Episode 61. I am going to die in 5 years. Should I quit my job?
(Part 2)

In part two of Tom and Julie’s conversation, they start to see their reality for what it is—Julie may not have long to live, but she’s still working and is afraid to spend their millions on making memories with their young kids. 

After a double lung transplant in 2020, she’s healthy—but odds are not in her favor for a long retirement. Julie admits that, if she were counseling a friend, she’d tell them to leave the career behind and focus on experiences. But even that isn’t enough to spark action… and the clock is ticking.

What would you do with millions of dollars in the bank and a short time to live? The answer seems obvious. To some, it isn’t so easy.

Tools mentioned in this episode


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Julie:  [00:00:02] I had a double lung transplant in October of 2020. According to my calculations, I have about a 67% chance of living five years post-transplant, so another three and a half years roughly. But I’m behaving like when I thought I might live to be 90. And there’s virtually no chance I’ll live to be 90.

Tom:  [00:00:30] At some point, we’re going to be looking back saying, why didn’t we do the stuff we could do when we could do it which is now?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:00:39] There’s no virtue in living a smaller life than you have to.

Julie:  [00:00:42] And yet it does feel satisfying in some way. I can’t quite explain why.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:00:48] If you knew that you had only a 67% chance of living the next five years, what would you do differently? Welcome to part 2 of my conversation with Tom and Julie. They’re both around 50 years old, and they have accumulated a $12 million net worth. But Julie still works at her day job because she likes the income, and they hesitate on spending money on things like travel and eating out.

The stakes are high, because Julie had a double lung transplant, and her likelihood of living past 10 years drops. The stakes are high for Tom and Julie because she knows the statistics of how long she will live after receiving a double lung transplant. Now we’re talking about life or death here. And we’re talking about millions of dollars.

Julie herself has said that she wants to create experiences for their two young daughters. So why are they finding it so hard to make changes? As you listen to today’s episode, please know that there are two follow-up letters from Tom and Julie, which you can get at iwt.com/episode61. But first, let’s get into today’s episode. I’m Ramit Sethi, and this is I Will Teach You To Be Rich.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:02:13] I have this concept of money dials, the thing that you love to spend money on. Have you ever articulated what your money dial is?

Julie:  [00:02:23] For me, it’s travel. When I was in my master’s program, that’s where I would splurge and really try to have some good experiences. Now that I have kids, it’s where I imagined splurging. And with COVID, I’m not comfortable flying because of my being immunocompromised and so on. But I do feel like there’s things I would like to do, like, if my kids are in distance learning and I’m working remotely, going to Arizona for a month in the winter and just getting out of this terrible Northern Midwestern climate for a while and just experiencing a different part of the country and being able to eat outside in restaurants.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:03:24] What do you think your beliefs about wealth have cost you?

Julie:  [00:03:29] I have reflected a lot on that over this recent time frame here the last probably 18 months. And I would say they have cost me or us, our family, a lot of experiences. ’20 was a big year for us. That was, of course, when COVID hit and everybody was impacted by that. But it’s also when my lung function went way down and I had to have a lung transplant. So I feel like prior to that, I wished that Tom and I had really taken advantage of the opportunity to take our kids on trips to go to some less developed countries together. Or if Tom didn’t want to go I should have found a friend to go on those trips with. That is what I think I have missed out on.

I don’t think anything I could have bought with the money is– any material things will be anything that I will miss. I don’t feel like I would have had a better life if I had had a nicer car or better shoes or I think it’s experiences. What do I want my girls to remember? Because I feel like– just all those losses of my parents makes me just think about what I remember from them. 

And it’s about experiences and getting out what I want my kids to– what I want to impart on them is a sense of adventure, of like, you and your friend can go to Vietnam and you can go to Laos right after they open the border, and you will be just fine. And you will figure things out. And you might be uncomfortable. And you might have to drink Diet Coke because they don’t have coffee. And I’m really worried, I’m going to leave them and there’ll be cupcakes. Or just not cupcakes, but I just think the Upper Midwest is the world. And I feel like the Upper Midwest, it’s a really nice place to live, but I want them to have broader horizons.

And then, of course, Western Europe is so great. And we all speak Spanish, and so getting to live that and just coming aware that there’s different cultures and different ways of being, and there’s nothing wrong with eating dinner at 10 o’clock every night. And just having those broader experiences and adventures, that’s what I want versus staying here. And have been very comfortable.

