Episode #92: "I make $33,000/month. He makes $3,500. When is he going to step it up?” (Part 2)

Nicole and Jorden, 30 and 34, return for Part 2, where we unpack the deep emotional wounds caused by their lack of clear and honest communication about money. She earns 10X his income, but the hidden stories and assumptions at play are what threaten the future of their relationship.

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Show Transcript

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[00:00:00] Jorden: I wish that you understood 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.

[00:00:16] Nicole: I want less stress, less overwhelmed when I start conversations about finances. I hear that often, and I don’t know how to be supportive.

[00:00:33] Ramit: Does anybody want to illustrate that for me? If you don’t change anything, what is going to happen?

[00:00:37] Nicole: We’re going to keep finding ourselves in the same conversations where we really hide the underlying truth and we’re not able to communicate them to each other.

[00:00:48] Jorden: We end up letting that tear our relationship apart.

[00:00:51] Nicole:  I thought we were safe with 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. I don’t want to be doing everything. I want a teammate.

[00:01:24] NARRATION: [Narration]

[00:01:37] Ramit: Welcome back to Part 2 of this conversation with Nicole and Jorden. Nicole is 30. Jorden’s 34. And in Part 1, last week, we learned that Nicole helped pay off Jorden’s $31,000 in credit card debt, partly as a way of making good on the fact that he provided for her while she was a student. 

Fast forward to today. She makes 10 times more than he does. She makes $33,000 a month, and she learned that the credit card debt was actually incurred making ends meet during her last few years in school. Now she’s on the verge of being a millionaire in her 30s, and she’s starting to question a lot.

[00:02:22] Interview: [Interview]

[00:02:26] Ramit: Okay. Let me read what you wrote in your application to me, Nicole.

[00:02:30] Nicole: Gosh.

[00:02:31] Ramit: Can I read from this?

[00:02:32] Nicole: You can read from it.

[00:02:34] Ramit: 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? 

[00:03:05] Nicole: 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.

[00:03:14] Ramit: Okay. Should I continue or not? It’s totally up to you.

[00:03:18] Nicole: I don’t, even want Jorden to hear. I feel like that’s not honest. I don’t want Jorden to hear that. 

[00:03:22] Ramit: 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 this spreadsheet.

[00:03:38] Nicole: Mm-hmm. I was very angry after the credit card debt conversation. That was right after the credit card debt conversation when I paid off 30,000 and I felt like Jorden didn’t care.

[00:03:55] Ramit: Jorden, what do you think from all the things that you just heard from Nicole?

[00:04:09] Jorden: That’s, uh, that’s a lot. Give me a second here.

[00:04:22] Ramit: Okay. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with considering this question. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with considering it out loud. Jorden, I want to hear from you, but I also want to acknowledge that this is the biggest financial decision anybody ever makes is the partner that they choose. And too often we spend more time talking about what type of food we like, what kind of vacation we want, what our wedding doilies are going to look like.

But we don’t get honest how do you think about money? How do I think about it, and how are we going to create this tapestry together of our life? And you see what happens if you don’t. There’s secrets, there’s misunderstandings, miscommunications. So I do not want our conversation today to be intentionally hurtful. I wouldn’t allow it, but I do want it to be honest. Jorden, hearing what Nicole said, what stands out to you?

[00:05:55] Jorden: I guess that I didn’t really have an idea of how worried she was or is. I guess in my mind I’ve always just done what I needed to do to get by. We need groceries? So we’ll figure it out later. I’m a very, I guess, optimistic person and always feel like we’ll figure it out. I’m going to figure it out. We can just get by for right now.

[00:06:54] Ramit: And what are you realizing? 

[00:06:58] Jorden: That it’s just the same cycle over and over again.

[00:07:03] Ramit: What does it mean for the two of you?

[00:07:10] Jorden: It’s not something that’s sustainable for us. 

[00:07:15] Ramit: Why? 

[00:07:23] Jorden: Because it’s not moving us towards the goals that we have together.

[00:07:32] Ramit: Yeah. And what are those goals?

[00:07:36] Jorden: For us to be equal providers and parents and be able to give our family a comfortable, happy life.

[00:07:48] Ramit: Equal providers? Who said that? Whose goal is that?

[00:07:55] Jorden: Um, I guess that’s what I hear when I hear her.

[00:08:03] Ramit: Ididn’t hear that. Nicole, do you mean that you want both of you to be making the same amount of money?

[00:08:13] Nicole: I don’t expect Jorden to match my income.

[00:08:16] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:08:17] Nicole: I would love it. I mean, I would welcome it but I don’t expect that.

[00:08:22] Ramit: Jorden, have you ever heard Nicole say that before?

[00:08:26] Jorden: Um, no. Uh, I mean, I said I’m very optimistic, so I believe that one day I will be able to match her income or close to it. 

[00:08:45] Ramit: Well, she makes, uh, about five times what you make right now, and I expect her income to go up. Realistically, do you think that you’ll be able to match that?

