Episode #158: “We have $2M, why can’t we retire?” (Part 2)

Rob and Adrienne are nearing retirement but worried about having enough. In Part 2, we dig into their Conscious Spending Plan to reveal a massively successful investment strategy that remains shrouded by deep lingering fears, $3 questions, and hard-to-break bad habits with money.

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Show Transcript

Download the full transcript PDF.

[00:00:00] Rob: I wish I hadn’t blown that money in the ’90s. I’m hoping it lasts for 30 years.

[00:00:05] Ramit: That’s the primary question, right? Will this money last for the rest of our lives?

[00:00:11] Rob: The biggest piece is the fear. I just hope that when we have a plan that we know what we can spend on all these trips, that fear will go away, but Ramit, you’re skeptical.

[00:00:23] Ramit: Your emotion is not going away from numbers on a spreadsheet. If that was going to happen, it would have happened about a million dollars ago. The only way you actually get to do this and enjoy it is if you learn to manage your fears, Rob. Nothing else matters.

[00:00:41] Rob: Adrienne, why do you think we’ve avoided seeing a financial advisor who can answer our retirement questions?

[00:00:49] Adrienne: I think because we already know the answers.


[00:00:53] Ramit: Welcome to part two of my conversation with Adrienne and Rob. Adrienne’s 59, Rob is 62 years old, and they have one big question. Are we going to have enough? When I talk to people who are in their 50s and beyond, this is the single biggest question that they have.

[00:01:09] Like most people, Rob and Adrienne believe their question is about dollars on a spreadsheet. But as we learned last week on part one of this conversation, Rob is incredibly fearful around money even though he and Adrienne have paid off tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and they’ve built a sizable portfolio.

[00:01:29] Please note that he’s been worried about running out of money for 15 years, but he has never run a detailed calculation, and he’s never hired a financial advisor. Why? On today’s episode, I wanted to give him specific scenarios for how their life might look depending on their financial choices. I asked our partner, Facet, to run several analyses, taking into account their age, goals, and spending.

[00:01:54] If you are looking for specific answers to your own financial scenarios via a financial advisor, especially if you’re considering retirement, or you have a large portfolio, or an especially complex financial situation, go to facet.com/ramit. And no, they do not charge AUM. Now let’s get to today’s conversation where Rob and Adrienne start off by discussing their vision for a Rich Life. They’ve been living in scarcity for so long that this is really hard for them.


[00:02:25] Adrienne: I remember you coming to me recently and saying, oh my gosh, we’re making a lot less money. And I said, it’s okay. We did it. This is what we’ve been doing our whole– we’ve been saving for this moment when your business was not going to be working.

[00:02:41] And so now we’ve got this nest egg. And supposedly, if we only spend 4% of it, it’s going to be okay. So I remember you asking me, and I said, I thought it was going to be okay. I thought this is what we’ve been saving for, this moment.

[00:02:59] Ramit: Tell Rob again your vision for a Rich Life.

[00:03:03] Adrienne: What my vision is is that we have this one precious life to live, and that we use our hearts to extend our generosity out into the world. And that we are people that create a better world for those around us, through our charity, through our love, and that we also spoil ourselves and create freedom for ourselves and relaxation. And that we feel confident that whatever we spend our money on, that we’re allowed to do that. That creates a Rich Life for me.

[00:03:44] Rob: I would say, because you’re leading off with generosity, I can see why my fear would hold us back. I’m down with it because we don’t have to bequeath this money to anybody at the end, and so we can give it away while we’re alive.

[00:04:04] Being more relaxed is going to be the key to being able to play ball with you on this. And then as long as I’m worried about this stuff, then I won’t be able to be more generous. Fear just stops me in my tracks around stuff like that.

[00:04:23] Ramit: Stay on the generosity. I love where you’re going, Rob. Get deeper into her vision of generosity. What does she mean?

[00:04:31] Rob: How do I know what she means? Okay. Do you want to describe to me more about what you were specifically talking about heartfelt generosity?

[00:04:46] Adrienne: I would love it if, our niece and nephew’s weddings are coming up, we gave more money than we actually said we were going to previously give to them for our– I would love to give more money to them for their weddings.

[00:05:04] I would love to tip extra when I go out to eat with people. I would love to also– I don’t know. If I had to dream, like a dream, I would love to create, if I had the money, if this is actually real, to create a scholarship for some people that I know would love to take coaching programs that I love, or to take classes or things like that. I would love to be able to have that kind of generosity in the world. And also really support causes that mean a lot to us, like environmental causes and things like that. And we do give money to charity, but to give a little extra more money to charity.

[00:06:03] Ramit: Let me pause you there, Adrienne. I love what you’re saying. You know what I haven’t heard at all? Is any specifics. So you mentioned tipping. I don’t know how much. You mentioned a scholarship. I don’t know how much. Charity, I don’t know how much. If we’re talking about an extra 2% tip, let’s just say it and be done with it because that’s easy. Look at Rob’s face right now. Rob’s like, what the fuck numbers are you talking about? Just tell me the number. I have the calculation open right now.

[00:06:29] Rob: Fear was coming up as she was describing all of this stuff.

[00:06:32] Ramit: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. This is very important. This is amazing. So Adrienne, you’re painting this beautiful vision. I love it. It’s powerful. It’s compelling, and it’s personal. That is a beautiful set of ingredients for a Rich Life.

[00:06:48] Rob did a great job. Rob, first you were clouded by fear. It’s like a cloud. That’s what I see. Fear, it’s a cloud, a poisonous gas you can’t see through, and you inhale. Look at me. And the toxin gets into you. It makes you unable to hear. It even makes you unable to see.

[00:07:13] It’s a noxious green gas cloud around you. That’s fear. That’s how I see it. But we cleared it away, and you were an excellent listener. So let’s try to ground this a little bit. Let’s start with the tipping. I love tipping. I love people who tip. I hate cheap tippers. What percentage do you have in mind in your Rich Life?

[00:07:34] Adrienne: I had 25%.

[00:07:37] Ramit: Love it. So do we all agree from now on you’re going to tip 25%? Is that the new rule?

[00:07:45] Rob: Yeah.

[00:07:47] Ramit: You’re sure? I don’t want to pressure anybody. It’s your money. It’s not mine. Tell me. If you’re worried, this is the time to speak up.