Tom:  [00:06:35] At some point, we’re going to be looking back saying, why didn’t we do the stuff we could do when we could do it which is now? And that’s where I don’t want to be in the future is looking back and thinking why didn’t we? We could have but we didn’t.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:06:52] You have a clear view on mortality. You have statistics, you have numbers. You know what most other people cannot know, which is how long they will likely be around. You have a view that most of us will never have. And wow, Tom, you really said it. You do have a magic wand. Because with the exception of a few places and a few methods of travel that you probably do not want to do, you can essentially create your own magic wand style of traveling right now. So I am a little puzzled. I love your vision. I know that we have a ticking clock and you have $12 million. So to me, all the pieces are here. What is stopping you?

Julie:  [00:08:03] I would have said, oh, it’s my health insurance, but then Tom had debunked that myth by doing some research and figuring out options.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:08:12] So it’s not that.

Julie:  [00:08:13] And so it’s not health insurance. I think it really goes back to that feeling of security. And my actions say that I have weighed that more heavily than I have weighed the desire for experiences. I would say security and comfort and routine is what I have prioritized versus the alternative.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:08:46] Does going into more adventure and experiences– is that mutually exclusive from safety and security?

Julie:  [00:08:55] When I say safety and security, I mean what I get from my job. I guess I could continue working remotely and work. It sounds exciting, but then it also sounds sad to close the door on this chapter because there’s a lot of good things about it. But then I feel also then why am I spending eight hours a day at my desk instead of with my kids, instead of with my friends and doing other things I want to do. But my big priority would be spending time with my kids. But I feel like once I leave this role, I probably won’t look for another professional role.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:09:53] How old are your kids?

Julie:  [00:09:56] 12 and nine.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:09:55] Why would you continue working?

Julie:  [00:09:59] Because it makes me feel more secure.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:07] This is very interesting. If you said–

Tom:  [00:10:09] [Inaudible 00:10:11].

Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:11] How much do you make, Julie?

Julie:  [00:10:15] A couple 100,000 a year.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:17] Okay, so you make more in interest from your portfolio than you make from your job. Are you aware of that?

Julie:  [00:10:33] Honestly, no, but I do believe last year was a big year for capital gains. So it was–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:42] Everybody knows how she’s changing the subject. That was a nice pivot. It almost worked.

Julie:  [00:10:50] I know. I understand the math of oh, if we withdraw 2% a year and the interest– I get the math.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:10:55] Can you finish that sentence for me? If you withdraw 2% then what?

Julie:  [00:11:01] And say, we don’t reinvest the capital gains and the dividends, that we would have a very nice lifestyle. I don’t know. I’m just having trouble connecting–

Tom:  [00:11:17] This is where the intellectual part doesn’t square up with the emotional part. Because just doing some simple math and using a financial calculator, we can easily see that we could live our same lifestyle and our net worth will most likely grow a little bit, but not shrink. And that’s if we both stopped working today. No matter how many times I talk to Julie about that she can’t get there. And I really think one of the big hurdles for her not quitting her job is she wants to still have the security of the paycheck coming in. She’ll make a comment, like, “I got paid today.” And I’m like, “Oh, great.”

Ramit Sethi:  [00:12:06] Julie, what does that mean?

Tom:  [00:12:07] Who cares? It doesn’t matter. That’s important for her, “I got paid today.”


Ramit Sethi:  [00:12:14] Logically, this makes no sense. But emotionally, it makes all the sense in the world. When Julie grew up, she saw her mom almost become homeless. Her mom then told her, “Safety, security, you need to put money away.” And so when she receives a paycheck, it’s not really about how much she’s making from that paycheck, but rather, what that paycheck represents– safety, security, and knowing she will be okay. The problem is that those beliefs are now costing her a lot.

I ask this question to guests sometimes, “What is the cost of your beliefs? People come on, they say, “I think the stock market feels like gambling.” I say, “Okay, what is the cost of that belief?” For many people, it costs you millions of dollars in lost earnings because you just randomly believe that the stock market feels like gambling. Well, for Julie, she has a ticking clock on how long she will live. And the cost of her belief is severe. It is eight hours a day away from her family. It is not being able to create the experiences that she herself says she wants to create. So you can have your beliefs. Nobody’s changing that. But what is it costing you?


Julie:  [00:13:27 Well, I intellectualize it, and I go back to this framework. There’s three narratives.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:13:35] I love a good framework, tell me. I love a good framework.

