Jan and Emily are in their thirties and recently bought a house. During the sales process, Emily discovered a $100k loan that Jan had taken out without her knowledge. To make matters worse, Jan admits he didn’t really have a plan on how to use this money to benefit their lives.

Emily is the higher earner and lets Jan manage their money, adding to the feeling of betrayal that she keeps buried under a calm exterior. They are both supportive and willing to do the work—but Emily’s fear is real and must be processed out in the open.

What happens in a relationship when trust with money is broken in such a profound way? How can you plan ahead or feel secure with your partner’s decisions? It’s a path with obstacles, no doubt. Let’s see if we can help Jan and Emily navigate it.

Get the follow up from Emily and Jan

I have never considered my parent’s divorce as something that would inform how I subconsciously feel about money.

–Emily

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Transcript

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Ramit Sethi: [00:00:01] And what happened when he told you exactly how much he had taken out?

Emily: [00:00:07] I was walking home and he said the number and I just immediately like–  sorry. I just immediately was like, “Am I going to be one of those wives whose husband gambles away all of their money?” Everything that I thought I had that I had been saving for the last year, working and working and working towards the thing, I didn’t have enough money to pay back that loan.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:36] How much was the loan for?

Jan: [00:00:39] The initial loan was for 36,000 and then got another 100,000 on top of that, which is the 100 she didn’t know about.

Emily: [00:00:49] I thought we were at a different place financially, then I learned that we were. I would have been doing things differently. Yeah, I think I would have been doing things differently.

Ramit Sethi: [00:01:01] [Narration]

Two years ago, Jan took out a $100,000 loan in secret. Emily only discovered it this year as they were buying a house. Both of them are in their mid-30s. Now, here’s my question for you. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Now think about this. What if it wasn’t as extreme as a secret $100,000 loan, but what if you found out that one of you spent $5,000 on a vacation that you can’t afford? 

Or what if one of you spent $1,000 on your daughter’s birthday party, which means that you now can’t contribute to your IRA this year? In any relationship, you will see money differently than your partner. But when secrets and lies emerge, it can strain a relationship more than you ever expected. I’m Ramit Sethi, and this is I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

Emily: [00:01:58] [Interview]

We just bought a house and during that process I learned that Jan had taken out quite a large loan without my knowledge. So we got through it. We got the house, everything moved through normally, and I knew intellectually that there is probably some emotional stuff that I wasn’t really processing because I still felt a lot of anger. 

And so I definitely filled it out in a place of anger kind of, I don’t know, wanting someone else to say to back me up in a way, even though I know that’s not the right way to go about it. But I still do think that there are some very necessary things that we could and should talk through, not only emotionally, but financially.

Ramit Sethi: [00:02:52] So was that the idea that we come on this and then we do two on one against Jan?

Emily: [00:02:59] No, no. I think truthfully when I filled it out, I didn’t think it would go anywhere. I was kind of in my head like, no way. But I literally came home that night and I told Jan I have a lot of anger and I know that I’m not working through it and I feel like you are already through it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:03:20] [Narration]

Okay, hold on a second. I need to make a quick comment on Internet psychology right here. Emily says she filled out the application without thinking it would go anywhere. This totally blows my mind because for the last 20 years, including today, I get emails and social media comments from trolls, just multiple paragraphs of pure vitriol.

And I write back. I write back, I go, “Oh, Michael, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Are you having a bad hair day?” Just to fuck with them. And 50% of them are completely shocked. They write back, by the way, I have the metrics on all this. I track the metrics. I have subcategories for trolls. I need to talk about this on another podcast. 

Anyway, 50% of them are completely shocked. They go, “Oh my God, I didn’t actually think anyone would read this.” which then raises the question, why would you write 10 paragraphs about your angry reaction to a picture I took of a slice of pizza in the West Village? And of course, I have to ask them this question. When I point this out to them, they become absolutely enraged. I love it.

Emily: [00:04:39] [Interview]

Like it’s just gone. Like it’s just chill. You’re happy that I figured it out and there is no more conversations or making up about it. We’re just moving on to the next thing.

Jan: [00:04:51] I know that I got caught in a lie and that sucked. I just don’t want to do it again, and I just want to do whatever I can to make Emily feel comfortable that she is able to trust me going forward.

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:12] Okay. Jan, take me through what happened from your perspective. So you were both applying for this house and what happened?

Jan: [00:05:21] Well, so we were applying for the house and I had initially gotten a small loan during COVID.

Emily: [00:05:36] We did together.

Jan: [00:05:39] Together we got the loan, and then at some point, I received an extension to increase that loan. Initially, I just applied for a small amount, just thinking this would be a good backup or an emergency fund scenario. And then when I got approved, I got approved for the entire loan amount, which was way more than I was honestly looking for. And then I sat with a couple of days and then I was just thinking that this would help me redirect my career. I was just hoping that that would be able to get me back on track.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:23] How would the extra loan money help you get on track?

Jan: [00:06:27] Well, I was thinking, “Okay, cool. I can use this to start some kind of a small business or use it to generate some income for the lifestyle that both Emily and I want.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:43] How much was the loan for?

Jan: [00:06:45] The initial loan was for $36,000 and then got another $100,000 on top of that, which is the 100 she didn’t know about.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:56] Aha. And if I were to give you $100,000 in cash right now, would you know what to do with it?

Jan: [00:07:05] Given what I know right now, not right now, but two years ago I did because the market looked a lot different. I would be a lot more cautious now.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:17] Wait a second. You can’t say, “Two years ago, I know where the market would have gone, so I would have put it in this stock.” Okay, that’s not how it works, but okay. How were you thinking you would make money from that 100k?

Jan: [00:07:32] I was thinking that I could use it to maybe buy some rental investment properties or start some kind of a small business on my own. Both of us work in the real estate field. So now, thinking back, it was totally a bad idea, but at the time it seemed like my solution out. And then I took it and then I didn’t tell Emily about it, and then it just became this snowball that I became ashamed of. And that’s how we ended up her not knowing about it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:13] [Narration] 

There’s this middle-class idea that if we suddenly got our big break, if someone finally responded to our email, or if an investor finally saw the genius in us and made a bet on us, we would make it. But when it comes to money and when people actually get a one-time large infusion of cash, they almost never know what to do with it. How would they? They can barely plan out a meal at Cheesecake Factory on Saturday night.

Investing money is a skill. Spending money is a skill. That’s why I insist on you starting as early as possible, even with 50 bucks a month. Because that’s how you build the muscle so that when your income increases and your portfolio size increases, you know how to manage it properly.

[Interview] 

Emily, how did you find out?

