Connie and Wes have severe gender expectations. Connie desperately wants Wes to be the “man” in the relationship and pay for dinner. But when he tries, she scolds him to save for the future instead. This toxic dynamic is made worse by what we last heard in part 1… Connie’s net worth is—get this—over $6 million!

Can someone who’s making over $200k a month ever feel in balance with a partner bringing home $2k? The answer, of course, is yes—but getting Connie there is one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced on the podcast.

The canyons between their bank accounts and understanding of money are immense. Listen in as we bring them together with a shared vision of equity, respect, and joy.

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“She asked me, in a roundabout way… Is it a problem if you don’t bring anything to the table financially?”

–Wes

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Transcript

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Ramit Sethi: [00:00:00] So you make 2.4 million a year income.

Connie: [00:00:03] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:04] Your investments total are worth how much?

Connie: [00:00:06] A little over 6 million.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:07] Okay. And, Wes, have you ever been in a relationship where at the time you were making 2,000 a month, your partner was making 200,000 a month?

Wes: [00:00:16] Certainly not.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:17] And so, Connie, if you paid for dinner with the two of you, how would you feel about it?

Connie: [00:00:22] I feel like I’m not getting what I want out of the relationship. And then I also feel like it’s irresponsible of me to let him take me out to dinner.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:32] You want him to do exactly what you do with money. Is that fair to say?

Connie: [00:00:39] Yeah, that sounds horrible, but yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:42] But he’s not you.

Connie: [00:00:46] Yep.

[Narration]

Ramit Sethi: [00:00:48] In the second part of my conversation with Connie and Wes, we’re going to get into the numbers. They are 41 and 32. They’ve been dating about a year. And their incomes are very, very different. Connie brings in over $200,000 per month and is worth over $6 million. Wes lives with his mom and just started investing this year. 

And as part of starting a new business, he pays himself $2,000 a month. In other words, Connie makes 100 times what Wes makes. But Connie believes that the man should be the provider in a relationship. And that is what we are going to talk about today, along with the help of their actual numbers. 

Now, Connie and Wes prepared by using a conscious spending plan which you can download at iwt.com/episode65. This is the I Will Teach You to Be Rich podcast and I am Ramit Sethi. Let’s get back into it. 

[Interview]

So you make $2.4 million a year income and then we take out taxes and all that stuff.

Connie: [00:01:54] Yes, it’s only been the last few years and there’s no guarantee.

Ramit Sethi: [00:01:58] Can we just take a second before you pivot us to some other weird caveat? You make over $2 million a year. What do you think about that number?

Connie: [00:02:09] I think I’m very blessed and fortunate in life.

Ramit Sethi: [00:02:11] Yeah, that’s cool. Can we all get a round of applause? $2 million, take the win. Have you ever stopped to really appreciate how financially successful you are? No, that’s a no. You’re looking into the stars and going, I make $2.4 million a year. That’s pretty good.

Connie: [00:02:36] Well, I was getting on a podcast and sharing it with millions of people. I don’t really feel like it’s appropriate to share that with people. So, no, I don’t–

Ramit Sethi: [00:02:44] Well, now you get to share it. I don’t mind a little flexing on this show.

Connie: [00:02:47] I’m proud of myself. I am. I’m very–

Ramit Sethi: [00:02:49]  I’m proud of you. Okay, fantastic. Type A people admittedly have a real problem celebrating things. I know because until I met my wife, I also never celebrated anything. I was like, “What’s next? What’s next?” 

[Narration]

Notice that even when I was pointing out that Connie makes millions of dollars a year, she started to pivot to downplaying it and minimizing it. I’m not about to have that on this show. One of my philosophies is take the win because if you can’t celebrate something along the way, you’re not going to celebrate it ever. Connie has done an awesome job with her finances, and I think it’s important that she recognizes it. 

[Interview]

When did you both realize that you had such a large differential in finances?

Wes: [00:03:34] I imagine she knew it from the beginning. She knew it from the beginning.

Connie: [00:03:40] Yeah, I think I knew it before Wes did.

Wes: [00:03:42] Certainly. I remember sitting down, we were sitting down outside of a salad place fair day and she even asked me, she said, “Hey, is it a problem for you that–” She roundabout said, “Is it a problem that you can not bring anything to the table financially?”

Connie: [00:03:58] Oh, gosh, I’m sure I didn’t say it that directly.

Wes: [00:04:01] No, I said roundabout.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:04] Hold on. Hold on. I got to know, what is the roundabout way to ask that question? Connie, how would you say that?

Connie: [00:04:11] I think maybe– and Wes, you have a better memory than I do, but I think I probably would have asked, “Would you have a problem being in a relationship if a female makes significantly more money?” So I was very hypothetical.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:25] Hypothetical? Did that sound hypothetical to anyone? It’d be like me meeting my wife for the first time and going, “Would you have a problem being in a relationship with an Indian guy who has absolutely amazing eyebrows?” There’s literally nothing hypothetical about that at all. That’s interesting. Can I just say, first of all, Wes, would you agree that that might have been how she said it?

Wes: [00:04:25] Well, I don’t even actually think she got around to the question. She danced around it. She beat around the bush so much that I had to ask the question for her. And then she finally agreed, yes, that’s what I’m saying.

Ramit Sethi: [00:04:59] Isn’t it interesting that there’s the surface-level question of how would you feel if a female partner earned more than you? And then there’s the way you interpret it, which is, how would you feel if you did not add value to this relationship? Those seem to be two different things to me.