Julie:  [00:13:41] There’s three narratives for people who have a critical health issue. One is the chaos narrative where everything’s awful. It’s just doctor’s appointments and tests and uncertainty. And the other is the restoration narrative. So they go from sickness to be like they were before the sickness. And then the other is a rebirth. It’s like being reinvention narrative and so they might become an advocate, or they might discover something that they love. Then I start intellectualizing and be like, well, I went with the restoration path.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:14:30] I totally get it. As anyone who’s into intellectual frameworks understands that they can be very powerful, but they can also be taken too far. And they can be weaponized. They can be weaponized into selling stuff that people probably shouldn’t buy. They can even be weaponized against ourselves, to rationalize anything that we possibly want to. Do you think that that might be what’s going on here?

Julie:  [00:14:59] I do. I recognize that there was value in me working for a time because it’s what I’ve really felt like I should do. But I feel like it’s time to really re-examine that decision and I feel like that framework is an excuse.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:15:20] A lot of people are facing a very similar situation to what Julie’s talking about. You might not see the similarity, but literally millions of Americans are experiencing this right now– retirement. People hate the idea of not having an income, even if they have enough. That’s because since we started working, we got used to a steady income. And an income means value in our society. Being able to earn an income means you provide for the family, or you contribute to the family.

Even if you have enough money in your portfolio, or you have a big pension, or you have $12 million like Tom and Julie, our minds are not wired to translate a big amount of wealth into a steady paycheck. And there are so many easy answers to this. Literally, they could pay someone $100 a month to log into their Vanguard account, sell a few shares and transfer money into their checking account. And this problem, at least logically, would vanish. But, of course, it wouldn’t really because this is emotional, not intellectual.


Julie:  [00:16:36] I spend a lot of time thinking about should I work, should I not work? Here’s pros, here’s the cons. And I felt like there are some real pros. My setup is pretty nice at work. It’s a pretty good situation overall. I mean, it’s still work, but– and I just think about my grandmother going into this factory. She was a seamstress, and she would sew clothes. And then they would be shipped all over the country to be sold, I guess. And I just remember how hot it was in there, and how noisy and I don’t know what she was paid. But I don’t think– it clearly was not a lot. And I just thank God, I’m so lucky just to have such a great setup.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:17:28] You are lucky. But, Julie, there is no virtue in living what your grandmother would have done. If you want to honor her, and you want to do it financially, write a $2 million check to some organization. You can afford it. You make that back in interest in a few years. But for you to stay at a job, when– if I’m reading correctly– that is not part of what you want to spend the next five years of your life doing, that doesn’t add up for me.

Julie:  [00:18:05] Yeah, I think that is a very fair point that my situation is not my grandmother’s and it does not honor her to live a smaller life than I can.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:18:27] That’s right. I think that’s a tragedy to live a small life, especially because you have a ticking clock, and you have daughters. And even beyond your daughters, you made a lot of really smart decisions and disciplined work to get here. I’m not asking you to completely change the way you look at the world, that would never work. What I’m asking you to do is to take the logical extension of all the work you already did and simply shift into the next phase of your rich life. You accumulated and you won. You had a family, great, your great parent, great wife, you won and all that stuff. Now, let’s take the wins, all that work you put in, all that discipline, all that time, you’ve now afforded yourself the ability to do something with it.

Tom:  [00:19:27] I think too, Julie, if there’s things that you get out of working emotionally or you could find that other places, whether it’s volunteering someplace online, or if that’s of interest or finding another– and maybe it’s not, but it’s not like you’re saying you close this chapter and they go down I can never have like other adults in a work situation that I talked to. I think he could make that happen but just frame it up differently however you want it to.

Julie:  [00:20:05] Yes, that’s true.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:20:07] That’s great, Tom. The framing matter’s so profoundly. It’s not quitting. It is spending more time and attention on this new chapter of my rich life. And in order to do that, in order to travel the way you want to travel, in order to create these experiences you want to create, it’s incompatible with working the job that you currently work.

