Episode #162: “We panic over money—but spend $84K/year on travel and shopping”

Paul, 33, and Maddie, 29, flew to New York City from London for a live-recorded episode—providing a valuable first clue to their spending habits. She is a high earner, but worries about lifestyle creep. He recently left his job, and they’re treading water on one income.

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Maddie: I have a constant fear of getting laid off. It’s like a recurring nightmare because I just feel so much pressure that I am the only one bringing in income. I deal with it by putting a lot of pressure on Paul to figure out his side of the equation. And it comes out in probably not the best way. I have a very urgency stress around it.

[00:00:23] Paul: I actually try to avoid having this conversation.

[00:00:26] Ramit: Why?

[00:00:28] Paul: That specific subject is just one that is very touchy. Maddie does understand all of these concepts, but there’s something just deep down, innate inside that scared that it will all disappear.

[00:00:41] Ramit: You think it’s possible to feel good about money?

[00:00:44] Maddie: Not from my experience.

[00:00:45] Ramit: Mm.

[00:00:46] Maddie: We’re also planning a wedding.


[00:00:49] Ramit: Meet Paul and Maddie. Paul’s 33. Maddie’s 29. They recently got engaged, and they combine their finances. Unfortunately, he left his job, and Maddie now panics about their finances. As you listen to today’s conversation, you’re going to hear a lot of expectations. What are our friends doing? What does our family think? I want you to listen closely and remember that we are all affected by social expectations and peer pressure. Let’s start at the engagement party that they were recently planning.


[00:01:23] Maddie: So I love planning parties, and I feel like I’d already planned everything, and I feel like you came to me and you’re like, should we have a conversation about whether or not this is a good decision given that I am just about to stop working and we’re going to be on one income?

[00:01:42] And then that made me panic. Everything was already planned, and I’d already told everyone about it, and I didn’t want to backtrack. But I think it ended with us both feeling not great and me thinking, okay, well, we’re still going to do it because I really want to, and it’s important to me, but it’s going to be stressful as we do it because this is looming over us as it maybe not be a good decision.

[00:02:11] Ramit: Isn’t that the worst of all [Inaudible]?

[00:02:13] Maddie: Yeah, yeah.

[00:02:13] Ramit: We’re going to do this. We’re not even sure if we should do it, and we’re going to feel bad the entire time.

[00:02:17] Maddie: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

[00:02:19] Ramit: Is that normal for your decisions?

[00:02:20] Maddie: 100%. I feel like I constantly live between two feelings, which is like, I’m going to live a bougie great life. I work hard. I’ve made great money. I can do what I want, and we can travel a ton and have a great wedding, and all these things. And then the other side, constantly feeling stressed and guilty about it.

[00:02:43] So in one sense I feel like my spending is out of control and I can’t stop it. The other side is that we have a lot of money and we can do it. But that side is, I don’t know, constantly flip flops.

[00:02:59] Ramit: Okay. Paul, do you feel the same way?

[00:03:02] Paul: For the most part, yeah.

[00:03:04] Ramit: You oscillate between, oh my God, we’re going to run out of money. We can’t do this. We’re overspending. Versus, we actually make a lot of money. We’re good.

[00:03:13] Paul: I try to calm her down when she gets in the panic spirals, but honestly, it makes me hesitate a bit. It makes me think maybe she’s right. Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this. Is this reckless? So I probably have a bit less of the instinct to panic about we’re going to run out of money. But some changes in my job have caused me to start being a bit more concerned about things like this for sure.

[00:03:42] Maddie: I think I have more of a scarcity mindset, which is it feels like anything can be taken away from us at any point and we need to be almost hoarding money. And I think the best example of that is like, I believe that our money is our checking account. I don’t feel comfortable tapping into anything outside of my checking account.

[00:04:04] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:04:05] Maddie: I do understand it. And I know all about compound interest and investing over time, but for some reason, there’s a mental gap between what I understand and how I emotionally feel.

[00:04:16] Ramit: Yeah. You don’t feel it here intellectually. Do you look at the numbers?

[00:04:21] Maddie: Yeah. I fully understand numbers. I’m very analytical. I grasp all the concepts, but emotionally I am freaked out.

[00:04:30] Ramit: Isn’t that interesting?

[00:04:31] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:04:31] Ramit: What do you make of that?

[00:04:34] Maddie: Some of generational childhood trauma seeping into a fear of losing everything.

[00:04:42] Paul: Yeah, it definitely hits home. I think that’s the huge part of how we ended up on this podcast, was Maddie does understand all of these concepts, but there’s something just deep down, innate inside that is scared that it will all disappear.

[00:04:58] Ramit: And do you feel the same way scarcity wise?

[00:05:01] Paul: No, I don’t. I don’t. I’d say I actually feel pretty optimistic about the future, and when I think about money, I think of what it can do for us down the line. I don’t want to make it all about Maddie. I think my work situation over the last year or two has added a lot of stress to the situation.

[00:05:20] Ramit: What’s that work situation?

[00:05:21] Paul: So basically, I was working at a company, and I was launching a new business unit for them, and it went pretty well for the first year or so. And then the market downturn happened, and we basically just couldn’t get the business to work out. And it was incredibly stressful. It took such a toll on me. And I ended up leaving the company. And so now I’ve been off work for a month and a half now. So we’ve transitioned into one income, and I think that definitely puts a bit of a burden on Maddie emotionally.

[00:05:59] Ramit: Because of the money.

[00:06:01] Maddie: I have a constant fear of getting laid off, whether that’s grounded in reality or not. And right now it’s definitely not grounded in reality, but it’s a recurring nightmare because I just feel so much pressure that I am the only one bringing in income. And I think also helpful context is Paul used to be a corporate lawyer, so we used to be in this place of immense stability, and he really didn’t like being a lawyer for obvious reasons.

[00:06:32] Ramit: Wait, just tell everyone what those obvious reasons are. Let’s go ahead and tell everyone about the legal field. Paul?

[00:06:38] Paul: Oh, it’s about as exciting as accounting, and you have to work 100 hours a week.

[00:06:41] Ramit: I like lawyers. Every time I talk to a corporate attorney, I’m always like, you are very interesting. They’re like Lego Masters or they do something really cool on the side, but of course that’s all I see. I don’t realize they’re billing 15 hours a day and reading briefs all day. All right, you left the legal world. Go on, Maddie.

[00:07:02] Maddie: And wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. It coincided when we moved cities, so we didn’t have as much of a network. He ended up joining a scale up, and at the time we were really excited. We were running the numbers around the equity and all of that stuff, and you usually take a salary cut.

[00:07:19] So we felt good about that trade off at that time, but that was a long time ago. That was like 2019, 2020. The world looked very different, and I think the realization that equity was worth nothing, and Paul feeling not fulfilled in that role after a couple of years and it being really stressful and him having to leave. I think it just took us from a place of immense stability to immense instability.

[00:07:46] Ramit: I got you. Paul, you mentioned that your not working right now has caused a lot of stress for Maddie. What about for you?