[00:09:07] Jorden: I think realistically I could maybe not match it, but get closer.

[00:09:14] Ramit: Closer like what?

[00:09:17] Jorden: Two to three times what I make now.

[00:09:20] Ramit: Okay. That’d be great. I think that’d be awesome. But what I’m really seeing here is this lack of communication is causing these gigantic rifts between the two of you. And some of it is just based on assumptions. Equal provider. There are lots of ways to provide. Money’s one of them. Who’s vacuuming the floors? Who’s making sure that the car has gas?

There’s so many different ways of pro– who’s just remembering people’s birthdays? There’s lots of ways to provide. And if you go through the rest of your life assuming that you have to be an equal provider, gosh, that’s really tough. It sets you up for so much pressure. And then you might not even need to be setting that goal. What do you think about that, Jorden?

[00:10:17] Jorden: I think that’s very accurate.

[00:10:20] Ramit: Hmm. Would it feel any different if instead of having to 6X your income, instead maybe the goal was to 2X td it?

[00:10:35] Jorden: That would be great.

[00:10:37] Ramit: What would it feel like to you?

[00:10:41] Jorden: For me I would feel less stressed and more confident in our money relationship.

[00:10:55] Ramit: Mm-hmm. What does it feel like right now, physically? Where do you feel it, the stress?

[00:11:02] Jorden: I guess in my chest.

[00:11:03] Ramit: Yeah. Feel it all the time?

[00:11:08] Jorden: A lot of the time.

[00:11:10] Ramit: When do you feel it especially?

[00:11:14] Jorden: Um, I mean, biggest is when we are having conversations about money.

[00:11:23] Ramit: Yeah. I saw it in the first minute talking to you. Just this, not even breathing. It’s not a healthy way to behave around money. Yeah. Anybody in your family have a similar perspective towards money?

[00:11:48] Jorden: Um, my dad probably.

[00:11:52] Ramit: Yeah. Your dad, the entrepreneur?

[00:11:55] Jorden: Yeah.

[00:11:55] Ramit: Uh-huh. What does he feel towards money?

[00:12:00] Jorden: Uh, stressed.

[00:12:03] Ramit: Hmm. Like what? What do you remember?

[00:12:10] Jorden: Uh, we just talk about how things are going and I know that he is as stressed about money probably as often as I am.

[00:12:26] Ramit: Hmm. Is money easy or hard to your dad?

[00:12:29] Jorden: Probably, I would say hard.

[00:12:32] Ramit: Is money easy or hard for you?

[00:12:36] Jorden: Hard.

[00:12:37] Ramit: Hmm. Is stress normal when it comes to money for your dad?

[00:12:42] Jorden: Yeah. It’s pretty normal, I would say.

[00:12:44] Ramit: Stress normal for you when it comes to money?

[00:12:47] Jorden: Yeah.

[00:12:49] Ramit: See any patterns here?

[00:12:52] Jorden: Yeah.

[00:12:53] Ramit: All right. Do you have anybody who has a positive relationship with money in your family?

[00:12:57] Jorden: Um, I guess I would say my grandpa because he is done very well for himself, but it also takes him several years to make a– we always give him a hard time. It takes him several years to make a decision about if he wants to buy a new car or not. He’s got millions of dollars sitting around.

[00:13:20] NARRATION: [Narration]

[00:13:21] Ramit: I’m not loving the dynamic right now. It’s me asking, him answering, me asking, him answering. This is less a conversation and more like an interrogation. Can you feel that? I can. I think we can all feel it. 

And looking back, at this moment, I wish that I had stopped and I had asked Jorden how he was doing and how he was feeling. You have to remember that it’s totally natural in a situation like this, anyone would be intimiated. Jorden himself started off this conversation admitting he gets nervous about money. So looking back, I wish that I had been more sensitive with Jorden at this moment.

[00:13:58] Interview: [Interview]

[00:13:58] Ramit: All right. So your grandpa has a positive relationship with money, except he’s a little indecisive. Positive means what to you?

[00:14:08] Jorden: Um, I guess for me, positive means not stressing about it.

[00:14:18] Ramit: Okay. That was one of the goals you had when we started talking today. Not stressing. What else?

[00:14:25] Jorden: Um, I guess being able to do the things that you want to do or enjoy what you want to enjoy that, give meaning to your life.

[00:14:47] Ramit: Yeah, I agree. When you were incurring that $30,000 of credit card debt, was that a positive relationship with money? money?It’s He’s taking a long time to answer this question. It’s like a trick question. There’s only one real answer to it.

[00:15:09] Jorden: Uh, no.

[00:15:11] Ramit: Why did you pause answering that? What was going through your head? I’m genuinely curious.

[00:15:15] Jorden: Uh, just because I still was spending money on the things we needed or going out to eat or experiences or something like that.

[00:15:32] Ramit: Okay. So have you ever told your parents you had debt?

