Episode #96: “We have $4,600 in credit card debt but we spend $600/month on GrubHub”
Jennifer and Andrew are in their 30s with 2 kids. They have been married for 11 years, but they speak different languages when it comes to money, deeply stuck in scripts from contrasting family backgrounds. Can they learn to come together in joy for the sake of their family?
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[00:00:00] Ramit: Well, first of all, I want to thank everyone for watching my Netflix show. It came out a little while ago. It’s called How To Get Rich, and it instantly hit the top 10 on Netflix, which blows my mind. This podcast also became one of the top five podcasts on all of Apple. So a big thank you to everyone who listens to the podcast, who watches it, and certainly those of you who watched the show.
I thought it would be fun to do a little Q&A about the show now that it’s all out there and you’ve had the chance to watch it. So I’m going to be doing a live Q&A on May 11th at 6:30 PM Eastern. I’m going to put all the details in the show notes. Here’s what I want you to do. First thing is to make sure you watch the show all the way through, then submit your questions through the link in the show notes, and finally, come watch live on YouTube. I’ll answer as many questions as I can about the show. Thanks again for watching. How To Get Rich on Netflix.
[00:01:41] Jennifer: We avoid talking about money so often, and a lot of the money conversations that we’re having are actually done in my head. I just go into panic mode because I don’t know exactly what he means. And then I see the tension on his face.
[00:01:54] Andrew: I just need to continue to plow forward. So the excitement isn’t there. I can’t get excited because if I get excited and something happens and we’re not prepared, it’s just going to be that much more crushing.
[00:02:10] Jennifer: I would say that we’re not speaking the same language, and we just don’t see money the same way. So we can’t manage it together.
[00:02:17] Ramit: Jennifer, ask him, “Before today, did you feel like you were in this alone?”
[00:02:24] Jennifer: Before today, and knowing this number, did you feel like you were in this alone?
[00:02:30] Andrew: Yeah. It was hard because if anything ever happened to me or if something happened to me, there was nothing for you guys. And so I would just soldier on, keep moving forward because I didn’t want something to happen and then for you guys to have nothing.
[00:03:01] Ramit: Today, I’d like you to meet Jennifer and Andrew. Jennifer’s 33. Andrew is 37, and they have trouble saving money. She’s a doula, and he’s a police officer. Until recently, she was a stay-at-home mom, but recently she started working and earning more. Now, as you listen to today’s episode, I want you to notice certain phrases that they use. Phrases like “we can’t save money,” or when it comes to Andrew, things like “soldiering on,” really creating the identity of the protector of the family. Someone who just blindly soldiers on. Listen in closely. I think you’re going to find today’s conversation fascinating. And of course, you can watch this entire episode on YouTube so you can see their body language and eye contact. Let’s get to it.
[00:04:30] Jennifer: We avoid talking about money so often, and a lot of the money conversations that we’re having are actually done in my head. Me reading the room and reading body language and being like, oh, okay, I said something about this cost and I saw him react this way, and so I’m just going to back off and maybe not make that purchase or not talk about it again. And so–
[00:04:53] Ramit: You feel exhausted sometimes talking about money or even thinking about money?
[00:04:57] Jennifer: I do. I feel exhausted, and I feel nervous for how he’s going to react. Um, and I’m trying to avoid discomfort because when we talk about money and then things go uncomfortable and weird, I have a really hard time getting us back to a copacetic, just good place. And our conversations around money often are very tense. It’s like we’re speaking different languages.
[00:05:24] Ramit: So because your conversations with money have been tense before, you remember that, and you can even see the signs when you bring it up. He gets a little tense. You get tense, therefore you don’t bring it up at all out loud, but you keep it going in your head. Is that correct?
[00:05:44] Jennifer: Yeah.
[00:05:45] Ramit: Okay. Do you make forward progress with your joint finances using this strategy?
[00:05:51] Jennifer: Not at all. Our general conversations around money are usually me trying to look ahead and look at a big picture of what money is coming in. Andrew likes to look at things, um, in a smaller scale like paycheck to paycheck, and that’s been a big disagreement between us. And it’s been a pattern for long.
[00:06:13] Ramit: Andrew’s shaking his head. How long? How long has it been a pattern for? Couple of months?
[00:06:18] Jennifer: Our entire marriage.
[00:06:19] Ramit: Oh, 11 years.
[00:06:20] Jennifer: Our entire relationship.
[00:06:21] Andrew: My credit card, how much we can pay on my credit card or when it gets paid off is a big one. Um, so me being like, I need to pay more on my credit card, and she’ll be like, yeah, we’ll pay more, but we can’t do that now. I disagree because there are times we have the money, and it’s extra money or I feel like it’s extra money, but it’s going to food, or to maybe a Target purchase, or something the kids need. Um, and sometimes I feel like for me, what I think is an emergency, we need to just get this down, doesn’t become that until we’ve passed that point.
[00:06:57] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Okay. Uh, and Jennifer, when Andrew says, hey, we need to pay more towards this credit card, what’s your reaction?
[00:07:09] Jennifer: My reaction is to go into a fear mode of just like, well, hold on. Wait, what other big bills do we have coming up? What does he mean by that? How much more toward his credit card? What’s the plan? Um, realizing now how vague we are about these conversations.
[00:07:30] Ramit: Why? What do you mean? Tell me what you just realized.
[00:07:34] Jennifer: Well, as he’s saying that, I’m like, oh yeah, that makes sense to me. I don’t know, the way he’s saying it to you is making sense to me now.
[00:07:42] Ramit: Oh, no. I’ve become the guy. You know what happens in couples, they’ve been together a long time and someone’s been saying the same thing for 10 years, and then Mr. Jackass Ramit Sethi rolls in? We’ve been talking for less than 10 minutes. And I haven’t said a word. I haven’t said one single directive thing, and suddenly Jennifer’s like, oh, I totally see what he’s been saying. Now, Andrew’s like, mother, fuck this guy, Ramit. I’ve been saying this for a decade. Did I get that right?
[00:08:10] Jennifer: Kind of. I that the issue is that we don’t often have an actual plan together. That we come together and say, um, I want to pay more on my credit card because this is the payoff plan, and we need to pay this much per month, blah, blah, blah.
[00:08:24] Ramit: You never said that? You never had that conversation? Well, 11 years isn’t that long. Maybe another 11 years you guys can pull out a debt payment plan. Why do you think you haven’t had a conversation like that before?
[00:08:37] Jennifer: I think that coming into these conversations, Andrew would bring it up to me and say, I want to do this much on my credit card, blah, blah, blah, and I just go into panic mode because I don’t know exactly what he means. And then I see the tension on his face. I see his discomfort with the amount that’s on his credit card, and then I put it on myself as like, oh shoot, maybe I messed up here. I need to fix this. We need to talk about it. And then we just get into this weird cycle of energy. It’s almost like cats just circling each other.
[00:09:15] Ramit: Yeah. Eleven years is too long to not talk about money in a healthy way. I’m willing to bet the substance of your money conversations is a lot of walking on eggshells, a lot of feeling each other’s emotions, and less, hey, what is our goal for this conversation, and how can we make it constructive?
[00:09:34] Ramit: Jennifer and Andrew don’t really know what the problem is. When they talk about it, they lapse into very vague language, like it’s all about the communication, but when I press them, it’s clear they don’t really understand what’s going on here. And that’s actually okay. Most of us don’t understand the root problem. That’s often why we need somebody from the outside to come in and help us see what’s really going on.
What’s interesting to me is that our minds create these compelling narratives that we then latch onto. We may tell ourselves, he always spends too much, she doesn’t want to talk about finance, but when we dig deeper, those are often not reality. In other words, our minds is very good at creating narratives, but our minds doesn’t always tell us the truth.
One big clue is that their conversations often go in circles, and they end up in the weeds. For example, they spent two hours doing the conscious spending plan, which really should take no longer than 30 minutes. I want to keep probing with them to see if they can realize what’s really going on, because it’s much more powerful if they get it, instead of me coming and telling them what’s going on.
