Episode #161: “He hid $77k in CC debt from me—but can’t tell me what he bought”

Jim and Dana are 58, five years into their second marriages, and coping with changes in their new lifestyle in different ways. Jim is set on providing as he follows patterns from his past, hiding tens of thousands in debt. Dana daydreams of her past in California—and the lifetime of alimony she passed up. 

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Jim: She said, if you spend $1 without talking to me about it, that’s it.

[00:00:06] Dana: You’ve hidden 77,000 and you come to me now. Because it had happened three times, I just thought maybe I’m throwing good money after bad. I felt like I made it too easy, and so I’m afraid that it could happen again. I’m afraid to trust him with the money.

[00:00:27] Ramit: If you had to describe how you think she feels right now, what would you say?

[00:00:32] Jim: Exactly how she said, absolutely betrayed.

[00:00:36] Dana: This is my previous life. This is what I thought I was getting away from. I know what it’s like not to trust somebody. And it’s extremely hard to get that back. And we have less time to earn trust back.

[00:00:48] Ramit: So where’d the money go? That’s what I want to know.

[00:00:52] Dana: Me too.


[00:00:53] Ramit: Today I get the chance to speak to Dana and Jim. They’re both 58 years old, both nearing retirement, and they’re worried if they will have enough. This is the second marriage for both of them. One of the reasons I love this podcast is I get to share stories from people in all different parts of life– young, old millionaires, people with $200,000 of debt, gay, straight, immigrants, people who live all over the world.

[00:01:17] My hope is to show you how similar we all are when it comes to money. And I also hope that you will listen to these couples and apply their lessons to your own life. For example, when I speak to older couples, they’re giving us the gift of a crystal ball into our own future so that we can learn from their journey and decide which lessons we want to apply.

[00:01:39] Now, for Dana and Jim, there’s something shocking that happened that broke their financial trust, and they realized it as they were filling out their conscious spending plan. Let’s get right into it.


[00:01:51] Dana: As I was filling it out, I found an additional quantity of debt that I did not know he had, and that we have a whole history of this. It was pretty traumatic.

[00:02:04] Ramit: What happened?

[00:02:05] Dana: When we first moved, he came to me, and he said, hey, there’ve been some expenses. It’s not bad. It’s not bad. I just want to consolidate it and get it paid off. I don’t know that I asked him, maybe I did, how much it was, but I remember thinking, that’s manageable. It was about maybe $20,000. And I thought, okay. But a year later, he came to me and said, I need you to handle everything. I have $77,000 in credit card debt.

[00:02:36] Ramit: From 20k to 77,000.

[00:02:40] Dana: I didn’t know what to say. That was just so unheard of. And I kept thinking, where’s $77,000? I don’t see what we got for that. And he was unable to tell me how it was spent. I was furious, that whole concept of financial infidelity. You’ve hidden 77,000 and you come to me now.

[00:03:05] But I tried to be calm in the moment because it’s a problem, and it had to be fixed. And he just said, can you fix this? And I put together a plan, and he said, I’m going to work really hard, and I’m going to do all these things. And so I said, okay, you’re good. I didn’t monitor him day in, day out. And then after filling out the CSP, I found another 22,000?

[00:03:32] Jim: It wasn’t that much.

[00:03:33] Dana: Okay. I don’t remember exactly because by that point it was–

[00:03:38] Jim: About 12 more.

[00:03:40] Dana: But I was like, I can’t believe that this has happened three times. I can’t trust this person. This is my previous life. This is what I thought I was getting away from, not monetarily. I thought I could trust him. It felt just like finding out he was seeing somebody on the side. It felt that bad. It’s been tough since then.

[00:04:09] Ramit: Thank you for sharing that. Sorry, you’ve had to go through that. And Jimmy, I definitely want to hear your perspective. Dana, how long ago was that conversation?

[00:04:21] Dana: A month ago.

[00:04:23] Ramit: Okay.

[00:04:23] Dana: Maybe.

[00:04:23] Jim: No.

[00:04:24] Dana: Two months? More recent?

[00:04:27] Jim: A bit farther.

[00:04:29] Dana: Whenever we filled up the CSP.

[00:04:31] Jim: It was February, so it’s two months.

[00:04:33] Dana: Okay.

[00:04:34] Ramit: Is that a big difference, Jimmy? Whether it’s one month or two months ago?

[00:04:40] Jim: No.

[00:04:42] Ramit: Okay. How come the need to correct? I’m curious.

[00:04:45] Jim: Hmm. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m being heard, so I feel like I need to when I can positively say something that’s right or not right.

[00:05:02] Ramit: I can promise you you’re going to have a chance to be heard today. I guarantee that. Let’s rewind to that CSP conversation. She handed you the CSP, which had some numbers filled out. What do you remember feeling when she handed you that CSP?

[00:05:16] Jim: Sick.

[00:05:18] Ramit: Why?

[00:05:20] Jim: Because I knew that I had failed utterly. I was in debt, an incredible amount, and didn’t know if I was going to be able to claw my way back out of it.

[00:05:31] Ramit: Okay. All right. So you filled out some numbers, and then what happened?

[00:05:35] Jim: She justifiably got very angry. So we have our problems because we’re human beings, but I really do enjoy being with her, and she’s fun to travel with.

[00:05:56] Ramit: Okay. I appreciate that. Just to go back on that last thing you said, we have our problems. Let’s zoom in on the money stuff because that’s why we’re talking today. You have you, the collective you, have your financial challenges because, what? It’s not because you’re human. What is the primary reason that you have the financial challenges that we’re talking today?

[00:06:19] Jim: I didn’t have a plan.

[00:06:20] Ramit: A lot of people don’t have a plan, and they don’t end up in $80,000 of credit card debt. So where’d the money go? That’s what I want to know.

[00:06:31] Dana: Me too.

[00:06:35] Jim: Robbing Peter to pay Paul, the gas, electricity, the gas in the vehicles. Everything was happening on a credit card. So at that point, we’re already at 20,000 plus. And then we had some furnace issues about three times. Those were about a grand every time it happened.

[00:06:53] Ramit: Okay.

[00:06:54] Jim: And then I’ve done some stuff that just hasn’t went well. I’ve raised cattle and always made something on that. Well, I haven’t done so well this time.

[00:07:06] Ramit: Let’s just go through the numbers. How much on the steers?

[00:07:09] Jim: About seven.

[00:07:10] Ramit: 7k. All right. So far you’re at 30k. How to get to 80?

[00:07:14] Jim: When we went on trips. It just depended. It was usually minimum 1,000, sometimes 1,500.

[00:07:21] Ramit: Times how many trips?

[00:07:24] Jim: Three.

[00:07:25] Ramit: All right. 5,000 bucks. Okay. What else?

[00:07:29] Jim: Bought clothes when I shouldn’t have.

[00:07:32] Ramit: That’s 1,000 bucks, 2,000 bucks.

[00:07:35] Jim: There’s probably more than that.

[00:07:37] Ramit: Wait, what? What type of do you like, Jimmy? You’re speaking my language all of a sudden.

[00:07:43] Dana: We went to Italy. I like to shop. He could get into each place trying on leather coats, a leather bag. He wears cashmere socks.

[00:07:54] Jim: No, no, no, no, no, no. They’re Paka. They’re Paka.

[00:07:56] Dana: Okay. They’re from alpaca. And it’s the same idea. They’re expensive socks.

