Episode #91: “I helped pay off his $30k+ credit card debt and he didn’t even care” (Part 1)
Nicole and Jorden are in their 30s and have been dating for four years. Nicole recently graduated from college, jumping into an orthodontics career starting at $400,000 a year. Jorden’s failed personal training business, and lack of resolve to improve his situation, have her questioning everything.
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Ramit Sethi: [00:00:00] Big news. I have a Netflix show coming out. No, this is not a joke. It’s coming out in April. And what I want you to do is log on to your Netflix account right now, search for my name and click “Add to List”. This really helps me. It lets Netflix know that people like you want to see this show. So please do me that favor and send me a little screenshot on social after you’ve added it to your list. I would love to see it. It gets me excited, and I want the entire cast and crew to see other people adding it to their list.
Let me read what you wrote in your application to me, Nicole.
Nicole: [00:00:39] Gosh.
Ramit Sethi: [00:00:39] Can I read from this?
Nicole: [00:00:39] You can read from it.
Ramit Sethi: [00:00:41] You wrote, “We recently had an argument that escalated our previous conversations from, “are we financially ready to be engaged?” to “this man needs to pack his bags.” How are we going to make big purchases together when his credit score shuts it down? I’m now angry, upset, frustrated that I didn’t find out our huge financial differences four years ago. Am I overreacting or is it time to find a partner who matches me financially?”
Nicole: [00:01:12] Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I was in an angry place, and I hate just hearing those words. I don’t mean that to Jorden. I was just in an angry place.
Ramit Sethi: [00:01:21] Okay. Should I continue or not? It’s totally up to you.
Nicole: [00:01:25] I don’t even want Jorden to hear. I feel like that’s not honest. I don’t want Jorden to hear that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:01:32] Jorden, what do you think from all the things that you just heard from Nicole?
Jorden: [00:01:41] That’s a lot. Give me a second here.
Ramit Sethi: [00:01:46] Nicole is 30, and Jorden is 34. I’d like to introduce you to this couple today. She’s an orthodontist. He’s a personal trainer. And for most of his life, he’s carried credit card debt. That issue is leading Nicole to question their relationship. In this episode, you’re going to hear about income disparities and class and ambition. Listen closely, because I think a lot of the issues affecting Nicole and Jorden also affect a lot of us.
Now, if you’d like, you can watch this full episode on YouTube where you can see their body language and facial expressions, and those add a whole new dimension to these conversations. One last thing before we start. A lot of you have been listening for a while, I appreciate you listening. I appreciate you sharing this on social media. Thank you.
If you have not yet taken control of your money, then I want to encourage you to. It’s one thing to listen for entertainment. It’s another thing to listen to find some tidbits and lessons you can apply to your relationship. But I don’t want this to just be entertainment for you. I want you to take control of your rich life. You can do that in a few ways. One Get my book. Get it from any bookstore or the library. It’s called I Will Teach You to Be Rich. In six weeks, your money will be automated.
Next, you can get my journal, Design Your Rich Life. Do it solo or with a partner. Third, you can join my money coaching program iwt.com/moneycoaching. Take control. I will be happy to coach you there. I do it every single month. And of course, you can watch my Netflix show which is coming out. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching. Let’s get into it.
Nicole: [00:03:20] I was helping Jorden pay off the credit card debt. I started in the summer of last year, and when we were getting close to the end of paying it off, I walked into the kitchen and I was like, “I think we’re going to pay the last payment this month.” And I was really excited and I was like, “We should do something to celebrate.” And then Jorden was cooking and he was busy in the kitchen and he was like, “Well, I just don’t think it’s as dire as you do.” And I was like, what do you mean it’s not– what do you mean by the credit card debt is not dire to you?
And from what I remember, Jorden was telling me, I’ve always had credit card debt. It’s always been something I’ve had. I’m used to having credit card debt. It doesn’t seem like something that’s extreme. And in my head, I was thinking, well, there’s no point in investing. There’s no point in doing anything else if we have a high-interest credit card debt. But I couldn’t really communicate everything that I wanted to or really see where he was. And so we just walked away from that conversation.
