Episode #90: How do I stop feeling guilty about money? Ramit answers your questions

This is a special solo episode where I answer questions from members of my Money Coaching program. In today’s episode: How to stop feeling guilty about spending, how to deal with peer pressure around your finances, and what to do if you worry about investing.

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Ramit: I’ve got a Netflix show that launches this April, and so I decided to have a little fun and create a pop-up email list taking you behind the scenes of this show to show you what it’s like to film something like this. If you are curious to get on this pop-up list, it’s only going to exist for a couple of weeks, and then it disappears forever. Get a link in the show notes, get on that list, and you’re going to see behind the scenes material of this show. 

[00:00:28] Today I get the chance to go into detail on lots of questions about money including, how to stop feeling guilty about spending it, how to deal with peer pressure around your finances, and what to do if you worry about investing. These questions that I’m going to feature today come from my money coaching program.

[00:00:46] A few months ago I launched this program and we’ve got hundreds of people. We’ve got this thriving community where people ask questions of each other and they share these amazing stories, and then once a month we do a live Q&A. So if you have ever wanted to ask me your money question, and get an answer back this is the place to do it. 

[00:01:04] Now, today I’m going to answer a bunch of questions that I couldn’t get to in our last session. I thought it’d be useful just to share it with you as well. If you want to join the money coaching program yourself, I would encourage you to go to iwt.com/moneycoaching. 

[00:01:20] Think about all the other things that you invest your time and money in, whether it’s a personal trainer, which we’ll talk about today, whether it’s, uh, a coach. This is an amazing opportunity. Once a month, you know you’re going to spend time and energy on your finances, and to me, I consider that a core part of your rich life.

[00:01:41] Well, let’s go to the first question, which comes from Jackie. How do you stick to your spending plan while dealing with social pressures to spend money? She says, “How do you navigate social pressures while try to maintain your conscious spending plan? For example, friends wanting to go out to eat when you did not plan to spend money on dining out.” 

[00:02:01] All right, this is often thought of as a tactical answer. People go, they want to know some magical script, and I will give you a script that you can say to people, but deep down, this is really an emotional question about boundaries. That’s what it is.

[00:02:15] It is, do you have the ability to make tradeoffs and to say no to things that are in front of you in order to achieve something bigger that is not visible yet? All right. We’ve heard of, uh, lots of examples of people having a long-term focus. This is where the rubber meets the road. So let’s say you’ve got a conscious spending plan and in your guilt-free spending section, it is, let’s say 21%, which fits right into that 20% to 35%.

[00:02:46] All right. Let’s say that you have somebody who says, let’s go out to eat at this really nice new restaurant. I got reservations. And you look at the menu, you go, oh my gosh, that’s going to be pricey. And it might be $50, it might be $300, depending on what your, uh, spending is. Well, you’ve got a decision to make and you actually have lots of options. So you can say yes, and you can simply not go out to dinner the next two times.

[00:03:12] You can make a trade off. You can say, no, I can’t do that. You can ignore the numbers entirely and just go and hope it will all work its way out. That’s what most people do. Those are really, if you boil down your options, that’s what you can do. 

[00:03:29] So your first question is to say, what is my North star? What is my rich life? If eating out at these awesome restaurants is part of your rich life, fantastic. If it’s important to you and you can afford it, I think you should do it. If on the other hand you say, yeah, I like to eat at a nice restaurant, but what’s more important is to be able to get a new car because I’m worried about mine, or to be able to invest a certain amount because I want to retire early, well, then you have a decision to make. 

[00:04:00] Ultimately, as I said, this is about setting boundaries. If you set that boundary, then it’s very straightforward as to what to do next. If you go, yeah, this is part of my rich life and yes, I can afford it, I’ve already planned for it in my spending plan, you say, I’d love to go. And when you go, you don’t even have to worry about eating out because you’ve already planned for it.

[00:04:20] That’s what I do when I go out to eat. I’ve planned for it. I’m not sitting there looking at the menu and calculating if I can afford an extra piece of garlic bread. I’m just there. I’m present. I’m having a great time. On the other hand, if it’s not part of my rich life, if I don’t really want to go there or it’s not in my plan, I’m just going to say no. 

[00:04:39] How do you do it? Hey, I’d love to go, you know I love grabbing dinner with you. Right now I’m focusing on paying off my debt, or right now I’m focusing on saving more money, so I can’t make it to dinner. Can I meet you afterwards? Or I can’t do dinner, can we grab coffee on Saturday?

[00:04:55] Perfect. So you have lots of options, but as you can see the answers, the scripts are really simple. What matters is emotionally knowing, do I want to do this? Can I afford to do it? Is it part of my rich life?

[00:05:10] All right. Julia says, “I’m afraid of losing all my money if I invest. How do I overcome this?” And she clarifies. “I’ve decided now is the time for me to start investing 10% of monthly income to benefit from compounding as I finally feel like I’m just now making enough to start making a meaningful difference.” 

[00:05:31] Okay, we’re going to talk about that. “I’m still young at 31, but filled with invisible scripts about losing it all and picking the right investment vehicles for me long term. How can I overcome the following invisible scripts to reach my goals of financial freedom to retire early?” 

[00:05:47] Okay. First of all, if that’s your goal, then you absolutely have to be investing early. It is extremely difficult to retire early if you start late. Next. I want to zone in on this question because I think it’s really interesting. She said, uh, now is finally the time for me to start investing as I finally feel like I’m just now making enough to start making a meaningful difference. She’s 31 years old. This is the wrong way to look at investing.

[00:06:16] So let’s say you start out making $45,000 a year out of college. That’s not a lot of money to be able to put, let’s say, uh, 10%. It just does not seem that significant. But that number grows and compounds every year, and the person who starts investing from the age of 20 to 30 and just lets that money sit, is actually going to have more money than somebody who invests the same amount per month from 30 to 60.