Connie: [00:05:23] I love your insight on that, and I think in large part it’s my fault the way that Wes has rearranged that question because I think I’m in huge part responsible for him sometimes feeling like, what am I bringing to the table?

Ramit Sethi: [00:05:39] So when it came to eating out, is that important to the two of you to do it once a month?

Wes: [00:05:50] So I asked her if I could just even once a year take her out somewhere nice, and that was a hard commitment.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:01] Once a year? Connie, Why? Are you too busy for that?

Connie: [00:06:07] It’s not a time thing. I think if I knew that he had x amount that was going to retirement savings every month, then with what’s left over, I would be comfortable with him taking me out.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:19] You didn’t know your parents when they were dating. What do you think they would have done in your situation where the two of you do not live together, your finances are not joined? How do you think they would have handled it?

Connie: [00:06:33] So I do know because my parents talk a lot about that part of their life, and it’s still how they are. They didn’t go on dates that cost money. They didn’t go on vacations. They didn’t do things that cost money.

Ramit Sethi: [00:06:48] Wow. Times are certainly different, aren’t they? So you’re all going out to eat, that costs money. How much do your meals cost when you go out to eat?

Connie: [00:06:58] For me, we don’t really do that.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:00] Well, who’s picking up these checks? What checks are we talking about?

Connie: [00:07:04] That’s where the problem is.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:05] Tell me.

Connie: [00:07:08] And not to say we don’t go out, but we had our first real dinner date in the last month.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:15] What? How long have you two been together?

Wes: [00:07:18] Over a year.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:20] Okay, so you went to that salad place the first time. Okay.

Connie: [00:07:25] It was a nice place. We just only got salad because I didn’t think it was fair for me to buy an actual meal. So I just got an entree because I feel like it’s irresponsible for Wes to be spending money cultivating this relationship when I think it’s more responsible for money to be going into savings for him.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:50] You feel that way about his finances?

Connie: [00:07:54] Yeah, because I have control issues and I want to, yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:07:58] Okay. And Wes, what do you feel about, for example, going out to dinner?

Wes: [00:08:05] Well, so with what I grew up seeing, is that my dad would take the family out, occasionally once every other Friday, like I said. And he would pick up a check. And then when I have told Connie repeatedly that I would love to take her out to dinner, let’s go do that. But when we do go to dinner, I would like to pick up the tab, but I get the– I’m not going to call it a scolding, but I get a little bit of a lecture that’s like, hey, you shouldn’t be paying for this. So one, we shouldn’t go out to dinner. And two, if we do go out to dinner, she’s going to pay for it, not me. And it’s like, well, I really just want to take you out. You order whatever you want on the menu and let me pick up the tab. And she thinks that’s a bad financial decision.

Ramit Sethi: [00:08:55] What if she did pay? What would happen?

Wes: [00:08:59] She has before. And I feel like she was taking me out more than I was taking her out.

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:10] Because she paid?

Wes: [00:09:12] Because she paid. If she’s going to be paying for it, it’s like, okay, well, then I don’t want to choose this expensive place with this excellent steak with these sides because I’m not paying for it. She is, and she thinks it’s a bad financial decision. So it’s like, “Okay, well, let’s just go to this buffet or whatever.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:31] Connie, if you paid for dinner with the two of you, how would you feel about it?

Connie: [00:09:35] I think it’s something that I need to come to terms with.

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:39] Tell me how you would really feel, then we could talk about what you should feel.

Connie: [00:09:43] I feel like I’m not getting what I want out of the relationship. And then I also feel like it’s irresponsible of me to let him take me out to dinner.

Ramit Sethi: [00:09:57] [Narration]

I just want to reiterate what’s going on here. Connie makes 100 times more than Wes. She has $6 million at the age of 41, and she could stop working today. Yet her gender beliefs are so strong, the idea that the man should pay and should be a provider, that she has denied herself and Wes the chance to even have dinner out for virtually their entire relationship. That is how strong gender roles are. 

[Interview]

Tell me about you. If you paid for dinner for the two of you, what would you feel about that? Can I throw out some words and you tell me which one of these hits? 

Connie: [00:10:41] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:10:41] Would you feel happy?

Connie: [00:10:44] No.

Ramit Sethi: [00:10:45] Would you feel resentful?

Connie: [00:10:51] I think resentful is a strong word, but I would feel a little resentful. What would make me feel a little bit more resentful is if we make the decision to not go out to dinner because it’s in the best interest of his finances, or if we go out to dinner and if I pick up the tab because I think that money should go into his savings. 

And again, I love Wes’s family, but then when I know that Wes and his mom went out to dinner, or he took his niece and nephew out to lunch or sushi or went out for a big birthday celebration, and then I’m like– and I think resentful is a strong word, but I’m like, why are we as a couple making these decisions or probably why am I making these decisions if that money is going to be spent somewhere else as opposed to going into a retirement account?

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:43] You want him to do exactly what you do with money. Is that fair to say?

Connie: [00:11:50] Yeah, that sounds horrible, but yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:56] But he’s not you.

Connie: [00:11:57] Yep.

Ramit Sethi: [00:11:59] So instead of focusing on all the things that he doesn’t do right with his money, let’s talk for a second about, in your opinion, what does he do right.

