Scott: Welcome to BiggerPockets Money Podcast, Show Number 73, where we interview Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
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Scott: How’s it going, everybody? I’m Scott Trench and I’m here with my co-host, Miss Mindy Jensen. How are you doing today, Mindy?
Mindy: Scott, I am over the moon about today’s guest. Ramit Sethi. Most of our guests tell their story of their journey to financial independence and although we’ve got some great tips and tricks episodes, too, like Erin Chase from Five Dollar Dinners on Episode 3 and Rosemary Gruener from The Busy Budgeter on Episode 4, and this episode is another tips and tricks show.
Ten years ago, Ramit wrote a book called I Will Teach You to Be Rich. And he’s back now with an updated version.
Scott: Yeah, Ramit is just a wealth of knowledge in the concept of personal finance. I think as it applies to a lot of people like you guys who will be listening to this podcast here. And he’s just studied this concept over the last decade or multiple years before the last decade, right?
He’s just kind of engaged in lots of debate, listened to lots of stories and has a compilation of things about what he thinks are approachable and effective ways to automate your finances and build your position, increase your income, all that good stuff.
We debate real estate investing. We talk about first home purchases. We talk about everything on the show and man, he is a great debater and great conversationalist, great tips, great knowledge.
Mindy: Yeah, he is a powerhouse. He is a wealth of knowledge and I encourage everybody to listen to the entire show all the way through because he doesn’t stop bringing it for the entire hour and twenty minutes or hour and thirty minutes that he’s talking to us. It’s just boom, boom, boom, boom—he doesn’t stop and it’s amazing.
But I want to give the URL for today’s show up front because we link to a lot of things on the show in the notes. So that’s www.BiggerPockets.com/MoneyShow73 so you can find all of the information we have there. You can get the new book. Links to his site, links to his social media accounts, all of that. Okay.
Scott: And before we bring in today’s sponsor, I do want to give a shoutout—Ramit actually rewrote page by page the entirety of the book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich. It’s a New York Times bestseller and it’s actually being released this week, this second edition with a whole bunch of new updates.
So definitely, if you get a chance, you like the show and you want to learn more about this and kind of see that revised edition of this classic in the finance space, check out, I Will Teach You to Be Rich. I think you can get it on Amazon or you can get it at his website, IWillTeachYoutoBeRich.com and get the new edition.
Mindy: And everywhere else books are sold. You can buy a book there. You’ll find this book there, too. Okay. Before we bring in Ramit, let’s hear a note from today’s show sponsor.
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Mindy: All right, huge thanks to Fundrise for sponsoring today’s show. Are we ready, Scott?
Scott: Let’s do it.
Mindy: Ramit Sethi, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. How are you doing today?
Ramit: I am great, thank you for having me.
Mindy: Thank you for coming on. I’m super excited about your book. What’s your book called again?
Ramit: It’s called I Will Teach You to Be Rich, the Second Edition.
Mindy: Second edition. I Will Teach You to Be Rich. What does rich mean to you?
Ramit: You know, when I started out, thinking about money, rich, to me, was being able to order an appetizer when I went out. Because when I grew up, we didn’t order appetizers. We ate out maybe once every six weeks and only to places we had a coupon for and we would never order an appetizer. So that was my dream.
My other dream, which was a very modest dream, was that when I moved to New York, I would be here in the hot summers and I would take the subway if I had to go to a meeting. My dream was to be able to eventually take a taxi without ever having to think about the cost. Very modest dreams.
Now that my business has grown and we have a million readers a month and all that stuff, I think my dreams have gotten a lot bigger. And rich, to me, is only working with people who I respect and like, never having to make a bad decision because of money, and being able to travel for a month every year and travel without looking at the price tag of any hotel or any flight. And being able to really sort of integrate my family as we travel.
So for example, taking our parents on part of our honeymoon was a big thing for my wife and for me. So, that’s what rich is to me and being able to do meaningful work. But I think it’s different for everyone. That’s why I called the book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Your rich is different than my rich and that’s perfectly fine.
Scott: Love it. I think it’s different that you stated rich as an emotional concept. We get that from time to time on this but I always struggled to—my desire at all times when I’m talking about the word “rich”, financial freedom, all that kind of stuff, is to put a number on something around that. But I get it. There’s a sliding scale, right?
There’s this, hey, I’ve got $5000 in the bank or enough to take a taxi without thinking about it and I’ve got the ability to go where I want in the world and do exactly what I want all day with my time. How do you think someone who is maybe in a middle-class income, maybe earning $50,000-$100,000 a year, living paycheck to paycheck—what should their definition of rich be, or what would they stand to gain out of learning to be rich from you?
Ramit: Well, first off, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the simplest answer is you should just get out of that cycle, right? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, there are things you can do, it’s called the CEO strategy, which is called “Cut Costs”—everybody knows that internally but they waste their time cutting costs on meaningless things like lattes.