Ramit Sethi: [00:04:24] You just walked out of the kitchen?
Nicole: [00:04:26] I knew where that conversation was going to go. I could see Jorden getting stressed and I knew it was going to go to, I just don’t make enough money. I feel like I am doing everything I can with my business. It’s going to go into that way of him stressing about his business and how much income he’s making. I was shocked.
Before when he had communicated about the credit card debt and we were living in Colorado, he would say, “I feel like I make progress towards paying it off and then I get a setback and I’m back to where I am.” And so the whole time we’re in Colorado, I’m like, “Well, when I start making money, we’re going to be a team. We’re going to have a second income and I’ll be able to help you with that,” because Jorden supported me a lot when I was in Colorado and I had no income.
So I thought that was my way of giving back and I was going to be able to support him for our future. So I just felt like– but we were not thinking about this the same at all when I started contributing towards that. I didn’t feel like he understood me at all.
Ramit Sethi: [00:05:30] How much was this debt that we’re talking about here?
Jorden: [00:05:35] It was around, what was it, 25,000?
Ramit Sethi: [00:05:39] Roughly?
Nicole: [00:05:41] 31. About 31.
Jorden: [00:05:44] Okay, 31,000. And you both together paid it off in about six months, is that right?
Nicole: [00:05:52] Yeah. Four, five months.
Ramit Sethi: [00:05:54] So she was coming in to celebrate. First of all, do you both think that that’s good, bad, impressive, mediocre? What do you both think about paying off 30k of credit card debt in about five months?
Nicole: [00:06:09] I was excited.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:11] Okay. Jorden?
Jorden: [00:06:12] I mean, yeah, when you look at it like that. That’s probably not a lot of people who could accomplish that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:18] Yeah. Look at it like what?
Jorden: [00:06:20] Just looking at it in simple terms. You paid off $30,000 in five, six months.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:28] What would be the opposite of simple terms?
Jorden: [00:06:31] I guess the way I look at it through my lens, my viewpoint of, again, this is great, but it’s not fixing the root cause of what stresses me out. So that’s why it was– for me, yeah, it was great but this has been a situation that I’ve been in before where I have paid off my credit card debt and then business would be really slow and I would have to rack it up again just for basic expenses and stuff like that. So for me, it was, yeah, this is great but it’s not fixing the root of my stress, I guess.
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:09] Mm-hmm. You get nervous talking about money?
Jorden: [00:07:13] Nervous? Yeah, a little bit.
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:14] I notice your breath is catching even as you’re recounting that story.
Jorden: [00:07:20] Yeah, I guess it’s, like I said, it’s a tough conversation because it is something that causes so much stress for me.
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:29] Like what? What kind of stress?
Jorden: [00:07:35] I guess maybe fear. Not being able to help provide for us or our future family.
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:45] You want to reflect on that at all now that the other person is here in the room?
Jorden: [00:07:50] Yeah, I mean, I definitely have looked back at that conversation a few times and been like– and that’s been a catalyst for me to figure out, okay, I need to handle my stress better. But it’s definitely not a conversation that I’m proud of by any means.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:09] Have you two talked about that conversation since then?
Jorden: [00:08:14] I don’t think so more so in this forum, I guess. When we talked with Heather, we talked about a little bit, but we haven’t really sat down and discussed it.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:25] You want to do it right now?
Nicole: [00:08:27] Sure.
Jorden: [00:08:27] Sure.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:28] All right. Why don’t you two talk and I’ll observe? Go ahead.
Jorden: [00:08:37] Nicole, I appreciate everything that you have done that help and support me, including helping me with my credit card debt, because I know that that is something that is important for our future. And while I still have some things to figure out and work on as far as growing my business to avoid having that issue in the future, I really appreciate that you helped me with that, and that’s one of the things that I love about you.
Nicole: [00:09:17] Thank you. That was one of the first times Jorden thanked me for that, so thank you.
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:28] It’s beautiful to watch. I almost wish it had happened earlier. It’s such a way of connecting. What did you feel, Jorden, as you were saying what you said?