[00:08:01] Jim: It was more than three grand. It was probably closer to five or six. Because it wasn’t just for me. I would buy stuff for other people too. I loved giving gifts.

[00:08:11] Ramit: Mm-hmm. What else?

[00:08:13] Jim: I had to put some tires on my truck. I had to put some tires on my car.

[00:08:17] Ramit: We’re at 40,000 bucks, or 41,000. Get me to the next 40k.

[00:08:22] Jim: There was stuff in when we were working on the basement that I did. I paid for part of that. And I have had to more than one time buy medicine for my mother.

[00:08:35] Ramit: How much did that cost?

[00:08:36] Jim: About $400, and I have done it 10 or 12 times.

[00:08:41] Ramit: Okay.

[00:08:42] Dana: You told me she reimbursed you.

[00:08:45] Jim: No, not the last. Not for a while.

[00:08:50] Dana: And he does have a thing for watches.

[00:08:51] Jim: No, I haven’t bought a watch in years.

[00:08:54] Ramit: Dana, do you know why he didn’t tell you?

[00:08:57] Dana: He was embarrassed, and he wanted to be– maybe I’m just guessing. The discrepancy in our lifestyles for the last 30 years is so huge. And I think it’s been hard. I know he wants to provide things, and I think he wanted to make me happy. It just backfired when it made me really unhappy.

[00:09:20] Ramit: Jimmy, what do you notice about all those things that you just shared with me?

[00:09:26] Jim: I didn’t need a lot of it.

[00:09:27] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:28] Jim: I didn’t have a plan, and I’m not trying to use a buzzword. I didn’t have any backup money for that like I should.

[00:09:37] Ramit: Okay, what else?

[00:09:39] Jim: Well, I had at that point listened to the podcast that she had suggested and got reminded of everything I had been doing wrong, and there was no way to recover from it. My former job, I could have worked some more overtime. I could have done this. I could have done that. But I can’t this time, and there’s no way to come back from it without absolutely cutting everything. So that’s where I’m at now.

[00:10:19] Ramit: Okay.

[00:10:20] Jim: Actually, I the one thing I do remember is she said, if you spend $1 without talking to me about it, that’s it. I’ve been divorced once. I really don’t want to do this again. And I like Dana a lot more.

[00:10:37] Ramit: If you had to describe how you think she feels right now, what would you say?

[00:10:43] Jim: Exactly how she said, absolutely betrayed.


[00:10:46] Ramit: Just in this short conversation, you can hear so many clues. Jim trying to correct Dana, about when they had a conversation about money, as if that matters. Jim talking about where he spent his money, but it doesn’t add up, not even by half. He really has no idea what he spent his money on. Dana, alludes to their lifestyle being different, which suggests that Jim’s role is threatened.

[00:11:10] Notice that he casually mentions he likes to buy gifts for others. I can almost guarantee that he sees himself as a provider, as almost all men do. For men, being a provider is a primary form of status. What you can already see is what this entire podcast is about. A Rich Life goes way, way deeper than numbers alone. It’s about how we talk about money, how we behave with money, and it’s about how we feel about our money.

[00:11:40] Hold that thought. We’ll be right back.

[00:11:42] Let’s keep going.


[00:11:44] Jim: My former job, I worked 60, 70 hours plus a week. And there’s always overtime. There was always tons of work that needed to be done. I physically couldn’t do that anymore. So I tried to get a job in the area, couldn’t get the job in the area, so we ended up moving here. Part of the reason I had to leave that job is my shoulder got messed up on the job.

[00:12:06] So we were four months that I was on, whatever disability gives, which was barely enough to cover the mortgage and the COBRA insurance. So a whole bunch of credit card wound up on that. When I started my new job, I kept living like I was still making the same income. I actually took a pay cut. But I didn’t stop living like I was still making the same money. And we’re talking, went from 90,000 to about 72 or 3,000. And even with that, this is probably the best I’ve ever had it.

[00:12:42] Ramit: Really?

[00:12:43] Jim: I’m not required to work 60 to 70 hours a week just to make a living. I’m being trained to take over a job that will increase my pay anywhere from 25 to 50%. And thus far at this company, nobody has lied to me. They have been straight up front, and if they say it, they do it. I’m excited about that. So I’m working hard to get that 50% increase.

[00:13:10] Ramit: Give me an example, Jimmy, when you say you didn’t change the way you were spending.

[00:13:15] Jim: We would go out to eat, and I would just pay for other people when I shouldn’t have.

[00:13:21] Ramit: Like who?

[00:13:22] Jim: I remember we went on a trip to see some friends of mine from college, and I just paid for meals and stuff for them because I thought I should.

[00:13:29] Ramit: All right, and how many times did you go out to dinner or lunch or whatever were you paid?

[00:13:35] Jim: At least three.

[00:13:37] Ramit: Okay. So over a period of a few days, you paid at least three times.

[00:13:43] Jim: But it wasn’t just them. It was just an overall continuation of a lifestyle that I didn’t have anymore. I’m not trying to blame it on one thing. That’s just one example

[00:13:53] Ramit: I get it. But let me ask you. I understand you go see some old friends. First time you’re out, you go, “Let me get this one. This one’s on me.” They’re like, “Oh, you don’t have to.” You’re like, “No, it’s fine. It’s so great to see you. Put the credit card down.” I get it. The second time and the third time–

[00:14:08] Jim: Showing off.

[00:14:11] Ramit: Tell me about that.

[00:14:12] Jim: I maybe just want people to think I’m doing okay.

[00:14:18] Ramit: All right, so that went on for a while. And was it really the CSP where you realized, oh my gosh, I’m in big trouble?

[00:14:27] Jim: No, I knew I was in trouble before that. It was just in my face when I listened to the podcast and then the CSP. And when we moved, I didn’t expect some of the costs too. My mortgage is twice of what it was.

[00:14:43] And this is not blaming Dana because that’s what she heard when I said it. But she needed tires on her car, and she just freaked out because she didn’t have the money to do it. I didn’t have the money to do it either, but I did it because in my head, it’s like, well, I can handle this debt better than she can. Air conditioner went out in her car. Took care of it. I should have been honest up front. I can’t pay for this.

[00:15:10] Ramit: Hmm. Have you ever said that out loud?

[00:15:12] Jim: I’ve used them in the past. In my first marriage, there was a lot of times where the kids would want something where I was just like, we can’t do that. I’m sorry.

[00:15:22] Ramit: Okay. That’s interesting. So you have that phrase.

[00:15:26] Jim: I have a capability. I had gotten really used to a lifestyle, and you would think that $25,000 a year or so, actually more than if you include all the side jobs that I had on other stuff, wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but it really does.

[00:15:49] Ramit: Okay. When you look back at the last few years with Dana– how long have you two been married for?

[00:15:56] Jim: Five years.

[00:15:57] Ramit: Okay. You look back with some perspective. What do you notice?

[00:16:01] Jim: That I should have given her some control a long time before I did because she’s better at it. But right from the beginning, she had her money. I had my money. I wish I had done that different, but I can’t keep living, and I wish I would have because I have a lot of those.

[00:16:19] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Thank you for sharing all that. It’s very illuminating. Dana, any surprises as you hear Jimmy share all of that?

