Ramit Sethi (@ramit) is the author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, now in its second edition with over 80 pages of new material, new insights, and new tools for mastering money and living your rich life.
What We Discuss with Ramit Sethi:
- What has changed between the first edition of I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the recently published, heavier-by-80-pages second edition.
- How the idea of a “rich” life differs from person to person.
- Thinking critically about bank accounts, investing, engagement rings, marginal tax rates, interest rates, budgets, real estate, and prenups.
- Using the concept of money dials to maximize spending in the areas of your life that count.
- Why you have a huge advantage if you’re able to change your mind quickly in the face of new evidence.
- And much more…
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The budgeting and investment tips that get parroted the most seem to come from people who don’t take their own advice, and have absolutely no background in habit change or psychology. But I Will Teach You to Be Rich author Ramit Sethi is a man who walks the walk in a refreshing, no-BS kind of way when it comes to destroying the bad thinking and flawed stories that we tell ourselves about money and finance-related subjects.
In this episode, we talk to Ramit about what’s changed in the 10 years since I Will Teach You to Be Rich first came out and what we can expect from its heavily expanded update, how to think critically about money and use it to live your idea of a rich life instead of thinking about it as an unconquerable enemy, the best and worst banks to use today, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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A lot has changed in the decade since Ramit Sethi first published I Will Teach You to Be Rich, but there are a few things he fought to keep as it was being revised and expanded for the second edition.
“There’s a lot of sensitivity around body positivity,” says Ramit. “There’s a huge cultural change in the last 10 years. In the last book, in the introduction, I made a comparison of the similarities between fitness and finance. And there’s a lot: we don’t count calories, we don’t count our spending, and we listen to people who don’t know what they’re talking about in both fitness and finance.
“In this second edition, I was strongly advised to take that out, and I said no. I actually believe in the last 10 years I became much more fit, I learned how to change my body and work out and eat differently. I fought back and said, ‘No, I’m keeping it in.’ In fact, I believe even more that there are similarities between fitness and food — and mostly that you can take control.
“I do believe we should feel positive wherever we are in our financial situation or our fitness, but I simply refuse to believe that ‘There’s no way I can change anything.’ I don’t accept that. Not at all. I’ve seen myself change; I’ve seen many other people change. So I doubled down and I do want to be sensitive about it, but no, I believe that all of us can take control of our money and our fitness and our food.”
After studying psychology at Stanford, Ramit was aghast at the terrible advice being thrown around by so-called financial experts that pointed out a change in habits as the already obvious solution to a lot of problems most of us face in our relationship with money, but no clues about how to actually enforce such changes and make them stick.
“Guess what every single money book tells you to do in chapter one?” asks Ramit. “Track your spending for the last 30 days. And people are like, ‘Number one, I don’t know what I spent. Number two, I just know that it’s probably bad. And I don’t think I want to do this!’ So in this book, I wanted to incorporate psychology first, because everybody already knows they should probably be saving more.
“Everybody probably knows they should be investing in some weird 401k thing. But on a day-to-day level, most of us just want to go to work, maybe buy a coffee in the morning, have a good time, maybe go out to drinks with our friends, and take a vacation every so often. It’s very simple what a rich life is to most of us day to day. What I wanted to show people is: you can do that. It’s so easy! No problem you can do that. And you can actually think a lot bigger.
“So to do that, you can’t just give people compound interest charts. Everybody’s seen them. It doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to meet them where they are and incorporate psychology. Anyone who actually knows human psychology would read this and realize this is actually a psychology book disguised as a money book. But for everyone: you know that by the time you finish this book, your money’s going to be basically set for life.”
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how many lattes you can buy per week with Ramit’s blessing, how your bank is probably screwing with you and what you can do to remind the snooty manager there that they work for you, the best and worst financial institutions (by name, no less!), how Ramit uses automation to ensure he spends less than an hour a month dealing with his money, the rich life benefits Jordan has enjoyed by using Ramit’s methods, honest talk about real estate as an investment, why most people who get angry about millionaires having to pay 70 percent in taxes don’t understand enough about money to actually become millionaires, how to talk to your fiance about money and prenups, and much more.
THANKS, RAMIT SETHI!
If you enjoyed this session with Ramit Sethi, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Ramit Sethi at Twitter!
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Resources from This Episode:
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program That Works. by Ramit Sethi
- Ramit Sethi’s Website
- Ramit Sethi at Instagram
- Ramit Sethi at Twitter
- Chase Bank Consumer Reviews, my3cents
- First Republic Bank: A Personal Approach to Banking
- The Four Best Checking Accounts to Open Today by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
- Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
- Capital One 360 Checking
- Ally Interest Checking
- Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
- Worst Financial Institutions, Ramit’s :60 Show
- Compound Interest Introduction, Khan Academy
- How Teens Can Become Millionaires by Dave Ramsey
- “When a Nutjob on Twitter Says They Don’t Want to Pay 70% in Taxes.” Ramit’s Instagram
- Ramit’s Troll of the Week
- The Big Wins Manifesto by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
- How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
- Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and Mental Agility by Peter Low, GuruFocus
- 5 Things That Are Worth the Money by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
- Money Dials: Why You Spend the Way You Do by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
- Cook’s Knives by Tynan
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making a Prenup Agreement, World Wedding Guide
- How to Talk to Your Partner about Money: The Definitive Script by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
- 15 Lessons on Money and Marriage from Couples Who Have Been Married 10+ Years by Ramit Sethi, IWT.com
Transcript for Ramit Sethi | I Will Teach You to Be Rich (Episode 199)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer Jason DeFillippo and we've all heard 10,000 budgeting and investment tips. They usually come from people that don't take their own advice and have absolutely no background in habit change or psychology. What I love about today's guest Ramit Sethi is that he's as much or possibly even more abrasive and no BS than even myself and is especially die-hard when it comes to destroying the bad thinking and flood stories that we tell ourselves when it comes to things like money and finance-related subjects. Today, we'll tell you a lot of things. Most people don't want to hear, like why your life is going to be a heck of a lot harder if you can't parse information and think critically, incredibly with respect to everything from engagement rings to marginal tax rates. Ramit and I also discussed the concept of money dials and how you can use them to evaluate when and where and how much you should spend in certain areas of your life so that you're living that rich life without cutting back on everything you actually love. We'll also discover why you have a huge advantage if you're able to change your mind quickly, which might be a little counterintuitive but can be a game-changer once you get it right. I've been using Ramit's financial automation stuff for years and I really love the guy and the way that he thinks. So I'm excited to reintroduce him here to you all here on the show.
[00:01:16] And if you're wondering how I've got all these amazing folks in my life, well, Six-Minute Networking, I met and kept in touch with Ramit for over a decade using -- well him and hundreds of other people -- using systems and tiny habits. I'm teaching you how to do that for free, for personal professional reasons. Jordan harbinger.com/course is where that is. So I'd love to see you in there. All right. Enjoy this episode with Ramit Sethi.
[00:01:37] This book I read 10 years ago, it's back new edition and I like that you're not barefoot on the cover. We talked about that pre-show because apparently, that's racist, which totally makes sense now that you explain it.
Ramit Sethi: [00:01:50] Yeah. I don't want to do any more barefoot photos. Let's just put it that way.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:54] And I remember always thinking that's weird that you're barefoot in this photo, but you're Indian, so maybe it makes sense. That's the racist part, by the way, just in case you didn't know that's the racist part. What is the weirdest thing that you had to update in this book? Because of course like some credit cards don't exist anymore. Some bank accounts have different rules. What other sorts of things are we doing now that 10 years ago wasn't a thing that's changed the game in the book?
Ramit Sethi: [00:02:19] There are 80 new pages in the book, so I added a whole bunch of new stuff. I did update new accounts because I have switched credit cards. There are better accounts for certain things. There are also some bullshit accounts that you do not want to be using. The biggest mistake I ever made in my entire life was 10 years ago, and that was when I included interest rates in the book. So, I don't know if you remember, but back then banks were paying five percent interest. So I thought, let me be helpful. I'm going to put all the banks and the exact interest rates, and I ran all this math. You had $1,000 this is how much you're making. And then pretty much right after the book came out, they just lowered the interest rate.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:59] 15 minutes later.
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:01] And I started getting these emails and I have gotten at least 20 emails a week for the last 10 years. And the emails go like this. They start off by saying, "Fuck you, motherfucker. Where's the five percent interest rate?" And I'm like, "Number one, interest rates change. Number two, it's not even that much money. It's like $8 a year. Please don't worry about the interest rates." And then they just get mad. And so there's no interest rate in the book. It doesn't really matter what your savings account's interest rate. That's not where you make your money. But I took them out and I'll never make that mistake.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:32] Nice. That's, that's funny. I figured there's got to be so many things in there where you're like, "Oh, this is harmless."
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:37] I thought I was doing them a favor. No, I wasn't.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:40] I mean, I know that -- actually, let me think about this. Was it you who told me there were inappropriate jokes in there that at the time were totally cool and now you realize that it's not.
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:48] Well, I've matured.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:48] So, oh, it's you. Not the culture has shifted.
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:52] Look, I want to make sure -- first of all, I want the book to be funny. So if you're picking up a personal finance, but you already kind of hate it. You're like, "Oh God, somebody's going to tell me to keep a budget and not spend money on lattes." And I already knew I would never do that, but I didn't want all the books, both books to be fun. I will tell you that. One thing has really changed a lot in the last decade and that is there's a lot of sensitivity around body positivity. Okay. This is a huge cultural change in the last 10 years. In the last book, in the introduction, I made a comparison of the similarities between fitness and finance. And there's a lot. We don't count calories, we don't count our spending, and we listen to people who don't know what they're talking about in both fitness and finance.
Ramit Sethi: [00:04:38] In this book, in the second edition, I was strongly advised to take that out and I said, "No." I actually believe in the last 10 years I became much more fit. I learned how to change my body and workout and eat differently, and I fought back and I said, "No, I'm keeping it in." In fact, I believe it even more that there are similarities between fitness and food and mostly that you can take control. Now I do believe we should feel positive wherever we are in our financial situation or fitness, but I simply refuse to believe that there's no way I can change anything. I don't accept that. Not at all. I've seen myself change. I've seen many other people change, so I doubled down and I do want to be sensitive about it, but no, I believe that all of us can take control of our money and our fitness and our food.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:25] It's funny because I remember in 2007 or whenever you came over the first time in New York, I was pretty fat and you were definitely really skinny. And now we're both like more or less, probably in better shape than we were at any other point in our lives.