[00:07:56] Paul: If anything, the last year on the job was even more stressful and that took a huge toll on me because I think I have my identity tied up a lot in being successful at work. And when I couldn’t get that business to work, it took a huge toll on my mental health and definitely took a toll on our relationship as well. And So if anything, when I did end up leaving the company, it was almost a relief, and I started to feel better.

[00:08:25] Maddie: I definitely struggled with it a lot. When things aren’t going well for me somewhere, I’m very inclined to, okay, well I’m just going to jump ship and do something different. And I felt like Paul was really unhappy for a really long time, and it frustrated me that he didn’t take action to make a move. It’s not like he was the founder of this business. He wasn’t that tied to it.

[00:08:52] So I think by the time this was all happening, I already felt a lot of frustration towards him because I felt as if it was like a little too late. I was like, you weren’t happy a year ago. Why didn’t we look into making a move a year ago? And now the market is really horrible, and it’s a different climate, and now is when you want to leave, and now we’re going to be on one income because of it.

[00:09:14] Ramit: Keep going. Finish this sentence for me. We’re going to be on win income, therefore?

[00:09:18] Maddie: Therefore, I’m going to feel a ton of financial pressure, and we won’t necessarily be able to live within our means. We will have to dip into our savings.

[00:09:34] Paul: I actually try to avoid having this conversation.

[00:09:37] Ramit: Why?

[00:09:39] Paul: Because that specific subject is just one that is very touchy. The idea of at the end of the month expenses exceeding income and dipping into a savings pod or investment portfolio, that really kills me. I think we should be making progress, and we were making such good progress, and if I could have just made that job opportunity work, then we would be in this great position of just growing our money for the future.

[00:10:12] Ramit: You mentioned you were really stressed when you were at work. How are you feeling now?

[00:10:16] Paul: It changes by the week is probably the honest answer.

[00:10:20] Ramit: Yeah. From what?

[00:10:21] Paul: From a sense of everything’s going to be okay. This is a temporary moment of being on one income. We can get being on one income. It’s totally fine. Maddie makes great money. This will be resolved. Six months from now, this will all be in the rear-view mirror. But then sometimes I get caught in the negative spiral too of thinking, well, what if this does go for six months or–

[00:10:47] Maddie: Longer.

[00:10:48] Paul: Or longer. Yeah.

[00:10:49] Ramit: What if it does?

[00:10:51] Paul: Then we basically have to make like lifestyle changes. We should probably be reducing our expenses, making sure that we fit within Maddie’s income.

[00:11:04] Maddie: We’re also planning a wedding.

[00:11:07] Ramit: When is that?

[00:11:08] Maddie: September, 2025.

[00:11:09] Ramit: So you’re planning the wedding, but you have this financial instability.

[00:11:14] Maddie: Yes.

[00:11:15] Ramit: How do you deal with that?

[00:11:16] Maddie: I deal with it by putting a lot of pressure on Paul to figure out his side of the equation. And it comes out in probably not the best way. I micromanage him and put a lot of pressure on him to just get any job. Whereas his philosophy is, I should take the time and find a job that will be really fulfilling.

[00:11:41] And especially having had two different career paths that he didn’t necessarily love for various different reasons, I think it’s really important for him to find something that will put him on a path for a career. He’s so incredibly intelligent.

[00:11:59] Ramit: Wait, are you making his case, or are you making your case?

[00:12:02] Maddie: So I’m making my rational case, and then I’ll–

[00:12:04] Ramit: And then you’ll tell me what you actually feel.

[00:12:06] Maddie: Yeah. So this is my rational case is that–

[00:12:08] Ramit: It’s important for him to find the thing he loves. He already went from one career to another. It didn’t quite work. So intellectually, he needs to what?

[00:12:17] Maddie: Find the best career option for him for the long term.

[00:12:20] Ramit: Even if it takes time.

[00:12:21] Maddie: Even if it time.

[00:12:22] Ramit: Wow. Okay.

[00:12:23] Maddie: However. So my actual day-to-day feelings are just get any job tomorrow.

[00:12:30] Ramit: Any job?

[00:12:31] Maddie: Not any job, but something will come up on LinkedIn, and I’ll be like, apply for this. He will be like, no, why would I apply for it? I’m like, who cares? Just apply. Whatever. Just take the job. And if you don’t like it, quit three months later. I have a very urgency, stress around it.

[00:12:49] Ramit: I see. You mentioned you micromanage him. What do you mean by that?

[00:12:53] Paul: Yeah. She likes to be very involved in the job hunt process. She likes to make sure that I’m applying to companies every day that I’m consistently scouring LinkedIn. My list of contacts that I’m networking with is always being updated and meeting new people all the time. You have to play a long game to find the right opportunity, and these things take time, and you should be taking steps along the way consistently. But I’ll get there eventually. Maddie just likes to see a bit more day-to-day progress of–

[00:13:28] Ramit: How do you monitor his LinkedIn and his contacts and stuff like that?

[00:13:33] Maddie: We work from home together a lot, so I’ll come over and I’ll be like, did you respond to this person? Have you emailed this person yet? Did this person reply to you? I feel more on top of it than he does, and I feel like I need to be constantly following up. If someone emails him, he might respond a day or two later, and that just does not fly with me in this recruiting process.

[00:13:57] Ramit: Why?

[00:13:57] Maddie: Because I’m worried he’s going to miss out on an opportunity, and it’s going to take us longer find something.

[00:14:02] Ramit: Okay. Got it. So you’re checking in with him daily.

[00:14:06] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:14:07] Ramit: Maybe more than daily, multiple times a day.

[00:14:10] Maddie: Maybe.

[00:14:10] Paul: Oh yes. Oh yes.

[00:14:13] Ramit: Did you do this? What about that, etc.? How do you even know what LinkedIn people he’s talking to?

[00:14:18] Maddie: I ask him, and he’ll tell me. Sometimes I’ll see it pop up on his phone.

[00:14:24] Ramit: Okay.

[00:14:25] Maddie: Once he tells me something, it goes in my mental filing cabinet. So then I’m like, okay. I have little mental reminders to be like, check in on this. Make sure Paul did that. Make sure Paul responded to this.

[00:14:37] Ramit: And just out of curiosity, what do you get out of this?

[00:14:42] Maddie: I guess it feels like I have some sense of control over something that feels very out of my control.

[00:14:50] Ramit: Yeah. How do you feel when you get the questions from her about your LinkedIn check-ins and things like that?

[00:14:58] Paul: I immediately feel my chest tighten up, the feeling of stress. My heart rate skips a beat of, oh, I need a good update for Maddie right now. I need to be able to show her I made progress.

[00:15:12] Ramit: What does that feel like?

[00:15:16] Paul: It’s a very tough thing to accomplish.

[00:15:21] Ramit: Mm. Does it remind you at all of any other career situation where you felt like you had to give a positive update regularly?

[00:15:28] Paul: In my last job, for sure.

[00:15:31] Ramit: How did that end up?

[00:15:33] Paul: That ended up with me in the worst mental state I’ve ever been in.

[00:15:37] Ramit: All right. And what if this just went on for, let’s say six months, nine months, over a year?

[00:15:43] Paul: Yeah. I think to answer your question, at some point, a deadline would have to come in. Personally, I’m avoiding the step of running the numbers fully on how many months we can take before I have to take a more drastic step.