Emily: [00:09:04] I found out we were already under contract and our lender was requesting some information about this small business loan. Again, when we took it out, it was at the beginning of COVID. Jan had lost his job, which we knew we’d be set up for the whole year. We were aware that we were set. And so when he lost his job, it was all on me. And I had just started a new job, which is all commission based. 

So we knew at that point, okay, right now I have enough money to pay off that loan if we need. So I knew that if we’re taking it, I have the ability to pay it back, but it would give us a little cushion still considering or thinking that COVID would be done faster.

And so when our lender called and said, “Hey, I need these documents,” it was like, days had gone by and Jan keeps most of our– he’s very organized. He has everything in files. Everything is there. So I was like, “Babe, just send her the stuff. It’s all good. Just send her the stuff.”

And after a few days of that, I noticed that his mood was getting really weird. He kept saying, “They keep asking us for stuff. They keep asking us for stuff.” And I was like, “We haven’t done anything wrong. Open book, send them all.” And eventually, he just said, “I need to tell you something. I made a mistake.” And we were already a week and a half or two weeks into the home-buying process already.

Ramit Sethi: [00:10:40] And what happened when he told you exactly how much he had taken out?

Emily: [00:10:47] I was walking home and he said the number and I just immediately like–sorry. I just immediately was like, “Am I going to be one of those wives whose husband gambles away all of their money?” I just immediately was like, everything that I thought I had that I had been saving for the last year working and working and working towards the thing, I didn’t have enough money to pay back that loan. I didn’t have it. 

So now I think I was angry because now I’m in debt too. I thought we were at a different place financially than I learned that we were. And I think if I had known, I would have been doing things differently. Yeah, I think I would have been doing things differently.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:41] Still tough to think about, isn’t it?

Emily: [00:11:45] Yeah. I think in that moment, the fear of just having no money and being very poor and being in debt, I think this idea of debt absolutely terrifies me. And I hold a lot of pride in knowing that I’m not in debt. And so I think with that, I really felt betrayed. I definitely I’m one of the people that’s like, “Ah, I’m making the money, just handle it.” And I trust he’s so good. He is incredible with business ideas and moving us forward and big thinking. 

He’s the one that taught me about investing and all of these things, and so I just was like blindly letting that happen. And so I think when I found out, at first I didn’t know the extent, but when I heard the number, I just immediately was like, “I’m in debt. We have no money.” Everything just felt very dark and scary.

And I think I was angry because I’ve always known that Jan has this complex about needing to be the provider and needing to contribute and needing to make more money, and that’s not how it’s been the last couple of years as he’s transitioned because of his job loss. And I hold no issues. I have no problems with that, but he really does. And I think this accumulated into this thing that just got bigger than it was meant to be in the first place. 

Briefly, there is a little part of it that was a relief because we’ve been talking through all of COVID, and I know I can see that things feel heavy for him and things feel very bleak. And so I could tell. And so once this finally came out, it was very clear what some of the weird energy was.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:51] Jan, what’s your reaction from hearing Emily share that?

Jan: [00:13:56] It sucks to know that I was the one that made her feel that way. And I wish I didn’t. There was a certain part of me that was probably ashamed of me needing this help in the first place. And then, the shame turns into, like, “Okay, I never going to tell you.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:14:19] Yeah. One of the things I noticed is that you mentioned you didn’t think about anything that could go wrong. It was all about all the things that could go right. Classic lack of risk management. And this is the thing that’s not sexy. People go, “Oh, my God, I saw somebody on TikTok telling me I can buy 10 houses with 50k down,” and they go, “I’m going to be rich.” But they never want to take time, even 25 minutes to think about what could go wrong.

Jan: [00:14:53] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:14:54] Emily, you’re nodding. Does this resonate with you at all in terms of Jan’s decision?

Emily: [00:15:00] Plus, I was more nodding along with just the not weighing the risks. It was just so out of character. And that’s how I know that emotionally, the weight of just wanting to see a bigger number in his bank account caused him to do something that is truly so out of left field for him.

Ramit Sethi: [00:15:23] That must worry you because if he could do that, then what else is he capable of doing so that he can have more money?

Emily: [00:15:34] I think I don’t feel scared that he’s going to do it again. I think I look at the way that he kind of opened up emotionally about things and some of the stuff that I said would need to happen in order for me to feel like he was doing the work. Because I felt like the last couple of years there was a lot of emotional assistance that I couldn’t provide, that I wanted him to see a therapist. 

I felt that was really important. And he did start doing those things because I think that’s a script that I can’t break down that I need someone else to do because I didn’t come from that. So I don’t know how to talk– I don’t have a lot of, I think it’s silly to a certain extent, so I just don’t have the tools to talk with him about it.

Long story short, I don’t feel scared that he’s going to do it again. I think it was really out of character and I think it came from a place of severe insecurity. And it was so long ago. That was still in 2020.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:48] Mh-hmm.

Emily: [00:16:49] Yeah, that was still in 2020, and I only found out about it in the middle of 2022. And I think that we as a couple have come a long way, and he sees what I’m capable of doing in my career, and I think that that gives him a little bit more security where maybe he knows that those things are not necessary to do when they have that much risk.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:15] Okay. A lot of good things there. The fact that you encouraged him to see a therapist, Jan, the fact that you are doing that, the fact that you’ve had a lot of healthier conversations, all this sounds very positive. Mistakes happen, bad decisions happen. Jan, you’ve said it multiple times today you apologized. Emily, you’ve accepted, it seems like and it seems like you’re both moving forward. So I’m really pleased to hear you talking so openly.

[Narration] 

I’m really enjoying this conversation. Yes, Jan made a mistake, a really dumb one, but he’s owned up to it. And Emily has acknowledged what happened and she’s accepted it. She said she’s not concerned he’ll do it again. I know a lot of you want me to sit here and beat Jan up, but that’s not what this podcast is about. 

Everybody makes mistakes with their money, and you will often see me surprisingly compassionate when somebody does not know how to start investing. I mean, 90% of the time the people on this show don’t even read my book. I’m not going to blame them. I’m here to help them. 

Now, I do get mad when people don’t take responsibility for their actions. But Jan has. He’s acknowledged it. He’s making amends. And I applaud him for that. And I applaud his partner, Emily, for accepting that and being so candid. Now, I want to go deeper. Again, I’m not interested in beating him up, but I want to make sure he understands why he took that loan out because if he does, he can get to the root cause of his lie around money.

[Interview] 

John, what does this word “provide” mean to you?

Jan: [00:19:00] Just give Emily the life that she wants and be able to live the lifestyle that we want to live. Our relationship is based on traveling almost.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:22] Did you meet while traveling?