Jorden: [00:09:43] Gratitude, appreciation.
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:48] Yeah. That’s cool. And how about for you, Nicole?
Nicole: [00:09:54] I know that Jorden is grateful. I know that deep down, because we don’t have been together for years. I know he’s not great with apologies, but I know when he’s sorry. I know how his body language speaks with me than how he verbalizes things. But it is really nice just to hear in words sometimes that he’s thankful.
Ramit Sethi: [00:10:13] All right. Well, love watching that. Let’s talk a little bit more about the credit card debt and let’s talk a little bit more about what brought you here. You had this credit card debt. Jorden, what was the credit card debt incurred for?
Jorden: [00:10:29] Part of it is just business expenses.
Ramit Sethi: [00:10:33] Like what?
Jorden: [00:10:34] General operating expenses, like coaching, and then just basic living expenses, groceries, gas.
Ramit Sethi: [00:10:49] How long did it take you to incur that 30k of credit card debt?
Jorden: [00:10:53] It was probably over a couple of years, two, three years.
Ramit Sethi: [00:11:02] Did you think at any point, this is a problem or was it more like, I’ll solve it when I start making more money?
Jorden: [00:11:10] I guess I didn’t look at it as a big problem. I looked at it, I guess, as more as I was doing what I had to do to live and build a business. And there are times where I’d have a really good month or two, I’d pay off a lot of it and then fall back into it, slow down again. And so it was something that I always felt like eventually, I’ll be able to figure it out and even things out.
Ramit Sethi: [00:11:42] So many things to notice already. First, Jorden is literally shaking as he’s talking. And if you’re not watching this on YouTube, I would encourage you to. I have to step back here for a second and tell you how much I appreciate my guests coming on this show and talking about these topics. It’s not easy. Would you come on a show in front of millions of people and share every bit of your finances? Or would you talk about your relationship issues in front of all these people?
I have to give it up for Jorden and Nicole for coming on here and for every single guest who has the courage to come on here and ask for help. And I am honored that they come here and put their trust in me. Now, for Jorden, we can already see, we can even feel that money goes way deeper for him than numbers. And all of us are emotional about money, but his body is screaming it.
I also noticed that his views on debt are really different than Nicole’s. He shrugs off debt as he says, “I didn’t look at it as a big problem.” But Nicole sees it as a huge problem. And I can guarantee there’s more to this difference than just debt alone.
Ramit Sethi: [00:12:48] When did you first realize that you might not see money the same way?
Jorden: [00:12:56] Probably towards the end of 2021 when she was getting ready to graduate and we were planning to move to California. She wanted to buy a house. I was very on the fence about it. But there was a lot of conversations. That was really the first time, I think, is when we started having the contentious conversations around money.
I felt it was going to be a lot more expensive and stressful than just continuing to rent for a year, especially since we were moving halfway across the country. I just felt like it was not a great time to be doing that. Okay.
Ramit Sethi: [00:13:41] And what do you remember Nicole saying?
Nicole: [00:13:45] I basically remember– a lot of it was this is what she really wanted. And with the money that she was going to be making that it was something we could afford to do. She wasn’t going to ask me to contribute to the mortgage if I didn’t feel like I could reasonably to start out with. So eventually I was like, okay, this probably makes sense for the both of us given where we are. But it wasn’t something I was completely comfortable with.
Ramit Sethi: [00:14:21] Can I go out on a limb here and make a wild guess? So this whole conversation about we can afford it, my guess is that neither of you ever pulled out any specific numbers about a house and calculated actual income versus how much you could afford for total cost of ownership for a house. Wild guess. Am I right or wrong?
Jorden: [00:14:45] Because I wasn’t ready to buy a house.
Ramit Sethi: [00:14:47] What a shock. And how about for the person who wanted to buy the house? Nicole?
Jorden: [00:14:51] I did do numbers. Not maybe not as specifically as–
Ramit Sethi: [00:14:55] What numbers did you do?