Ramit Sethi: [00:05:38] For sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:39] Which is kind of funny and a good sign, hopefully, if things to come. I don't know, we'll see. I'm pushing 40 what I liked about the book and always have is that it's about psychology as well as money. In fact, it might even, would you say it's more psych than, I mean it's not just like, "Here are two quick accounts. You should put your money like index funds." Like that's a thing. But a lot of it has to do with the way you think to form and break habits.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:02] Yeah. So when I studied psychology at Stanford, I learned a lot about having --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:08] Nice names. That's really clever. Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:10] How to change behavior and then I picked up all these books about money and I wanted to throw them all out the window because -- here's a quick question for you. Guess what every single money book tells you to do in chapter one with your money?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:23] Make a budget or whatever.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:24] Yeah. Track your spending for the last 30 days. And people are like, "Number one, I don't know what I spent. Number two, I just know that it's probably bad and I don't think I want to do this." Throw the book away. So this book, I want it to incorporate psychology first because everybody already knows they should probably be saving more. Everybody probably knows they should be investing in some weird 401k thing, whatever. But like on a day-to-day level, most of us just want to go to work, maybe buy a coffee in the morning, have a good time, maybe go out to drinks with our friends and take a vacation and resolve it. Like it's very simple, what a rich life is to most of us day-to-day. What I wanted to show people is you can do that. It's so easy. o problem. You can do that and you can actually think a lot bigger. So to do that, you can't just give people compound interest charts like everybody's seen them. It doesn't mean anything. You got to meet them where they are and incorporate psychology. So anyone who actually knows human psychology would read this and realize this is actually a psychology book disguised as the money. But for everyone, you know that by the time you finish this book, your money's going to be basically set for life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:29] One of the things that I loved about the book is it goes, "Hey look, here's certain things that you should not be doing and it's not like don't spend money on that latte." That's your favorite thing to say is like, "Screw the latte idea."
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:38] Buy as many as you want.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:39] Buy as many as you want. It's the Big Wins concept, right? That was one of the earlier ones where people will be like, "Oh, I saved money on not getting a latte but I pay like another half percent on my mortgage because I have crap credit or something like that." Another one is not paying bank fees. That might not be a big big win like an Epic $60,000 over the course of your life win, but the amount of inconvenience you get and like overdraft fees and wasted time and like in flexibility with your accounts. It finally came to a breaking point like four or five years ago. And I told you this story on the phone, I think pre-show.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:16] Yeah. And I loved it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:17] Yeah. It was like I go to Chase to do something that was like their fault. I got an overdraft fee even though I have more way more than the minimum balance in the account they didn't link it correctly to whatever BS excuse they have. So I go in there and I'm waiting for like three and a half hours because it's like someone's shift is over, the manager's busy, or the person coming in half an hour can do that. Just stupid stuff like that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:39] And you're in a branch?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:40] I'm in a branch.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:41] Just like getting heated.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:41] Yeah, like zeroing out my inbox and trying to meditate.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:45] I'm getting mad right now. Keep going. I love the rage.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:48] So I finally have to go to the bathroom and the woman's like, "We don't have one that you can use." And I was like, "There's for sure a bathroom in here. Right in there. I see you going in and out of there all the time. Like there's a bathroom there, don't lie. And she goes, "Well you can't use that. It's next to the break room with our stuff. And I go, "You wait in there while I go. I've been here for like three and a half hours and counting, which for something that's not my fault." And they were like, "Sorry, there's a Burger King across the street." And I was like, "Cancel all my accounts. I don't need this problem fixed. I'm leaving."
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:20] Not even In-N-Out. They just sent you the Burger King.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:22] No, not even like a decent--
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:24] That's horrible.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:24] -- cleaned once a week bathroom. Just like, "Go over there. We're all like the people shoot up and if it's not occupied, you can go in there and come back across this busy road and sit in this branch and keep waiting." So I was just like, "You know, why are you treating me like a criminal? You're holding tons of my money and I'm being treated like I'm in the line for like a handout or something." Like I'm begging you to help me.
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:49] Even though you paid them like they should be serving you. Yeah, man. So one of the reasons I wrote this was that I was sick of ordinary people getting mistreated by financial companies and it's absolutely insane. Now, I get the craziest stories from people and usually, the craziest ones have to do with people who are older. So they're like 55, 60 they finally decide they're about to retire and they look at their investment accounts and they're like, "Do I have enough? Have I been investing in the right place? I'm like, send me your docs." And they send it over and I look at what they've been investing in for the last 30 years and it's just like the worst investments. It's some guy, Bob, some local broker who's been leveraging like a two percent fee just screwing mom and pop. And it drove me insane because I know all this stuff about personal finance. And I'm like, there's no way the average person can ever hope to compete with Wall Street and these sophisticated brokers. I mean I'm reading the contracts these people signed, they're like school teachers and they are paying out the ass. So these banks, these brokerages, like I know the games they play and they are incredibly sophisticated. And so what I want to do -- I actually got this idea from Oprah because early on I started writing my blog and I wouldn't name any accounts that I use because people already think I Will Teach You to be Rich sounds like a scam. And I was like, I don't even want to get in that neighborhood.
Ramit Sethi: [00:11:12] And then one day I was watching Oprah as most young 20-something women do. And she goes, "My favorite like car and my favorite body scrub." All the audience was going crazy. They're like, "Aah," and I realized they trust Oprah. They actually want her recommendation. So a couple of weeks later, I wrote on my blog. This is probably like 2006. I was like, "All right, here are the bank accounts that I use. Here, the bank accounts I hate." People loved it because no book will tell you the right and the wrong accounts because most people want to cut a deal with the bank. I don't give a shit about deals. I want the best book. You buy the book, you love it, you're going to tell all your friends. That's a win for me. So the best bank accounts I named them. I also named the worst, which I'm happy to name one.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:56] Yeah, one of the best ones because I switched to First Republic, which is awesome.
Ramit Sethi: [00:11:59] Yup.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:59] It's not everywhere. But it was like -- When I left Chase and I went there, I remember going in and being like cautious because I'm new and there's like a little waterfall thing in the middle and it's really quiet. There's like no one waiting. A couple of people had appointments and they were dealing with that. And I'm like, "Excuse me, hi." And they're like, "Hi, can I help you? Oh someone will be right with you." I was like, "Can I use your restroom?" They're like, "Sure." Not like, "Are you a customer? Who are you to drop your ID off and $17 in this canister." So I walked back there and I come back and I sit down and there's like cookies out and I'm like, "Uh," and he's like, "Help yourself to a cookie." Fresh, not like stale ass old stuff. And then there's water out and everything. I'm like, "Wow, okay, well they're going to be really disappointed when they find out. I'm not like dropping 10 mil and some checking accounts. And they were super cool. I didn't have the ability to make the minimum deposit that day. And they're like, "That's fine. Just do it later."
Ramit Sethi: [00:12:50] Wow.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:50] Here's my cell phone number.
Ramit Sethi: [00:12:52] Look at that. Okay, so cookies, water, and a bathroom.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:54] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:12:55] And good service. And here you are talking about them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:57] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:12:57] Like, it doesn't take a lot.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:58] No.
Ramit Sethi: [00:12:58] It really doesn't. So I love that. I love people sharing their good and bad experiences with these companies. My experiences are the best account. By the way. I have no allegiance to any of these or ties. I just use them myself. For checking, Schwab Investor Checking, best checking account out there. You can take money out from any ATM. You get the fees refunded to you, which is amazing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:21] Like imagine you go to China or a strip club in Vegas, which has ridiculous ATM fees. So I've heard and you can take the money out and Schwabs like --
Ramit Sethi: [00:13:31] 20 bucks refunded to you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:32] Yeah. Okay. "No judgment. Here you go, Jordan. You weirdo."How do you have $75 in ATM fees in one day? Don't worry.
Ramit Sethi: [00:13:39] And all from 3:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. That's so weird. Anyway, there's a lot of really good savings account. Now there's Capital One 360, which is crazy to me because I used to hate Capital One. Now they've actually gotten really good at savings. There's Ally. There are so many good ones. And then for investment, it's pretty straight forward, Vanguard was and is the best. They have the lowest fees. They're the most trusted. I put the majority of my money there, but there's a lot of good options now. There's a price war happening, which is great for people like us consumers. But there are also horrible accounts. So the worst companies -- they already hate me, so I'm just going put them up anyway. Wells Fargo, fuck you. You're predatory. I mean, the stuff they did was absolutely insane. They literally opened up millions of accounts for ordinary Americans. Crazy, messed up all their finances and the government actually went after them. That's how bad it was for a government to go after a bank. That's pretty bad. Fuck you, Wells Fargo. And Bank of America, you're also the worst. They've been the worst for many, many years. Those two banks represent probably 85 to 90 percent of the problem emails I get from people with their problems. They come after him, they do the most unethical stuff. And then people listening, look if you use them and you haven't had a problem. Fine. I get a lot of people saying, "Well, what are you saying? Should I switch them off?" Yes, you should, but if you don't want to that's fine. You don't have to take all my advice. I just will simply say that I prefer to work with companies that I trust and the minute they'd break that trust with my money, I'm out of there. I've been a client or customer of Schwab, Vanguard, et cetera for more than 10 years. I pick the best ones. I stay there forever. That's it. Simple as that. And I move on to better things in my life than my bank account.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:22] A lot of us bank in the same place or do anything financially because we did it in college when we first got money.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:28] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:28] So we'll have like -- I know people that don't have credit cards. They just have debit cards and I'm like, "Why do you have that?" They're like, "Oh, you know, my bank gave it to them." And I'm like, "Well, I know that. Why do you have that though? It offers far less protection than a good American Express card or whatever. There are no points that you get or you get points, but they're like not as good or whatever." "Well, you know, I've had it for a while." And I'm like, "Wait, wait, when did you first get that?" "Well, I think when I learned how to drive, I needed a card in case any of the gas or something happened on the road and you never upgraded. You were 16. Now you're 40."