[00:16:27] Dana: No. Most of that, I’m aware of. I think we have a little different outlook on the circumstances, but I would say the one thing is that they didn’t seem like big– the tires, air conditioning, I don’t recall saying, I can’t afford that. He just said, hey, I got you new tires. I was like, okay, I don’t know what tires cost. That sounds good. So I thought, wow, he’s doing pretty good. He must be keeping track. And I trust him, so if he can afford it, cool.

[00:16:57] Ramit: Now, when you both got married, this was your second marriage.

[00:17:00] Dana: Yes.

[00:17:02] Ramit: Did you have a series of conversations about money at any point?

[00:17:06] Dana: I knew him when he grew up. Their family was extremely poor, just really, really poor. So I knew him in high school and then 30 years later, met up again. I thought, wow, he owns a house. He’s got a regular job. His wife doesn’t work. They’ve got these kids, and he’s got a 401k. That’s far more than I thought, given what he knew growing up.

[00:17:36] But Jimmy is the miracle child. Some people are like, that’s your family? He is so different from them. And I was just really so impressed with he could grow up with all of that and still get himself through college, and get a good job, and take care of a family. I had come through a divorce, and we were settling things up, and I bought a house.

[00:18:01] When my ex and I were dividing up retirement accounts and so forth, I was just upfront about where I stood and the amounts. And then I said, do you have an investment account through work, or what do you have? And then he did tell me he had to give half of it to his ex-wife in the divorce settlement. But I was like, oh good. He’s putting money in regularly. Good qualities.

[00:18:28] Ramit: All right. I respect that. Jimmy, what do you remember about that conversation? Do you remember Dana asking about the 401K?

[00:18:33] Jim: Yeah. I didn’t mind talking about it then.

[00:18:35] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:18:36] Jim: I actually gave my ex-wife a little more than half so that I didn’t have to sell the house. I ended up gaining back with equity in the house by leaps and bounds when we sold it.

[00:18:47] Ramit: Did you ask Dana about her financial situation?

[00:18:52] Jim: She volunteered it.

[00:18:54] Ramit: Dana, did you pull out a spreadsheet on the second date?

[00:18:58] Dana: Well, a verbal spreadsheet. I think it’s one of those conversations that comes up when you are fairly recently divorced and you’re in the same boat, so you do a little commiserating

[00:19:10] Ramit: Totally. You’re comparing. Hey, you’ve both gone through something life changing, and it’s not as taboo anymore to talk about money because it’s been out there, and it’s been raked over the coals. It’s a thing. I love that you two talked about money. I wish more people in all different stages of relationships would talk about money. I think it’s awesome.

[00:19:35] Dana: I know we’re focusing on that debt, and it’s huge, and it bothers me, but it’s not a character flaw. He’s a person who really has worked incredibly hard and genuinely is not someone to lie and deceive. It has been that, but it’s not in his nature. It’s something we have to make sure never happens again because I know what it’s like not to trust somebody. And it’s extremely hard to get that back. And we have less time to earn trust back.


[00:20:11] Ramit: What really caught my attention was Dana saying how much she admired Jim for achieving what he did, considering how he grew up. So much of the way that we treat money is based on hunches and assumptions. For example, he paid for her tires. According to Dana, hey, he must be doing fine if he can buy me tires. I don’t blame her.

[00:20:32] If somebody pays for lunch, we assume they can afford it. We all make assumptions about money.  The point is, in your own relationship, assumptions are dangerous, and it’s so simple to get real answers. You can just ask. Hey, can we talk about our finances? It feels like there’s a big elephant in the room because I earn more than you. I love you. I want us to both feel good. Can we talk about how we can make that happen? The good news is they did talk about money when they started dating, but they didn’t let those conversations go deeper. As Jim tells me about his family’s relationship with money, I start to understand more.


[00:21:09] Jim: They have 108 acres of really good farm ground that’s completely paid for, but they’re hand to mouth. They’ve always have been. When I was very young, they were not. But all that I can remember is paycheck to paycheck. And if it wasn’t for the garden and all the beef and pork that we raised on our own, we would’ve been very hungry. We were very poor, and they just didn’t talk about money.

[00:21:39] Ramit: How do you know you were poor?

[00:21:42] Jim: When you were at school and everybody’s eating Doritos and Twinkies and you’re eating homemade bread that with homemade butter on it, you know you’re poor.

[00:21:52] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:21:52] Jim: You eat it so fast that nobody can see you eating it.

[00:21:55] Ramit: Right. You don’t want them to see you. What are the other clues that you were poor?

[00:22:01] Jim: We worked all the time.

[00:22:05] Ramit: Around the house??

[00:22:06] Jim: Out in the barn, out in the fields, and we didn’t have jobs away because we were needed there to take care of that stuff.

[00:22:14] Ramit: Where were you raised?

[00:22:16] Jim: Around Pittsburgh, Michigan.

[00:22:18] Ramit: Okay. All right. And when you were a kid, young, what do you remember about money in your family?

[00:22:26] Jim: I remember when I was very young, it would’ve been early ’70s, and he had a net worth of well over a quarter million dollars just for inflation. That’s not too bad. And he went from that to being almost that much in the debt. And part of it was he just flat out got ripped off by some people. And part of it was bad decisions on his part.

[00:22:54] Ramit: Quarter million bucks in the ’70s. That’s a lot of money, and he lost it through some bad deals and bad decisions. How old were you when that happened? I’m guessing early teens.

[00:23:03] Dana: I was six.

[00:23:04] Ramit: Oh, really? That early.

[00:23:05] Jim: Yeah.

[00:23:06] Ramit: All right. That must have been a huge change. What do you remember about that time?

[00:23:09] Jim: We went from having a really nice farmhouse that was warm all the time to being in another one that wasn’t so warm. And then we went from that to living in a house trailer in my grandpa’s second farm.

[00:23:22] Ramit: Hmm.

[00:23:24] Jim: When we had moved to the house trailer, I was a teenager at that point. I was eighth grade, and embarrassing, again.

[00:23:32] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Embarrassing like when friends find out where you live.

[00:23:37] Jim: Generally, friends didn’t come to my house. I usually went to theirs.

[00:23:40] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Who is it embarrassing to then?

[00:23:43] Jim: It was embarrassing to me. He never declared bankruptcy. He did pay it all back.

[00:23:49] Ramit: Have they ever faced any more dire circumstances than that?

[00:23:52] Jim: Well, the first time when you got hugely in debt, all the farm equipment got auctioned off. Two of the farms he had got auctioned off. The second time he got in trouble, he actually had a stress heart attack. But he was in financial issues then too, so we had to sell the cows had to sell the farm, and had to move to my grandpa’s place. So yes, there’s been consequences.

[00:24:18] Ramit: Did he change his financial behavior?

[00:24:22] Jim: No.

[00:24:23] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Okay. Any siblings?

[00:24:26] Jim: Two.

[00:24:28] Ramit: What’s their relationship with money today?

[00:24:33] Jim: Horrible.

[00:24:34] Ramit: Really? How so?

[00:24:36] Jim: My brother’s 13 months younger than me. My sister is four years younger than me. They both still live at home. My sister has never paid rent. I’ll just say it. I don’t care if they hear it. They’re leeches and they’re still living off mom and dad.

[00:24:52] Ramit: They call it these days, Jimmy, failure to thrive. That’s a new way to say it.

[00:24:59] Jim: It’s more of a, say, failure to launch. And they don’t want to launch.