Connie: [00:12:08] I am so proud of where he’s come in the last 18 months. But he took the risk of starting his own business. And that’s something that so many people talk about and nobody actually takes that step. And I’m so proud of him for doing that and for getting to where he’s gotten and it’s mind-blowingly amazing. He’s beating odds. Wes, I love you. When we met, his only savings was in crypto. And–

Ramit Sethi: [00:12:44] Wait. I like to beat up on crypto people as much as possible, but this is supposed to be you complimenting him–

Wes: [00:12:49] I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve been waiting for this. Yes. Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:12:52] Just hold on a second. I’m asking Connie, what do you think he does right? And we’re somehow on how he did all this weird shit with crypto. Let’s just rewind, Connie. Try it again. Try it again. What is he doing right with money? Because it seems like there’s a lot going on positively here.

Connie: [00:13:09] Yeah. So in the last year, he’s gotten insurance. He set up a Roth. Did you max it out or do you just put $5,000 in it?

Wes: [00:13:19] Yeah. It’s not maxed out yet.

Connie: [00:13:20] Okay, but he opened up a Roth and I know he’s been thinking about opening up before 401k. And in my world, because I’m such an action person, I’m like, “Just don’t think about it, don’t read about it, just do it.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:32] Really? Like just going to the gym every Saturday and Sunday. Like that?

Connie: [00:13:38] Well, we could put it that way.

Ramit Sethi: [00:13:40] It’s interesting, Connie, because you almost direct this searchlight over to Wes and it’s blinding in a relationship. We should reframe this entire metaphor. I don’t want one person to have a searchlight on the other. What I want is for the two of you to have a joint vision. 

It’s almost like a series of candles that you light together. And you decide at some parts of our life, all of the candles are going to be lit. And at some parts of our life, some of that is going to be dark because we have other things we need to focus on. But I would much rather that the two of you create that type of lighting between the two of you rather than shining a light in the other’s eyes.

Connie: [00:14:28] And that is something that Wes is so much better at than I am. And is something that he brings to the relationship. And it’s going to make me a better person and it’s going to make our relationship stronger because he does that and I need to work on doing that.

Ramit Sethi: [00:14:45] All right, cool. So what would it look like if the two of you said, we are going to go out to eat once a month? Would it be possible? A lot of silence on this call. It got really quiet.

Connie: [00:15:07] So it would be possible.

Ramit Sethi: [00:15:10] What’s your caveat? Go ahead.

Connie: [00:15:13] It goes back to the trust of finances. And so, for example, Wes and I went out to Vegas. I had a business meeting out there, and then Wes and I were going on vacation for two or three days. And, Wes, it was a $300 credit that we had at the dinner place?

Wes: [00:15:30] Yes.

Connie: [00:15:31] So we had a $300 credit for– it was a nice dinner place. So we went. I had drinks with my business partner ahead of time, and I knew that we were getting close to that $300 mark. And I love the thought of Wes just being the man and just making decisions. I love the theoretical thought of that. And I had a glass of wine, and the waiter asked if we wanted the whole bottle. And again, I love the notion of Wes just taking charge, but I was more on the, I’m just going to have a glass of wine and Wes said, “Let’s get the whole bottle.”

So next thing you know, dinner cost $400 instead of $300. And we didn’t drink the bottle of wine and $100 is such a minuscule rounding error. It doesn’t count anywhere in regard to my net worth. But it was the trust issue of, I have to pick up that extra $100.

Ramit Sethi: [00:16:37] Jumping in here again to remind you that Connie is worth $6 million. I calculate how much $100 is worth to her, it’s the equivalent– who cares? I’m not going to do this for God’s sake. What would it look like if the two of you were totally aligned on money right now?

Connie: [00:16:53] When there is something that was fun and exciting that I wanted to go do, we would just go do it and price wouldn’t be an issue.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:00] Who would pay?

Connie: [00:17:02] I would.

Ramit Sethi: [00:17:07] Wes, what would it look like if you were aligned about money right now?

Wes: [00:17:14] Well, that’s a pretty difficult question to answer because I feel like it’s so not where we are. I don’t even know what a lining. She enjoys traveling. I also enjoy traveling, but aligning financially, I know perhaps having a place together and being able to plan out future vacations, and not worry about what the price of the food is in the grocery store– do you buy organic which is a little bit more expensive? Did you get it on sale because it’s buy one get one free and things like that, aligning financially, I don’t even have a super clear vision of what that might look like with us, to be honest.

Ramit Sethi: [00:18:19] Yeah, I can hear that. And so you remain in the weeds. 

[Narration]

I ask this question all the time on this podcast, and almost everyone eventually gives me a really creative, amazing answer. But Wes’s response is actually the first real sad note among the three of us. He has no idea what an aligned life might look like. That is a pretty honest and stark admission and one that I hope Connie is hearing.

[Interview]

Obviously, there’s something a lot deeper than $100 going on here because this is not about $100. It’s about setting up trust in your relationship, and it’s about creating some rules so the two of you know how the game is played. 

Right now, the game is being played very differently. Connie expects Wes to live a financial life just like Connie. That’s not possible. Connie, you have a lifetime of implicit knowledge. At the same time, there are certain things that you want in a partner. Wes, you have this narrative of wanting to be the man, and the man is a provider. The fact is, your partner makes hundreds of times more than you do. I can see why it’s such a challenge in this relationship. I’m going to say that upfront. 