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:59] It's like a 36-year-old wearing an Old Navy every day. Like it's time to turn the chapter, my friend, come on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:05] Yeah. It's switching costs are there for sure. Like you've got got to move your money over, but most of it is actually a habit. And I think that's important to note.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:12] Yeah. Once you acknowledge your own habits, then you can change them. I'll tell you one thing, I spend less than one hour a month on my money and that is something that is achievable for everyone. In that one hour, all my money automatically flows from my paycheck to checking, savings, investment and back down to the most important of all, which is guilt-free spending. So I can spend on whatever I want. I don't feel guilty about it, but all that is just because I spent a little bit of time setting it up and that was why I wanted other people to see how you can do a system thing. I think most of us, we wake up and we just kind of randomly choose. I'm going to buy this and I'm going to put it on that account, and then at the end of the month, I'll figure it out. And like if we're honest, most of us have been doing that for like 20 years. So that's okay. It's fine. What's in the past is in the past. I want people to feel a little bit more empowered.
Ramit Sethi: [00:17:00] That like if you take a weekend, you can actually change the total trajectory of your life and it's not crazy to imagine that you can actually live a very rich life. Don't listen to all this bullshit going around, "Oh, the economy is this and that and macroeconomics." That's not relevant to you. What's relevant to you is what do you do with your money? Do you have a 401k or an IRA? Do you invest a certain percentage every month automatically? Do you know what a diversified portfolio means? If you don't know any of that stuff, you shouldn't be talking about macro econ. That has nothing to do with what you're doing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:36] A long time ago you showed me some of the stuff from this book, namely the automation where it was like, "Oh, open up three checking accounts or whatever it was, and every month like one or two grand or whatever it is you can afford goes into this account and it's called like fidelity or the index funds or whatever. And then the money just goes in there and then whatever's left and then I had student loans which I don't need anymore. Thank you. Thank you for that. And then the rest of the money that's in there, like 600 bucks or whatever it was, I'm like, "I can freaking go eat and buy clothes with this." But then at the end of the quarter when I looked at my actual other accounts, I was like, "Dang, I got like four grand in here or five grand."
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:16] It starts to add up, right? Okay. This is what people don't get and this is like -- you can tell this what gets me pumped. I had a reader of mine who uses my automation system chapter five and automated money going into a savings account, I think it was like 200 bucks a month or something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:32] We're not talking about direct deposit, we're talking about -- you get your direct deposit, whatever. From there, the bank automatically takes out X number of dollars every one or two weeks or whatever you set it up to do, deducts it and puts it in another account so that you don't see it. It's not in your debit card balance or whatever you're using, so then when you go to up -- I say upload -- when you go to transfer that money to your index fund or your long-term investment, you're like, "Wow, I magically have thousands of dollars that I just don't miss because I never saw it come in."
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:01] It just goes. Imagine you get an email and the email is automatically processed for you. It's tagged. It's moved. Maybe it's even responded for you. You're like, "Yes." Now imagine that for tens of thousands of dollars for your money. So one of my readers had this automation system set up and forgot about the account. Just like you said, you forgot about Chase. She forgot about her account. Years later, she was looking through her old stuff. She found this whole account. She logs in 12,000 bucks. That's like $12,000 in free money. Now imagine that happens even more because the money starts to compound as you invest it. Like that is the magic of this. And I get excited about this because there are so many people who are just like, they're on Twitter, they're on Reddit. They're constantly negative about what they can't do. I live in the world of what we can do, and if you can save a little bit a month to start, you can start to accelerate that. That money adds up like crazy. The math behind compounding is phenomenal. And once you have that, now you can make better choices about where you want to work. You can take a crazy vacation if you want to. You can buy the best clothes. You can do whatever you want. That's when you get to live outside the spreadsheet. And for me, that's the most exciting part of a rich life.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:20:11] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Ramit Sethi. We'll be right back.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:22:53] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Ramit Sethi. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. That's Jordan harbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all the latest episodes in your podcast players as they are released so you don't miss a single episode of the show. And now back to our episode with Ramit Sethi.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:39] A lot of these money tips are great. They helped me reform my finances entirely in my 20s and 30s, early 30s especially. But one topic that I know that you love is how life is just harder when you make bad decisions or bad choices because you can't parse information or think quickly or like have good critical thinking skills. And we talked about vaccines prior to the show. I'm curious. We also talked about people who don't get marginal tax rates and things like that. Let's talk about this because one of the missions of the show is to teach people how to think clearly, how to get past the logical fallacies and bias. And you're doing a lot of the same thing in a way.
Ramit Sethi: [00:24:19] Well, I'm trying. I think I suck at it because --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:22] People just get mad at you a lot?
Ramit Sethi: [00:24:25] They really get mad at me. Oh God. Okay. So like one of the things that I teach people to think critically about is buying a house. Everybody says buying a house is the best investment. Why? They say do it for the tax advantage. What does that even mean? You don't even know what a tax advantage is. They're not building any more land. That is a weird argument. We can talk about why and you're just throwing money away on rent. These are arguments that sound very intelligent, but if you just peel one layer off, you realize they don't mean what you think they mean. So what I always show people is the math behind buying a house and then I urge them, run the numbers. You might want to buy a house. You might not. It's up to you. I rent by choice even though I could go buy a house tomorrow in Manhattan, but for me, it doesn't make financial sense. People don't like it when I tell them that, but some of them start to engage with the process.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:16] I find it ridiculous. People don't understand a lot of basic stuff, and here's the thing though, it's not always that they just don't wrap their head around it. It's that they go, "Well, I choose to believe this other thing because I understand that better." And I'm like, "Oh no."
Ramit Sethi: [00:25:34] Yes. So you know how there's a lot of discussion now about raising taxes. If you make $10 million or more, you are going to be taxed 70 percent. This is sort of the tagline that's out there. What that really means is if you make $10 million, any money above $10 million will be taxed at 70 percent. It's like a scale. It's a marginal amount above 10 million. So I don't have a public opinion on whether it should be 70 percent or whatever. But I do think it's hilarious when people think you're just paying 70 percent flat. That's not how taxes work, my friends. There's grades. Okay. So I just went on Instagram, my own Instagram page and I posted a funny meme about people who don't understand marginal tax rates. You're like 40 years old and you never spent two minutes googling marginal tax rates. It's not that hard. So all these people, you know, my readers are like, "Ha-ha-ha, that's funny." And then somehow somewhere somebody put the bat signal up for some lunatics. So they all flooded my page and they all came over. And guess what they call me? Socialist, fucking socialist. And I'm like, "Just hang on one second. Let me see if I get this straight. First of all, you're reading Instagram from a guy who runs a company where he pays employees a salary to create products that he sells. That's called capitalism. How fucking stupid can you be?" And then they call you a socialist for saying, "Please read a book about marginal tax rates."
Ramit Sethi: [00:27:02] So what is happening now is there are these topics that have a little bit of complexity to them -- vaccinations, marginal tax rates and I think a host of the political issue. And instead of saying, "Let's understand that there are some gray areas and that maybe we need to read for like seven minutes." People just say, "Fuck you." That's not how a debate works. And if you choose to do that, I think you will discover that your theories on the world will become increasingly disassociated with the way the world really works.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:34] It makes your life so much harder to do that because you go on Instagram, not you. Those people go on Instagram and you're like, "Oh, you don't know what you're talking about. I'm voting against that." And it's like, "Well, wait, you can vote against things, but you're voting for something else when you do that." And when you get these people, and I always imagine, I always fantasize what it would be like to have someone like right here where I'm like, "Let's talk about why you're against that."
Ramit Sethi: [00:27:56] Wait. Can we do this?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:57] We need to -- is that your thing too?
Ramit Sethi: [00:27:59] Dude, I've fantasized about this since I was five years old. Okay, let's forget this podcast. Okay, let's call them up. Let's bring them here. Well, they won't come here. Okay, but we'll call them on the phone and we'll be like, "Let's have a discussion." But what do you think is going to happen in that discussion?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:16] There's a good chance that -- if they're intellectually honest, they'll just go, "Oh, okay. I guess that makes sense." And they'll change their mind.
Ramit Sethi: [00:28:22] Okay.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:23] Or they'll go and if they're not, they'll -- which a lot of those people aren't going to be intellectually honest -- they're just going to go, "Well, I just don't think that that's a good idea." And then they'll throw like a straw man up and then we'll skewer that one and they'll be like, "Yeah, but then they'll move the goalposts in this other direction."
Ramit Sethi: [00:28:39] Yeah, I can see that you've engaged with a lot of these fanatics before.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:42] I have.
Ramit Sethi: [00:28:43] I have this thing I do on my Instagram page called a troll of the week and people write me and say this angry stuff and I engage with all of them. Like all of them. I'm like, "Tell me more. Are you having a bad hair day? What can we do to resolve this?" And it's crazy the psychology because 50 percent of them write back and they go, "Oh my God, I didn't know someone was actually reading this." Which raises the question like, "Why are you sending this kind of email to like an automated service." That doesn't make any sense. But you know, I have a chance to engage with a lot of people and I'll tell you why I do it. I do it because I love human behavior. And what better way to get inside the mind of somebody who's just like writing a really angry email then to actually be like, "Hey man, I read your note. I'm really curious why you sent a message like that. Like, I write this and I'd love to hear what's on your mind." And then they just open up. People will tell me the craziest stuff. And so I post these things, troll of the week. I anonymize them and it's pretty fascinating to actually have a discussion with them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:44] It worries me because I see these people that do this and I'm sure I've done this a million times in the past too when I wasn't as clear of a thinker, and I'm sure that I'm accidentally doing it now about other topics that I don't understand is fully, but it scares me because people will vote against, for example, that tax rate and I'll be like, it's socialism. And it's like, "Dude, you make $20 an hour when you're working overtime. Why are you voting against this thing? This is not in your interest." And then it's like, "Well first they came for the Catholics and then dah, dah, dah." I'm like, "No one's coming for your Walmart salary. This is for you to live a better life. These taxes are going to go towards benefits that you will then get." And look, I'm not saying I'm for that policy or against it. I just think it's really easy to vote against things and be like, "No government. Not taking my dollars." But then it's like, "Oh wait," when you go there and you go, "Wait, what? What do you mean I have to sell my house because I can't get healthcare. That's going to pay for this." That's what we're talking about. And that might be a politicized example. So people are going to shut down. But if you can't think clearly, if you can't parse information well, which is the mission of the show is to teach you these things. Your life is so much harder.
