn’t be able to go to the movies with my friends.

[00:26:14] Ramit: And what about like school clothes and stuff like that? What would she say if you asked her for something you wanted to get?

[00:26:21] Ashley: Well, we used to shop at the thrift store a lot, and so we would go to the thrift store, and I always was like, ugh, I don’t like the thrift store. Why can’t we go to, I don’t know, JCPenney, Kohl’s, get new clothes?

[00:26:35] Ramit: And then what did she say to that?

[00:26:36] Ashley: I think she was like, Ashley– she always said that I have this– what was the word? I’m high maintenance. She always said I was high maintenance.

[00:26:45] Ramit: Aha. Are you?

[00:26:50] Ashley: I don’t know. Maybe.

[00:26:54] Ramit: What does it mean anyway?

[00:26:58] Ashley: I don’t even know. I guess it means it might take a lot to please me.

[00:27:03] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:27:06] Ashley: High maintenance. Yeah. I don’t know. Maybe I just like fancy stuff.

[00:27:10] Ramit: And can I ask you, is liking fancy stuff a bad thing?

[00:27:16] Ashley: It’s not a bad thing, no.

[00:27:17] Ramit: Was it a bad thing to your mom?

[00:27:19] Ashley: No, because she liked fancy stuff too.

[00:27:23] Ramit: Oh, really?

[00:27:24] Ashley: Yeah, she was a diva.

[00:27:26] Ramit: Okay. All right. And your siblings, are they brothers, sisters? Both?

[00:27:32] Ashley: Yeah. I have a older sister, and then I have two younger brothers and a younger sister.

[00:27:38] Ramit: Okay, great. Do you all ever talk about money now as adults?

[00:27:42] Ashley: I’m like the more responsible one of my siblings. So I try to get them on the right track. And actually, I bought them your book. I bought every one of them your book with the intention of us reading it together.

[00:27:56] Ramit: I love that. This is you and your siblings reading it together.

[00:27:59] Ashley: Me and my siblings, yes.

[00:28:01] Ramit: Okay. Amazing. You mentioned you’re the responsible one. So what does that make your siblings?

[00:28:06] Ashley: Going back to the generational curses, I can see a pattern of how my mom dealt with her money, seeing it trickle down into how my siblings deal with their money, never having money. Like my mom, she would even have to ask me for money sometimes, and I’m seeing it in my siblings. They have to ask me for money.

[00:28:32] Ramit: What do you do when they ask?

[00:28:34] Ashley: I give it to them.

[00:28:36] Ramit: How much?

[00:28:36] Ashley: It’s probably 20, $30 here and there, sometimes in the hundreds.

[00:28:43] Ramit: That’s unusual. I would’ve been less surprised if you said $2,000. Oh my gosh, one of them needs a dental work, or their car broke down. Okay, I could understand that. But 20 bucks.

[00:28:57] Ashley: I don’t understand it. Why wouldn’t you have that amount of money saved up?

[00:29:03] Ramit: What’s coming up for 20 bucks?

[00:29:05] Ashley: Gas money?

[00:29:08] Ramit: And then what do you say?

[00:29:12] Ashley: Or I say, sure, okay. And I give it to them.

[00:29:15] Ramit: All right. What do you think is happening in this exchange?

[00:29:21] Ashley: They know that they can come to me whenever they need money and that I’ll give it to them. So I don’t know if it’s me enabling them to continue to ask for money. Yeah, I don’t know. I really don’t know how I could help them because if I don’t give it to them, then they’ll probably get it from someone else.

[00:29:44] Ramit: What if nobody gives it to them?

[00:29:49] Ashley: Yeah.

[00:29:50] Ramit: What would happen?

[00:29:53] Ashley: They’ll probably have to figure it out.

[00:29:55] Ramit: Hmm. “Figure out.” Who used that phrase, “figure it out”?

[00:29:58] Ashley: I don’t know.

[00:30:01] Ramit: Your mom.

[00:30:02] Ashley: Oh, yeah.

[00:30:08] Ramit: Hmm.

[00:30:09] Ashley: Yeah.

[00:30:11] Ramit: You have difficulty saying no to people?

[00:30:14] Ashley: Yes, I do.

[00:30:17] Ramit: Not just with money, right? With other things.

[00:30:20] Ashley: Other things, yes.

[00:30:21] Ramit: Do you think that that shows up at all in your relationship with Christopher?

[00:30:26] Ashley: I’m pretty sure it does. I’m not sure how. He might be able to explain it better.

[00:30:33] Christopher: She says yes to a lot of things.

[00:30:36] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:30:37] Christopher: I feel like, honestly, she’s a little more harder on me than she is on her siblings.