People tend to be in relationships with people who were raised similarly to them. The gap between the two of you in terms of just pure finances is vast. The gap in knowledge is vast. We have to be honest about that. This is a huge financial difference. Now I’m going to ask that question again, do you think there’s a way for the two of you to come up with a joint vision for your rich life?

Connie: [00:20:16] I do.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:18] Okay. Wes?

Wes: [00:20:19] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:20] Wes, let’s start with you and your finances. Tell me about what you want to do in terms of how much you invest every single year.

Wes: [00:20:32] Okay, so over the past six months, I have invested more than a half of my entire life.

Ramit Sethi: [00:20:36] That’s awesome. You have a ramp-up that is quite dramatic. You’ve started to make more money. You’ve started to become a lot savvier. It’s no surprise to me that you’ve invested more in the last six months than in your entire life. I have no problem with that at all. Warren Buffett made more after the age of 80 than he did in his entire previous 80 years. That’s how it works. Compound interest. So, okay, but you do invest. Would you agree?

Wes: [00:21:04] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:05] Okay. What percentage of your income would you like to invest? Do you think like that?

Wes: [00:21:14] Not until I filled out the spreadsheet.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:16] That’s right. That’s called a conscious spending plan for everyone listening. Download it on the episode guide.

Connie: [00:21:22] It’s great.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:23] So you take home $2,000 a month, right?

Wes: [00:21:29] Yeah, roughly.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:30]  What is it? Less than that or more than that?

Wes: [00:21:32] Yeah, I don’t pay myself very often. I pay myself when I need to eat.

Ramit Sethi: [00:21:35] Yeah, that’s not a very savvy way of looking at money. Can we talk about that for a second? You are artificially paying yourself too little. So as an entrepreneur, every entrepreneur does that in the beginning. They’re like, “I don’t want to pay myself too much. I’m going to put it all back in the business.” That’s great. 

But eventually they have to pay themselves market rate because that is a real business. Otherwise, it’s like you’re faking the success of your business at your own expense. So I don’t mind if you pay yourself 2,000 right now, but there’s got to be a path to you paying yourself 3,000, 4,000 a month, etc.

Wes: [00:22:17] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:18] How do you feel about that?

Wes: [00:22:20] I feel like it is definitely going to happen sometime in the near future.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:26] Great. Okay. So at 2,000 a month, you would invest roughly $400 a month.

Wes: [00:22:36] Oh, yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:36] Fantastic. How does that feel, Connie, to hear Wes say that?

Connie: [00:22:45] So Wes and I thought the other day, looked at how much he wanted to get to when he retired and the amount of money that he would need to start saving on a monthly basis now in order to get to that point.

Ramit Sethi: [00:22:59] Okay.

Connie: [00:23:01] That number is very different than $400 a month.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:05] Connie, he already said he’s going to invest 20% a month. That’s the deal.

Connie: [00:23:10] That’s awesome. I’m excited. That’s awesome.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:11] Are we creating more problems than we need to create? I feel like life is hard enough. We don’t need to create more problems. He agreed. Let’s take the win.

Connie: [00:23:19] Perfect. Wes, I think that is wonderful that you’re going to start saving 20% a month. That’s huge.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:25] All right, great. So every month, you’re now paying yourself a minimum of 2,000 a month, every month, not just sporadically. That’s not how it works anymore every month. And every month, you are going to be taking out a percentage of that automatically investing it, correct?

Wes: [00:23:41] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:23:42] Okay. That’s already worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fantastic. All right. Rule number one set. 

[Narration]

Here’s the principle I’m employing. In your finances, fight for consistency. What that means is if you have an irregular income, you want to simulate having a consistent income. You can use the system in chapter five of my book to do that. 

If you have unexpected expenses that always seem to come up, sit down and map them all out. Map them out for the next 12 months. Gifts, car is probably going to break down. We might have an unexpected leak and on and on and then set money aside for it. If you randomly invest money here or there, stop it. Invest a percentage of your income and set it up to happen automatically. 

The point is, you do not want to be fiddling around with the mechanics of your financial system. You want to elevate. And in order to elevate, you need to have as much consistency as possible. Now let’s watch Connie and Wes create a money rule together. 

[Interview]

All right. Next up would be something fun. So dinner out or drinks or whatever. What’s the rule you all want to create around this?

Connie: [00:25:00] Wes, I make so many of the decisions in regards to what we do. You’re in charge of this one.

Wes: [00:25:05] I would love to be able to either take her out on a fun night out or us to go do a fun activity like recently we went ziplining as a matter of fact.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:05] Great.

Wes: [00:25:19] Something like that, maybe once a month, I think would be really great for us.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:24] Great. Once a month. What’s the ballpark that you’re going to allocate for this? In other words, how much are you going to spend on this thing?

Wes: [00:25:33] Anywhere between $75 to $300.

Connie: [00:25:38] So no bottles of wine?

Wes: [00:25:42] Here we go. See, there we go.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:45] What just happened?

Connie: [00:25:48] I reverted back to my old ways because that’s really easy for me to do.

Ramit Sethi: [00:25:53] What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to meet each other in a place that allows you to both co-create these rules. And if you are consciously or unconsciously saying things that are going to drive back to where you used to be, then this is one step forward, two steps back, and you’re never going to get where you want to go.

Connie: [00:26:14] I agree.

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:15] Okay. And honestly, making snarky comments about $100 when you have $6 million is a little distasteful. So let’s try that again. How much will be spent, Wes, on this monthly outing?

Wes: [00:26:33] And an average of $150.

