Episode #85: "I thought she was going to die, so we spent all our money. Now we’re broke."

Asha and Matt are in their mid 30s. They bring a totally unique situation to the show today. A few years ago, Asha needed a second open-heart surgery—and an emergency appendectomy. She was told she might have three years left, so they spent like it. The issue? She made a full recovery.

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Matt: We didn’t have food for a day or a couple days until my grandparents maybe helped us out, or my parents pawned something. We took turns eating sometimes.

 I’m not scared to be poor. I’ve been poor. I’ve been without food. I know what it feels like. I’ve been without a house. I’m not scared of it, so who cares? I don’t care what the future hold was. I can make it work. And I don’t know why that got to be a comforting statement to me, but it did. Thought for sure I’ve broken the cycle, but now I don’t feel that way. I feel like I’m going down the same road and I’m taking Asha with me. So I feel really bad about it, and honestly, I feel really horrible.


[00:00:33] Ramit: I am Ramit Sethi, and today I’d like to introduce you to Asha and Matt. Asha’s 33, Matt is 37, and they have very different backgrounds with money. But what’s unusual and what really changed their lives was when Asha got sick. She wasn’t expected to live. So Asha and Matt basically said, “Screw it” and decided to spend their money as if there was not going to be a tomorrow.

But then something happened. Asha got better. Now here they are having spent a lot of money, much more than they thought they would, and wondering what to do next. As usual, I’d like to remind you that you can watch this full episode on YouTube. In particular today, you’ll be able to see things in their facial expressions that you cannot hear on the audio version of this podcast.

So head on over to YouTube and search for Ramit Sethi and then follow me there. Let’s get into it. I’m Ramit Sethi, and this is, I Will Teach You to Be Rich.


[00:01:35] Asha: About a month and a– maybe two months into dating, I started getting really, really sick. And within four months of dating, we knew I was going to have open heart surgery, and then I had it within six months of dating.

[00:01:47] Matt: And the prognosis wasn’t great. It’s her second open heart surgery. We were worried about long term. 

[00:01:51] Asha: There’s just everything that goes into being on a bypass machine, being under for that long, having a prosthetic device placed in your body, and then being on the medication that you’re going to be on after that. So I knew that there were all these complicating factors, but I’d say that Matt and my parents had a bigger understanding of the complexity that was going. And I was just trying to get through the days of working and coming home and going to sleep or working. 

And I remember there’s a picture that we have from during that time that was a day that my mom texted us and said, you really should go to the Greek festival, go and have some fun together. And there’s a day we’re sitting on a curb eating a euro. And it’s just this picture that’s from that timeline. And it’s funny to think about, um, because it was a very specific timeframe that I don’t remember a lot about other than feeling terrible and happy at the same time.

[00:02:47] Ramit: Wow. 

[00:02:49] Asha: So I think– I don’t have a clear memory of a lot of it. My memory feels pretty fogged by how terrible I felt. Um, because, a second open heart surgery, which it was my second in, that was 2017, so my first one was in 2014, so it was my second in under four years. Um, so I mean, there’s just the fact of being opened up again and I did have short-term disability through my job, but that’s only a percentage of your paycheck. And, um, I physically couldn’t get in and out of bed, and Matt continued to work during that time.


[00:03:29] Ramit: Asha had a 70% chance of surviving, and doctors told Matt that if she made it past three years, that would be a signal that she’d be much more likely to survive in the long term. 


[00:03:43] Matt: And so we went in the spiral of, if you make it, let’s just enjoy life together. I mean, who knows how long it’s going to be? You might make it 10 years, you might make it three. Um, so we both bought in wholeheartedly and we tried to– we went down this path of pretty much YOLO of whatever. Let’s just be happy you’re alive and let’s go, um, just enjoy life together. We just went to dinner a lot and went, um, on some small trips, nothing major. Um, and just, I guess, I think in times we probably shouldn’t have spent a 100 bucks on dinner, we just said whatever. Who cares? 

[00:04:14] Ramit: Okay. And when did you start to both say, “Hey, we don’t know how long you’re going to be around, let’s just loosen up on our spending and let’s just go for it.”

[00:04:31] Matt: I don’t know if we ever had that conversation. I think that was mostly me, um, just doing nice things for Asha that I knew she wouldn’t do for herself. She’s really, really thrifty and she doesn’t spend or do anything nice for herself like she should. So I guess just little gifts and, um, I don’t know, probably cake or something stupid.

 I mean, I think that’s pretty understandable. Somebody’s just had a major surgery, it’s like, yeah, all right, I’ll buy them, uh, a cake from the store. No big deal.

[00:05:03] Matt: Yeah. 

[00:05:04] Ramit: So when did you realize that this had become a problem?

[00:05:10] Matt: Um, yeah, so it became a problem after she recovered. At one point we had accumulated some credit card debt.

[00:05:19] Ramit: What was the first number you remember where you said, oh, wow, we have some credit card debt?

[00:05:24] Matt: I think it was about $8,000.

[00:05:26] Ramit: Okay. Who was managing the money day to day?

[00:05:29] Matt: Probably nobody, we were just–

[00:05:32] Ramit: Okay. You’re spending it, paying the minimum, that type of thing?

[00:05:37] Matt: Yeah, I think we would pay more than the minimum, but we never were paying it down like we should have. It’d just gradually increase. So we didn’t really have a clear set who’s going to manage, who’s doing this. Um, Asha had the credit card because my credit was ruined by my parents too at this point.

[00:05:52] Ramit: What credit card did you have?

[00:05:54] Matt: No, you’re going to hate it was Bank of–

[00:05:55] Ramit: Bank of America. How did I know? For everyone watching, I don’t have that information in front of me. I just knew it. I could just tell. There’s a little Bank of America vibe right here. All right. So you had the Bank of America card. All right, well, of all the things, uh, you guys bought yourself a little bit of grace with the two open heart surgeries. 

For everyone listening and watching, if you don’t want to get absolutely roasted by me, you need to go through two open heart surgeries. And that way I’ll be like, all right, I can excuse the Bank of America card. All right, fine


[00:06:29] Ramit: Can anyone really judge them for loosening up their spending? If my wife was going to die, I would spend any amount of money. Cost would be irrelevant. And that’s me. I sleep with a copy of Warren Buffett’s letters under my pillow. 

You should also know that Matt and Asha bought a house at the time for security and for more caretaking space. That’s because her parents stayed at the house and helped Asha during her recovery. One of the things I love about this podcast is that you get to peer deep into people’s lives, which shows you that money is never neutral.

It is not just a tool like so many people say. Money is imbued with cultural. If you saw someone on the street with $150,000 of debt, what’s the thing that we mostly would think? Oh, they’re irresponsible. But what if you find out that they had to spend more for caretaking because their wife was about to die?


[00:07:26] Ramit: So you had this $8,000 Bank of America credit card debt, and then what happened?

[00:07:31] Matt: I took money out first to do it. Are you sure it wasn’t you?

[00:07:34] Ramit: Wait. Took it out from where? Don’t say 401K.

[00:07:38] Matt: Yeah, I took a 401K loan out.

[00:07:40] Ramit: God damn it. All right.

[00:07:41] Matt: Yeah. But it was penalty free.

[00:07:43] Ramit: Who told you to do that?

[00:07:46] Matt: Nobody, uh, the Internet told me to do it.

[00:07:47] Ramit: The Internet. Okay.

[00:07:48] Matt: The Internet.

[00:07:49] Asha: Did you did you do that before or after I had, um, the appendectomy that cost more than my open heart surgery? Because the insurance–

[00:07:55] Matt: No. So that’s not when we took money out. I think we just noted down, and we said, you know what? Okay, we’re back to zero. Let’s start over. Then Asha got sick again and she had to have an appendectomy. Then she went out of work again, and then medical bills piled up. We got back there again.

[00:08:10] Asha: The actual open heart surgery wasn’t the really big hit on the finances. It was everything else that comes with being partially out of work, being home, not being able to do the normal things that you do.

[00:08:20] Matt: Yeah.

[00:08:21] Ramit: I don’t think people really understand how a serious illness affects people. First of all, some of the surgeries, like you mentioned, your appendectomy, how much did that cost?

[00:08:31] Asha: Well, I think it was my out of pocket max, so I think it was $4,500. Because of my complex medical condition, I actually had to be in the hospital for an entire week for that.

[00:08:47] Ramit: So first of all, 4,500 bucks is a lot of money. It’s not just often sitting around in a liquid checking account. And then, like you mentioned, if you’re out of work for a week, a month, two months, plus you need to have other people come, plus they need to eat, and on and on and on and on and on, things spiral. You need certain medical things. I mean, it’s expensive. I went skating, I fell down– skating a kid’s skates, okay. I fell down on my wrist. I had a minor fracture, it was nothing. It probably cost me a 1,000 bucks. That’s for nothing.

[00:09:22] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:23] Ramit: That’s not even close to serious illnesses that you went through and many other people went through. So that sucks. I’m really sorry that you have had to incur all these costs because of it. So you paid off the debt, you had the second illness, how did you pay for that? Credit card?

[00:09:42] Asha: I think partial credit card, partial, um, a long-term payment plan that hospitals do.

[00:09:52] Ramit: Okay. So you’re paying X hundred dollars per month.

[00:09:55] Asha: Yeah. And then we were still within the one year of the three year timeframe that Matt had been told. Um, because that appendectomy was about a year and three months following that open heart surgery. And so we’re still within that timeframe. We had gotten engaged, and it was very much, I think that mindset of we’re going to enjoy life together because seriously, clearly we don’t know what’s going to happen. Things can get frustrating easily, and I think, um, we enabled each other to make really poor choices, both big and small.

[00:10:34] Ramit: All right. So what happened from then until now?

[00:10:40] Asha: It started racking back up.

[00:10:42] Ramit: Uh, can we just be clear when you say, we’re going to enjoy life together? I think every young couple says they’re going to enjoy life together. Are you saying, we are going to enjoy life together and we don’t really care what happens with our finance?

[00:10:55] Matt: Pretty much.

[00:10:56] Asha: Yeah, I think we actively chose to just ignore what was happening with our finances. Yes.