[00:30:44] Ramit: Why?

[00:30:44] Christopher: Because like the car example, for instance, she’ll question me on that. But when it comes to her siblings asking for money on money on money, she doesn’t question. She’s just like, here it is.

[00:31:00] Ramit: What I’m hearing is very human. People want to help the people they love. That’s a given. I’m never going to tell somebody, don’t help the people you love. But often the way that we help them actually can do them harm

[00:31:22] Ashley: Maybe it’s me like trying not to get how I grew up.

[00:31:27] Ramit: Yeah. Which was what?

[00:31:28] Ashley: Poor.

[00:31:30] Ramit: Okay.

[00:31:30] Ashley: And not knowing about money.

[00:31:32] Ramit: So what do you do instead to try to avoid being poor? What do you do?

[00:31:40] Ashley: I guess I save.

[00:31:41] Ramit: Mm-hmm. I agree. And that’s a healthy thing. Saving is good. What else do you do?

[00:31:46] Ashley: I give as well.

[00:31:48] Ramit: You give. Okay. What else?

[00:31:53] Ashley: Criticize.


[00:31:57] Ramit: There’s so much to unpack here. A family that was lower middle class, or even possibly poor, mom, who was “a diva” and told Ashley she was high maintenance even though she was the responsible one. And now as an adult, Ashley has trouble saying no. Where does Ashley direct her anxiety about money? Well, she tries to buy the IWT book for her siblings, but they don’t read it.

[00:32:22]  Instead, she directs her anxiety to her fiance, Christopher, as she criticizes and checks over his spending. By the way, her fiance also gives her a lot of reasons to feel scared about money, like his credit card debt and his attitude towards money. I could spend hours talking to Ashley about her relationship with money, but right now I want to focus on the two of them.


[00:32:41] Ashley, does Christopher have a sense of urgency around paying off his debt?

[00:32:46] Ashley: No, not at all.

[00:32:49] Ramit: Christopher’s smiling.

[00:32:51] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:32:51] Ramit: What’s that big smile?

[00:32:55] Christopher: Yeah. I don’t have a huge sense of urgency when it comes to that.

[00:32:58] Ramit: Why?

[00:33:03] Christopher: I guess I have this mindset that debt is always going to be around, especially when it comes to my credit card debt and more along the lines with my student debt. So I don’t want to, again, live my life trying to pay off this debt as soon as possible because, or stop myself from living my life just because I have to pay off this credit card debt.

[00:33:26] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:33:27] Christopher: I don’t have that huge sense of urgency, but I know I am making ways to pay for it right now, or I’m trying to get in a position where I could pay more on it. So it’s like I’m also very aware of it. I don’t try to let it get to me, but it’s more so like I don’t want it to hurt my partner and her trust factor over me. So that motivates me to pay it off quicker.

[00:33:54] Ramit: What do you think, Ashley, hearing this?

[00:33:56] Ashley: I don’t know, maybe once he gets more money, he might feel that he can pay it off quicker, but I think as of right now, he still has that mindset that, it’s always going to be there.

[00:34:09] Ramit: What if he never changes his mindset about his debt?

[00:34:13] Ashley: Hmm. I think I’ll probably still try to convince him.

[00:34:17] Ramit: If he still doesn’t change, then what?

[00:34:21] Ashley: It’s just going to be a very difficult relationship.

[00:34:24] Ramit: For how long?

[00:34:29] Ashley: Hmm. Forever because we’re going to get married.

[00:34:35] Christopher: That again, goes back to the trust thing. If I don’t change my mindset or trust in me, it’s not going to be there.

[00:34:43] Ramit: Mm-hmm. And then what happens as you get older? Because you two are 28, 30. Let’s say you’re 35, 37, 40. What starts to happen in life with the two of you?

[00:34:54] Christopher: Things get harder.

[00:34:55] Ramit: Have you thought about this question before?

[00:34:59] Ashley: I have. I have, but I have hope in Chris and myself that we will eventually get on the same page. So not too worried. It is a concern, but I do believe that we will figure this out. I would love us to be the right partners. I believe that me and Chris, we work very well together. It’s just this specific subject is hard to get on the same page about, and I know this specific subject is very important.

[00:35:33] Christopher: I believe more in investing, but she believes more in saving. It seems like we’re not on the same mindset, which could create problems between the both of us because we’re both trying to do what we feel is the best, but we’re not getting to any solution because we keep butting heads every time.

[00:35:51] Ramit: Yeah. Not may cause issues. It is causing issues. That’s why you’re here. And it will cause even bigger issues when bigger stakes are around.