Nicole: [00:14:56] But I was thinking how much money would be bringing in. And I was calculating the property tax I’d be paying, how much I would be paying in interest and my mortgage, and in the area we wanted to live. We were looking to rent. We were both on the same page to rent in the beginning. We thought we’d rent for a year or two to figure out where we wanted to be. And so we were looking at apartments. And I’m looking and I’m like, oh my gosh, to just have what we have right now, we’re going to be paying almost $4,000 a month.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:31] Keep going. I’m waiting for the final sentence here. Keep going.
Nicole: [00:15:35] And then I thought we might as well buy the house.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:40] Thank you.
Nicole: [00:15:41] I’ve listened to your podcast.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:42] So that is your analysis? Those are the numbers that– you basically said, hey, it’s really expensive to rent here, therefore we might as well buy.
Nicole: [00:15:52] I know. It fell into the trap, but yes.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:56] Okay. Hold on. I’m not letting you off the hook yet. Okay. We’re going to get to your numbers too. I see them here. When you said I looked at the taxes and the mortgage, that’s good. That’s more than 90% of people do. How did you decide if you could afford it or not?
Nicole: [00:16:12] I was thinking how much income that I would be having, how much money I would be taking home.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:18] Okay. Red flag number one is when you answered my question by saying I was thinking. That’s like, okay. All right, fine. So you were thinking, I’m going to be making a lot of money and the mortgage is less money, so therefore I can afford it. Is that the analysis you did?
Nicole: [00:16:36] And not quite just that basic. I know I have a lot of student debt too. So as accounting for my student debt payment and I’m thinking I’m still going to have money left over way more than I have right now.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:51] Did you do any ratios at all? Was there a percentage in that analysis?
Nicole: [00:16:57] To be straightforward, did not have a percentage.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:59] Thank you–
Nicole: [00:17:00] There was not a percentage.
Ramit Sethi: [00:17:01] For admitting it. Okay. All right.
Ramit Sethi: [00:17:06] Why is my greatest joy in life catching someone in the act of saying they bought a house by running the numbers, but then discovering they actually didn’t? What is wrong with me? Some people like to do 1,000-piece puzzles. Some people go and build houses. I sit here on a podcast and relish every second of finding someone in a money lie and then slow walking them to the very end of the plank where somebody like Nicole finally admits, no, I actually did not have a percentage.
And the worst part of this whole thing is I have a gigantic smile on my face right now. I love my life. I actually love what just happened. And this is why I think there’s something wrong with me. Anyway, let’s all take a moment of silence for yet another person who listens to this podcast and subscribes to my free newsletter and then does exactly the opposite of what I say. What can you do? People are people and they want to buy what they want to buy.
Let’s take a look at their numbers. Remember, she makes a lot of money. He’s mentioned not earning a lot, and she helped him pay off his credit card debt.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:12] Let’s look at your income. I find this to be very interesting. Jorden, can you give me your gross monthly income?
Jorden: [00:18:20] Yes. On average, just under $6,000.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:24] $5,800 a month. Okay. Hold on. All right. So you make about $70,000 a year. And Nicole, how about you monthly?
Nicole: [00:18:39] Gross is 33,000.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:43] 33,000. So collectively, you make $465,000.
Nicole: [00:18:50] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:50] That sound like a little or a lot?
Nicole: [00:18:54] More than I ever thought I’d ever make.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:57] Yeah. Jorden?
Jorden: [00:19:00] It’s definitely a lot.
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:03] You ever find it interesting that there’s so much stress around money and you’re making almost half a million in your early 30s?
Jorden: [00:19:13] I guess when you put it like that, yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:16] I’m just reading the numbers off. I mean, maybe if you guys make a million dollars, then all the problems will vanish. What do you think? No? Lot of silence on this call.
Jorden: [00:19:33] Probably not.
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:35] That’s so shocking. All right. So I think that’s a lot of money. That’s why I’m not super concerned about the debt, nor are you, Nicole. It sounds like you’re pretty savvy. A financially savvy person goes, yeah, I have a lot of debt. Yeah, I know that. And I make a lot of money. That’s how I make money because I incurred that debt. Jorden, how much are you making per month if you subtract your business expenses out?
Jorden: [00:20:01] Gross would be around 3,500.