Julie:  [00:20:34] It’d be very difficult to have a full-time role and have the flexibility to travel. It makes me think continuing to work probably is not the right path for me, given our situation and my limited time.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:20:54] Yeah. I don’t think anyone on this planet would give you a hard time for saying, “You know what, I had a double lung transplant. I’m a multimillionaire. I have two kids. And I’m ready to move on to a different chapter of my life.” There’s nobody out there who is going to say a thing to you, except congratulations.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:21:32] In my opinion, it’s a total no-brainer for Julie to leave her job. She’s not expressing any joy over it. If anything, she’s expressing joy over her new rich life, travel, creating experiences with her family. The major reason that she continues to work is for the income, which is irrelevant to her. So in a later conversation, I recommended that she get out of this job as quickly as she can, and really focus on that next chapter of her life for her and her family.

And as a quick sneak preview of Tom’s follow-up letter, this is what he wrote. He wrote, “Thinking through how others likely would perceive her leaving work, lifted some of the anxiety she’s been feeling over this decision. They would completely understand and support her decision.” Just think about that. We’re talking about life or death. We’re talking about essentially an unlimited amount of money, and a ticking clock. And still, peer pressure reigns rule.

This tells you how powerful peer pressure is, that even if you are facing debts, and even if you will not run out of money, it is still worrisome to us to consider what other people would think of us, leaving a job or making an alternative decision. Guys, this is why I want you to start practicing this skill of designing your rich life and living it now. Because you can’t wait until one day when you magically have all this money and all this time, you will not have the skills to live your rich life.

That’s why I’m so insistent about what I do. That’s why I do this podcast and my programs, and my book. Because if you don’t practice it early on consistently, it becomes increasingly difficult to make a change later on. Now for Tom and Julie, I can tell you that I feel very confident for them. But as you can see, it takes a lot of agony, a lot of soul searching to be able to make this decision. And I just want it to be a little easier for everybody. You can get those full follow-up letters from Tom and Julie at iwt.com/episode61. Let’s keep going on today’s episode.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:23:53] Can I make a general suggestion for some rules? I love rules– money rules, all kinds of rules. But I love rules that are positive. So I don’t like restrictive rules unless we need them sometimes. A couple of rules that come to mind for me, number one, at this stage with $12 million and a double lung transplant, it probably should not be hard. Anything you do probably should not be hard. It should be easy.

Julie:  [00:24:23] What do you mean when you say that?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:24:27] If you were going to go travel somewhere–

Julie:  [00:24:31] Yes, I got you.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:24:33] It should be easy. I’m not saying it all has to be luxury. But, for example, we have to do six different visas and two different vaccine shots and what are we going to do to get a taxi at the airport, that can be complicated, especially if you’re just going with you and the girls. Maybe Tom’s not coming on this trip, let’s just say, it should be easy. Would you be willing to entertain that rule?

Julie:  [00:25:04] Yes, I can embrace that rule.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:25:09] I like that. I just love your smile on that. Have you used that rule before in your life?

Julie:  [00:25:18] I have to say I took my girls way up north a couple of weeks ago to a cabin. And it was fine. It was exactly what I had scoped out. But my daughter and I had to get the canoe off the rack and get the paddles out. And then it was fine. We had a great time, and I’m really glad we went. But we went to another resort for dinner where they had all the canoes lined up, and we were out on the dock. And one of the people who work there came up and said, can we get you in a watercraft or something? And I just felt like, this is the kind of place I want to stay going forward. I don’t want to be hauling my canoe out. And my kid got bitten by a bee. It was just drama that we don’t need.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:26:11] Okay, so this new rule would–

Julie:  [00:26:13] So I embrace that. I feel like it’s consistent with the direction I have thought.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:26:17] Beautiful. So that’s one of the new rules. It should be easy. What’s another rule you’d like to create for this phase of your life, Julie?

Julie:  [00:26:26] I think for me, it’s something around making more opportunities with friends.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:26:36] Tell me more. What would it be?

Julie:  [00:26:40] Just initiating more, instead of waiting for people to initiate it.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:26:44] And initiate, what would you do once a month with your friends?

Julie:  [00:26:54] We were a little limited with my situation and COVID still, but I feel like it might just be getting together for a drink at a bar with an outdoor firepit or heat lamps. Even though it’s cold outside, there’s still places that we can go get dinner or drinks. And it’s like seeking out opportunities like that and planning them. I have a bad habit, and I think Tom exacerbates this habit, which is totally my issue, not his, of just waiting for people to initiate. But I feel like there will be more joy, and more engagement, and more memories if I figure things out and take lead versus wait for the invite.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:27:48] Okay, that could be a great rule. Whether or not you initiate it, or you hire somebody to do it for you and plan which restaurant has an outdoor firepit it actually doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that once a month, you’re out with your friends. That matters to me.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:28:11] What I’m doing here is walking Julie through the idea of creating money rules. You can google Ramit money rules to see my 10 money rules. But let me give you a quick background on why these rules are important for you. At any given time, in any given month, you’re going to face 1,000 different financial decisions. What flight should I take, should I get an extra piece of pie, a million different financial decisions. It helps to simplify these decisions down to a few key rules, especially for things that you are going to consistently encounter.