[00:11:00] Ramit: Okay. Both of you did it together, is that correct?

[00:11:05] Matt: Yeah.

[00:11:05] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[00:11:07] Ramit: Was there one person who was taking the lead on that or was it both? 

[00:11:12] Matt: That’s me, for sure.

[00:11:13] Ramit: Okay.

[00:11:14] Matt: Yeah. We got to a point where we were just, um, going out to eat a lot. We ran into debt up again. We got up to about 13,000. I pulled the money out of my company-sponsored 401K, which is penalty free and it was, the interest goes back into the 401K and all that crap. So I talked to the people who manage it and they said, well, this is probably your best option after I googled it online.

So I got it, wiped the debt out again, went back to zero, everything is fine. And we, for some reason just then, I don’t know what triggered in us, but we just started. We went out to eat three or four times a week and we went on a really expensive duck hunt to Mexico. And there was one week where we went to a high-end steakhouse in town three times. 

[00:11:50] Ramit: Three times?

[00:11:51] Matt: We were riding around like, “Ray, should we have tacos?” “Well, the taco place is too busy.” “Hey, let’s call the people.” And then I called them, “Hey, you have a table?” “Yeah, we can get you in.” So yeah, we spent $900 in a week all of a sudden.

[00:12:02] Ramit: Whoa. They said, “Do you have a table?” “No, we don’t have a table.” “Do you know that this is Matt and Asha. We’ve been there two times in the last two days.” They’re like, “Come on in.”

[00:12:10] Matt: Come on in, that’s right. Yeah, it felt pretty cool. But yeah, honestly, not a good idea.

[00:12:16] Ramit: Okay, Asha, I see you laughing over there. What do you remember about that time?

[00:12:21] Asha: Um, I mean, yeah, he’s portraying it really well. And I think we were able to excuse some of it because we would have just enough room or we would have things happen that made it feel okay, or feel like I could excuse it. And maybe that wasn’t for both of us. Maybe that was for me. 

[00:12:51] Ramit: And what was your thinking? What did you use to tell yourself back then, Matt?

[00:12:55] Matt: Honestly, at that point I told myself, well, I’m in this– um, if something happens to Asha, I probably won’t hang out anyway. I’m going to go ahead and cash out. So if she dies, I’m probably going to go with her, and who cares? It doesn’t matter how much money I had in checking account or my 401K or whatever.

So I honestly bought into that. I wholeheartedly really thought if it gets that bad then so what? Which is key. It seemed scary at the time, but I was being very calm about it. I never thought that this sounds crazy. It does. I hear it saying it out loud now. It sounds pretty wild.


[00:13:28] Ramit: This is wild to hear. Matt is saying that if Asha died, he would probably commit suicide. I want to talk about this. From an emotional perspective, I think that we can all understand this type of feeling. If you’re married to the love of your life and she passes away, you think to yourself, yeah, you could go on, or maybe you could just cash your chips in.

It’s distasteful, it’s uncomfortable, but I completely understand why Matt is that. How would I react if my wife died? I have no idea, but I can see how he would get there. But let’s also talk about how this affects their finances. Matt’s comments remind me of a classic concept called dissonance reduction. 

When you ask smokers how they justify smoking, knowing it’s bad for your health, knowing it causes cancer, and of course they don’t want cancer, how would you expect people to reply? These people have two competing concepts in their head. I’m a good person who wants to live, but I’m smoking cancer-causing cigarettes.

Guess how they reduce the dissonance? They say, well, I’m going to die anyway. In other words, I know that smoking will be horrible for my health, but in order to reduce the dissonance of me seeing myself as an upstanding person who’s interested in living a long life, I’m going to point out that we all die anyway. So I might as well enjoy my time here because of course, not smoking wouldn’t be enjoyable.

That’s the concept of dissonance reduction. And it explains a huge amount of peculiar behavior about money, politics, health, work, and sex. And I’m thankful Matt shared his example with us here. If you’re curious about this, you can search for cognitive dissonance and dissonance reduction, and you can also think about your own life.

Where do you have cognitive dissonance, where you’re holding two competing ideas and you have found a way to resolve them? It is a fascinating study into human behavior.


[00:15:42] Ramit: Why are you so good at communication with other things but not this?

[00:15:49] Matt: I mean, neither of us has ever talked about it. Uh, we didn’t have it and we didn’t talk about it, and then Asha had it and didn’t talk about it. It was pretty much the same thing. Interestingly enough, neither of our families talked about money or the lack thereof. And so we didn’t learn any real management.

Asha was doing pretty good before I got there. So this is why it’s a big problem, is because I really feel like she was making $40,000 a year, but she still had $6,000 in savings. And here I was coming off of making six figures and I’m broke, beyond broke.

[00:16:22] Ramit: Matt, how did you grow up? Where did you grow up?

[00:16:26] Matt: I grew up poor, um, in a trailer most of our life. Uh, a lot of housing insecurity. My parents didn’t manage money well. Um, we were constantly moving, getting evicted. Um, so that was the case. And my parents, um, they got, as funny as it is, they got a settlement for my dad getting an injury on the work. Um, and so they got about a $100,000 from that, and that was going in maybe two years and we were back to–

[00:16:55] Ramit: What did they get? What did they buy? 

[00:16:58] Matt: t I think mostly presents and then crap. They went on a bunch of cruises and they went on some trips, and just bought a bunch of junk that we didn’t need.

[00:17:08] Ramit: How old were you?

[00:17:13] Matt: I was 14, I think, when that happened.

I remember thinking it felt really good to have all this stuff. My parents weren’t great parents, but when they had the money, they did buy things for us that we wanted.

It felt like they cared. That’s how I viewed it. 

It did run out and eventually they stopped making payments on the house that they had, um, bought. And so they had bought 50 acres of land and a house and they would just let that get repossessed. Um, so I felt really bad about it because I was really emotionally tied to that place. It was such a big deal for us to finally have something that was our own.

[00:17:46] Ramit: When did you start working?

[00:17:49] Matt: Uh, when I was 16.

And did you like making money?

[00:17:53] Matt: I did, yeah.

[00:17:54] Ramit: Uh-huh. 

[00:17:54] Matt: Yeah. I moved out the house as soon as I could.

[00:17:57] Ramit: How old?

[00:17:58] Matt: I was 17 when I moved out. Yeah.

 How long until you started making, let’s say 50, 60k?

[00:18:06] Matt: I was making pretty good money. I got involved in a developer, uh, right out of high school. And that was during the 2007 boom. The housing was going crazy and I was working with them, so I was making pretty good money. About 50, 60,000 then.

[00:18:22] Ramit: What’d you do with the money?

[00:18:25] Matt: I spent it.

[00:18:26] Ramit: Okay. How’d you start earning six figures? That’s impressive.

Well, I was a police officer for a bit and then, um, I left that and went to work in Europe for a bit, um, for NATO and, uh, some other stuff. Okay, so you’re making good money over there. What’d you do with the money then? You were saving it, right?

[00:18:46] Matt: I was saving it. Yeah, I was doing some experiences because that the first time I’d ever traveled anywhere. So, um, I was going to a lot of places, visiting a lot of countries, so I spent a good bit of money.

[00:18:57] Ramit: What was that like? You grew up in a trailer. I’m guessing the people around you did not travel to Europe routinely, and here you are living there, making six figures, traveling around. It almost seems like a different world.

[00:19:09] Matt: It was a different world. Yeah. Um, it felt great though. I really got cultured. It really changed a lot of my perspective of the world.

[00:19:16] Ramit: Right. What did you take away there? What are some of the things that surprised you from living abroad and traveling that you would not have known if you had stayed home?

[00:19:30] Matt: It changed my perspective on humanity. Um, I worked because we went through the Syrian migrant crisis that was going on there, and that really shifted my perspective of the way that I viewed the world. And that’s part of the reason why I didn’t come back to law enforcement when I came back. Um, but yeah, having access to money and being able to travel and just enjoy life was amazing. Um, it felt very freeing. It felt really good.

[00:19:54] Ramit: Did you want to keep that going for the rest of your life?

[00:19:56] Matt: I did want to, yeah.

[00:19:58] Ramit: Yeah. 


[00:19:59] Ramit: Matt grew up poor. You can hear it in so many things he says. There’s the obvious ones that he grew up in a trailer with housing insecurity, but you can also tell from some of his other comments. He said, “I’m not scared to be poor. I’ve been poor before. I’m not scared of it. So who cares?” This psychology is very common in people who grew up working class or poor.

The middle class and wealthy are absolutely petrified of being poor. This is one of the reasons they save money, of course, because they also can save money. It’s why they send their children to certain schools and why they concentrate on certain careers. By the way, I include myself in this. There’s nothing wrong with either of these perspective.

The working class idea of I’m not scared to be poor, I’ve been poor before, and the middle class or upper middle class or wealthy perspective of I never want to be poor. There’s a couple of really good books on this topic that I want to recommend. The first is called Reading Classes on Culture and Classism in America by Barbara Jensen, and another great book by Jesse Streib is called The Power of the Past.

To understand what’s going on here, we have to take a second to really marvel at Matt’s journey. He went from growing up in a trailer to working in Europe for NATO. What other data points did you hear that you would connect? They really paint a picture of an amazing journey that Matt has gone on. And to me these are so much more interesting than sitting here and looking at how much he spent on takeout last month.

Yes, we’ll get to the numbers, but without understanding someone’s story, you cannot truly understand their perspective on money.


[00:21:44] Matt: And I had saved some money. I worked really hard to save, and I’d gotten back and found out that my parents and my sister had stole my journey while I was gone. So I came back to $68,000 in credit card debt and my boat had been repossessed because they weren’t paying the payment on it. Um, they were getting evicted from their home. It was just a ginormous shit show. 

Um, so I’d saved up about 75,000 and I’d come back thinking, I’m going to start over. I finally got myself situated. I worked really hard for four years and, um, so it ended up– I took some bad advice. 

I went back to a person that I thought was really financially savvy. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have paid off all the debt. Um, I would’ve probably dealt with it and just trying to get it cleared up for my credit in a better way. But I did pay it off because I wanted to do the right thing. And, um, so I ended up pretty much back at zero, um, or maybe a little bit less than zero. 