[00:16:00] Ramit: Okay. Have you run those numbers?

[00:16:03] Maddie: Absolutely not.

[00:16:04] Ramit: But you feel–

[00:16:05] Maddie: I feel like the deadline is tomorrow.

[00:16:10] Ramit: Okay.

[00:16:11] Maddie: We’ve done a lot of couples therapy, and we’re super aligned, and we’re very open, and we’re great communicators. I feel like this is the main blocker in us being super happy.

[00:16:22] Ramit: This is the main blocker. This being what?

[00:16:26] Maddie: Our financial security. I won’t even say stability because I know that it’s not necessarily that, but it’s feeling financially secure and feeling excited for our future together financially and also our career trajectories and just feeling confidence that everything’s going to work out.

[00:16:45] Ramit: Do you think that if he had a job tomorrow that you would feel financially secure?

[00:16:52] Maddie: I want to say yes, but I know the answer’s probably not yes.

[00:16:56] Ramit: When he had a job and he was making good money, did you feel financially secure?

[00:17:02] Maddie: No. No is short answer


[00:17:08] Ramit: You’ve heard me talk about gender dynamics on this program. Studies show that women do more household labor even if they work the same number of hours as men. But notice what’s happening here. Maddie is taking on the labor of checking on Paul’s job search. She’s micromanaging his process.

[00:17:27]  Now, this is an example of Maddie unnecessarily taking on labor when she doesn’t need to. Her partner’s not asking her to do that, and I’m highlighting this because it’s happening early on, meaning you can see easily where this leads. Just as in other couples, we have somebody who may be a little bit more conversant with numbers. She takes on the family finances. She does the day-to-day finances.

[00:17:52] It would be very, very predictable for her to take on more and more of Paul’s responsibilities. He tries, but it’s not quite her way, or she’s a little better. He feels disempowered. He basically gives up on the finances. And fast forward five, 10, 15 years, he goes, oh, she’s better at it. And she feels incredibly overwhelmed and resentful.

[00:18:14] Do you see how this pattern is starting right here? I don’t want that. Now, I’m not blaming Paul. I’m not blaming Maddie. What I am saying is you have to be very, very careful about taking on labor from your partner, very careful, because it sets a precedent, and it has bigger ramifications than most of us think about.

[00:18:36]  Hold that thought. We’ll be right back.

[00:18:38]  Let’s get back to the conversation.

[00:18:40] Part of being an effective partner with money is having a clear joint vision, and if something unexpected happens, like leaving a job that’s not working out, talking about it and recalibrating that vision. Maddie is nervous about money. Fine. But we need to run some numbers. We need to get clear what Paul needs to do. Paul left his job. It’s his responsibility, not Maddie’s.


[00:19:06] Ramit: You like being stressed?

[00:19:07] Maddie: Maybe, yeah. Maybe it’s my natural state. I think I feel comfortable being stressed.

[00:19:14] Ramit: What does that mean?

[00:19:15] Maddie: It’s a way for me to process things and channel my emotions in a way. And it feels more comfortable than being calm.

[00:19:29] Ramit: Oh really? Let me just repeat that back to you. Being stressed out feels more comfortable than being calm. What do you make of that? It’s true, right? For you.

[00:19:41] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:19:41] Ramit: Do you think that there are any examples where you’ve spent a good amount of money and you felt good about it?

[00:19:48] Maddie: No.

[00:19:49] Ramit: Okay. How about you, Paul?

[00:19:55] Paul: No, I honestly don’t think so.

[00:19:58] Ramit: Is there any part of your life where you’ll do something and you’ll be stressed about it?

[00:20:03] Maddie: Most of my spending.

[00:20:07] Ramit: Engagement, travel, all that.

[00:20:13] Maddie: Clothing, for sure. I love shopping, but every time I purchase something, I go through an internal battle with pressing this Submit button online shopping, and then I’ll go through periods where I’ll completely ban myself from online shopping and then periods of buying way too much.

[00:20:31] Ramit: Mm. Have you realized that relationship with money is probably not a healthy one?

[00:20:41] Maddie: Yeah, definitely.

[00:20:43] Ramit: Okay.

[00:20:43] Maddie: When we first started dating, I actually didn’t worry about money at all, but I was also quite young, and I had a very laissez-faire feeling towards money and was pretty frivolous and thought money was always going to be there. And I had a good job out of university, and I was like, I’m just going to keep doing well, and things are going to be great. And he was the first one to open my eyes to being financially responsible and maybe some of the decisions I was making wasn’t the most financially responsible.

[00:21:14] And I almost went on a full pendulum swing to the other way. And this resonates for me because one of my parents is really stressed about money and the other one is very frivolous with money. So I was more in line with one parent and then it completely swung, and now I see myself turning into the other parent and being stressed to order an extra appetizer because it’s going to be another $12 or something.

[00:21:37] Ramit: Is that true? You are stressed?

[00:21:39] Maddie: Yeah. Whenever we order, I’m like, oh, we shouldn’t get that. It’s an extra $20.

[00:21:44] Ramit: Let’s rewind back to you being young. Are you the only child, or do you have siblings?

[00:21:49] Maddie: An older sister.

[00:21:51] Ramit: Sister. Okay, great. So you’re young. You’re 5, 6, 7, 8 years old. What do you remember about money in your household?

[00:21:59] Maddie: So one of my parents was extremely stressed about money 24/7.

[00:22:06] Ramit: Who’s that?

[00:22:06] Maddie: My dad. And my other parent was very lax about money, but it was always a secret. So it was like, we’re going to go shopping, but when we come back to the house, take your shopping bags and run up and hide them in your bedroom.

[00:22:20] Ramit: That was mom?

[00:22:21] Maddie: That was mom. Yeah.

[00:22:22] Ramit: Wow. Okay. What do you make of that now as an adult?

[00:22:28] Maddie: Mixed messages for sure. One is that we don’t have any money, and we need to be really frugal, and money is a scarce resource, and one is we actually do have money, but we’re not going to talk about it.

[00:22:44] Ramit: We’re not going to talk it, or we can talk about it, you, me, and your sister, but who are we not going to tell about it?

[00:22:54] Maddie: Dad.

[00:22:55] Ramit: Okay. Why not tell dad?

[00:22:58] Maddie: He would get unhappy, upset if we spent a lot of money. He comes from a Holocaust family. His mom was part of the Holocaust, and so he grew up, I think, with a lot of that trauma still very real.

[00:23:19] Ramit: How do you think that that affected his relationship with money?

[00:23:24] Maddie: Definitely a scarcity mindset of feeling that anything could be taken away at any point.

[00:23:30] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Makes sense. Keep going. So as a result, what did he do?

[00:23:36] Maddie: Tried to keep all of his resources very, very close.

[00:23:40] Ramit: How did he do that?

[00:23:40] Maddie: By restricting spending and obsessing over money.

[00:23:45] Ramit: How did he obsess?

[00:23:47] Maddie: His mood fluctuates with the stock market.

[00:23:49] Ramit: Oh really?

[00:23:50] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:23:50] Ramit: You can tell.

[00:23:51] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:23:52] Ramit: What would he say?