[00:07:53] Rob: I’m not worried. This is what I’ve been tipping mostly. So yeah, it’s fine.

[00:07:57] Ramit: All right. Adrienne, how do you feel about that?

[00:07:59] Adrienne: I feel good about it now that I know that I’m allowed to do it too.

[00:08:05] Ramit: Totally. What do you learn from that example, Adrienne, in describing your Rich Life?

[00:08:10] Adrienne: I learned that Rob and I don’t ask each other a lot of questions.

[00:08:15] Ramit: Correct. You two are not asking each other any questions, so it’s like one person’s just saying something, and then the ball just drops like dead. There’s dead silence here. And what I really want is for the two of you to get curious, like, oh my god, what do you mean by that? Wow. Wait, that’s amazing. Tipping. Why only 25? What if we did 30? How about at Christmas we do 50?

[00:08:38] You’re almost one upping each other. You’re asking, are we thinking big enough or like, hmm, I love the idea two trips a year, but how do you see us also being generous with our niece and nephew? I’m begging you to– it’s like you’re trying to cook a meal. I need you to get your hands in those ingredients and start moving things around. I need this to be tactile.


[00:09:01] Ramit: What just happened is really common. In many relationships, you have one person who dreams, and the other who crosses their arms and plays the role of the dream crusher. The dream crusher says things like, what about X? Or, well, I don’t know. Or, well, we might be able to do that, but– if you watched my Netflix show, How to Get Rich, you saw it with Sarah and Reggie. And thankfully, they were able to shift their role from dreamer and dream crusher to partners.

[00:09:32] If you find yourself in this dynamic, it’s so common. I want you to zoom out, zoom way out, and recalibrate your relationship dynamic. Ask your partner, hey, what do you notice about this dynamic? Ask each other what roles you play today, and what roles you would like to play tomorrow. That’s how you recalibrate that dynamic.

[00:09:54] We’ll be right back after this short break.

[00:09:57] Let’s get back to Adrienne and Rob.


[00:10:00] Ramit: Adrienne, why don’t you ask Rob what his Rich Life is, and Rob now has the benefit of going second? So he has heard a lot of the work we’ve put in here, which is great. It’s all an exercise. We’re learning how to talk about this for the first time. So no worries.

[00:10:16] Adrienne: Rob, what would you like your Rich Life to be? If you could dream about it, what would it be like?

[00:10:23] Rob: I feel really happy about the generosity piece, giving good gifts, and so on. I feel like the relaxed and happy part, for me would entail a lot more massages. Maybe next year’s trips would be fewer, longer, and really cut out some time for the two of us.

[00:10:53] What else do I want? Relaxed, happy, generous, being able to discuss our finances in a way that reduces the fear would go a long way. Because the thing that’s striking to me is just how much my fear is impacting you. I just hope that when we have a plan, that we know what we can spend on all these trips, that the fear will go away, but Ramit, you’re skeptical.

[00:11:23] Ramit: Your emotion is not going away from numbers on a spreadsheet. If that was going to happen, it would have happened about a million dollars ago. I love where you’re going with it, though. What do you think are three or five ways that you might be able to more effectively manage those fears?

[00:11:42] Rob: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that exercise that we did the other day that you walked me through, the 10-minute exercise. Maybe we need a regular practice because that really helped me.

[00:11:58] But working together on some of these things, creating more body awareness, and getting me out of my head– if you can help me get out of my head, I think that would be really helpful. Although I hate to put that on you because it’s a lot to ask for somebody.

[00:12:17] Adrienne: Maybe we can do it together. You can do it with me, and I can do it with you.

[00:12:21] Rob: Yeah. Sure. How else will I reduce my fear? I think the quarterly money day once we’ve got this plan laid will least let me know that you’re thinking about this stuff. What else here? How to get rid of fear. How to get rid of a lifelong fear.

[00:12:43] It’s funny. As much as we talk, we don’t talk about that specifically. We don’t talk about our upbringing. We have talked about it, but not maybe enough or as targeted as maybe it needs to be because I feel like for us to be learning about this stuff on a podcast after we’ve spent 18 years working on this together, it means some things that we’ve not been saying for the 18 years probably we should practice saying somehow, digging deeper into some of this stuff.

[00:13:28] Adrienne: So I think I hear you saying that we could have more conversations where we get more curious about each other.

[00:13:36] Ramit: What’s the thing you could do to solve fear? You’ve so far given two. I need three.

[00:13:44] Rob: Body awareness, money meeting, having a financial plan. I feel like we both don’t know, if what we’re spending is going to be all right.

[00:13:56] Ramit: All the stuff you talked about, the spinning, the ignoring childhood issues, not having the tools to communicate effectively with each other, what’s the obvious one here?

[00:14:07] Rob: You want me to say counseling?

[00:14:08] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:14:09] Rob: Counseling? Yeah.

[00:14:11] Ramit: I think it’s obvious, but it’s your Rich Life.

[00:14:14] Adrienne: This is actually what we’re doing this year.

[00:14:17] Ramit: We do have a coach.

[00:14:18] Adrienne: That’s what our whole entire year is about.

[00:14:22] Ramit: Amazing.

[00:14:23] Adrienne: This counseling thing.

[00:14:24] Ramit: Wait, how did that– hold on. Amazing. Great. I love to hear that.

[00:14:27] Adrienne: Yeah.

[00:14:28] Ramit: It’s not that I’m like shealing for therapists or whatever.

[00:14:31] Adrienne: No, no. Absolutely.

[00:14:33] Ramit: Can you tell me this whole, like it’s this year of counseling? What is that about? That’s so cool.

[00:14:38] Adrienne: Well, we hired a coach actually, who’s really cool, someone from our community. And then we just decided to commit to this. It’s an emotional program that’s on Zoom. It happens every other Tuesday, where we get together with a whole entire community of people, and we talk about different issues. And then we also have private counseling as well on Zoom.

[00:15:10] So that’s what this year was dedicated to. I was a little bit surprised when Rob said that we weren’t doing anything that he wanted to do this year because I feel like we’re doing a lot together that I thought we both decided on together.

[00:15:29] Rob: Yeah.