If you fly a lot, you probably want to have a rule around what seat you choose. If you go out to dinner a lot or if whatever is important to you, where you live, you want to create a rule around that. What I’m doing with Julie is helping her align her beliefs with her spending. And suddenly, when you’re faced with these decisions, should I do this or should I not, a lot of times we revert back to what’s comfortable, what we’ve known, but the life we want to live, our rich life requires us to make some changes. These rules help make it easier to do that. So Google Ramit money rules, you can read a bunch of articles that I’ve written and see my rules. But as for Julie, I want her to try this new mindset on precise.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:29:34] When I look at your numbers just conservatively, you’ll make about $650,000 in interest this year. The year after that you’ll make $700,000 in interest, the year after that 750 and it goes up and up– 922, 987, 1.2 million, eventually making millions of dollars in interest per year. What’s the point of all of it?

Julie:  [00:30:10] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:30:14] What are you think, Julie?

Julie:  [00:30:18] I’m thinking the point is what you leave behind with the people that you love. That’s how you live on. That is your legacy, or at least for me will be I don’t have some great business that I built or invention that I created. And so this is just making me reflect on am I using my energy towards that purpose or not. And I think that the answer is fairly evident. 

And I’m also thinking when we got a nice inheritance from my parents, it was definitely an amazing gift to get. And I feel like they had a great retirement. And Tom would always joke because my parents were always traveling overseas, he’d always joke, oh, your parents are off spending our inheritance. He was joking, but to me, it seemed sad to get that inheritance because I felt that it was their opportunity lost. They could have enjoyed that.

Tom:  [00:31:41] Yeah, as much as they were able to do, they could have done more. And it’s sad to think that they felt like maybe they didn’t want to do that more because of their attitudes about money, which I don’t want us to be in that same situation.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:31:59] Yeah. There’s no virtue in living a smaller life than you have to.

Julie:  [00:32:07] Yet it does feel satisfying in some way. I can’t quite explain why.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:32:13] I get it. It’s like finding a great coupon. It’s like finding a great deal. It’s like knowing that you made the right financial decision, even though it was a hard one, I get it. But you won that game. That is how big you won. So perhaps now the game to play is not the game of making lists of pros and cons. Perhaps we don’t even play that game at all. Perhaps the game we play now is not a game of how will this affect our finances. Because there’s effectively nothing that the two of you could spend that would really meaningfully affect your finances. Certainly not the way that the two of you spend money today. So perhaps we have to play an entirely different game. What might that game be, Julie?

Julie:  [00:33:11] It’s about maximizing that time. It’s about given what’s safe, how do we have the most experiences in the funniest way possible.

Tom:  [00:33:29] Figure out how to do it in the best way we can. Make it as easy as we can, figure out how to do it, given the limitations we may have, but still figure out a way to do it. That can be the game. How do we accomplish what we want to, how do we get to Phoenix the easiest way possible that we both agree on? How do we do something we didn’t think we could do? That could be the game.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:34:01] Julie, I love that word you used. I never heard you use it before today– fun. How do we have the most fun? What a beautiful word. How do we use money to have fun? How do the two of you use it to have fun and how do you use it with your kids? Fun. Fun can be staying at an Airbnb that’s like a farm. And it can be staying at a five-star hotel in New York or Tokyo. Fun, you decide. But I love that idea of playing the game of how do we maximize fun for the rest of our lives?

Tom:  [00:34:46] And I do think like it is a little cliche, but travel is the thing. And I know Julie’s preferences and I think I need to work on being more accommodating to what we can do versus what maybe we want to do and–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:34:59] What is the difference between what you can do and want to do?

Tom:  [00:35:01] I would love to like, hey, we’re going to Tokyo, we’re staying in five-star hotels, we’re going to Manhattan, we’re going to San Francisco, we’re going places like that and doing stuff actively with other people. And we can’t do that stuff now yet–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:35:20] Because of COVID and because of being immunocompromised?