So Asha and I talked about– her lease was coming up on her apartment and my parents were getting evicted and I was trying to help them, um, stay in a house that I was renting, and everything just lined. We said, well, why don’t we just move in together and start fresh? And I didn’t have any resources I had. So I was honest with her about that, that my credit had been ruined. I pretty much had decided to spend all the money that I had saved too. So I’m back at zero and not in a good spot.

So it was hard because I knew that Asha comes from a– her father’s a physician, her mother was a nurse, and they’ve done really well. And I’m only trailer trash here trying to date, uh, an educated woman who’s way out of my league.

[00:23:15] Ramit: Gosh, Matt, I’m so sorry that that happened and I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have been at all, much less from your family.

[00:23:24] Matt: Yeah, it was a nightmare. Really.

[00:23:25] Ramit: Are you still in touch with your family?

[00:23:28] Matt: No. Um, we stayed in touch after that and tried to mend, but I haven’t heard from them in about four years now. Three and some change, general.

[00:23:34] Ramit: All right. I’m sorry to hear that. When you were speaking to my colleague, you said something that really stood out to me. “You said, I’m not afraid of being poor because I’ve been poor before.”

[00:23:46] Matt: Yeah. That’s been a thing I’ve said a lot to Asha too.

[00:23:49] Ramit: Tell me about that.

[00:23:52] Matt: I guess I had to justify it in my brain when I came back and had to start over. And so I said, I can do it. I can make it. Had I not met Asha, I would’ve gone back overseas eventually. I would’ve gone back because that was the only way I had to make any amount of money. Um, but I just started telling myself, and that was the way to rationalize is, I’m not scared to be poor.

I’ve been poor, I’ve been without food. I know what it feels like. I’ve been without a house. I’m not scared of it, so who cares? I don’t care what the future hold was, I can make it work. Um, and I don’t know why that got to be a comforting statement to me, but it did.

I think it gave me some confidence that I can navigate hard situations.

[00:24:35] Ramit: I agree.

 How about when you’re spending on certain things and you know that there’s the credit card debt, etc. How does that fit in?

[00:24:42] Matt: I say I’ll figure out.

[00:24:44] Ramit: I’ll figure out. Worst case?

[00:24:46] Matt: Worst case I’m poor. I’ve been poor.

[00:24:48] Ramit: I’ve been it. I did it. I could do it again.

[00:24:51] Matt: Right.

[00:24:52] Ramit: Okay. Looking back to how you were raised, what are some of the lessons you took away with money?

[00:25:00] Matt: It was enjoy while you have it and it was a very peace and famine lifestyle. We lived paycheck to paycheck. And when we had money it was great and until the end of the month and we didn’t, and we dealt with it when we didn’t have it. And then back again. It was the same cycle. Yeah.

[00:25:16] Ramit: How’d you deal with it when you didn’t have it?

[00:25:21] Matt: We took turns eating sometimes. Sometimes we didn’t have food for a day or a couple days until my grandparents maybe helped us out, or my parents pawned something or, yeah. I mean, so sometimes we just didn’t have food for a couple day.

[00:25:37] Ramit: When you say, I grew up poor, you really mean it. There are days you couldn’t eat and I don’t think most of us can imagine that. So thank you for telling us. And it actually explains a lot about the way that you see money even today. Do you see any of those links? What are some of the messages you grew up with that you think you have brought into this relationship?

[00:26:05] Matt: I think the habits are there and I guess I picked them up just by watching, but I haven’t bothered to correct them, even though I thought I was. I thought for sure I’ve broken the cycle, but now I don’t feel that way. I feel like I’m going down the same road and I’m taking Asha with me. So I feel really bad about it, and honestly, I feel really horrible.


[00:26:24] Ramit: Now you start to see how deeply his money upbringing affected him. What Matt said is very typical of people who grew up working class. They see money as here one day gone the next, which it often is. So compared to someone who works at a 9-5 with a 401K, it might appear there’s a shocking lack of planning ahead, and this is one of the core differences that I see between couples when one partner grew up poor. 

You’ll also hear him say, “If I go into credit card debt, I’ll figure it.” This concept of just working harder, of brute force working more without regard to the effects on your health or mental health or anything else is also typical of growing up working class. What’s that phrase you hear among the upper middle class?

They say, “Work smarter, not harder.” Imagine that. Two totally different perspectives, both of them correct. One is not better. As Barbara Jensen points out in her book, in America, we often assume that the upper middle class is right as if it’s something that we all aspire to, but that’s not true. Working class values are different, and in many cases people do not want the values of the upper middle class.

Now imagine what happens when you have two people from different backgrounds. That is what’s happening. We know that Asha’s parents were around to help when she was recovering from surgery. We also know that they gifted $12,000 for their wedding, and that they’re Indian, which tells us quite a bit about their class, their financial abilities, and their culture. Let’s hear from Asha.


[00:28:00] Ramit: Asha, uh, I understand that you grew up, your dad was a doctor and your mom was a nurse. Is that right?

[00:28:07] Asha: That’s correct.

[00:28:08] Ramit: Okay. What do you remember about money when you were growing up?

[00:28:13] Asha: I knew that we had what we needed beyond what we needed. We lived in an incredibly comfortable home. I lived in the same home the entirety of my life.

[00:28:29] Ramit: How many bedrooms? It’s a long pause.

[00:28:35] Asha: I think four. No. Well, I was–

[00:28:38] Ramit: How many bedrooms does this mansion have? She’s taken like 45 seconds to count them. I go, damn. All right.

If you didn’t catch that, watch Matt’s face as I was joking about her childhood house. It’s very telling.

[00:28:52] Asha: No, I would say that I thought growing up– so I think it’s important to say that I thought growing up that it was middle class, but I understand as an adult that it was upper middle class.

[00:29:00] Ramit: Hallelujah.

[00:29:02] Asha: Yeah.

[00:29:02] Ramit: Okay, finally. Thank you. 

[00:29:05] Asha: The context was that I went to– I received private education. I had, um, I knew that my college was being saved for, so I had all these factors.

[00:29:16] Ramit: This might be wealthy, not just upper middle class.

[00:29:20] Asha: Yeah. 

[00:29:20] Ramit: Have you considered that?

[00:29:22] Asha: Yes, and I think I have a lot of discomfort with that because of the people that I grew up around and I saw what their wealth looked like.

[00:29:28] Ramit: Yeah. Well, we always love to compare ourselves. Fine. What are some of the lessons you took away from your childhood as it relates to money?

[00:29:38] Asha: Don’t carry credit card debt.

[00:29:40] Ramit: Oh, they talked about that?

[00:29:42] Asha: That was the only thing when we opened– when I got my Bank of America debit card.

[00:29:48] Ramit: Okay. Debit. Oh, God. Even worse. All right. What’d they tell you?

[00:29:52] Asha: When I got my first credit card, it was, pay your balance. And they talked about the first– my mom would talk about the first credit card that my grandmother got and how my grandmother always bought her groceries at the end of her billing cycle, so it would show up however– I don’t remember what convoluted way that she was explaining this, but it came around into some such thing so that she would have the longest amount of time, but she would always pay it off before she paid any interest. That was it. And if I went to medical school that I would be the best child.

[00:30:23] Ramit: Of course. That’s a given, right? Matt, I’m curious, did you get any lessons like that from your parents?

[00:30:32] Matt: No. We never talked about money. And it’s funny that Asha’s, um, upbringing was so hidden that when we started dating and I had a lot of hard conversations with her about, I do not feel like I fit in here. I don’t think I should even go visit your family. I feel like you’re dating way below where you should.

But she really thought because her parents were frugal and drove one car and they had a nice house, she thought her parents might have made 80 grand. They were like, uh, I don’t know. Maybe. No. Your dad’s a specialist, one of the leading specialists in the State. Let’s really be honest about it.

[00:31:06] Ramit: Thank you, Matt.

[00:31:07] Matt: That was difference. Difference in upbringing.

[00:31:09] Ramit: It’s very difficult to look back as an adult and realize the story you told yourself about your childhood might actually not be accurate. And Asha, in your case, it sounds like your parents were frugal immigrants. It’s not like they were spending money probably lavishly. It’s really easy to construct a story about how we grew up. So I totally get it. I love Matt’s laugh because he is just like, come on.

[00:31:37] Matt: It was, yeah– it was like your, uh, high school tuition was more than my entire family, uh, income when we had nine people in our house. The totality of all the money–

[00:31:50] Ramit: Fucking amazing. 

[00:31:52] Matt: Our first date we talked about who we really are at our core and what we believe in and how we see the world. And that’s great. But you’re more than that. You’re a totality of your circumstances. So it was a lot for me. It was a lot to even think about going to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a house where the least amount of education there is two master’s degrees, and I am high school educated, that’s it. That’s all I had at the time.

[00:32:15] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:32:16] Matt: That was tough. I mean, everybody in the house is more than I am and they’re more educated and they’re more successful. So it was really hard for me to walk into that and think about it. And from the beginning I really pushed hard to maybe exit the relationship because I didn’t think I could make it work.

[00:32:30] Ramit: How did you come to grips with that and say, you know what, I want this, and I’m going to put all those other things aside?

[00:32:38] Matt: I don’t know that I have all the way. Some therapy helped, um, me navigate. And her parents didn’t approve of the relationship until they saw me care for her after open heart surgery. And then after that, her father came to me and said, “I trust that you’ll take care of Asha no matter what. Uh, you’ve shown me that you are a good man and a good human, so don’t worry about your financial.” Before that, he wanted to see my bank statements and my credit score. He’s an Indian dad interviewing for a, um, match for his daughter.

[00:33:07] Ramit: Yeah. That’s beautiful though.

[00:33:10] Matt: Yeah, I didn’t have any good answers for all this stuff, but until that, yeah, they really bought into me after that, which I guess in a way I’m grateful it happened, I guess. But, um, yeah, so some therapy helped me. But I still haven’t completely navigated. I still have problems with it.