[00:11:44] Jennifer: I would say that we’re not speaking the same language and we just don’t see money the same way. So we can’t manage it together.
[00:11:51] Andrew: I am very analytical when it comes to money, um, and she sees it differently. It’s more fluid. It’s loose. She can look at money a month out, and I’m stuck looking at money like, this is this paycheck, this paycheck goes to this paycheck. My money constraint is very tight.
[00:12:20] Jennifer: I think that’s where some of the tension comes in because when we’re talking about money, it’s like we’re talking about it in different ways. He’s looking at exactly what has come into his account that day from his paycheck, and I’m thinking, I have a client that’s going to pay me next week, and I know that for next month I’m projected to make this much, and I could make more. And that means we could actually take– maybe we don’t have to pay this specific bill right now and drain our– we can actually pay this bill in this chunk, in this way. We have this much for groceries. We don’t have to worry. We’re okay.
[00:12:51] Ramit: Oh, are you seeing Andrew’s face right now?
[00:12:54] Jennifer: I was looking at you so I wasn’t.
[00:12:56] Ramit: Andrew, can you just– I mean, what’s going through your mind right now? I see your face.
[00:13:01] Andrew: Oh, it’s the late fees. It’s the higher interest rate. It’s, we’re going to end up spending more money because we didn’t pay it off when it was due. It’s the fact that our credit’s going to take a hit.
[00:13:17] Ramit: Which means what, if your credit takes a hit?
[00:13:20] Andrew: It means we can’t get a better credit card. We can’t move if we need to. If we need to make a big purchase, we can’t do that because our credit’s shot. Our credit is already not good.
[00:13:33] Ramit: Okay. Andrew, did you grow up poor?
[00:13:37] Andrew: Upper middle class.
[00:13:39] Ramit: Upper middle class.
[00:13:40] Jennifer: A little more than.
[00:13:42] Ramit: What’s that? I always love the partner. Oh, okay. So you grew up wealthy, but you’re saying upper middle class, is that right?
[00:13:54] Andrew: My mom made probably $120,000 a year.
[00:13:59] Ramit: In what year?
[00:14:01] Andrew: The 90s, early 2000s.
[00:14:05] Ramit: Uh, okay, and in what city?
[00:14:07] Andrew: Uh, the Bay Area,
[00:14:09] Ramit: Okay. I have to look at the exact terms, but okay. Upper middle class to wealthy. Fine. And, uh, Jennifer, is there any other reason smiled? Do they own a yacht or something that we should know about?
[00:14:24] Jennifer: Well, I mean, they definitely had money. I mean, he never even had to take out a student loan to go to school. But I also understand too, there’s some nuance there. She didn’t always manage her money well, but they had money. They definitely had things.
[00:14:37] Andrew: We didn’t talk about money. It was a lot of my mom waiting to pay bills until she got paid.
[00:14:44] Ramit: Why, making 120k?
[00:14:47] Andrew: Spending money on other things. It wasn’t food. It was like, there were a couple times where the power went out, or–
[00:14:53] Ramit: Okay, hold on. Did she grow up poor?
[00:14:55] Andrew: No.
[00:14:57] Ramit: She also grew up– something is missing from this puzzle. Okay. She grew up with money.
[00:15:03] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:15:04] Ramit: Okay. Now I got to figure this out. She grew up, she got a nice job, made 120k, which is great, and how come the power went out, and she was trading stuff for food? Why?
[00:15:19] Andrew: She mismanaged money. So both me and her grew up in environments where we did not want. So if she needed something or we needed something, without thinking about it, she would just pay for it. Or her favorite place, she would travel a lot. So she’s paying for big trips not looking at accounts. They’re like, ooh, there’s a new car. I’m going to buy that new car right now.
[00:15:42] Ramit: Was she the only kid or was she spoiled?
[00:15:45] Andrew: She was very spoiled.
[00:15:47] Ramit: Ah. Okay. Got it. So she was spoiled, so money was given to her, etc. How long was money given to her? While she was making 120k, was her family still giving her money?
[00:15:59] Andrew: Yes.
[00:15:59] Ramit: Okay. Starting to make more sense now. So they covered things arbitrarily, randomly. Got it. Was that the same for you?
[00:16:08] Andrew: Yes.
[00:16:09] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Did you still get money from your family?
[00:16:12] Andrew: No.
[00:16:13] Ramit: No. Why did it stop?
[00:16:17] Andrew: Because I’d married Jennifer.
[00:16:19] Ramit: Ah. Hold on. Did it stop because you said, okay, I’d like you to stop, or did they say, all right, we’re done?
[00:16:26] Andrew: They said, all right, we’re done. And me and Jennifer worked hard to a get to a point where we didn’t have to take money anymore.
[00:16:32] Ramit: Congratulations. That’s awesome. That’s really cool.
[00:16:36] Jennifer: I remind him all the time how proud I am of us. Um, I think we’ve come a really long way. We’re talking about how vague and stuff we are now and the problems we’ve had, but we’ve come a really, really long way.
[00:16:46] Ramit: That’s cool. Andrew, what about you? How do you feel about that?
[00:16:50] Andrew: I don’t think I’ve ever taken a moment to celebrate it.
[00:16:53] Ramit: But the fact is, you have created your own family unit. That takes autonomy, takes intention. I think that’s really cool.
[00:17:02] Andrew: Thank you.
[00:17:03] Ramit: So many of us go through life never stopping and celebrating how far we’ve come. For most of us, money is just one series of transactional decisions after another. Pay that bill, repair the car, pick up Saran Wrap at Target, should we buy a house? And it’s no surprise that if we agonize over the price of Saran Wrap at Target, that we are probably stuck in the weeds, and we are not zooming out and looking at the big picture.
But the big picture is where you get the big wins. And it’s not just life that does this to us. We do it. We actively choose to talk about tiny little expenses that are overall meaningless because it gives us a sense of comfort. It gives us a sense of control. And one of my entire goals with everything I do is to help you see that these $3 questions are ultimately meaningless. You can spend the rest of your life chasing $3 questions, and it will get you nowhere, or you can totally reconceptualize the way you think about money, and ask $30,000 questions, and start focusing on things that really matter.
And there’s one other thing when it comes to talking about the big picture versus $3 expenses. If you focus on $3 expenses, I can almost always guarantee you feel bad about money. And if you feel bad about money, how are you ever going to step back and appreciate it? So there are lots of ways to feel good about money. Part of it is understanding your numbers. You’ve got to know your numbers, your fixed expenses, all that. But you’ve also got to talk about money regularly, proactively, and positively. If you can do those two things at the same time, you are on a very good track to having a healthy relationship with money.
[00:19:52] Ramit: What’d you make at your first job?
[00:19:54] Andrew: $2,000 a month?
[00:19:56] Ramit: What? Really? What was it?
[00:19:57] Jennifer: It’s 2,000 now. You made a 1,000 a month because our rent was 800, and I had 200 to try to pay for groceries, and diapers, and stuff.
[00:20:04] Andrew: Oh, even less than that. So it’s a $1,000 a month.
[00:20:07] Jennifer: We started off our relationship, essentially, in survival mode. Neither of us was, um, really making any money. I was living in a Buddhist monastery as a live-in chef, so I was basically just working to live there. And he was a student. And, um, blessedly, his mother was able to pay for him to just go to college. So that was great. But his whole job was to be a student, so we were not making any money.
[00:20:29] Ramit: So that’s how you started off your relationship? Were you married at the time?
[00:20:33] Andrew: No.
[00:20:33] Jennifer: We were engaged, so we had a baby really early in our relationship. Um, had a premature baby at home, and he right away went and got that job, and, um, we had to get on food stamps. And I had $200 to try to figure out gas, diapers, food, and we’d take that other 800, put it to rent. And we did that for a little while until we finally got a raise, which I think then got to about, um, maybe that 2,000 you’re thinking of.
[00:21:01] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:21:01] Ramit: Hold on a sec. I have so many questions. So I have to ask, you’re on food stamps now, did you think of going back to your family and asking for some financial help?