[00:36:02] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:36:02] Ramit: If the two of you are going to get married and have a healthy relationship with each other and with money, you got to have a shared vision of what your Rich Life is. You cannot just lecture each other on what that person should do with money.

[00:36:20] Ashley: Mm.

[00:36:21] Christopher: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:22] Ramit: No couple should be debating over how one person spends their money to get the car repaired. That’s not the point. It’s not about the car, is it?

[00:36:33] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:36:34] Ramit: It’s about, how did you make that decision? And we think about things the same? Shouldn’t we at least think about the big things in the same way?

[00:36:46] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:36:47] Ramit: So we have all agreed that we’re not going to leave this call unless we make some type of dramatic change. Are we all in agreement?

[00:36:56] Christopher: Yes, sir.

[00:36:57] Ashley: Yes.


[00:36:58] Ramit: Notice the very common mental gymnastics that Ashley demonstrates there. I point out that being married to a partner who doesn’t have much urgency around money only gets harder and harder as you get older and you navigate a family and buying a house and on and on her response, “I have hope that we’ll eventually get on the same page.” And then she says, we’re good except for this one thing.

[00:37:22] Now I have a lot of compassion for people who say both of these phrases. In fact they’re common. This is about what 90% of people would say. But deep down, they are just a way to reduce the cognitive dissonance that she’s feeling. It’s terrifying to consider that like most people, she’s just sliding into marriage without resolving this very serious disagreement about money.

[00:37:46] My perspective, having been married, money is one of the things you want to get aligned on as much as possible before you get married. It doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. One or both of you might even have debt. That’s fine. But you want to make sure that your philosophy towards money is basically aligned.

[00:38:06] Do you think the same way about savings? Do you think basically similar ways about spending? Hey, what if one of you gets sick? Do you want to buy a three-million-dollar beach house or live in a tiny off-the-grid house? Now, these are important topics. Your Rich Life is important, and I want every one of us to take these questions seriously.

[00:38:29] We’ll be right back after this quick break.

[00:38:31] Let’s dig into their numbers. Keep in mind that their money is still separate. They’re not married yet, and they’ve chosen to fill out two conscious spending plans to reflect that. If you want to follow along, you can get the very same template at iwt.com/csp.


[00:38:46] Now, Ashley, I have to admit, I was puzzled because you didn’t enter your income.

[00:38:49] Ashley: Yeah, because I don’t have any income.

[00:38:52] Ramit: What do you mean you don’t have any income?

[00:38:56] Christopher: Because she’s in between assignments.

[00:38:56] Ashley: I’m not making any money right now.

[00:38:58] Ramit: How much do you make over the course of a year?

[00:39:02] Ashley: Mm. 60, 70,000, I’m not sure.

[00:39:07] Ramit: What do you do for a living? I’m confused.

[00:39:09] Ashley: I’m a medical laboratory technologist, so I travel for work. And so I usually do 13 weeks, three months. So that’s three months or six months assignments, and then I’ll take a break. So right now I’ve been off work for almost a month.

[00:39:31] Ramit: Are you a contractor or do you have a full-time employer?

[00:39:35] Ashley: Oh, contractor? Yeah.

[00:39:36] Ramit: So you’re a 1099. All right, fine. So can you choose how much you want to work and how little you want to work?

[00:39:42] Ashley: Yes. So with my income, at the time when I’m working, it seems like I’m making a lot.

[00:39:49] Ramit: Uh-huh.

[00:39:49] Ashley: So if I were to work nonstop, I could make $120,000.

[00:39:57] Ramit: Okay.

[00:39:58] Ashley: But due to me taking time off, I don’t make that much.

[00:40:01] Ramit: You take six months off per year.

[00:40:05] Ashley: Three to four months off. The point is he thinks that I’m making more money than him, when in reality we are pretty much making the same amount.

[00:40:18] Ramit: Okay, Christopher, what do you think about that?

[00:40:20] Christopher: I don’t see as that. Again, she said, three, six. She could extend if she wants to.

[00:40:26] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:40:27] Christopher: In that month, she receives her monthly income, and then she also receives a stipend because she is traveling. So she can make around $8,000. If she consistently did that through the 12 months, then she’ll get that $100,000-figure. But because she tends to take those breaks, that’s when it’s like lower yearly.

[00:40:51] Ramit: I don’t think you guys are disagreeing. I think you’re saying like, hey, she makes roughly 65,000 a year gross. If she wants to work more, she can work more. Everybody agree?

[00:41:03] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:41:03] Ashley: Yes.

[00:41:04] Ramit: And Ashley, would you be willing to work more?

[00:41:09] Ashley: Yes.

[00:41:10] Ramit: Oh, how come you don’t? Out of curiosity.

[00:41:14] Ashley: I take a lot of time off to spend with family.