[00:15:30] Ramit: That’s because in your relationship, the numbers eclipse everything else. You could go on an amazing vacation and all you remember about it are the numbers. You can be doing all these amazing things, but the only true central focus in your relationship as it relates to your Rich Life is the numbers.

[00:15:50] And that will not change no matter how much money you have. Your money’s going to double. You know the math. Rule of 72. It’s going to double. It will not change until you tackle the actual symptoms. I’m glad you’re doing this coaching class. I think that’s amazing.

[00:16:06] Adrienne: The rule of 72, though, does that apply even if you’re not putting money into the market?

[00:16:12] Ramit: Totally irrelevant to a more important point.


[00:16:17] Ramit: Even when people are on the cusp of making a breakthrough, they will unconsciously fight to go right back to where they feel comfortable. Nobody turns on a dime and makes massive lifestyle changes overnight. It’s two steps forward, one step back. That’s normal. I want to say I wish they saw a therapist instead of a random coach, but I’m still glad that they are doing this.


[00:16:42] Ramit: You’re proving my point, which is that in your relationship, numbers eclipse everything else. Do you see what I mean? And it’s hard. It’s easier to ruminate and spin, but it’s hard to be like, what’s actually going on in here?

[00:16:59] I love that you’re starting to tackle it, but in my opinion, of all the stuff you talked about, relaxing, using your heart, helping the planet, getting to have fun and relax, massages, trips, the only way you actually get to do this and enjoy it is if you learn to manage your fears, Rob. Nothing else matters.

[00:17:22] Rob: Part of it is a lack of vision, and part of it is fear. I feel like the fear is almost like the fog you’re talking about. It’s a general fear. I don’t know if I have a specific–

[00:17:34] Ramit: I guess what I’m saying is, Rob, we can see that this is costing you a lot. It’s costing you trips. Most importantly, your fear is costing you the ability to connect with Adrienne over a Rich Life vision, one that you’ve both worked incredibly hard for.

[00:17:49] I’m a little surprised that you’re not attacking these fears with overwhelming force. It is the number one thing to do, the. If it were me and it was like, should I keep tracking my yellow pages and my apps and logging it? I’ll be like, stop doing all of that, and instead focus two hours a day on this.

[00:18:13] Adrienne: I do think that this coaching program is going to help a lot this year because that’s the number one thing that she said to us, was presence.

[00:18:24] Ramit: Great.

[00:18:25] Adrienne: That was the first thing that came up for us, is to be working on that as well.

[00:18:31] Ramit: How did you decide how much you’re going to spend on this coach, by the way?

[00:18:40] Adrienne: We talked about it together.

[00:18:45] Rob: I was going to say it’s 30 grand for the year, but you don’t care about the number.

[00:18:52] Ramit: Oh, in this case I do. 30 grand. All right.

[00:18:55] Rob: Yeah.

[00:18:56] Ramit: Listen, if it helps you together connect, it’ll be the best 30 grand you ever spent.

[00:19:04] Adrienne: It’s already been amazing, honestly.

[00:19:07] Ramit: Awesome.


[00:19:08] Ramit: We’ll open up their Conscious Spending Plan right after this.

[00:19:12] Let’s talk numbers. I’m going to go through their CSP, and if you want to follow along, you can download your own template of the Conscious Spending Plan completely free at iwt.com/csp.


[00:19:24] Ramit: Do you mind if we go ahead and look at your numbers?

[00:19:30] Adrienne: Sure.

[00:19:32] Ramit: All right.

[00:19:33] Rob: I’m excited to look at the numbers.

[00:19:35] Ramit: Rob’s like enough feelings. Take me to the CSP, the promised land. All right. So what was it like to do the CSP together?

[00:19:50] Rob: Did we do it together? Did I show you it?

[00:19:52] Adrienne: Here it is.

[00:19:53] Ramit: Oh. You literally gave her a printout and you said, here you go. So you prepared it, Rob, and then you showed it to Adrienne for her approval, which Adrienne, you approved all of it, correct?

[00:20:05] Adrienne: Sure.

[00:20:06] Ramit: All right. So you guys didn’t really do it together. All right, fine.

[00:20:09] Adrienne: We didn’t.

[00:20:12] Ramit: Y’all know what the instruction said, right? Do it together. Why do you think you didn’t do it together?

[00:20:17] Rob: Because I’m not a rule follower. I don’t know.

[00:20:20] Ramit: That’s not a good answer.


[00:20:22] Ramit: But there’s no point getting into it right now. Just know that half of the value of the CSP, for me at least, is in seeing how couples do it together, or if they do it separately as Rob and Adrienne did, which actually explains so much. Back to their numbers, and please remember, she’s 59 years old, and he is 62.


[00:20:42] Adrienne: Assets, 34,000. Investments, 1,896,754.

[00:20:56] Ramit: Okay, 1,896,754. All right. Next.

[00:21:00] Adrienne: Savings, 58,788.

[00:21:05] Rob: Okay, next.

[00:21:06] Adrienne: Debt, 0.

[00:21:08] Rob: Great. Total net worth?

[00:21:11] Adrienne: Yeah, 1,989,542.

[00:21:19] Ramit: Nice. All right. So just under 2-million-dollar net worth. What do you think about that?

[00:21:26] Rob: I think it’s good.

[00:21:27] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Cool. Rob, what do you think?

[00:21:32] Rob: I think it’s great, and I’m hoping it lasts for 30 years.

[00:21:37] Ramit: That’s the primary question. Will this money last for the rest of our lives?

[00:21:42] Rob: Yeah.

[00:21:44] Ramit: And y’all thought if we come on the show, we’ll get Ramit Sethi to give us an answer. Yes or no. And then once we know, we’ll hopefully feel better, right?

[00:21:55] Rob: Yes.

[00:21:56] Ramit: Okay. Do you still believe that? That’s the actual question that you need help with.

[00:22:05] Rob: I think that’s one small piece of what we need help with.

[00:22:08] Ramit: If that were the question keeping you up at night, there are plenty of ways to get that question answered. Right? You didn’t have to wait to talk to me. What would be some of the other ways to get that question answered?

[00:22:20] Adrienne: Rob went on to the Bogleheads. Is it Bogleheads?

[00:22:25] Ramit: Yes.

[00:22:27] Adrienne: And asked that question, and they said, yeah, it should work out.

[00:22:31] Ramit: All right. So?