[00:33:24] Asha: And I think there’s an additional level of context that helps too, because, um, uh, so I’m mixed and my mom is white, Irish American. Um, and so my parents had already boxed that norm themselves in the ’70s, which–

[00:33:41] Ramit: Very rare.

[00:33:43] Asha: Yeah. And my mom’s a badass who went to India when in ’70 or ’71 by herself, um, flew by herself with everyone thinking that she was my dad’s pen pal to meet the family. And– 

[00:34:03] Ramit: The lies begin early. See, they begin back ’70s and they just continue until later. Indians, they love the lies. Okay, good.


[00:34:09] Ramit: Let me explain. I used to host these dinners in New York with my friend Michael, and every month we’d host six of us at this restaurant on the west side, and one month we were talking about parenting. So there I am sitting there with five white people and I was like, oh yeah, Indians love to lie to their kids.

I can’t wait to lie to mine. And all of these white people just looked at me shocked. What? Surely you’re kidding, Ramit. I was like, what? No. Indian parents will lie openly to their kids. They’ll tell them, if you don’t stop crying, I’m going to take you to police and they’re going to put you in jail. And then they will literally put them in the car and start driving.

The kids go, “No, stop.” Okay. They’ll lie and say, “Oh, you’re sick? Here, drink some water. It’ll help.” They say this all the time. My dad once changed my resume. He literally edited my resume and forwarded along to his friends to say that I was a computer science major at Stanford. I was like, “Dad, I’m not studying computer science.”

What’s the conclusion of this story? I have no clue. I just want to say that when I make a joke about Indian people lying to their kids, let’s just say the way you talk to your kids and your parenting style is highly influenced by your culture. So if you have an Asian friend, if you have an Indian friend, if you have a friend from any different culture, go talk to them and ask them if they lie to their kids. You will be surprised by what you hear.


[00:35:31] Asha: Yeah. And basically said, psych, uh, once she got there. Um, and there’s this whole amazing story about, uh, his grandmother handing her a very specific, sorry thing, like, I know who you are.

[00:35:44] Ramit: Mm-hmm. 

[00:35:47] Asha: So I think that there was a level of respect of the conversations that I had. I think Matt has one experience of what he felt and his perception, and I understand why, because there’s a lot of ingrained beliefs that he has about himself. And then some of that becomes a perception of how others receive him. And then, uh, overlaying that onto how he believes that people are going to receive him, specifically in this situation with my parents. Um, but knowing that the conversations that I had and knowing that the context of what their trajectory had looked like and their marriage and relationship had looked like, 

I had very honest conversations with them from the beginning about our relationship and what he meant to me, and what our life was going to look like together.

Um, I think that their biggest fear, I know that he received it as finances, but I do think that the finances were all tied up in my health because my health didn’t start with my open heart surgeries. My health started with birth defects and then my heart defect was just one of them. Um, so I think my parents just have an ongoing concern for that. And so I think when my dad first met him, that was a quick way to say, how are you financially going to support? And then seeing that physically overrode all of that.

[00:37:09] Ramit: But Matt, as you pointed out, when you were physically taking care of her, there’s a recognition that money’s not the only way to do it.

[00:37:18] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[00:37:19] Matt: Yeah.

[00:37:20] Ramit: I think that’s beautiful in its own way. It’s true. Money is one way. It’s not the only way. All right. Thank you. How are you feeling, Matt?

[00:37:30] Matt: No, I was about cry just a second ago. I’m good now.

[00:37:32] Ramit: That’s okay. You can let the tears out on this show. We love them. I mean, this stuff is emotional, don’t you think? 

[00:37:38] Matt: Yeah, it is. Big time.

[00:37:39] Ramit: What is as emotional as seeing your partner’s dad come out and say, I respect you, I believe in you? That is amazing.

[00:37:50] Matt: Yeah, it was a big deal. I think I’m the favorite son-in-law now. I killed it. I killed the game. Now that they finally let me in, I got it.

[00:37:58] Ramit: Listen, next time you go to their house, you take a big, like 12 by 24 blow up and you write everyone else’s name on it and you just put yourself at number one and give yourself five stars. Just start the ranking yourself and be like everybody else, you can try to catch up, but you’re never going to do it. 

[00:38:13] Matt: Oh, yeah.

[00:38:13] Ramit: I think that’s how you win with, uh, with this family. It’s going to be amazing. 


[00:38:19] Ramit: This is really a beautiful story about love and support and acceptance. The cultural differences that they have and the illness that they experienced, especially Asha could have separated them, but in this beautiful case, it brought them together. And all this background brings us to the point now where they realize something has to change. 

[00:38:52] Asha: I left my stable job in the health system and I started my own business. And, um, Matt is going to nursing school, and so we have got to get our proverbial shit together.

[00:39:05] Ramit: Why?

[00:39:07] Asha: Because I’ve increased my income and we need to be able to live off of just my income while he goes to clinicals. And then I think when we get to that position where we’re earning– I’m earning more money than I’ve ever earned and it doesn’t feel like it. And then also when we get to a point where together we’re earning more money in a stable way than we’ve ever earned, I want us to be able to enjoy it and feel good about enjoying it without guilt. 

[00:39:44] Matt: I think we looked at the debt and realized, holy shit, uh, there’s no $12,000 checks in the mail right now, we have to pay this off. This is reality now.

[00:39:56] Ramit: Do you remember the moment that you looked at that?

[00:39:59] Matt: Yeah, I do. And it was right before I emailed you. 

[00:40:03] Ramit: Really?

[00:40:03] Matt: Yeah.

[00:40:04] Ramit: Okay, so walk me through that. What happened? Where were you? I want to know.

[00:40:09] Matt: I had found– uh, I was listening to your podcast and I think I had bought your book a long time ago. Um, and I googled the conscious spending plan and downloaded it and filled it out and really looked at the numbers and thought, oh my God, this is real. Asha’s had a huge pay increase.

I took a big pay cut last year, um, to take a different job, but we have a lot more income than we used to have. Our income increased probably, I don’t know, maybe a 100%. And we’re still– it feels like we’re broke. It feels like we’re poor. This is not good. Um, we got to fix something. 

[00:40:44] Ramit: So you downloaded the CSP, you filled out the numbers, you realized, holy shit, we make more money, but it’s not reflected in our day-to-day finances. Did you bring Asha into this conversation?

[00:40:59] Matt: I did. I think I told her about it and I told her that I thought we should apply to the podcast, knowing that probably we aren’t going to get in. But, um, yeah, it was a good start. I did bring her in, yeah. And we still haven’t had a totally graphically honest conversation about it, I don’t think.

[00:41:17] Ramit: Why not?

[00:41:20] Matt: Honestly, I was feeling really frustrated at myself when I was filling it out. I was being short tempered and I was being a dickhead honestly. Um, and so I just– she sat on the couch with her computer, I sat in the chair with mine, and we filled it out jointly, but I just put my numbers in without saying where the money came from or what the debt was. I just said, here’s the number. This is what it’s. That’s probably why. It was embarrassing, really.

[00:41:43] Ramit: It’s pretty perceptive of you to recognize your emotional state at the time. It’s pretty advanced. Have you gone to therapy before?

[00:41:53] Matt: Yeah. My gosh, it made me go to therapy when I got– because I wasn’t doing well after I came back, um, from overseas and there was a time she almost left me because of it, but I got in therapy. It helped me a lot.

[00:42:04] Ramit: I could tell.

[00:42:05] Matt: Yeah.

[00:42:05] Ramit: Honestly, 99% of people could not have said what you just said. It’s pretty impressive. 

[00:42:11] Matt: Well, thanks.

Asha, what do you remember about that time where you were sitting on the couch filling at the conscious spending plan?

[00:42:18] Asha: Um, it was pretty hard. 

[00:42:20] Ramit: Why?

[00:42:23] Asha: Well, he reflected really accurately what was happening. Um, and I knew that he was struggling. It was these emotions he’s having and I think I knew that deep down, but when he downloaded the conscious spending plan, and then when we were sitting on the couch, I had felt really hopeful.

And then it was really hard because I was in the Excel sheet and I was making formulas. I was putting equal, sum, and I was writing each number, and he was getting more and more and more short-tempered. He was saying, “Why aren’t you just putting a full number in there? Why are you putting each number?” And I said, “Well, because each number matters. The part matters so we can talk about it.” And then he just gives me this number.

[00:43:08] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:43:09] Asha: And it felt like, are we taking a 100 steps forward and then 500 back? To have no idea where this number is coming.

[00:43:21] Matt: I was on a place where I thought I can handle this all myself, and I was trying to get it done myself, and I did not want to burden her anymore. Um, and I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed at what I’ve become of. I’ve fought– 

[00:43:35] Ramit: What did you want to do with all those emotions? The embarrassment. What was your natural tendency?

[00:43:42] Matt: I mean, honestly, if I went just pure emotional, it would be to exit Asha’s life and let her just go ahead without me, because I’m an absolute burden.

[00:43:51] Asha: I think the only way to move forward is for us to be completely on the same page. It doesn’t mean that every little piece of those details matter a 100% moving forward, but that we have a completely clear picture together. I think being on the same page, if we’re saying it’s completely shared finances is, which is what we’ve said, means that it’s shared finances, which means that we both understand what’s happening with the money.

[00:44:14] Ramit: Okay. And quick question for you. Does all of that need to happen the first time you fill out the conscious spending plan?

[00:44:26] Asha: No, maybe not.

[00:44:29] Ramit: Looking back, do you think you believed that it did?

[00:44:33] Asha: Yeah, because I think I saw it as an opportunity of we’re finally sitting down and actually talking about it and filling it out, so let’s make it happen.

[00:44:39] Ramit: Let’s get it right. Let’s get every detail right. Have you two ever cooked together?

[00:44:49] Matt: That’s probably the only thing we don’t do well together, I think.

[00:44:52] Ramit: Oh, really? Even better. Okay. So this is great. So the first time you tried to cook something, what was it? 

[00:44:59] Asha: I don’t chop anything the way that Matt would like it chopped.

[00:45:02] Ramit: Oh wow. That’s so interesting. Uh, how do you chop it?

[00:45:06] Matt: He with the knife.

[00:45:07] Asha: It’s the wrong size.

