Episode 8. “My wife is spending too much money”

Natalia and Andres

Date: Sept 7, 2021

Natalia prioritizes experiences over finances. She doesn’t want to miss out on life, so if she wants to visit her family, she doesn’t wait to check their budget — she gets on a plane. Andres, on the other hand, worries about money. He remembers growing up without money and doesn’t want to go back there again. He’s pushing to save, invest, and anticipate what’s coming around the corner – especially now that they have a son. 

They’ve both become used to only talking about money in the heat of the moment. Because of their different perspectives on money, they’ve adopted roles in their relationship: Natalia says she’s the overspender, while Andres is the worrier who tries to tamp down on spending.

This is a classic push and pull role you see in so many couples. But as I dig in, you’ll discover some fascinating reasons behind the roles they’ve given themselves.

Listen as I flip the switch on Andres’s approach to the conversation he’s having with Natalia. What if “we can’t afford to go away” turned to “what trips would you like to plan for the future?” What if money planning was part of a planned conversation instead of a heated clash? What if talking about money was based on possibility instead of scarcity? 

Listen in to this conversation with Natalia and Andres.

If you and your partner have a money issue and you want my help, I occasionally select a few couples to work with, free of charge. Sign up for my newsletter to be notified whenever I’m taking applications.

Episode Transcript

Download PDF of the transcript here.

Natalia: [00:00:03] I don’t care about the numbers if I want to visit my family or if it’s mother’s birthday. I know that we have the money and it’s priceless to visit our family.

Andres: [00:00:15] It frustrates me a lot, because given the current circumstances that we are in, the only one of the two of us that is able to pay for this kind of things is myself. So, it’s challenging when the discussion ends on emotional things, it’s difficult to respond. For example, you don’t want the best for our child, and it is not true.

Natalia: [00:00:38] I hate to have the discussions about money when he’s so frustrated, because I don’t like this.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:45] Natalie and Andres don’t agree on money. Now, the short version is that she spends a lot and he worries about money, but there’s a lot lurking beneath the surface. Just listen to this.

Andres: [00:00:57] It’s that feeling of I don’t have enough to just pay for lunch.

Ramit Sethi: [00:01:05] I understand that fear, but you have a household income of around $300,000. Welcome to I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I’m Ramit Sethi. Today’s couple, Andres and Natalia, used to live in Chile on very good salaries, but now, they live in Mexico and Natalia’s income has gone down 35%. Natalia is a spender. She admits it. If she thinks it’s important, like visiting her family, then she’ll spend without thinking twice. Andres, who earns most of the family’s disposable income, is the total opposite. He’s scared of their spending, really scared.

Ramit Sethi: [00:01:46] He’s the one who’s saving, the one who’s earning more, and the one who’s worrying about their future. Now, I could sit here and show them some stupid compound interest chart, and tell them they’re earning enough, and it’s fine to spend money on the things they love, and that would not change a thing. Natalia would continue spending and Andres would continue being worried. And that’s not even the real issue anyway. The issue that the two of them don’t see money the same way is much deeper. And neither of them know why. Let’s listen in today as we try to spot the clues.

Andres: [00:02:25] I am the one that earns the most right now within the relationship, but I’m also, because of my background and the things that I lived in childhood, I am also the one who’s the most concerned with having enough investments, having enough savings. I’ve gone through certain situations where I didn’t know where my next meal would come. And so, that has taught me that I need to plan for certain things, even if they don’t happen, like losing a job or having another source of income. So, I think what I would like her to understand, it’s, my stress regarding money is not because I’m only and solely focused on money, but rather I know what it is and how it feels to be without money. And it’s a feeling that I really don’t want to have again.

Natalia: [00:03:18] I think one of the biggest difference between the both of us is that I’m probably more impulsive and I’m just sensitive about, oh, our family needs this, or the baby needs this, or I need to help my parents, because, well, part of the way we were raised, my parents, they were regular employees with a job that worked so much to give me the best. I’m an only child, Andres has three siblings.