Jan: [00:19:24] Yes. We both met while we were traveling. So I think recently we’ve also discovered that we want to build a life together where we can– I mean, this is going to sound cliche, but we can just pick up and go and live in Mexico for a month if we really wanted to. And obviously, my side of that is I want to be a provider, I guess.

Ramit Sethi: [00:19:56] Provider means what?

Jan: [00:20:00] Be able to pay for it all.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:01] Oh. So should Emily work in your view?

Jan: [00:20:06] Yes, absolutely.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:07] Okay. So you’re paying for it all. So what’s she working for?

Jan: [00:20:14] Fun money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:17] She makes a lot of money. That’s a lot of fun for the amount she makes.

Jan: [00:20:22] I don’t know. I’m messed up in my brain, I guess.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:25] Do you think Emily can be a provider?

Jan: [00:20:27] Absolutely.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:29] Is she the provider right now?

Jan: [00:20:31] She is, yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:32] And if she’s the provider, what does that make you?

Jan: [00:20:38] I don’t know. Not the provider or not the– I don’t know. Makes me feel like I don’t really have– I don’t want to say a purpose, but something along those lines.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:03] [Narration] 

What is this? Has anyone else noticed on the episodes where women make more than men, the men seem to be completely lost? And by the way, don’t just blame the guys for this. This situation represents a total disruption of how gender roles have functioned for longer than any of us have been alive. In business, there’s a phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What this really means is that company cultures are notoriously hard to change. 

Now multiply that by 1,000, and you have gender roles. They are multidimensional, they are omnipresent, and they exist in things as large as pay structures and jobs and in rituals as small as who gets past the check. And what do your mom and dad say to you when you were a little kid?

We can take away and what we can take away many things from the last few episodes like this. But one thing is for sure, many men see themselves as the provider. And if they are not the provider, then that raises the question, what are they? 

[Interview]

As an example where two people, one of them is a provider, what comes to mind for you? Just one. What else?

Emily: [00:22:22] I can go. I think of like the ’50s, the husband makes all the money, the man does all the stuff, and the woman takes care of the home. That’s what I think when I think provider.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:36] And is that your relationship right now?

Emily: [00:22:40] No.

Jan: [00:22:40] No.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:41] They’re both laughing incredulously. Emily, how would you characterize your relationship right now?

Emily: [00:22:49] In this season, it’s definitely– I have some very feminine aspects. Jan does our laundry, that’s what I just don’t. But I also love to make a home. And so our gender roles are quite flip-flopped. I don’t know if Jan, if that’s what he thought he would have in life but that’s what it is and it seems to work at this moment in this season.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:23] Jan, how would you characterize your relationship?

Jan: [00:23:26] I love it. I don’t care about– I could care less if she makes food or does the cooking or I don’t care. I just do the laundry because I need clean clothes. And her laundry there as well, so I might as well do it. So I don’t care for things like that. But yet somehow, whilst I say that, then my brain is like, “Well, I need to be the provider.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:55] In your family, was that the case?

Jan: [00:23:58] It was and it was not and then it was.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:03] Emily wants to jump in here. Go ahead, Emily.

Emily: [00:24:06] No, his mom was a single mom for the first 10 years of his life until she remarried his dad. And your mom has worked your whole life. She took care of literally everything.

Jan: [00:24:19] My upbringing in my culture that I come from is probably a little bit different from the norm. But that doesn’t say that I didn’t grow up in a culture which is very much stuck in the ’50s and ’60s.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:33] So which culture is that, Jan?

Jan: [00:24:35] From South Africa.

Emily: [00:24:37] Okay.

Ramit Sethi: [00:24:39] So today in South Africa, is it still primarily men that earn money?

Jan: [00:24:48] I would say it’s shifted a little bit.

Emily: [00:24:53] In our friend group, no, but not in all of your family.

Jan: [00:24:59] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:00] I see. So would it be fair to say the younger generation is more mixed in terms of who earns money and the older generation is more men primarily earning?

Jan: [00:25:11] Sure. Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:13] Okay, that sounds familiar. That’s what a lot of American listeners will resonate with. So that must be a little confusing, to have these traditional ideas of the man is the provider versus now where there’s more women graduating from college than men. 

So I want to go back to this 100k loan. You took the 100k loan out. The logical side of you said I can use this to make money, although in retrospect it doesn’t seem there was really a plan with that money. Is that fair to say?

Jan: [00:25:50] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:51] Okay. The other side of you said, I will take this money because it will allow me to– what?

Jan: [00:26:00] To be, I don’t want to say be the savior again, but to start doing my part.

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:08] Contributing?

Jan: [00:26:09] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:10] Lower earners are always using the C word, contribute. And this is a fascinating example because I often speak to people where in a male-female relationship the man earns more and the woman uses the contribute word all the time. How am I going to contribute? Am I contributing enough? I know I’m not bringing enough money, but I’m contributing in other ways. Here we have exactly the opposite. 

Jan, you’re the perfect example, Jan, where it’s not necessarily about gender when it comes to that C word, but it’s about the person who’s not bringing in as much money. 

[Narration] 

I think this is absolutely fascinating. And I have a personal prediction that many of the financial scenarios that we associate with men or women are actually going to turn out to be more about the higher earner and the lower earner. And we will only discover this as women begin to outearn men in different scenarios and geographies. 

We already see this. We see things like contribution that’s usually associated with the lower earner, and that tends to be women for a variety of historical reasons. But that’s changing. And so in this scenario, we hear the word contribution. But this time it’s from the lower earner. 

We’re going to see things like financial control. When you hear stories about men controlling their partner, those are almost always about men. But I think we’re going to see that as women earn more, we’re going to hear more and more stories about financial control in that way. 

In fact, we even heard it recently on this podcast. So stay tuned. As generational trends shift, as earnings shift, we’re going to discover that the psychology part of money becomes even more interesting. 

[Interview] 

Emily, what’d you grow up with in terms of money? What kind of family did you come from? Were you middle class? Tell me more about that.

Emily: [00:28:12] So my mom was the supporter and she would always just make it work. We never knew that there was any issues, whereas my dad was like, we can’t afford that. We’re poor. I don’t think we were ever poor. I just think it was this fear. And he’s still like that. He’s totally fine. I’m sure he’s set, but like–

Ramit Sethi: [00:28:34] He still says, “We’re poor, we can’t do it.” that kind of thing?

Emily: [00:28:36] Oh, yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:28:38] And what do you take away from that?