[00:22:34] Rob: I’ve read a ton of financial blogs that talk about the 4% rule.

[00:22:39] Ramit: Why are you guys not spending money on solving your problems? I’m really confused. This is a money problem. It’s a math problem. It’s like, let me pay someone to model this out for me. Just tell me the answer and tell me the variables. That’s it. This is a classic financial advisor problem. And you almost never hear me saying like, get a financial advisor, but like, this is the clearest use of a financial advisor ever.

[00:23:08] Rob: Because we live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have a financial advisor nearby, for one. That’s a bad answer.

[00:23:15] Adrienne: That’s bullshit because we’ve got Zoom.

[00:23:17] Ramit: Thank you. You don’t even know where I am right now. What else? What is it really? Why are you posting on forums and not getting a financial advisor? Why?

[00:23:28] Rob: To try to save money because I’m scared to spend the money.

[00:23:33] Ramit: Is that it?

[00:23:35] Rob: I don’t know why we haven’t done that. We almost did it once, paid somebody an hourly to take a look at our numbers. This was when we still had the house, probably five, six years ago. We’re at a different place now, and it probably would be more beneficial now than back then.

[00:23:52] We’re, on some level, paying somebody an hourly to take a look at our numbers and project out what we’re going to have in retirement and so on. It would be useful on some level now, and I don’t know why we haven’t done it. I don’t have a good answer.


[00:24:06] Ramit: Here we have a couple with literally millions of dollars. He’s worried about money for the last 57 years, and he’s agonized over his business for the last 15. His number one worry is, will we have enough? And yet, he has not spent a single dollar trying to answer the question. This is what I mean when I say that the way you feel about money is highly uncorrelated with the amount in your bank.

[00:24:35] Guys, this is a problem. This is what happens when you read too many FIRE blogs and go way too deep into the world of frugality. You can’t even imagine using your money to make your life better because you’ve only been taught to play small, to save, to cut back, to do it yourself.

[00:24:55] This is a problem that could be solved in like weeks. And if you have millions of dollars, the amount you spend to get this answered will literally be replaced by interest within a single month. The point of this podcast is to help you understand how complex our relationship with money can be. And Rob and Adrienne are making my case for me.

[00:25:16] You can have millions of dollars, but if you don’t look beneath the surface and ask the tougher questions, what’s all this money for? What stories do I believe? What is our Rich Life? And how can we use our money to start living it? You will forever be stuck.

[00:25:32] We’ll return to the story after these messages.

[00:25:35] Back to the conversation now where I press them on why they haven’t taken action yet.


[00:25:42] Ramit: 15 plus years, you’ve been on this journey. You’ve accomplished a lot. You have $2 million of net worth. Most of it liquid. It’s very impressive. You have a question that has been plaguing you. I use that word intentionally. It’s not a question that’s just been on the back burner. It’s a word that has plagued you. You ruminate. You worry. You agonize.

[00:26:06] It’s caused odd fights. This has been almost 20 years, and you have an easy solution. You could knock this out by Friday. You could have had this answered at any point. It would have cost you less than 5, 000 bucks, which you make an interest. Why? Why have you not done it?

[00:26:29] Rob: I don’t have a good answer. You think my fear is stopping me from looking at this?

[00:26:39] Ramit: I don’t know. If you don’t know the answer to something, how might you find the answer to it? Is there anyone else on the internet we might be able to ask?

[00:26:53] Rob: Okay. All right. Adrienne, you tell me, why haven’t we done this?

[00:26:58] Ramit: Ask her again, but ask her in a way that actually invites her answer. I want you to really lean into this.

[00:27:05] Rob: Okay. Adrienne, why do you think we’ve avoided seeing a financial advisor who can answer our retirement questions?

[00:27:14] Adrienne: I think because we already know the answers. We’ve been studying it for so long that I feel like we probably know what they would say. I’d be open to it. I think it’s a good idea, actually. I don’t know why we haven’t done it either, actually. It’s a really good question. But I think also, there’s just a level of trust around who to trust.

[00:27:44] Ramit: How can you talk about trust when you haven’t talked to five financial advisors and interviewed them?

[00:27:48] Adrienne: Right. Exactly.

[00:27:51] Ramit: So you haven’t even gotten to the trust part of it yet.

[00:27:53] Adrienne: Yeah. I guess I just watched other financial advisors I thought seemed like bullshit, honestly.

[00:28:07] Ramit: Hey, me too. They gave you some report. They go, oh, that’ll be 1.15% AUM. It’s like, fuck you. Why? I don’t need to pay that much for that.

[00:28:18] Adrienne: Exactly.

[00:28:19] Ramit: However, I have seen a financial advisor myself. Did you know that? Yeah, Mr. Don’t-pay-AUM. And most people don’t need a financial advisor, which I believe. I myself have hired a financial advisor. I paid him hourly. He charged a very healthy rate. I was happy to pay it.

[00:28:38] I said to him, I know this investing stuff. I know this personal finance stuff, but I want a second set of eyes on my asset allocation to make sure I haven’t missed something. Here are my key questions. Come back. Let me know what you find. And he did find some stuff. He said, overall, great. A couple of things. Consider this. Wow. What did I do differently than what you have been doing?

[00:29:06] Adrienne: What you did brilliantly is be a student and ask for advice.

[00:29:12] Ramit: Yes. Even a guy who has written a bestselling book about money had to be humble enough to realize there are things I don’t know. Totally agree. What else? Rob?

[00:29:24] Rob: You took action.

[00:29:25] Ramit: Yes.

[00:29:26] Rob: Why haven’t we done it? That’s the question. Inertia. Fear of what they might say, that if they start recommending things, we don’t want to do.

[00:29:38] Ramit: Did you avoid going to the doctor?

[00:29:42] Rob: Not anymore. I used to.

[00:29:44] Ramit: I heard that. Look at Adrienne’s face. Amazing. Fucking amazing. Amazing. Rob, stop doing that. I noticed that. Every time I ask you, you go, well, I used to, but now I’m better. Stop benchmarking yourself.

[00:29:57] Rob: I just went to the heart doctor last month. I’m going to the general physician.

[00:30:01] Ramit: He goes, I went to the heart doctor because I had a heart attack. Look how great I am. I went to the heart doctor. Only on this show do we laugh about someone having a heart attack. Rob, you didn’t have a heart attack, right?