Natalia: [00:03:49] And so, that’s the biggest difference, one that I didn’t have too much at home, but my mom was always so positive that we’re going through all of this, and you will figure out, if you’re a good person, you will get it. So, for me, yes, I know we need to save, we need to invest, but I care so much about the time that we spend together or the time that he’s with the baby. So, he’s more rational, I’m more emotional.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:22] Notice the words used. Natalia says she’s more sensitive, and impulsive, and emotional, and she uses those as negative words. Now, ask yourself, what does someone get out of describing themselves in a negative way, and then continuing to do the same thing over and over? Think back to college, when half your friends bragged about how lazy they were and how little sleep they got, bros, it’s crazy last night, I only slept two hours, it’s so insane. What do you think they got out of that? Well, the same dynamic is at work here, and I’m willing to bet there’s an added wrinkle of some cultural elements as well.

Natalia: [00:05:07] Now that we became parents, I’m so worried about education plan for our kid. He is one year and eight months. And we’ve been discussing this before he was born. And I talked to a lady that she has this insurance thing, because I’m more worried about what happens if we die before he’s 18.

Andres: [00:05:29] And the reason why we got into this conversation is I know that there are some limitations to the way I communicate and I am the rational of the two. So at some point, badgering with data is clearly not getting the message, and I’m fully aware of that.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:49] Notice that. It’s not just Natalia using labels, it’s also Andres. So, now, we have a three-part dynamic. Imagine a triangle. We have how Natalia describes herself. We have how Andres describes himself. And we have the roles they’ve created for each other. Most people aren’t even aware of these dynamics. So, they spent 40 years attacking the symptoms. She spends too much. He’s always worried about money. But until you understand these dynamics, you’re only tackling the symptoms, not the real root cause.

Andres: [00:06:28] How would you characterize what happened in that conversation about the insurance for your son? I think it’s a decision based out of fear. I don’t think it’s a bad idea imagining the worst case scenario, but it’s being hijacked by your emotions and being offered a solution by someone who understands that fear. There is an industry specific to cater to those fears, and that’s what they’re doing.

Andres: [00:06:56] They’re selling to the fear of loss. It also frustrates me a lot given the current circumstances that we are in, the only one of the two of us that is able to pay for these kind of things is myself. So, it’s challenging when the discussion ends on emotional things, that, of course, it’s difficult to respond. For example, it’s that, you don’t want the best for our child and it is not true.

Andres: [00:07:26] But it’s a matter of defining, what do you consider what is the best for our child? I also stood my ground in the sense that I wasn’t going to pay for that insurance. And unfortunately, sometimes that the decisions also, it ends when a conflict unresolved. We’re a married couple, and if you let these things like add up through time, right now, it’s not something that is causing a lot of pain, but in two years’ time, three years’ time, this will cause a lot of pain.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:57] Yeah. I think that’s really savvy of you to acknowledge that this is a problem, not a huge problem, but a problem. But if you continue going on with one child, maybe you grow your family, maybe you move another location, salaries change, this turns into something quite serious. And when I speak to couples who are older and they are at the verge of divorce, it never started there. It started 20 years prior, disagreeing about who pays for dinner, and it just calcified overtime.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:36] So, I think it’s great that you’re talking about this now. Just a quick side note, that insurance offer was almost certainly a scam. In fact, here’s a couple of rules of thumb for insurance. If your financial advisor sells you a whole life insurance, it’s almost always a scam. If someone tells you insurance is a great investment, it’s almost always a scam. And if someone tries to sell you fucking insurance on a playground, it’s a scam.

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:07] By the way, if you’re an insurance salesman firing up your keyboard, about to send me some angry message about how your insurance policy provides a real value, and guaranteed returns, and a death benefit, and all your other bullshit, just send your email straight to the trash at iwillteachyoutoberich.com. I’ll be sure to take a look at that. Okay. Where were we?

Natalia: [00:09:27] I know that I have less income, and because I work for an airline firm, it’s so easy to say, oh, let’s go to Miami next weekend, oh, let’s go to Bogotá in two weeks. And I don’t care about the numbers if I want to visit my family or if it’s Andres’s mother’s 65 birthday. So, I know that we have the money, it’s probably $500 that I know that we have, and it’s priceless to visit our own family and have some time together.

Natalia: [00:10:00] For him, it’s $500 that we should pay to this debt. And you think that we have so much money, but if you see our savings, it’s not that big. I will say, oh, you will see your nieces, or our son, his name is Alejandro, so I will say, oh, Alejandro will have some time with his cousins. So, at the end, he will say, yes, but if we have a sort of fight, he will say, we spent this money going to Colombia and you said it will be $500, but then we end up paying for dinners, and you bought more clothes for him, and it’s not a nice conversation, but at the end, I was so happy that we had a good time with our families, that after this crazy year, I really appreciate that.