Ramit Sethi: [00:20:06] Okay, so you’re making 3,500, she’s making 33,000. What do you all think about that?
Jorden: [00:20:20] I would like for mine to be a lot closer to hers.
Ramit Sethi: [00:20:23] Okay. How are you going to do that?
Jorden: [00:20:37] That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out, I guess, is what has contributed to a lot of the stress.
Ramit Sethi: [00:20:45] I totally get it. I’m just asking for your plan. Do you have a plan as to how you’re going to increase 3,300 a month?
Jorden: [00:21:02] Yeah. I mean, I’m putting in more work as far as producing more content, trying to generate more leads, talk to more people. In my business, that would be an extra one to two clients a month.
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:19] Okay, great. What’s the deadline?
Jorden: [00:21:29] I guess I would– being realistic, say the end of 2024. I’m going to be realistic. To be optimistic, I’d say this year.
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:46] I don’t know. Just give me a deadline. So you don’t have a deadline? It sounds like. Is that fair?
Jorden: [00:21:52] No, that’s fair.
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:52] Do you think that this is a major source of the contention in this relationship? Nicole.
Nicole: [00:22:05] I think so. I think it’s not knowing when we can really start planning for kids in the future.
Ramit Sethi: [00:22:22] Nicole makes 33,000 a month, and he makes 3,500 a month. So she makes about 10 times what he makes. There’s a previous episode, number 65 and number 66, where Connie made $200,000 a month and Wes made $2,000 a month. She made 100X what he was making. In those episodes, I talked about class differences and assortative mating, and all kinds of subtle differences that emerge in couples like this. We already see that here.
Nicole is saying she’s alarmed that Jorden didn’t really consider his debt a problem. That’s a different way of looking at money that goes beyond Jorden. She’s also saying that indecision is a problem for her. Another typical class difference in planning.
Socioeconomic systems and class are things we rarely talk about. And when I got my master’s degree in sociology from Stanford, I never thought I would be talking with couples in this format. So if you are curious to learn about some of the class dynamics that I refer to, a great place to start is this book called The Power of the Past by Jesse Streib.
Ramit Sethi: [00:23:28] The way you make decisions is what I’m trying to understand right now. And the fact is you were going from basically making not that much money as a student, right, Nicole? How much did you make?
Nicole: [00:23:41] -$100,000 a year.
Ramit Sethi: [00:23:42] Okay. So you took out loans and during that time, Jorden, were you basically the financial provider?
Jorden: [00:23:51] For the most part. She would pay rent and a few things out of her loans. But for the most part, yes.
Ramit Sethi: [00:23:58] Got it. Okay. So you took some of your loans. You used them for living expenses, Nicole. Jorden, you made up, let’s say, over 50% of household expenses. Would that be fair to say?
Jorden: [00:24:08] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:24:09] Okay. And so you go, hey, let’s buy a place because even if it costs more, we’re still going to have a ton of money relative to what we used to have, right?
Nicole: [00:24:18] And we wanted to be settled. We wanted–
Ramit Sethi: [00:24:23] What does that mean?
Nicole: [00:24:25] Jorden and I, cumulatively, we’ve moved seven times in the past four years we’ve been together.
Ramit Sethi: [00:24:31] Oh, that’s a lot. Why?
Nicole: [00:24:33] We were living separately. So he helped me move. I helped him move. We moved into a place together. That place became too small and there was a shooting in the parking lot, so we moved to another place together and then we moved to California together. So we had a lot of moves.
Ramit Sethi: [00:24:50] That’s a lot of moves. I feel you on that. And so just to clarify, in your mind, being settled means what?
Nicole: [00:24:58] It means that we’re not moving. It means that my family’s here in California. We bought a house here. We are staying here. There’s no potential for us to pick up and move to anywhere else. We are here in California.
Jorden: [00:25:12] Once we were here and had the house, I feel like at that point I was at peace with it.
Ramit Sethi: [00:25:19] Nicole, was your experience basically the same? You felt good. You feel good now with the house?
Nicole: [00:25:24] Yes.