[00:25:05] Ramit: So they’re in their 50s at this point.

[00:25:09] Jim: Yes.

[00:25:09] Ramit: Okay. All right. Did your parents spend a lot of money on anything?

[00:25:14] Jim: I don’t know if it’s a lot of money on certain things, as much as things I see now that I just find very wasteful. My grandfather had Belgian workhorses, the great big ones. It was a hobby for him, and he could afford it. When he passed away, my dad took that on.

[00:25:33] Well, they eat a lot of hay, and it’s very expensive. Now he grows it himself, but that’s ground that could be used for something else. And then my dad has a number of antique tractors that I don’t get it.

[00:25:50] Ramit: Hmm.

[00:25:50] Jim: Just the horses, they eat probably $10,000 worth of hay each year, the three of them.

[00:25:57] Ramit: Okay. That’s lot of money.

[00:25:59] Jim: Well, got to scrounge around for some gas money. Okay. It’s very hard for them to let go of things.

[00:26:08] Ramit: Okay. So your grandfather had these Belgian workhorses. Your dad then took them on, spending tons of money that he very likely did not have. Is there any relationship between you having steers and spending $7,000 on steers versus those Belgian workhorses?

[00:26:26] Jim: No. I was trying to make money with them. I was making some money before we moved, but then after we moved, prices went up on the commodities that went into them. Now I’m just ready to throw my hands up in the air and say, I can’t make money on this, so I’ve got to find something else.

[00:26:45] Ramit: Do you find it difficult to close the door on certain things that you own?

[00:26:50] Jim: Oh yeah. Because that’s something I’m good at, raising steers, but I’m not making money at it.

[00:26:58] Ramit: It sounds eerily similar to your dad.

[00:27:02] Jim: But I don’t have any out here anymore. I have not bought anymore. I actually just sold two of them yesterday, the ones I had left.

[00:27:08] Ramit: Okay. What do you make of the fact that they are still living what you describe as hand to mouth?

[00:27:14] Jim: I don’t understand it, but I hope they never hear this. They don’t have the internet. I’ve become my parents.

[00:27:23] Ramit: Mm-hmm. In what way?

[00:27:26] Jim: I let myself get buried in debt. I shouldn’t say even let because that sounds like, oh, it just happens. I did it.

[00:27:35] Ramit: Good catch. Language determines our future, and it also characterizes our past. I love you taking an active role. I did that. Once you take agency, you can also change that. So I appreciate that. Did you go to college?

[00:27:53] Jim: Yes.

[00:27:54] Ramit: You did. Okay. And your siblings?

[00:27:57] Jim: No, my siblings didn’t even graduate high school.

[00:28:00] Ramit: Got it. Okay. Did you graduate from college?

[00:28:04] Jim: Yes.

[00:28:05] Ramit: How’d you pay for that?

[00:28:06] Jim: Loans and whatever money I could earn. And I paid it off in six years.

[00:28:13] Ramit: How’d you do that?

[00:28:14] Jim: I hated the debt, so I paid it off any money I could make with.

[00:28:18] Ramit: Wait a minute.

[00:28:19] Jim: In my former life, I was always paying stuff off early. Especially if you had the, one year, same as cash. Well, I’m not going to get stuck with that whole interest at the end of it. I will pay it off two months early to make sure that I don’t.

[00:28:33] Ramit: Where did you get that from? It doesn’t sound like you learned about it from your parents.

[00:28:38] Jim: Actually, I got it from my grandpa. I learned a lot more riding around with my grandpa in the summertime. He was not loaded. If you looked at him, you just thought he was just a dirty, stinky, old farmer.

[00:28:51] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:28:52] Jim: But he always manages money well. He was able to buy and pay off two farms. When he passed away, there was money left from my grandma besides what she had earned.

[00:29:06] Ramit: Mm-hmm. What’d that make you think?

[00:29:09] Jim: That I should be putting money away.

[00:29:12] Ramit: Did you do that?

[00:29:16] Jim: When I got to the point I could, it was after I got married. We actually built a house on not a very big income.

[00:29:25] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:29:25] Jim: And if it was all possible, I wanted my wife be able to stay home with the kids, and we were able to do that.


[00:29:34] Ramit: Just listen to how stories are passed down from generation to generation. Money is not just numbers on a page. It’s stories, and lessons, and phrases that are passed down from generations ago, sometimes from people you’ve never met.

[00:29:50] People don’t really like to believe that their behavior is anything but a carefully considered logical extension of them. Like they sat at the grocery store robotically calculating the best value per ounce, and then they methodically decided to buy saltines.

[00:30:04] No, it’s much more likely that grandma bought saltines than mom bought saltines. And now you buy saltines. Never even knowing why. When I help people make the connection between their behavior and something that happened in their family, you’ve heard it. They’re often stunned.

[00:30:22] And what I’m asking you to do is to be humble enough to acknowledge that your behavior might actually be the product of your environment. And once you accept that, you can start to unpack your environment, and then you can decide if you want to change the way you treat money.

[00:30:37] Let’s take a quick break to support our sponsors

[00:30:40]  Let’s get back to Jimmy and Dana.


[00:30:43] Dana: I’m a reverse immigrant. I grew up outside of the United States and didn’t move here until I was almost 14.

[00:30:51] Ramit: Oh wow. Where did you grow up?

[00:30:52] Dana: In Ecuador and then in Honduras. Growing up, especially in Honduras, I felt like the richest person on the planet. All my friends were the ambassadors’ kids. I went to a bilingual school where everybody went. There was such a discrepancy.

[00:31:06] There’s no middle class in high– it’s a tough place to be. So my mom pulled me aside and she said, I want you to know when you move to the United States, you are not rich. You’re going to be one of the more poor people. I had a really hard transition. I was not happy. And then they moved to this rural place in the middle of nowhere.

[00:31:27] Ramit: Let’s rewind back to Ecuador and Honduras. What were your parents doing that you were raised there?

[00:31:34] Dana: So my parents were missionaries, and my dad specialized, and I won’t go into this too much, but I loved his philosophy that people go, and most of them are preaching or doing these things. And he felt that one of his skills, and he has multiple degrees of master’s, but one of his passions was organic gardening back in this ’70s, late ’60s, ’70s.

[00:31:58] And he worked on increasing crop production and cattle production, teaching people how to maximize these kind of things. So we moved around some. He was always doing crazy things. One place, we raised orchids; another place, rabbits; one place putting in wilderness campgrounds for American– he taught briefly as a professor at the University [Inaudible]. It was a coolest childhood imaginable. I was having a ball until they dragged me out of there.

[00:32:28] Ramit: Why did they leave?

[00:32:29] Dana: They felt that the political climate was a little bit sketchy. That was the whole Sandinista time period and so forth. And then they were concerned that I wasn’t going to get as good of an education as I could if we were back at the United States

[00:32:43] Ramit: Okay.

[00:32:43] Dana: My family’s, my dad especially, investing, and saving, and prioritizing. We got an allowance. We learned what portion we saved, what we did with it.

[00:32:57] Ramit: Wow.

[00:32:58] Dana: Right from the beginning, that was really important.

[00:33:02] Ramit: How did he learn that?

[00:33:04] Dana: Well, both of my grandfathers bought and sold property and stock, and they were investing at the very beginning. We always joke because my one grandfather bought this company called Walmart, and he bought stock. They both ended up doing really well. He panicked. Lesson learned. Lots was lost. But my grandfather’s goal was to learn to live on 10% of his income so he could give away 90%. And he lived very well.