Natalia: [00:10:50] I know that he cares about his family, but he went to study to Australia, and he said, I don’t care if I don’t see them two years. I’m an only child. My parents are almost 70. They just have one grandson. I really want them to see him every three months or every six months, because I work for an airline, and if I don’t have the best salary in the world, at least I can get these tickets, business class. And so, it’s not that terrible to go to Colombia. I know that I should be more rational on that side, but for me, it’s so hard.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:28] I know, I know. Half you guys want to create a 30-page spreadsheet and shove it towards Natalia, saying, hey, look at the numbers, let’s make a conscious spending plan. The solution is not in a spreadsheet. Just think about how most people would approach this. Hey, Natalia, we really need to create a budget. Yeah. Okay. Whatever. I want to see my parents. Budgets don’t work—well, actually, budgets don’t work, period. But even conscious spending plans from chapter four of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a New York Times bestseller, don’t work if both of you don’t agree why you’re creating one. Watch. You can tell from what Natalia says.

Natalia: [00:12:09] And when we were doing this exercise for you, I think we have a budget, and we have to talk about how much we have in rent and everything, but when I realized that we earn $300,000 and we just saved less than around 1%, 2%, 5%, which is nothing, I got nervous about it. And I think that’s what Andreas wanted me to do, that I would be conscious of what we’re doing, and they are saying that last year, I was about to lose my job, and he was so nervous, he said, okay, if you lose your job, we need to change the apartment, we cannot live here. What are we going to do? We have so many expenses, if we don’t have your income, this is not the quality of life that you want, but we can’t have it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:00] Where you realized, wow, we are more precarious than I had realized. 

Natalia: [00:13:08] He said, you see? That’s what I have tried to tell you for so long, but you don’t listen to me.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:16] Have you ever said no to an opportunity because of money?

Andres: [00:13:21] She said for the first time yesterday, I was ecstatic of joy, I couldn’t believe it, I was like, okay, I didn’t say anything, but it was the first time since I’ve been together with her.

Natalia: [00:13:34] I’m trying to be more conscious, because my son and my birthday on August, and we also went to Colombia in June, and he said like, it’s so much money, we cannot have both trips. Okay. I will say no to Colombia in June and let’s wait for August. And what we could do is that we can bring my parents, and that’s like the best of both worlds, that we’ll have some time with families, but we are not traveling, so we’re spending much less if we’re staying here.

Andres: [00:14:04] What did that feel like?

Natalia: [00:14:06] It felt good that at the end, I’m going to see my parents and they’re going to see his grandson, but I was more conscious about the money that we were going to spend there.

Ramit Sethi: [00:14:20] Okay. Andres, it sounds like you have been trying to get to a shared understanding of your finances with Natalia for a long time, but it doesn’t sound like until recently that she understood your money in the way that you want her to understand your money. What do you think changed?

Andres: [00:14:46] Before our son was born, we had this agreement where we took out a loan on her name and she would pay off that loan, that specific loan was for real estate investment. In that way, I didn’t have to be concerned about how much she was spending on shoes, bags, or whatever. And that worked fine until our son was born. That’s when I started saying, okay, we need to re-accommodate these certain things.

Andres: [00:15:14] And of course, it’s frustrating for me, trying to do the best thing that I can for my family, because it’s not like we are penny-pinching and we’re not doing anything. We are enjoying ourselves. But sometimes, she says to me like, oh, we will just pay it with the credit card. And I was like, yeah, but you still need to pay the credit card, so you still need to pay that money back. And so, it’s frustrating.

Andres: [00:15:39] And, of course, I’m always trying to look for a solution for these problems. Maybe she won’t come 100% to my side, and I don’t think that’s the idea, the idea is that we find common agreement between the two of us whereby I feel comfortable, I don’t know, 80% of the time, 75% of the time, the idea, at least in my head, is, let’s save enough, and then we can enjoy ourselves. 