Ramit Sethi: [00:25:24] Great. Okay. Good. All right. So you’re in the house. This is the house that I’m currently seeing you in right now, right?
Nicole: [00:25:31] Yes.
Jorden: [00:25:31] Yes.
Ramit Sethi: [00:25:31] Okay, great. So you’re in the house, and what started happening from when you moved in until now as it relates to money?
Jorden: [00:25:42] I think at one point I introduced her to your book and your podcast.
Ramit Sethi: [00:25:48] My man. First of all, what’d you say? I wish I could be in all these rooms listening, but what did you say to her?
Jorden: [00:25:54] I don’t know if she saw it this way or not, but that was one of my first attempts to be like, hey, I know this is important to you. Now, here’s maybe some way we can get into it more together.
Ramit Sethi: [00:26:11] Wow. And how did you receive that when he brought up my book, Nicole?
Nicole: [00:26:17] Well, the book was long before the podcast. That was when we were moving and we were sorting through things to get rid of. And your book was one of the things that got to stay that wasn’t the pile–
Ramit Sethi: [00:26:28] Yes. All right. I made it. Okay. And so what was that like when you heard him say, we’re giving away all these Robert Kiyosaki scam books and we’re going to keep I Will Teach You to Be Rich? What did that feel like to you when you heard him talk about a money book?
Nicole: [00:26:45] We weren’t even really in the money conversation. It was the podcast that started the convos. We were in the car on our way for a road trip, and Jorden just put the podcast on and I know what that meant. I knew that that was what Jorden was trying to communicate was, this is my attempt to speak about finances because we were in a little bit of a tiff at the start of that road trip. Those couple of days before we had had a conversation about money. And so he turned that on and we just listened to it. It was a four-hour ride and we listened to four of the podcasts.
Ramit Sethi: [00:27:19] That’s awesome. I love hearing that. And when he made that gesture of turning on the podcast, what did you feel? How did you receive that?
Ramit Sethi: [00:27:28] I loved that. The first one we listened to was the one about the couple who the woman made, I don’t know, 10 times more income than the guy.
Ramit Sethi: [00:27:43] Yeah, 100 times more.
Nicole: [00:27:43] One hundred times more. It was a crazy amount. And I was like, oh, my gosh. Wait, they’re talking about gender roles. We’re talking about all these things that we feel. And it was really nice to learn more about that too. We both like to learn about human psychology. That was very interesting to listen to.
Ramit Sethi: [00:28:04] Connie and Wes, thank you for coming on this show on episode 66 and 67 to share your story, and to every guest for coming on here and sharing your story. There are so many people who see themselves in you. And it makes me so happy to hear that Jorden was actually the one to bring up money with Nicole. That means a lot to me, and I think it means even more to Nicole. Sometimes one partner just wants the other to be proactive with money and to show some interest. And this is a great example of doing exactly that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:28:35] So you start listening to the podcast and the book, and what happens? Is it you live happily ever after or what?
Nicole: [00:28:47] Go ahead, Jorden.
Jorden: [00:28:49] I was going to say, well– because we’re having this conversation, but I would say, I don’t think– the contentious conversations didn’t stop, but I feel like we have had more conversations, more activities like we’re going through the journal together. So there is more activity in this area, I guess.
Ramit Sethi: [00:29:22] Okay. And out of curiosity, what is your rich life?
Jorden: [00:29:28] If I had to– keeping it short, if I had to sum my rich life up in one sentence, it would be to not have to make decisions based solely on money.
Ramit Sethi: [00:29:43] Okay, cool. Nicole, what about you?
Nicole: [00:29:47] I want to have more freedom with my time. And when we have kids, I want to be 50% nurturer to my children and 50% provider.
Ramit Sethi: [00:29:59] Great. Crisp. Sounds like you’ve both thought about it. Okay. All right. That sounds good. What do you wish that your partner understood about the way that you see money? I’d like to start with Nicole first.
Nicole: [00:30:21] I wish that, well–
Ramit Sethi: [00:30:25] Can you tell him?