[00:15:38] Jorden: Uh, no, I don’t think so. 

[00:15:43] Ramit: Siblings?

[00:15:46] Jorden: No.

[00:15:47] Ramit: Hmm. All right. I want to share two different perspectives that I see here. One is money is a source of problems. Everybody is stressed out by money. That’s just the way it is. If you’re stressed out, it’s normal. You just work harder and it’ll take care of itself in the future over the long term. That’s one perspective. Does that perspective sound familiar, Jorden?

[00:16:24] Jorden: Yeah.

[00:16:25] Ramit: Okay. That would be like how you grew up. Am I getting that basically right? Tell me if I’m not.

[00:16:30] Jorden: No, I would say that’s basically right.

[00:16:33] Ramit: Here’s another perspective. I want to invest. I want to save. I want to figure out what we are going to need, and I want to start creating goals towards it. I want to automate. I want to make sure that our income, we are discussing it and putting money aside for the things that are important to us. That’s another perspective. Jorden, does that perspective sound familiar to you at all?

[00:17:03] Jorden: Not really.

[00:17:04] Ramit: The talk about setting financial goals, working backwards, calculating things. No?

[00:17:10] Jorden: No. 

[00:17:12] Ramit: Okay. Now watch this. Nicole, which of those perspectives sounds familiar to you?

[00:17:20] Nicole: Goal setting, investing, planning for the future.

[00:17:24] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:17:25] Nicole: Making decisions between where to put your money.

[00:17:28] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Who talked to you about that?

[00:17:30] Nicole: My parents.

[00:17:32] Ramit: What age?

[00:17:34] Nicole: My whole life. We made decisions on where to put our money.

[00:17:38] Ramit: Yeah. What’d your parents do?

[00:17:42] Nicole: Uh, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Now she sells health insurance. My dad is an engineer.

[00:17:46] Ramit: Okay. So they talked about this. Um, what about when it came time for college, things like that? How was the discussion about money?

[00:17:56] Nicole: We saved everything. When I was in middle school, high school. We did not go out to eat. My dad cooked at home. We made all of our meals. Our groceries were frugal.

[00:18:09] Ramit: Did they tell you why?

[00:18:11] Nicole: I knew it was for education. I knew it was– yeah. 

[00:18:15] Ramit: How did you know?

[00:18:17] Nicole: My mom would tell me– I went out to dinner with a friend one time and she was upset with me and she said, we don’t spend money outside. We have money here, we are planning for your education.

[00:18:28] Ramit: Wow. Everybody noticed that. We don’t do X is a very powerful phrase to create a family culture. Or we do X. I’ll give you a few examples. We ate steak yesterday, so we don’t eat steak two days in a row. That really communicates something about your food values. 

When we come home, we take our shoes off and we put them neatly aside, that communicates something. And we don’t eat out when we have food at home because– what was that last thing she said about the why?

[00:19:02] Nicole: We’re saving for your education.

[00:19:03] Ramit: Saving for your education. And you hear that one time, 10 times, a 100 times, and it really starts to seep in. Uh, and just out of curiosity, what is your current profession, Nicole?

[00:19:13] Nicole: I am an orthodontist.

[00:19:14] Ramit: Okay. And how much do you make per year?

[00:19:18] Nicole: Um, right now it’s going to be about 400,000.

[00:19:21] Ramit: Okay. You’re just out of school.

[00:19:23] Nicole: I graduated last year, yes.

[00:19:25] Ramit: Okay. What are you both noticing about what we just covered in terms of the way that you both see money? Nicole?

[00:19:45] Nicole: I noticed for Jorden stress comes up a lot with his family talking about money. And although we did have tense conversations in our family about stress, it never felt like we didn’t have enough money. And I know we never put money on credit cards. We’ve never had to borrow money like that. It was, we had money, but we chose where to spend it.

[00:20:08] Ramit: Mm-hmm.

[00:20:10] Nicole: So I’ve never felt like I would not have money for the things that I really need, basics. We always had money for basic needs.

[00:20:19] Ramit: Jorden, what are you noticing?

[00:20:38] Jorden: I guess I’m noticing that I’m just continuing a lot of what I gathered from our family dynamics when I was a kid.

[00:20:57] Ramit: Like?

[00:21:01] Jorden: Like stressing about money. I mean, obviously, the way we were brought up around money is very opposite.

[00:21:17] Ramit: Opposite. How would you describe the way she was brought up with money?

[00:21:21] Jorden: Um, careful or select with what they would spend their money on.

[00:21:35] Ramit: Okay, and how about you?

[00:21:39] Jorden: I describe the way I was brought up?

[00:21:44] Ramit: Yeah.

[00:21:44] Jorden: Um, I guess it would be, at least from my perspective, from what I remember, that my parents didn’t want us to feel like we didn’t have enough, or that we couldn’t be taken care of.

[00:22:27] Ramit: Did they talk about money with you openly?

[00:22:30] Jorden: Not that I really remember.