[00:23:53] Maddie: You can just tell when the man’s grumpy.

[00:23:57] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

[00:23:58] Maddie: And he had a successful career in finance. We went to private school. We had a really great life. We had all of the things that we needed. We lived in a really big house.

[00:24:09] Ramit: And then as you got older, I’m assuming he paid for college?

[00:24:14] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:24:14] Ramit: Even beyond college, like cars and stuff like that.

[00:24:17] Maddie: Beyond college, I’ve been relatively financially independent, but up until college, I paid for everything.

[00:24:23] Ramit: Got it.

[00:24:24] Maddie: Definitely didn’t feel poor or even middle class by any means. We felt upper middle class, but the messaging we got was that we were not comfortable financially. When we were eating out, he wouldn’t order a meal, and he would pick off our plates to save money, or I feel like we were always stressed about money because we didn’t want to make him stressed out about money.

[00:24:50] Ramit: Okay. Your mom and dad are still married?

[00:24:52] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:24:53] Ramit: And your mom still shopping and not telling dad?

[00:24:57] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:24:57] Ramit: Still. Okay.

[00:25:01] Maddie: Yeah. We’re going to have to edit this out of the podcast so she doesn’t get found out.

[00:25:07] Ramit: Dad goes into the closet, finds out there’s a secret Batman closet, and there’s all these beautiful bags. Okay.


[00:25:13] Ramit: Maddie didn’t catch it, but I bet you did. She feels stressed at the concept of ordering another appetizer just like her dad did. I have a lot of empathy for couples who come on this podcast. Whenever people behave in peculiar ways with money, there’s almost always a reason for it. And here we can see how much of her dad’s financial anxiety has influenced her, not to mention the mixed messages that she got from her mom buying and hiding purchases.


[00:25:41] Ramit: I think you mentioned that, my dad is very cheap, even though he lives in a million-dollar house.

[00:25:50] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:25:50] Ramit: Is that true?

[00:25:54] Maddie: Multimillion.

[00:25:54] Ramit: Okay. Thank you. Being honest. I love it. Okay, great. So he’s cheap. And how could I, an outside observer tell that he’s cheap if I spend two days with him?

[00:26:06] Maddie: The clothing for sure. He wears Crocs and a ripped shirt.

[00:26:12] Ramit: Say no more. Once you said Crocs, I don’t need any more details beyond a cheap person wearing Crocs.

[00:26:19] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:26:21] Ramit: That’s tough. How’s it feel to have a dad that wears Crocs?

[00:26:23] Maddie: Yeah. Apparently, they’re stylish again, which is–

[00:26:28] Ramit: Fuck that. They’re not. All right. So does he eat out?

[00:26:33] Maddie: Rarely.

[00:26:34] Ramit: And if you went to eat out with him, what would he get? He’d pick off your plate?

[00:26:37] Maddie: Yeah. Yeah, no, not quite. But he would get nothing extravagant.

[00:26:43] Ramit: Okay. What does he do to enjoy his money?

[00:26:45] Maddie: Nothing.

[00:26:46] Ramit: Right. And when you ask him about that, you are like, dad, what are you going to do? You have all this money. What would he say?

[00:26:53] Maddie: We don’t have all this money.

[00:26:54] Ramit: Really?

[00:26:54] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:26:55] Ramit: Does he deny it?

[00:26:56] Maddie: Yeah. That’s the thing. There’s like a black hole. We don’t understand what the reality is or if it’s all in his head.

[00:27:06] Ramit: What do you think will happen with your parents financially speaking as they get older, five, 10, 20 years from now? Are they going to spend their money?

[00:27:16] Maddie: No. They should. Me and my sister would love for them to enjoy their money in retirement, but I think there’s too much of a mental block for them to do that.

[00:27:28] Ramit: Yeah. You ever tell them, hey, you should take a trip. Come visit us in London.

[00:27:32] Maddie: Oh yeah. All the time. Yeah.

[00:27:33] Ramit: What do they say?

[00:27:33] Maddie: They will do it, but there will be stress on one side, my mom is fine, and she’s stressed about the fact that my dad is stressed.

[00:27:43] Ramit: So your dad is stressed and then she inherits that stress. She absorbs the stress. Does she enjoy it, being stressed?

[00:27:51] Maddie: Maybe.

[00:27:52] Ramit: Well, you know your mom best. Does she enjoy absorbing the stress from your dad?

[00:27:58] Maddie: No.

[00:27:59] Ramit: Hmm. Do you think Paul enjoys absorbing the stress from you

[00:28:03] Maddie: No.

[00:28:04] Ramit: And you’re like, dad, why don’t you just stop? You tell him that, and then what does he say? He’s like, stop what? This is me.

[00:28:13] Maddie: Yeah, there’s nothing to stop.

[00:28:16] Ramit: This is who I am.

[00:28:17] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:28:17] Ramit: Okay Can I ask you a question? Do you understand if you have enough money?

[00:28:24] Maddie: No.

[00:28:25] Ramit: You don’t know.

[00:28:26] Maddie: No idea.

[00:28:27] Ramit: You don’t know if your dad has enough money. You don’t know if you have enough money.

[00:28:30] Maddie: Yeah, absolutely no idea.

[00:28:33] Ramit: In a way it feels quite comfortable, right? It’s the same way you grew up.

[00:28:36] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:28:37] Ramit: You ever think of that?

[00:28:38] Maddie: No.

[00:28:41] Ramit: You think it’s possible to feel good about money?

[00:28:47] Maddie: Not from my experience.


[00:28:49] Ramit: The most important part of that entire deep dive on Maddie’s relationship with her dad and his money psychology was her admitting that her dad wears Crocs. I’m sorry, Maddie. But also, you can see how easily our money identity gets transmitted to the people around us, not just children, which is obvious, but from Maddie’s dad to her mom, and now from Maddie to her fiance.

[00:29:16] Now listen, you can play Whack-a-Mole your entire life, fighting about your KFC order, and Starbucks, and Target, or you can get to the root cause and build a healthy relationship with money. That starts with yourself and then with your partner. That’s what I get to do on this podcast.

[00:29:34] We’ll open up the conscious spending plan right after this.

[00:29:38] Now let’s get to their numbers. Keep in mind that Maddie just said it’s not possible to feel good about money.


[00:29:45] Paul: Okay, so assets, 0; investments, 627,000; savings 27,000; debt, 5,000, and total net worth 649,000.

[00:30:00] Ramit: All right. What do you think about that?

[00:30:04] Paul: I feel like it’s incredible. I feel like it’s way more money than I would’ve ever thought I would have at this point in my life.

[00:30:09] Ramit: Okay. How old are you?

[00:30:10] Paul: I’m 33.

[00:30:11] Ramit: 33. And?

[00:30:12] Maddie: 29.

[00:30:13] Ramit: 29. All right. What do you think about the numbers?

[00:30:15] Maddie: It’s okay.

[00:30:16] Ramit: It’s okay. All right. Is there a number that would be great?

[00:30:22] Maddie: Maybe double.

[00:30:23] Ramit: Okay. And when you look at this net worth number $649,000, what does it mean to you?