[00:41:19] Ramit: Okay.

[00:41:19] Ashley: Or just for a breather.

[00:41:22] Ramit: Is that when they ask you for money?

[00:41:23] Ashley: It’s all year round.

[00:41:26] Ramit: Listen, I fixed your CSP, so shall we take a look now?

[00:41:33] Ashley: Yes.

[00:41:33] Ramit: All right, 65,000, and you’re making, again, I netted out at 47,000 plus or minus. Maybe you make less, maybe more, it depends on taxes and retirement. Your debt payment is 500 bucks a month. What’s that?

[00:41:53] Ashley: You can actually take that off because that was going to go towards my student loans. I haven’t started paying on my student loans yet.

[00:42:00] Ramit: No, I’m not going to take that off. What the hell?

[00:42:02] Ashley: Okay.

[00:42:03]  Ramit: Why would take it off?

[00:42:05] Ashley: But yeah, 500 will be towards my student loans.

[00:42:08] Ramit: Hold on. Now we got to get into this. Why did you just tell me to take it off because you’re not paying yet? Why?

[00:42:17] Ashley: I haven’t started paying yet.

[00:42:19] Ramit: When are you going to start?

[00:42:21] Ashley: This month.

[00:42:23] Ramit: So why are you telling me to take it off?

[00:42:26] Ashley: I don’t know.

[00:42:27] Ramit: Why? No, tell me. There’s obviously a reason, and I think this has a little bit to do with the way you think about money, so tell me why.

[00:42:33] Ashley: I guess because I haven’t been paying on it, so I don’t know if it’s going to be accurate or not.

[00:42:39] Ramit: I always want you to make the most conservative assumption, which means, hey, I haven’t started paying my student loans, but I’m going to start paying them this month, or two months, or six months from now. You know what, I’m just going to put that $500 a month payment in there. It’s like putting a weight vest on. It’s going to make it a little harder for you, but it’s going to give you a much more accurate picture.


[00:43:05] Did you catch that? When people fill out the conscious spending plan for the first time, the most common mistake that they make is being obsessed with precision. They want to get every single number completely accurate down to the decimal place. And inevitably, they get frustrated because they can’t find some login, or it’s too daunting to think about tracking the last 18 months of expenses, and then they give up.

[00:43:28] Do not do this. Just get 85% of the way there. Follow the instructions from iwt.com/csp, and the instructions in my book. But what’s equally important to getting your 85% numbers down is your philosophy towards your numbers on the CSP. Let me explain what I mean. This is important. The correct philosophy is to be conservative with the numbers that you’re putting on, which means you want to have a healthy buffer for things you forgot about.

[00:43:59] Let me give you an example. If I have a car payment of $500, I’m literally doubling that number when I put it in the CSP because that’s going to account for gas, which sure, I could probably track, but also the unexpected car repairs 16 months from now, insurance that I forgot about, which I pay quarterly, registration, which I pay annually, and even the parking ticket that I don’t know yet, but I’m probably going to get four months from now.

[00:44:23]  When I plan out a vacation, as another example, I’m taking the hotel price. I’m adding 50% per night, which accounts for taxes, tips, and any meals or massages. Do you see what I’m saying? My philosophy with putting the numbers down is almost as important as the first draft of the numbers themselves. You’ve got to be conservative when you’re putting these numbers down because there are tons of phantom costs that you’re not thinking about, but they are nonetheless real. Okay, back to the discussion.


[00:44:53] So you’re currently paying 63% of fixed costs. It’s a little higher than my recommended 60%, but whatever. It’s fine. Your investments are at 1%. What’s up with that?

[00:45:05] Ashley: Yeah, so Acorns, Chris got me onto Acorns, and I put I think $20 a month.

[00:45:13] Ramit: Uh-huh. All right. And your savings is at zero. Why? I thought you loved to save.

[00:45:19] Ashley: Yeah. So I don’t have a specific amount of money that I save per month. I just happen to have money.

[00:45:33] Ramit: Mm-hmm. And then you throw it into your savings account.

[00:45:36] Ashley: Yeah.

[00:45:37] Ramit: Okay, so the good news is you’ve accumulated $22,000 in savings, which is pretty impressive.

[00:45:43] Ashley: Thank you.

[00:45:44] Ramit: Feel good about that number?

[00:45:46] Ashley: I feel good, yeah. I feel like I definitely need to up my investments.

[00:45:51] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:45:52] Ashley: And up my savings.

[00:45:54] Ramit: But you have the right bones to work with. You’re not overspending on a car or housing. You have some margin to play with. Andwe can take some from here and put it over there, and I definitely agree we can make it work, no doubt. So overall, pretty happy. Christopher, shall we take a look at your numbers?