Ramit Sethi: [00:30:53] Yeah. I think I believe that if you get -- I call them Big Wins. If you get the five or 10 Big Wins in life right, your life becomes pretty good. It's pretty easy. You never have to worry about, "Should I order the appetizer or not?" And like, "Oh, can we afford to stay an extra day at this hotel or not?" Never. Life becomes much easier. And some of those Big Wins are financial. Get a good job and negotiate your salary, automate your investments. So it's just happening every month. Those are basic things. There's also to have good relationships. If you have good relationships with at least a few people in life, you're going to live longer. And there are amazing health studies showing the correlation there. And there are a few other things that are Big Wins. Get those things right and you never have to worry about these tiny details. But what is so tempting in our society is to focus on the tiniest of details. Latte is one example. And like all these little things that people get riled up and that society wants us to get riled up about.
Ramit Sethi: [00:31:54] What I want people to do is to redirect and say, "Hey, put all that stuff aside. What is your rich life?" And if you ask people this question, it's actually really interesting. In fact, let me ask you, what is your rich life?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:05] What does that mean? I mean, I know we talked pre-show, it's different for everyone.
Ramit Sethi: [00:32:09] Yeah, but for you?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:10] I think the thing that I like about my life that's the best right now that I wouldn't have if I hadn't planned adequately is I like the flexibility. It's funny because at first when I was like in my 20s and 30s I was like, "I don't even have to get up early. Yes." Now I get up as early. So there goes that, but I'll be like, "Hey, you know -- " In fact, a perfect case in point, Jen is pregnant, as many people know. And she goes, "Hey, next week we have four days off. I made it a sanity block so you have like time off." And I go, "We should go to Vancouver or something." And she's like, "Oh that might be fun." There's no universe in which somebody who has a nine to five, unless they've done something extremely slick with their negotiating and time off can just be like, "Cool," or book a flight and go to an event. Like I went to a maximum-security prison last week or the week before and I just flew down and did that with a bunch of entrepreneurs and it was awesome. You can't do that kind of stuff if you're expected to be at all-hands meeting every Tuesday at four.
Ramit Sethi: [00:33:15] So part of your rich life is flexibility.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:18] Flexibility.
Ramit Sethi: [00:33:18] Okay. Amazing. And look at how many different ways you've built it into your life. It's work, it's personal. I love that. For me, my rich life is about convenience is one big thing. I love the convenience and we can talk about Money Dials, this concept. We love to spend our money, but convenience. Travel, I want to travel. After going on a really long honeymoon, my wife and I decided to take one month every year and travel and really travel in a different style than we used to travel. So that's been interesting. Those two things are big for me. And then, of course, there's like relationship and work of course. But like what I would ask people is, what is your rich life? Start with a blank page and get really specific. It doesn't have to be words like freedom. That's what people will naturally go. They'll say freedom and independence and whatever. I would say get really specific. When I started out it was I want to be able to order an appetizer because I never did, growing up and it's simple.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:18] That's funny.
Ramit Sethi: [00:34:20] It's like that simple. We would go out, we would only go to a pizza place like once every four to six weeks with a coupon and we would share two Cokes for our whole family. That was it. No appetizers. Now I order -- in fact I have a rule now if I eat out with friends or colleagues, I just say, "Anything that looks good, order it," because money doesn't matter to me at a restaurant. Like 10 bucks here or there irrelevant. That the next thing for my rich life was I wanted to be able to take a taxi to get to a meeting during summer instead of going on the subway and be sweaty when I got to work. That's like 10 bucks. Simple. So those were the things that got me started. Now it's a little bit bigger. I can dream bigger, so I want to be able to travel more. I want to stay at these certain places. I want to like carve out time with my wife where it's just us.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:08] For everyone watching and listening, ask yourself what's your rich life and get super-specific. Like what's something you can do this month? And that's when you start to get excited. That's when money becomes not something that you avoid and something that you're like, "Ah," but actually something that you're like, "Ooh, what can I do?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:27] This is an important concept because a lot of us, and I'm counting myself on this years and years ago as well, but a lot of people are like, "Look, I'm not in a position. I can think about that right now." And I'm like, "No, no, no. You don't understand. You have to think about this before your quote-unquote in a position to think about this because that's how this works. You have to optimize for this now." You don't go, "Oh, well I have millions of dollars now. What should I invest it in?" That's that's backwards.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:53] Yeah. If I gave you a million today, would you know what to do with it? Most people have no idea.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:58] No.
Ramit Sethi: [00:35:58] In fact, it's funny, I have this one woman who wrote me and I asked everybody on my email list, "What is something you claim you want to do, but you don't actually --? "
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:08] Oh, that's a good question.
Ramit Sethi: [00:36:10] And the answers are so fascinating. So she writes back and she goes, "I keep saying that I want to go for a run three times a week, but I never do." And I wrote her back. I said, "Why don't you just go once a week?" And she writes back and goes, "Once a week. That's pointless. What would that do?" So think about what she's doing here. She's saying, "I would rather dream about running three times a week and actually run once a week." And that's what so many people do with their money. "I would rather dream about being a millionaire. Then invest 100 bucks a month." Ironically, the way you get rich is by starting small. You don't wait to be rich and then start. That's the whole point of why I want people to listen to this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:51] And the money thing and these processes, especially a lot of stuff that's in the book. This is a black box for a lot of people and that's the problem is they go, "Oh, it's complicated. I know I heard something about index funds, like I work, I think I have like an IRA or whatever. I got it. I know I got to do that. I'll do it next year. Like a lot of stuff I need to do now." If you don't start with the small stuff, you just don't build the habit and you don't build the system. It's not just the habit. It's the system that gets in a place like the woman who wrote you that had $12,000. There are people that have been working for a decade that don't have 12 grand saved up.
Ramit Sethi: [00:37:24] Yeah. And then I have a lot of compassion because the money part of it I learned it early on and I really had time to refine my system and I really love it. Like you can tell -- I wrote a book and I went back 10 years later and added 80 pages. Like I'm a fucking weirdo when it comes to this. But I had a lot of similar struggles with other parts of my life, like fitness. So you nailed it. Like I was a skinny dude. I always used to call myself a skinny Indian guy, ha-ha-ha, funny joke. Not that funny in retrospect. And I really hate now when I hear people self-deprecating in a way that almost puts themselves in a box because I see myself in that. They say, "Oh, I'm a skinny Indian guy," or, "I'm not good at math," or, "I'm bad with money." And I just want to really gently shake them and say, "Don't say that about yourself." Because when I called myself a skinny Indian guy, I sentenced myself to being a skinny Indian guy. And then, you know, I had the same things. I don't know what to eat. I don't know what to do. There's all these weird workout things. I even said, "I don't want to be one of those protein jock guys."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:26] Right. What's that called, where you just the pendulum swings so far in the other direction. And a lot of guys do this, especially with fitness and women will do too. They'll be like, "I don't want to get bulky." And I'm like, "Do you know how hard you have to work to get bulky?"
Ramit Sethi: [00:38:39] I know and with money too. They're like, literally, "I don't want to have to like stay at the Four Seasons every time I travel. It's like, "Who said you have to do that?" Or if you sort of think about Richie Rich's idea, like you have to wear a Chinchilla coat if you have money. Totally untrue. And in fact, the thing I'm most proud of in this book, most people think rich, like looks like some kind of guy who lives in midtown, works on Wall Street. You know, just a certain type of guy, you know who I'm talking about. In the first page of this book -- I fought the publisher for this -- I wanted photos of my readers who use this book in the last years -- men, women, black, white, young, old. You pick up the book, you see somebody who looks like you and you're like, "Oh my God, like I could do this." And I think like having grown up now and having learned about like I'm an Indian guy, grew up in America, my parents are immigrants. Like I've learned that representation matters. And when I grew up, I never saw a buff Indian guy. Never there were no -- like Superman is not Indian, Batman is not Indian. There are no superheroes that are Indian here. So I just never thought that I could actually look like that. And then after a lot of confusion and getting help from a lot of people, then I started to learn how to change my diet. Same as with money. And the reason that I want people to take control, whether it's with money or fitness or whatever the case may be, is like once you do one of these things, you start to be like, "Oh shit. So I got my money in order now. Now I realize I can do the same for this and this -- parenting, food, travel, all kinds of stuff." And it just, it compounds. That's the magic of this.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:40:17] You're listening to the Jordan harbinger show with our guest Ramit Sethi. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:23] This episode is sponsored in part by Luminary.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:40:26] If you loved How I Built This by Guy Raz, then you have to listen to his new podcast called Wisdom from the Top, which is only available on Luminary. I recently listened to the episode with Jorgen Vig Knudstorp who saved Lego and also NASA's Ellen Ochoa, very cool stuff about companies who turned themselves around and sometimes not even a company. Sometimes it's NASA, and along with Wisdom from The Top, Luminary gives you access to a bunch of other original shows fro innovative dynamic creators you can't find anywhere else. The Luminary app is free to download and you can use it to listen to thousands of podcasts, including the ones you already love. All enhanced by an easy to use interface with personalized content recommendations, whether you're in the news and politics, comedy, business and tech or more luminary has the right show for you. If you love podcasts, then you need to check out Luminary. Get your first two months of access to Luminary’s premium content for free when you sign up at luminary.link/jordan. After that, it's $7.99 a month. That's luminary.link/jordan for two months of free access, luminary.link/jordan. Cancel anytime, terms apply.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:28] The idea here is that the earlier you start, the better. I know that I'm clearly just selling this idea, but it's really important. I think my dad when I was like 13 put some -- he opened up a credit card for me to like build credit. I didn't use it. It was just like he bought gas with it once every three months to keep it active. It probably did something, not a whole lot but something. And then he was like, you have to start saving your money. And I remember right when I was working at like a movie theater and I was like, "What are you talking about?" Like I'm making like $6.25 an hour or $5.75 whatever it was like in the 90s. And he's like, "Trust me, put $1 away." And I was like, "What are you talking about?" But he made me do it and I look at the compound interest now and I'm like, 'What?"