[00:30:31] Maddie: It means that we still have to be quite thoughtful and conscious about money.

[00:30:37] Ramit: Okay. Just if we fast forward, and let’s say this was 1 million, 2 million, 5 million, would you still need to be conscious and thoughtful about money?

[00:30:47] Maddie: It depends. I think I will fall victim to lifestyle creep. And if we had that money, I would probably want to buy a house and nicer things. And I think I would always feel a little bit stressed and a little bit like there’s something else to reach for.

[00:31:09] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Lifestyle creep, you used that phrase. What is that?

[00:31:14] Maddie: So when we first moved abroad, we were making much less money, and I believe I felt the exact same level of stress about money as I did today when we’re making a lot more. But I spend a lot more.

[00:31:31] Ramit: Hmm. And the lifestyle creep part of that is what?

[00:31:35] Maddie: Oh, I shop more now and we live in a nicer flat, and we do a bit more trips. And when we would go away, we stay in a four-star hotel instead of a three-star hotel, and all of the things.

[00:31:48] Ramit: Why is it called creep? Why not conscious spending? You earn more, so we spend more thoughtfully.

[00:31:54] Maddie: Yeah, could be.

[00:31:56] Paul: I spend a lot more than I used to spend.

[00:31:59] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:32:00] Ramit: Am I guilty of lifestyle creep?

[00:32:03] Maddie: No.

[00:32:04] Ramit: What’s the difference?

[00:32:08] Maddie: I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t one.

[00:32:13] Ramit: But it always raised the question for me. Okay, so if I add 50% to my income, or double my income, or triple my income, am I still supposed to be eating the exact same dishes I used to eat, traveling the exact same places, wearing the exact same shirts?

[00:32:29] Maddie: Mm.

[00:32:30] Ramit: When do I get to actually use my money? So my philosophy is if you earn more, you should spend more, but you should do it thoughtfully and carefully.

[00:32:39] Paul: I think the difference is significant for sure. I think to be conscious spending, if we got aligned on doing exercises like this and I think committing to that guilt-free spending number that we feel comfortable with would be super helpful for us because then we could just go forward each month knowing that X thousand dollars is allocated to that.

[00:33:04] Ramit: Yeah. Okay, cool. Let’s look at your income. Maddie, what is your combined gross monthly income?

[00:33:12] Maddie: Around 20k.

[00:33:14] Ramit: All right, you make 19,583 a month. That’s from your income alone. Right now you’re looking for a job. So your salary alone brings in close to a quarter million dollars, $235,000 or so into your household per year. How do you feel about that?

[00:33:33] Maddie: Pretty good.

[00:33:35] Ramit: Oh, I agree. It’s great. Right now, Paul, you’re making zero. You’re on the job search. When you find your next job, how much do you expect to make, ballpark?

[00:33:48] Paul: Ballpark, 150 to 200. So maybe 350 to four.

[00:33:52] Ramit: Yeah, 350 to 400,000 a year.

[00:33:56] Paul: Yeah.

[00:33:57] Ramit: How do you both feel about that?

[00:33:58] Maddie: That would be great.

[00:33:59] Paul: Yeah. I would feel incredible if we had that.

[00:34:03] Ramit: Okay. Let’s take a look at your fixed costs. Your fixed costs are at 63%. All right. You live in London. It’s a very high-cost of-living city. Your rent is 18 or 19% of gross income. Again, this is one income. Okay. Looking at your spending, honestly, I don’t have much to say about this at all. You have a car payment. You have no debt.

[00:34:29] Your groceries are $850 a month. You have 300 bucks a month of subscriptions. Okay. Maybe you could cut that if you needed to a bit. And your therapy, you have that listed here. That’s great. And you added the miscellaneous 15% for things you don’t even account for, which is smart. And you are at 63%, fine. Investments are at 9%. That’s $1,000 a month. What is this, Maddie?

[00:34:57] Maddie: Part of it’s pension, and then I also put some into the market, although I’ve stopped that while we’re on one income, so usually that would be closer to 2,000.

[00:35:08] Ramit: Ah, okay. You stopped while you’re on one income. And what do you do with the money that you redirected?

[00:35:13] Maddie: Oh yeah. Well, you’ll get to the bottom, then you’ll see where that money’s going.

[00:35:18] Ramit: Let’s keep going. Savings are at zero. Let’s just scroll up. You have $27,000 in savings, so three to four months of savings, basically four months of savings. Right?

[00:35:33] Interview: Mm-hmm.

[00:35:34] Ramit: How do you feel about that?

[00:35:36] Maddie: I feel pretty good about that, but also because a lot of our money is invested in tax-free accounts, so I feel like that is savings as well.

[00:35:48] Ramit: Okay. All right. And then let’s go down to guilt-free spending. Whoa. What is this? Can somebody explain this? It’s 62%, which is $7,000 a month. What’s going on here?

[00:36:04] Paul: The last three months have been incredibly expensive for us. We got engaged in January, so we’ve had a bunch of one-off expensive costs like ring and a trip to celebrate or engagement party. And then we also just have a lot of friends’ weddings this year.

[00:36:21] So travel wise, it’s been a very, very expensive start to the year. So I don’t think that’s fully representative of what it would normally be, but we do spend quite a lot of money on travel. Living abroad, we travel quite a lot, and that adds up for sure.


[00:36:37] Ramit: What the hell? This was all sounding great. Why are you so worried? And then I get to the bottom. Oh, now I understand. They’re spending 62% or $7,000 a month on guilt-free spending. I need to dig into this.


[00:36:53] Ramit: If this is true, this is $84,000 a year in guilt-free spending.

[00:37:01] Paul: If that pace continued, yes.

[00:37:03] Ramit: Okay. The numbers are the numbers. I’m not here to judge where your money’s going. I just want to get an inventory of what’s going on. Would you say that this is accurate?

[00:37:14] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:37:15] Paul: Yeah.

[00:37:17] Ramit: If that’s the case, you are spending more than you make every month.

[00:37:21] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:37:23] Ramit: Is that a cause of stress to you?

[00:37:25] Maddie: Oh yeah.

[00:37:26] Paul: Yeah.

[00:37:27] Ramit: Both of you?

[00:37:27] Paul: Yeah. Well, different degrees of stress. I think it causes Maddie more stress.

[00:37:34] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:37:35] Paul: In fact, I’ve been running the numbers on this to hopefully get a bit more comfort and to bring the pressure gauge down above the situation. And even with our aggressive spending to start the year and being on only one income, our savings and investments have still grown each month, despite month to month being slightly in the red.

[00:38:00] So to be honest, when we talk about this concept, I think we both still feel really icky about being in the red, and especially probably Maddie, it doesn’t make us feel as relaxed as it probably should.

[00:38:19] Maddie: For example, we’re planning a wedding, so I anticipate for the next year or so we’re going to be in the red. Even if we did get a second income, there will be many months that we’re in the red on wedding costs. I think we feel very uncomfortable and unsure around how much we should be allowed to happily spend on a wedding.

[00:38:42] Ramit: I agree. I think you earn the right to feel okay about being in the red occasionally if you have a very large net worth. I think at your age, your net worth is really impressive, but I think when we factor in the fact that you’re losing money every single month, that you’re planning to continue that for the foreseeable future, and you’ve got extensive travel and a wedding, that starts to be trickier.