[00:21:14] Andrew: They helped every now and then.
[00:21:17] Jennifer: Yeah. My family, it was normal for them.
[00:21:19] Ramit: Hold on. I want to hear from Andrew. So Andrew, what do you mean every now and then?
[00:21:23] Andrew: They would still– if things got really bad, I can call and be like, hey, we need some help. Um, and they would be like, okay, here’s a little bit of money to get you through.
[00:21:32] Ramit: What does really bad mean? And how much would they give you?
[00:21:34] Andrew: Really bad is we are short 600, so they give us 600, or we have a bill we can’t cover. So here’s your bill money.
[00:21:47] Ramit: Okay. Who were you calling?
[00:21:49] Andrew: My mom.
[00:21:49] Ramit: You were calling your mom. And what is her financial situation now?
[00:21:54] Andrew: Uh, she is in debt.
[00:21:56] Ramit: Wow. And did that come about from pure mismanagement?
[00:22:01] Andrew: Mismanagement, and she got sick, so she had to deal with all of that.
[00:22:08] Ramit: How is she now health wise?
[00:22:11] Andrew: Uh, she passed recently, so not too– I guess she’s doing a lot better.
[00:22:19] Ramit: That’s one way to look at it.
[00:22:21] Andrew: She’s doing a lot better now.
[00:22:22] Ramit: I’m sorry to hear that. Um, okay. When she passed, in terms of your own finances, did it affect your finances at all? Was there an inheritance or anything like that?
[00:22:37] Andrew: As it stands right now, she still owes money, so we are trying to figure out how we’re going to cover that cost.
[00:22:45] Ramit: Jennifer, I want to go back to you now, rewinding back to those early moments where you just had a baby and sometimes you couldn’t cover your costs, you said that was normal for my family. What did you mean by that?
[00:22:59] Jennifer: Yeah. Well, I was thinking about your question, did you go to ask for help from your family? For my family, if I were to tell them, oh my God, we’re really struggling, or I can’t afford diapers, they probably would’ve been like ha ha. Cute, huh. That’s how we do it. That’s what life is. Um–
[00:23:14] Ramit: Uh, does that mean–
[00:23:14] Jennifer: Blue collar family. It was just like, oh, this is how it is. This is how it is to have a baby. This is how it is to have life. Um, I don’t have much to give you.
[00:23:26] Ramit: Join the club.
[00:23:27] Jennifer: Join the club. Yeah.
[00:23:28] Ramit: Did you grow up hearing this? Is that the message you received growing up, that life is tough and that’s how it is?
[00:23:35] Jennifer: Definitely.
[00:23:36] Ramit: Yeah. Uh, how did you grow up?
[00:23:39] Jennifer: Um, definitely pretty poor. Um, my mom and dad split when I was just a little tiny baby, and she remarried to a guy who was great, grew up as my dad, and he was a very blue-collar guy. He ended up starting his own company, um, but he also owed child support, so a huge chunk of his check would get taken out. So my mom was very resentful of that. We were super broke. She used to count the slices of bread to make sure we got the whole thing.
[00:24:04] Ramit: Really? Hold on. Don’t skip over that. I don’t think people know what you mean by count the slices of bread. Can you explain that?
[00:24:12] Jennifer: To make sure that she was getting the best deal for the 99-cent bread. She had to count and see how many slices there were to make sure there was enough to get us through the week. And could she afford this 99-cent bread, or did she have to try to maybe– yeah, maybe one night bread and butter would be a side dish, so she’d be like, can I get two fluffs of bread so that we can have some for a side dish?
[00:24:34] Ramit: So we’re talking about pretty poor.
[00:24:37] Jennifer: Very poor, and it changed– it was interesting because as I grew, it changed pretty rapidly. So my dad started his own company, he became a general contractor, and when I was getting into my preteen years, he started doing really well. And so we went from very poor to a bit better, but still didn’t have the things my friends had. No new shoes, nothing like that. But we’re doing good. There’s food on the table. And my parents are looking pretty happy.
And then he did really good and he bought all the toys, the big trucks, the RV, they built a house. We lived in our RV where they built their own house. It was their dream coming true. And then the recession hit, and right after I was graduating high school, and he lost everything and had to file for bankruptcy.
[00:25:21] Ramit: No way.
[00:25:22] Jennifer: And then I had a baby. I was terrified because I already didn’t get a lot of help from them. I’d already been pretty independent. I’d been working for myself since I was 15. Um, but I had moved away to the Bay Area where I met Andrew. And, um, I was also losing everything at that time. I was not managing my money very well or trying to put myself through school while working because they couldn’t support me to do either.
So I was working full-time, going to school full-time, and I was not able to pay my rent. And my landlord, uh, told me I had to get out, and so I had nowhere to go. And I knew they couldn’t help me and I didn’t want to put a burden on them or tell them how bad it was for me. So I just let them know everything was okay, and that I was doing fine. And I just kept pushing forward like, I need to just finish school. And I did. And then I found that job living in that Buddhist monastery. So it was like–
[00:26:17] Ramit: I have a question. You were about to be homeless, and you didn’t want to bother your family. Where did you learn that lesson from?
[00:26:28] Jennifer: From them.
[00:26:29] Ramit: Where?
[00:26:30] Jennifer: Um, well, very direct– I mean, my parents, when they were struggling, when they were their worst, sometimes, um, we had, uh, sheets instead of doors hung up in the doorways. And I just remember my mom saying, so proud, we never ask for help from anyone. We don’t have to ask for help. I had very, um, wealthy grandparents and she’d be like, we would never do that.
I think they were just proud. It would mean that they were less than. It would mean they weren’t trying hard enough. It would mean that– yeah, I don’t know. They had a pride about it. They put their shoulders back and we’re just like, we never have to do that. We had other family members that would ask for help and they’d, ugh, they asked for money. It’s not good.
I felt like, um, I felt proud of myself actually for asking for help because I had that little baby, and I felt like I was breaking a cycle. I felt like, no, she needs better than this. And I knew that it was something that would support us. And I knew that there would be a little bit of embarrassment. And I knew that some people would feel a certain way about it, but I felt a lot of energy.
I remember going down to the offices, and it was hard to take a newborn down to those offices and sit in those chairs, and I felt proud of myself. I would pack her up a little bag, I would get her little snacks, and I was just like, I’m doing this for you. And I felt good about it actually.
[00:27:56] Ramit: I love hearing what you just said. I love it. You said, “I felt proud.”
[00:28:02] Jennifer: Yeah.
[00:28:03] Ramit: You were not going to take any shit. You had a mission. It was going to happen. I think we can apply some of that same stuff here.
[00:28:12] Ramit: Honestly, it’s amazing to hear Jennifer’s story with her baby. She had a mission. She had something that had to get done, and she did it. She was not going to let anybody get in her way. Personally, I find that very inspiring. And what I’m thinking as I’m hearing this is, how can I connect that mission to where she is right now with money?
This is what people do when the stakes are high. They often rise to the occasion. And so what I’m thinking as I’m hearing this is, how can I get someone like Jennifer to connect her feelings in that moment with her baby, her behaviors that she took where she didn’t allow anyone to get in her way, and her accomplishments all the way to where she is right now with her money?
One of the things I try to do is help people connect a part of their lives where they are winners, where they have intensity, and results, and accomplishment, and pride, and I help them translate it over to their finances. And this is important to me because in the area of finance, a lot of us feel lost and overwhelmed even though we may be winners in other parts of life. So to me, it’s a gift to be able to show people, you’ve already done it over here. You know how to do it. It’s inside of you. Now let’s just shift the view and do that same thing for our finances.
Most of us have at least one example in our lives where we were winners, where we were fearless, where nothing could get in our way. Jennifer had it, but she struggles to do the same with money. From my perspective, I actually think this is a really positive thing because I know she has the ability to focus and drive something until it gets done. Now it’s just a matter of translating that over to money.
On a side note, it still absolutely blows my mind that people listen to this podcast and then they go right back onto Twitter telling everyone, you should pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Success is all about trying hard.