Emily: [00:28:41] My dad has said stuff to me before like, “You guys spend more money than anyone ever.” And I just have to be like, “Dad, you actually don’t know anything about our finances. I don’t need the negativity.” So he’s still very much like that. I think I carry a lot of shame when my parents comment on the type of life that we want to live or how we want to spend.

Ramit Sethi: [00:29:09] What do they say? What are the phrases they use?

Emily: [00:29:12] Frivolous and wasteful and diva, these kinds of words that just make me feel like having money is bad. Just that there’s never enough even if you think you’re fine, you might not be. He can’t stop talking about right now how his stocks of like now his retirement is screwed up. And we were there the other day and luckily Jan stepped in because I immediately start getting nervous about that. 

I don’t want to hear about how life can go horribly, even if you work your entire life and make a lot of money. It just feels very scary to me. So he can’t stop talking about how everything is happening in the world and our politics and whatever and now his retirement is– I don’t know. It feels very scary.

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:14] Maybe his feelings about money actually have very little to do with how much he has in the bank. Maybe it’s actually just about him.

Emily: [00:30:24] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:26] Is that possible?

Emily: [00:30:28] Yeah, that’s definitely possible.

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:31] If we gave your dad a million extra dollars tomorrow, do you think he would start feeling happy and skipping outside in the sunshine?

Emily: [00:30:38] I think he would at first, but I think you would quickly start to be like, “A million isn’t that much money.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:30:47] [Narration] 

If you feel anxious about money, having $1,000,000 is not going to change that. If you feel scared about money, $1,000,000 is not going to change that. If you spend everything you’ve got at $75,000 a year, you will probably spend everything you make at $250,000 a year. The best predictor of your future self is your current self. And if this sounds depressing, allow me to suggest a gentle reframe. 

I actually love hearing this that my future self is best predicted by my current self because it means if I want to change myself tomorrow, I can start with myself today. If I’m not saving anything, I can pick up  I Will Teach You to Be Rich from the bookstore or the library and start putting away $100 a month. If I need more help, I can join the money coaching program. If I am afraid of money, I can listen to this podcast and use the I Will Teach You to Be Rich journal to plot out what my rich life is and then make it happen. I love this because it lets me know that I can take control of my financial life, and I hope that’s how you see it too.

[Interview]

I don’t get that sense that you are constantly worried about money except in little peculiar ways like having $80,000 in a savings account. What do you think that’s about?

Emily: [00:32:20] We were actually just talking about this today. I feel very split because in certain points I’m like, “You only have one life, just spend it.” But then suddenly something cost more than I thought it was. Like yesterday, the train that we were planning on taking was totally full, so we had to get another hotel where we were earlier. And then I immediately was like, “Okay, now we’ve spent more than I thought we were going to.” Now it feels very scary. And suddenly I’m like, “I’d rather do a cheaper dinner,” even though it was only 170 bucks or whatever for a hotel for it. It’s just– I don’t know, I feel very flip-floppy to put it under–

Ramit Sethi: [00:32:59] Kind of an interesting reaction you just had. Not what I expected. So my thought was, you have a lot of money sitting in cash probably because you’re afraid of losing it probably because your dad told you for 50 years, “Oh, my God, all the things that can go wrong.” My thought was you could probably be investing more of that and earning more. Your reaction was, I should spend it more on a dinner. Do you see the difference? The opposite of saving to you is what?

Emily: [00:33:38] The opposite of saving is spending.

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:44] Okay. Is that it? So your two options are to save money or spend it?

Emily: [00:33:52] I never really thought of it that way, but sort of. Either it’s in your bank account or you can use it, one or the other.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:01] Mm-hmm. And is there a third option? What do I do with my money?

Emily: [00:34:05] Invest it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:06] Yeah. Why invest it though? What do you get?

Emily: [00:34:10] You get longer-term results. It’s a higher return on the stuff you make today. Compound interest sets you up for the future so you don’t have to worry about how much is in your savings account.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:24] Got you. I find you so interesting. You know all this stuff, it rolls off your tongue, and yet you’re not investing that much. Why is that?

Emily: [00:34:33] I’m just laughing. I don’t know. Truthfully, I think that growing up, dad will always remind us that credit cards or investing in the stock market is like gambling.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:48] Gambling. Oh, God.

Emily: [00:34:50] I know, I know.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:54] Okay. And then you believe it, right? After you hear it 50 times.

Emily: [00:35:31] Personally, I didn’t grow up even remotely talking about 401ks, investing, Roth IRAs, nothing. And then being a gig worker before this, we never had any of that stuff. And I truthfully never thought about it. And so the last couple of years has been the first time where I’ve been like, “I guess I should have something set up to do some kind of a retirement thing.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:35:56] Emily, do you know how much money you make per year?

Emily: [00:36:00] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:01] How much?

Emily: [00:36:03] Last year I made just over 190,000. And this year I’ll probably make somewhere in the 180s.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:12] Okay. How much did you make, Jan?

Jan: [00:36:15] Maybe 70, maybe a little bit less, I think.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:20] 70k. Okay.

Jan: [00:36:22] Yeah, maybe more like 65. 

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:25] [Narration] 

Before coming on the show, Emily and Jan filled out a conscious spending plan, which breaks your spending into four categories– fixed costs, savings, investments, and guilt-free spending. You can download your own copy of the conscious spending plan at iwt.com/episode68.

Now as a quick preview of their numbers, their fixed costs are at a pretty healthy 56%. 36% is being spent on guilt-free spending, and that’s a number they say they can trim if they need to. They own four properties worth over $1,000,000 and they’ve got about $300,000 left on loans for two of them, bringing their total net worth to about $226,000. 

But once we get to investments, I see a 3% annual contribution. Now, all of these are clues. You just hear a bunch of numbers, but when I see these, especially in the conscious spending plan, it tells me a lot about the couple that I’m talking to. It tells me about their priorities, it tells me about probably their fears. And that’s exactly what I want to find out right now. I want to find out why they are not investing pretty much anything. Emily makes enough. So why isn’t she investing?

[Interview] 

Okay, great. So at 180k, you should definitely be investing. It’s not the gig worker thing anymore. It’s just a lot of money. Okay, cool. We all agree on that. So overall, how would you assess this conscious spending plan? How are you both doing with your money?

Emily: [00:38:11] I would say that I know that we’re definitely not making it work for us, really, in any way. I know that a lot of it comes from a little bit of a scarcity mindset, just wanting to see that number in a savings account–

Ramit Sethi: [00:38:33] Because of what? If you see it in a savings account or a checking account, what does it mean to you?