Nicole: [00:30:30] I wish you knew how frugal I was with money in the way that when I see you spend money differently than me I don’t tell you, but sometimes it’s like in my gut I’m like, oh my gosh, I wouldn’t spend money like that. What if we did this instead? And I just don’t know how to communicate that to him without feeling like I’m treating him like a kid or being overbearing or saying that I’m restricting him on things.
And I keep that hidden from you because I don’t want to really restrict how you spend and maybe you feel that off of me anyways. But I grew up very frugal and especially the student for 11 years, I’m very frugal, so it’s hard for me to spend money on certain things that I just haven’t spent money on before.
Ramit Sethi: [00:31:28] Okay. All right. Thank you. And, Jorden, what do you wish that Nicole understood about the way that you see money? Tell her.
Jorden: [00:31:39] I wish that you understood that– sorry.
Ramit Sethi: [00:31:50] It’s okay. Take your time.
Jorden: [00:31:54] I wish that you understood that I want to see– that it’s my goal to see money as something that we can celebrate and enjoy. But it’s hard for me to get to that point because of how much it stresses me out.
Ramit Sethi: [00:32:14] Can I ask a question? So Nicole, you said, “I wish you understood how frugal I really am.” And Jorden, you said, “I wish you understood that I want to get better with money, but I’m stressed out by it.” Now, I’d like you to zoom out for a second. Do you think if your partner truly understood that thing about you that it would change anything? Nicole. Say it out loud. You’re shaking your head.
Nicole: [00:32:46] No, because he already knows that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:32:50] And do you know that he’s stressed out by money?
Nicole: [00:32:52] Oh, yes.
Ramit Sethi: [00:32:53] So what are we dancing around here for? It’s like I– It’d be like me going to my wife and saying, I deeply wish that you understood that my hair is black. It’s like, we all know. Everybody knows everything you both said. So here you are. In a sentence, how would you describe the primary problem that you believe you’re facing?
Nicole: [00:33:17] I’m really worried for the future when we have children that I’m not going to be able to take time off, that I’m going to be still working the amount that I’m working when I really only want to be working two to three days a week when we have kids. And I don’t know that we can actually afford the things that we want if I’m only working two to three days with a lower income.
Ramit Sethi: [00:33:45] Jorden, what would you say in a sentence?
Jorden: [00:33:48] I would say that I am worried that she’s not going to be able to do that or she’s going to do that and we’re going to have to significantly cut back on expenses or find a cheaper place to live, or something like that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:34:16] Okay. So if I’m hearing you correctly, do you both think that the primary problem here is a numbers problem?
Jorden: [00:34:30] I guess I do from my perspective, from my standpoint.
Ramit Sethi: [00:34:36] Okay, Nicole?
Nicole: [00:34:38] I think underlying the numbers is Jorden’s business income and the stress he feels with that income being lower than he wants it to be.
Ramit Sethi: [00:34:57] So it’s an income problem?
Nicole: [00:34:59] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:00] Okay. Let me read what you wrote in your application to me, Nicole.
Nicole: [00:35:04] Gosh.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:06] Can I read from this?
Nicole: [00:35:06] You can read from it.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:08] You wrote, “We recently had an argument that escalated our previous conversations from “are we financially ready to be engaged?” to “this man needs to pack his bags.” How are we going to make big purchases together when his credit score shuts it down? I’m now angry, upset, frustrated that I didn’t find out our huge financial differences four years ago. Am I overreacting or is it time to find a partner who matches me financially?
Nicole: [00:35:39] Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I was in an angry place, and I hate just hearing those words. I don’t mean that to Jorden. I was just in an angry place.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:48] Okay. Should I continue or not? It’s totally up to you.
Nicole: [00:35:52] I don’t even want Jorden to hear. I feel like that’s not honest. I don’t want Jorden to hear that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:56] Okay, then talk to me. And talk to Jorden. Let’s be honest with where you are today. When you wrote that, that is– and there’s more that I was about to read. That is not the tenor of what you two are telling me today. The way you’re talking about is if it’s some income problem in the spreadsheet.
Nicole: [00:36:14] I was very angry after the credit card debt conversation. That was right after the credit card conversation when I paid off 30,000. And I felt like Jorden didn’t care.