[00:45:08] Ramit: The wrong size. Okay. By the way, I don’t chop things correctly at all, so I’m with you. All right. And then Matt, what did you say when you saw her chopping it totally horribly?

[00:45:18] Matt: Just let me do it. I’ll do it. Just stop. Go sit down. Turn on a podcast. I’ll finish. 

[00:45:24] Ramit: Very good.


Guys, the conscious spending plan is not meant to be, uh, the most precise tool on the planet. You don’t need to extend it to six decimal places. It’s meant to give you a very simple understanding of your money quickly, at a glance, in a way you’ve never seen it before so you can quickly tell if you are spending too much or too little in one of the four categories. 

There’s value in simplicity. So many times we are obsessed with precision. Ugh, I got to get this exactly correct. Guys, no. Sometimes simplicity is way more valuable than precision. You can download a copy of your conscious spending plan. It’s in the show notes, take you 10 minutes, and suddenly you will have a totally new view on your money.

[00:46:08] Ramit: Matt. When you start being a full nurse and Asha, by that time, how much are you both going to be earning together in your household?

[00:46:19] Matt: I think we can hit 200 pretty easily.

[00:46:21] Ramit: Okay, great. So you’ll be making 200. If you were to make 200 today, what do you think would happen? 

[00:46:29] Matt: I mean, I think if we’ve shifted to right now, we could be okay, but, uh, if we didn’t slip back in our old habits, we’d just probably raise our standard of living. We might go on some trips, probably go to Argentina in a couple months, honestly.

[00:46:40] Ramit: Wait, what the fuck? What about all this debt?

[00:46:42] Asha: Yeah. I was about so that–

[00:46:44] Ramit: What the hell?

[00:46:46] Asha: No, my idea if we– 

[00:46:47] Ramit: Argentina? What the fuck? Nobody’s going to Argentina. This is insane.

[00:46:53] Asha: I’m with you.

[00:46:55] Ramit: Okay, you could go to Argentina, but that’s not the first thing I would say if you gave me time. Actually, you just answered my question, Matt. The answer is, we would get right back into debt.

[00:47:03] Matt: Right.

[00:47:04] Asha: I think debt would accumulate. I think that we would have the lifestyle shift, whatever that fancy phrase is.

[00:47:11] Ramit: Yeah. I think that you would probably pay a little bit more towards your debt and it would feel good. It would go down. And then some big thing would come up, huge trip, new car, whatever the thing may be, and then a year or two years from now, you’d look at it and be like, wait, what? Where’s all the money going?

[00:47:30] Matt: Right.

[00:47:30] Asha: So we just be proportional to our income now.

[00:47:32] Matt: Right. 

[00:47:33] Ramit: Correct. And that is the cycle. 

[00:47:36] Matt: We can figure it out.

[00:47:37] Ramit: Let’s fix this. 

[00:47:39] Matt: Okay. 

[00:47:39] Ramit: Let’s look at the conscious spending plan, shall we?

[00:47:41] Matt: Let’s do it.


[00:47:42] Ramit: Let me do a recap of the numbers here. They make $167,000 combined this year. That’s $4,000 for Matt, who’s in school to be a nurse, $10,000 for Asha, who has started her own practice. They have $274,000 in assets that includes a house, cars, and a boat. $41,000 invested. But they owe $10,000 to the 401k, $12,000 in business savings for Asha, and for some reason in the CSP, their net worth is shown to be $98,000. But that’s actually wrong once you factor in their debt. 

[00:48:18] Ramit: All right. And debt, what do you see there?

[00:48:21] Asha: A scary number, $228,390.

[00:48:25] Ramit: What is that?

[00:48:27] Asha: That is credit card debt, that is our mortgage, um, what we owe on our mortgage. 

[00:48:34] Matt: That’s the boat.

[00:48:35] Ramit: How much is the– oh, the boat too. How much is the boat for?

[00:48:39] Matt: I think we owe–

[00:48:39] Asha: 11,000.

[00:48:40] Ramit: Okay. A boat for 11k. How much is the credit card debt for? You guys stopped counting?

[00:48:48] Matt: Yeah. Let me see. From my end, I think it’s about 13 or 14, and then whatever Asha has.

[00:48:58] Asha: I have about 11,000 between two cards.

[00:49:03] Ramit: 26k or so? All right. And the rest is the house, how much is on the house, the mortgage?

[00:49:11] Asha: Uh, 125,000.

[00:49:15] Ramit: All right. So you’re making about 167,000 a year gross. That’s a lot of money.

[00:49:20] Matt: Yeah.

[00:49:21] Ramit: What the hell? All right. 

How do you guys feel about that number?

[00:49:28] Matt: Should be pretty good. I took a big pay cut or a 15,000 year pay cut to take the job I have now, so I could go to school.

[00:49:34] Ramit: It’s pretty good. I mean, fantastic. The two of you, great. I don’t know why you guys are so morose around here. God, it’s like a dark violin is playing in the background. Okay, we’ll get with the debt. We’ll fix that too. But God, this income is pretty impressive.

[00:49:48] Asha: The income is really new too on my end. So part of, I think, why that was hard filling this out was– it was like– or part of the feelings were, this is new, but we should figure it out with what’s coming in.

[00:50:03] Ramit: Yeah, let’s talk about that for a second. I often find that, um, people who just start making more money, they are still living in the past. So they’ll do weird things like this. I’ll be like, “How much do you make?” They’ll go, “Well, um, I used to make 4,200, but, uh, only in the last two months have I started to make 10,000.” I go, “Look, are you going to comfortably make 10,000 a month for the foreseeable future?” They go, “Yeah.” I go, “Then that’s the future we’re living in. So let’s just put 10,000.” You have to mentally accept that I made it to this level. This is now who I am. And that’s a hard identity to change, especially with money.

[00:50:43] Matt: Right.

[00:50:45] Ramit: I want to look at these numbers very quickly. So let’s look at your mortgage is $925 a month. Holy shit. Never leave.

[00:50:55] Matt: Yeah. I’m not. 

[00:50:56] Ramit: That’s amazing.

[00:50:57] Matt: We’re not.

[00:50:58] Ramit: Never leave. That’s it.

[00:51:00] Matt: I’m not.

[00:51:01] Ramit: Uh, what do you guys feel about that number?

[00:51:04] Matt: I’m pretty proud that we bought a house at that level. I’m glad that we– because we were looking at houses that were more expensive, but we made the right financial call there, I think. 

[00:51:11] Ramit: How did you decide to do that? How did you decide to get that house?

[00:51:15] Matt: We literally both said, let’s think a worst case scenario, if one of us gets sick or loses our job, can one of us afford this on our own? And we at the time said, we can afford 900 bucks a month each.

[00:51:26] Ramit: Gosh, I’m surprised because that is a very, very savvy way of buying a house. Extremely savvy, takes a lot of discipline to buy beneath your means, and you did it.

[00:51:40] Matt: Yeah.

[00:51:40] Ramit: Very savvy. And yet on the other purchases that you make, it’s not savvy at all.

[00:51:46] Matt: No, not at all.

[00:51:47] Ramit: Well, you know what, I’m going to look at it optimistically. I’m going to say, the fact that you did that with the biggest purchase you made, is amazing. The fact that you can be savvy with your money and purchase below your means tells me that you two can do it. So at least there’s demonstrated excellence there. Now we just got to apply it to other things in life, right?

[00:52:06] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[00:52:07] Matt: Yeah, we’ll take that win. 

[00:52:08] Asha: Yeah.

[00:52:08] Ramit: Perfect. All right. Round of applause. You did it. Great. You’re spending 8% of your gross income on your house. That is phenomenal. It’s really low. We like to see that number below 28%. 8% is like, ah, that’s great. Car payment. $935. Okay. What is this? What kind of cars?

[00:52:30] Asha: I have a Jetta.

[00:52:31] Ramit: Okay, what year?

[00:52:34] Asha: 2017.

[00:52:37] Ramit: Okay. Matt?

[00:52:39] Matt: Yeah, I just bought a new truck recently. My old truck, the motor went out and it was either spent 10,000 on that or– and I was spending $600 a month in gas with because it was a horrible truck. So I bought a very small basic package Toyota truck.

[00:52:55] Ramit: How much?

[00:52:55] Matt: Has manual transmission, clothed seats.

[00:52:59] Ramit: Clothed seats like death. I never owned leather seats in my entire life. Okay. A Toyota’s good. How much was this truck?

[00:53:06] Matt: Uh, it was $44,000 something. Yeah.

[00:53:11] Ramit: Okay. What do you think about that?

[00:53:15] Matt: Yeah. It felt like a lot. I’ve never bought a new vehicle in my life. I drove a 97 Tahoe for 15 years. Uh, but I felt like I’m going to buy a truck and this will be probably the last thing I buy for the next 15 years. So I justified it that way because I spend a 100 bucks a month on gas now and I used to spend 500 a month on gas. So I justified it in my brain that way.

[00:53:37] Ramit: Uh, do you need a truck?

[00:53:40] Matt: Need one? I don’t know. When we were renovating this house and we like to cut up firewood and give it away to people. 

[00:53:46] Ramit: Okay. This is the first truck owner I’ve ever heard who admitted they don’t actually need a truck. There’s a miracle happening on this show today, I’ll tell you that. I just want to point out something you did. It’s very interesting. You said, I used to spend 500 bucks a month on gas and now I’m spending a 100. That is impressive compared to what you used to do. But what if you didn’t compare it to someone who had a $500 a month truck, old truck? What if you compared it to someone who had a more economical car? What would that look like?

[00:54:27] Matt: I could probably half that again, really, if I drove Asha’s car. 

[00:54:30] Ramit: Exactly. Bingo. So one of the things that I think both of you do is you choose your comparisons very carefully, always to advantage your argument. And what I would suggest is if you two want to get to the level where you are making good money, you’re soon going to make more than 167,000, you’re going to make 200,000 or more, and you want your expenses to be much more in line, to be able to save and invest and all that stuff, then you’ve got to change who you’re comparing yourself to.


[00:55:00] Ramit: Right here I employed a strategy where I asked them if they have role models for their money. And I asked them to get really specific. What I heard from Matt was that his friend has a nicer truck and a bigger house, but he doesn’t seem to make as much money. 