[00:06:46] That’s a staggering comparison. Somebody who invests for 10 years and then stops and just lets the money sit there will actually have more at retirement than someone who invests for 30 years, 10 versus 30. Why? Compounding. So I would challenge you to really rethink the way that you approach this, which is you believe that now you have enough to finally make a difference.

[00:07:11] And we can’t change what happened in the past, but we have to remember you make a difference by starting to invest early. You don’t have more money and then start investing. That’s the wrong way to look at it. Now, you said, uh, how do I overcome my fear of losing money? Lots of strategies here. First off, I can just show you how much you might actually be losing.

[00:07:35] Go to Compound Interest Calculator, Google it, pull up the– I like the one from Money Chimp. So your current principle is zero, Julia, and your annual addition right now is zero.

[00:07:48] And the years to grow, you’re 31, so let’s say 34 years. And your interest rate, let’s just say 7%. Uh, congratulations. You have $0 at retirement. Uh, let’s instead say that you invest, uh, conservatively, let’s say, I don’t know, $15,000 a year. Conservatively, $15,000 a year. You have 34 years at 7% return. If you don’t know why I chose 7% read my book.

[00:08:17] That’s $2 million. Okay. So you should be afraid of losing all your money because you are losing it as we speak. This is people who are afraid of losing it all, but don’t realize that they’re actually losing every single day they’re not invested. Right here, just conservatively saying that over the course of the rest of your life, you will put roughly 1,200 bucks a month away into the market.

[00:08:41] Is that possible? Yes. Especially at 31. I don’t know your income, but if you’re in my money coaching group, it’s likely that you’re going to be able to do that. Well, right there, the math says you’re losing over $2 million. That’s the math answer. For the three nerds watching this, who just decided to pause their Montecarlo analysis and put their 10,000 spreadsheets aside to watch this, they’re like, oh my God, that’s so persuasive for me. 

[00:09:08] Nobody else really gives a shit. Okay, I get it. Math alone is rarely persuasive. So let’s talk about what else is going on. This idea, this fear that you have of, if I put my money in the market, that I could lose it all, well, we’ve already talked about the fact that you’re losing a little bit every single.

[00:09:27] But I think what I would rather approach this as is it’s like somebody who wants to learn how to speak Spanish, and the first thing they say is, well, if I go into a restaurant and I try to order food, I’m going to be embarrassed. And teacher says, yeah, right now we’re still learning me gusta patinar. We’re learning the most basic stuff.

[00:09:50] We’ll get you there. And if you go into a restaurant soon enough, yeah, you might be embarrassed, but it’s fine. You can always recover from those mistakes. It’s no big deal, and over time, you’re going to get better and better and more comfortable. Soon you’re going to be able to go to a train station and ask for directions and more.

[00:10:07] That’s exactly how it is with investing. You can manage your risk in so many ways. You can start out with just a little bit of money first, a $100 a month, or depending on your income, a $1,000 a month. You can also invest more conservatively. I love target date funds. I think they’re absolutely fantastic.

[00:10:26] But if you go, hey, I feel like I want to keep extra cash just in case, okay, you could keep a higher than recommended cash amount in your portfolio. For a lot of young investors, in the investment portfolio or what’s called their asset allocation, they would usually keep very little cash. I’m talking about less than 5%, oftentimes zero.

[00:10:48] You might say, you know what? It makes me more comfortable to keep 10% of my investment portfolio in cash, just because those variations on a monthly basis really freak me out right now. Okay, fine. You’re going to lose a little bit of money in terms of investment returns, but whatever. It’s fine. Over time you get more comfortable and you can drop that number from 10% cash to 9% to 8%, et cetera.

[00:11:10] There’s so many different ways you can manage your risk, but you’re actually increasing your risk by not investing. So Julia, I would encourage you to start off small, to not have black or white thinking. It’s not all or nothing. It’s getting started. It’s putting your feet in the water. It’s taking that first stroke as you learn to swim, or that first pedal as you learn to bike, and then realizing that you are going to get more comfortable and more knowledgeable with investment over time.

[00:11:39] Christian has a nice question. How do I stop feeling guilty about my guilt-free spending? Why do you guys think I called it guilt-free spending? The name is supposed to communicate the point, but okay. Christian says, “I’m all about Ramit’s rich life philosophy, especially after trying to unlearn what can only be described as Dave Ramsey PTSD.

[00:11:59] “But I still find that I struggle with the what if. I find that I’ll buy something I value guilt-free, but soon after, I can’t seem to shake the thought of, well, that money could have been invested or saved, or you’d be so much further along in X, Y, Z, self-taught. How do you keep the guilt-free spending guilt free?”

[00:12:20] Well, great question. Very common, as you’ve heard from people on the podcast, even people with millions of dollars still feel guilty. I do this in two ways. I’m going to give you a simple way, and I’m going to give you a little bit more of an advanced way. The simple way is that when I spend money on my guilt-free spending items, they are things that I absolutely love.

[00:12:43] Like for me, I love spending money on convenience. I love spending money on clothes, and when I’m putting on this beautiful coat, that just feels absolutely amazing to me, I’m not thinking about, oh my God, this money could have been put into my investment portfolio, which could change my portfolio balance by X, Y, Z percent.

[00:13:04] No, I’m just thinking, God, I love this coat. This was the most amazing purchase. And at a lower level, I don’t have to worry about the rest of my portfolio because I already allocated money for guilt-free spending. That coat was allocated. So that’s the basic level, which is I would encourage you to really think about the things you say you value.