[00:46:15] Christopher: Yes, sir.

[00:46:16] Ramit: Your assets are $240,000. That must be your condo.

[00:46:19] Christopher: Yes, sir.

[00:46:20] Ramit: Investments are 20,000, savings are zero. Debt is 221,000. All right, so your fixed costs are at 58%. Overall, already great. In the 50 to 60% range. You have a rent. Your mortgage is 900. Hold on. How come your mortgage is 900, Chris, and she’s paying 1,100?

[00:46:41] Christopher: So she gives me more. So my mortgage and my HOA accumulate to 1,900, so she gives me more for utilities or anything of that nature.

[00:46:54] Ramit: Debt payment’s 560, that’s what we were talking about your credit card debt payment, correct?

[00:46:59] Christopher: Yeah. So actually it should be more than that. So 500 is what I paid for my student loans. And then 600 is what I paid for my credit card.

[00:47:08] Ramit: 500 plus 600, 1,100?

[00:47:11] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:47:11] Ramit: Okay, now your fixed cost just jumped up to 71%. That’s a lot. Now we got a problem. Subscriptions are $10. I love that between the two of you, your subscriptions are $30. Is that true?

[00:47:24] Christopher: Yeah. So when I started working, actually two months ago, I decided to get rid of all my subscriptions, Netflix, Hulu, all that fun stuff to focus more on other things. Yeah.

[00:47:35] Ramit: Wait, good job. But focus more on what?

[00:47:38] Christopher: Just trying to pay off debt, honestly.

[00:47:40] Ramit: That’s amazing. I’m going to the win on that. Good job. All right, so you made some tough decisions, even subscriptions relatively easy. But that’s an affirmative decision. I love it. All right, your fixed cost are at 71%. Fact is you’re over. So that’s going to make the rest of this pretty interesting.

[00:47:58] So you’ve got some money going into retirement, stocks, all that stuff. All right, fine. Your savings are at zero and your guilt-free spending is at 22%. Is that true, guilt-free? No, it’s not true.

[00:48:14] Christopher: At the time she was working, she was making a lot more than me, so to see how much guilt free money I had compared to her was shocking for sure.

[00:48:25] Ramit: Where’s it going?

[00:48:29] Christopher: Honestly, I’m not sure.

[00:48:31] Ramit: All right. Again, I just want to reiterate, you are an accountant. I fucking love this. I love it. You know that old story, the cobbler’s shoes, the cobbler’s kids, or whatever? Have you heard the story?

[00:48:42] Ashley: I don’t think so.

[00:48:49] Ramit: This cobbler makes shoes for everybody else, but his own kids don’t even have shoes. The cobbler’s kids don’t have shoes. Because at work, I’m sure your accounting clients are well dialed in, but at hour own finances are like, I don’t know where this extra 700 bucks is going. Totally normal. Totally normal. Let’s fix it. What do you say?

[00:49:12] Christopher: Yes, sir.


[00:49:13] Please don’t write me to tell me the story about the cobbler’s kids. I also want to acknowledge that there’s something to the fact here that it’s his condo, and she’s paying rent, but as I heard that, I intentionally chose to skip over that because it wasn’t core to our discussion today. Perhaps on another episode, I can cover more about how to think about splitting housing if one partner owned the property before you got married and the other does not own it.


[00:49:39] Ashley: So Chris, you said within the next 18 to 24 months, you want to get rid of your credit card debt, right?

[00:49:47] Christopher: Yes.

[00:49:49] Ashley: Can you give me any specifics on how you are going to go about doing that?

[00:49:56] Christopher: So recently, I just picked up a second job, so I feel like I could allocate a few more of the funds to that, and then I could see if I could find a new job as well to make my income a little bit higher.

[00:50:10] Ashley: Okay.

[00:50:11] Ramit: Are you satisfied with that answer?

[00:50:14] Ashley: Mm, not really.

[00:50:17] Ramit: All right. So ask another question.

[00:50:18] Ashley: How much money are you willing to put into credit card debt each month?

[00:50:25] Christopher: Right now I’m putting in $600. I could put in probably another 200 depending on the new job I get. Or again, I could look through my finances to see how much more extra money I could put in every month and then give you that concrete answer, but I could do more.

[00:50:46] Ramit: Ask the question again, same question, Ashley.

[00:50:52] Ashley: How much money are you willing to put in each month towards your credit card debt?

[00:50:57] Christopher: I’m not sure. Right now I’m doing 600.

[00:51:06] Ramit: Okay, let me ask you this. You’re getting a second job, right?

[00:51:09] Christopher: I currently have a second job right now. I just picked it up.