Ramit Sethi: [00:26:37] Okay, great. Great. Who pays?

Connie: [00:26:41] So, Wes, I’m okay with the average of $75 to $300. And we’ve talked about things that Wes wants in his rich life, and part of that involves nice dinners.

Ramit Sethi: [00:27:00] I thought Wes was planning this thing. Is it Wes planning it? We’ll do your thing, too. Don’t worry, Connie, I want to hear what you want to do for every month. We’ll get to that. I’m just asking who’s paying for this outing?

Wes: [00:27:12] I am.

Ramit Sethi: [00:27:13] You are?

Wes: [00:27:15] Yes.

Connie: [00:27:15] So I know Wes is in charge, but I’m okay paying for it. If Wes can do number the first rule, I would love to take care of the date for the second rule.

Ramit Sethi: [00:27:27] You guys discuss that. I’d love to hear how you come to this decision. This is a really important one. So talk about it.

Wes: [00:27:34] Well, sweetheart, you tell me that you want me to pick up the check, and so I’m trying to pick up the check. What is it you want to have happen?

Connie: [00:27:46] I think the idea of you automating a certain amount going into savings that you’re not going to touch retirement savings on a monthly basis, that gets me so excited about our potential financial future that I would love to be able to give you what is your version of a rich life date. And I would love to just give you my credit card and you just take care of it. And I just know that it’s going to be between $75 and $300, and I’m just going to trust you with that.

And so you’re still taking care of it. You’re doing the chivalrous, manly thing, you’re planning it. You’re coming up with the idea, you’re taking me out. It’s just a minor detail that you have my credit card, and I’m just going to trust you with that. It still fulfills everything I’m looking for, but does it take away–

Ramit Sethi: [00:28:41] Less is more, Connie. Just stop right there. Wes.

Wes: [00:28:46] Well, as compromising as that sounds, it contradicts itself a little bit for what we’ve talked about a couple of times with, you want me to pick up the tab. And that’s the chivalrous thing for a man to do. So I don’t really know how to feel about that.

Connie: [00:29:12] I think more than I want you to pick up the tab, I just want to know that we have a financial future together. And just like when my parents used to go out to dinner and my dad would always pick up the bill, but it was with their joint money. This to me is the same thing. You’re doing the manly thing and you’re taking care of me. And you are planning the date that you would love to have and when that bill comes, you’re going to reach for it and you’re just going to give them the credit card that’s in your wallet that happens to be mine.

Wes: [00:29:54] Okay, well, if that’s okay with you, then I’m okay with that. I’m on board with that.

Connie: [00:30:09] And I feel like it’s a good first step, you just trusting that we have these boundaries, that it’s $75 to $300 and it’s the beginning of a good trust situation.

Wes: [00:30:24] Okay.

Connie: [00:30:25] Does that take away you feeling like you’re not providing?

Wes: [00:30:34] Well, it’s more supposed to be a fun evening for us to just enjoy time with each other than it is me strictly providing. So if you feel like me putting x percent into savings every month is more of providing than– really the one evening a month is really just supposed to be having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

Ramit Sethi: [00:31:04] Can I step in for a second?

Wes: [00:31:06] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:31:08] There are so many stories at play here. There’s the gender issues of a man needs to be providing. And both of you use that story. Just to be very candid, when Connie has $6 million and makes $2.4 million a year, it will be very hard for any man to financially provide. There are lots of different ways to provide in a relationship, lots.

What do we say about a partner who just had children and she’s staying home? Is she not providing at all? Of course not. She’s providing. What might we say about a man who got laid off and is taking three months staying home with the children and helping them read every day or we’re doing whatever other things around the house or providing emotional intimacy, taking the lead on housework? Is he providing? I think so. It’s just not part of our culture, is it?

Connie: [00:32:13] Wes provides in me in so many ways.

Ramit Sethi: [00:32:16] You guys want to let these dumb stories about gender roles dictate you being able to go out to one dinner per month? It seems crazy to me. And the fact is we can choose our roles. Do you realize how lucky we all are to be able to choose the role that we have? Do you know 50 years ago this couldn’t have happened? 

And do you know that in your parents’ or certainly your mom or grandmother’s time, some of them couldn’t get bank accounts or credit cards without their husbands? And yet we get the chance to choose our roles. If you let these stories you were taught, if you believe them, then you are depriving yourself of even one dinner per month. Is that really what you want to do?

Wes: [00:33:11] No.

Ramit Sethi: [00:33:12] [Narration]

If you were just looking at their incomes alone, this entire conversation would seem silly. But it’s not silly. It’s real. These gender roles are frustrating and aggravating, and they’re also real. Gender roles and other parts of culture are never written down as a formal set of rules, but they are nonetheless real, so real that they persist for generations. They’re passed down in the stories we read, the movies we watch, even the rituals we participate in like who reaches for the check? 

But if you’re fortunate enough to recognize your culture and you have the freedom to choose, then you’re in the enviable position of being able to decide what kind of life you want to create for yourself. Don’t take this for granted. Do you really want to let a story you were told dictate your ability to spend time with each other? 

[Interview]

So Wes plans dinner for the 15th of the month, let’s say, and it’s a surprise and he plans this thing– by the way, for everyone, Connie’s clapping right now. She’s so excited. That’s cool. Wes, that’s a big tell, isn’t it?

Wes: [00:34:26] Oh, yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:26] All right. And Wes is smiling too.