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:12] Yeah, your dad was on point.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:13] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:14] That's amazing. And like literally starting off with like dollars per week. It's amazing. So I think the key thing that I take away from that -- first of all, did you, what did you do at the movie theater? I'm just curious.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:25] I was like an usher. I sold popcorn and stuff.
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:27] Amazing. I love hearing these, like what we did as kids. I worked at a pizza place and I was a soccer referee.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:34] Wow, that's kind of cool.
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:35] It was cool.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:36] Yeah, that is cool. I didn't have that. But the movie theater was like the center of youth culture .
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:42] Do you let people in for free?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:42] Of course.
Ramit Sethi: [00:43:43] That's the best. When you have friends -- like when you're in high school, you have friends in low places and that's all you want. It's like, "Give me the movies for free, give me a free pizza, maybe hook me up at Taco Bell." Like I'm happy. Boom. So anyway --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:56] Taco Bell, yeah, good call, but there was a whole underground economy -- I don't mean to cut you off -- but there was a whole underground economy of hooking people up. It's like, "Oh, you work at the Pretzel Shop? If you want to come to a movie, I'm going to be working in the back booth at seven. Just walk in and all that. What's up?"
Ramit Sethi: [00:44:14] Every single person listening to this who worked in food service or service knows what's going on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:18] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:44:19] So okay, look, maybe you didn't start saving when you were 17 years old. Maybe you're 30 maybe you're 40 the common most common question I get is it too late. And like I won't people you probably should have started when you were 22 but the second-best time to start is today. And there are ways to catch up or at least to put yourself on a good path to catch up. It will be a little tougher. You might have to get a little bit more creative, but it's better to start now than to wait another 10 years.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:48] Well, the compound interest thing really is magical. We'll put a compound interest chart in the show notes. If you look, there's a bunch of lines on that table where they'll show like somebody who's 19, 20, or 21, 22 whatever and they go like $100 a month, $100 a month, and they show what that ends up being. And in order to catch up with that 22-year-old that started saving $100 a month, you have to be putting in like -- and I'm spitballing here -- but it's like $4,000 a month or something at age 45 to catch that 19-year-old.
Ramit Sethi: [00:45:21] Yeah. If you start early, even with a little bit, the numbers are just like absolutely staggering. It's like a snowball that almost grows exponentially. It's hard for the human mind to fathom it until somebody actually walks you through the table. There's one in the book here. But you know, the most important thing is whatever age you are starting out and start aggressively as a simple rule of thumb. This is actually a rule of thumb that I talked about with my wife. So we started putting our finances together and when it comes to putting your finances together, there's like a million questions. I said, look, I have one basic overarching rule of thumb for our money, which is we should be saving and investing 20 to 30 percent per year. Like if we're doing that, everything else is pretty much on track. So as a simple rule of thumb, if you're saving and investing 20 to 30 percent you're probably doing pretty well. That's like a good rule of thumb. From there you can optimize, you can discuss this and that, but like that's a good rule of thumb for you at the basic level.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:20] And that can be a lot for people if they have a lot of debt. But obviously, you covered that in the book. It's like killing the credit card debt, kill the highest interest student loan. We don't have to go down that path. I would love to dissect the idea that -- and you and I have like -- I don't know what you call it other than like a boner for this.
Ramit Sethi: [00:46:39] I already love this. Close the curtains. Let's get this going.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:42] It's great when you find out that something you think is indisputably true is kind of false or is not kind of false is false. And we touched on that in the beginning of this where it's like, okay, budget, owning a home. One thing that you went through recently that I went through a couple of years ago is engagement rings. And that turns out diamond engagement rings is not a good investment financially. It's this whole De Beers diamond cartel thing. Probably not news to anyone listening. But the other theory that you and I both share is yeah, but it doesn't really matter. Like it's a thing that you can afford to not worry about if you want.
Ramit Sethi: [00:47:20] Yeah, I think my opinion is pretty controversial. And I think we share it. I wrote a massive on engagement rings. Dude, I spent like four months writing this thing. I had like multiple people proofreading it. I told my team, I'm like, "All right, it's going live tomorrow. Like, make sure the servers can handle it." Like nobody gives a shit. Like it turns out that no guys really searched for engagement ring advice.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:46] They go to freaking the jewelry store.
Ramit Sethi: [00:47:49] They go to sales. And I'm like, "What?" Okay. So let me just tell you what I learned buying an engagement ring. Okay. Oh my God and just please read my article. Maybe I can get five.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:00] I'll link it in the show notes, yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:48:02] God, like that is the biggest delta, the biggest gulf between what I thought would be a hit and what was like the worst result on earth. I mean just nobody -- I think it's good still. So I went searching for an engagement ring and I took a friend's wife with me and she had helped other people. I went to multiple different stores in New York and I went to the high end one where it's like crystal everywhere and they serve you all these cool drinks. Then I went to like the mid-tier one and then I went to one that was literally on like the first floor of a store. You just like walk-in, there's like all these crowds. It was like the Kmart of jewelry. And I started to learn how the engagement ring, diamond ring industry works. And there were so many surprises to me, including the ring that I had seen, the exact same ring I had seen three blocks away. This guy at the budget place, he said, "I can get you that ring and I'll get it to you for $2,000 less." And I'm like, "Wait, like the ring like that." He's like, "No, I will have that ring sent here." They all have like an interlibrary loan for diamond rings. And that's how it works. It's crazy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:10] Because there are only a few manufacturers of the actual jewelry.
Ramit Sethi: [00:49:13] Yeah. And like if you're looking for a certain type oval ring this size like there's a supply and everybody knows what everyone's looking for. In fact, one of the guys told me, he's like, "Oh, you're the oval guy." I'm like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "Oh, well I heard that there's someone looking around for oval rings between these sizes." And I was like, "What? I mean, that's how tight the network is. It's crazy. So, anyway, that's --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:36] Orthodox Jew in New York. Like that little, well, I don't --
Ramit Sethi: [00:49:38] It's within like eight blocks.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:40] Yeah. I don't mean that in any sort of weird, that sounds a little racist if you don't live in New York. But if you go to Manhattan, you'll see like in midtown, there's a lot of jewelers that are like from the old country speaking --
Ramit Sethi: [00:49:50] Many, many, many generations.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:53] It's funny they call each other. I didn't think about that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:49:55] Yes. I'd read all this stuff about De Beers and yes, it's a cartel. Yes, they are artificially limited. So if you go on Reddit, there's just like a lot of angry dudes who are like, "Fuck, this engagement." They all forget one thing, which is this is a gift for your partner. Now, I think you should definitely have a discussion with your partner. What does he or she want?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:23] Blood diamonds only.
Ramit Sethi: [00:50:26] I'm sure there's someone who's like, "Yeah." So like, what do they want? What are their expectations? Some people are just like, "I don't really care about a diamond. Like I'd rather have something that's like this or that or you know, a heritage or this or that, whatever." Most people never have that discussion. Somehow guys grew up with this idea that everything about an engagement should be a surprise and this is like what blew my mind. I thought this myself when I was in my 20s. I thought that you surprise your future wife with the proposal, but you also surprise her with the ring. You surprise her with everything. I don't know where I got this idea, but that is totally fucking wrong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:07] It's a bad idea.
Ramit Sethi: [00:51:08] Horrible. You need to talk about when do you want to get engaged? Do both of you want it to be public or not? Like what kind of ring? I was like, "Please email me." She emailed me. She's like, "I like this, I don't like this. I like this, I don't like this." And it was like the shape. It was like the band, all this stuff and I'm like, "Thank God. I just want to know. Just tell me," and so then I could go. I could take it. I took my sister with me and ultimately what I decided was yes, it's true that there's a cartel. Yes. It's also true that these have effectively no resale value. It's like 10 percent. Please don't delude yourself. If you buy a ring for 4,000 bucks, you can sell it for maybe 400. That's it. End full stop. Don't think that you're going to make your money back. You're not. It's basically like in terms of finances, you'll never make that money back. It's not an investment.
Ramit Sethi: [00:51:56] But I knew that I had been saving for an engagement ring for years. I saved before I met my wife. I have a sub savings account for my engagement ring. I had one for my wedding and for my honeymoon. That's what you can do in the book too. It's like you already know what's coming up in the next 10 years. Just start putting some money away. That way you give yourself options. So I found the ring and I decided, you know what? This is a gift for my wife and like a diamond to me is like a diamond. A diamond doesn't hold meaning for me. That's why I don't wear it, but I knew that it does for her and so I decided ultimately I'm going to get her a diamond. That was my conclusion and I would just challenge everyone to think critically as well. It might be a cartel. You might have a conversation with your partner. Just remember this is a gift and you want to always think about the recipient when you're getting a gift.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:46] Also, it's a value thing, right? Like this isn't just, "Hey, engagement rings are not going to provide value." It's not just the value of the ring, it's the values that you have. It goes down to this Money Dial concept.
Ramit Sethi: [00:52:59] Let's talk about that for just one second. Because I think a lot of guys -- I know I was like this, I'm a little more technical. I'm kind of utilitarian. Like if you saw my apartment at age 23 there's like nothing on the wall except like one poster. That's what I mean. I didn't paint, I didn't have pillows. When a lot of people think about value, they think of money. Like, "Okay, I spent X thousand dollars on a ring. What am I getting because of it." But there are other ways to look at life besides financial value. So like if you buy a car, you could maybe resell it, but also there are other ways to look at it. The joy you get, maybe you like to drive, so you get a BMW or Tesla or whatever. There are other reasons to buy stuff besides simply how much money you can make back from it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:49] It's important, especially when things like rings or the location. People go, "Wait. What? You paid this for that size house?" "Well, I live 15 minutes from my in-laws so I live in this area." Oh, well you could've saved X thousand dollars a year if you lived in the middle of nowhere." "Yeah, I could've. Not what I'm looking for. Not valuable."
Ramit Sethi: [00:54:11] Ah, see, this is, it's so ironic that we're here with a personal finance book, but we're actually talking about all this stuff aside from personal finance.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:19] Exactly.