[00:30:15] Rob: No, not at all.

[00:30:16] Ramit: Thank God, because if so, that was going to make me look really, really bad.

[00:30:19] Rob: A bad joke. Yeah, sure.

[00:30:21] Ramit: Yeah, that would be bad. Okay, I’m glad you went to the heart doctor. Adrienne’s face tells me– Adrienne, do you want to care to comment?

[00:30:29] Adrienne: It’s his choice.

[00:30:31] Ramit: Great answer. That says everything we need to know. You know what I’m getting at here? A lot of men in particular, they don’t go to see the doctor. They’re always putting the shit off. I thought it was a funny sitcom joke, and I realized– I started talking to them. I started looking into it. There’s a lot of fear.

[00:30:49] What if the doctor tells me that I actually haven’t been doing things right, that actually I’m sick, that actually I’ve got 10 cavities, whatever. Rob, you’ve used the word fear a lot today, which I appreciate you being candid about. It clearly is a major issue.

[00:31:04] The fear that a financial advisor might tell you, you haven’t been doing it right all along, that’s legit. That’s the same as a lot of people saying, I don’t want to hear what my doctor has to tell me. That’s why I asked the question and why I’m amused at Adrienne’s response.

[00:31:21] I’m glad you’re going to see the doctor. That’s awesome. I also want to point out that the major difference between what I did and what you did is I took decisive action. That really is my wish for you, is you could spend literally the rest of your life ruminating and worrying.

[00:31:42] Half-joked Rob, but it wasn’t really a joke that you’ve been worrying about money for 57 years. You don’t have 57 more years. I don’t want you to have to worry. Money is not something that has to worry you. You have $2 million, and yet, for something as simple as spending $3,000 to $5,000 to get a definitive answer on the one thing that has been plaguing you, neither of you were decisive enough to do it for the last 15 years.

[00:32:15] If it were me, if I was 59, 62 years old, I would be in a fucking rush to live my Rich Life, especially because as you know, life isn’t linear. When it goes bad towards the end, it goes bad fast. And that’s it. So I’m in a big rush if I’m you.

[00:32:35] Rob: I see the finiteness of life. And liken it to a basketball game, we’re in the fourth quarter now.


[00:32:46] Ramit: The real problem is not the numbers. It goes far deeper than that. But even though that’s still true, they want numbers. So I’m going to give them numbers, and I’m going to give them some very eye-opening scenarios. I went to our partner Facet, and I asked their advisors to run three scenarios for Rob and Adrienne.

[00:33:03] We provided a bunch of information, including their CSP, portfolio, insurance, and on and son. And then my team took that report, and we worked with facet to tailor these scenarios to Rob and Adrienne’s life. For example, we know that they want to be more generous. We know that Rob wants to cut back at work.

[00:33:21] And we incorporated all of these things to give them very specific options that fit them like a glove. If you are looking for personalized help from financial advisors who do not charge AUM, check out facet.com/ramit.


[00:33:37] Ramit: Now your CSP has something very interesting about it, which is your income has gone down, because Rob, you cut back on hours at your company, so your income has gone– taken quite a hit, correct?

[00:33:54] Rob: Yes, I didn’t fight it. So as it slowed down, I just let it do its thing. I decided that trying to pump it back up, was not, and this is sort of one of the luxuries of being in our situation, that I didn’t want to spend my 60s fighting to make every last buck.

[00:34:12] Ramit: Cool. I like that. All right. And Adrienne, you are not earning money. I believe you are in a class right now. Is that correct? Coaching program?

[00:34:21] Adrienne: Well, I actually finished the coaching program two years ago. I had one year of being a coach last year, and I made not too much. So I’m beginning my second year of being a coach.

[00:34:36] Ramit: Not earning yet. Do you anticipate you will earn at some point?

[00:34:40] Adrienne: I don’t know. I’ve been struggling. Marketing is really challenging to me.

[00:34:46] Ramit: All right. So your gross monthly income is $4,506. You put a note here, this is income from Rob working part time in his business. You drew $70,000 from your 2 million in investments, and you’ve been using that to cover your monthly living expenses through the year, right?

[00:35:11] Rob: Right.

[00:35:12] Ramit: All right. So you withdrew part of your investments. So you’re making about 54,000 a year gross, about 45, 000 net. Your fixed costs are 124%, but again, the CSP breaks under certain conditions. Just to highlight a couple of things, you’re renting because you sold your house.

[00:35:36] Your rent is 2,550 per month. That’s $2,550 a month. That’s 62% of your gross income. These numbers don’t make any sense if we were using a typical CSP analysis. That’s why I was so excited to get a chance to talk to you. And just so we know, you have about 60k in savings. All right, fine. And then it appears you have $2,500 a month for guilt-free spending. Is that getting spent?

[00:36:04] Rob: Yes.

[00:36:04] Adrienne: Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:36:05] Rob: Absolutely. Yeah. This year we have 10 trips planned. Eight of them are flights, two of them are car trips, hotels, weddings, all kinds of stuff. It’s about $30,000. And I went backwards. I budgeted the $30,000 for the 10 trips, and we then made it into a monthly number.

[00:36:25] Ramit: First of all, very impressive. That’s awesome. Love it. Are you excited about the trips?

[00:36:31] Adrienne: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:32] Rob: Some of them.

[00:36:36] Ramit: That’s a good answer. If you want my feedback, I’ll give it to you. It’s short. I’m certainly going to talk to you about the retirement question. That is the primary question I know you want. But in terms of your expenses, the groceries are pretty expensive. You probably have several hundred dollars you could cut if you really needed to there.

[00:36:55] The question might be if we cut our groceries by let’s just say 500 to $1,000 a month, whatever the number is, where would we redirect that money? Overall, that’s the only real feedback I have. You have no debt. You rent. Your savings are solid relative to your fixed costs. And your investment is 2 million bucks, which is really the primary area that we need to focus now. Any questions?

[00:37:24] Rob: No.

[00:37:25] Ramit: Well, I spoke to the advisors at Facet. So Facet is our partner. They’re the ones who do financial planning. They charge a flat fee. They don’t charge AUM. And I’m very selective about who I work with. So I went to them. I said, I would like you to take a look in detail at Rob and Adrienne’s numbers. Take into account their age. Take into account a variety of different factors, such as Social Security, and run the analysis.