Andres: [00:16:09] Unfortunately, from my side, I did an investment on a family business two years or three years ago. It was 100,000-dollar investment, and unfortunately, we lost it in the pandemic. It was a restaurant that had to close. And so, that was also a very big hit for us. So, I think for me, it’s relief, and it’s also, I don’t want to be discussing all of the time with my wife, and that’s the reason why we’re here, because this is not the fight or the discussions that I want to pick with my wife.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:36] What’s your greatest fear about your money, Andres?

Andres: [00:16:40] Just not being able to provide, to be honest. It’s that feeling of, I don’t have enough to just pay for lunch. I had a business like 10 years ago where I made enough money just to pay my basic expenses. If I had something that deviated from my daily routine, I had to walk there because I couldn’t pay for gas. And it was a very humbling experience, right? It teaches you a lot. It teaches you humility and it also teaches you that you can get over it and you can overcome it. But it’s also a very nasty experience when you’re living through it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:19] I understand that fear, but you have a household income of around $300,000.

Andres: [00:17:27] But if we don’t have a salary, we’re in a tough situation. I can cover expenses for, right now, two months or a-month-and-a-half, but after that, I’m screwed, and that’s what concerns me.

Natalia: [00:17:37] Before the pandemic, I was so positive about it. If I’m not selling tickets, I will sell shoes, but I’m so good at that that I know that I can provide. But I never thought that the world could shut down. Well, I couldn’t have this opportunity of just changing from one job to another. I probably won’t have this nice equipment, but we will sort out. But I think that everything changed, and also because of this investment that he lost with his family.

Ramit Sethi: [00:18:09] One thing that I hear from both of you is worried about what could happen. And it seems like this pandemic has really opened your eyes to the downside risk. And Andres, what I hear from you is a real fear about going back down the socioeconomic ladder. And this is very common for people who have come from very humble means, and then they’ve done quite well, tey look back and say, yeah, I could do it if I had to, but I really don’t want to, because it is not a good place to be.

Andres: [00:18:50] If I wasn’t by myself, I would say, okay, if that’s the cost, then let’s do it. Fine. But when you’re a family, then, yeah, I shit my pants, literally.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:04] Have you explained this and have you talked about it with Natalia? Not in this way, I have to be honest, because we always talk about it when we’re in the heat of the moment, and that’s not a good conversation to rely on.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:19] Did you catch what Andre’s just said? We only talk about money in the heat of the moment. This is so common. This is common in about 95% of the people I talk to. They don’t actually have good feelings about money. You know deep down, a lot of people actually hate money, even though they would deny it if you pointed it out to them. To many people, money is a source of stress, frustration, anxiety, so they only talk about it when things blow up. And then, they paper over it, pretend the fight didn’t happen, until next time.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:56] Now, the I Will Teach You To Be Rich approach is to start with your rich life in vivid detail, then to build a plan with big wins and quick wins along the way. And that also means setting up a regular time to talk about money before things go wrong. Treat it like a standing business meeting, create an agenda, celebrate your wins at the beginning. If you claim money is important to you, then I really want you to take it seriously. So, let me ask you right now, can you tell Natalia what you are worried about with your money? Talk to her.

Andres: [00:20:38] It’s my fear, honey, of losing my job or you losing your job. It’s that we won’t be able to have the trade-off discussions, because there won’t be a discussion of trade-offs. There won’t be enough money to go to visit your family, to pay for a school for Alejandro, to pay for rent, not in the level of living conditions that we were used to.

Natalia: [00:21:07] And for me, I think it’s very hard to get to that point, because half of my brain will think, we’ll sort it out. That’s my positive way of thinking, that we will do it. But I know that he doesn’t want that stress around our relationship, because if we want the best school, that’s going to be expensive, but if we don’t have money to pay the rent, what are we going to do? So, I know that I need to be more responsible of thinking the worst, but for me, thinking about that is very hard, because we’re both so talented and we’re so focused on what we do that I know that it doesn’t matter if we lose our job, we’ll sort it out. And I hate to have these discussions about money when he’s so frustrated, because I don’t like this.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:03] Yeah, I understand. I think money discussions should also be about joy, and they should also be about what can we do, and family, and travel, and paying for Alejandro’s education. I think those are amazing discussions. I also think that money discussions have to circle around the numbers and the plans, planning for when things go well, planning for when things go poorly, because it’s all going to happen in a lifetime.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:38] You’re so young. Things are going to go really well sometimes and things are going to go horrible the other times. And you’ve experienced both of those, even in your marriage. You know in some ways, Natalia and Andrés are actually pretty aligned with money. And you know why? Because they both approach money from a place of fear. Andres is scared of what could happen if they find themselves in a situation where they don’t have enough money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:06] Natalia, on the other hand, is scared of missing out on life, of what could happen if she doesn’t take advantage of that money in the here and now. They see themselves as having totally different perspectives on money, but when you look beneath the surface, they’re actually surprising areas of agreement. They just show up differently. Now, I can start to gently bring them together. 