Ramit Sethi: [00:54:19] Okay. That is exciting because honestly, once you have your basic finances in order. Then you have earned the right to talk about the more exciting parts of a rich life. That's what I call living outside of the spreadsheet. You don't have to only look at dollars and cents. You can actually think about things like flying business class flights. Why? It might cost 10 times more, but there's a value there. So we have this concept called Money Dials. Do you want to talk about that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:46] Yeah, let's dive into that because it reminds me of this Charlie Munger quote. I'm going to paraphrase this because I always butcher quotes if I try to quote --
Ramit Sethi: [00:54:55] Especially hitting songs, oh my God.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:56] Yeah. He said something and you might've heard this. Being able to change your mind about something really quickly in the face of contradictory evidence that gives you a huge advantage. So if you're thinking, if you're listening to this right now and you're thinking, "Well, here's this excuse." Or, "Oh, I don't know if they're right about that." Go ahead and fact check us. Look at the book, look at the internet whatever you want to do. The quicker you can change your mind -- whenever you listen to this show in fact. The quicker you can change your mind given the new information that you have, you have a time advantage on everybody else who's got their heels dug in about everything, right? So the people who moved out to the land of tech in Silicon Valley in the '90s and made a bunch of money, they did that because they were excited about it. And if they lost a bunch because of the dot-com boom or bubble popping, that's another thing. But a lot of people stuck around and went, "There's still something here." And everyone else was like, "Nah. Throw the baby out with the bathwater." Or somebody goes, "Well, you know, I don't know homeownership is still a thing." And we're telling like, "Actually here are all these other ideas that you can look at." There's somebody who goes, "Hmm, these guys are smart and I trust them. I'm going to look into that." That person has an advantage over the person who's like, "Nah." Or like, "Yeah, they're saying all this stuff, but I'm different. I mean unique exception where I can't do this right now." You're disadvantaging yourself. The quicker you can get off the ball with the new info that you have, the more of an advantage you have in life. Not just finances, none of that in life in general. You can change your mind fast. That's a huge advantage. All right, so Money Dials. This is an idea that I'd never heard before, but tell me about, well, first of all, let's define -- let me retake that as a fucking cluster. Money Dials, tell me what that even means. It sounds like something that you make in kindergarten out of dollars.
Ramit Sethi: [00:56:43] It might be. Okay. I want everybody to think about one thing that you just love spending money like you love it and you can usually find this by looking at your last two to three weeks of spending. What is something you have joyfully spent money on you never thought twice about?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:00] Even if there's no freaking value to it at all. Other than my enjoyment.
Ramit Sethi: [00:57:04] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:05] Oh man. Audio equipment and/or like I have microphones that are so good that I can't use them in my house because there's too much like noise just existing in the world. That's not a studio.
Ramit Sethi: [00:57:17] I love it. Okay. And like look at your face when you just talk about that. That smile you get.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:24] Just the hint of shame.
Ramit Sethi: [00:57:26] Mine is I love some of the things that my assistant helped me coordinate in the last two weeks. Like here I am in California. I got on the plane today. Like everything just perfectly worked. I didn't even know what airport I was going to until I ordered the Uber and it was just in my calendar and it just worked. Like everything automatic. Perfect. I love that. I pay a crazy amount for convenience in my life. What I wanted to do was to show people that I did a ton of research. There are about 10 Money Dials and a money dial is something that you just love spending on. And I call it a dial because like a stereo dial if you focus on it and you get unapologetic about it, you can actually turn that dial-up. If you're spending 100 bucks, I want to show you how to spend 1000 bucks on it.
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:16] So you've got that amazing microphone. What if I gave you $10,000 more to spend on that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:22] There literally is not another one. It's like the best one.
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:25] So you've maxed it out?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:26] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:26] Perfect.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:27] I'll pick another one though.
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:28] Okay.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:28] Let's pick another one because that one is kind of ridiculous anyway. I mean, I suppose I could get there. Another one is not even better. It's just more expensive. It's like the suckers play. You know like the most expensive bottle of wine at a restaurant. It's like that one like, "Yo, you got that Sony. Oh man. That sucker." All right, so another one is I get coaching for stuff that I like don't need.
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:49] Like what?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:50] Like, right now I have a voice-over coach where I'm like, "Oh, I've done a couple of video games. Why don't I learn from professionals and go to classes every week and take this."
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:59] Oh my God, first of all--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:01] So it makes no sense.
Ramit Sethi: [00:59:02] I hope everyone's listening to Jordan because the most successful people I know do exactly this and just like they buy -- like I have this thing called Ramit's Book-Buying Rule and it goes like this. If you are even thinking about buying a book, just buy it because if you can get one idea from it, it's worth it. Same with coaching. They're like, "Oh, I think I want to learn Spanish. You know what? I'm going to hire a tutor to come do it for me and help me do it." The fact that you're just like randomly hiring coaches is so far ahead of where most people like, "I don't know what if I make the wrong choice, dah, dah, dah." You're just like on a whole different level. You're like, "I'm going to try it."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:33] What's funny about the coaching thing is I spent years being like, "I'm going to learn it myself." Not with voice-over, just with everything, getting bad habits, taking forever to learn, putting the book down and be like, "Oh yeah, I've got to like learn that thing again," and then never picking it up. Now, I don't even try to like do that. I'll google one blog post and I'll be like, that sounds cool. Hire a coach, get recommendations from people who know what they're talking about. Hire a coach and the coach is like, "So I assume you've done dah, dah, dah." And I'm like, "No, I literally don't know anything about this." And you know what coaches always say?
Ramit Sethi: [01:00:03] They love it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:03] They go, "Good. Now I don't have to teach you to like tie your shoes the right way."
Ramit Sethi: [01:00:07] And like unlearn all these. So recently I'm going to give you a similar example and then we'll come back to Money Dials. I was on Safari as part of our honeymoon and the last Safari camp we went to had a camera. The one regret I have about the Safari is I didn't bring a good camera. I just had my iPhone. You really need a really good camera if you're out there and you want to get great shots. So the last place had a camera rental. I was like, "Yes." I rent the camera, I don't know, 200 bucks a day or something. I took it out the first day. My photos are horrible. They're like --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:39] All sideways or out of focus.
Ramit Sethi: [01:00:41] Yeah, unfocused and I used to shoot but I haven't shot in like 10, 15 years. I used to develop my own film and everything, so I came back. There's a guy at this place, he's actually like the wildlife photographer in residence and I sit down with him. He's like, "Okay, do you want some critiques on your photos?" I'm like, "Look, I know they're not good." I said, "Can I just hire you to come out with me tomorrow?"
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:59] Yes.
Ramit Sethi: [01:01:00] And just come out and show me how to shoot. He goes, "Yeah, no problem." He goes, "Look, I'll credit you for the cost of the camera. I'll come out with you. We'll do a Safari drive." Guy comes out. The photos I have are like phenomenal and I could see myself improving in two hours with a coach right there saying like, "Okay, you want to adjust this. Here's what happens with cats faces." Like right there, my photos came out. I was so happy and now I'm back into photography. I'm taking classes. I've found the joy again because one person showed me what I could do.
Ramit Sethi: [01:01:31] So for Money Dials, we all have something that we love spending and the most common ones are -- well there's a lot of ones. Fitness is a big one. Fitness or wellness is a real big one. You'll hear people saying like, "I love going to SoulCycle or I go to classes or a trainer, whatever." That's classic. Some of them you can also fit like organic food under there. I love to spend on that. Mine is convenience. That's very uncommon. But that's there. You'll tend to find that with like certain types of entrepreneurs. Frugality, interestingly, is probably the most common. Frugality is a Money Dial. Why?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:11] Really?
Ramit Sethi: [01:02:12] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:12] Because people turned it down.
Ramit Sethi: [01:02:13] Well, you'll find it. If someone says, they'll go like, "Yeah, I went on last month. Yeah, we got a really good deal."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:22] Oh yeah. Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [01:02:23] They love to highlight how much they saved and took it to an extreme. They're like the coupon cutters who buy tons of stuff because they don't even need it. I actually think that can be somewhat of a destructive one. So there are relationships. I have a buddy of mine. Everyone says they love relationships. This guy has a lake house and a boat and he organizes trips to come to his house like multiple times per year. He invites people. He brings them together. He has a whole agenda. Like he's dialed it in. He spends a tremendous amount of money.
Ramit Sethi: [01:02:54] I'm telling you this because I want everyone to think about what their Money Dial is and then to imagine what would it be like if I could spend 10 times more on that?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:04] Yeah. That, that's interesting. Because if I think, "Oh, I love networking and relationships." It's like I'm pretty good at it, but I'm not, "Hey, I'll fly 30 people to my lake house and then everybody bros out for a weekend." Good at it.
Ramit Sethi: [01:03:16] And I'll do that four times a year.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:17] Yeah, that's a serious investment.
Ramit Sethi: [01:03:19] Exactly. But imagine if it gives you joy, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:22] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [01:03:22] If you're like, "I love hiring random coaches, you know what? I'm going to hire the single best coach in the world to come out five times a year. Done." I know a coach, he charges $100,000 for six months. He flies out to his clients once a month. Boom. So what does this mean though for your --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:40] What kind of coach is that?
Ramit Sethi: [01:03:42] He's a leadership coach. He's phenomenal. He's amazing. So the reason I love this is if you want to spend extravagantly on the thing you love, then you probably got to cut back mercilessly on the things you don't. And if you actually took an accounting of what you spend in the last two weeks, you'd probably see that the thing you loved like in a Marie Kondo style gave you a lot of joy and these other things are just kind of random here and there. For me. I love spending on convenience. I'd love to double or triple that and I can turn that dial up in order to do that. I can turn the dial down on a few other things. So if you just search for Money Dials -- maybe we can link it. You can see all the 10 Money Dials and you can decide which ones are mine and how would it feel to be able to spend two, three, four times more. Guys, this is so empowering because suddenly you realize instead of just like spending a little bit here and a little bit there, you can actually focus it and go all-in on something you truly love.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:33] This makes sense, right? So if your Money Dial is fitness, you can go, "All right, well I'm just going to wear three sets of gym clothes and then have two sets of athletic clothes that I just lounge around in. But I'm going to have like the executive membership at Equinox where I go in and like massages are freaking included. I have my own locker. I don't know what they do when you walk in. Anoint you with oil or something.