[00:22:33] Ramit: That’s telling, isn’t it? Nicole said, my parents talk about money all the time. Yours did not talk about it. So you picked up clues from your parents, it sounds like, but not really had open discussions about it. Would that be fair?

[00:22:49] Jorden: Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.

[00:22:51] Ramit: Do you understand what it costs to not have a good relationship with money?

[00:23:02] Jorden: I mean, yeah, I feel like it costs your relationship with the people who mean the most to you.

[00:23:14] NARRATION: [Narration]

[00:23:15] Ramit: This is classic. If you’ve listened to enough episodes of this podcast, you might have been able to spot this in the first five minutes of the conversation. Nicole grew up with a family that talked about money, planned how to use their money, and passed those values to Nicole, who is a recent orthodontist making $400,000 a year. 

Jorden had a totally different type of upbringing, one where his parents did not talk about money, where they didn’t share their money values, at least not verbally, and one in which he seems to constantly be playing defense with money.

Now, you can be successful no matter which of these two upbringings you had. But when you’re combining two people who’ve gone through decades of different family upbringings and structures, it’s really hard to blend them. 

You look at money differently. You look at debt differently. You might even look at spending $10 for an appetizer differently. See, most of us dramatically undervalue the effect that our upbringing has on us today with our money decisions, something to really think about. 

Now as we get into the numbers, here’s the summary. Jorden is a personal trainer bringing in 5,800 a month or 70,000 gross. He takes home about 42,000 a year. The most he’s ever made in his business was 109,000 in one year. 

Nicole recently graduated. She’s now an orthodontist earning $33,000 gross a month, or just under $400,000 a year. Now, Nicole could earn more as she gets further into her career, but she plans to actually scale back her time at work to spend more time with her kids down the line. And she estimates that her income will settle at about $300,000 a year.

[00:25:18] Interview: [Interview]

[00:25:21] Ramit: Guys, how much do you both need to make in order for this to work?

[00:25:31] Jorden: I guess I would probably say minimum what we make right now or rounded up to a half million.

[00:25:43] Ramit: That seems like a lot. So am I reading this right? You need to make half a million dollars in order to have one or two kids and pay your mortgage, which costs $4,600. Is that right? Did you just make that number up?

[00:26:05] Jorden: No. I went off where we’re at right now and then added a little bit for, I guess, comfort’s sake.

[00:26:14] Ramit: Okay. Nicole?

[00:26:20] Nicole: Well, my debt payments is going to increase quite a bit once, uh, once the decision’s made. So that takes a good chunk of my savings out. And I think it’s the uncertainty of my income too, because I have seven different offices that I work in, and I change them from time to time. So it’s a little bit variable income. Every month is not the same. So I guess there’s just uncertainty. I don’t know that there’s an exact number.

[00:26:59] Ramit: Life is uncertain. I’m talking to both of you. Your inability to make some assumptions is stopping you from moving forward in your life. Yeah, life is variable. You’re an orthodontist. You travel. Your business. Fine. All right. Are we talking about 5k a month or 50k a month? 

You can get 85% of the way there. You just pick a number. Make sure it’s conservative, make sure you’re confident about it, and hopefully things go well and you have a savings account. In case they don’t, well, let’s loosen up the reins and pick some numbers that feel conservative, that you’re confident about, and then we can start moving forward in life. What do you say? 

[00:27:44] Nicole: Oh, yeah.

[00:27:45] Ramit: Jorden, you make less than $40,000 a year. For the lifestyle you want, that’s not going to cut it. Would you agree?

[00:27:53] Jorden: Yeah, 100%.

[00:27:54] Ramit: All right. How long can you go making 40k? Because what are you hearing from Nicole, how much does she want you to make as your partner in this relationship?

[00:28:05] Jorden: Uh, a lot closer to what she makes.

[00:28:08] Ramit: No. She didn’t say that. And also I don’t like these vague– I want numbers. She never said she expects you to make what she makes. But, uh, Nicole, you see why he says that, right? It’s because most of the time when you start conversations about money, what is the thing you say?

[00:28:32] Nicole: I’m trying to think, what did I say?

[00:28:36] Ramit: I don’t want to be the sole provider. Isn’t there a song called soul provider by Michael Bolton? It’s not one of his best. How Can We Be Lovers is much better. Uh, you’re not the sole provider, but when you say that every single time, it’s unfair to him.

[00:28:54] Nicole: Yeah. I see that.

[00:28:55] Ramit: All right. So Jorden, she doesn’t expect you to make as much as she does, but how much do you need to make in order for the lifestyle that both of you want?

[00:29:04] Jorden: I would say 200,000.

[00:29:09] Ramit: Okay. So if you make 200k, and Nicole, you make what?

[00:29:16] Nicole: I make 400. Now if I cut back, I estimated in the spending plan, if I were to cut back and do three days, a month I make 33,000 gross and I put down to 25,000. So 300k per year.