[00:51:11] Ramit: Okay. So to be able to put an extra 200 bucks a month, that should be like easy. Why not confidently tell her I’m putting at least 200 towards credit card debt. Isn’t that easy to commit to?

[00:51:27] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:51:29] Ramit: So do you see that by not giving her at least a straightforward answer, you cause more uncertainty, which causes her to become even more aggressive about what’s happening with this? What’s happening? I need certainty.

[00:51:44] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:51:44] Ramit: You see the cycle?

[00:51:46] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:51:46] Ramit: Christopher, when you feel like I need to give an exact answer, but actually another approach might be to say, well, look, to say something like, Ashley, I think you’re right. I think that I could do more with my credit card debt, and I know it’s important to you, and it’s also important to me.

[00:52:08] Right now I’m currently paying $600 a month. Starting this month, I’m going to increase that number to 800. That’s a given. I’m going to do that right away. And I know I can keep that going because of my second job.

[00:52:18] Now, I’m going to look into potentially doing more. I don’t want to commit to that yet, but I know starting as of right now, I’m going to put an extra $200 a month towards my credit card debt because it’s important for me to pay to solve faster. What’s the difference?

[00:52:37] Christopher: I’m more confident, more certain in what I’m saying, and I’m flexible, so let’s just say I can’t meet that. I could meet her in the middle.

[00:52:47] Ramit: No, no, no, no, no. Hold on. Let’s start. You are more confident. The way that I gave that example is much more confident. Yes. But notice you’re assuming failure, if I can’t hit that number. No, you’re going to hit 200 a month. That’s easy. 200 a month is the floor.

[00:53:03] Christopher: Mm.

[00:53:03] Ramit: Easy. Don’t assume, oh, if I can’t hit 200, I’ll meter in the middle at 100. No, 200 is the minimum. If you’re working $1,000 a month on the side, then paying 200 bucks is nothing.

[00:53:16] Christopher: Mm.

[00:53:17] Ramit: Even post tax, it’s nothing. So yes, I can put 200 more because it’s important to you, and to me, and to us, and I’m going to look into seeing if I could potentially do more. This is the way you start to think about money and talk about money differently. And watch. Ashley, how would it feel if Christopher said that to you?

[00:53:38] Ashley: That would make me very happy. I would feel like a bit of relief.

[00:53:43] Ramit: Why?

[00:53:45] Ashley: Just him giving me specific numbers. I really don’t know how much he puts into credit cards, his credit card debt. I just know the amount still stays around the same.

[00:53:59] Ramit: Do you think that it would be weird for you to ask for specifics on what he’s doing with his finances?

[00:54:06] Ashley: No, he’s pretty open about it.

[00:54:08] Christopher: It goes back to the trusting thing for me.

[00:54:12] Ramit: She doesn’t trust you.

[00:54:15] Christopher: Yeah. Again, I give full access to everything, so she looks at my credit card history, she looks at everything, and it’s just like, I do make these payments, but sometimes the interest hits so it doesn’t look like nothing’s done. But the payments are getting done, and I’ll let her know that. But again, I guess I got to be more confident and more concise about like, okay, I’m going to hit these goals rather than, like, meet me halfway.

[00:54:41] Ramit: The only way to get confident is to actually deliver on what you say you’re going to do.

[00:54:45] Christopher: Before we got together, I was doing whatever I wanted with my money. I had nobody to look over my shoulder. I had nobody to question my decisions.

[00:54:54] Ramit: How much credit card debt were you in at that time?

[00:54:56] Christopher: About 24,000, 22,000, in that range.

[00:55:00] Ramit: Okay, go on.

[00:55:01] Christopher: Now that we’re together, I have to answer questions that probably I didn’t have to second guess, or now I have somebody to look over my shoulder, or–

[00:55:12] Ramit: Feel like you have less freedom.

[00:55:14] Christopher: Yeah, for sure.

[00:55:16] Ramit: You’ve internalized this idea that Ashley is the person who’s making you pay off your debt, and as long as you believe that, you will always resist actually paying off your debt. She can’t be the one who took away your freedom, otherwise, the rest of your life is going to suck.

[00:55:35] Christopher: Mm.

[00:55:37] Ramit: What are you thinking right now?

[00:55:39] Christopher: That’s deep. I didn’t even think about it like that, honestly. Yeah. I never thought about it like that. Yeah.

[00:55:49] Ramit: And actually, I think we all know a lot of people in America, they make those ball and chain jokes. It drives me insane being like, look, when I was single, I could have done whatever I want, and now I got to report to the old ball and chain, and she’s checking over my shoulder. You know that shit?