[00:39:13] Paul: Yeah.

[00:39:13] Maddie: Well, so this goes back to my urgency around changing the other side of the equation.

[00:39:17] Ramit: Which is?

[00:39:19] Maddie: Paul getting a job.

[00:39:20] Paul: Find a job.

[00:39:21] Ramit: So you’re saying, Paul, if you get a job, suddenly this whole CSP looks a lot better. It gives us a lot more flexibility. We don’t have to change as much as aggressively, and we have money for the wedding.

[00:39:37] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:39:38] Paul: Everything you said is right. I also think that the second I land a job, our situation goes, it is great. And we really don’t have to worry, and we can go back to investing aggressively each month, putting money away, and we don’t have to stress about trying to cut back on places we don’t want to cut back on. I agree with that. It ratchets up the pressure.

[00:40:03] So emotionally, it’s difficult. I feel really guilty asking Maddie to pull back on spending when I am the problem and could solve the problem by getting a job. I think that on one hand, I want us to be a team, and I would love for Maddie to support me emotionally while I’m looking for a job and say, it’s okay. We can handle for three months. If it’s six months, that’s totally fine.

[00:40:34] We’ll be okay. You should find the right job. Rationally, when we look at the numbers, it makes me think, yeah, I need to fix the side of the equation, the income equation as soon as possible. And I should also be cutting back my own spending significantly and not asking Maddie to cut back as much.

[00:40:52] Ramit: Is there a difference in what you spend versus what Maddie spends on the CSP?

[00:40:57] Paul: Well, we’ve aggregated it all for the purposes of this, but yeah, there would be a difference. We spend in different areas.

[00:41:03] Maddie: Oh, we have different weak spots.

[00:41:05] Ramit: What?

[00:41:06] Maddie: I spend way more on shopping.

[00:41:08] Ramit: Okay. It’s all rolled into that five to 7,000 a month. Okay. And where do you spend money?

[00:41:12] Paul: We do a lot of travel together, but I’ll go on a golfing weekend with my guy friends. I love to cook, and I spend a lot of money on food and groceries, and gym’s very expensive.

[00:41:25] Ramit: Okay. What about the wedding? How much do you want to spend on your wedding?

[00:41:31] Maddie: We’re struggling with this because we look at this number and we’re saying, okay, it’s going to be the best day of our lives. Also, we are super social, and I like love to party, and I really want to have a wedding. It makes me really excited. But there’s also this looming stress and guilt about the fact that we are on one income and should we actually be dipping into this? Is this reckless?

[00:41:59] Paul: We budgeted 80,000. I basically just decided that based on comparing it to friends’ weddings, the number didn’t seem like it would destroy our finances.

[00:42:12] Ramit: Where will the 80,000 come from?

[00:42:14] Paul: It would come from our investments.

[00:42:16] Ramit: Just one question because I’ve planned a wedding. This 80k number that you picked, did you actually go through it and map out everything, the dress, the bachelor party?

[00:42:29] Maddie: Oh no, that’s just for the wedding.


[00:42:31] Ramit: Part of my work with couples is really allowing them to share what’s on their mind, and I try as hard as possible not to interject midway through. Mostly, I want them to be able to tell the full story. But now that I have finished speaking with Paul and Maddie, and as I’m re-listening to this part of our conversation, I just have to be really directive. This is a really bad idea.

[00:42:55] They have arbitrarily picked a number based on what friends spent. They haven’t run a real analysis. The wedding, and the bachelor, bachelorette parties, and the honeymoon, and all the assorted expenses will probably triple cost and all of this on one income when they’re already in the red each month. Do not do this. Do not. I don’t mind taking calculated risks, but you have to know what the risks are, and you have to build a healthy buffer for the risks you didn’t plan on.

[00:43:28] What they’ve done here is multiplied risk times risk, times risk. And if one thing doesn’t work out, everything else comes crashing down. I’ve built a life so I could avoid that at all costs, and I hope you do too, but it takes some tough decisions.

[00:43:45]  We’ll get back to this story after these brief messages.

[00:43:48]  Thanks for sticking around. Let’s get right back to it.


[00:43:51] Paul: I’ve mentally prepared myself for it to be 100 to 120.

[00:43:56] Ramit: Yeah. What do you think?

[00:43:57] Maddie: Yeah, that sounds right.

[00:43:58] Ramit: Okay. So 120. Weddings have some of the highest phantom costs ever. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being 150.

[00:44:09] Paul: That would be almost double what we planned.

[00:44:13] Ramit: Did the oxygen just get sucked out of this room? What just happened? Hmm. What are y’all thinking right now?

[00:44:19] Maddie: Oh, that’s a lot of money.

[00:44:21] Paul: I would not want to spend 150 on a wedding.

[00:44:23] Ramit: Do you agree?

[00:44:26] Maddie: Yes.

[00:44:28] Ramit: What if your wedding costs a total of $50,000?

[00:44:33] Paul: Gives us a lot more breathing room.

[00:44:34] Ramit: A lot more. But you know what kind of wedding you’d get for 50k? It’s not the wedding you have in your mind. What do you think, Maddie? Maddie’s going, no fucking way.

[00:44:44] Maddie: Don’t want it. I’d rather not have a wedding.

[00:44:46] Ramit: Okay.

[00:44:47] Paul: We really struggle with this because we’ve lived in three, four different cities each. We have friend groups from each of those places. We want our family to be there, and we’ve gone through the numbers and tried to cut down the list, and we always get to the point of saying, could we turn this into a 50-person, 60-person wedding instead of a 120-person wedding, and we don’t think we can.

[00:45:13] Ramit: Okay. Let’s go back to the numbers. Technically, you could do it. Sell $150,000 from your investments. You’d still have $475,000 or so. You can do it. What’s the problem?

[00:45:33] Paul: It’s a huge chunk to take out of the investments.

[00:45:36] Ramit: Yeah. And that number would turn into well over a million dollars over the course of your life. But weddings are a big deal. I spent a lot of money on my wedding. I get it. If you can afford it, are there any other problems with it?

[00:45:50] Maddie: The stress of doing it. I think what will happen is we will do it, but we won’t, and we will be stressed about it the whole time.

[00:45:59] Ramit: Correct. Same way you’ve treated every large purchase. Yes.

[00:46:03] Maddie: For sure.

[00:46:05] Ramit: So mathematically, you could do it. You have the money you’ve invested. How’d you get all this money by the way?

[00:46:11] Maddie: A portion of it is inheritance.

[00:46:14] Ramit: Uh-huh. From your parents?

[00:46:16] Maddie: From grandparents. So we got–

[00:46:20] Ramit: Heck, how much of that?

[00:46:23] Paul: Maybe a quarter to a third of it, and then the rest comes from, we’ve just been working. I’ve been working for almost a decade. Maddie’s been working for seven years, and we’ve invested and saved.

[00:46:34] Ramit: Good for you. All right. Good to hear. The inheritance part, good to know. The other part is what particularly interests me, which is it shows demonstrated ability to invest consistently. It tells me that you’re going to continue having probably high income jobs, and you’re going to be able to invest aggressively over time. I agree. I think that’s great, and I think you’ve proven that.