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:31] Natalia, it’s so interesting hearing you talk about your optimism, because in many ways, I am very optimistic about lots of things as well. And that has paid off in a lot of ways. It made me very resourceful, very forward-looking, but it’s interesting to me that you apply that positivity to so many different areas. But what if you applied that positivity to your own financial relationship here?

Natalia: [00:24:02] I think that now that I’m more conscious of the numbers and I think that I finally understood why Andres is so nervous about it, I think I’ll be more rational in the decisions that we should take as a family on our expenses and think about the future, because it’s good that I’m so positive, but I know that I need to be prepared for the worst.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:31] When you think about planning for the worst, how does it make you feel?

Natalia: [00:24:39] I hate it. For me, the worst is that we could die. If we die, that’s the worst. If there’s something in between, I think we can sort it out and I know that we’ll get the money. So, I don’t like to have that type of conversation, because what Andres is saying is that I don’t care about the future, that I’m so emotional, and I need to think about the worst. But I don’t do it, because I hate that. I really don’t like that.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:07] That’s what I thought. People who are really positive thinkers, they find it stupid, and boring, and just horrible to have to think about the worst.

Natalia: [00:25:18] Horrible, that’s the word. Horrible. I really don’t like it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:21] People in general, they don’t like to floss. Now, imagine I tell people, you have to think about flossing and read about flossing every day for two hours for the rest of your life. They’re like, I don’t even like flossing once a year. What are you going to make me read all this stuff? It sucks. Andres, that is what Natalia perceives when you talk about planning for the worst. It’s not that it’s right or wrong. I’m just telling you how she perceives it and why it’s been so challenging for her to plan for downside risk, even when her own company went through Chapter 11. I’m sure you, Andres, were like, okay, finally, she’s going to get it, but I’m willing to bet, it wasn’t like that, was it?

Andres: [00:26:16] Yeah, not even close. I’ve tried different hammers on the same nail, and I wasn’t getting through. 

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:24] Let me guess, you tried this version of Google spreadsheet, then you tried Microsoft Excel, and then some investment chart.

Andres: [00:26:31] Nothing has worked. I can see why. And again, the comment that I wanted to make before she started talking is her positivity is the reason I married her. We had this inside joke, if you like, between the two of us, that she was the sunshine to my rain. And I still see it that way. So, yeah, I think I would say it’s difficult to understand that is what is not allowing her to close this.

Andres: [00:26:59] That just really pisses me off inside it. I know that if you were 10% convinced, this shit would be sorted out in a couple of months. And so, sometimes, when we end the discussion, it’s like you’re just messing with me because I know, and she can tell you the story of how we got married, and how she found me a job, and actually moved from Australia to Chile.

Natalia: [00:27:24] I got him a job in Chile when I was in Colombia and he was living in Australia. So, we lived together in America, and then Australia. So, that positive, I am. That’s the level.

Andres: [00:27:38] So, that’s the thing. Like I said, you got me a job when we were in three different countries, and you can’t really commit to solving this? And of course, I’ve never said this to her, but that’s what I think inside, is if you got the same type of resolve that you had for that, we would have solved this a long time ago.

Ramit Sethi: [00:27:58] So, the challenge with saying that is that while it may be true, it’s really hard to make someone else get resolve that they don’t have.

Andres: [00:28:13] That’s why I had never said it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:28:15] Yeah. And Natalia hearing that, Andres commented, if you really wanted to do this, he thinks you would have gotten it done in a matter of two months. And you said, I feel embarrassed, because if I wanted this, I think I could, why don’t I want this?