[00:56:06] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:56:07] Ramit: So let me suggest a reframe, which is, look, when I was single, I could do whatever I want. Now, the good news is I had a lot of fun. I invested my money, I spent it on the things I love. But the problem was I actually got into $22,000 of credit card debt. Notice you have not once described it as a problem.

[00:56:28] Christopher: Mm-hmm.

[00:56:29] Ramit: I got into $22,000 of credit card debt. And now that I’m with my partner, I realize, man, there’s so much more I could be doing than just charging things up mindlessly on my credit card.

[00:56:43] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:56:45] Ramit: We’ve been working together. I’m paying off my debt more aggressively than ever.

[00:56:51] Christopher: Yeah.

[00:56:51] Ramit: And I can’t wait for us to have big savings, plan this beautiful wedding, invest more, all of it. What’s the difference?

[00:57:01] Christopher: I’m acknowledging the problem, and I want a better life for myself. I don’t want to think about Ashley like that because that’s not how I see her at all. Again, I didn’t even realize, but just resisting that I could see how my parents resisted each other, even having money talks and how huge of an impact that had on their life, if I don’t take those ne necessary steps to fix that or change that perspective, I could be like them.

[00:57:29] Ramit: You will be like them. I love that you acknowledge that, Christopher. That’s amazing. Damn. All jokes aside, that’s powerful, man. So alone, Christopher, you’ll live a fine life. You’ll probably be in credit card debt for the next 25 years. I’m not saying that judgmentally.

[00:57:47] I’m just saying, statistically speaking, you’ve been in credit card debt for a long time. You don’t really have a problem with it. And so you’ll probably be in their credit card debt for the rest of your life. Now you have the chance. You actually have the gift of Ashley coming along and saying like, wow, Ashley has a totally different perspective on money.

[00:58:06] Not sure I agree with all of it, and I probably know certain more technicalities about accounting than she does, but maybe I can actually redo the way that I look at money, and maybe we can actually take my perspective that I grew up with and her perspective. We can honor it, we can acknowledge it, but we can realize that we need to create something just made for the two of us. What do you think about that?

[00:58:38] Christopher: That sounds really good. That sounds really good.

[00:58:42] Ashley: That was beautiful.

[00:58:44] Ramit: Alright. All right.

[00:58:45] Ashley: I love it.

[00:58:46] Christopher: Sometimes you need a different perspective.

[00:58:48] Ramit: Wow, I like that. What do you think about that, Ashley?

[00:58:55] Ashley: Yeah. I’ve been trying to get him to have that perspective, but I guess my approach is not effective. So it’s good that he’s seeing it now. Like I said, I think me and Chris, we make a great team, just making sure we’re in it together and have the right goals in line.

[00:59:20] Ramit: Chris, what about you in terms of credit cards. I know you’re paying a huge amount towards it. I think they’re currently slotted to be paid off in 14 to 17 months. What about using your credit cards?

[00:59:35] Christopher: I need to cut up.

[00:59:37] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:59:38] Christopher: I need to get rid of them, honestly.

[00:59:40] Ramit: You want to do it right now?

[00:59:42] Christopher: Cut them up?

[00:59:42] Ramit: Yeah. Go get them.

[00:59:51] Christopher: Almost got my scissors, though.

[00:59:54] Ramit: Ashley, what are you feeling right now?

[00:59:56] Ashley: I don’t think he’s going to do it. Oh, no.

[01:00:00] Ramit: First of all, what kind of card is that? Don’t even tell me.

[01:00:03] Christopher: I know you’re going to be mad at me. I know. I’m sorry.

[01:00:06] Ramit: Which one?

[01:00:07] Christopher: I got two Wells Fargo.

[01:00:09] Ramit: The bank that intentionally targets minorities.

[01:00:13] Christopher: Yeah. I knew I was going to get it. I got them when I was younger, 21, both my cards.

[01:00:18] Ramit: This actually gives you and me more incentive for you to pay that off fast so you’re not paying them more in interest. It’s now become personal for me.

[01:00:30] Christopher: I got you. She’s coming upstairs right now.

[01:00:33] Ramit: All right, all right. Good. I can’t wait to see what tool she gives you.

[01:00:37] Christopher: She has scissors.

[01:00:39] Ramit: All right, all right. Hold on, hold on, hold on. First of all, let it get back down. What wish are you going to make as you cut these cards up? It’s like blowing out a birthday candle, but even more impact. Maybe tell her something about your credit card spend before we can– hold on.

[01:00:57] Christopher: So my credit card?

[01:00:58] Ramit: Yeah. All right. Welcome back. Thanks for getting him those scissors, Ashley. Okay. So before we observe something amazing here, Christopher, cutting up his credit cards that have been with him for how long, Christopher?