[00:13:27] Are they truly the most amazing version of what you can buy with the money that you’ve allocated for your guilt-free spending? Meaningful. Meaningful does not have to mean more expensive. It could mean, you’re packing a picnic and you’re inviting your friends and taking care of everything. It could mean that you’re surprising your niece and nephew, uh, with some, uh, Lion King performance or whatever.

[00:13:52] It’s totally up to you, but meaningful. The second and more advanced concept that I want to mention to you is the concept of enough. Christian, do you know what enough is? Most people do not. In fact, I only know one other person who I asked, do you have enough? And he said, yeah. And he happens to be an I Will Teach You to Be Rich reader.

[00:14:18] It is very difficult to know how much is enough from a financial perspective, but also how much is enough emotionally. I have enough. I feel very fortunate to have accumulated what I’ve accumulated and to have done it the way that I want it. I run my business like a boutique the way that I want. 

[00:14:38] If you don’t know how much enough is both financially and emotionally, then you will often feel guilty about not doing enough. That’s the frank truth. Because if you don’t where the race ends, then you’re always going to want to keep on running. And if you stop to take a break, you’re going to feel guilty because you don’t actually know where the finish line is.

[00:15:03] So part of living a rich life is critically knowing what enough is and what your rich life is, is live today and tomorrow. That means you should be spending on some guilt-free stuff, and you should also be saving and investing for a future. I’m not expecting you to know the perfect number, although I would like you to know it within, let’s say, a few hundred thousand dollars at least.

[00:15:30] Those numbers can change, but at least know that, and then emotionally to say, gosh, here’s my perfect day. If I wake up, I want to do this. I don’t want to have to do that. This would be an ideal week for me. And you should remember that you may never reach that goal. But it really is the journey and the intention of setting that goal that really matters.

[00:15:53] That really is in a nutshell what a rich life is. So Christian, I gave you a basic answer and I gave you a more advanced answer. I’d like you to really chew on that, and over time, you will build the skills to know how to manage those feelings when it comes to your guilt-free spending. All right. Thanks for the question.

[00:16:13] All right. I want to highlight something that came from our money coaching program. So we have this amazing Slack community in the money coaching program. And people are always in those. There’s tons of different channels and they are helping each other with their money questions. Some people say, how do you help your kids build credit? And another person might ask a question like, what does everyone’s system look like to save for holiday gifts? 

[00:16:35] And I have to tell you guys, I love eaves dropping on this group. I’m in there. Sometimes I’m chatting and I’m liking everything. I love what I see. So I want to share this amazing comment from one of our students, Tristan, sharing this amazing thing that he did for his brother and sister-in-law.

[00:16:50] Here’s what he wrote. “My brother and his wife have young kids, and recently I learned they’ve not been on a date for over a year. Tomorrow I’m sending them to the movies to see Avatar II, which is what they most wanted to do on a date while I look after my two nephews. Rather than just getting the movie tickets, I decided to go all in.

[00:17:14] “Previously, I think I would’ve just purchased the tickets only and done free or cheap stuff while babysitting. By thinking about my rich life and how much it would cost to really go all in, I realized it was ridiculously reasonable for the movie tickets and snacks for the adults. I bought popcorn drinks and snacks for them to take, and mini golf, and laser tag, and an arcade, and snacks for all of us. 

[00:17:42] “It’s only about $200. And that will make it special for everybody. I’m also pumped as I love hanging out with my nephews. To me, it’s not really a big deal just sending my brother and sister-in-law to the movies, but to them it means a lot. So that’s been a huge win from this program already.”

[00:18:00] Wow. Round of applause. What a fantastic comment from Tristan. Absolutely phenomenal. What do you take away from that? For me, it is generosity, which is saying, wow, you haven’t been on a date in two years? How can I help with that? Time and money. Those are often the most impactful ways that you can help. Being proactive about it.

[00:18:24] And then second, I just love this concept of, previously I would’ve just done what was free or cheap or easy. But this time I sat back and said, this is an amazing opportunity. I get to take my nephews. I want to go all in. And how much is it going to cost to go all in? And actually crunching the numbers and it’s not even that expensive.

[00:18:48] That is amazing. That is the crux of a rich life. It incorporates generosity, intentionality, and using money to create something really meaningful. So I want you to think about this as you think about the next time you eat dinner, the next time you’re buying a card for somebody for a gift, or anything like that.

[00:19:09] I want you to think, previously, what would I have done? I might have just gone to the Mexican’s restaurant and gotten takeout and brought it home in a plastic bag. What could I do to make this absolutely amazing and memorable? There’s a Mexican restaurant close to us. Maybe you could go there and say, hey, I know you’ve got 10 salsas, and usually I only get one.

[00:19:33] Would it be possible for me to pay 10 bucks and for you to pack all of those salsas for us? What a nice surprise if your partner happens to love salsas. Okay. The point is just ask yourself, what would it take for this to be magical? That is a fantastic question that can make your rich life bigger, richer.

[00:19:52] It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. Sometimes it does, but it shifts the focus from minimizing how much you can do, oh, I only want to do free stuff. I only want to do easy stuff, to making it more meaningful. So Tristan, I really want to thank you for this comment. I hope you had an amazing time. That was awesome. 

[00:20:13] Mike says, “Should I use my savings to start my own business? I’ve done a good job of saving and investing so far, but am now using my savings as I start my company. What’s the best thing to do money-wise during this time period?”

[00:20:27] All right, let me start by saying the ideal thing to do and then Mike, I’m going to answer what you should do. So the ideal financial strategy, if you are thinking of starting a business, is to start saving before you leave your job. And in fact, I help a lot of people start businesses through our earnable program. Even if you don’t have an idea, we help you find a business idea and then we help you find clients and customers and really scale that up.

[00:20:57] We have lots of people who have launched multiple six-figure businesses, even some seven-figure businesses from our business programs. One of the things I always encourage is if you have a job and you like it, stay with the job, do this on the side. Start building up a little client base, a little income, and then you can create a rule for yourself.