[00:37:57] Tell me, can they have enough money? So we actually went back and forth, and we created a few scenarios I would like to run past you. Keep in mind, for these scenarios, any good advisor is going to make assumptions. Assumptions could be right or wrong. Typically, they’re going to assume you live longer than you actually will because you don’t want to be like 98 years old and running out of money.

[00:38:24] That’s a big financial planning no, no. So they’re going to make assumptions on that. They’re going to make assumptions on when you withdraw Social Security and a variety of other things. Could be right. Could be wrong, but typically, they’re good places to start. Shall I walk you through what, Facet found?

[00:38:44] Rob: Please.

[00:38:45] Ramit: All right. So first off, I’ve got a scenario for you. You told us, Rob, that you could retire this year if you wanted to. You could just stop working. Let’s see what would happen with your numbers. Let’s take a look. In this scenario, Scenario 1, where you retire right now, let’s see how it plays out.


[00:39:14] Ramit: If you’re listening to this episode, I would encourage you to watch this part on YouTube so you can see the graphics and the details. You can just go to YouTube and search for Ramit Sethi and then click follow to subscribe to my channel while you’re there.


[00:39:27] Ramit: Assuming you stop working this year, you keep your expenses where they are, at 4,900 a month, no wiggle room. You continue to travel for coaching retreats, etc. $30,000 a year, and you live until 95. We’re assuming that because you’re in good health. And again, you don’t want to run out of money before you die. What do you notice on screen, Rob?

[00:39:57] Rob: When I’m 90 years old, I’m still going to have $1.2 million.

[00:40:01] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:40:02] Adrienne: I noticed that I don’t understand this one.

[00:40:05] Ramit: Okay. Tell you what, that’s fair enough. I appreciate you saying that. Why don’t you talk it out? Talk it out loud. Let’s see if you could make sense of it, but go ahead and talk it out.

[00:40:13] Adrienne: Okay. Let me put my glasses on.

[00:40:15] Ramit: Sure, sure, sure. What’s that little red dot you see?

[00:40:18] Adrienne: That’s the amount of money that we have.

[00:40:23] Ramit: Yeah. That’s today. That’s how much you have.

[00:40:24] Adrienne: Today. Yeah. And then at 67 and 70, we would have 1.7, and at 77 and 80, we would have 1.5.

[00:40:38] Ramit: 1.5 million. Just so we’re specific.

[00:40:40] Adrienne: Yeah. 87 and 90, we would have 1.2 million, and at 94 and 97, we would have a negative 114,000.

[00:40:53] Ramit: So what does this tell you?

[00:40:55] Adrienne: We’re in pretty good shape unless we live to 97.

[00:40:58] Ramit: Yeah. That’s exactly what it tells you. That’s exactly right. So actually, I think you can understand this chart. I think you’re pretty savvy. You read it exactly right. Let me tell you a couple of details here. If the market continues performing the way it has, Adrienne, when you die in this assumption at 94, which is quite a long life, you would have negative $114,000. If the market does not do well, you could run out of money as early as age 82 and 85.

[00:41:35] Adrienne: Okay.

[00:41:36] Ramit: You would be able to leave nothing to your nieces or nephews. You would have no flexibility on expenses. What you spend is what you spend no extra flexibility, no extra days on vacation, things like that. Overall, it’s fairly risky, but it could work.

[00:42:00] Adrienne: Okay. So this is the scenario if Rob quits his job today.

[00:42:05] Rob: Yeah.

[00:42:06] Adrienne: Okay. I think it’s a little tight.

[00:42:13] Rob: I don’t think I’m retiring now if I look at that chart, because the whole point of this is not to run out of money. I’ve always known that my 20s and my 30s were a wasted couple of decades.

[00:42:29] I had some belief similar to that guy, Fernando, who you recently had on your podcast. I wasn’t even making his income, but I had similar viewpoints on certain things. And to show up in my mid-40s with 60,000-dollar debt, that didn’t come from nowhere. That’s lost time that probably if I had been saving, you wouldn’t be looking at a chart that shows a negative 114,000 somewhere down the line.

[00:42:58] Ramit: What do you wish you had done with money?

[00:43:02] Rob: Oh boy. I would have been a different person. I had an import business in the late ’80s that I probably saved 150 grand on by the time that was done, and I just blew that money in the ’90s. I wish I hadn’t blown that money in the ’90s.

[00:43:25] Back then, I wouldn’t invest. I had gold coins in a safe deposit box in a bank, that kind of stuff. And so I didn’t know about investing. I didn’t trust the authorities. I just figured Wall Street was a scam, all of that stuff. I just had all these beliefs that would limit my ability to invest and make money.

[00:43:49] Ramit: Hmm. Limiting beliefs. What about you, Adrienne?

[00:44:03] Adrienne: Yeah, I wish I had started understanding money in an earlier time and understood more about it for sure. I’m still not unhappy with what I did though. I’ve been in the world of massage therapists for a long time. It breaks my heart, honestly, to see the massage therapists and what happens to them.

[00:44:33] And they’re such great people, and they help so many people feel. And I remember this one friend of mine who had cancer, and she came in, and she said, yeah, I had $5,000 with a financial advisor, and they just told me that the market was terrible, and I’ve lost almost all of it.

[00:44:57] And I said to her, honey, it’s been a bull market. How can this be? She just looked at me like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. And it just breaks my heart sometimes. The people who are right brained, it’s like we’re left out of that conversation maybe by choice, but partly because we don’t think that it’s possible to understand what it is. It’s possible to understand that world.

[00:45:30] Ramit: It is.

[00:45:31] Adrienne: And it is possible.

[00:45:33] Ramit: It is. It’s not a different language. It’s not something that only certain people can understand. Everyone can– artists, creatives, painters, writers, tech people, everybody. And in my mind, we would never say, oh, I’m right brained or left brained. I can’t be a good parent. I can’t be a good friend. I can’t be a good parent.

[00:45:54] We would never say that. No. I have to. I’m going to. It’s important. And I feel the same way about money. It affects everything in our life, where we eat, where we live, where we send our kids, who we are. I can’t accept someone saying, I’m just not good at money. I’m just not good at math. No, we can all get good at it.