Emily: [00:38:38] Well, then you have it. Then in case something bad happens, you just have it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:38:45] There it is. There it is. See, it’s good to have risk management. It’s good to be able to say if something goes wrong, I will be able to access my money. But that’s where most people stop. They play defense their whole lives. They go, “I want to be able to access it because if something goes wrong” and I go, “What about something going right?”

Emily: [00:39:07] Well, for sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:08] You’ll start to believe it?

Emily: [00:39:08] For sure. For sure. And I think it’s also just the not really knowing. And to be fair, I have never in my life until this point had that much money in an account. So this amount of money that was sitting in account, I’ve never had that before. So I think a lot of it is like–

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:27] Wait, hold on, hold on. Hold on a second. I appreciate that your income has gone up recently, but do you know this is one of the reasons that I encourage people to invest even when they’re making a little bit of money? Because even if you’re making $25,000 a year and you put aside 50 bucks a month, at least you get that habit and you start to see that you can live without that $50 a month. 

Here you are making tons of money and you are petrified of investing. In fact, the only way you think about money is that it’s either save it, which is just sitting there losing money due to inflation or spending it. And we’re talking about like a hotel for 170 bucks?

Emily: [00:40:06] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:40:08] But you don’t have the muscle developed of investing it consistently.

Emily: [00:40:13] Yeah.

Jan: [00:40:13] Yeah. So we’ve just started putting some money into Vanguard and all of that stuff. And now, like earlier on today, we were like, “Should we go mutual funds or index funds?”

Ramit Sethi: [00:40:24] I’ll just tell you right now, I’ll just go index funds. But okay, very good to hear. We can talk about that. That wasn’t the question that was confusing you on your investments. Was it mutual funds versus index funds?

Emily: [00:40:38] I mean– 

Ramit Sethi: [00:40:39] Clearly, it was.

Emily: [00:40:41] I have no idea. But I think that to me is also very interesting, but there’s also a lot of other things that are happening here. And I also would say that mentally, both of us are very– I’m kind of like “We’re in Paris, just spent it.” And he’s like, “Ooh, but should I get the thing with the omelet? That’s three extra euros.” And I’m like, “Ramit says, don’t ask $3 questions.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:09] Wait, this is crazy, though. So, Jan, you’re the one who’s a little bit more frugal and you’re worrying about the price of the omelet, but then you take out $100,000 loan?

Jan: [00:41:18] Yes. I don’t know.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:20] It’s very interesting, don’t you think?

Jan: [00:41:23] I would agree. Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:24] Everybody agrees. All right, let’s continue moving on. Savings is $78,000. What is that?

Jan: [00:41:32] That’s mostly cash on Emily’s end.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:36] Why do you have $78,000 in cash just out of curiosity?

Emily: [00:41:40] Because it’s the account that I have set up that my income goes into. And it just sits there. I have this comfort of knowing that there’s money there, even though I know it could be used better.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:53] What do you feel when you see that number?

Emily: [00:41:55] I’m just like, “I worked really hard for that.” I feel good about it. Our home purchase came from that. It’s like my success ohmmeter. It’s this big thing for me.

Ramit Sethi: [00:42:10] Well, I think it is an accomplishment. I do want to say that. I mean the fact that you used to work at a gig job and now you’re doing quite well, collectively, the two of you are doing very well in terms of your earnings. You have cash flow, positive properties, all very impressive in your early 30s. But you came to me, so I’m going to be candid with you. What you’ve done is fantastic from where you’ve come from. But now it’s time to turn the page and think bigger. 

[Narration] 

It’s great, but it’s not enough. I know a lot of Americans have never heard someone say that because your parents told you you were amazing. And they still call you every night and they compliment you that you brush your teeth even at 38 years old. Asian parents are like, “You don’t have $1,000,000 by age 30? What the fuck is wrong with you? We came to this country with $70 in our pocket. We put you through college. You can’t even get an A-plus on every exam in college?”

The only lie of that last sentence is the F word. Asian parents don’t curse at their kids. Anyway, I’m proud of Emily, but she and Jan are quite accomplished. It’s time to measure them against today, not yesterday. In other words, I need to raise the standards of how they measure themselves. And stashing tens of thousands of dollars in a savings account and being afraid of investing, that’s not serving them anymore. 

[Interview] 

Who here has read my book to the end? Both of you?

Emily: [00:43:55] I’ve listened to it. I should say I’ve listened to it.

Ramit Sethi: [00:43:57] I’m happy to hear that. Are you still nervous about investing?

Emily: [00:44:07] Yeah. I don’t know what I’ll say. Yeah, there is still a piece of it that feels very– I don’t know. Intellectually, I know that we should. Intellectually, I know that we should. It still doesn’t make it easier to take a chunk of money from this safety pot that I have in my account and just like–

Ramit Sethi: [00:44:32] Emily, how much do you need in your safety pot to feel safe?

Emily: [00:44:41] I feel like this is where I just start to remind myself that, like, this isn’t a numbers thing, this is a mind thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe. 

Ramit Sethi: [00:45:01] So then keep going. Finish the sentence for me.

Emily: [00:45:06] Sorry. I don’t know why I’m feeling emotional. Well, I don’t know if there’s anything else to say. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe.

Ramit Sethi: [00:45:30] Jan, do you want to jump in here? Seems like a pretty interesting topic.

Jan: [00:45:35] I think we will be safe with $10 in the bank account because we’ve always figured it out.

Ramit Sethi: [00:45:44] Try that a different way. Try instead of telling her that you’re actually wrong and we are safe. Try asking her a few questions to understand where she’s coming from.

Jan: [00:46:01] What makes you feel like we are not safe? If we can– there’s anything–

Ramit Sethi: [00:46:13] Just stop there. Just stop there. You have a good question. Emily?

Emily: [00:46:23] I don’t know if there’s one thing. Truthfully, I don’t think there’s one thing. I think this is just something that I really– I’m terrified of just suddenly not having what I thought I had. And I can see that obviously, this is mirroring what happened with this loan and just the fear that’s coming up there.

Ramit Sethi: [00:47:03] Can I ask you both a question? What does safe mean to you?

Emily: [00:47:09] I think safe feels comfortable. Safe feels knowing that you’re not going to be suddenly ripped from a life that you enjoy, being able to do the things that you enjoy doing, and also having some pride about what you’ve built. I think all of that going away feels incredibly unsafe.

Ramit Sethi: [00:47:40] Okay. Jan?

Jan: [00:47:41] Yeah, I would agree with that. Just safe feels like everything will be okay. It’s not going to go away. We can continue living the life that we want to live now and not just go away like that instantly.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:09] Emily, how old were you when your parents got divorced?

Emily: [00:48:13] I was five.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:14] You remember it?