[00:29:40] Ramit: 300k per year and he would make 200k per year. Gosh, how are you guys going to make it on $500,000 a year? I don’t know guys. I don’t know if you can make it. You sure?

[00:29:50] Jorden: I hear kids are expensive.

[00:29:53] Ramit: Okay. Listen, I’ll accept whatever number you tell me. It’s your life. It’s not mine. I also understand Southern California is expensive. I get it. I’m just joking with you. People who are living in another city cannot understand some of the expenses that you would incur living in Southern California. I get it. I want to be realistic. Uh, Jorden, what’s the most you’ve ever made?

[00:30:18] Jorden: Uh, 109,000.

[00:30:24] Ramit: Okay. We cannot build a model based on 200,000 when the max you’ve ever made is 109,000. That’s like me saying I’m going to have a 10-foot vertical jump. It’s like I don’t– first of all, I don’t even jump. But I’m definitely not going to– I don’t even know how high a NBA player jumps. I just made up 10-feet, so clearly I’m talking out of my ass. You can’t magically manifest $200,000. What number can you realistically get? You currently make $39,000 a year.

[00:30:57] Jorden: Uh, I guess I would say a 100,000.

[00:31:00] Ramit: Okay, a 100,000. Great. So you make a 100,000 in this model. Nicole, if you’re making 300,000, that’s 400,000 gross. Does that work?

[00:31:14] Nicole: Yeah, I would imagine that would work.

[00:31:16] Ramit: Okay. You can make it work. Fantastic. So let’s talk about what it takes to get there. Jorden, I can’t give you two years to get to that. That’s too long. What do you want to do?

[00:31:44] Jorden: I don’t know. I feel like that’s my biggest challenge is solving that issue because I’ve been trying to solve it for years, I feel like.

[00:32:05] Ramit: How many years?

[00:32:07] Jorden: Uh, five or six.

[00:32:12] Ramit: Six fucking years. Hey Jorden, I’ve been trying to cook an omelet for six years. Every time it turns out runny. I’m using this recipe. I think if I cook it for another six years I’m going to get it right using that same recipe, what do you say?

[00:32:26] Jorden: Probably not

[00:32:26] Ramit: Probably not. What should I do?

[00:32:29] Jorden: Find a new recipe.

[00:32:30] Ramit: Oh yeah, or maybe just stop cooking eggs. Look, what you’re doing is not working. Is that fair?

[00:32:40] Jorden: Fair.

[00:32:41] Ramit: Sometimes we got to be honest with ourselves. Honest with ourselves, honest with the people around us. That’s what it takes to live a rich life. If you can get honest with yourself and say, look, I tried a lot of stuff. I tried this. I tried that. Could I do a couple of other tactics? Yeah, sure. I just set up that auto webinar or use this coaching script, but is that really going to two and a half X my revenue a matter of months? What would the answer be?

[00:33:08] Jorden: Probably not.

[00:33:08] Ramit: Yeah. Great. We all agreed that the business in its current state will not get to the goals that you need to get to, right? 

[00:33:17] Jorden: Right.

[00:33:18] Ramit: So haven’t we already agreed on what’s going to happen with this current business? What is the agreement?

[00:33:31] Jorden: I don’t know.

[00:33:34] Ramit: Remember what you said about your grandpa? He takes five years to decide on buying a car. You want to be like him?

[00:33:41] Jorden: No.

[00:33:41] Ramit: Let’s be decisive. Your business is not working. What are you going to do with your business that is not working and will never work to the level you need it to?

[00:33:55] Jorden: Stop putting the time and effort into it.

[00:33:58] Ramit: How does that strike you?

[00:34:03] Jorden: It’s, uh, tough but fair at the same time. It’s hard to swallow having put so much time.

[00:34:27] NARRATION: [Narration]

[00:34:39] Ramit:  I don’t know. On one hand you can hear a similar pattern with Jorden and with a recent guest, Darby. Both of them needed to hear that their business was not working, at least not to the level they want. 

But on the other hand, I also don’t know that Jorden really gets this. It feels like he’s just going along for the ride on this conversation, which I’m willing to bet is a pattern beyond just this call. And this passivity in a partner is a huge problem for Nicole. 

[00:35:20] Interview: [Interview]

[00:35:20] Ramit: I really want you to both think what it would be like to go on offense for your relationship. Defense is like, oh, things are okay. We fight when we talk about money once in a while. I don’t know, we’ll deal with it later. It’s procrastination. It’s thinking small. It’s only minimizing your dreams. What’s offense? 

It’s like, if it costs $10,000 a month, I’ll find a way to do it, at your income. If somebody’s making 60k a year, they’re, no, we’re not doing that. I will find the time. I will find the money. I will try a different therapist until I find one that clicks for me and maybe one for us, whatever. How does that strike both of you?

[00:36:06] Nicole: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:36:08] Jorden: I agree with that. 