Tom:  [00:35:23] Yeah. Right.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:35:25] Is that you can’t do things indoors, or you can’t do them at all?

Tom:  [00:35:30] It’s all just trying to mitigate the risk. So without immune system, the chances of getting COVID go up, if you’re indoors, no matter if you have a mask on or not. So it’s just risk and reward. So we’ve been Gil or Julie’s doctors have advised her that, “Okay, if you can stay outside, that’s better. And you shouldn’t be eating in restaurants indoors.”

Ramit Sethi:  [00:35:57] Is there a solution we could find that would allow you to experience one of these cities, but do it outdoors?

Julie:  [00:36:05] Yes, I think maybe.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:36:09] All right. So let’s plan a trip together. Let’s do it right now.

Julie:  [00:36:12] I am going to throw out there Phoenix and Santa Fe in February, March of 2023.

Tom:  [00:36:25] That works.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:36:25] Well, we get bigger.

Tom:  [00:36:27] The bigger question is, how are we getting there? Are you saying we’re going to be driving in a car for 48 hours straight?

Julie:  [00:36:35] I would still drive. I don’t know why we would have to do 40 hours straight. I think we could plan a route and stop at places that are interesting. And we’d have to be a little creative with the indoor dining in the middle of winter. But I feel confident we can manage through that.

Tom:  [00:37:07] Yeah, I do. And I think as extravagant as it is, even when we were looking around at potential transplant centers for Julie and trying to think about the travel, I was just like, well, if we wanted to, we could rent a private plane to go to this city. So would it be easier? I’m going back to one of the rules we talked about, would it be easier if we chartered a jet and flew there? Just us.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:37:41] That’s what you saved all this money for. What’s it for? Life and death is where you use the money. This dream of going to New York or San Francisco it’s very achievable. If you had to hire a private tour guide to bring a private doctor along with you for $10,000 a day, it would still be worth it. You make that money in interest. But to be able to create the life that you want in this remaining time, it’s almost priceless. And at your net worth level, we don’t even need to factor money. That would be one of my rules. We are not factoring money into our decisions anymore. Can you imagine?

Julie:  [00:38:31] No. I can’t. It’s just so ingrained in how I think about decisions as not the only factor but a contributing factor as I weigh options and alternatives. It’s really hard for me to think about what would it be. How would we make decisions and not consider money?


Ramit Sethi:  [00:38:59] Notice how Julie has immediately gone back to weighing options and factors and logic instead of that word she described just a few minutes ago–fun. Fun does not involve a spreadsheet and pivot tables. Sometimes fun is just saying what if. What if we do that and then doing it.

Tom:  [00:39:19] I honestly don’t think we would fly even though we can. Even though we just had this conversation, I think when Julie sees the price of a chartered flight, whatever it is, say it’s 15 grand, 20 grand, I don’t know, 25 grand, it will not happen.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:36] You should all see Julie’s face right now. She’s looking down like absolutely mortified as the prices are going up. I don’t know what it costs from where you live, but I would guess 30k one way. How would you feel about that, Julie?

Julie:  [00:39:53] I think there’s benefits to driving.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:39:56] That’s a nice way of putting it. Now, I appreciate that that is how you feel. I’m going to ask you another question. What will you do?

Julie:  [00:40:12] Probably look at the map and see where we could stop if we drove and think about it. And–

Ramit Sethi:  [00:40:18] And in the end, what will you do?

Julie:  [00:40:25] 30k seems like a lot.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:40:27] It is a lot. You’re chartering a private jet for yourself. It is a lot of money. Let’s just be honest about that. My question is, what will you do?

Julie:  [00:40:40] I would be inclined to drive.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:40:43] Why not do both?

Julie:  [00:40:45] We could.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:40:46] What would that look like?

Julie:  [00:40:49] I would see that is flying to Phoenix and then maybe doing a road trip to New Mexico. And I think there’s a lot of interesting places to stop. There’s Flagstaff, there’s the Grand Canyon there.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:09] And how would you get back?

Julie:  [00:41:13] I had envisioned flying round trip.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:18] So you could fly round trip and you could drive between cities. Fantastic.

Tom:  [00:41:22] That sounds good.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:23] It is such a beautiful vision. And what would your daughters say about you?

Julie:  [00:41:29] What would they say about me?