Emily: [00:48:15] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:16] Did your quality of life change?

Emily: [00:48:20] It changed with my dad. He moved into a pretty one or two-bedroom apartment in a key area. He eventually bought a home nearby, but definitely not– he was just a single dad trying to figure it out. It was never cute.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:46] Do you think that that affected you until today?

Emily: [00:48:50] I would like to say that it didn’t, but now that I’m talking about it, I’m like, maybe. I always can see how some of those financial insecurities, I can see how those play out. But I don’t think I’d ever been asked about the change when the divorce happened.

Ramit Sethi: [00:49:13] The idea of going from a certain level of quality of life, a certain level of security to suddenly less and worrying about if it’s going to be enough. And then hearing your dad mention that, “It’s not enough. It’s not enough.” For the next 30 years. What do you think? Do you think that that might have affected you?

Emily: [00:49:41] For sure. For sure. I’m the first person– those moments of we can’t we buy that or we can’t afford that, we’re poor. We’re like the moment standing in the grocery line like, can I get this gum? Like that– 

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:01] As a kid?

Emily: [00:50:01] Yeah, but that wasn’t the case. Very clearly, I know now that that was not the case but he said that so that we wouldn’t ask.

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:12] Yeah. For all the parents out there listening, stop telling your kids we can’t afford that. It causes a lot of issues that last a lifetime. There are better ways to teach children than we can’t afford it. We choose not to get that. We’d prefer to put our money elsewhere. We bought gum last week and we don’t need to buy gum every week. There’s so many different ways. 

And Emily, I’m sorry that you experienced this repeated concept of, “We can’t afford it.” But now we’re here. The two of you made multiple six figures last year. And what I’m hearing is that you have these old beliefs about money, both with gender and with safety that may not be serving you in the relationship you want to create today. So how do you propose that we add a new vision for your relationship with money? How do you want to proceed?

Jan: [00:51:16] I can talk to people about it. I can discuss it and work through it, even though I probably naturally don’t want to do that. That’s something I need to do.

Ramit Sethi: [00:51:31] Fantastic answer. I really appreciate that. And what about for your relationship, Jan? You mentioned the work that you’re going to do individually. I think that’s amazing. What about for your relationship?

Jan: [00:51:45] I just want to support Emily in any way I can and I think maybe better verbalize some of the communication regarding money. Sometimes I might not go about it in the best way.

Ramit Sethi: [00:52:03] Okay. Emily, what about for you?

Emily: [00:52:10] Truthfully, I feel like, especially talking about this whole fear thing, I think I might– and the funny thing is that we say we’re going to have these money meetings, we continue to say, let’s sit down and look at all this stuff. And then we do it once and it’s kind of like, “Okay, we kind of went over a couple of things.” I kind of see stuff, but then I’m like, “Okay, We looked at what we spent last month and that’s what it is. It doesn’t really feel–

Ramit Sethi: [00:52:37] That’s why I hate budgets. I fucking hate them.

Emily: [00:52:42] Yeah. And so I feel like if we’re looking at this stuff and also looking at the forward trajectory of these things, actually looking at what we’re investing and doing kind of what we always say that we’re going to do, I think me having a better handle on the numbers really do look like forward moving, not just what I see in my bank account, because that’s truly the stuff that I just check out what we spend and I check out what we– I pay off all the credit cards and make sure everything is there. And then I’m like, “Okay, we’re set,” but I’m not thinking so ahead.

Ramit Sethi: [00:53:21] You literally just gave the best ad for my conscious spending plan that anyone could have given. You’re like, “I should probably stop looking backwards because it doesn’t do anything for me. Instead, I should look forwards maybe on a percentage basis. I should go to iwt.com/podcast and download the conscious spending plan. 

[Narration] 

Okay. You can get your own version of the conscious spending plan for free at iwt.com/episode68. Notice how far we’ve come today. Jan has admitted to taking a secret $100,000 loan. Emily has shared her fears about money. They’ve both used the CSP to get their numbers out on the table. Now let’s zoom out and look at the big picture. 

[Interview]

So let’s zoom up. Do you two both understand why you’re investing?

Emily: [00:54:15] For the future. 

Ramit Sethi: [00:54:16] What does that mean?

Emily: [00:54:17] So that we have the safety and security when we’re older to not have to worry about every small purchase and we can retire when we want to.

Ramit Sethi: [00:54:31] Okay, Jan, what do you think? Why are you investing?

Jan: [00:54:36] To grow money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:54:37] Okay. That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it both of you have different reasons for why you’re investing. One says safety and the other says to grow it. Do you all think you might want to talk about that first? No, there’s complete silence. 

Do you see why, if you two don’t understand why you want to invest and if you two have two separate reasons for wanting to invest, that there’s going to be conflict at some point because some person might say we should invest 10%, 20%, and the other is going to go, why would we? I want money in my savings account to feel safe. And you’re not going to understand why you’re fighting because you never really addressed the root cause.

Emily: [00:55:28] I think sometimes when you speak about money, it being all about growth, it feels very risky. It feels very much like you’re– kind of the stuff that we’ve talked about before, but it feels like you’re a lot more chill about throwing it out there and trying it. And I still don’t feel totally safe.

Jan: [00:55:54] No, I would say grow–

Ramit Sethi: [00:55:59] Don’t say it. Ask it.

Jan: [00:56:05] Why do you want safety? What makes you feel like you need safety?

Emily: [00:56:12] Well, I think the last couple of years a lot of our life has been based on my working. And so I want to know that at some point, if I don’t want to do that, all the money that I’m putting into these accounts that if something changes that, suddenly everything that I’ve worked for is no longer keeping us afloat. And so it feels freaky for me to take all of this little egg that I have and just be like, I’ll just put it all into this account for the future that I can’t take out for 30 years or whatever.

Jan: [00:57:04] Yeah. No, I mean, that totally makes sense.

Ramit Sethi: [00:57:11] Go further, Jan. I love your direction here. Reflect back to her what you heard.

Jan: [00:57:18] Yeah, I can only imagine you’ve worked. I’m the witness of how hard you worked and how much you’ve grown and successful, and I can imagine that wanting or being scared that it’s just all for nothing it’s real. I can totally imagine that being a weight on your shoulder.

Ramit Sethi: [00:57:50] Nice. And Jan, what role do you want to play in co-creating your future together?

Jan: [00:58:01] I want to be the supporter. I am your biggest supporter, and I want to be– I’m not going to use that word. I just want to be present there with you and help you build, help us build this life that we’re talking about.