[00:21:17] Back in the day, my rule for myself was I was not even going to consider leaving my full-time job to go run my business full-time unless my business made more than my full-time job three months in row. That’s a pretty high bar because three months in a row, sometimes I went two months and then I had to reset.

[00:21:37] You choose whatever works for you. At the same time, if you want to be really conservative, I would start cutting my costs and putting extra money into savings. You’ve heard me say before that one of the key differences between living a rich life and everybody else is that people who live a rich life plan before they need to.

[00:21:58] So if you were thinking about starting a business, the ideal scenario is to start planning way ahead of time. Start the business before you quit your job. Put money aside every single month so that when you quit your job and you go full-time on this business, obviously it’s going to be tough. Sometimes things go up. Sometimes things go down. You’re going to have a nice little buffer. 

[00:22:18] You can see this pattern repeat through so much of my philosophy, which is plan ahead, invest ahead, save ahead. Even think about unexpected things like car breaking down, roof needing a repair. Do all of that. And it takes a little bit of work upfront, but once you set it up, you really don’t have to think about it again. And it lets you go through life much more easily. 

[00:22:39] Now, Mike, I told you I would get back to you as to what I think you should do now. You’ve already left your job, fine. Sounds like you’ve got some money and you saved it and you’re spending it down. Okay, I understand. Some suggestions to you would be, first, obviously, cut your expenses as much as possible. 

[00:22:56] Starting a business is tough. It can often take longer than you think. Give yourself that runway. Second, give yourself milestones. So, for example, if I were starting a business, I might say, okay, within six months I want to be making, I don’t know, $5,000 a month.

[00:23:10] And if you get to three months and you’re making 2,500, you’re right on track. If you’re making 6,000, you’re crushing it. But if you’re making 100, that’s a big red flag. It’s like an early warning system, and it tells you, you better change things up. Now, at the end of six months it really tells you if you are realistically going to make this business work.

[00:23:32] If your goal was 5,000, you’re making 4,800, I say, awesome, congratulations. Keep going. You basically hit your goal. But if you’re only making 700, you need to seriously consider if that business is the right one for you. I think when you start a business, it is very important to think about, what’s my idea? What’s my audience? How much am I going to charge? All of that. 

[00:23:56] It’s also really important to think about under what circumstances will I end this business? And that’s because the worst thing you can do is just go sideways. Smart people, obviously, they want to go like this, they want to go up. But another alternative is if it’s not going to work, they want to go down fast because at least they can fail fast and then start something else.

[00:24:18] The last thing you want to do is just be sitting here nurturing this dud for the next five years. I’ve seen too many people do it. That’s why I would set out a milestone and stick to it. All right. Mike, good luck. Keep us updated.

[00:24:32] Gorave asks, “How did you find your personal trainer?” this is a weird question that is very popular among my money coaching group. So many people ask us, I’m like, why is this question coming up? But I realize why. People in the money coaching program have really understood that part of guilt-free spending is spending money on the things you love. 

[00:24:50] And so once you finally internalize that, yes, I’m going to spend money to make my life easier, suddenly you realize there’s not much good information about how to hire somebody to clean your house or apartment in a really credible way. How to hire a personal trainer and assistant. Maybe a travel advisor. How do you find these things? 

[00:25:10] There’s not much material out there because most material is written for what the media thinks is the average American saying, how do you cut money on the amount you spend on jalapenos? I don’t want to read that boring stuff.

[00:25:25] So yes, I will tell you how I found a personal trainer. And then the other question people are obsessed with is, how much does it cost? I’ll tell you that too. All right. So many of you may have seen some of the pictures of Skinny Ramit. I was really skinny. I couldn’t put on weight for a long time.

[00:25:40] I finally asked some friends for help. I moved to New York. I was like, damn, everyone here looks really good. It still took me four months to get the courage to walk across the street and walk into a gym and asked them, can I hire a trainer? I did not even know how it worked. I had never trained with a trainer. Never. I didn’t have any idea what to do. 

[00:25:59] I trained with one trainer. He was a great guy. I trained with him for several years. He was a strength trainer. Then I changed to body building, and then when I moved to California, I found another body building trainer. So the way that I do it now, I have a system. I have a little SOP or standard operating procedure. 

[00:26:15] First, I look around locally at the gyms and the trainers in my area. I look on Instagram. I look on TikTok. I look on the web. I just look at them and I follow them on social and see if I like their training style and their attitude. All right.

[00:26:31] Then I reach out and I say, hey, here’s who I am. I’m interested in training this many days a week, ideally, at this time, are you available? A lot of trainers, first of all, over 60% of them do not even write back. Mind blowing. So that right there eliminates most people. If you have 10, you may not even hear back from any of them.

[00:26:52] Second, some of them don’t have availability because they have other clients. That’s totally cool. And then sometimes they’re just not a good fit. They might mention, I only train women. Okay. Good to know. So that narrows the scope down a lot. I then found a few and I said, can we set up a session?

[00:27:10] And I go and train with them for a session. And during that session, I’m just noticing, do I like how they train? We’re going to spend more time together than almost anybody else. So do I like them? And then I ask them a few questions. 

[00:27:23] So he asked me my goals. I said, if I wanted to roughly be around those goals about nine months from now because I have some big thing coming out, how would you program that? And that really opens up questions about, does he program macros and what’s his style? Um, at this point it’s just stylistic. Do I like the person? And that’s how I decided. 

[00:27:46] So, um, in my experience, training, uh, in a big city would be 100 to 120 an hour. In some, like in New York, it might be more. Might be 175 an hour. Um, depends. But that’s the ballpark of training.