Natalia: [00:28:37] I don’t know. Right now, that’s the first thing that I thought, it’s because of ego. That’s what I thought. That was the first thing, that, why I’m not doing this. I think that we have a big difference on this. He has read so much and he knows so much, and I could understand what he’s saying if I pay attention, but I would love that I could no more.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:02] You could. So, if that’s the case, I hear you loud and clear. He has more technical knowledge about this topic. I get it. One view would be that that would make you want to learn more, oh, because I want to be his equal, his partner, but that’s not happening. Why do you think that is?

Natalia: [00:29:23] Because I’m so bad to upset when I’m not good at something.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:28] When you became a mom, were you great at being a mom?

Natalia: [00:29:32] No, nothing. And I felt so guilty every day.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:36] Did you get better?

Natalia: [00:29:37] Yeah, finally, but it was hard.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:40] Of course, it was hard. But one year, eight months ago, you had to, and so you did it. And I’m sure it took-

Natalia: [00:29:48] And I started reading and everything, and now, I’m giving some advice to my friends.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:53] Okay. But let’s go back to that moment where you started reading all these books and things like that. Have you done the same with personal finance?

Natalia: [00:30:01] Just now that I got the book and listened to your videos, but I know that I can find a time, and that’s what he’s been so worried, like I know that you can do it, but I’m so worried about, I need to be very good at my job, and I want to have some time with Alejandro, I want to have some time with you, so I don’t have time for this.

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:20] It’s not a time issue. You and I both know it’s not a time issue. Keep going deeper. First, you said, I’m not at the same level. Okay. Fine. Fair enough. You were not great at being a mom until you became a mom, and then it became a priority.

Natalia: [00:30:34] I think that’s the best example that you could ever—I don’t know. I think that it’s time for me to grow up on this and-

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:43] Oh, okay, maybe, but I don’t love when you are saying words to yourself like, I know I need to be more responsible, I need to grow up, I need to be less emotional. I don’t love it, because it feels like you’re beating yourself up. And I don’t think you would tell one of your friends, hey, it’s time to grow up and be less emotional. Like, would you ever say that?

Natalia: [00:31:06] No, because that’s me.

Ramit Sethi: [00:31:08] It’s not about needing to grow up or be less emotional, if anything, I love hearing how you feel about your money. I love hearing that you want to fly, and see your family, and see Andres’s family. I love that. I want you to keep that up. But I hear so much worrying about what money could mean to you, specifically about saying no. And because of that, it’s so fascinating how you behave with money. One, you avoid talking about it. That, we see. But two, in really peculiar ways, you become super committed. Did you notice what happened with the lady telling you about the insurance for your son?

Ramit Sethi: [00:32:01] And you come home, and you’re saying, Andres, we got to get this insurance. Do you see how peculiar that is? For most of the time, you don’t want to look at any of the numbers. But suddenly, you’re worried about what could go wrong, because of a random lady trying to sell you insurance. And here you are like, we got to do this particular thing. I want to recommend two things, Andres, for you. I want to suggest that as you open up this new chapter of your financial life, when you communicate with Natalia, you start with money from a place of joy and excitement. If you were to start from a place of joy and excitement, what question would you ask her?

Andres: [00:32:53] Laughing at myself. It’s exactly the opposite of whatever I do. Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:01] Right now, where do you come from a place of? You come from a place of what? 

Andres: [00:33:07] Scarcity, you mean?

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:08] Yeah. So, when you talk to her, when you ask her these questions, deep down, do you think she picks up on that scarcity?

Andres: [00:33:19] Yeah, of course.

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:20] Yeah. So, if you were to use other words, joy and excitement, what are a couple types of questions you would ask?

Andres: [00:33:31] Yeah, the simple one. How many times would you like to travel next year?

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:37] Keep going. I love this.

Natalia: [00:33:39] Where do you want to go?

Andres: [00:33:43] Yeah. Where and when do you want to go? Yeah. How many times do you want to go to restaurants in a month?