[00:33:38] Jim: He succeeded too.

[00:33:40] Dana: Yeah, both of my grandparents–

[00:33:41] Jim: It just wasn’t a goal.

[00:33:43] Dana: No, he did. My grandma and grandpa both are pilots for their own airplane, and my grandmother, cute little thing, you wouldn’t ride in a car with her, but she could fly an airplane. But they did things because they made wise monetary moves. And my grandfather was entirely a self-made person. He was in the Marines, came back, started his own heating and air conditioning company.

[00:34:05] I never knew my grandfather working. He was retired in his 40s. And he always explained how he did it and the responsibility you have with money. He loved talking about it. My brother and I can talk about it all the time. And we saw the results of hard work on saving.

[00:34:26] Ramit: That’s amazing. That’s really cool.

[00:34:28] Dana: It was a wonderful legacy. The other thing my grandfather did is he said, this is back when you would read the stock in the newspaper. And so you could go in, and he would say, once you go in, tell me what you’d buy. And if you, over a certain period of time, made money on your selection, and you had to read, you knew when it– what the track record was and so forth, then he would buy some stock for you.

[00:34:56] And if you didn’t do well, he’d talked to you about what you didn’t do. Now, some of the cousins didn’t like it at all, but my brother and I thought it was a game. But he taught those lessons to his grandkids. It was important.

[00:35:12] Ramit: You like to talk about money now, right?

[00:35:14] Dana: I do.

[00:35:16] Ramit: You do. Okay. You talked about it early on in your relationship here with Jimmy. Talk about it a lot here. Jimmy, do you like to talk about money?

[00:35:27] Jim: No.

[00:35:29] Ramit: Dana, what lessons do you think you bring from your childhood experience with money to this relationship with Jimmy?

[00:35:39] Dana: The one thing I told Jimmy was I was already living my Rich Life. I loved my life. I lived in California for 20 some years, raised all my kids there. I got to be a stay-at-home mom as long as I wanted to on one income in Northern California. It was a good life. And I miss a lot of that.

[00:36:03] It’s been extremely hard to adjust. But my kids were already out of college into grad school or in college. I was all of a sudden going to get to do all these things. I would have all this freedom. I traveled with my girlfriends. We went places, and then that all crashed. My ex-husband and I, right from the beginning, the thing we did best was money.

[00:36:29] We had plans right from day one. We set our goals. He maxed out his 401 Ks. We were doing really well, on target, way ahead of schedule. And then I feel like how unfair, I mean, I know life isn’t fair, but it’s like we were there, I was doing everything right. I sacrificed where I needed to.

[00:36:47] It felt a little bit like I had lost ground and fallen out of the structure that I was in before, the whole social structure and everything I ever was a part of. And I felt like people would feel sorry for me. Like, oh, she had it so good. Moving from California to Michigan, everyone says, why? And then I get to tell them why, and it just feels like a downgrade.


[00:37:17] Ramit: Let’s talk about socioeconomic mobility in America. Not something you might normally hear on a podcast, but it’s important. Just as families have stories, so do countries. In America, we’ve all been taught that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. We even have phrases like, I want my kids to have better than I had.

[00:37:36] Well, it turns out that America has very low social mobility. If you were born poor, odds are very good you’ll remain poor. If you were born wealthy, you’ll probably remain wealthy. Journalist Jason DeParle points out that, “About 62% of Americans in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two fifths. According to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trust, 65% born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two fifths.” And listen to this, “Just 8% of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth.” I’ll link the Wikipedia page with tons of primary research in the show notes.

[00:38:17] What’s really shocking is we might say that our childhood zip code is a far better determinant of our success than how hard we work. Something that is a direct slap in the face to the myths we’ve been taught since childhood. Are there exceptions? Sure, there are. I’m one of them, for example, but I know that in addition to working really hard, I got insanely lucky along the way.

[00:38:42] Now, consider Dana’s story. She grew up with educated parents who taught her about the importance of money. She got married, saved, and invested aggressively. She did all of the things that upper middle class and wealthy people do in America, but then she got divorced. In America, we’re only told about going up, earning more, spending more, giving more to our kids.

[00:39:04] But nobody ever talks about going down, which is why going from a certain socioeconomic class to a lower socioeconomic class is absolutely devastating and isolating. Most of us simply will not consider the idea that we might not be able to eat at the same restaurants we’re used to or buy the things we’re accustomed to. And in my experience, people will do almost anything aside from directly acknowledging that they have gone down the socioeconomic ladder.


[00:39:33] Ramit: Jimmy, when it comes to money, what word would you use to describe yourself for most of your life?

[00:39:41] Jim: I made it, and I paid the bills.

[00:39:44] Ramit: What’d you call that?

[00:39:47] Jim: A provider.

[00:39:49] Ramit: Yeah. Basically, most men in America, that is the word they use to describe themselves, provider. What are the implications of that?

[00:40:00] Jim: That you just don’t provide the basics. You wouldn’t provide the wants and wishes too.

[00:40:05] Ramit: Okay. So you’re not a subsistence farmer. You want to provide for more than mere basics. I agree. Hence the providing of dinners on your card for your classmates who you haven’t seen in years. The offering to pay for tires when you yourself have tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt. Hiding of how bad it’s really becoming because if you are not a provider, then you are a?

[00:40:35] Jim: Failure.

[00:40:36] Ramit: Failure. And in America, most of us, particularly men, we would prefer to feel anything other than shame, especially shame around our identity as a provider, which brings us to today. So you got married. You talked about finances a little bit. Did you keep your finances separate since this was a second marriage?

[00:41:03] Jim: Yeah.

[00:41:03] Dana: This was a conversation we specifically had, was that I wouldn’t need to contribute anything. He already paid all the bills and everything else. My money would be spent for trips and eating out, those kinds of things. And I was like, wow, that’s great.

[00:41:22] Ramit: Who made more money at that time, by the way?

[00:41:25] Jim: I did.

[00:41:26] Ramit: How much more?

[00:41:27] Jim: 40,000.

[00:41:29] Ramit: So you were like, you’re not going to need to work, or you’re not going to need to contribute to the mortgage or whatever. I’ll take care of all that.

[00:41:37] Jim: I already was, so that didn’t change.

[00:41:44] Dana: So I gave up a nice alimony for life that was hard to accept that I didn’t have to work. But if I married, I gave it up.

[00:41:58] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Are you okay sharing how much that was?

[00:42:01] Dana: I was netting 5,000 a month. But I think maybe I’m just thinking this now, that that might’ve been threatening for Jimmy, like, she’s marrying me, and she’s giving up what money she had. How can I continue to make her life good? And I think in some ways, a lot of that debt came from trying to make me happy and make it okay that I did that. And on my end, I probably have vocalized a lot of regrets of what I gave up, missing my life so badly that I think he really lovingly tried to compensate for a lot of that.

[00:42:48] Ramit: With money.

[00:42:49] Dana: Yeah.

[00:42:50] Jim: Yeah, she does vocalize a lot the stuff that she misses. Sometimes it’s very hurtful to hear that because I know I can’t do it.

[00:42:59] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:43:01] Jim: Sometimes she speculates on what her ex is making now, and I will never make that kind of money.