Ramit Sethi: [00:36:29] That’s different than Jorden should be making an extra $1,000 a month or something.
Nicole: [00:36:36] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:36:39] I can help in whatever way is helpful but I need you to be honest with what is the real problem here. Nicole, you filled out the application. I’d like to ask you, and I really want you to try to tap into what is really going on here.
Nicole: [00:37:00] I feel like I’m going to be the 100% sole provider. And that is never what I’ve ever wanted.
Ramit Sethi: [00:37:12] Keep going.
Nicole: [00:37:13] My mom was a stay-at-home mom. My dad provided everything. I don’t want that either. I didn’t have a relationship with my dad as closely as I did with my mom. I want our kids to have an equal relationship with Jorden as they do with me. But I don’t want to be a 100% provider.
Ramit Sethi: [00:37:38] And are you worried that you will be?
Nicole: [00:37:45] I’m very worried that I will be.
Ramit Sethi: [00:37:48] Are you 100% provider right now?
Nicole: [00:37:51] No.
Ramit Sethi: [00:37:53] So what makes you worry about being a 100% provider?
Nicole: [00:38:00] At the end of the month, together as a team, we are a positive. But the credit card debt, I’m scared that’s going to come back. And I’m scared that I’m going to be paying that again in the future.
Ramit Sethi: [00:38:27] Jorden has paid for over half of the finances for many years while you were a student. So I’m a little confused where this fear is coming from.
Nicole: [00:38:39] When found out about the credit card debt, that a lot of that finances that he’s been contributing was going on a credit card, and didn’t know about that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:38:50] Okay. So that worries you.
Nicole: [00:38:52] That worries me. If I had known that he was contributing with credit card payments, I would have contributed. We would have been more 50/50. I wouldn’t have had him contribute more than 50. I wouldn’t have had him pay for our dinners when we went out. I wouldn’t have had him pay for the groceries. I would have contributed equally to groceries. I would have contributed equally to going out.
In my mind, I thought we were safe with finances, that he could afford to do that for us. And so I felt like he was providing. And then when I realized that it was going on a credit card, I was like, oh. It’s not really contributing financially. And I don’t want to be doing everything. I’d want a teammate.
Ramit Sethi: [00:39:44] Jorden, what do you think from all the things that you just heard from Nicole?
Jorden: [00:39:58] That’s a lot. Give me a second here.
Nicole: [00:40:12] Can I go hug Jorden?
Ramit Sethi: [00:40:13] Of course. Thank you for asking to do that. Really glad you did. Can you tell me why you wanted to give Jorden a hug right now?
Nicole: [00:41:51] I regret saying those words that you read out loud. I’m surprised that I said it so mean. I was in a very angry place.
Ramit Sethi: [00:42:06] Was it honest when you wrote it?
Nicole: [00:42:10] In a better mindset, I think those are the issues that I do still battle with, is that the partner you choose for life is the biggest decision you have to make in life and biggest decision you make for your financial future as well. And if we are so different with our finances, if we think so differently, then am I making the best decision for myself long term? Am I making the best decision? I can’t go confidently with us being together in the future if I’m going to be 100% responsible for any of our financial future.
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:14] Nicole is right that the partner you choose is one of the most important decisions you make in your life. I find it striking that they both confidently told me this was an income problem, an expenses problem, until I pulled out Nicole’s own application and started to read it back to her. That’s when we started to get real.
In the second part of this episode coming next week, I’ll continue my conversation with them and I’ll try to give them what they actually need. I’ll see you next week. In the meantime, you can find me on YouTube, you can subscribe to my newsletter, and you can find my Netflix show coming out. Go head into Netflix and click “Add Reminder” so that you won’t miss that.
In the meantime, you can find me on YouTube. You can go through old episodes on the podcast, and you can subscribe to my newsletter at iwt.com. In the meantime, you can find me on YouTube. You can subscribe to my money coaching program at iwt.com/moneycoaching, and you can go into Netflix and set a reminder for the new show. And you can go into Netflix and find my new show, How to Get Rich.