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:54] This is the start of totally reconceptualizing how they talk about money, from a place of scarcity to one of joy and possibilities. And I want to address a common reaction I get when I bring this up. It goes like this, well, if I ask her how many times she wants to travel, she’ll say 10 and we can’t do 10. This is the fear that if you ask someone what they really want, they’ll say they want the world, and when you can’t deliver on that, you’re just setting yourselves up for disappointment.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:29] I don’t love this way of thinking. It’s basically saying, let’s not talk about what we both want, because it might not happen. Guys, that is the definition of scarcity. Just because you and your partner talk about what you want doesn’t mean you’re going to get all of it. Hey, I want to eat chicken wings for breakfast for the rest of my life. Not going to happen. But the simple practice of approaching money from a place of possibility changes everything.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:58] It shows that you’re open, you’re listening, and you’re genuinely curious. When your partner feels listened to and they listen to you, suddenly, you can both make a plan together. And you want to know the biggest secret of all, if you actually follow through on the I Will Teach You To Be Rich system, you automate your finances, you earn more, master your psychology, you might discover that you actually can get everything you want, and that you just might need to set even bigger goals. 

Ramit Sethi: [00:35:36] Just a couple of final points I want to mention. With the income you have, you guys have an opportunity to live an amazing life. However, you have two opposing forces pulling at you. One of them is pulling you, because you’re both so focused on all the things that could go wrong, that you spend an inordinate amount of time in the negative, and that really underlies so many questions that I hear from you.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:03] What’s your 10-year plan? Because we might be poor. And similarly, we need to buy this insurance, because we might die. There’s a lot of this negativity being focused over here. I don’t love it. I don’t love it. What I would love to see is, hey, let’s plan out, best case, middle case, worst case. Let’s take it from hot to cool. Hot is we’re going to die and our son is going to be alone. That’s no good, right?

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:38] You make really poor decisions when that’s how you’re approaching a financial decision. Cool is saying, you know what, I think it’s possible that in the next two or three years, one of us might get laid off, so let’s make a plan. If we had to do it, could we cut our lifestyle down? That’s a conversation that both of you can have, and you just like, look, we’re a team. We got to plan for what happens if something goes bad. But you’ve started by planning all the things that can go well.

Ramit Sethi: [00:37:08] What if we continue getting raises? What if we manage our expenses? What do we get to do with all this money? The reason you don’t save money is that you both hate money right now. You look at it negatively. But if you have a reason, okay, you know what, we’d like to work towards six months of savings, et cetera. We’ve already talked about Italy. Suddenly, you will see your savings account start to grow so much. You will naturally be making better decisions about where to eat or how often, those kinds of things. You will go from reactive to proactive, because you did the work of creating your life.

Natalia: [00:37:49] It’s so true, because we are not seeing the good part of that, and say, we’re going to save for this trip, or for this house, or for this whatever. And I think that it makes up the whole difference on my mind that we’re not losing our money in just paying banks, we are planning something great for us. And I think that way, I would definitely save more, because I’m looking forward to doing that.

Natalia: [00:38:23] And I think that’s the key of how my brain works, and he knows me very much, but I think that the approach was so negative and that’s why I got so defensive. And it’s true. We need to be prepared for the worst, but also for the best, that’s what I think, that we can have a great life, and keep accumulating things, and having experiences. So, I really appreciate, Ramit, for your time.

Andres: [00:38:53] I’m just sitting here with a smile on my face. I think I just want to thank you. I’m pretty self-aware, and this conversation was one of those things that we were struggling as a couple. And I’m not saying that it’s resolved, because this is just the beginning, but it’s a process, and this is the right step. And I was aware that I was doing something wrong, but I clearly couldn’t see it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:21] I would like to see both of you bring out the best in each other, because for your son, you can send him to all the tutors you want and get all the nannies you want, but he will learn more from watching how you two live life and use your money. Hey, everybody. This is Ramit. I have one favor to ask of you. I really want to hear from you about this episode.

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:52] If there was something that surprised you, something that opened your eyes, something that really struck you, send me a note. I’d love to hear from you. I’m on Twitter. You can DM me on Instagram, or if you’re on my newsletter, you have my email address and you can send me a note. I read all of them. I would love to hear at least one thing that struck you or surprised you about today’s episode. Thanks for listening. Here’s what you’ll find next week on the I Will Teach You To Be Rich podcast.

Dan: [00:40:32] I was running late from work and showed up at the office and she was having a conversation with him, and the first thing he was talking about as I sat down was how to manage credit card debt now that she has $10,000 of credit card debt, and I was like, you have $10,000 of credit card debt. Like how?

Jordan: [00:40:51] I thought I could fix it for a long time. I kept telling myself, why bring somebody else into this space when it’s so awful? I don’t want anybody else to feel like this.

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