Ramit Sethi: [01:04:58] I have heard of that membership. It's nuts. But like, fitness is a great example. Most people, you know, they go to the gym, whatever, but like, let's imagine what it would look like to truly turn that dial. You, you would have a personal trainer, you train out four to five times a week together. Your food would be cooked and delivered for you by a professional chef to exactly your specifications, maybe even your macros. You might take three wellness trips per year. You might bring your spouse, partner, friend, whoever with you. I mean, you might have spiritual wellness or meditation. You might have a retreat for that. Like that is truly spending an extravagant amount, but of course, you've cut back on other areas.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:39] Right because people right now are like, "Oh good if some rich guy's telling me to spend more." Yeah, but this same person could make -- they could make like 60 grand a year and afford that because they're not buying expensive clothes. Their vacations are all just them going into this wellness stuff. They don't do luxury exotic stuff. They have a normal car where they bike everywhere.
Ramit Sethi: [01:06:02] Same for me. I embodied this. I've lived in the same place for 10 years. I rent, I could buy, but I just don't care. And I prefer having someone come fix my stuff. My computer is five years old. This stuff just doesn't matter to me. But I love to travel in a certain style. And I love convenience. Boom.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:23] How do we assess our Money Dial? I think it's important to do so because otherwise, we spend medium at everything.
Ramit Sethi: [01:06:29] Which sucks. It's like going to a restaurant and just ordering like a tiny bit of this and that and half the stuff you don't even like, why not just pick the thing you love and get that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:38] Right . Because people go, "Well I can't afford to do that." But the thing is, I think a lot of people -- I'm trying to wrap my head around this. If we put this in a way that is more pedestrian, right? There's, my friend, Tynan a million years ago wrote this blog and he was like, "Look, if you need a knife, get the crappiest knife that will do the job or get the best knife that you can possibly get. Don't get the middle one where it like is kind of okay and sort of does what you need and the rest of your money goes to like marketing that brand of knife." Get the best or get the minimum thing that'll do the job. So if you turn your Money Dial up like you're a foodie, go and you eat awesome stuff and you do that at the max. And you meet your friends at the chef and like they love you because you go there all the time. But then when it comes to your car, don't give a crap driving a used 97 Honda Accord and don't worry about it or ditch the car and bike everywhere. And then if you need to get somewhere in a car to take Uber.
Ramit Sethi: [01:07:39] Amazing point. And let me give you a foodie example of a 10 on the Money Dials. So I have some friends, they love eating their total foodies, they love Michelin-starred restaurants. They will get a reservation at some of the hardest restaurants in the world and they will plan their vacations around that reservation. I mean, I never even heard of this, but I was like, "Wow." Not my thing. You know, I'm not personally interested in that, but I respect and I bow down to the fact that they truly know what they love. And that is amazing to me. So the reason that I think this can be so powerful is to think about what it allows us to do. It allows us to imagine what we really want to spend our money on and that's a place of fun, of future forward-looking imagination instead of like, "Oh God, this person is telling me not to do this and not to do that and I need to go do some HR thing."
Ramit Sethi: [01:08:29] No, start with your Money Dial. Start with what your rich life is and imagine what it would be like to turn that to a 10. Now, you might not be able to do that today. That's okay. Very few people can turn it to a 10 overnight, but you can start to put some structure around. "Maybe I don't really care about that thing and I can redirect it and guilt-free put it towards the area that I do care about."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:51] Yeah, I love this concept. It gives you permission to be indulgent about the things that you love and bring you a lot of joy and then it makes you kind of take a double-take and all this crap you're spending on where you go, "Why did I get that? Oh, because I thought I needed it." There's a lot of, there's a lot that you can dive in and a lot of people are going to be taking a second look at what they spent and that's the idea. You recently got married. How did you start the conversation with your wife about that? I mean, you have to align values. I mean there's a whole lot you got to do because money tears -- I don't know the stats on this, but it's by far number one, the thing that ruins people's relationships is that they argue about money. And that's it.
Ramit Sethi: [01:09:33] I have to say that it was probably one of the most interesting and challenging things that I have ever done with the money. So I'll tell you exactly what happened. My wife used to work at a corporate job and she had a great job. And when we met, that's what she was doing and I was doing my thing. We started seeing each other and after a few years, I was about to propose to her and we sat down and we had a very adult conversation. Like literally we had a Google calendar invite and we had an agenda in there, like bullet points. And the agenda was serious adult stuff. How many kids do we want to have? Where do we want to live? All that stuff. And that was like the first time where we had this truly future-looking adult conversation. And at the end of that conversation, I also mentioned to her, I said, you know, um, it's important to me that we sign a prenup. And --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:39] She broke down in tears.
Ramit Sethi: [01:10:41] No, she didn't. She was surprised.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:43] Not the good kind of surprise that I imagined.
Ramit Sethi: [01:10:49] She said this, she said, "I'm surprised to hear this." She's like, "I don't know much about it, but I'd like to learn, but I'm open to it." And I said, "Totally fair. That's like the best thing I could have hoped for." I explained the reason why, so we both grew up in very similar households, actually pretty close by to each other. Because of my business and by virtue of a few decisions and also luck. Like I have built this business and I've become very fortunate. And I told her like, "Look, I could be going around buying all these expensive cars and stuff. Like I don't, I live up generally pretty simple life. I like to save, I like to invest. I do like a couple of things like convenience. I have an amazing assistant and I travel once in a while. But like for the most part, I just like to save and I like to have fun with my business." So I told her that because I said it's important to me to discuss what I have earned before the marriage and then so that we can get aligned on where we're going together as a team.
Ramit Sethi: [01:11:47] And that was just kind of how I brought up the topic. So we went off to learn more about it. And what happens when you are going through a prenup is you both have to get lawyers. So we get lawyers and it started to get pretty heated after a while.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:04] Oh no.
Ramit Sethi: [01:12:04] Okay. And I'll tell you why because man, I'm talking about this because nobody talks about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:11] Nobody talks about it. I admire this because it'd be so easy to bury this.
Ramit Sethi: [01:12:16] Yeah. And I want to tell the truth about what it's like because these are tough conversations. Maybe you might not sign a prenup, but at one point or another, you're going to have a tough conversation about that. And I'm so tired of people burying this stuff. I want to talk about it and bring it to light because this is the kind of stuff that people need to know the truth. So she said to me, she said -- let me rewind for a second. Years ago, she had asked me for some help with her finances. So the first thing I do was I gave my book. I'm like, "Read this book. Comes back to me when you have questions." So I helped her with her finances for some 401k question. Years later, she said to me, she said, "You know, I kind of feel a little uncomfortable because I opened my finances up to you, but you never told me about your finances." And I realized like, I felt so stupid because I'm like Mr. Personal Finance guy. And I had violated my own rule, which is to be open. So we sat down and we talked about my numbers. I realized I had never shared those numbers with anyone except a couple of people on my finance team. So we sat down, we had an awesome discussion that day about what do we want to do with our lives, right? What kind of life do we want to lead? Do we want to live here, live there, all this stuff? That was probably one of the best conversations that I've ever had.
Ramit Sethi: [01:13:38] After we both got lawyers, we started discussing what does this mean for us. And to me, you know, I had this vision of money. I've been thinking about money for 20 years. I know how compound interest works. Like it's very logical to me. What I failed to account for was that we all think about money in different ways and this was like crazy. It was crazy to me because, for me, I feel safe with my money. Like I understand safety versus risk. I think about it in a certain way. My wife, she had a totally different way of looking at money and it kind of blew me away because I was like, this was my classic comment. I was like, "Look at this spreadsheet. Like it's so obvious." That's like the worst thing you can say to someone. "You look at the spreadsheet." I'm over here speaking like a prototypically male spreadsheet language and she's over here saying like, "I am concerned about this or I'm worried about that." I'm like, "Why worry? Look at the spreadsheet." And this was really bad. We were speaking two different languages. We might have both been right. Like she wanted to feel secure. I was like, "We are secure, look at the money. Like it's, you know, it's growing dah, dah, dah." But we were not connecting and it just, the added complexity of having lawyers and a timeline. No good. So what happened was this just, it went on for too long. Like it kept going on and it was pretty stressful, man. It was probably the most stressful.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:05] Did you guys live together at the time too?
Ramit Sethi: [01:15:06] No. That would have been worse.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:09] It would've been worse.
Ramit Sethi: [01:15:12] I think it would've been worse because you would just would've been talking about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:14] Oh, I guess, I was thinking like at least you can leave it somewhere else and then go have a normal relationship, but maybe not.
Ramit Sethi: [01:15:20] I don't know man. Like it just, it really just compounded with all these different variables. Remember we were planning the wedding, we had a timeline, we had to sign this before the wedding, and then the lawyers were like chirping and these lawyers, they charge by the hour. So it's pretty expensive.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:33] Yeah. They're not incentivized to be like, "Hey, let's make this as efficient as possible."
Ramit Sethi: [01:15:36] Definitely not. So finally my wife said to me, she said, "You know, we've got to go see a counselor. Like this is not working." And I was like, "Yes." I was 100% like, "Yes, let's do it." In fact, I wish I had suggested it myself. So we literally went on Yelp, we searched for a counselor, and we found one two blocks away. We walked over there and we sat down and it was probably one of the best decisions we've ever done. Oh my God. We sat down with this counselor and we just sort of talked. I talked about the way that I was raised with money and how I've grown my business and you know, I have to say I'm really proud of what I have accomplished financially. Like I have provided, I've saved, I've exceeded all my goals financially and I also tried to make a pretty positive impact. You know, like I help people, I do all this stuff, I'm proud of that. And my wife talked about how she was raised, how she thought about money and how she came from a very different place. For example, in the job that she had, she would be very careful about tracking every last penny. It makes perfect sense. For me, I did that when I was starting off in my twenties and then my net worth grew so I became a little bit looser. Like, "Ah, it's fine. Like you'll be covered from here, there, it's kind of fine." We were approaching it in a different way. I want to talk about growth and I'm really excited by compound interest. She wants to make sure that she feels secure, safe, that everything is comfortable. I totally get that. But we were not speaking the same language. So it took this counselor helping us see that. Like I had to acknowledge like, "Hey, now I understand what you're saying, let me put my stuff aside and just be like, okay, I get that. And I appreciate that. I respect that." And then it was important for her to acknowledge like, "Hey, you've accomplished a lot. And that puts us in a position where we can even have these discussions." So we had I think three or so of those sessions, super, super productive. And it was really funny, like at the end of the session, like you have to pay, which I didn't even know like I've never gone to a counselor. So the counselor literally pulls out like a square thing. And then, and you know, we're having these discussions about money and I'm like, "So like, who's going to pay for this?"