Emily: [00:58:31] Truthfully, I do feel like that is what Jan tries to do on a more frequent basis. I think when it comes to some of the stuff, though, I feel a little bit out of my depth and I feel like he knows so much more about the way that it should be going. 

And, babe, I think it would be very helpful for me if we are to do this stuff so that we can kind of see, I want to see the number of what it is that we’re working towards. And then I want to be able to see that as I invest that stuff, that’s what’s happening and I want to see the results.

Ramit Sethi: [00:59:12] I like this conversation. It feels like this is where we need to spend a little bit more time.

Jan: [00:59:18] I just want to be able to communicate better with those kinds of words and that kind of language.

Ramit Sethi: [00:59:24] That’s great. That’s a start. You saying that out loud to Emily probably goes a long way. “Look, I realize that the way I’ve been communicating has not been connecting with you. I’ve got to find a better way to communicate.” That goes a long way. You don’t even have to find the solution. Just acknowledging that there’s a problem is amazing.

Emily: [00:59:44] I know that because I didn’t want to talk about it or I was scared to talk about it, or I just didn’t understand, I know that I put a lot of responsibility on him to take care of it, which is also part of kind of how we got where we are. So I know that I need to be doing some of the heavy lifting as well, so that we can be on the same page.

Ramit Sethi: [01:00:09] Beautiful. I love that. I would like to show you how the numbers actually flow. So let’s just start here. Right now you have about $25,000, and is that money that’s invested?

Jan: [01:00:26] No.

Emily: [01:00:29] No.

Ramit Sethi: [01:00:30] How much do you have invested?

Jan: [01:00:33] $1,000 of that entire amount it’s all just lying like cash.

Ramit Sethi: [01:00:38] Great. So you have $1,000, and let’s say right now you’re putting in $0 every month. I’m just going to make it simple. And let’s say you want to do this for 20 years. What interest rate should we assume here? What does the book say?

Jan: [01:00:58] I think eight or nine.

Ramit Sethi: [01:00:59] Yeah, it says eight. Let’s go for seven just to be conservative. So this $1,000 over the course of 20 years turns into about $4,000. Is that a lot?

Emily: [01:01:10] No.

Ramit Sethi: [01:01:10] No, it’s not. So why don’t we adapt it? Where do we want to change these numbers so you can start to get a feel for how much you can actually have? Emily, go ahead.

Emily: [01:01:24] I really want to be dropping more into the addition.

Ramit Sethi: [01:01:28] Okay. How much?

Emily: [01:01:33] It should be the 10% of take home.

Ramit Sethi: [01:01:38] Okay. How much would that be in dollar amounts?

Emily: [01:01:44] Oh, God. You’re awakening an inner fear of math right now.

Ramit Sethi: [01:01:50] It is okay.

Emily: [01:01:55] Babe, I would love if you stepped in and just like–

Jan: [01:01:58] It would be more or less 25–

Ramit Sethi: [01:01:58] Wait, wait, wait. Hold on, hold on. Emily, what did we just say just two minutes ago? You’re going to engage more with money. Let’s do this.

Emily: [01:02:08] I do want to engage. I feel very on the spot at the moment, I’m freezing.

Ramit Sethi: [01:02:15] I don’t like math either. So I’m going to do it with you. Okay? Hold on. I’m going to open this up. We’ll do it together. 

[Narration] 

Notice what’s happening here. This is very common. If I ask Emily five days from now what she remembers about this very moment, she will not remember a single word that she said. But I guarantee she will remember the feeling of terror at having to do math on the spot in front of millions of people. The equivalent would be asking me to say three nice things about Wells Fargo on live TV. 

They were founded in San Francisco. I like that old stagecoach they have. And, fuck. What’s really going on here is much deeper than her dislike of math. This isn’t just about math. I get that it can seem scary. Truthfully, I don’t even care if people get the math wrong. The real struggle here is an unconscious one, and it is about Emily engaging with her money. 

And she’s going to face scenarios like this for the rest of her life, whether it’s scary math, or disagreeing with Jan, or being intimidated by an investment option, or some scammer from Primerica or Northwest Mutual or some whole life insurance, Looney Tunes on TikTok, she’s going to encounter literally thousands of scenarios like this in her life when it comes to money. This is why I’m gently insisting that she do this with me together. 

That’s also why lots of people join my money coaching program because they need just a little help to get over the hump and feel more comfortable taking control of their money. You can join the money coaching program at iwt.com/coaching. 

[Interview] 

All right. What are we looking for here? We’re looking for the dollar amount that you would invest per year. Where would we find that? Talk it out loud. You don’t have to get it right, but we’ll do it together.

Emily: [01:04:23] The dollar amount that you would invest per year? You’d scroll down to the investment percentage there, and then that should be all the way over on the right side. That’s $600.

Ramit Sethi: [01:04:42] Yeah.

Emily: [01:04:43] Right?

Ramit Sethi: [01:04:43] Bingo. 600 bucks. 

Emily: [01:04:45] $600 divided by 12.

Ramit Sethi: [01:04:51] $600 times 12 because we’re doing $600 a month times 12 months.

Emily: [01:04:55] Oh, okay. Got it. All right. This is monthly. Okay. $7,200.

Ramit Sethi: [01:05:04] Perfect. Watch the numbers change. What do you see?

Emily: [01:05:11] What?

Ramit Sethi: [01:05:11] It went from roughly $48,000 to $360,000. That’s happening if you were to automate those investments today.

Jan: [01:05:23] And that’s a 3% of–

Emily: [01:05:27] Seven.

Jan: [01:05:29] Gross.

Ramit Sethi: [01:05:30] That’s correct. Now, what do you say we just play for a second and see if we can get this up to 10%? What should we do? Let’s just brute force it. Let’s make it $5,000. Oh, that’s too high. That takes us to 27%. So I’m going to lower this amount to $2,500. That’s too high still. Let’s take it to $2,000. Okay, Perfect. 2,000 bucks a month. Again, this is just really back of the napkin. 2,000 bucks a month. Now, let’s see what would happen if we went back and plugged that in. How much should I plug in here, Emily?

Emily: [01:06:11] 24.

Ramit Sethi: [01:06:12] Yep. 24,000, right?

Emily: [01:06:13] Yep.

Ramit Sethi: [01:06:16] Okay. Let’s take a look at what happens. Dang. Over $1,000,000. This is starting to become interesting now. What do you notice, Emily?

Emily: [01:06:32] Like I literally have that amount right now that I could be putting in there, so it’s definitely kind of crazy to think that that small little chunk would be over a million before I’m even 55.