[00:28:03] I would say that, a couple of things I want to mention about personal training, just cause I’ve gone through my own journey and it has been transformative for me mentally, not just physically, it’s definitely some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I used to think that it was an investment, but it’s not. A personal trainer in my opinion is not an investment. It is a luxury. 

[00:28:25] And I think that this is just a little bone I have to pick because I think we start using the word investment really loosely. This food that I ordered is an investment because it makes me feel better. This handbag is an investment because theoretically it could sell for more. Everything’s an investment. That ice cream cone is an investment. No, it’s not.

[00:28:42] An investment is a very specific term meant to return a material amount. Okay? I’m not investing by looking up at the guy. It’s very important that we’re intellectually honest with ourselves. Remember what I always say. A rich life is about being honest to yourself and honest to others.

[00:28:59] I’m not making more money from working out with a trainer. Do I get better results? Absolutely. I don’t have to think about it and I’ve an expert who’s guiding me, yes, absolutely. But that’s not a financial return. So I really want to narrow the scope down of how we define investment.

[00:29:18] Now, it is a luxury. That I know, and that’s technically it’s part of my guilt-free spending. So that’s how I found my personal trainer. One last thing is that you’re probably not going to find the right trainer the first time. That’s totally fine. You don’t have to stick with them forever. Go two or three times. If you don’t like it, say thanks very much and go find another one. It’s no hard feelings. 

[00:29:38] Building your team around you, whether it be somebody to help, uh, change the oil, it could be as simple as that, although I’d just go to whoever’s at Jiffy Lube or whatever, a trainer, a coach, your first person you find may not be the right person. That doesn’t mean all coaches are bad. It just means that coach may not have been the right one for you. Therapists. Somebody to clean your apartment, whatever. 

[00:30:02] GIve yourself a little bit of room to try and you’ll find someone who really connects with you, and that might be the person you stick with for years to come. All right. Thanks for the question, Gorave.

[00:30:13] Rohan says, “Do I prioritize investing or building an emergency fund? What would you prioritize your savings on? Emergency fund or investment?” My answer is yes. I have this philosophy called yes and yes. I first noticed it when I was in high school and I remember I got these college applications from all these colleges and they have an FAQ at the end. And these were pretty selective colleges, and they would say, uh, question, should I take the easier class and get an A or should I take the harder class and get a B? That was the question. 

[00:30:50] The college’s answer was, well, we always encourage students to take the more challenging class, but in our experience, the students who come here take the more challenging class and they get an A. And I was just like, oh my God. Bow down. I respect that. Because they’re just saying, look, we’re looking for the best and the best tend to do yes and yes. 

[00:31:15] So sometimes when I hear people say, should I do A or B? My answer is just yes. You should do both of them. It doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Should you save for an emergency fund? Yeah, you probably should. You should be putting aside some money. 

[00:31:29] Should you be investing? Yeah, you definitely should. You should be putting aside some money. The balance is really up to you. And part of that is mathematical. Part of that is based on risk. Do you have a very stable job where you likely don’t need an emergency fund anytime soon, or are you at risk of being laid off? The most important answer to this question is yes and yes. Many times we create these two mutually exclusive options and you can actually do both of them. That would be my suggestion.

[00:32:00] Jen asks, “What do I do when my partner refuses to talk about money? I’m really struggling with my husband’s tremendous resistance to talking about money in any way. His business tanked during the pandemic, and he keeps thinking it’s going to come back without him putting any significant effort in. It’ll all “just go back to how it was”. Anytime I want to have this conversation or work on a CSP or even just dream about things, he just shuts down. When your partner literally won’t even entertain the conversation, what do you do? He won’t even get into a discussion about fun things we could do with money!!” 

[00:32:37] This is a common question and it’s really frustrating. It’s one thing if your partner has a little bit of credit card debt. It’s another thing if maybe you slightly disagree on, uh, what amount you need in your emergency fund, but if your partner simply will not talk about money at all, what are you supposed to do? I actually think that this is one of the most frustrating and potentially deal breaker things that a partner can do. 

[00:33:06] Most partners can work through a lot, but you can’t do that if they won’t even talk about it. There are several examples in my podcast of, uh, couples where one partner will not talk about it.

[00:33:19] Now, let me say this first of all. The fact that they come and agree to be on my podcast means that they’re at least willing to talk about it in some way. There are couples, one person reaches out and we’ll reach out and be like, yeah, Ramit would love to talk to you. And then they go, oh, I checked with my husband. He’s not actually willing to come on. And I go, that’s a really bad sign. 

[00:33:41] And it doesn’t have to be with me, but it’s got to be some way where you can find to talk about it. So let’s start with some options. The two of you could talk about it. That’s obviously not working, Jen. You could get a therapist. I think that would be a fantastic option. you could sit down with my journal and just dream. 

[00:34:01] But if he won’t agree to any of those, you’re in a really tough position. And I would say that. I would say, look, I’m going to write you a letter because I think that I want you to have time to digest this.

[00:34:15] Okay. And you can just tel, them, it’s really important to me that we talk about our rich life. I know that right now things are tough with money. I know that things are tough with your business, but that’s why I’m here. We are partners. And sometimes in life things are going to be tough for you and sometimes they’re going to be tough for me. That’s why we’re in this relationship, so we can lean on each other. 

[00:34:39] But it makes it really tough if you won’t talk to me, and I need to be able to talk to you about money. I need to be able to talk to you about what’s going on in your business. Is there anything I can do to support you? And what are your plans?

[00:34:56] I need to be able to dream about money because I have to know that we are working towards something. If you’re willing to do that, I will meet you anywhere, anytime, and we can talk about it. But if you’re not, then that’s a really serious matter and we’re going to have to discuss that. Please let me know. Let me know by the end of the week or even more specific, let me know by Friday evening.