[00:36:09] Ramit: The costs are enormous. And that’s exactly what you’re experiencing right now. This seemingly angry application that, Nicole, you sent in, I mean, I think it was pretty honest. Yeah, you were upset. I don’t think we’ve tackled exactly why. Why were you upset? And Jorden, I wonder if you and Nicole can have a conversation right now about what are the stakes here? If you don’t change anything, what happens? 

[00:36:54] Nicole: I’m concerned that with the things that we want in life, the lifestyle we want to have, if we want to keep that, I will have to work five days. I will have to work full-time. I will have to work my Saturdays, and I won’t get to have that time with our children.

[00:37:25] Ramit: So what do you need?

[00:37:30] Nicole: I want less stress, less overwhelmed when I start conversations about finances. I want us to have conversations that are exciting and I don’t want to worry about worst-case scenario or if finances don’t improve or, um, I guess I hear that a lot in our conversations is the stress and feeling like he’s not providing. I hear that often, and I don’t know how to be supportive. 

[00:38:09] Ramit: Okay. All right. Jorden, how do you receive that?

[00:38:16] Jorden: That’s really what I want too. I want to be able to have those conversations from a positive, exciting place, and I want to be able to plan for exciting things for the future, and be able to share in that dream together, because that’s something that’s very important to me too.

[00:39:06] Ramit: What do you need from Nicole?

[00:39:11] Jorden: Um, I guess patience would be the first thing because this is not something that comes super easy for me. Um, understanding, and I guess continued support because I’m working hard to try and do my part for us to be able to get to that place and–

[00:39:54] Ramit: Jorden, tell me, uh, specifically, when you say you’re working hard to get to that place, what steps are you taking right now?

[00:40:05] Jorden: Investing more time into my business and also into myself to try and be more open to receiving these conversations, uh, in a positive way and not immediately shut down like when she brings this up.

[00:40:40] Ramit: How are you doing that? When you say investing time into yourself, what do you mean by that?

[00:40:46] Jorden: Really trying to, um, not– just trying to slow down and not react. Not react without hearing her first, and not immediately going to a negative place when she brings up the topic of money and really trying to understand where she’s coming from and why she’s coming from there rather than just thinking about my own challenges or my own stress.

[00:41:23] Ramit: You’re doing this on your own?

[00:41:28] Jorden: Yeah, right now.

[00:41:31] Ramit: How important is this on a scale of 1 to 10 for you?

[00:41:34] Jorden: I would say it’s a 10.

[00:41:38] Ramit: You’re 34 years old. Has it worked so far?

[00:41:44] Jorden: Uh, definitely not the way that I would’ve liked it to, no.

[00:41:48] Ramit: Why are you doing it on your own?

[00:41:52] Jorden: Um, I don’t know. I guess–

[00:42:03] Ramit: Here’s the way I see it. You two came to me with a very, very serious application. We’re talking, this is existential for the relationship. Fair? And I think that only came out on this call. And in a way, you have to be able to have these conversations and you haven’t been able to have them on your own. 

Okay, fine. Lots of us, in fact, most people cannot have these conversations on their own. That’s totally fine. But you came to me. That’s amazing. That’s a great first step. But our conversation is going to end. And if we ended it right now, do either of you have any sense of what specific steps you would take next? Nicole’s shaking her head no. Jorden?

[00:43:00] Jorden: No, I don’t think so.

[00:43:01] Ramit: I don’t think so either. And so this is a 10 out of 10. And when I ask Nicole, what do you need, she says, “I want him to manage his stress better. I don’t want to talk about stress anymore. That keeps us looking in the past. Yes, he has stress. I want him to learn how to manage it, but I want us to be able to look forward together.”

Fair. Is that a fair ask? I think so. I don’t think she’s saying it has to happen tomorrow, but she’s saying this is what I need for this relationship. And Jorden, you’re saying, I need patience and I need support. And I go, okay, I agree with all those things, but what do you need and what are you doing? You say, “I’m putting in a lot of hard work.” I say, “How?” I don’t know, I’m just trying it on my own. Jorden, if you knew that your relationship was on the line, what would you do?

[00:43:56] Jorden: Whatever I needed to do.

[00:43:58] Ramit: Okay, well, I don’t know if Nicole will say it, but I’ll say that this seems very, very serious to me. And she’s telling you point blank what she needs from you. I don’t think that trying it on your own is cutting it. So what are your options? Lay them out for me.

[00:44:23] Jorden: Uh, I guess I’m–

[00:44:35] Ramit: Here, look at me. I can see you’re in your head starting to spin. Would that be fair?

[00:44:42] Jorden: Yeah.

[00:44:42] Ramit: Look at me. Tell me your options. Give me three of them.

[00:44:48] Jorden: Get help from somebody.

[00:44:51] Ramit: Who?

[00:44:52] Jorden: Uh, therapist.

[00:44:55] Ramit: Great. What else?

[00:45:00] Jorden: Um, I don’t know.