[00:43:11] Ramit: If you dig deep, when you have brought up comparisons to your past life, what are you really saying?

[00:43:26] Dana: I don’t like living in the Midwest. It never is going to feel like home. The four years I spent in high school, it doesn’t make this my home. I want to know that in a few years, maybe we could move to another place and try something different. And I’m unhappy a lot here. It’s a different environment. It’s hard to meet people. I guess, I think more that I’m not happy here.

[00:43:58] Ramit: Yeah. I think that’s honest. Jimmy, that’s no surprise to you, right? You’ve heard it before in different ways?

[00:44:06] Jim: Yes.

[00:44:08] Ramit: Okay. And you can understand the crux of the difficulty here, which is, Dana, you’re saying, I’m not happy here. But first off, this is generally where Jimmy grew up in, if we are wide enough geographically. It’s like somebody saying like, I don’t like Indian food to me. I’m just naturally insulted. I’m also like, you have the worst palette in the world. You don’t Indian food? What’s wrong with you? Get out.

[00:44:40] But even more importantly, all jokes aside, Jimmy, who sees himself as a provider, he said, well, I can’t afford for us to go to Northern California or to take these vacations. And so what is he to do about it? Spend a bunch of money on certain things just to reinforce to himself that I have money, even though it’s racking up debt, and then avoid talking about it.

[00:45:17] Jim: I still feel massively guilty because I have all this debt. Frequently, she has accused me of not acting like it bothers me, and it does bother me. I just don’t show it like she does.

[00:45:31] Ramit: How do you show it?

[00:45:33] Jim: She probably does even see it because it’s usually at night when I can’t sleep. What can I do? What can I get rid of? What can I sell? How can I make extra money?

[00:45:47] Ramit: Mm-hmm. I’ll tell you, Jimmy, I knew you were poor growing up before you told me you were poor. I knew you were poor before Dana even told me you were poor. And one of the big clues was this idea that if I need more money, I’ll just grind harder. I’ll just work more. How many times have you said that in your life?

[00:46:18] Jim: Frequently.

[00:46:19] Ramit: It’s a common belief among people who were raised poor.

[00:46:24] Jim: Because that’s all we have, is our hands.

[00:46:27] Dana: I had my college roommate pass away this year before she turned 60, and that threw me– when someone your age that you’ve known forever, all of a sudden you’re like, I’m the same age. What if tomorrow I get– what that did for me was like, I don’t want to spend it all now.

[00:46:46] What she would’ve done if she had known, would she have gone on trips instead of investing her money? It’s that really tough call now between living light, your Rich Life in the time that you have, not knowing how much that time is versus what if I lived to be 102 and I’m in some decrepit nursing home? Her death really put me in this position to think about how to spend it when you have it at this age.

[00:47:15] Jim: Dana lost her dad, her friend, and her favorite uncle all this year. Her desire to do things went in overdrive. So Dana, I have heard this many times. Let’s sell everything and just start doing stuff.

[00:47:39] Dana: Oh, I would absolutely want to do that. I have no problem selling everything. I moved around so much. No. We sold stuff when we moved. You got a suitcase, maybe your teddy bear. We had to sell our dogs every time we moved. So I’m not attached to things.

[00:47:54] As a interior designer, I love beautiful things. I love decorating houses. But I don’t have to have that stuff. Things that are beautiful, it’s almost like there’s this, I can’t describe it, but it’s almost like this pain you get when you see something that’s just magnificent.

[00:48:13] But I would rather those experiences come, those things happen in the form of experiences. So I absolutely would sell everything tomorrow and just travel, but that’s, I realize, unrealistic, that you can’t do it all the time. Not in the position that we’re in. But I do it, oh yeah.

[00:48:36] Jim: She wants to live close to water, so I actually threw something out at her like a month ago and said, hey, there’s the Carolinas. That’s close to water.

[00:48:45] Ramit: Mm. All right, so you’re open to that. What do you think about that, Dana, just conceptually?

[00:48:52] Dana: The Carolinas or just the fact that he’s willing?

[00:48:55] Ramit: I already know you don’t like the Carolinas, so let’s just put that aside, the fact that he’s willing.

[00:49:02] Dana: I think that’s wonderful.


[00:49:03] Ramit: We’ll open up their conscious spending plan after this.

[00:49:07] Let’s take a look at their numbers. Keep in mind that Jimmy has two kids at home, so packing up and leaving is not realistic today. Their assets are $637,000, which includes a house, three vehicles, and farm equipment. Investments, $636,000; savings, $35,000; debt, $448,000, including $77,000 of credit card debt, a $6,500 car, and $365,000 mortgage. Net worth, $859,700.


[00:49:43] Dana, read off your combined gross monthly income, please. This number.

[00:49:48] Dana: 18,782.

[00:49:51] Ramit: That’s a lot of money.

[00:49:53] Dana: It’s deceiving.

[00:49:55] Ramit: Hold on, before we go on and minimize it and tell me all the reasons it’s not real, just everybody look straight at your cameras. Did you know that you make $225,000 per year?

[00:50:07] Dana: Yes.

[00:50:08] Ramit: Jimmy?

[00:50:09] Jim: No.

[00:50:10] Ramit: Okay. Thank you for maintaining my average of 50% of people don’t know how much they make. All right, Dana, go ahead. Tell me all the reasons that it’s not real. It’s variable. What else?

[00:50:20] Dana: To come up with a number, I just averaged out a year, but the money comes in very differently than that.

[00:50:28] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:50:28] Dana: I’ve had a 40,000-dollar month. I’ve had a 5,000-dollar month.

[00:50:34] Ramit: So?

[00:50:36] Dana: The total is right, but the way it breaks down monthly doesn’t seem right.

[00:50:42] Ramit: But it’s still real.

[00:50:44] Dana: It’s still real. Yes, it’s still real. Yes.

[00:50:46] Ramit: Dana, come on. This is like, when I’m walking around and at the end of the week or the day, I look at my number of steps, and it’s like some days are 6,000, some days are 22,000, and it averages it out, that number’s still real.

[00:50:59] Dana: That’s a great example. Yes. I agree.

[00:51:01] Ramit: You make $225,000 a year, which is a fantastic income, especially in the area that you live. Fixed costs are at 69%, however, we can see that there’s a massive disparity here. The mortgage, which is being paid for in full by Jimmy, and Jimmy’s fixed costs, just so everybody knows, are 97%. So basically, all of his income is going to fix costs.

[00:51:32] Specifically, I’m going to highlight a couple of big ones. The mortgage, which is 2,279, nearly $2,000 a month in debt payments compared to Dana paying zero on the mortgage and on debt. Jimmy’s paying 700 bucks for groceries. Dana’s paying zero. Explain that to me.

[00:51:57] Jim: It’s is not her debt, so she shouldn’t have to pay that. And I just had paid the mortgage before.

[00:52:04] Ramit: You both live in the house that you, Jimmy, are paying the mortgage for, right?

[00:52:08] Jim: Yeah.

[00:52:09] Ramit: Okay. Have you all discussed, like, how does it work?

[00:52:12] Jim: She pays for the play, and I try to pay for the not play.

[00:52:20] Dana: It has evolved. Down further, I pick up some other things that balance out in our minds, at least up till now, where I cover all the insurance for everything, house, cars, etc. I don’t pay that monthly. I pay that in a lump sum. And then I picked up a lot of those smalls and the electrical, and I picked up the trash. And I hadn’t seen it as an issue. Maybe it’s because we’ve just been doing that.