[00:35:24] I say that because first off, writing a letter or an email or something where he can take it on his own time might help. People feel very confronted when they’re not doing well with money and somebody else tries to bring it up. Second, I love starting off a message by reminding them, look, I love you. I know that things are tough right now, but that’s why we have each other, and I really believe that. 

[00:35:50] In a relationship somebody might get laid off. Um, somebody might be home with the kids or taking care of an elderly parent. There’s always going to be a time where somebody is struggling with something. That’s life. It’s good to remind your partner that that’s what you’re there for. And you want to engage. That last part is also very direct.

[00:36:10] It’s like, look, this is what I need. And if you’re not willing to do that, then we need to have a more difficult conversation. And that difficult conversation is really going to them and saying, look, I thought you were going to get back to me by Friday. I made it really clear what I need. I didn’t hear back and I’m disappointed.

[00:36:26] So do you want to change that? Notice that you’re now putting it on them. They’re going to give some runaround and some stuff, and you just say calmly. I understand that. Do you want to change this? Put it back on them. Do not take the ball. Hand them the ball right back. 

[00:36:43] If they do, and they demonstrate it by saying, okay, I’d like to set up a time to talk on Tuesday. I have a lot on my mind, but I need to put it down on paper, fantastic. That’s an awesome move. Yes, I’d like to go see a therapist. I just can’t seem to get the words out myself. I need some help. Fantastic. 

[00:36:57] If they say no, if they say things are going to go back to the way they were, I just need more time, that’s not acceptable. That’s when you really have to start thinking to yourself, have you actually tried every single thing you could? Sounds like you have. Is anything likely to change? You need to ask yourself that. And what if it doesn’t?

[00:37:16] So Jen, I really wish you the best. This is one of the toughest situations you can be in. Again, it’s amazing how much a team working together, two people in a relationship can accomplish, even if something’s going horribly wrong. But you’ve got to be able to talk about it. And if one partner is not willing, that makes it really, really hard. All right. Thank you for the question. I really wish you the best.

[00:37:43] Oscar asks, “How do you invest during a recession? In the context of the looming recession, should I pay off my mortgage or invest in the stock market? I’m expecting to get around $80,000 in June that I could use to pay off my mortgage. I’m currently at 9.65% APR, which is pretty good by my country’s standards, and still have 15 years on the plan. Total of 20 years. What would be the best financial decision here? Any questions that I should be pondering to make the call?” 

[00:38:11] All right. It’s an interesting question. So I’m not sure which country Oscar’s from, but in a country where 9.65% APR is pretty good, there’s bound to be lots of different scenarios than in the US. So I can’t get specific on every single country.

[00:38:29] What I’m going to do is I’m going to answer from the perspective of the United States and Oscar, I would highly encourage you to take what I say and adapt it to your country. There may be things I’m not even aware of, and I don’t want you to just take what I’m about to say and just go, oh, that’s what I’ll do. You really need to be thoughtful about this. 

[00:38:48] In the US, at 9.65% APR, that’s pretty high. That’s actually more than most people can get in the stock market. So taking most of that money and putting it towards a mortgage, it would be great. I don’t know what your stock market returns.. And it’s been a long time in the US since people had a 9% APR.

[00:39:12] In the US, right now with, uh, interest rates around roughly 6%, it’s a bit of a toss up. Historically, if you look at the research, it shows that taking money and investing it in the market tends to dramatically outperform paying off a mortgage. There’s a variety of reasons for that, but that’s what the data basically shows.

[00:39:36] There are lots of things to consider. The way that I would think about it is if I had a super low interest rate in the United States, personally and mathematically, I would pay the minimum for as long as I possibly could. But I should point out that number one, I have no aversion to debt. Some people just hate debt, and so even mathematically, irrationally, they will pay it off as quickly as possible.

[00:40:01] I’ve come to accept that some people just really hate it. Second, I’m savvier than the average person when it comes to money, and so I’m comfortable having this payment sitting around for 30 years paying the minimum even if I could pay it all off tomorrow. That may be the case for some, maybe not for others.

[00:40:19] What I would do personally, I would take most of that money, I would invest it. If it were a low interest rate, I would, uh, take some of it, I would spend it on something nice because I always like to reward myself for unexpected income. And again, if it were a low interest rate, I would just pay the minimum on it.

[00:40:38] If it were a high interest rate, it becomes a little bit more complicated. I would definitely pay some of that off because at 6, 7, 8%, that’s a lot of interest. I would also invest part of it. I think it’s really important to create a habit where when you get money unexpectedly, you spend some of it and you also invest some of it.

[00:40:59] I think that is so important because for the rest of your life, you’re going to be encountering unexpected income. Maybe it’s a tax refund, maybe you got to raise, inheritance, whatever. And if you have a general rule, gosh, whenever we make unexpected income, we take 80% of it, we invest it. We take 10% of it, we have a blast that month. And we take 10% and we just keep it in savings for whatever. That’s a really nice rule. You can adapt that for whatever you want. 

[00:41:26] So from the US perspective, and personally speaking, if it were low interest rate, I would invest most of it, have some fun, pay the minimum on the mortgage. If there were high interest rate, I would pay a little bit more towards the mortgage, but I would continue investing because I like to have a big investment portfolio. That’s a goal that provides a rich life. It provides a big future. And it gives me optionality. I can stop working. I can do all kinds of stuff.

[00:41:53] That’s my answer. Oscar, there’s no clear answer for you. You have a 9.65% mortgage. I don’t know what country you’re working with, and I don’t know what your stock market returns, but those are some of the ways that I would think about it. It incorporates the math. It also incorporates your emotions towards debt and your level of sophistication with money. All right, let me know what you decide. I’m curious. 