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:57] Hey, Cass, did you bring your wallet? I didn't bring my wallet.
Ramit Sethi: [01:17:58] So, we had these discussions and it made things a lot easier. We had to definitely compromise on a few things which like to tell you the truth like I didn't really compromise on money until my wife because I've been single for forever. So I had to really flex that compromise muscle. Seriously, and that was a new thing for me. So we both did it. We came to an agreement, I talk about it in the book and chapter nine. And the reason that I wanted to talk about this was when I started asking my friends and my advisers, so many of them were like, "Oh my God, I went through this." And I was like, "Dude, how come no one ever said anything?"
Jordan Harbinger: [01:18:48] Nobody ever says anything.
Ramit Sethi: [01:18:48] No one. And no one's talking about this. No one talks about how do you find the counselor. Like I just went on Yelp. No one talks about the fact that the lawyers are, they're incentivized to cover every last base, but you have to manage the lawyers and move the process along. Like there are so many subtle things. And the biggest thing of all was this forced my wife and me to have these really deep conversations about money. And I have to say like, we never would've gotten that deep had it not been for bringing a third party in. And it totally brought us closer together. Now, every month, we have a meeting about money. Every month we look at our numbers, we have a model, fucking beautiful model. Oh my God, I'm so proud of it. It's his spending, her spending, and then our spending. So we have our own individual accounts. We can do whatever we want and then it's ours together. We're aligned. We have our goals each year we want to do this, we want to travel, dah, dah, dah. And we talk about money regularly for so many people. You only talk about money with your partner if there's a problem.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:50] Oh, you're overspending. Oh my God.
Ramit Sethi: [01:19:54] Every week we're just like regular, "Hey, what'd you think of this article? Or Hey, I have this decision to make. Like what do you think?" And just making it a regular thing. It just normalizes money and it takes the stigma away from it. So it has completely changed our lives. I'm not saying you have to do a prenup or not. In fact, we can talk about whether it's right for some people, but talking about money, making it regular, it has been transformative for us.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:20:20] This is all so useful. So actionable. I think you're right. A lot of people would never talk about this until they run into a problem and you have to do it before and you have to go to a counselor and work out your stuff. If you have an inkling that something is wrong and you're afraid to bring it up with your partner, that's a really good sign that you need to 100 percent bring it up with your partner. And if they're not having it, then you need to go to the therapist and bring it up and see what's going on.
Ramit Sethi: [01:20:45] Yes. And like take it from me like I know a lot about money and even I had trouble communicating with my wife and we were that far apart. And we just, when you're in an emotional relationship, of course, it becomes challenging. I will say that I've now started talking about this with lots of people. Dude, the stories I hear are unreal, like unreal. I'll give you an example. I had somebody DM me on Instagram and she said my husband spends way too much on ice tea. And I was like, "Oh my God, I got to get into this." So I go, "How much ice tea are we talking about?" And she goes, "He buys like 20 a month." And I'm like, "How much are these ice teas?" And she's like, "$150 but it's so crazy he could make it at home." And I asked her one question, I said, "What's your household income?" She wasn't comfortable. I said, "Give me a range." So she like waited a day to write me back. I guess she was thinking. She goes, "It's around $600,000." Now here's what's funny, right? It's easy to be like, "Oh my God, she's so crazy." This is crazy, but it's not. It's so common when couples fight about money. What they do is they pick one tiny thing like ice tea or car or Xbox or whatever? It's one tiny thing. What they really need to be discussing is the level above it. What are our values? Where do we want our money to go? What do we want to accomplish this year? And that could be, we want to take a trip, we want to bring our parents with us. We want to do X, Y, Z. We want to put our son in a tee-ball, whatever, but instead, we pick what is visceral and salient and obvious and that is the wrong thing. If you're doing that, you got a big problem.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:22:35] That makes total sense. I bet you if we had those two here, we'd be like, "Well, what do you want to buy?" And she'd be like, "I want to take our kids and go spend summers in France so they can learn French and we should buy a place here because it'll be more economical." And the guy would go, "We can't afford that." And she's like, "Well, if we can't afford that, then that means we don't have enough money and you're spending this and this is frivolous," and then they're butting heads on all this stuff. Whereas meanwhile, what he means is, "I don't value that at all. We can just go there for a week and stay at a hotel and they could take French lessons on Skype or whatever."
Ramit Sethi: [01:23:05] Absolutely. Yeah. And that is when you start to get into the core discussion of like, "What do I want? What do you want? What do we want?" And I actually think like once you -- well, I'll speak for myself and in our relationship, once we got over the hump of how to bring this stuff up and how to have that conversation, man, it became really fun. It became like, we get to talk about what we wanna do and the money part of it. We just use it as a tool. It's like getting in a car and saying, "Where do we want to go?" That's the fun part. And then, we have the fuels so we just put the right amount of fuel in there. And if you don't have the fuel or if you don't have the money, then you start making choices and saving and investing for it. Man, that's like one of the most pleasant conversations. But in order to get to that conversation, we had to go through a lot of stuff.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:23:51] Yeah. There's so much to unpack in there and I think that can be really tough. I think most couples are happier burying their head in the sand before the wedding and then talking about that because they don't want to ruin the moment.
Ramit Sethi: [01:24:03] For sure, it's unromantic. A couple of quick tips on how you can bring these things up. I'll give you some excerpts from chapter nine of the book here because I talk about money and love. If you don't know how to talk about this with your partner, you can use an excuse, pick a third party and use that as an excuse. Say, "Look, I heard this podcast with Jordan and Ramit and they were talking about like picking something you really love as a couple and starting to save towards that." Like, "Hey, if it were you and we can do anything this year, what would it be?" Boom. Start the conversation that way. Notice that I'm not saying, "You suck. You spend that much on that." Like, don't start negative.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:24:42] Also I want a prenup.
Ramit Sethi: [01:24:45] Don't do that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:24:45] Needle off the record.
Ramit Sethi: [01:24:48] Another thing you can do is you could say, "You know, I'm curious, I've been listening to this podcast and I'm really curious, how do you think about money? Like when you grew up, did your mom or your dad ever say anything about money? Like in my family, they said, 'We don't talk about money in our family.'"
Jordan Harbinger: [01:25:03] She just cried and wondered where we were going to get grocery money.
Ramit Sethi: [01:25:07] Yeah. And you wouldn't believe how many people still make decisions today because of something they heard their mom or dad say when they were eight years old. Things like we don't talk about money in his family. We don't give money to people like that. Something about taxes or easy come, easy go. There are all these phrases that I put in the book that show you how so much of today's behavior, the stuff you spend money on is because of what you learned 35 years ago from your parents at the dinner table one night.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:25:37] So true. I remember my dad when I was probably seven or eight. I go, "How much money do you make?" And he's like, "I'm not telling you." And I was like, "Oh, this is a private question. I had no idea." So I was like, "Oh, well if it's private, then money must mean it must be like this thing that people like, they don't like it but they need it. But it's uncomfortable." And I don't think it caused any sort of dysfunction. But if I look at certain things that I'll do now, I'll be like, "Oh, I shouldn't think about that or talk about that." It took me a long time to deprogram especially looking at friends of mine that disdain wealthy people. And I'm like, "Why? You could be there. You just suck with your money management." There are people that I know that for sure make more than me, that quote-unquote hate rich people. And I'm like, "You are wasting your money on stuff that you're not getting any enjoyment out of." Because they like, they want to stay in that zone.
Ramit Sethi: [01:26:32] So that's the classic one. The programming from when you're a child is the rich must have stepped on someone to get there. And if you've grown up hearing that, I know if you're listening right now and you hear that you've got chills going down your back, because think of how many ways that has affected your behavior for the last 30 years. Think of how many opportunities you might have said, "No, I would never do that," because of something you heard when you were seven years old. What I want for you to do is to really confront these things and you can use the phrases in the book. You can just talk to your partner or even go to your parents and say, "You know when you were growing up when you were my age, what did you do with the money?" Bet you never had that conversation. Yeah, and really listen and start to ask yourself, what have I accepted that was true my whole life? That might not be true. That's when you start to really point yourself towards your rich life, not my rich life, not Jordan's rich life, not your parents' rich life, your rich life. Then you can decide what to do with your money.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:34] Great place to close. Thank you so much, man.
Ramit Sethi: [01:27:35] Thanks, man.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:38] Special thanks to Ramit. The book title is I Will Teach You to be Rich. It's actually 10 years, more than 10 years old and I've read it a long time ago, implemented a bunch of this stuff, hugely influential on me being able to do a lot of the things that I wanted to do in my life, frankly. And so we'll link to that in the show notes and it's great to have Ramit still in the game and to be back on the show. I mean, he was on my show 12, 11 years ago, something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:02] If you want to know how I get guests like this and how I maintain all my personal and professional relationships and get opportunities that I would never have gotten otherwise -- well, first of all, learn how to network. I'm teaching you how to do it. The course is called Six-Minute Networking and it's free. You don't have to enter a card. You don't have to do any of that BS? jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't say you're going to do it later. The problem with kicking the can down the road is you cannot make up for lost time when it comes to relationships and networking. You got to dig that well before you're thirsty. These drills take five, six minutes a day. I wish I knew it 20 years ago. jordanharbinger.com/course. Speaking of building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Ramit Sathi. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. And there's a video of this interview on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:46] This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason "Moneybags" DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes and worksheets are by Robert Fogarty, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode, so please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:29:19] Today, our podcast is sponsored by another podcast and that podcast is called Movie Crush. Every Friday, Chuck Bryant of Stuff You Should Know -- that's another podcast of course or the huge one -- sits down for a deep dive conversation with people across the entertainment industry about their life as it relates to film, their career, and most importantly, their favorite all-time movie. So he'll pick someone like Dax Shepard and talk about their favorite all-time movie and how it's influenced their lives. He's got like Dax Shepard, John Hodgman, Roman Mars, even takes like my favorite murder podcast crew and they talk about The Silence of the Lambs. So the show is not just about movies, it's about life and how movies influence us from childhood on and what it is about. A favorite movie that kind of makes you go back again and again. You can find that show Movie Crush at Apple Podcasts on the iHeart app or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
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