[00:52:55] Ramit: Is there any objection to Dana paying towards the mortgage at all? I’m not saying you have to. I’m just asking if there’s any objection to it.

[00:53:10] Dana: Just hadn’t thought about it.

[00:53:12] Ramit: Okay. Jimmy.

[00:53:14] Jim: I had never thought about it.

[00:53:16] Ramit: What? It’s like the biggest expense on here. What do you mean you–

[00:53:19] Jim: I understand, but that’s just how it wasn’t at the old place. And even though it basically doubled, I just never thought about it.

[00:53:30] Dana: I can contribute. We could split the mortgage.


[00:53:35] Ramit: Everybody go look at your CSP right now. Go get it right now at iwt.com/csp. It’s free. The rest of you, what the fuck is going on with you? Why do you keep splitting up expenses like this? One of you paying the mortgage. The other paying for eating out. One paying for childcare and all kids expenses, which by the way almost always happens to be mom, and the other paying for home renovations. Why? Stop doing this.

[00:54:00] When one of you is paying 97% towards fixed costs, that’s not fair. It also doesn’t scale because certain expenses will get more expensive. And I know you’re not sitting down to recalibrate on a monthly or quarterly basis, or who are we kidding? Ever. Anyway, let’s keep going so I don’t have a freaking heart attack on my own show.


[00:54:19] Ramit: You have four or so years of debt payments. And that’s a lot of money. It’s like 2000 bucks a month. Jimmy is spending essentially more than he makes every single month. He’s down by around 1,000 bucks a month every single month.

[00:54:35] Dana: Yes.

[00:54:35] Ramit: That’s a problem. Meanwhile, Dana’s like, ah, there are people around me dying, and I’m ready to sell it all and hit the road. There’s problem here.

[00:54:48] Dana: Yes.

[00:54:49] Ramit: So without even getting into all the numbers, what do y’all think is two or three potential solutions here?

[00:55:02] Jim: Selling it all and going on the road.

[00:55:05] Dana: See, I knew you’d finally see my way. Yes.

[00:55:09] Jim: Well, actually, one, it may even sound petty. I’m glad she’s finally paying quarterly taxes because I was covering the taxes.

[00:55:19] Ramit: Okay. That makes no sense, but I’m glad about that too. What else?

[00:55:23] Jim: Short of asking for help from Dana, I don’t see any other solution

[00:55:28] Ramit: There’s no solutions?

[00:55:29] Jim: Other than asking for help from Dana.

[00:55:32] Ramit: Okay. Dana, you’re in an interesting position here because your husband has 80 or so thousand dollars of credit card debt. Much of it accumulated in secret. You discovered it in secret 1, 2, 3 times, which feels particularly bad for historical reasons in the past relationship that you had.

[00:56:00] Dana: Yes.

[00:56:00] Ramit: And at the same time, you love talking about money. Money feels good to you. You grew up looking at stock charts. You want to go on vacation. And understandably, you don’t want to wait until this debt is all paid off for you to begin traveling, etc. Okay. In fact, during screening you said, I make more. On paper, it looks like I should help him, but I don’t feel like I should.

[00:56:34] Dana: I guess because it had happened three times, I just thought maybe I’m throwing good money after bad, because the second time I had to shuffle some things around, and we’ll get to that, and tap out a loan from his 401k and make some changes. And I felt like I made it too easy and nothing changed. And so I’m afraid that it could happen again. I know he doesn’t want to. I know this time is really hard, but I’m afraid to trust him with the money.

[00:57:16] Ramit: I understand. I understand. Just a hypothetical here, Jimmy. If Dana offered to pay like $50,000 of your credit card debt off, what would you say?

[00:57:26] Jim: I really don’t know. I know how she feels about it, so I would be very hesitant to take it.

[00:57:34] Ramit: Okay. All right.

[00:57:35] Jim: Because I really don’t want to lose Dana.

[00:57:41] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:57:43] Dana: Being divorced after 30 years of marriage and a whole family and life, I’m holding on to that kind of just in case. If I put everything in and I know I’m supposed to be all in, I get that, but it’s scary.


[00:58:02] Ramit: They seem stuck. So far, we cut $150 from their groceries and removed two lines from their cell phone bill, saving another 150 bucks, but that’s not going to solve the debt problem. I urged them to think bigger, and that’s when things got even more uncomfortable.


[00:58:17] Dana: Well, looking back up at the assets, I think some of that farm equipment can go.

[00:58:23] Ramit: Oh, talk about that. What is farm equipment first of all? What are we talking about?

[00:58:31] Dana: Lots of things that run on wheels.

[00:58:34] Ramit: Wait a minute. That’s how I would describe it, a guy who may have never been on a farm before.

[00:58:40] Dana: Yeah, there’s things out there with the steers apparently, they require a lot of things to feed them, so he can sell all that stuff.

[00:58:50] Jim: So part of the change is we have some ground, and I’m seeding that to alfalfa, which is a consumable for cattle and horses and stuff that people like to pay stupid money for. So I can’t really get rid of this stuff because I’m shifting it to something that’s going to make money.

[00:59:07] Ramit: How much is the equipment if you were just to sell it tomorrow?

[00:59:10] Jim: 12, $15,000.

[00:59:12] Ramit: Am I the only one?

[00:59:15] Dana: No.

[00:59:15] Ramit: Let 12. Let’s just be conservative. 12,000.

[00:59:19] Dana: He has a collection, I didn’t understand it, but that’s just of these farm signs. They’re like from companies, and they’re big. Okay. I know I’m doing this wrong. They’re these big signs that–

[00:59:32] Jim: Okay, so if you were to go past a tractor dealership, there are lighted signs. I have eight of them.

[00:59:42] Ramit: What does it say?

[00:59:44] Jim: One says Gleaner. One says White. One says AGCO. One says Gehl. And then I also have older when they use metal signs. I have some back that are close to 100 years old.

[00:59:58] Ramit: These are like collectibles?

[01:00:00] Jim: Actually, yes. That’s what she’s getting ready to say. She knows much I absolutely love these signs. I used to have the lighted signs on my pole bar where I used to live.

[01:00:10] Ramit: It’s okay. It’s okay. How much are they worth? That’s all I want to know.

[01:00:12] Jim: It depends. In the area of 10 to $15,000, depending on who’s there. And they’re gone or going to be gone.

[01:00:21] Ramit: They are?

[01:00:22] Jim: They’re going to be on auction.

[01:00:25] Ramit: Oh. All right. Great. 10,000 for the signs. We’re at $22,000, right?

[01:00:33] Dana: Mm-hmm.

[01:00:34] Ramit: That’s a lot of money.

[01:00:36] Dana: And there’s more. He has–

[01:00:38] Ramit: What? Tell me.

[01:00:39] Dana: All the pedal cars. I didn’t know about them either. They’re like little baby tractors.

[01:00:44] Jim: They’re going to the auction too, though. They’re rhino tractors.

[01:00:48] Dana: I know. Okay, here’s a crazy thought.

[01:00:51] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[01:00:52] Dana: But it’s self-serving. We have 10 acres. We don’t need 10 acres at all.