[00:42:15] Uh, all right. Here is, uh, a post that I loved in our money coaching Slack community. Heather asked this question and you got to see the answers because they’re just a fantastic example of the community in this money coaching program. And just as a reminder, you can join Money Coaching by going to iwt.com/moneycoaching.

[00:42:35] Heather writes, “I would love some guidance on how to encourage my husband to dream bigger on his rich life. He has little dreams that are fine, but I feel like he’s really short changing himself on what his rich life looks like. For example, we’re saving for a down payment on a house. I have dreams for it. I want a big garden so we can host big dinners for our family and friends outside amongst the flowers and veggies.

[00:42:56] “I want to build a big coop for my chickens. And I want either a separate studio or a room with lots of space and windows to do my photography in.” How beautiful. “My husband’s dream for our future awesome home, a dishwasher, period. I’m like, babe, whatever house we have is absolutely going to have a dishwasher. What else would you like?

[00:43:16] “And he’s just like, mm. He just shrugs. He’s the sweetest person on the planet and deserves so many amazing things. I want to show him that it’s not only okay to dream big, but then I support him in that. What are some conversation starters I can use to help pull him out of the a dishwasher is my only dream mindset.”

[00:43:35] All right. This is a great question, but what I love even more is how supportive our community was with recommendations for Heather. Here they are. Stephanie said, “Hi, Heather. Is he that same way about all aspects of life or just housing? It could be that he’s someone who doesn’t really care much about physical living spaces. So a dishwasher is the true extent of his housing dream. 

[00:43:57] “But maybe he loves travel and would love to take an extended trip overseas next year. Or he loves cars and dreams of owning a luxury vehicle. Or hiring a house cleaner every week to help save him some time. Has he read any of the Money Coaching library about money dials and a rich life? I’d probably start there and ask him about areas of his life that he gets excited about.” 

[00:44:18] That’s a fantastic comment from Stephanie. We should remember that we are not here to force our vision of a rich life on anybody. This is a great example. I don’t want a chicken coop in my house. No way. But I totally love that this is what this couple wants. That’s awesome. Your rich life does not have to be mine. In fact, your rich life is yours. Yours alone. Not your friends’. Not your parents’. Not mine. Not anybody’s. And the more you develop your rich, , the more it should fit you like a handmade glove.

[00:44:49] That is what we are aiming for. So I like that Stephanie reminded Heather, hey, maybe he just isn’t really into a house. That’s okay. Amelia says, “This is so funny. My partner is very much the same, very tight spender, and finds it hard to dream. What helped me was quickly running through the bucket list exercise with him from the coursework and then trying some reverse tactics, like, what do you hate doing?

[00:45:15] “And for him, it turns out yard work. So that’ll always be contracted. Or what did you really dislike during your childhood? Turns out he was always made to do yard work, or even if you were 90 years old and you look back on your life, dot, dot, dot. That’s a very, very good way of using the material in money coaching.” She continues.

[00:45:36] “It also could be a case of him not equating money with the things he feels he enjoys or needs. One part of my partner’s rich life that we’ve just uncovered is the ability to spend one to two hours a day just alone in his office recharging his introvert batteries. Right now, that’s not something that costs money, but in the future when there are kids involved, it must just cost something. So maybe asking questions about how he’d like to spend his days could be quite revealing.” 

[00:46:05] Fantastic advice and a great example of how supportive the money coaching community can be. You could spend your entire life agonizing over one money question and get it answered in about 15 minutes in the community. So go to iwt.com/moneycoaching. I’d love to see you in the program.

[00:46:25] Amy asks, “Everyone is talking about the Chase Sapphire card. How do I know if that’s the one I should get?” She writes, “There was a mention that it’s good if you have a higher income. What does that mean exactly? Is there a number? What do you like about the card? Right now we have an American Airlines MasterCard.”

[00:46:39] Okay. So I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s a good travel card. It’s really good. It’s pricey relative to the market. I think the annual fee is six or 700 bucks a year, ballpark. But I’ll just give you my general philosophy on credit cards. First of all, I believe in simplicity. So I’m not opening up 50 different cards and churning them.

[00:47:01] Personally, that’s a waste of my time. Second, each additional card that I open up is one more thing I have to maintain. It’s one more email that I get. It’s one more opportunity for, oh, did we pay that off? Even if it’s automated or what happened to the password? It’s just one more thing in my life. When I’ve said this before, some people roll their eyes.

[00:47:27] They go, how hard is it to open up the password manager? It’s not a big. But I go fast forward 10 years. You wake up, you’re looking at your calendar, and it’s just full of bullshit you don’t want to have to deal with. It’s like, clean the gutter, uh, change the password, fix that broken table. And I’m just like, this is my personal hell to have just a bunch of dangling to-dos that I’m going to need to maintain. 

[00:47:53] I don’t want it. So in my life, I actively fight complexity and I embrace simplicity. That means just having a couple of credit cards that are really good and then not agonizing over micro optimizing. My life is much bigger than optimizing on some credit card feature.

[00:48:12] Personally, I pick one cashback card, one travel card. Those are the primary ones. I do have a luxury card. I have the Amex Platinum just because I like their lounges and I use that maybe once a year or whatever. That’s a total luxury. Technically speaking, I should not spend the 700 bucks a year, but I want to and I do it. Done.

[00:48:33] The Chase Sapphire Reserve is good if you travel a lot and if you have a pretty healthy spend. You can go online and search for credit card calculator. Credit Card Perks Calculator or Credit Card Miles Calculator, and you can plug in your spend and it will give you a sense for which credit card makes sense for you.

[00:48:51] Personally, if you’re a big travel hacker, you may have certain specialized things. Some people go, I only buy gas with this card and groceries with that. I go, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to have to– even the mental bandwidth of looking in my wallet and being like, this card, I meant the grocery store is Costco grocery, I don’t want that. 