Connie: [00:34:28] I love this idea.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:30] Okay. This is great. So when does Wes get your credit card, Connie?

Connie: [00:34:35] Any time.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:37] Okay, Wes, when would you get it?

Wes: [00:34:44] Probably when I pick her up from her house.

Ramit Sethi: [00:34:51] So you pick her up, and then tell me what you’re going to say. You see why I’m getting into this right now because this credit card handover is very symbolic for the two of you, isn’t it?

Wes: [00:35:07] Yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:35:08] What does it symbolize, Connie?

Connie: [00:35:14] Me trusting him.

Ramit Sethi: [00:35:15] Yeah. You’re literally handing over trust. And, Wes, what does it symbolize to you when you ask for the credit card or you receive the credit card?

Connie: [00:35:30] Am I allowed to jump in?

Ramit Sethi: [00:35:31] No.

Wes: [00:35:34] It symbolizes about me that I am willing to let her pay for it and not feel guilt about that or shame.

Ramit Sethi: [00:35:49] Yeah. You are rewriting your own identity as a man. You choose. 

Wes: [00:35:56] That’s tough because something like care–

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:04] Go ahead. Keep talking.

Wes: [00:36:08] I have never been in a relationship where I have asked my significant other for their card.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:19] Have you ever been in a relationship where you were making $2,000 a month?

Wes: [00:36:25] No.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:25] And have you ever been in a relationship where at the time you were making $2,000 a month, your partner was making $200,000 a month?

Wes: [00:36:34] Certainly not.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:36] So, Wes, how do you get the credit card from Connie? Seems to me like you don’t want to ask for it. Am I right?

Wes: [00:36:46] I’m a little bit hesitant. Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:36:48] Yeah. Okay. I can understand that. So let’s find another way. Let’s make our own symbols. Connie, any ideas here so that Wes really does not want to have to ask for it? Do you know why he doesn’t want to have to ask for it?

Connie: [00:37:02] It’s not manly. It doesn’t fit into that story.

Ramit Sethi: [00:37:06] Yeah. So this is an easy one to just shortcut. So what do you want to do to make it easy?

Connie: [00:37:11] He shows up, he knocks at the door. I give him a big hug and a kiss, and I just hand it to him and I don’t say anything.

Ramit Sethi: [00:37:18] Okay. Wes, it’s going to take an adjustment. Try it the first time. Maybe it works, maybe it’s awkward. But the two of you would be able to have a conversation. And can you imagine a conversation where Wes goes, I have to say, it felt a little weird to me. I wonder if there’s something else we could do. could we call ahead? Could we leave the credit card on the dining table? Is there something else because it just feels awkward to me, and I want this to feel really good for both of us. Connie, would you be open to having that conversation?

Connie: [00:37:58] Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:38:00] Wes, if you feel like it’s a little weird to you, would you be willing to have that conversation and bring it up?

Wes: [00:38:06] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:38:07] Okay, great. There we go. And you know what’s funny? You might be surprised. Maybe your parents had exactly this conversation 30 years ago, 40 years ago. Who knows? We never know what happens behind closed doors. Well, except on this podcast. It’s called the I Will Teach You to Be Rich podcast, real stories from behind closed doors. Who puts their own show on their own show? What is wrong with me? Oh, my God.

I got to go back to marketing 101. So what I love about this is you to get to create your own rules. And I love getting into the details of where does the credit card happen? When the check comes, who takes–? But now you’ve created a set of rules for yourself. 

Listen, I’m going to promote my own podcast on my own podcast until you go and leave me a review on Apple Podcasts. So if you enjoy the show, please go rate and review it. As for Connie and Wes, that was awesome to watch them create a rule together. 

Let’s make another rule, this time tied to Wes’s growing income. And this is part of making his finances more consistent and predictable. Now let’s create another rule because eventually, I have a lot of confidence that Wes’s business is going to grow. So, Wes, talk to me about when you start paying yourself more. Let’s just say you go from 2,000 a month to– what would be the next level you start paying yourself?

Wes: [00:39:38] 35.

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:40] $3,500 a month?

Wes: [00:39:41] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:39:41] Okay, great. What changes for you when you pay yourself from 2,000 a month to $3500 a month?

Wes: [00:39:52] I know I need to buy nice clothes to take her out because that’s been a conversation.

Ramit Sethi: [00:40:05] Can I give some guidance here?

Wes: [00:40:07] Sure. Yes, please. Please save me.

Ramit Sethi: [00:40:09] One of the things that differentiate the rich from everybody else is the rich plan for things before they need it. So let’s take a second right now and actually plan what you’re going to do with the money because if you don’t, it’ll just get invisibly absorbed into your life. Okay. You want to spend a little bit more on clothes? Fantastic. That would be easily done with you paying yourself $1,500 more per month. What else? Maybe something regarding Connie, something about how you’ve wanted to do some fun stuff and maybe pay for it completely on your own. What might that be?

Wes: [00:40:50] Certainly, if we could do some fun activity or if we were to go on vacation because she enjoys traveling, if there’s a particular excursion or something that I wanted to go on and I wanted us to go on and say, “Hey, let’s go to this excursion.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:07] How much per month?

Wes: [00:41:10] No idea.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:11] Ballpark it.

Wes: [00:41:18] Well,–

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:18] I know.

Connie: [00:41:19] When we were doing the conscious spending plan, Wes was putting in some of his numbers and I was like, “That doesn’t–

Wes: [00:41:27] Yeah, I said I said 500 a month. And she was like, “what vacation are we going to go off $500 a month?” And I was like, “Wow.”