[01:01:00] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[01:01:01] Dana: There’s a second road that goes back to the barn, and instead of planting alfalfa, I would just sell off. I don’t know enough. This isn’t my thing, but I don’t see why we have all this land if we don’t have steers. I know it’s hard because people in Michigan, in this area, they like to have acres of stuff.

[01:01:21] Ramit: Just say the idea.

[01:01:23] Dana: Sell it.

[01:01:24] Ramit: Amazing. Don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I love that you propose that. So let’s just catalog so far what we’ve heard so far because we started off with $150 a month saved on groceries, which I applaud. Great job. Nice. But now we’re talking about heavy equipment.

[01:01:42] We’re talking about $10,000 in signs and potentially some acreage which may or may not be available to sell. This is big money. Jimmy, I want toa check in with you. Let’s just start one by one, and then let’s talk about the whole thing. Selling the signs you said is already happening. Correct?

[01:02:05] Jim: Yes.

[01:02:06] Ramit: Okay, great. The farm equipment, what do you think about that?

[01:02:09] Jim: Well, after my initial cost of about $1,200, I will make six to $8,000 a year off the hay as long as we live here. I don’t have an initial cost after that. Now, it will go down some because it won’t be as productive on year 7 as it is on year 2. So if I sell that equipment, I no longer have the ability to make that income.

[01:02:41] Ramit: 6,000 a year roughly?

[01:02:44] Jim: Yeah.

[01:02:45] Ramit: For four or five years, something like that?

[01:02:48] Jim: Yeah.

[01:02:49] Ramit: Okay. So in your estimation, you’ve already spent money on the equipment. It’s about to start making the most money that it’s going to make. So keep the equipment, make the roughly 6k a year.

[01:03:03] Jim: And then when I’m done, I get rid of it. These piece of equipment are devalued as far as they’re going to devalue. The tractor is–

[01:03:11] Ramit: I got you.

[01:03:11] Jim: 67 years old.

[01:03:13] Ramit: What about gas and maintenance and stuff for these things?

[01:03:16] Jim: About a hundred gallons a year for that. Non road diesel’s about $3.25 right now.

[01:03:23] Ramit: All right. It’s not much. I understand all the math, and I understand the logic about hay. It’s about to start making money. What do you think about Dana’s suggestion to sell the equipment? Are you a yes, or are you a no, or are you a maybe?

[01:03:48] Jim: Well, I don’t know. I’m going to jump to the property thing because I don’t know that we would be allowed to split the property.

[01:03:54] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[01:03:55] Dana: I know. Maybe.

[01:03:58] Ramit: Let’s play out both scenarios. Let’s say you are, and let’s say you’re not. Let’s talk about all options here.

[01:04:04] Jim: So if we were to sell the property, other than one piece of equipment to clear snow, because it snows a lot here, I could sell most everything.

[01:04:15] Dana: Are you struggling with feeling like that’s failing again?

[01:04:28] Jim: I know what I can make on that.

[01:04:33] Dana: No. I mean having to give up something that your family does, that you’ve done, that your grandpa did, and then to not even dabble in it, does that feel like you are losing some heritage?

[01:04:49] Jim: Maybe, but it also sounds boring not to have that stuff to do.

[01:04:55] Ramit: Boring means what?

[01:04:57] Jim: I’m not being overly productive. I don’t know. Maybe this goes back to that hardworking thing that you were talking about earlier. I don’t know. I like to have stuff to do outside, and these are all outside things.

[01:05:13] Dana: There’s plenty to do without doing those. And then what about the fun things you want to do? So I would go so far as to say, and again, it’s me, we can make a lot of money on this house and property. We got a phenomenal deal on this. The selling amount, I’m not considering how much the other costs are, but easily 250,000 profit.

[01:05:40] Ramit: Dana, Dana, Dana, look at Jimmy’s face. Dana, look at Jimmy’s face. What do you see? Is he hearing you at all?

[01:05:46] Jim: Oh, I’m hearing everything she’s saying.

[01:05:49] Ramit: Are you really hearing it?

[01:05:50] Jim: Yes, I am hearing what she’s saying, but I’m also going to the, and then we could buy a house that costs just as much some place else.

[01:06:01] Dana: I know there’s a school district thing, but the rental idea makes me think– it’s just till she graduates. I know that’s another five years. On the other hand, maybe someone’s going to tell me that this property and this house will continue to increase in value, and that’s not a good idea. The market’s different everywhere, and I haven’t given any thought to it. And it’s disruptive. I understand that.

[01:06:31] Ramit: Okay. What just happened in that back and forth? Jimmy, what did you hear Dana saying?

[01:06:38] Jim: Let’s do something different. That may not be what she said, but that’s what I heard.

[01:06:43] Dana: Mm-hmm.

[01:06:45] Jim: Well, you got to understand Dana, though. She’s either full throttle, or she’s off the gas.

[01:06:51] Dana: But I could change. I think we need something that brings us together because everything has been pushing us apart. I think of us as like a Venn diagram, and that little intersection is so much smaller than I thought we were going to be. And I want to see it bigger.

[01:07:10] Ramit: Jimmy, do you agree with Dana’s sense of urgency?

[01:07:20] Jim: Not as much, but I also haven’t had the losses she’s had.

[01:07:24] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[01:07:26] Jim: And by saying that, that’s not saying I’m unwilling to look at it that way. I’m probably going to lay in bed tonight. Well, how much of this is, like you said, legacy? You didn’t use those words, but that’s what it is, legacy, expectations. But if I really want the end results that I say I do, I don’t know. I think we ought to look into seeing if we can sell the property


[01:08:13] Ramit: That’s actually a lot of options. They could trim their fixed costs, which they should do anyway. Dana could pay for some of the mortgage. They could sell the farm equipment, the steers and the collectibles. They could sell off part of the farm, but that is where we hit a snag. We got stuck. I couldn’t get the conversation to go any further.

[01:08:32] Dana: I learned from our conversation that I need to really work on developing a new version of Rich Life and not trying to get the old version to fit into the new one. And that I’m also going to look into the postnup, and I think that will just give me a level of comfort. All in all, it was really helpful and worth it all, so thank you so much.

[01:08:57] Jim: So what I learned, I need to look outside the box, look for bigger things, different things that I can sell and not lock myself into something. What surprised me is honestly just how personal Ramit is. I didn’t know what to expect. Yes, I watch videos. I’ve listened to podcasts, listened to the book, but you just never know until you actually talk to somebody.

[01:09:22] This is actually a lot of fun. What I’m going to do is I went out and took stock in everything I have out in the barn. And I found a number of things I can sell that should add up to about $6,000, and going to get that sold and put it to the debt and then do more digging. Thanks.

[01:09:45] Ramit: Let me just tell you what I would do. I would have a series of clear conversations about the Rich Life. I would use the IWT Journal, which would help them get out of their heads and really design a rich life with specificity that excited them both. Based on what they told me, I would simplify so much. I would sell all the farm equipment, collectibles, anything around the property, and if possible, part of the property itself. Then pay off the debt immediately.

[01:10:14] Next, I would recalibrate the relationship, including having Jimmy take on more financial responsibility, and I would split the expenses much more fairly. If I were Dana, I might consider a postnup. And finally, I would start making moves in anticipation of when the kids are old enough to leave.

[01:10:30] That might mean selling the entire place and renting now, using that money to invest, or it might mean building up a larger savings account. And with a few years of planning, they truly could live their Rich Lives.