[00:45:13] Ramit: You got to have two more options for me. I’m not going let you to hook that easy. Therapist is a great idea. What else? You have a magic wand. You can do whatever you want in the world. Go ahead.

[00:45:36] Jorden: I don’t know. I’m really–

[00:45:38] Nicole: Jorden has a coach. You have a business coach. He has coaches, mentors.

[00:45:51] Ramit: It’s so interesting to me that you have coaches that presumably you pay, but you have not made that connection to this relationship. Why is that?

[00:46:04] Jorden: Uh, I guess I look at it as they’re helping me with my business, but that is a direct connection because that’s where a lot of the stress comes from.

[00:46:24] Ramit: What’s up with that, Jorden? That’s very interesting. You’re the one who found my book. You’re the one who introduced Nicole to my podcast. You’re clearly in the self-development world, but stuck when it comes to options for your own relationship. Why?

[00:46:39] Jorden: I guess it’s just something I’ve always put off for one reason or another.

[00:46:48] Ramit: Hmm. Okay. So a therapist is one option. A coach is another. Give me a third option.

[00:47:09] Jorden: Go on a relationship retreat.

[00:47:11] Ramit: I love it. Hell yeah. That’s cool. Look at that smile on both your faces. Why are you guys smiling so much right now?

[00:47:20] Nicole: That sounds fun. I haven’t done that before.

[00:47:24] Ramit: What would that be like? Jorden, paint a picture for us. This is your fantasy, so paint the picture however you like. What would be?

[00:47:32] Jorden: Um, it’d be somewhere on a beach, so it’d be very relaxing. Um, there would be planned, um, relationship building activities. There would be time spent talking with a therapist or a professional. Um, there would be a lot of one-on-one time with Nicole.

[00:48:08] Ramit: And how would you feel after this? Just you individually.

[00:48:13] Jorden: Um, probably pretty good. Probably closer, more connected.

[00:48:18] Ramit: Yeah. How about you personally, individually, how would you feel, Jorden?

[00:48:24] Jorden: Uh, less stressed, more at ease, more, um, more confident.

[00:48:38] Ramit: Yeah. I love that. How does it feel to you to say all that?

[00:48:43] Jorden: Feels good.

[00:48:44] Ramit: Feels awesome for me to observe it and I’m over here. What I’m noticing is that Nicole said, I want you to manage your stress better, and what we just did was– your first reaction was to just water off a duck’s back. It was like, yeah, I’m trying and I need patience. I’m like, what? Give me tactics. What exactly are you doing? And so we pushed for it and you found it incredibly difficult. Would you agree?

[00:49:12] Jorden: Yeah.

[00:49:13] Ramit: But we finally came up with three– you, not we, you came up with three fantastic suggestions. A therapist, a coach, a retreat. Oh, my God. Can you guess, Jorden, what would happen if you suggested just one of those things to Nicole?

[00:49:34] Jorden: Uh, I feel like she would receive that very well.

[00:49:40] Ramit: Yeah. Uh, why don’t we just ask her? Nicole?

[00:49:45] Nicole: That would be– I like option number three. That sounds the best.

[00:49:50] Ramit: Yeah. So what’s funny is that money is not even the thing stopping you from a couple’s retreat. I’m looking at your numbers right now. You have a lot of zeros. You could get a $10,000 couples retreat today. You can write that. It’s not about money stopping you from something like that. Is it? What is it?

[00:50:16] Jorden: Communication.

[00:50:17] Ramit: Yeah. What else? Nicole?

[00:50:21] Nicole: Um, I don’t know. Depends on how long this retreat is. I don’t have much time or flexibility in my schedule. My time is–

[00:50:27] Ramit: Oh, good. We’re already talking about objections. Good. Let’s do that right now. Let’s squash the dream before we even look for it for five seconds. Yeah, that’ll be good. You want to do that? 

[00:50:38] Nicole: No.

[00:50:39] Ramit: No, let’s not do that. Do you think that you could find the time to go on a relationship retreat if it signals to yourself and your partner that your relationship matters?

[00:50:52] Nicole: Yes.

[00:50:53] Ramit: All right. I want to give you a new way of looking at your money and your rich life, which is, if you both believe that this relationship is important to you, then it’s not how much would it cost us in terms of money or time, or I’m worried about not finding the right relationship retreat. It’s, if we don’t do this, what is definitely going to happen? Does anybody want to illustrate that for me? If you don’t change anything, what is going to happen?

[00:51:32] Nicole: We’re going to keep finding ourselves in the same conversations where we really hide the underlying truth and we’re not able to communicate them to each other.

[00:51:43] Ramit: Mm-hmm. And then what’s going to happen?

[00:51:49] Nicole: We fester up what we’re really feeling.

[00:51:53] Ramit: Yeah. And then Jorden, what’s going to happen then?

[00:52:02] Jorden: We end up letting that tear our relationship apart.

[00:52:16] Ramit: Nicole?

[00:52:18] Nicole: Yeah, I agree.