[01:01:15] Christopher: Since I was 21, so the last eight years.

[01:01:19] Ramit: Let’s not forget that credit cards are also what sustained your mom during very tough times. This isn’t just a joke. All jokes aside. This is serious. In many ways, it’s cutting up a part of your identity.

[01:01:35] Christopher: My family identity.

[01:01:38] Ramit: Yeah. And you can still honor your past. You can still honor where you came from, but you can say, this isn’t a part of me anymore.

[01:01:46] Christopher: Mm-hmm.

[01:01:46] Ramit: Instead, I’m crafting a new path with a new vision together with my fiance. Tell Ashley whatever you want to tell her. Tell us whatever you want to tell us about these credit cards, what they meant to you, why you’re cutting them up, and then do what you’re going to do.

[01:02:03] Christopher: I would say, for so long, I used them as a crutch in my life, and unfortunately that crutch became something bigger. It’s hurting my relationship, and it’s hurting my future. So actually, like I promised, I’m not going to use this anymore. I’m going to be better. So I’m going to cut them up in front of you, in front of Ramit as a sign, like, even though we’re here, I’m now taking a step to be better. So I will cut them right now.

[01:02:41] Ramit: Look at that. Yes. Amazing. Oh my God.

[01:02:47] Ashley: I’m so proud.

[01:02:47]  Ramit: The second one is done. What do you say, Ashley? What do you think?

[01:02:55] Ashley: That was a lot. I know how much those credit cards mean to him, so I’m very proud. I wasn’t really expecting him to do it, but he did it. And so, man, you just showed me that you’re really committed, and I’m feeling more confident too.

[01:03:17] Christopher: Thank you.

[01:03:17] Ramit: Well done. This is like an upward spiral. You feel more connected, you save more money, you can do more things. That’s what I want for you.


[01:03:29] We continued digging and we went through Christopher’s guilt-free spending, found other areas that he can cut and pay off his debt even more aggressively. If you are in credit card debt, this is a red alert. You want to cut as aggressively as possible on your expenses, especially your discretionary expenses, and pay that debt off aggressively.

[01:03:50]  In Christopher’s case, we took his debt payoff date from 31 months away to 17 months away. We basically cut it in half, and that is incredible. Not only to pay off the debt faster, but to build that trust between Ashley and Christopher. Let’s hear what Christopher had to say in his follow-up.

[01:04:08] Christopher: One of the main things that I learned was more about myself. I guess I’ve always had a fear of talking about finances, especially seeing how those arguments or conversations end up in that kind of household I was in.

[01:04:22] So just being more comfortable and more confident in myself and being specific so my partner also understands and she’s okay with it. A thing that did surprise me though was I never really understood the urgency from Ashley. I didn’t know that my credit card debt was a huge detriment to our relationship.

[01:04:42] I always felt like me being transparent more would relieve that mistrust or discretion, but we sat down yesterday and had a conversation. So I did express that I do want to spend more on my credit card debt, and I’m really motivated to see if I could get this credit card debt finished within this year.

[01:05:07] So that’s one of my big hopes. I’m going to probably pick up another job or just allocate some of my other funds, but just want to say a huge thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

[01:05:16] Ramit: And now Ashley’s follow-up.

[01:05:18] Ashley: First off, thank you so much, Ramit, for choosing Chris and I to do some well needed financial coaching. This was definitely out of our comfort zone, but I was desperate. I knew that if we both didn’t change our perspectives about money and how we communicate about money, our relationship down the road will look a little rocky.

[01:05:36] I was really surprised when I realized that we didn’t have the same goals. Initially, I thought that we have the same goals, but we just didn’t know how to get there together. That was a real shocker for me, but I’m confident that we will learn how to communicate and talk about our finance finances in a way that we are on the same page about our goals and what we both want.

[01:06:01] So yeah, we decided for me to put more money into my investments, which will be $400 per month and also to put $400 per month into my savings account. And Chris has decided to put $100 into his savings account per month and an additional $300 into his credit card payments. So yeah, I’m really excited to see what the future holds.

[01:06:29] Ramit: Well, I’m very thankful to Ashley and Christopher for reaching out for help. On the surface, it looked like Christopher was just using his credit cards irresponsibly and that Ashley didn’t trust him. But when I dug in, I was able to learn so much more about their fascinating story, how Ashley was raised, how she constantly gives to her siblings, how Christopher is an accountant, but very loose with his own finances, and how he was unconsciously resisting giving Ashley any specifics.

[01:06:58] I’m very confident in the two of them creating a shared vision of a Rich Life together. Christopher and Ashley, thank you very much for coming on the podcast, and please keep me updated.