Jennifer grew up with her mom counting the slices of bread they got from the store. They put sheets over their doors because they didn’t have doors. And my taxes and your taxes go towards helping people in Jennifer’s situation feed her baby. That is why I have zero insistence for people who say, I shouldn’t be taxed at all. Taxes are too high. And I want higher taxes on the rich, including me. Now, back to Jennifer and Andrew’s story.
[00:31:27] Jennifer: I think something I’ve been seeking and looking after is I’m looking for that sense of excitement, that sense of fun and joy, and I do feel like sometimes I’m a little bit obnoxious in my joy, and excitement, and celebrations. And I’m realizing now, what I’ve been looking for is for Andrew to be the one to have that excitement and that boost too. And that’s maybe a little unfair, but I’m just having that realization of, I’m tired of being the one that’s constantly pushing forward and finding the mission for us because we tend to not talk about it.
[00:32:00] Ramit: Why don’t you two talk to each other right now? I’ll just listen.
[00:32:02] Jennifer: Okay. I think that’s what I’m realizing, is I’m looking and hoping for you to also just take some, um, just have some excitement and take some authority and just step in and help me with this mission and help me move us forward.
[00:32:25] Ramit: Andrew.
[00:32:27] Andrew: So there’s missing pieces to this. So, um, it’s four years now. Four years ago, she had leukemia, so we’ve been dealing with that. So my–
[00:32:40] Ramit: Jennifer did?
[00:32:41] Andrew: Jennifer had leukemia.
[00:32:42] Ramit: Oh, okay. I didn’t know that.
[00:32:42] Andrew: Yeah. So she’s in remission. So, um, my goal has just been keep plowing forward.
[00:32:52] Ramit: Hmm.
[00:32:53] Andrew: If we need something, just plow forward.
[00:32:55] Ramit: Because what? Plow forward because?
[00:33:02] Andrew: If she gets sick again and we don’t have insurance, or if we don’t have enough to cover the cost of medications, or if we don’t cover the cost of a hospital bill, I just need to continue to plow forward, so the excitement isn’t there. I can’t get excited because if I get excited and something happens and we’re not prepared, it’s just going to be that much more crushing.
[00:33:28] Ramit: It sounds like you’re a soldier right now. You’re an infantryman. You’re in battle, and it’s not about excitement, it’s not about feeling good. It’s just about one foot in front of the other, over and over, up that hill. That’s all you got to do. Would that be fair?
[00:33:45] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:33:46] Ramit: Okay. So there’s a time and a place for that. Sometimes we have to go into financial battle. If your partner has leukemia, yeah, I’m not interested in how you feel about your job, uh, you just need to have a job. I respect that. And Jennifer, I’m really thankful to hear that you’re in remission. Now that you’re in remission, do you think it maybe feels like it’s time to re-characterize this from a battlefield to something else?
[00:34:21] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:34:23] Ramit: What would it be? Give me an analogy.
[00:34:27] Andrew: Planting a seed.
[00:34:29] Ramit: Okay. Talk it through.
[00:34:31] Andrew: Starting over and just trying to reestablish a barren wasteland.
[00:34:38] Jennifer: I like the idea of a garden because it takes time too, and attention, and intention.
[00:34:46] Ramit: Give me some more. I want to hear. Time. It takes time, attention, intention. What else, Andrew? What is a garden? What are the implications of a garden?
[00:34:56] Andrew: Patience. Um, you have to take care of it. You can’t just let it go wild. So it needs attention.
[00:35:03] Ramit: Yes.
[00:35:04] Andrew: It needs to be fed. It needs to be looked after. It needs to be fertilized.
[00:35:09] Ramit: Mm-hmm. Does every plant you plant grow 10 feet tall?
[00:35:13] Andrew: No.
[00:35:14] Ramit: Do some of them die?
[00:35:15] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:35:15] Ramit: And is that okay?
[00:35:17] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:35:18] Ramit: Yeah, that’s life. That’s okay. You took a great crack at it. We’ll tweak a couple things. We’ll get some different seeds and we’ll try it a different way. What do you think?
[00:35:28] Andrew: Sounds fantastic.
[00:35:30] Jennifer: I love that.
[00:35:31] Ramit: Okay. I’m getting excited. You’re getting excited. Okay.
[00:35:33] Andrew: That sounds nice.
[00:35:35] Ramit: Okay. So this is cool. We are now rewriting our story together, and each of you has the capability to do this. Sometimes we have stories that we articulate for ourselves. Uh, Jennifer, you explicitly said, “I’m changing the cycle.” That was a story you created and you made it come true.
Amazing. Sometimes we create stories that we never articulate. They just happen. Uh, I’m in battle. I need to keep moving forward. Andrew, that’s a story you told yourself, but you may not have explicitly said it out loud. And now what you two have done is you’ve created a new story together.
[00:36:18] Ramit: What a beautiful metaphor. We started in the weeds, but now they have created a totally different way to look at their finances. Let’s take a look at the numbers. Their assets are $5,000, which includes their truck and van. Their investments are $30,000. Their savings are $2,300, and their debt, including credit cards, SBA loan, and a van 17,300. Their fixed costs are 60%, and their housing is 22%.
[00:37:29] Ramit: Debt payments. This is for your credit card debt, is that correct?
[00:37:32] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:37:34] Ramit: Why do you say it like that?
[00:37:35] Andrew: Because my interest rate is garbage.
[00:37:37] Ramit: 28?
[00:37:38] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:37:39] Ramit: Mm-hmm. And this debt payment, is this the minimum?
[00:37:44] Andrew: It’s like $10 over the minimum.
[00:37:47] Ramit: No, we can’t do that. Okay. All right. Well, let’s talk about that in a minute. Groceries, 716 bucks. How do you feel about that? Everyone got real quiet. What thehell?
[00:38:02] Jennifer: I know. I was waiting to see what Andrew was going to say. I, um, the frivolous little things we get at the grocery store, we could probably cut $50 a week.
[00:38:11] Ramit: 200 bucks a month? Are you serious?
[00:38:13] Jennifer: I would imagine.
[00:38:14] Ramit: Okay. Great.
[00:38:15] Jennifer: Would you think so?
[00:38:17] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:38:17] Jennifer: Would you think so, Andrew? I mean, we’ve got our little things.
[00:38:21] Ramit: Hey. Okay. All right. I’m getting excited. I’ll put that aside. Can you hear the excitement in my voice? We’ll come back to this. Okay. Uh, that’s amazing. Subscriptions are 144. Uh, come on.
[00:38:36] Jennifer: What are all those subscriptions for? I don’t even remember.
[00:38:38] Ramit: Haven’t you some of the ads on my show?
[00:38:41] Jennifer: We need to do that.
[00:38:45] Andrew: No. It’s Netflix. It’s Hulu. It’s Amazon.
[00:38:48] Ramit: Netflix is okay because I have a show on Netflix. Everything else, eliminate that shit.
[00:38:53] Andrew: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO.
[00:38:57] Ramit: Hey, what the hell? How are you having all these things when you have credit card debt? I’m sorry.
[00:39:04] Andrew: No, it’s–
[00:39:05] Jennifer: It’s a fair point.
[00:39:08] Ramit: Thirty, 40, 50 bucks a month is actually really meaningful at this stage. Forty five bucks a month. Fantastic. All right. That’s $245 a month already freed up for credit card debt. That’s a lot. Okay. Finally, your guilt-free spending is 35%. I’m not so sure I believe that. That’s just the money left over. How much do you actually spend on guilt-free spending every month?
[00:39:35] Andrew: It’s food. It’s target. It’s pet stuff.
[00:39:39] Jennifer: Wait, I don’t even really shop at Target. Yeah, ordering on Grubhub because we got tired of that type of stuff.
[00:39:43] Andrew: Well, that would be food. Yeah.
[00:39:45] Ramit: How much do you order? How often?
[00:39:49] Andrew: Two times a week at 50 to $75.
[00:39:58] Ramit: Okay. How much is that?