[00:46:18] All right. Let me show you another scenario. You told me you love to travel. You told me that you want to strengthen your relationship. You want to be more generous. In this scenario, Rob, you said you currently work like three to five hours a week, making about 250 an hour. Is that right?

[00:46:40] Rob: Yeah. Between 150 and 250. I can’t tell. Yeah.

[00:46:43] Ramit: All right. So you could keep this up until you are 70. I’d like to give you a second to just look at the chart, and then let’s talk about it.

[00:46:57] Rob: At the end of life, we end up with over a million dollars doing it that way.

[00:47:02] Ramit: Yeah. And remember, that’s if you live until 94, 97. It continues to grow. It grew last year, but I felt like because the market was doing so well last year, that was the only reason it grew last year. For the next seven years or eight years, it has the balance growing as opposed to leveling off so early.

[00:47:30] Adrienne: It seems more relaxing to know that everything is going to be okay, I guess.

[00:47:40] Ramit: Okay. I love that comment. How do you know this chart is more relaxing?

[00:47:48] Adrienne: Because there’s not a negative sign on it.

[00:47:52] Ramit: That’s honest. You can see that the number starts dropping precipitously towards the end of life, but that’s a very, very long life. You can see that it’s relatively stable throughout, which is nice. That’s a testament to how hard you two have worked, especially coming from a position of being in debt that late in life, coming together, paying it off, keeping it consistent, managing your expenses. Nice work. You’ve put yourself in a position like this.

[00:48:20] It’s really quite impressive. Just a couple of thoughts on this scenario. If the market does poorly, you might run out of money at age 88 and 91, but that’s still a lot better than running out of money at 82, 85, like we saw in the last scenario. You would have to keep your expenses at 4,900 a month, consistent with where they are.

[00:48:47] It’s a tight budget, but you could do it. I’m confident you could do it. You’re working three to five hours a week, Rob, not bad, for the next eight years. But that means nothing can happen to you. You can’t get sick. You can’t get injured. Nothing can happen to you in this plan in order for it to work. What do you think about that, Rob? Think about how you feel about having to work three to five hours a week for the next few years.

[00:49:23] Rob: I’m doing it now. It’s fine. It’s such a small amount of work. And in general, if I don’t worry about every last client, every last account, every last job I get, then if I can relax into it, it’s all right.

[00:49:46] Ramit: Great. All right. But I wanted you to be able to really lean into your Rich Life. You told me you wanted to travel more. You wanted to have some sort of convenience. You want to be generous and help your nieces and nephews. So we worked out a plan with the Facet advisors where we said, what if you continue to travel at 30k per year?

[00:50:17] What if you took that 4,900 a month in expenses and added another 600 a month buffer? So now you have 5,500 a month or an extra 7,200 bucks a year to spend. What if we also added the fact that you could contribute 30, 000 a year into 529 plans for your nieces and nephews for a total of $200,000 towards education? Shall we look at scenario 3?

[00:50:55] Adrienne: So it’s basically the same as the last one, except for we’re spending just a little bit more. Is that what it is?

[00:51:04] Ramit: Yeah, that’s a good assessment.

[00:51:05] Adrienne: Okay.

[00:51:06] Ramit: More money. So remember that the numbers, you’re not only spending more. You’re also contributing considerable amounts towards nieces and nephews 529. Generosity.

[00:51:24] Adrienne: Yeah.

[00:51:25] Ramit: Okay.

[00:51:26] Rob: I noticed it’s 20 hours a week until 65.

[00:51:29] Ramit: I bet you do. I bet you do.

[00:51:33] Adrienne: I was confused about that.

[00:51:34] Ramit: Yeah. In this scenario, you have to work more. 20 hours a week, and the income has to go up. So let’s talk about the implications of this plan. This is essentially a way for you to spend quite a bit more money living, but I want to make clear the trade offs that Facet advisors came up with.

[00:51:55] In this case, you’re traveling. You have a lot more spending flexibility. You’re way more generous with your nieces and nephews. You end up with over a million dollars, well over a million, depending on when you die. That’s a legacy that could be left to family, charity, whoever it is you decide.

[00:52:18] Honestly, you could also decide, I love my nieces and nephews, but frankly, I like going to Barcelona more. So maybe we’ll give them a little bit. We’re going to cut that amount a little bit and have a very nice siesta. That’s up to you. Let’s talk about what it would take. In this case, you’d have to ramp up your income.

[00:52:37] Rob, you’d have to go to 20 hours a week, but only three more years. So working much more, but for a compressed amount of time. You would essentially need to generate $5,000 a week as a household. Question is, could you do it?

[00:52:57] Rob: I’m not sure. I’m really not sure. If she manages to launch her coaching business, and it starts to pull in real money, that’s different. Then it’s possible. I know I only made 54,000 last year. I’m probably going to make 70 this year, I’m guessing. But next year will probably be another slow one. So if I wanted to try to bump those numbers up, it’s going to take a lot more effort.

[00:53:32] Ramit: Do you want to ask Adrienne what she thinks?

[00:53:36] Rob: Well, you heard my take on it. Your take on your side of the equation, I’d be interested in. Yeah.

[00:53:42] Adrienne: I would love to be able to contribute to that in terms of getting my business to work, or getting another massage job, or whatever, if that’s what we decide that we want to go with.

[00:54:03] Ramit: What do you notice about these three different scenarios? When you think of all three of them together, the pluses, minuses, the trade offs, what do you notice?

[00:54:12] Rob: The first one where I just stopped working and we hit a negative number 30 years from now or whatever, that doesn’t work. And the last one, where somehow we’re making $250,000 a year again, seems unrealistic to me in this moment, so I’m not sure that worked. The middle ground seems like the most possible of the three just because I’m not willing to stop working if it’s going to jeopardize our retirement. And the last one, I’m not so sure is doable. So I’m in the middle.

[00:54:49] Adrienne: That’s good to hear. Yeah. Also, Rob said that you have some kind of thing that helps people with their businesses, or coaching, or something like that.

[00:55:02] Ramit: Yeah, Earnable. That’s a program we have that helps people start businesses and find customers, turn it into a profitable business. Yeah, we love helping people start their businesses, coaching, consulting, product businesses. We’ve helped many, many thousands of people do it.