[00:46:57] On the other hand, from the way that you describe your lifestyle, it seems like you like nice things. I don’t mind it. You like nice things. Great. I would say, you do not want to get in this situation where you have these high incomes and you are essentially living paycheck to paycheck.

[00:47:17] It’s a really miserable way to live, to be making three, four, $500,000 a year wanting to stay at these hotels, go with your friends, and you are sitting there like, I don’t know if we can order the salad. It’s really going to be expensive.

[00:47:32] Maddie: Mm-hmm.

[00:47:33] Ramit: What do you think about that? You feel like you keep up with the Joneses?

[00:47:38] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:47:38] Ramit: How so?

[00:47:41] Maddie: We hang out with people who money feels to be less of a concern due to their backgrounds.

[00:47:53] Paul: I don’t think we keep up with the Joneses to a ridiculous extent.

[00:47:59] Ramit: Seeing–

[00:48:00] Paul: Maddie doesn’t agree.

[00:48:02] Ramit: What do you say, Maddie?

[00:48:04] Maddie: I definitely disagree with that. I think we have a lot of trips. We do a lot of group trips. We do a lot of nice things. We buy a lot of nice things, and there’s definitely a sense like, we need to keep up. Or not we need to; we want to keep up. Obviously, if we get invited on a girls’ trip to Ibiza, I want to go. And if he gets invited to a boys’ golf trip in Spain, we want to attend these things, and we do. But then we feel stressed about spending afterwards.

[00:48:41] Ramit: Do you ever say, no, I can’t go because we can’t afford it?

[00:48:44] Maddie: No.

[00:48:46] Paul: Sometimes yes, but I also struggle to say no to friends.

[00:48:52] Maddie: I’m terrible at saying no.


[00:48:54] Ramit: It would be easy to scoff and say, oh my God, Paul and Maddie, so ridiculous, so entitled. The first thing you need to do is stop caring what other people think. I love that people say that with a straight face while holding an iPhone, wearing the same five brands as your five friends.

[00:49:09] Using a probiotic that 80 of your friends do, living in a house you bought because everyone told you that you need to own while driving an SUV you bought because you have a two-month old kid, and society tells us we need an SUV for our young child who can’t walk. We are all social animals. We’re all part of a larger community that influences our spending.

[00:49:28] The minute you start accepting that is the minute you can decide which societal influences you want to accept and which don’t align with your Rich Life. The problem is they don’t have a crystal clear vision of their own Rich Life, and they don’t have the money to be able to afford this type of lifestyle. So unless something changes, they will simply spend on whatever their friends spend on, whatever they get invited to, leaving them wondering, where’s all the money going?


[00:50:00] Ramit: Let’s be honest. You have $627,000 invested at a young age. Very impressive. You have a high-income job. When you land your next job, it’s going to be high income together. Fast forward for me 10 years. Where are you?

[00:50:18] Paul: Spending has gone up a lot.

[00:50:20] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Like what would you be spending on differently?

[00:50:22] Paul: We would be living in a much more expensive apartment or a small house. Our vacations and travel spend would continue to get more expensive. In 10 years, we probably have a child or two. Yeah. I think you can probably just add a multiplier to everything on the list and everything gets more expensive.

[00:50:39] Ramit: I agree. And some of it becomes exponentially more expensive. If you’re taking two kids to a very nice hotel and you’re like, we want to sleep, you’re getting two rooms. Maybe you have childcare coming with you. Now you’re talking about something that’s not just two times more expensive, but three times more. So it starts to really ramp up. What happens in terms of your careers?

[00:51:02] Paul: So we both plan to keep working.

[00:51:05] Ramit: Yeah, you are.

[00:51:06] Paul: And prioritize our careers.

[00:51:07] Ramit: Okay. You’ll be working more. You’ll be earning more.

[00:51:10] Paul: Earning more. Be very busy.

[00:51:12] Ramit: Uh-huh.

[00:51:13] Paul: I can imagine it turning into a stressful situation of we’re so dependent on having a high income that if anything goes wrong, one of us could have a health issue. There could be a family thing. If we drop to one income with our expenses up like crazy then.

[00:51:29] Ramit: Right now you can do it. You can do it with one income. You can actually do it quite handily if you were to cut a bunch of discretionary expenses. But at a point where you have one kid, two kids, childcare, you can’t.

[00:51:41] Maddie: A lot of pressure, a lot of stress around it.

[00:51:44] Ramit: You feel that way now?

[00:51:45] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:51:46] Ramit: So at a certain point, the tail starts wagging the dog. You’re like, yeah, we’re so grateful that we had these high-income jobs, but now we need these jobs. That’s just the path forward that you painted for me.

[00:52:01] Maddie: Yeah.

[00:52:02] Paul: But at the same time, I do have a lot of faith in our ability to keep providing and earning good incomes, and work is really important to us. I don’t see a scenario where one of us wants to stop working. But I don’t want to walk a tightrope.

[00:52:18] Ramit: You could do it. You’ll be like so many other people living in major cities that have to work and are petrified of losing their job because if they lose it for one month, everything falls apart. You know people like that, right?

[00:52:32] Maddie: We are those people.

[00:52:35] Ramit: Now, you mentioned you’re both in couples therapy, right?

[00:52:39] Maddie: Mm-hmm.

[00:52:39] Ramit: Okay. Were you seeing this therapist while you were going through the stressful work time?

[00:52:44] Paul: Yeah, definitely. Plus another individual therapist just myself.

[00:52:48] Ramit: Okay. Was that helpful?

[00:52:50] Paul: It was incredibly helpful. Yeah.

[00:52:52] Ramit: Hmm. What’d you take away from speaking to your therapist? What surprised you?

[00:52:57] Paul: The biggest benefit that my therapist brought was just getting my head out of the muck and taking me out of the day-to-days fear to see the bigger picture.

[00:53:07] Ramit: Yeah. To zoom out and look at the whole situation.

[00:53:11] Paul: Yeah. Give myself a bit more perspective from a 30,000-foot view instead of the day to day.


[00:53:17] Ramit: Quick reminder, I’m not a therapist, but I frequently encourage my guests to see one. Paul is mentioning that his therapist encouraged him to zoom out to see the big picture. This is very similar to zooming out of the day-to-day expenses to ask yourself, what’s my Rich Life? What’s our Rich Life?


[00:53:39] Ramit: What is your meaningful Rich Life for the next three years?

[00:53:43] Maddie: Going to our closest friends’ weddings. Four this year.

[00:53:48] Paul: I thought the number was closer to eight or nine.

[00:53:51] Maddie: Well, I think four are meaningful.

[00:53:55] Paul: Okay. Yeah.

[00:53:56] Maddie: So I would say maybe four or five combined. And then being able to afford the wedding that we want for us. And I would say taking advantage of us, having some time off together, and doing something we maybe wouldn’t be able to do in another period of our life, like, for example, when we have kids.

[00:54:22] Paul: I think we could cut down to four weddings. It’d be happy to do that. Taking a long trip. I agree that it’s an opportunity that we probably won’t have, we might never have again.