What I wanted to do was reframe this pattern of comparison. I see this a lot when I work with my Earnable students, the ones who I’m helping start their businesses. A lot of times business owners, when they start a– they have one business that they stalk and they keep an eye on, and as they go through the program, oftentimes their business ends up being bigger than that random website or Instagram person they’re following. But they cannot stop comparing themselves to them.

And at a certain point I go, look, you’re bigger than that. You’re way more successful than them. You need to dream bigger instead of comparing yourself to someone who you surpassed years ago. We do this in our own lives as well. We compare ourselves to someone from the age of 16 or 25, somebody in a different city.

But what I learned is as you go through life, you create your own path. And at a certain point, you cannot compare yourself to someone else because if you are crafting your rich life the right way, your life will be confusing or even bewildering to others because it fits you so perfectly, like a handmade glove. That is what we are looking for when we talk about designing our rich life. 


Matt, you are making too much money to be thinking this way. So one of the things that I want to do on this call is elevate you to be seeing money at a different level. But it’s interesting, I would not decide if someone is good with money by the car they drive or the house they live in.

[00:56:47] Matt: They’re usually as probably bad with money. You probably don’t drive a 2023, $70,000 truck, right? 

[00:56:54] Ramit: No.

[00:56:54] Matt: So clearly you–

[00:56:55] Ramit: That’s I laughed when you said clothed seats. I’m like, what else is there? But for me, what would be really impressive with money is having an understanding of it, having more than enough in a savings account and an investment account, and really never having to worry about tiny expenses. I think the stuff thing is something we might want to– that’ll probably take time. Because my guess is if you go all the way back to being a kid, having money meant what?

[00:57:25] Matt: Yeah. You could buy things. That was it.

[00:57:26] Ramit: Yeah. Stuff. And ironically now, if– somebody making 200k living where you live, which is very impressive for a relatively low cost of living area, uh, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have stuff. And actually you may have less stuff, but it may be higher quality or you may shift it for experiences, that kind of thing. Because you have debt, which we’re about to get to, it’s a considerable amount, it means that you have to really think carefully about big purchases. All right, let’s look at the rest of these.

[00:57:57] Matt: Yeah, sure.

[00:57:58] Ramit: Your boat payment is 175. How long does that go on for?

[00:58:03] Matt: Uh, forever, I don’t know. Long time.

[00:58:05] Asha: Too long.

[00:58:06] Ramit: Huh? This boat is like $11,000?

[00:58:09] Matt: Yeah. I think we paid 18 for it, or 19 to start with. We got–

[00:58:13] Ramit: What the fuck?

[00:58:14] Matt: Yeah, we got a few more years. We were stupid then. Yeah, that was a bad decision, um, and yeah, I’m–

[00:58:22] Ramit: Go ahead.

[00:58:23] Matt: I’m willing to get rid of the boat. We’ve already talked about that.

[00:58:25] Ramit: Fantastic. Debt payment is $1,500 per month. That’s for all of the debt, which is, uh, $228,000. Is that right? Oh, minus the mortgage.

[00:58:38] Matt: Yeah.

[00:58:38] Ramit: All right, so that’s for your boat and your credit card debt.

[00:58:43] Matt: Yeah. That’s just credit card debt and loan, and–

[00:58:47] Ramit: Oh, shit. That’s just your credit card debt.

[00:58:50] Matt: I think that’s a loan.

[00:58:51] Asha: I think that’s credit cards. Yeah. Because the–

[00:58:53] Ramit: The boat is above.

[00:58:54] Asha: Boat is above, yeah.

[00:58:55] Ramit: Can I just point out that you are paying more for your credit card debt than you’re paying for your car payments combined, and you’re paying more for your credit card debt than you’re paying for your mortgage. That’s not right.

[00:59:07] Matt: It’s not.

[00:59:09] Ramit: That’s wildly off. All right. Okay. This conscious spending plan is really helpful because it tells us when something’s out of proportion. The only type of surprise I like is having more money than I thought at the end of the year. Never less. That’s how wealthy people think. That’s what you guys are going to start doing.

[00:59:28] Matt: Right. Yeah. We’re thinking like poor people. We got to think like wealthy people.

[00:59:31] Ramit: Yes. Exactly. Perfect. So with that said, let’s write down where you are spending your guilt-free money on right now. All right, so we got the eating out, 400 bucks a month. What else? Travel is two times a year. How much you spend on those trips?

[00:59:55] Matt: I don’t even know. That’s crazy. Thousands, I’m sure. I don’t know a number.

[01:00:01] Asha: I think setting a savings goal for would be important for us.

[01:00:04] Ramit: Definitely. Well, let’s just say it’s, uh, what, 7,000 per trip?

[01:00:09] Matt: Yeah. I think that’s fair.

[01:00:10] Asha: Yeah. I think that would be a fair all in.

[01:00:12] Matt: Fair.

[01:00:13] Ramit: So that’s 14,000 per year. So basically 1,200 bucks a month is how much you spend on travel.

[01:00:20] Matt: Yeah.

[01:00:21] Ramit: You ever calculate it like that?

[01:00:22] Matt: Well we’re paying more than that, because we’re putting it on a credit card and then paying interest.

[01:00:26] Ramit: Fuck. Double it. 2,400 a month.

[01:00:28] Matt: Yeah. No shit. Wow.

[01:00:29] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[01:00:30] Ramit: All right. So you are currently spending more on your travel than you are on your rent, than your mortgage. You’re spending more than twice as much. You ever think about it like that?

[01:00:41] Asha: No.

[01:00:43] Matt: But–

[01:00:44] Ramit: Go ahead, Matt.

[01:00:45] Matt: I was saying I do, but I’m in that stupid mindset of, okay, so what? That’s good. You should be spending more on travel than you do your house. Travel is fun. The stupid house is not fun. 

[01:00:55] Ramit: It could be. I’ll tell you what, that’s a great answer actually, Matt. That’s not a stupid way of thinking. That’s actually quite sophisticated. It could be because you are spending so little on your house, you’ve actually given yourself the ability to spend more on travel, which I can sense is important to you, but, and this is a big but, you haven’t planned for it anywhere.

[01:01:17] Matt: Right. That’s the skill we don’t have. I don’t have it.

[01:01:20] Ramit: Yeah. Why would you? When you grow up and you live in a trailer and there’s no money so much that you can’t even afford to eat sometimes you go, planning, what the fuck is that? We are lucky to have enough money to make it through the week. How are you going to talk to me about retirement and compound interest?

[01:01:38] Matt: Right.

[01:01:39] Ramit: And that is where this cycle begins. It’s not that somebody who doesn’t have money is any less smart than anyone. It’s that life circumstances create this narrowing of a field of vision, and that’s all you can focus on. And so we got to change that though. You have. You make $167,000 a year. We’ve got to open up your pupil. It’s got to open up and see that you can see beyond next week.


[01:02:04] Ramit: This is where money gets really hard. It’s one thing to not have enough money. That is very hard. That’s often structural, like housing costs being really high or a health related illness. What happens is that many of us think if we just had $5,000 or $10,000 more, suddenly our money problems would vanish.

And yes, there are certain problems that vanish if you have an extra $5,000, but I talk to people like that all the time on this show. They start making significantly more money and suddenly they realize they have a problem they never anticipated. Their money psychology is not keeping up with their income.

That sounds so minor, right? Their money psychology, who cares? But that explains why Matt continues to compare himself to a friend who has a nicer truck and a bigger house. This is a good example of how in America we have a phrase that goes, money changes people, and it’s usually said scornfully, as if money changing people is a bad thing.

Of course money changes you. It should. It’s made me more spontaneous, adventurous, more generous. If you start earning a lot more money and you find that you haven’t changed at all, that is a major red flag. 


Honestly, you’ve set yourself up pretty well because of your housing costs. That is your number one savior. Because your housing costs is so low, you have room to play with. We can go through some of your fixed costs and cut some of those. We’ll do that. The major issue here is the discretionary spending, the stuff that’s just day to day. And do you both know why you spend so much on that stuff?

[01:03:52] Matt: I think, yeah, because I like to buy things for Asha mostly.

[01:03:57] Ramit: Why?

[01:03:58] Matt: Because it makes me happy to see her happy and I know she wouldn’t buy the things for herself.

[01:04:03] Ramit: Mm-hmm. And remember when you were a kid and your parents bought you stuff when they had money, what did it mean?

[01:04:12] Matt: Yeah. I guess it meant they cared, I don’t know. But yeah, that’s a whole deeper thing.

[01:04:20] Ramit: No. That’s it. They bought you things when they didn’t have money and when they finally got it, and it told you what?

[01:04:33] Matt: Yeah. Well, now that you say that, I think maybe it made them feel good and maybe it makes me feel good, and maybe this wasn’t about me, it was about them.

[01:04:41] Ramit: Exactly.

[01:04:42] Matt: I think.

[01:04:43] Ramit: And that got passed along to you. The problem is when they were buying all these things, you told me, my parents didn’t spend a lot of time with me. When they had money on the off chance, they would buy me stuff. And that felt good to you, but probably more to them. Now you’re doing the same thing and you’re spending more than you’ve got.

[01:05:05] Matt: Yeah.

[01:05:05] Ramit: That’s the cycle.

[01:05:07] Matt: Yeah.

[01:05:09] Ramit: So can we reframe that? Do you think Asha needs all the stuff you buy her?

[01:05:17] Matt: No, but–

[01:05:18] Ramit: Okay. Stick with me.

[01:05:20] Matt: I’m here with you. I just–

[01:05:21] Ramit: I know that it’s nice to buy things for people. I totally get it. I’m not going to tell you to stop buying stuff for her, but just stick with me for a second. Do you think she wants things you buy for her?

[01:05:32] Matt: Yeah.

[01:05:32] Ramit: Yeah. I think so too. What do you think she wants more? The things you buy for her or the ability for the two of you to redesign the way you approach money?

[01:05:46] Matt: I’m sure if she thought about it, she would rather that. She would rather us have a better money mindset–

[01:05:51] Ramit: Why don’t you ask her? She’s right here.