[00:55:19] Ramit: If you want to start earning more money to live a bigger, richer life, I put together a guide on finding your first profitable idea. You can get it at iwt.com/findanidea.


[00:55:31] Adrienne: So maybe that’s something that we could look into as well.

[00:55:36] Ramit: Yeah, I think that would be great. How do you feel about these scenarios that you just saw presented to you?

[00:55:52] Rob: I’m right down the middle. I don’t feel disappointed. I wish you could– I don’t normally look back on my life with regret. I wish the 20s and 30s would have been different, but it’s who we were at the time. I’m not willing to risk running out of money, so I’m not going to just quit.

[00:56:10] And I’m not necessarily expecting to make tons of money like I used to, so I don’t want to plan for the bigger scenario. But the middle scenario works, and I’m good with it, and I don’t feel scared about the middle scenario in any way. But I don’t normally think of making plans like something’s going to happen to me. I don’t think that way generally.

[00:56:44] Ramit: My silence is meant to help you realize that you two have to have conversations on your own. In your conversations, which I hear a lot of silence, I don’t hear either of you asking each other, hey, what do you think? What do you think? Here’s what I’m thinking, but I’m not sure about this one thing. This thing really worries me, but you’re always great at that. What do you think?

[00:57:08] You worry. Adrienne, you reassure. Each of you have that job, that role. It does not matter how much money you have. Have you noticed that? Rob, when you were starting your business, you worried, and Adrienne, reassured. Now your business has grown way more. Your portfolio has grown way more, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars more. Still playing the same song, still dancing the same dance. Now, the question is, do you want to keep doing it?

[00:57:39] Adrienne: The one thing that does strike me is that I don’t want Rob to feel like everything’s on his shoulders, because we have a track record of prioritizing something and going after it. So why not prioritize our life right this moment?

[00:57:57] Ramit: That’s such a cool way to look at it, Adrienne. I didn’t make that connection, that you both went after it. There are very few couples I’ve met, like the two of you, who just went after it together. And I even love these little details you shared with me. It was so cool. Rob, you mentioned to Adrienne, like, I have all this debt. I don’t know what to do.

[00:58:18] And Adrienne was like, no, we’re going to combine our finances and we’re going to tackle this. You’re going to watch Suze Orman every single week with me, and we’re going to do this together. And you did it. Do you know how rare that is? It is so rare. I can count it on one hand out of all the people I talked to, that they do it together and they crush it. Now you’re on to the next part of life. You earned it. What a tragedy to live a smaller life than you have to.

[00:58:50] Rob: We have our freedom. We have our money. We have time. We have everything in place now, finally. And so, yeah, I don’t want that to change.

[00:59:01] Ramit: If you have everything in place, why do you worry about money every single day?

[00:59:05] Rob: You always ask the hard questions.

[00:59:09] Adrienne: It feels like we’re close. We’re so close to it being pretty easy for us.


[00:59:22] Ramit: Over the course of two episodes, I heard Rob and Adrienne, specifically Rob, talk about how he just needed to know the numbers. And I spent a lot of time digging into their relationship with money, including their upbringing and their money dynamic together.

[00:59:37] And eventually, I gave them exactly what they wanted. I showed them the exact numbers in the exact scenarios they asked for. But did you notice? Didn’t really seem to change anything, did it? Their conversations with each other were still filled with silence. There was no rainbow that appeared, where Rob suddenly sees the angel singing and feels good about money.

[01:00:01] That’s not how it works. A Rich Life is something you have to actively pursue to live today, tomorrow, and 30 years from now. Now, I’m very proud of Rob and Adrienne for having such a candid conversation with me. Remember, they paid off tens of thousands of dollars of debt together, and they accumulated a lot of money together as well.

[01:00:21] The next chapter of their life, though, has to be different. They already won this battle, so now they have to turn the page and focus on healing their relationship with money and living their rich lives. Let’s hear their follow-ups now. First, from Adrienne.

[01:00:35] Adrienne: Here’s the things that I learned after being on your podcast. I was thinking, why is Ramit saying we need counseling? We’ve had a lot of counseling. It took me a second, but upon reflection, I was like, oh. What’s actually going on here is there is a power imbalance, and that I’m giving my power away. So getting curious around how do we create a more equitable power balance in our relationship without creating a war?

[01:01:03] We don’t have a spending problem. What we’ve got here is a joy problem. How do we enjoy things? It’s like we’re eating a big meal and not even really tasting that meal. So creating a lot more enjoyment in the future. And lastly, the thing that I noticed is that fear is like a tyrant in the room, and it is driving that power imbalance and that lack of joy. My plan is to create a shared vision and get curious with each other around that shared vision in the future. So thank you, Ramit. You’re a powerful coach. Appreciate you.

[01:01:45] Ramit: And now, Rob’s follow-up.

[01:01:48] Rob: My biggest takeaways from our conversation is that I realize my fear keeps me from living in the moment, and I don’t listen as well as I thought I did. I also realize what it’s like for Adrienne living in the same house where my fear and moods are always present. Spending the last 18 years paying off debt and striving for financial independence hasn’t totally prepared me for this next phase of life we’re entering.

[01:02:12] My biggest surprise was just how much my fear dominated our conversation. I usually experience it like background noise, not really conscious about how it affects my day to day. It’s not rational, and managing it going forward is a big priority. And the other surprise was just how much easier it is to watch Ramit’s podcast and learn from others than it was to look within and confront my own stuff.

[01:02:41] And as far as my plan, my first priority will be ongoing work with our coach around fear. Second, we’ll be finding and paying a fee-only financial advisor who could provide a more detailed retirement plan. And finally, changing our money conversations, or a lot of them, away from our yellow pages and toward a shared vision of how we want to live. Thanks Ramit, and all the best.

[01:03:08] Ramit: Big thanks again to Rob and Adrienne. And I want to thank our partners at Facet for their detailed analyses of the finances. If you’re looking for a financial advisor to run your numbers in detail, check out facet.com/ramit. They can take all of your financial documents.

[01:03:22] They’ll ask you about your goals and your plans, including vacation, children, housing, retirement, all of it, and they can help build a specific plan for you. Check them out at facet.com/ramit. That’s facet.com/R-A-M-I-T.