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:33] Why is that too high or too low?

Wes: [00:41:35] Probably too low, apparently.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:37] So is it, Connie? She’s trying to bite her tongue right now. Connie, is that too low or too high? I’m confused. Just spit it out.

Connie: [00:41:49] I thought a lot of his numbers were a little bit on the low side.

Ramit Sethi: [00:41:52] Can I just tell you, people, when they do their first conscious spending plan, it’s a disaster. They don’t know anything. They don’t even know how much they make. I’m not joking. People go, “I don’t know how much I make.” I go like, “What? Do you not get a paycheck?” They literally do not know the basic numbers, but that’s okay. The first time they do it, like none of the numbers add up. One of the spreadsheets, it’s supposed to have a dollar value in it. It says, like Mars. I’m like, what in the hell is happening right now? 

But that’s fine. It’d be like the first time I tried to weld something. I don’t even know which direction to point this, whatever it’s called. That’s fine. We learn, we adapt it, and we go, “Okay, second version, third version.” Each time it gets a little easier. 

Don’t worry. No one ever does their conscious spending plan right the first time. It takes time to get it right. It takes multiple versions. It’s no big deal. If you want help filling out your CSP, just join the community in our coaching program and you can see how other people have done it, too.

All right, back to Connie and Wes. Wes, let’s say you want to do something for Connie. You want to go out to a lunch or you to go out and have a glass of wine once a month. How much would it cost? Let’s be conservative.

Wes: [00:43:06] Just go to lunch?

Ramit Sethi: [00:43:07] Yeah.

Wes: [00:43:11] $45 to $50.

Ramit Sethi: [00:43:13] Great. Let’s say 100 bucks because it’s the two of you and maybe you get a drink or something. 100 bucks a month, this gives you both a chance to go out a second time per month. You’ve got that first dinner which Wes is planning, Connie is paying although Wes is physically handing over the credit card. Great. We’ve got a second opportunity to go out. And this time Wes is planning and paying for it, 100 bucks. How do you feel, Wes?

Wes: [00:43:46] Yeah, sure. So, I mean, I would love to, any extra time would be great. I think it’s not so much about the money for me, it is just spending time with each other and enjoying each other’s company and have an experience. So I haven’t really been out to really nice places. 

Connie. She’s stayed at the Ritz-Carlton. She’s been on private jets. She’s done some incredible things. And the nicest place I’ve been to is ShopHouse where they have like a $70 steak and I’m like, “Oh, gosh, wow, what a treat this is.” I’ve been there once in my life.

Ramit Sethi: [00:44:24] Does it feel intimidating to go to the nicer places?

Wes: [00:44:29] It’s not necessarily intimidating. It’s just quite the opposite. It’s like, wow, what a fantastic treat this is. This is excellent. But that’s something she does for work on a regular basis. The nicest place in town probably knows her when she walks in.

Ramit Sethi: [00:44:46] And so what does that feel like to you?

Wes: [00:44:48] It would still be an awesome experience for me because I would love it. But it’s a little– I’m almost like, well, I think I would enjoy it more than she would. But like I said, it’s more for the experience for me because it’s something that I am not accustomed to. And so that is an experience that’s like, wow, this is nice. This is how I feel. I feel like a king walking through here.

Ramit Sethi: [00:45:18] Wes, I don’t mind you seeing it as a new experience. I think that’s really cool and I bet you Connie would enjoy seeing that as well. I remember the first time that my wife and I went to a really nice hotel together, just to see her reactions and her experiencing that for the first time, it felt incredible. 

And so even though Connie may have gone to that restaurant for work many times, it’s a totally different experience with an intimate partner. And I bet it’d just be fun to see you enjoying it. I think that would be amazing. Connie, what do you think about that?

Connie: [00:45:51] I fully agree with what you’re saying. I think going out to a nice dinner is much more of Wes’s rich life than my rich life. But I’m really excited because we haven’t, except for the one time in Vegas, in our hometown we’ve never been to a nice dinner and I’m excited to share that with you. 

How do I become more comfortable feeling like there still may not be enough going into monthly savings for Wes, and not feeling like I’m doing something that’s irresponsible for both of us by allowing him to pay.

Ramit Sethi: [00:46:32] How much more would Wes need to be contributing in order for you to feel good, contributing to his investment accounts?

Wes: [00:46:40] $3,000 a month.

Ramit Sethi: [00:46:43] Oh. Wes, you already knew that number off the top of your head. Obviously, you two have talked about that.

Connie: [00:46:47] We recently ran some numbers and in order for him to get to where he wanted at the time he wanted to retire, he would need to invest $3,000 a month, assuming 8% interest.

Ramit Sethi: [00:46:57] Have you two of you talked about getting married at some point or is it too early?

Wes: [00:47:04] We have not.

Ramit Sethi: [00:47:05] Okay.

Connie: [00:47:06] I will love to make a long-term commitment to Wes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:47:11] Are we about to have this conversation right now? I said real stories.

Wes: [00:47:21] It’s really funny on the podcast. Oh, yeah.

Ramit Sethi: [00:47:26] That would be amazing. Okay. So you believe, Connie, that if he invested $3,000 a month, that he would have enough for his future retirement goals? And how would you feel if he’s doing that?