[01:05:53] Matt: Yeah, on the back end, she stresses about it. I know you do. If I buy you some dresses, you’re happy, but then on the back end, do you stress about where that money came from?

[01:06:02] Asha: Yeah.

[01:06:03] Matt: That’s not something we’ve ever talked about though. You’ve never said that to me, which I guess–

[01:06:07] Asha: It wouldn’t make you feel good, because I know why you’re buying them and I know that it brings you joy and I know that the money’s already been spent, so why share the stress?

[01:06:16] Ramit: Oh, hold on. This is a fascinating conversation.

[01:06:20] Matt: Wow.

[01:06:21] Ramit: What are you thinking, Matt?

[01:06:24] Matt: I’m thinking I wish you would tell me that, and it may have changed my mindset, but I’m glad you didn’t because I do really, it makes me happy to order her some skirts from India. It was a big deal. 

[01:06:35] Ramit: Yeah. 

[01:06:36] Matt: She didn’t buy clothes when she started a new business. Whatever. It’s thousands of things on top of that. But–

[01:06:41] Ramit: Can you two talk about this right now? I feel like this is a very important moment.

[01:06:48] Matt: So really overall, a net happiness for you with when me buying you something that we don’t have the money for is more stressful to you than anything. You could probably get negative happiness overall out of that, right?

[01:07:01] Asha: I don’t think, no, not negative happiness, because especially things like the skirts, for example, or the bag that I carry every day for work, they’re really, really thoughtful, really, really custom, really tailored. Those are really, really special, um– 

[01:07:22] Matt: Yeah, aside from those that we have, there’s tons of things I’ve probably ordered for you and got for you that you didn’t need and it didn’t make that big of a difference. Those things are very impactful. That was a big deal. Give me an example, something I bought that stressed you more than it made you happy maybe.

[01:07:39] Asha: I think that’s the hard thing is I don’t know that there’s an example of something that they outweigh like that. But I do think that I hold both. Mm-hmm.

[01:07:58] Ramit: Go ahead.

[01:07:59] Asha: I I was just going to say, I think I do hold both emotions. Um, and I think it’s a similar emotion too when I thought about things like, not the truck you have now, but the truck you have before. Um, just, it feels similar to that emotion of in the moment weighing, I don’t know that we can manage this payment or thinking about the, um, four wheeler. I don’t know that we can manage this payment, but also wanting you to have something that feels nice to you. Um, it feels similar to those emotions, um, of it didn’t feel like the stress was worth weighing in the moment because it felt like maybe I was being irrational.

[01:08:49] Matt: Yeah. I don’t want to put that burden on you of saying please my spending, because that doesn’t feel fair. And that’s what I wanted say. 

[01:08:57] Ramit: Can I pause you here?

[01:08:58] Matt: Yeah.

[01:08:58] Ramit: Okay. So good conversation. Do you feel like you are progressing to a better place right now? Or do you feel like you are rehashing what has happened?

[01:09:11] Matt: I think I’m aggressing, because that’s something I really had never considered, honestly, I’d never thought about.

[01:09:15] Ramit: What was it that, that you’re considering now?

[01:09:18] Matt: That if I spent $500 on Asha, is she worried about where that money came from? Because I never considered that. I just thought, I really didn’t. And that was–

[01:09:27] Ramit: That’s interesting. So what did you think that basically she would just be happy because that’s how you feel when you get something?

[01:09:35] Matt: Yeah.

[01:09:36] Ramit: Okay. Asha, that’s a pretty big realization, right?

[01:09:39] Matt: Yeah, it is. It’s really big. Wow.

[01:09:43] Asha: Yeah.

[01:09:44] Ramit: I think that there’s a lot of soothing happening with money.

[01:09:49] Matt: Yeah.

[01:09:50] Ramit: Soothing the other partner, self-soothing, even self-soothing by buying the other partner things. Do you think that that’s fair to say?

[01:10:02] Matt: Oh, absolutely.

[01:10:03] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[01:10:04] Ramit: Okay. What might be a way that we can replace that? What is a way to look at using money instead of for soothing the other partner and ourselves, how should we think about money? 

[01:10:21] Asha: We have a shared goal. Because that’s what I was going to say. I mean, that’s what would be meaning making to me is having shared spending goals and looking at that on a regular basis together is look at this growing, look at this debt, look at this debt shrinking, look at the savings growing. And what are we going to be able to do with this that we want and that we planned together?

[01:10:42] Ramit: Do you have a shared goal?

[01:10:45] Matt: I mean, we say pretty broadly, oh, we want to go on more trips and we want to have no debt, but not specific goals. No, we don’t.

[01:10:53] Ramit: Let me ask you this. When you say we want to have no debt, do you know the exact month and year your debt will be paid off?

[01:11:02] Asha: No.

[01:11:02] Matt: No.

[01:11:03] Ramit: Yeah. Okay. That’s like a vibe. I want to be healthier. Nothing ever happens when we say that.

[01:11:11] Matt: No.

[01:11:11] Ramit: But if we were to truly make it a very specific thing, it became one of the most important parts of your relationship, money is already one of the most important parts of your relationship. Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is. If we were to get into it and say, within money, what are the three most important things for us? If debt was one of them, what would that look like and feel like for the two of you?

[01:11:41] Matt: It would be amazing and uniting because it’s something we have to get done the next two years or I can’t quit my job and go to school and raise our income. So we have to take a step back 

to step forward, but it’s a have to get done. It’s not really an option anymore. And I guess that’s why we’re here. 

[01:11:58] Ramit: If I had credit card debt and I was like, shit, this thing snuck up on me. It’s been four years, overspending, etc, and I said, I’m done with this. I want to fix it. I want to pay it off. What would I do?

[01:12:15] Asha: Set a specific goal, an amount goal, and a timeline.

[01:12:20] Ramit: So let’s take a number. Let’s just say theoretically $26,000 in credit card debt. I don’t know where I got that number from. Uh, what would my goal be?

[01:12:31] Asha: It’d be a percentage of your take home income.

[01:12:34] Ramit: Could be. Well, you want to just do it right now?

[01:12:37] Matt: I mean, yeah. That’s why we’re–

[01:12:38] Asha: Of course.

[01:12:38] Matt: We’re here for. 

[01:12:38] Ramit: Let’s do it. All right. So here’s the thing. When it comes to these decisions, when they start to get– the numbers start to be pretty big, it helps to set an intention. This is important to us. Do we both agree we are going to commit to spend time and money towards that?

[01:12:54] Asha: Absolutely.

[01:12:55] Matt: Yeah, it absolutely is.

[01:12:57] Ramit: All right. So that’s number one, which is you both set an intention and you both acknowledge, hey, this is going to be hard, it’s going to be one of the most important things we do. There is no amount of talking about this too much because it is one of our top three things in our relationship. Great. You’re both on board. Now, we got to get to some actual numbers. So your credit card balance $26,000, correct? Ballpark?

[01:13:19] Matt: Yeah.

[01:13:21] Ramit: So your current payment is, what are you paying? 1,554?

[01:13:25] Asha: Yeah.

[01:13:26] Ramit: All right. How long do you think it’s going to take you to pay it off?

[01:13:30] Matt: Yeah, it would be probably 10 years or more. Who knows?

[01:13:32] Ramit: Have you guys ever run a calculation like this?

[01:13:35] Matt: I have, but I–

[01:13:39] Asha: Yeah.

[01:13:40] Ramit: So right now it’s going to take 20 months to pay off, which is less than two years. How does that make you feel?

[01:13:48] Asha: That still feels too long because that’s minimum.

[01:13:52] Ramit: Wait a second. He just said 10 years and it’s less than two years. That’s pretty good.

[01:14:01] Matt: Yeah, it still feels like too much. I’m like, that is actually pretty good. Less than two years instead of 10, and you’re both like, no, this sucks. Okay. I like the ambition. Fine. You don’t want any coddling. I won’t coddle you. You’re at $1,554 per month. It takes you 20 months to pay off, which again is less than two years. You want to pay it off a little faster?


[01:14:23] Asha: Yeah.

[01:14:23] Ramit: All right? How much will you get if you sell your boat tomorrow?

[01:14:28] Matt: I mean, I probably have 3,000 in equity on it. Yeah, I could probably sell it for 13,000.

[01:14:35] Ramit: So you would take home 3k?

[01:14:37] Matt: Maybe. Yeah.

[01:14:38] Ramit: Maybe less, right?

[01:14:39] Matt: Yeah.

[01:14:40] Ramit: 2k?

[01:14:40] Matt: Yeah.

[01:14:40] Ramit: All right. Again, let’s always be conservative.

[01:14:43] Matt: Yeah.

[01:14:44] Ramit: Uh, okay, well, let’s just model it and see what happens if we do this. So instead of your balance being 26,000 and taking 20 months to pay off, it would be 24,000 because you would put $2,000 towards it. Uh, that’s not right. Hold on. 24,000, and it would take you 19 months to pay off. So you would essentially make one month’s worth of payment towards it. Maybe two. Something to think about. I’m not saying you have to do it, I’m just pointing it out to you. Let’s take it back up to 26,000. Let’s say, what’s another way?


[01:15:23] Ramit: The reason I’m not so hot on selling this boat as a big thing is that it’s a one-time activity. Yeah, they should sell the boat, but it’s not going to change their lives in the grand scheme of things. What they really need to do is to completely change their monthly spending on an ongoing basis, really important distinction. 

There are things you can do one time as a one-off. You can sell a bunch of stuff in your house and make some cash. And yeah, you should probably do that in certain scenarios, but what actually makes a difference is changing your consistent money behavior every single month.

For example, you know what’d be even more valuable? Changing the savings rate from, let’s just say 6% to 8%. That change alone or changing your investment from 5% to adding 1% every single year, that little change can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. So in other words, consistent changes are worth way more than one-off changes.


How much more could you contribute towards your debt if you were hyper focused on this? Can you guys just tell me about eating out? I mean, you’re eating out a lot. I feel like that’s something that could be managed easier.

[01:16:46] Matt: Yeah. We can save some money there. But it feels like a small portion.