[00:49:08] So cash back for basically everything. Credit card for travel, for certain specific things. I have a little SOP. Boom. Done. Uh, if you spend enough and you like to travel, I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is great. And that’s what I’ll say about that. Basically, don’t obsess about credit cards. There’s a lot more important things you can do. 

[00:49:31] Okay. Michelle says, “My partner doesn’t agree with my strategy of investing in index funds. How do I get on the same page? My partner says he never wants to retire.” What? “He has his own business and doesn’t really understand or appear to want to understand investing beyond property.”

[00:49:50] Mm. Okay. She continues. “I previously had a lot of credit card and other debt, more than $40,000, which I paid off aggressively over 27 months. And for the past two years since becoming consumer debt free, I’ve been automating, saving, investing, and getting my own financial life in order. I feel like if we could combine our goals and finances to design our rich life, we’d both be happier.

[00:50:11] “But how do we get on the same page if he fundamentally doesn’t agree with my strategies of investing in index funds and extra payments to boost superannuation, which is the retirement, uh, account in Australia?” 

[00:50:25] What? What do you mean he doesn’t agree with your strategy? That’s like me saying, I don’t agree with your strategy of breathing oxygen. I just don’t. I’m not buying it. What? So I get this a lot on Twitter. I get this from nimbys, people who are against building more housing, even though a lack of housing is why housing is so expensive for you and for me and for everybody. And they always have these really tired, old arguments, oh, it might cause shade on my property. And, oh, I didn’t sign up to live with all these apartment buildings around me. What about the traffic? All this bullshit. It’s the same nonsense that’s been uttered since the ’50s. And I let them say their peace, and then I just trap them. I just verbally trap them because this is the joy that I get in my, uh, life.

[00:51:15] I go, okay, what would you suggest? Put it back on them. And they never ever have an answer. Never. Okay. Sometimes the single best thing you can do is simply take yourself out of the role of trying to be the convincer and say, okay, you convince me. Tell me what your plan is. And hold their feet to the fire.

[00:51:39] Well, hey, you said that we have a housing problem. Okay, so what’s your solution? And they’re going to give you some bullshit. You go, okay, I understand that. What’s your solution? Now, I know it’s a little aggressive. You may want to tone it down for your husband, but if he “doesn’t agree with index fund investing”, okay, what’s your solution?

[00:51:58] Show me. Show me the math. Show me how it compares to index fund. And you tell him, look. He’s going to push back. Well, that’s a lot of work. I don’t know. I don’t have time. You say, look, we’re talking about our finances for the rest of our life. Surely you have time to make up a simple Excel model. Because you don’t agree with what I said, so show me.

[00:52:20] Take the responsibility. I’d love to learn. Eyes wide open. If you’ve got something better than index funds, I would welcome it. Put the responsibility on him. What you will quickly find is that it’s really easy for people to go like this, ah, I don’t like that. That’s not good. That’s wrong. They’re nit pickers.

[00:52:37] They nitpick everything. But when you give them the responsibility, things change really quick. Imagine a five-year-old’s birthday party. Some annoying parent comes over and they go, oh my God, I can’t believe that you only got those type of balloons. You didn’t even get the Mylar ones.

[00:52:52] That’s so cheap. I can’t believe it’s so cheap. What kind of mother are you? And then you go, okay, well, I really appreciate the feedback. No, I’m going to kill this mom. I really appreciate it. My, uh, my daughter’s, uh, birthday is next week. Uh, you seem to have a lot of really great opinions. Uh, could you plan it for us?

[00:53:11] Uh, well, uh. What would you do differently? Uh, how would you think about the budget and, uh, how would you prioritize having enough pizza for all the kids versus, uh, those Mylar balloons? How would you plan that out? You’ve done that before, right? Open eye. Hey, maybe she actually has a better answer.

[00:53:27] No, she doesn’t. But you can allow for the possibility. This is the same strategy that I want you to use here, which is, look, if you disagree with me, that’s totally cool, but you’ve got to show me a different and superior option. It is not acceptable to simply say, I disagree without having a specific plan that convinces me.

[00:53:51] All right. That’s how you do it. Honestly, Michelle, it’s going to be a really tough battle for you. I have to say, um, somebody who simply says, I don’t agree with investing, we actually had this on, uh, our podcast now that I think about it. I think it was a couple in Denver. One of them just did not agree, but as it became clear, they were more interested in property.

[00:54:13] They didn’t really actually understand investing at all. They didn’t understand some basic concepts of diversification, et cetera. And you should listen to that Denver episode. Uh, it’s Denver or it’s Colorado. And it quickly became clear that one person was basically saying like, I feel more comfortable with this partially because I don’t understand that. 

[00:54:35] So, Michelle, listen to that and, uh, I really wish you the best on this. It’s going to be a tough challenge ahead, but I have some confidence that you can do it. All right. I really love these questions that I keep getting and I want to keep answering them for you.

[00:54:48] I draw these questions from my money coaching group. We have hundreds of people just like you who follow my podcast and read my email newsletter and follow me on social, and they decided, you know what, I don’t want to try to do this on my own anymore. I want to surround myself with hundreds of other people who are going through the rich life journey together.

[00:55:06] I want to be able to ask questions 24/7 in the community and get answers. And I want live Q&A with Ramit. So I would love to invite you in this program. Try it out for a month. Although I really want you to commit to doing this for a long time. Every month I talk about doing a rich life review.

[00:55:25] This money coaching program once a month gives you an excuse for you, solo, or you and your partner to come, grab a glass of wine and let’s talk about a different topic about money every single month. You can join at iwt.com/moneycoaching. That’s iwt.com/moneycoaching, and it will help you really supercharge your journey towards your rich life. Thanks for listening and thanks for watching.