Connie: [00:47:46] I would have full confidence that he’s completely financially independent and I would fully trust him in making money decisions. And I would know that we can combine our finances and–

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:00] Do you really think you would feel differently if he was contributing $3,000 a month? Because I’m not so sure.

Connie: [00:48:14] Intellectually, I think I would. And then I think about the most recent podcast I listened to that you did of a lady that just had a double lung transplant, and even though she has a defined amount of time left, she still has the exact same money beliefs. So maybe I’m completely wrong and I wouldn’t.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:30] Yeah, you wouldn’t.

Connie: [00:48:32] Okay.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:32] You think you would, but you wouldn’t.

Wes: [00:48:35] I appreciate that.

Ramit Sethi: [00:48:37] Here’s the thing. The way you feel about money is highly uncorrelated with the amount in the bank. In this case, it’s also uncorrelated with how much Wes is investing. Now, do I think that Wes should invest more? Yeah, over time, absolutely. But the fact that he’s already put $5,000 into a Roth IRA is very impressive. The fact that he has willingly committed to a percentage of income going to investments, very impressive. 

And, Wes, as you pay yourself more, you keep that percentage where it is, it’s going to be great for you. Great. And sure, you could even put more in. Do a 401k if your company decides to offer it or taxable account. There’s lots of options you have. But that’s not really going to change the way you feel, Connie.

Connie: [00:49:27] It’s something I need to work on.

Ramit Sethi: [00:49:29] Connie, I would just flip it and say, think of some of your friends, for example. What if the husband was earning two or $3 million a year? Or, let’s say the guy and in this relationship, the girlfriend was not earning that much.

And before they got married, he said, well, I really want her to get on top of her finances so his girlfriend paid off her debt. She started investing. Of course, she’s never going to catch up to how much he has, but that’s not the point. And they got married. How do you think that relationship would play out?

Connie: [00:50:07] Just fine.

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:08] Just fine, how so many relationships have played out in the past. But now we have a lot of situations where young women are earning more than young men in urban areas in their 20s and women are getting more college degrees. This is going to be much more common than it is now. So you’re really encountering something that you may not have a lot of people to talk about with, but it’s happening more and more.

Connie: [00:50:38] I just need to let go of that control.

Ramit Sethi: [00:50:43] Okay. Here are some of the rules that I’ve heard for you to create for each other. The first is that Wes is automatically investing a certain percentage of his income. His income is 2,000 a month, at least. And he’s just taking a percentage. We talked about 20. You’re going to go through the country spending plan and adjust it to make sure that that makes sense.

Wes: [00:51:08] Sure.

Ramit Sethi: [00:51:09] The second thing I heard was an agreement that once a month you’re going to go out to dinner. The amount that you’ve agreed on is between 75 to– is it $300 a month.

Wes: [00:51:25] Correct. Yes.

Ramit Sethi: [00:51:26] Why would you say up to $300?

Wes: [00:51:29] Perfect.

Ramit Sethi: [00:51:30] Great. And you have an agreement about how that credit card is going to be handled. Two of you will do it. And if it doesn’t work the first time, it feels weird, fix it. It’s just like the conscious spending plan. The first time is probably going to be weird. And then you just talk about it and change it. No big deal. 

And the third agreement was, as Wes starts to pay himself more, Wes, you’re going to go from 2,000 a month to at some point 3,500 a month, you’re going to take 30 bucks of that every month and spend it on clothes on average, and you’re going to take 100 bucks a month and spend it on some outing with Connie, whatever it may be, lunch, a drink, whatever, and it’s totally yours. How do you feel about that, both of you?

Wes: [00:52:20] Good.

Connie: [00:52:20] I think it’s great.

Ramit Sethi: [00:52:22] Okay. I like this. I like seeing coming to some agreements. I liked it’s personalized for the two of you. Pretty much very few people in the world have ever had an agreement like the two of you. This is the amount we’re going to go out, this much. We even have a secret ritual of the credit card off. That’s just the two of you. I love it. 
A rich life should be personalized. It should fit you like a handmade glove. And the more and more you dial that rich life in, the more and more it should be personal, bespoke. It should even be bewildering to other people. But we’re not concerned with other people. We’re not concerned with society’s definition of a man and woman. I’m just concerned with the two of you creating and co-creating your rich life.

Connie: [00:53:11] I love it.

[Narration]

Ramit Sethi: [00:53:14] I really enjoyed speaking with Connie and Wes. They have a unique situation. He earns $2,000 a month. She earns $200,000 a month. Have you ever met a couple like that? And can you imagine if you were in that situation, how you and your partner would relate to money? But what I did notice is that they care about each other and they’re trying to figure out a way to make this relationship work. And they were brave enough to ask for help. I appreciate that. 

If you are looking for a way to improve your finances, you have a lot of options. You can get my books from Amazon or any independent bookstore or library, you can get the free conscious spending plan at iwt.com/episode65, or you can go to the next level. If you don’t want to do it alone and you want help and get your questions answered directly from me, you can sign up for my Money Coaching Program. 

You’ll get live monthly coaching sessions hosted by me and will be covering topics like, do you need to worry about inflation or gas prices? And also how do you find an extra $100, $500, or $1,000 a month? You’ll get access to the Rich Life community and you will be able to meet other people like you. 

You can sign up at iwt.com/moneycoaching. Thanks for listening to the podcast. Tune in next week to hear a very different conversation about love and money with Beth and John, who are discussing prenups right before their wedding. 

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.