[01:16:49] Ramit: How much could you save? Let’s just start there.

[01:16:52] Matt: I mean, what? $50 a week maybe.

[01:16:54] Ramit: That’s 200 bucks a month, right?

[01:16:56] Matt: That is. Yeah.

[01:16:56] Asha: Yeah.

[01:16:57] Ramit: So instead of 1,554, we would do 1,774. That would take you from 20 months to pay off to 17 months to pay off.

[01:17:07] Matt: Yeah. That’s a big difference, sure.

[01:17:08] Asha: A big difference.

[01:17:09] Ramit: That adds up. All right.

[01:17:12] Asha: That does.

[01:17:13] Ramit: Done. We’re going to do that. Lock that in. You both okay with that?

[01:17:18] Matt: Yeah.

[01:17:19] Asha: Yeah.

[01:17:20] Ramit: All right. Um, your travel, you’re just simply not going to travel, which is fine. What else? 

[01:17:31] Asha: So one of the things that I’ve been curious about, and I’ve been figuring out with having my small business is I’ve been finding the balance of how much I pay myself. And I’ve been finding the balance of whether or not I can pay myself more because this is my first true tax cycle, and I think I might have wiggle room to pay myself more.

How much more?

[01:17:49] Asha: Because I’ve been really ambitious in, um, I mean, I feel like I could take home– even paying myself $1,100 a week would be an extra $400 a month.

[01:18:15] Ramit: If you have more money, then yeah, put it towards debt.

[01:18:19] Asha: Yeah. That’s what I was saying where I could pay myself more. I’ve just been really– because I determine how much I pay myself out of that. I’ve just been really careful in it because I’ve been over saving and being uncertain exactly how much my tax burden is going to be.

[01:18:35] Ramit: You have an accountant?

[01:18:36] Asha: I do.

[01:18:37] Ramit: Just ask them how much to put aside, and great. And you probably are overs saving. Beginning entrepreneurs always over save because they’re always petrified. Oh my God, I don’t want to end up with– and that’s smart. That’s smart. Over time, you end up with too much business cash and you need to leverage that. Either you use it for your business to grow the business or you distribute it. And if you distribute it, guess where that money goes directly to?

[01:19:06] Asha: Myself.

[01:19:07] Ramit: Yeah. And where would you put it? What?

[01:19:09] Asha: Debt.

[01:19:09] Ramit: The debt.

[01:19:11] Asha: The debt.

[01:19:13] Ramit: Yeah.

[01:19:13] Asha: So extra $400 per month towards our debt.

[01:19:16] Ramit: Can you do that?

[01:19:18] Asha: I think so.

[01:19:19] Ramit: All right, hold on. So now we’re– oh my God, we’re at $2,174 a month, 14 months to pay off your debt.

[01:19:35] Matt: Yeah, we can do that.

[01:19:36] Ramit: Pretty fast.

[01:19:38] Asha: Yeah.

[01:19:39] Ramit: Notice I did not factor in the boat. Should I do the boat?

[01:19:44] Matt: I mean, I’m going to try to sell it. Yeah.

[01:19:46] Ramit: All right, good. Let’s do the boat. We don’t need a boat with this much debt anyway. 24,000, now you’re at 13 months to pay it off. Plus honestly, it’s just simplifies your life. Less payments. If one day you guys have so much cash, you don’t even know what to do with it, get a boat. You have my blessing. But not before you have about $500,000 in investments. Okay?

[01:20:06] Matt: Okay. 

[01:20:06] Ramit: All right, good. We’re down to 13 months of debt payoff, striking distance.

[01:20:13] Asha: Yeah.

[01:20:13] Ramit: Of a year.

[01:20:15] Matt: That feels doable. Yeah.

[01:20:17] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[01:20:18] Ramit: I mean, you’re still eating out. You still have this truck. Most importantly, you still have each other.

[01:20:27] Asha: Yeah.

[01:20:28] Matt: We get a lot of joy from the truck.

[01:20:29] Ramit: Yeah. Keep the truck. You can afford it, but what can you not afford to do?

[01:20:37] Matt: We can’t afford to carry this debt anymore longer than we have to. Um, and we can’t afford to add any more bills or payments, right? 

[01:20:44] Asha: Yeah, absolutely.

[01:20:46] Ramit: Okay, so you–

[01:20:47] Matt: We have a plan.

[01:20:48] Ramit: You can’t afford any big, big purchases. I agree. What about the little ones? What about the random, let’s go out to eat, it’s Friday, etc?

[01:21:00] Asha: I think we have to agree on shared meaning of any purchase, and I think we have to shift to that type of mindset.

[01:21:07] Ramit: What does that mean?

[01:21:11] Matt: Yeah. I mean, that means full money transparency, which I have some credit cards that are mine that Asha doesn’t see. So that’s where the problems came from mostly, is that the money just gets spent and Asha really doesn’t know. Because if she did know, it’d probably be a big problem. We probably wouldn’t be here.

[01:21:28] Ramit: All right. Well, you should definitely have total transparency for sure. You should have regular meetings about money. You’re not necessarily checking on each other, but you’re building new habits to hold each other accountable.

And you both know that, hey, once in a while one of you is going to backslide. That’s okay. In fact, you talk about that at the very beginning. Look, how do we want to show up for the next 12 months on these meetings? I know that I have some habits that I learned from childhood. I need your help. I’m going to take the lead, but I suspect over the course of the next year, I might backslide a couple of times, and here’s what I’m looking for.

Matt, do you feel like this conversation has given you some insights into why you were purchasing those things and how to reframe your purchases?

[01:22:18] Matt: It really did break the dopamine cycle hit that I had from that, honestly. Uh, without just thinking Asha sees it and is ecstatic and that’s the end of the story, the harsh reality is it sucks. I actually call stress to my partner, so, no. That’s not as fun. It’s not as fun anymore.

[01:22:37] Ramit: It’s a powerful recognition you have. It’s very promising that you see that. 

And I’m not telling you, Matt, to try to deceive you and say like, oh, she actually doesn’t want them. No, she’d actually love them. But there’s something even more important than short-term soothing.

[01:22:54] Matt: All right. A common goal we have.

[01:22:55] Ramit: It’s a common goal, long-term, and that is not as fun as buying a gift and seeing their beautiful smile and reaction, but guess what? When you have this $2,000 a month debt payment gone, when the two of you have your investments growing and your savings growing, the two of you are going to be operating on such a different mindset that the way you talk about money, think about money, behave with money is going to be completely different. But in order to get there, you have to start acting like it right now.

[01:23:31] Matt: Yeah. Okay. I agree with that.

[01:23:33] Ramit: Okay. That number, by the way, once you finish paying off that debt, have you ever thought about what you’re going to do once that debt gets paid off? $2,000 a month?

[01:23:46] Matt: No, because I kept getting stuck in the cycle of it’ll take us so long to catch up. It doesn’t really even matter. And that–

[01:23:52] Ramit: Yeah. It’s only a year.

[01:23:55] Matt: I know, but I mean, we should have a $1,000,000 by now, but I don’t, so I’m like, oh my God, to get you a 1,000,000 bucks, it’d have to take this and–


[01:24:02] Ramit: Yeah. Well, a horrible, that’s another example of you comparing yourself in a way that enables you to keep doing what you’re doing, right? You go, we should already have a 1,000,000 bucks. 

[01:24:11] Matt: That’s true.

[01:24:11] Ramit: But let’s not compare ourselves to that. You are where you are. Let’s just work with who you are.

[01:24:15] Matt: Right.

[01:24:16] Ramit: All right. And honestly, I think it’s quite impressive. You’re in nursing school, uh, considering where you grew up, how far you’ve come. I think it’s amazing. Honestly, I’m not satisfied with it because I think in the next 14 months, your trajectory is going to change dramatically. Dramatically. 

Asha, you have amazing income coming in, that’s awesome. Matt, you’re supporting while you’re in school, amazing. That income’s going to go up. 200k in a low cost of living area, holy shit. Should you have a 1,000,000? I don’t know. But the fact is, if you guys get this stuff turned around, you’re going to be financially doing very well. 

[01:24:55] Asha: Mm-hmm.

[01:24:55] Ramit: All right.


This is a beautiful story of coming together from different cultures, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and surviving illness. Yeah, they spent more than they should have, but that can be fixed. What can never be replaced is the bond that you create between partners, especially when created through a hardship.

I have a lot of confidence in Matt and Asha. I really loved speaking to them. They understand what happened. They have taken responsibility for their spending behavior and for why they did it, and they understand the reasons they need to change. I’d like to share follow up messages that each of them.

Here’s what Asha said. “We took time Saturday afternoon and worked through an updated conscious spending plan. It was exciting to see how all of these changes could work. This experience was vastly different from the first time we filled out the CSP together. We have done so well in communication in all other areas of our lives that I think we had let ourselves overlook the most important area.

“Our conversation with you really brought this to the forefront for me, and I feel that we are now tooled to do so. For me, the biggest surprise was coming away, not feeling like we were in a dire place. Coming away with a lot of hope and excitement, seeing how pretty small changes can make an impact and on a reasonable timeline was so exciting.”

And now here’s Matt. Matt said, “We are both actively involved in therapy together and separately, yet still, we were unable to breach the topic of what had been such a key factor in my relationship with money. Discovering how my perceived bids at letting her know how important she is to me were actually causing her stress and anxiety really impacted me.

“She’s an impressive human, and maybe I was compensating for my feelings of feeling less than by showering her with experiences and gifts that we really couldn’t afford. I did struggle some after our call. Looking back on the money spent and discovering that most of the debt is a result of experiences we had together made it really tough to reconcile feeling guilty about the money spent.

“That rollercoaster of emotions doesn’t serve the greater good, and Asha will be much happier knowing we saved and were prudent in our planning to have great experiences together, that we are both able to completely enjoy. Thank you for acknowledging the circumstances we’ve navigated and that the past has been hard. That we aren’t in a deep enough hole that we can’t save ourselves, and that with some adjustments in our approach to money together, we might even make it to Argentina one day.”

Thank you for watching and listening to I Will Teach You to Be Rich. I’m Ramit Sethi.