Ramit Sethi: [01:06:52] Correct. And can we play with a couple of these numbers just to show you something? Because right now I think what we’ve just done is we’ve taken these lenses that are on your eyes. What were those lenses that you look at the world through before our call today?

Emily: [01:07:08] Just like fear and that it’s gambling.

Ramit Sethi: [01:07:12] Yeah. And safety. I need safety. And to you safety is it needs to be sitting in a savings account, but it’s actually costing you over $1,000,000. It’s actually costing you more than that. What are the new lenses that you’re putting on right now? Just for a moment, I’m not saying you have to keep them on, but what are you putting on right now?

Emily: [01:07:30] Just the potential. 

Ramit Sethi: [01:07:33] Yeah. Growth or adventure. Potential. Yeah. You have 70k more just sitting around. For fun let’s just put all 70k in. How about that? I’m not saying you have to do it, but I’m just playing. What do you think’s going to happen when I push calculate?

Jan: [01:07:51] One and a half million.

Ramit Sethi: [01:07:53] 1.4 million.

Jan: [01:07:57] Since line.

Ramit Sethi: [01:07:59] Let’s not do that because I know you want some money saved up just in case for a rainy day. And that’s totally fair. How much do you need for a rainy day? How do you decide that amount?

Emily: [01:08:13] You take what you’re planning on, your monthly fixed income is and you multiply it, I think can either be three months or six months but I feel more comfortable with six at this moment.

Ramit Sethi: [01:08:24] I love it. Okay, great. So that means you have how much left over to invest here?

Emily: [01:08:31] So we have another 18, probably a little bit more if I really wanted to pull it, but–

Ramit Sethi: [01:08:39] All right. So what I want to show you here on this balance is this is how much the money grows every year. The first year is 30k, then 32k, then 34k, then 36k. It’s sort of steady. All right. But if you add that number we talked about $24,000 per year, look at how the math goes. 30k, 56, 84. 

So far you can see it’s growing by a modest amount, 20 to 30k a year. That’s fine. You’re putting pretty much that in. But watch what happens just a few years. By the time you’re in your 40s, it grows from 441,000 to 496000. Then the next year it grows from 496,000 to 555,000. 

At a certain point, you’re making essentially $100,000 a year in growth. And if you keep investing, again, this is just extending it, you’re actually making more from your investments than you make from your interest. What does that tell you?

Emily: [01:09:39] As our income grows, if we’re working from a percentage basis, then that annual income or the annual contribution will be bigger. So this will grow faster.

Ramit Sethi: [01:09:53] You nailed it. In fact, let’s model that out really quick. So right now, your annual edition is $24,000, but you two are young. You’re in your 30s. How much do you think over the course of your lifetime that you will be able to annually contribute on average? Is it higher or lower than 24,000?

Emily: [01:10:16] I think higher.

Ramit Sethi: [01:10:17] I think so too. So pick a number. I’m not going to hold you to it, but let’s just pick a number.

Emily: [01:10:26] What you think, babe.

Jan: [01:10:28] 36. Let’s average it out.

Ramit Sethi: [01:10:30] Okay.

Emily: [01:10:30] I was going to say 50.

Ramit Sethi: [01:10:32] Well, let’s do both. I like it. Okay. 36,000. So you can see here, by age 50, you have $1.3 million. By age 60, you have 3.1. By age 70, you have $6 million. Now, how about we change that to 50,000 and then you tell me what you think. 

In this case, by age 50, you have 1.8. Look at how fast it starts to grow. By age 60, you have 4.2. By age 70, you have $9 million. Each year, at that point, you’re making over half a million dollars in interest alone. I mean, if we want to keep going, by the time you’re 80, you have $18 million and you’re making over $1.2 million a year in interest. This just shows you the power of compounding.

Emily: [01:11:20] That’s crazy.

Ramit Sethi: [01:11:20] So let me ask you this, looking at this, Emily, what occurs to you?

Emily: [01:11:29] Well, it feels more inspiring versus scary. It definitely makes it like a goal or challenge versus feeling this is something that I have to do and I just haven’t.

Ramit Sethi: [01:11:46] Yeah. And what does it make you think about that money that’s sitting in your savings account?

Emily: [01:11:51] Well, then it would be doing a whole lot more if it was in one of these we invested in.

Ramit Sethi: [01:11:57] But, Emily, right now, your beliefs in money, how much are they costing you?

Emily: [01:12:06] Millions of dollars.

Ramit Sethi: [01:12:08] How much exactly? Look at that number at the very bottom by the time you’re 82 years old.

Emily: [01:12:14] Just over $21 million.

Ramit Sethi: [01:12:20] [Narration] 

This conversation has taken some very interesting turns today. We started off with a secret $100,000 loan that Jan took, and we ended with Emily and Jan realizing that they are sitting on potentially over $20 million. That is why I love getting couples to engage with money. They often find that they are playing so small. After our conversation, I received a follow-up letter. You can read the full letter at iwt.com/followups, but here’s a quick excerpt of what Emily said, “I have never considered my parents divorce as something that would inform how I subconsciously feel about money. 

“When Ramit asked me about the change when my parents began living in two separate houses, I can honestly say I’ve never looked at that specific transition. It was such a small period of time in my life. I have never considered myself being someone who was so afraid of change. “Jan has taken a much more tender stance with me when it comes to our money conversations, and I’m feeling far less insecure and frozen talking about what to do.” 

You can read those full letters again at iwt.com/followups. Don’t forget to download your conscious spending plan at iwt.com/episode68. Thank you for listening to I Will Teach You to Be Rich and be sure to come back next week to hear my conversation with Chris and Camilla. Here’s a sneak peek. 

[Interview] 

How many of your friends and family and the people around you talk about their house, housing costs, housing investments, etc?

Camilla: [01:14:00] Everybody, it’s disgusting.

Chris: [01:14:03] It’s a status thing. If you’re not playing that game, then what are you doing? Even if it’s all fake.

Camilla: [01:14:11] One of the things two leading up to this was one of our friends who we knew didn’t make as much money as we did, but they were able to buy a nicer home. Can’t help but feel a little jealous.

Ramit Sethi: [01:14:27] When you bought at the peak, did you have a conversation that it might go down?

Chris: [01:14:32] Not in depth.

Camilla: [01:14:34] It just all came crashing down together. It’s affected all areas of our life. This is a constant state of anxiety every night.

Ramit Sethi: [01:14:48] Thanks for listening to I Will Teach You to Be Rich. I’m Ramit Sethi. Please follow the show on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you haven’t read, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, my book, pick up a copy. You can get it at any bookstore or any library, and it will show you the specific tactics for how to build the I Will Teach You to Be Rich system into your personal finances.