[00:52:20] Ramit: You can’t do this stuff on your own. Any hesitation with anything I just said?

[00:52:30] Nicole: No.

[00:52:30] Jorden: No.

[00:52:30] NARRATION: [Narration]

[00:52:31] Ramit: It’s tempting to think that Nicole and Jorden just don’t see eye to eye, or that they’re just not communicating effectively, or even that one of them has some problem. Maybe those things are true, maybe not, but in my opinion, they’re not the real issue. 

To me, the real issue is that Nicole and Jorden have such radically different worldviews and relationships to money, starting all the way from childhood that they literally see money differently. 

Nicole has been talking about money since she was young. She understands the concepts of long-term planning and saving. And by the way, she happens to be an orthodontist earning $400,000 a year. 

Jorden is a personal trainer who grew up not talking about. His family did not talk about investing or compounding. When I ask him how important this relationship issue is, he says a 10, but when I ask him how he’ll deal with it, he gives me a lot of non-answers.

He makes about 40k a year, and he tells himself he needs to just work harder to earn $200,000 a year. Talking to Jorden, it constantly felt like he was just answering my questions rather than really engaging in the discussion. My dream for Nicole and Jorden is that they can shift from defense to offense. And to do that, they need help.

If it were me, the first step would be coming on the show, which they did. Awesome. The next step would be seeing a therapist and setting up time for some relationship coaching. Third would be getting honest with each other about what they want, what they can contribute, and what rich lives they see for themselves.

Now, I’d like to read you the follow ups from both of them. Nicole said, “As emotionally depleted as I felt after that phone call, it was a catalyst for change that Jorden and I are both taking seriously. My biggest takeaway was realizing the stakes of being quiet with my feelings. Growing up, my examples of conflict resolution were screaming matches of who’s more right, and I vowed to never replicate that for my relationship.

“What I learned is that although I am able to regulate myself from screaming directly at Jorden, I end up keeping my true feelings secret and swallowing it with a shot of contempt. Jorden and I have now made a rule with each other that if we tap out of a conversation to regulate our emotions, we have to come back to each other to discuss and reconnect within 24 hours.

“I was surprised by the depth of the conversation we reached in just a few hours. Leaving the phone call, Jorden and I held to each other silently for a long time with a greater understanding and connection. This call reminded me how fortunate I am to be with an introspective, humble man that is open to continuous growth and gives me the space to do so as well.

“Moving forward, Jorden and I have agreed that if revenue is not on target by the end of Q3 this year, he will look for opportunities to coach again for someone else where he can be paid well for his level of knowledge. 

“We also discussed and started focusing our efforts on opening an orthodontic practice if he takes on the workload of business operations. We also plan to prioritize therapy in our relationship and plan an annual couple’s retreat to somewhere that excites us. Thank you again for your careful preparation with our call and for giving us your time.”

Jorden said, “I took away that I need to be better at verbalizing how I feel in our money conversations rather than allowing my stress to take over and shut down. I was surprised how my mindset around money was exactly like that of my dad’s even though we didn’t talk much about money growing up. I was also surprised by Nicole’s version of our application. I never would’ve guessed she had anything close to that level of concern based on our conversations. 

“And while I wished it hadn’t come, it helped me understand what she was really feeling. We discussed this after and neither of us felt good about me just giving up on my business. We both love the freedom it allows for me to be able to take things off Nicole’s plate while she’s working. And also, while I’ve had my own health and fitness coaching business for a number of years, I’ve only been working on it full-time less than 18 months.

“So we agreed that by the fourth quarter of this year is when I will decide what’s next. If I’m on pace to hit the goal of doubling our client roster from last year, then that’s enough of a sign that business is growing like we want to see. If not, I will use my network to coach for someone else. 

“We also discussed plans for Nicole opening her own practice, and I told her I’m on board to help her with whatever she needs, so that ideally she’d be able to own her own practice and work three days a week while I handled the operational side.

“Finally, “what do I need?” This is hard because I’m not one to ask for anything. I would much rather be the one helping and giving than asking for it. But I guess thinking back on our conversation, I feel what I most need is to feel appreciated. On the call was really the first time I’ve ever heard her express her appreciation for all I did to make our long-distance relationship work in the beginning.

“I flew to New York every month, and then Colorado. Then I moved to Colorado. Then I moved to California. I only get to see my family once or twice a year. I rarely ever get to see friends. This is far from the first place I would choose to live. I did it because she’s worth more to me than anything. 

“But a lot of the times I feel like the compromises I’ve made for our relationship have been taken for granted, and it would be nice to know that the sacrifices I’ve made haven’t been unappreciated.”

I want to thank both of my guests for coming on this episode and the last episode and speaking to me. It is an honor that people come on this show, and they talk to me, and they share their numbers, and their real challenges, and their childhood. 

There is no other show like this. And it is because of you who listen and watch, and it is because of our guests who are courageous enough to come and ask for help. So to all of you, I want to give you a big, big thank you. And I will see you next week.