[00:40:01] Andrew: Uh, that’d be 200 to almost $600 a month.
[00:40:11] Ramit: How do y’all think about that? What’s that look on your face, Jennifer?
[00:40:16] Jennifer: I don’t love that. That’s a big number.
[00:40:17] Ramit: I don’t love that.
[00:40:19] Jennifer: I don’t love it. I, um, yeah, I think it’s, uh–
[00:40:26] Ramit: Can I just point something out? $600 a month towards delivery, and you’re currently paying off $110 a month towards your credit card debt.
[00:40:36] Jennifer: I know. It’s really embarrassing.
[00:42:26] Ramit: Well, what I like about this is that it’s a little lighthearted and we’re joking around. What I don’t like is pretty much everything else. Listen, if you have credit card debt, you need to consider that an absolute emergency, a red flag, because if you truly understood the effects of 28% interest rates, you would never let yourself get into that quicksand. Once you get in, it’s very, very difficult to get out.
With credit card debt, it’s an emergency, and an emergency means it’s time to make radical changes, but too few of us recognize that emergency. We get used to paying it, finally, we simply tell ourselves, oh, this is the way it always is. We’re always going to be stuck with credit card debt. No, that’s not the way to do it. You can’t accept that. So I’m begging you to treat it like an emergency and start making radical changes.
No, it’s not. Spending hundreds of dollars on cable and takeout makes no sense to me if you have crippling credit card debt. Now, of course, it’s their money. It’s not mine. They can do whatever they want with it, but you can even hear it in their voices, they don’t even love what they’re spending money on.
By the way, if you’re in a similar situation as Jennifer and Andrew, you’ve got too many subscriptions, you don’t even know what you’re spending on, you’re in credit card debt, we’ve got a sponsor of the show, Rocket Money, who can help you automatically cancel unwanted subscriptions and get a handle on your spending. You can find a link in the show notes or just go to iwt.com/sponsors.
And before we get back to Jennifer and Andrew, I just want to give a big thank you to everyone who listens and uses our sponsors. We are very selective about our sponsors. I want to bring you the best brands out there. And so it means a lot that you support this show, which allows us to create amazing episodes on audio and video by supporting these sponsors. So go to iwt.com/sponsors to see a full list of the brands that we work with and support this show. Thanks again.
[00:46:41] Andrew: How are we going to decide what we need to do– when we should eat out?
[00:46:46] Jennifer: Yeah. I think we’ve been trying to think of ways, anyway, to just have more family time together.
[00:46:51] Ramit: Hold on a second. Sorry to interrupt again. What just happened in that conversational dynamic? Who asked the question and who’s now taking on the burden of answering it?
[00:47:02] Jennifer: I think I’m taking on the– I’m like —
[00:47:06] Ramit: You’re just jumping in to solve–
[00:47:07] Jennifer: Coming in with an answer.
[00:47:08] Ramit: Yeah. And, um, don’t you want to have a little bit more equal representation?
[00:47:13] Jennifer: Okay. Um, I guess now I’m just more curious about when do you like to eat– is it for fun for you, or is it just to feed us? Or like what is ordering Grubhub for you?
[00:47:33] Andrew: I think for me ordering Grubhub is a time where we can all just breathe. It’s a time where you can relax because you don’t have to cook. The kitchen doesn’t turn into a mess, and so it’s a time just to get a small reset for everybody. So I think when it comes to eating out, we really need to look at the times where we’re really needing a reset or you’re needing a reset, and saving it for those times.
[00:48:02] Jennifer: Okay. Yeah. I was thinking we could make it a family time, but actually Andrew’s way sounds like more of a, um, taking a burden off. So that sounds really good. So I’m like, okay, that sounds better than my idea.
[00:48:19] Ramit: Whoa. That’s the beautiful part about collaborating and being partners in this. You actually get ideas you never knew about, but you have to ask. So I still don’t want you to solve this problem. So, Jennifer, knowing what he just said, how do you want to toss the ball back to him? Something that you struggle with.
[00:48:38] Jennifer: Yeah. Okay. Um, what would that look like for you?
[00:48:49] Andrew: I think that would look like you being the one to determine when we eat out or not, instead of me suggesting, hey, we should go eat out today.
[00:48:58] Jennifer: But that just gave me the ball back. Do you think that maybe you could be the one to do it, and anticipate it, and order it?
[00:49:16] Andrew: I will try. I will put my best foot forward.
[00:49:21] Jennifer: Is it hard?
I don’t know. Um, it’s not something I’ve done. I don’t know what that looks like. Um. Well, I guess this goes into our dynamic because I want to just lay out like, well, you open the app and you–
[00:49:42] Andrew: No, I don’t need you to do that.
[00:49:44] Jennifer: Okay.
[00:49:45] Ramit: Do you want me to step in here?
[00:49:49] Jennifer: Yeah.
[00:49:51] Ramit: Wait, uh, shit, now I’m taking the ball. No, I’m catching myself. I almost did it myself.
[00:49:56] Jennifer: I don’t know any other tools? I don’t know.
[00:49:59] Ramit: Go ahead. Okay. What do you want to say in plain English, Jennifer?
[00:50:06] Jennifer: I guess I just want to say I can show you or–
[00:50:11] Ramit: Oh, so you want to solve the problem yourself. And when you show him, is it possible that he might just go like, oh, I don’t know. You’re so good at this. Why don’t you just do this? I’ll be busy next Thursday. Is that possible?
[00:50:21] Jennifer: It is.
[00:50:22] Ramit: Hmm. That’s so weird. How’d I know that? Okay, so what do you really want to happen? What is the North Star here? Not the intermediary step.
[00:50:30] Jennifer: The North Star would be that he just does it. He just–
[00:50:35] Ramit: Thank you. So why don’t you say that?
[00:50:37] Jennifer: I would really love it if you just did it.
[00:50:44] Andrew: Okay.
[00:50:47] Ramit: All right. That was great. What did you notice about the whole dynamic of what happened in that back and forth? Let’s start with you, Andrew.
[00:50:59] Andrew: It made me have to be accountable, and it was probably one of the clearest conversations we’ve had in a long time.
[00:51:17] Ramit: Why?
[00:51:23] Andrew: Oh. Hmm. That’ll sound real bad when I say it, but I’m going to say it. Because it was concise, so there wasn’t a lot of fluff to get lost in.
[00:51:44] Ramit: Great insight. Jennifer, what do you notice about the conversational dynamic there?
[00:51:49] Jennifer: I’m just so used to taking care of everybody and doing everything for everybody that it’s like a default. It’s just easier to be like, okay, I’ll just handle it.
[00:51:58] Ramit: Hmm. And even if you don’t handle it, you will explain how to open up the app. Then you’ll–
[00:52:06] Jennifer: I’ll walk them through it.
[00:52:07] Ramit: Walk over and up the app. Then you’ll install the thing, and put the password on there, and double check it. All that sound realistic? Look at your face. You’re like, oh, shit. Hegot me.
[00:52:16] Jennifer: I mean, it’s so silly, but it’s so true. It’s really silly.
[00:52:20] Ramit: Yeah. It’s silly, but it’s also not silly. It’s real. So I’ll tell you what I noticed from that dynamic. I thought it was fascinating. The fact that we spent 15 minutes talking about ordering food, to me, is absolutely fascinating. Andrew, you are delegating everything back. You’re tossing the ball right back to Jennifer.
Jennifer, I noticed you’re just instant, jumping in to solve the problem. You haven’t developed the tools at all to be able to say, okay, what do you think we should do? I’m not sure. What do you think? Because if you just jump in to answer questions, you’re now disempowering him, and you’re creating a role that you’re always going to be the one to solve it. Andrew, are you hearing this?
[00:53:04] Andrew: Mm-hmm.
[00:53:05] Ramit: What do you think?
[00:53:06] Andrew: I think it makes a lot of sense.
[00:53:07] Ramit: Yeah. So not judging, not saying anyone’s a bad person, but rather saying, hey, there’s some dynamics here that have been deeply held, and they’re deep grooves, and you can see why even with this simple Grubhub example, it cascades to things like, should we pay, etc.