Ramit Sethi:  [00:41:30] About you. What would they say about mom after they’ve gone on all these adventures and years from now looking back? What would they say?

Julie:  [00:41:37] I would hope that they would look back and just have lots of laughs because I know you like to travel, you know things don’t always go as planned. It all goes into the pot of being part of a memory. And so I feel like that is one thing. And then I want them to feel independent because I’ve done hard things with my mom and come out fine.

Tom:  [00:42:10] I don’t think there’s any challenges that we haven’t faced before in the last couple years that we can’t overcome.

Ramit Sethi:  [00:42:16] Wow, problem solved. Love it. And first of all, let’s take the win. Round of applause. That was awesome.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:42:26] One thing I love is Tom using that rule, “Hey, what if we made this easy? Everything would be done because from now on, it’s easy. And I have a vision of wanting to be with my friends, with my family and be safe, and it would be done.” I would spare no expense on my health at all. I totally get the safety concerns for double lung transplant. And so I would happily spend thousands and thousands. And I would never think twice about it.

You can see these rules come in so handy. They’re like a grab bag. They really help you recenter. “We want more experiences. We want to get out of the house. Fantastic. And we want to be safe.” If any of this stuff violates one of these rules, you’re not going to be safe, then don’t do it. But if there are ways to be creative, to make it safer, and make you feel more comfortable, I’m all for it.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:43:20] I think sometimes the two of you might have a tendency to over intellectualize or get down in the weeds. But these key rules or principles can really bring you back up to your vision of a rich life.


Ramit Sethi:  [00:43:34] Tom and Julie were one of the most interesting conversations that I have had on this podcast. First, they are multimillionaires through simple, low-cost, long-term investing. Great proof that the IWT approach works. Next, Julie struggles spending money. She struggles on her own and she also struggles with the dynamic of Tom’s frugality.

Finally, the wrinkle of Julie recently having undergone a double lung transplant and knowing that her odds of living for another 10 or 15 years are low, therefore everything aligns to help her change, to help her start spending money in a way that creates her rich life. But guess what? It’s really hard to change. And that’s why she came to me.

What I learned from their conversation was that they have a dynamic of over-intellectualizing things. It feels good. If you worry about money, and you’ve been taught you need to save and money is for safety and you might run out, it is hard to shake that. But guess what a lot of people who feel that way do. They go to the spreadsheet. And that’s exactly what we saw Julie doing. She feels a sense of control by having a spreadsheet, she feels a sense of control by earning her income from her job, even though the income is a rounding error, it is irrelevant. With $12 million, she makes more interest than she would from working.

But the logic doesn’t really matter. It’s very hard for logic to change people’s minds. So instead, I spent time talking about what kind of legacy she wanted to leave, what kind of experiences she wanted to create with her daughter and her husband. And actually walking through an example of planning a trip out. I wanted to make sure that she knew she should and can prioritize her safety and her health. Unlimited spending on health, that should be a rule for them.

But I also wanted to know that it was time to gently nudge her and Tom to get going. Living a rich life, it’s not just going to happen. But I also wanted to emphasize with some specific numbers, a $35,000 private jet does not change their money situation at all. That would be essentially like going and buying three or four entrees at a nice place for somebody else. That is how much money they have.

What I really hope she understands whether or not she takes a private jet, whether or not they go and travel internationally, that’s really up to them, what I want for them to realize is that they do have the opportunity to create their rich life and they can’t wait any longer. I received follow-up letters from both Julie and Tom after our call. You can read the full letters at iwt.com/episode61.

Let me give you a quick excerpt of what Tom said, “I realized that given our financial situation, we actually do have a magic wand, but we simply haven’t been using it. What are we waiting for? We need to break out that wand and use it now while we still can. Our money rules will be our guide for how we can use this magic wand going forward. As a result of this call, Julie has made the decision to quit her job which I fully support. Our plan for the next year includes going on an extended trip to Arizona where we can really put our money rules to the test.”

It was a joy to talk to Tom and Julie. And I wish them both the best. You can read their full follow-up letters as well as some of the bonus material from this episode at iwt.com/episode61. Thanks for listening to I Will Teach You to Be Rich. I’m Ramit Sethi. Please follow the show on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you haven’t read I Will Teach You to Be Rich, my book, pick up a copy. You can get it at any bookstore or any library and it will show you the specific tactics for how to build the I Will Teach You to Be Rich system into your personal finances.