[00:54:35] Maddie: I don’t want to have to go to the community gym, for example. I want to keep going to Barry’s Bootcamp.

[00:54:41] Paul: I want to keep traveling around Europe while we’re there. We don’t know how long we’ll live there for.

[00:54:46] Ramit: Anything else?

[00:54:49] Paul: It’s really important to me that we keep investing our money.

[00:54:53] Ramit: How much?

[00:54:53] Paul: While we’re just on one income. I think we should still be trying to invest $1,000 a month. Once we’re on two incomes, then I think we have an opportunity to invest 30% of our take home, 35%. Really crank that.

[00:55:09] Ramit: How would you do that 35% plus traveling, plus wedding? No, doesn’t work.

[00:55:14] Paul: Well. Travel and weddings is the biggest one.

[00:55:18] Ramit: Mm. What’s more important? Traveling to other people’s wedding or your wedding?

[00:55:24] Maddie: Our wedding.

[00:55:24] Paul: Our wedding. Yeah. Aside from small circle core friends, I’d want to make sure that we’re out there.

[00:55:30] Ramit: So four friends, you’ll be at their weddings guaranteed. Right?

[00:55:34] Maddie: Mm-hmm.

[00:55:35] Ramit: Okay. It’s a great vision. Just to ballpark it, it’s probably a couple with no kids making six to $800,000 a year. It’s a lot of money. You probably don’t realize that because the people around you have normalized the type of travel that you’re doing.

[00:56:03] Maddie: Mm-hmm. Definitely.

[00:56:04] Ramit: It’s not actually normal for people making $230,000, which is a very good income, to be traveling eight times a year internationally, plus your own personal travel, plus Barry’s Bootcamp, plus shopping and golf trips. So you’re living a great life, no doubt. And I love your vision for an even greater life. It’s beautiful, but your income is not commensurate with your vision, nor will it be. And so you’re actually setting yourself up to constantly feel poor relative to everyone else around you.

[00:56:37] Paul: Now that we’ve seen how these numbers could play out and the situation that we could be in 10 years from now, if we keep going, being so dependent on a high income, do you feel like it’s important enough to us to make some sacrifices on saying no to things so that we can build a bit more margin of safety into our plan?

[00:57:00] Maddie: I do feel that way, but I think we will have a bit of a misalignment over where that line is.

[00:57:07] Ramit: Are you willing to flex a bit more to my side to prioritize this?

[00:57:15] Maddie: A bit. Yes.

[00:57:17] Paul: Sounds like a no.

[00:57:19] Ramit: This is a great discussion. Keep going. Part of this is really being honest.

[00:57:23] Paul: Yeah. Where do you think that we could say no to?

[00:57:30] Maddie: Other trips in between, like you can golf less. Isn’t that an expensive hobby?

[00:57:37] Paul: Yeah.

[00:57:38] Maddie: I could shop way less. We could maybe make sacrifices when we’re at the weddings and if everyone’s staying at a really nice hotel, maybe we stay at a super cheap hotel and just do things a bit differently.

[00:57:57] Ramit: Would you be willing to say no to those?

[00:58:00] Maddie: Yes. Some, yes.

[00:58:04] Ramit: Let me propose a different way.

[00:58:07] Maddie: Please.

[00:58:07] Ramit: You could make a change so that a series of coordinated decisions, you would build a portfolio that was so large that it would be a moat against anything happening. It would be a moat against one of you ending up in a job or under a manager that you didn’t like. You could quit knowing that you have financial security.

[00:58:35] It would be a moat so that if and when you decide to have children, you can have childcare and never have to stress about a nanny, or a babysitter, or whatever type of childcare you need. You could build a life with a series of coordinated decisions where you were still traveling, still enjoying eating out, all that. But you’d have to be conscious about which ones were the most important because they would not all be equal to you.

[00:59:10] Paul: I think it’s a necessary step. I think we’ve had so many conversations where we try to align on what’s actually important to us. Where do we want to spend? But it’s this compulsion to be at everything and live such a social life just drains us.

[00:59:33] Ramit: Yeah. You want that?

[00:59:38] Paul: It would be easy to say, no. I don’t want that, but I do want to be at all of my friend’s weddings. I missed a friend’s bachelor party just two weekends ago, and it killed me to miss it.

[00:59:48] Maddie: Yeah. I don’t want to say no to our good friends’ weddings.

[00:59:53] Paul: I think we need to commit to realizing that we need to make sacrifices along the way to get there.

[01:00:00] Maddie: But I also have a lot of like, I don’t want to say no to things.


[01:00:14] Ramit: The conversation began with Maddie agonizing over Paul’s recent decision to leave his company, which was affecting his mental health. She looked over his shoulder. She constantly nudges him to find another job, but it turns out that the real problem is a joint dynamic where they both want to have it all.

[01:00:33] They live like they make at least $750,000 a year, but they’re not making anywhere close to that. They’ve taken multiple international trips. They’re planning an expensive wedding, but nobody is willing to say no. You hear lots of detailed reasoning. We love our friends. We love our family.

[01:00:50] We want to be there for them, but in the end, their spending is no different than someone in $38,000 of credit card debt who can’t stop buying random junk. If they don’t create a vision for themselves, they will forever be chasing what other people think, no matter how much money they earn.

[01:01:08] Yet that’s what happened to her dad, and now that’s what’s happening to Paul and Maddie. And unless they make a change, they will probably pass that along to their children. Let’s take a listen to Paul’s follow-up.

[01:01:21] Paul: Hey, Ramit. Thanks so much for having us on your podcast. I think we both really enjoyed the conversation and had some important takeaways from it. I think the two things that really stuck with me from our conversation, first one was how we have this great opportunity to really get ahead with our finances over the next decade or so.

[01:01:37] I think the phrase you used was to build a moat that will basically protect our financial future. But to do that, we have to be more intentional and purposeful with our spending decisions, especially by getting more comfortable saying no both to ourselves and to outside commitments.

[01:01:54] And we’ve definitely made some big changes since our conversation. We sat down and built out targets for spending in each category in our plan, and we do a quick catch up call on Sunday nights to check if we’re on track and make any changes if we have to. And as a result of this, our spending has actually dropped quite dramatically.

[01:02:11] We’ve also done the exercise that you mentioned of deciding which areas we want to prioritize in our long-term vision. And we realized that we need to be intentional about protecting that vision. So you’ll be happy to know that we’ve changed our travel schedule quite a bit for the year, and we were able to politely decline several destination weddings that probably would have placed quite a bit of a strain on us financially.

[01:02:33] Ramit: I have to say, I’m cautiously optimistic. I love that they made these changes, extremely impressive. And what is really impressive is that they systematized it. They talk on Sundays. They built out targets. All of these things go far beyond trying to do better. These are now part of their Rich Life operating system. The reason that I say I am cautious, I didn’t get a follow up from Maddie.

[01:02:59] So Paul and Maddie, I’m wishing you the best. You have a chance to build a financial moat around your entire lives that will allow you to live an amazing life together, but you have to make these tough decisions now, and you most importantly have to have a clear joint vision of your Rich Life.