[00:53:28] Jennifer: Yeah.
[00:53:29] Ramit: I love this tip of the iceberg example. So you told me that you were going to cut back how much on eating out?
[00:53:40] Andrew: I would say half.
[00:53:42] Ramit: Half. So you’re going to save 300 a month there?
[00:53:45] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:53:46] Ramit: Okay, good. That’s 300 there. Plus, you’re going to save how much on your subscriptions?
[00:53:54] Andrew: That was 45, I think.
[00:53:56] Ramit: Yeah. Let’s say 50. Let’s say 45. Forty five, and then, uh, there was how much for the groceries you’re going to save?
[00:54:03] Andrew: A 100.
[00:54:04] Jennifer: I think we said 200 because is 50 a week.
[00:54:06] Ramit: Yeah, 200. That’s, uh, 2, 3, $545. Where else is the rest coming from? How do you cut 800 a month off your guilt-free spending? Andrew’s face just– his eyes went wide. But the factis–
[00:54:26] Andrew: Well, I’m trying to think.
[00:54:27] Ramit: Gosh, if you got that to 1200, I’m just going to tell you, you would have over a $1,000 a month extra money. Is that mind blowing to anybody here?
[00:54:39] Andrew: That would be fantastic.
[00:54:40] Jennifer: It is. I’m literally writing down a little note. Yeah.
[00:54:43] Ramit: You’ll be amazed. Okay, great. And by the way, what are you going to do with all this extra money now? So let’s just pretend it’s 800 bucks a month extra. It’s probably more if you really get dialed in, but let’s say it’s 800. How you going to split it?
[00:54:57] Jennifer: So do we do it by percent, or do we just put everything into one pot, or how are you– now that we’ve said all this stuff, how are you thinking about this?
[00:55:09] Andrew: I would like to drop our debt first and get as close to debt-free as we could be. So I would put the majority of it. In my head it’s save 200 to $150 for guilt-free, the other 600 to 750, car, credit cards, SBA loan. And we can just tick those up on top of what we’re already paying because it’ll drop it faster, and then in the long-run we’ll be saving more money.
[00:55:35] Jennifer: So just make a plan to go hard on the debt.
[00:55:38] Andrew: Yeah.
[00:55:41] Ramit: Andrew, this is where you ask her what she thinks.
[00:55:46] Andrew: How would you like us to split up the extra money we would have coming in?
[00:55:55] Jennifer: I think I’d like to find a number that just feels really comfortable and consistent each month. So I guess it would be whatever that number is.
[00:56:04] Ramit: Push her, Andrew. Push her for a number.
[00:56:07] Jennifer: So we’re talking about 800, right?
[00:56:09] Andrew: Yes.
[00:56:11] Jennifer: Okay.
[00:56:12] Andrew: What I had suggested was $200 for savings, $600 towards debt. To me, savings is different than money we’re going to put towards a vacation as well as if we pay off the debt faster, that money then gets funneled back into our account into guilt-free spending because we no longer have the debt.
[00:56:38] Jennifer: That makes a lot of sense.
[00:56:39] Andrew: If we’re talking about moving money, both for savings, vacation, and debt, splitting those up into three different, oh, I’m going to do it, flower pots–
[00:56:54] Jennifer: Yeah.
[00:56:55] Andrew: Makes more sense.
[00:56:57] Jennifer: When you’re saying, just go for the debt, that way we’ll have that much more to spend on vacations and family.
[00:57:05] Andrew: Yes.
[00:57:07] Jennifer: Okay. I think that does make sense. Although, I mean, my sister did just have a baby, so maybe there’s a middle ground where we could do a very–
[00:57:14] Andrew: So how much would you like to put into savings, put away for a vacation and then have for debt, if you were to split up $800 into three separate pots?
[00:57:34] Jennifer: Thank you, Love, for being patient with me. Um, yeah, this 600 toward debt, and maybe a 100 vacation and a 100 for savings.
[00:57:52] Andrew: Okay. That, to me, is doable.
[00:57:59] Ramit: Whoa. Do we have an agreement?
[00:58:01] Jennifer: I think so.
[00:58:02] Ramit: Okay. Round of applause. I’m taking it before you change your minds. So good. But I love seeing you grapple with this new tool. It’s like you’re learning how to roller blade or something. And it’s like you used to just skate, but now you’re rollerblading and it’s a little unstable. That’s okay. I like that you both had a positive attitude. I like that you were actually joking around with each other, teasing.
Andrew’s like, so what would it be? And he had a big smile on his face. That’s fun. Andrew, great job. You were not the soldier. You were totally the gardener. Oh, okay, you want to put more water, less water? What do you think? You were pushing. You weren’t letting her give you the vague stuff, but you did it with a really cool attitude.
Jennifer, very interesting that just a few minutes ago when you gave, uh, Andrew very direct feedback, I just want you to order the food. And he was like, oh, shit. That’s one of the clearest conversations we’ve ever had. And I saw your face. You had a moment of realization, didn’t you? Where you were like, oh my God, I have not been being direct with him.
So it’s a skill. You’re going to have to learn it. And the two of you have this dynamic, but you can see that it allows you to actually make really good decisions regardless of how long that took. I don’t care. I’ll stay as long as it takes. What I just saw was the two of you having a healthy conversation about money. It was fun even when it got tough. And guess what? You just decided what to do with $800 more per month. That is a win.
[00:59:42] Jennifer: That’s pretty big.
[00:59:44] Ramit: The cool thing about what just happened is there were multiple breakthroughs right there. Did you catch them? The first is that they realized they were spending hundreds of dollars in a way that was not aligned with their rich life. Amazing realization. Number two, they made a decision to change it, and number three, they actually talked and worked together to create a plan.
This is how you do it. Right there. Breakthrough after breakthrough can be the change of their entire trajectory of their financial lives. This is amazing. That is amazing. This is where, by the way, your plan might be different than my plan, but it doesn’t matter. The plan that you can stick with is the plan that’s going to work for you.
[01:00:46] Ramit: Okay, so your total net worth, what do you see?
[01:00:50] Andrew: 20,000.
[01:00:52] Ramit: All right. How do you feel about that? Both of you?
[01:00:55] Andrew: Oh, I don’t like it.
[01:00:58] Ramit: You don’t like it? Why?
[01:00:59] Andrew: I don’t like it. I’m in my late thirties, and that is not a number that should be that low.
[01:01:13] Ramit: What should it be?
[01:01:15] Andrew: I would like it to be– at least have another number in front of the 20,000. In the hundred thousands would be nice, but it’s just 20. See, then it goes back into the old mentality where we had medical bills that were 17 grand. Um, yeah. I think 175 would be nice.
[01:01:42] Ramit: 175,000 would be a nice emergency buffer. Okay. Uh, how do you feel about the net worth, Jennifer?
[01:01:53] Jennifer: I actually feel, um, I feel like the numbers are small, but I feel excited about it because I feel like with the garden thing, we’re just at the beginning, and it just gives me something to work with. And I feel like we have nowhere to go but up and to grow. We’ve been a one income household for a long time.
I’m super proud of us. I’m super proud of the fact that we’ve got some credit card debt, but it’s not that extreme, and we don’t have any other big stuff hanging over our head. So all we have to do is get on the same page, and do our stuff together, and just make a plan of action and let these numbers grow. So I feel a lot of hope when I look at the numbers.
[01:02:32] Ramit: Do you agree, Andrew, that it can only go up from here?
[01:02:35] Andrew: Yeah.
[01:02:36] Ramit: You don’t think it can get worse?
[01:02:40] Andrew: I know it can get worse, but I’m trying to be optimistic.
[01:02:43] Ramit: Hmm.
[01:02:44] Andrew: I stick to what can go wrong usually.
[01:02:47] Ramit: Yeah, but it’s interesting that right now you’re only talking about what can go right. What is that?
[01:02:52] Andrew: I think I’m trying to incorporate the idea of it doesn’t have to always be doom and gloom, trying to put that garden piece in there and be like, all right, it can grow. We can expand.
[01:03:07] Ramit: I like that. All right. Let’s continue looking through the numbers here. I thought this income is pretty interesting. So you’ve mentioned that you’re now a two-income household. Jennifer, you were not working before. Is that because you were sick?
[01:03:19] Jennifer: I was a stay-at-home mom basically from the beginning, only because we couldn’t afford childcare. But being just a very active person, I was never super satisfied with that. So I’ve always had little side gigs. I got sick. And so I was just starting to really work, was sick for a full year. We moved, and then very recently it was like, okay, now this is a thing. Now I’m consistently making money, something we’re both still getting used to. So yeah, it’s a combination of just being a stay-at-home mom. Now the kids are older.
[01:03:50] Ramit: All right. So you run your own business, is that right?
[01:03:52] Jennifer: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
[01:03:53] Ramit: Let’s look at the income. Your gross monthly income, can you, uh, outline it for me?
[01:03:59] Jennifer: Well, both of us together, it’s about 7,500.
[01:04:02] Ramit: Okay, so that’s about 91,000 a year. Did you know that YouTube make $91,000 a year?
[01:04:09] Jennifer: I think it’s so cool.
[01:04:12] Ramit: Yeah. But did you know that?
[01:04:14] Andrew: No.
[01:04:15] Jennifer: I did because I’ve been, um, yeah, just consuming all of your content. And I get excited by writing down the stuff and putting it in the little calculators and being like, oh, this is how much we’ve got.
[01:04:28] Ramit: Jennifer, are you curious why Andrew never knew how much you make?
[01:04:31] Jennifer: I was going to say, I’ve brought it up to you, Love, and tried to say, look how exciting this is, or look how much we’re making now. And, um, yeah. And you were–
[01:04:40] Ramit: Let’s try that again.
[01:04:41] Jennifer: Very tense.
[01:04:42] Ramit: Let’s try that again, because I think you’re telling yourself a story right now. In fact, you’re saying it out loud. I want you to ask him, hey, does it surprise you to know that we make $91,000 a year as a couple? Go ahead.
[01:04:56] Jennifer: Andrew, does that surprise you to know that we make that much money as a couple?
[01:05:01] Andrew: Yes.
[01:05:02] Jennifer: Tell me why.
[01:05:03] Andrew: I think it’s because there are times where we still struggle with trying to pay bills.
[01:05:16] Jennifer: So it doesn’t really feel like that much money.
[01:05:20] Andrew: Yeah.
[01:05:21] Ramit: Keep going, Jennifer, you’re on the right track. I love this back and forth. Keep going.
[01:05:24] Jennifer: Um, yeah. I get what you’re saying, and I don’t really know where to go from here except that, um, yeah.
[01:05:36] Ramit: Let’s pause right there. Andrew, remember what Jennifer asked a few minutes ago what she wanted you to do more of? Can one person create this garden that the two of you want to live in? No. You’ve both got to do it, right?
[01:05:50] Andrew: Yeah.
[01:05:50] Ramit: So step up. Go ahead. She’s asking you a lot of great questions. You’re just answering them like you’re being interrogated. Get in the game.
[01:05:58] Andrew: Yeah. I didn’t know we made that much money. It’s nice to see that we make more than we did in the beginning, and that we are starting to work as a team instead of just an individual.
[01:06:14] Ramit: Mm-hmm. And what does it mean to you, Andrew, that the two of you make 91,000? That must be surprising. It must be shocking. It must be eye-opening. Must make you think about how you’ve been thinking about your money in the past. Talk about all that.
[01:06:36] Andrew: Yeah. It’s really shocking to see that we’re at this point where we’ve never– this is the most money we’ve ever made in our relationship. This is the first time where both of us, outside of– being a stay-at-home mom is a job in itself, um, and is hard, but you’re doing both now.
You’re being a mom and you’re also starting a business, which I’m happy to see you do, because you enjoy what you do. Um, and I’m glad that we’re in this really together. The number doesn’t matter, but I think the realization that I’m not in this alone and trying to build and trying to change the stories that we’ve told each other for ourselves.
[01:07:28] Ramit: Jennifer, ask him, “Before today, did you feel like you were in this alone?”
[01:07:35] Jennifer: Before today and knowing this number, did you feel like you were in this alone?
[01:07:41] Andrew: Yeah. It was hard because if anything ever happened to me or if something happened to me, there was nothing for you guys. And so I would just soldier on, keep moving forward because I didn’t want something to happen and then for you guys to have nothing.
[01:08:10] Ramit: Are there any connections between somebody passing along and nothing being left for them?
[01:08:24] Andrew: Yeah.
[01:08:28] Ramit: Have you made that connection before?
[01:08:31] Andrew: No.
[01:08:36] Ramit: Now that you’re seeing it, feeling it, what comes to mind for you?
[01:08:47] Andrew: I have been very rigid in my routines, in my thinking, and it’s been very weighty trying to take care of– because we had another daughter. So having that mentality of I need to push forward for everybody because if something happens to me or if something happens to my wife, we have to be okay. But knowing that it’s not just on my shoulders is a relief. It’s like a little weight has been lifted.
[01:09:27] Ramit: You ever tell her that before?
[01:09:29] Andrew: No.
[01:09:30] Ramit: Why don’t you tell her right now?
[01:09:33] Andrew: Knowing that we are in this together, I love it because it feels like for the first time I can breathe and that, honestly, if something does happen, I know that we’ll be okay.
[01:09:56] Ramit: Beautiful. What’s striking to me is that just a few minutes ago, Andrew, you had suggested that you would really like to have about $170,000 to feel like you’d be okay. Less than 10 minutes later, here you are talking to your wife and saying, I now realize that we’re in this together, and if something happens, we will be okay. What do you think is going on? What’s the difference?
[01:10:27] Andrew: I’ve taken a step back, and I realized it’s more than just what we’re bringing in, but what we’re bringing to each other.
[01:10:40] Ramit: You see how you two are starting to get more direct with each other now? No more dancing, at least not dancing 10 feet away from each other. We’re starting to come closer. That was actually my metaphor, by the way. I was thinking maybe you would go with the dance metaphor, but I love yours. Yours is better actually. But mine, which is I give myself a B minus, was dancing.
And the way I saw the beginning of our conversation was the two of you were dancing around each other, but dancing like each of you was too afraid to approach the other, consumed with what you think the other might do and how they might reject you, and just dancing around each other for hours, or in your case, years.
But now we’ve really unpacked all that stuff. You realize you’re not a soldier. That time period is over. You’re a gardener. The two of you are creating this together, and it’s actually your job to take the ball now and to co-create, to bring it together to the garden. Beautiful. So all jokes aside, I’m really happy that we’ve come through this journey together because this is, uh, potentially changing the trajectory of your lives, together, for generations.
Your oldest, how old is she now?
[01:12:00] Jennifer: She’s 12.
[01:12:01] Ramit: What would your oldest say if I asked her, how do your parents treat money?
[01:12:06] Jennifer: I think she would say they’re learning. It’s a conversation we’ve had a lot lately.
[01:12:12] Ramit: What else would she say? Would she say they have a lot of money?
[01:12:17] Andrew: No. Our two kids are very different. I think the oldest would say money’s scary and it’s fleeting. And the youngest would be like, it’s abundant, and I can save here and there, and then once I have enough, I can go buy something.
[01:12:38] Ramit: Hmm. What do you think the effects are of your oldest saying that money is scary and fleeting?
[01:12:46] Andrew: I mean, we can see it. She’s always looking to make more money, so she’s already in that trap of I need to make more. I don’t have enough.
[01:12:59] Ramit: Mm-hmm.
[01:13:00] Jennifer: She worries. Yeah.
[01:13:01] Andrew: She worries.
[01:13:03] Ramit: And Jennifer, what do you think happens as you fast forward through her life, financially speaking?
[01:13:10] Jennifer: Yeah. Probably a very similar dynamic of just not feeling caught up, not really understanding, being afraid of money and not knowing why she’s afraid of money. Just like–
[01:13:19] Ramit: Yes. Very insightful. When you talk about money at home, do you talk about it?
[01:13:27] Jennifer: I do talk about it with the kids.
[01:13:29] Ramit: What do you say?
[01:13:29] Jennifer: Um, well, in the last couple years I started giving them an allowance with the– I said, hey, I’m learning about money and I’m learning new things that I didn’t learn when I was a kid, and so I’m going to give you this allowance, and you don’t need to do anything to earn it, but you have to let me talk to you about what I’m learning.
[01:13:48] Ramit: Wow. Wait. I’m going to a round of applause. That is one of the most sophisticated things I’ve ever heard a parent say to their kids about money. Where did you come up with that? That is so cool.
[01:14:00] Jennifer: I homeschooled them for a really long time, and the way we homeschooled was just a lot of, yeah, just connecting with them. And I think that I just got to a place where I was like, I just didn’t learn this stuff and I just don’t know what I don’t know. And I didn’t want to teach them the wrong thing, so I wanted them to know that if I frame it like I’m learning it, they’ll know that it’s okay if I get it wrong, they can change their minds.
[01:14:26] Ramit: Wow. Beautiful work. That’s very impressive. All right, so she’s a little scared about money. What does she do with her allowance? She saves it all?
[01:14:38] Jennifer: She saves it, and she has, um, big lofty dreams of what she wants to spend it on, so I think she gets discouraged because she’ll see something that’s so– like, um, for a while she wanted a VR headset or a certain video game, but those kinds of things that are very expensive, and she feels already like, oh, I’ll never be able to afford it.
[01:14:58] Ramit: Gosh. I wonder if she absorbs any of that.
[01:15:00] Jennifer: Sure, she does.
[01:15:02] Ramit: Is there a story that you wish she learned about buying these big things that take time to save for? What would that story be?
[01:15:15] Jennifer: I wish that she had learned that it can be really fun to anticipate something, and to plan for it, and to find the joy in it and the preparation of it.
[01:15:26] Ramit: Yes.
[01:15:27] Jennifer: And, um, yeah. How to just do it little pieces at a time in a way that feels good.
[01:15:33] Ramit: Does she listen to the podcast?
[01:15:35] Jennifer: She does sometimes. She said that you were going to yell at us for having a truck, and I said, no, that truck is paid off.
[01:15:40] Ramit: Oh, yeah. I don’t mind the truck at all. I had no issues with that truck. I’ll tell you what, um, she’s listened to the podcast. She knows about me. I want to speak to her right now, just so she knows. My wife and I got married a few years ago, and we decided that we’re going to go on a honeymoon. And planning for that honeymoon was one of the most fun things we ever did.
Planning for it. Not even going on it, but planning for it. We started off, and we said to each other, where do you want to go? And we just wrote it down. And neither of us is very good at geography, so we just wrote down random countries, no idea where some of even are, just wrote them down. Found a little site, you plug them all in.
And I was looking every room. I was researching. Oh my God, this is going to be the view. And this one we get to have, uh, breakfast outside. And we’re almost living it before we ever got on a plane. And so we got to live it multiple times. The first time, together, discovering it, discussing it, getting excited about it.
That was number one. Number two, getting there. We got to live it again. Oh my God, it’s even better than we thought. They have this thing over here. That’s number two. And number three was looking at the photos afterwards. We got to live it three times. So many of us skip right to number two, but we don’t realize that actually some of the most meaningful things are before and after.
And so my dream for your daughter, who I hope is listening right now, is to know that if you want to get that VR headset, you can get the headset. Might take some time. You might have to get creative with how much you earn. You might want to ask your parents if there’s a way to earn some extra money. There’s lots of ways. But you can dream and create your vision for it, and enjoy it almost as much as getting it. And that is a skill that will come to serve you for the rest of your life.
Some of the longer term ones could be going on a family trip. Gosh, this is going to take us two years, but every single month we are all going to put a little bit in here together. And what are we going to do? We’re going to decide together. Do we want to go here? Do we want to go there? Okay, we’re going to go to this place.
What do we want to do the first day we get there? Same as my wife and I did with our honeymoon. Creating that culture, modeling it. Not just letting them hear some guy on a podcast, but actually modeling it for them. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
[01:18:25] Jennifer: Yeah.
[01:18:26] Ramit: How do you think your daughter’s going to take that lesson?
[01:18:33] Jennifer: I hope that she takes it in, and really integrates it, and feels it.
[01:18:36] Ramit: Yeah. It’s hard at 12 sometimes. You want it now. I get it.
[01:18:43] Jennifer: And she’s got a big heart, and she wants things for other people too.
[01:18:47] Ramit: Can you model what being patient looks like for your daughter?
[01:18:54] Jennifer: Yeah. I’m envisioning that now and what that could look like. I think it would be really letting them feel cozy, and happy, and good here where we are.
[01:19:07] Ramit: How would you do that?
[01:19:09] Jennifer: Pouring a lot of love into their room. Letting them change it up a little bit. Fixing up some of the things that have gone old. Um, letting them take some ownership of some of those changes because they’ve gotten older.
[01:19:24] Ramit: Here’s a $100. I want you to decide how you want to make this room amazing.
[01:19:30] Jennifer: See, that would be really fun.
[01:19:32] Ramit: And where would that a $100 come from?
[01:19:37] Jennifer: Our guilt-free spending.
[01:19:39] Ramit: Yeah. Exactly. The money that is spent mindlessly on Grub hub can be used to create a magical room for the kids, but more importantly, to totally recalibrate your relationship with them and teach them a lifelong lesson about money.
[01:19:55] Narration: [Narration]
[01:19:59] Ramit: Very, very interesting episode today with Jennifer and Andrew. I’d like to read you their follow ups that they send me. Take a look. Jennifer said, “What I found most surprising was how comfortable we had gotten in our dynamic of Andrew passing the ball to me and then me responding by simply just doing everything for everyone.
“That is not the kind of person, wife, or mother I want to be, and I saw clearly how it had disempowered my husband. Without clear and concise communication, we can’t be partners and make decisions together.” Her major takeaways. “I really understood the need for being clear and direct as well as slowing down and giving room for Andrew to offer his ideas.
“My hope for our call was for Andrew and I to be a team. Last night, we were incredibly busy. We knew we needed to update the CSP for you and get ready for the week. Without being asked at all, Andrew planned out and made dinner for the family. With that off my plate, I was able to take the dog for a walk and then sit down at the table and talk about our CSP together.
“It was the most relaxed, fun, and mature conversation we might have ever had about our finances. I feel excited for the future, and we have truly begun a new chapter of our lives. We didn’t get deep into it during the call, but today is the exact five-year anniversary of my leukemia diagnosis, and I want to acknowledge how grateful I am to you for the role you’ve played in helping me to heal a part of my life that has felt very confusing and difficult.
“I had a bone marrow transplant that same year I was diagnosed. While I was living in the hospital in isolation, I was looking ahead to the life I wanted to live, and I knew that finances played a big role in that. I read your book when I got home with the intention to make big changes in my life. One big piece of the puzzle that was missing, for me, was doing this with Andrew. “I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge or words to get us on the same page, and suddenly we are. I can’t adequately express what that means to me or how that feels. Thank you.”
Andrew says, “The thing I found most surprising was how ineffective our communication had become, and that we both believed we were talking effectively to each other. My major takeaways were that we need a visual for our money and how we plan to use it that we can both understand and relate to.
“The gardening visual is a tool that both of us can see easily and clearly. We also need to stop tiptoeing around what needs to be said and say it. Both me and Jennifer need to share the load and not fall into old patterns that we had from past experiences. We need to celebrate our wins with each other and not just relive and rehash the struggles we had earlier in our relationship.”
I want to give a big thank you for everyone who listens and watches this podcast. Please go to YouTube and follow us there. Follow us on Spotify and Apple as well, and get on the newsletter on my website and all social media because we post different clips and different material from all of the I Will Teach You to Be Rich philosophy. I’ll see you next week.