Cutting costs on lattes is like the worst advice ever. $3.00 a day doesn’t even add up to that much. Plus, you feel guilty. It’s the one joy you have in the morning. And you don’t even do it. So people waste their time, their limited cognitive resources on $3.00. Why don’t you just stop that and focus on the big areas you can cut—negotiating your salary?
That’s an example of the “E” part, which is “Earning more”. That’s another thing most people don’t think about. So they are like, oh, I’ve got to cut back on like the types of paper clips I buy but they forget that there’s a limit to how much you can cut, but no limit to how much you can earn and then “O” is for “optimizing your spending”.
So I think for those people who are living paycheck to paycheck situation, the first thing would be putting aside some savings every month. And it doesn’t matter if it’s $20-$2000. The most common objection to that is people would be like, there’s no way I can cut back anymore. And I’m like, okay—I’m being polite but in my head I’m like, here we go. And trust me, I love these conversations.
And I’m like okay, what have you tried? And they’re like, I’ve tried everything. I’m like, tell me. They’re like, you know, I try to eat out less. I’m like, okay, that’s cool. What else? Like, I mean, there’s nothing else. I mean, I can cancel my phone service. They went from eating out less to cancelling their phone service. That’s the extent of thought going into it.
So there are things that can be done that are on a big scale. There are also things like calling up the subscriptions and using the script in my book, literally negotiating your fees down. And those fees accumulate, right? They’re a credence so you’re not just saving $10 a month or $50 a month. It’s going over years and years. So that’s the first place, I would say, Scott, to get out of that cycle before you can look ahead and talk about financial independence, you need to be having some money automatically saved every month.
Scott: Love it. When I think about cutting spending, I’ll think about hey, there are fixed and variable costs here, right? And what it sounds like you’re talking about is those fixed costs, subscriptions. They’re really kind of an easy way to cut those. If you cut those, you’re just automatically saving lots of money every month which is what the latte is, the “variable” cost, which is a behavioral thing that you’ve got to go and change there.
When it comes through the larger expenses, you know, if you break out the average of American household spending, you’ve got 33% of that spending is in house living expenses—the mortgage, the rent, and all that kind of stuff. Housing. Then you’ve got another 17% at transportation and the next 13% is going to be food. And it’s sad that I know these statistics off the top of my head. But I guess that’s the territory here. When you think about it, do you have any advice on those three big categories for cutting those out?
Ramit: I do. And I just love that you know those offhand. Listen, anyone listening to this podcast, and certainly if you’re interviewing, you’re kind of a weird like nerd. Okay? All of us are weird. Let’s just admit it. If you know the difference between a ROTH or a 401K, you’re a weirdo.
So we’re all in good company here. I think that I really like to be conservative on the big items. So I have something that I call the “tripod of stability”. And for me, I really want to be stable in where I live, what my employment, and my relationships. Just like pure stability.
As an example, I moved to New York ten years ago. I’ve lived in the same apartment ever since. My net worth has increased during that time but I stayed. I’m perfectly happy. It’s a great place. I’m good. My computer, seven years old. It works. It runs. It might sound like an airplane but it works.
But what that does, being conservative in those areas allows me to be very risk-seeking in others. It allows me to invest very aggressively. It allows me to take risks with my business and also to honestly just splurge on the things that I love.
So I would say that if most people actually followed a few simple formulas when it came to their spending, they would be in really good shape. Here’s some simple formulas I have. I want to have a one-year emergency fund cash. That’s a little bit more aggressive than most but I like it. I want to have a no-debt policy overall. And if I do use debt, it would be maybe for a house. And so I would start with 20% down minimum, if not more.
And I have several other rules that I use that are very, very conservative. Though if you follow things that are 28% of your pay for housing, if you just follow those basic rules, you’re going to be in a really good conservative position. What happens is most people overspend on the big things. They forget to account for the phantom costs. And then they wake up one day and they’re like, where’s all my money? Well, the money you can’t find, you spent it six years ago on a poor decision you made.
Scott: I love that concept of the one-year emergency fund in cash and how you applied that in thinking, too, hey, that allows me to take risks in other areas and be much more aggressive. So does your investment portfolio reflect a very aggressive outlook, given that you have a large cash cushion there? Is that how you are structuring things?
Ramit: It’s actually a backwards-bending curve, because once you start off—in general, if you’re young, you’re slightly more risk-seeking, but there’s a new billboard that’s going around in New York and it says, “Be better than average”. You should actually be average and you should be happy with it. Oh, better than average.
Of course, I want to have a better-than-average relationship. I want to have a better-than-average bicep. But actually, in investing, you should be perfectly happy with an 8% return. It’s great. The real problem comes when you try to get 18% in returns and 16 years from now, you realize, oh, I really wasn’t as smart as I thought.
So no, the backwards-bending part happens as you become wealthier, you actually cut down on your risks. There is a great story about Suze Orman. She recommends people have simple index funds, etc. And then one reporter in the New York Times asked her, how much do you have? She says, I have about $25 million bucks or so.
They said, where do you invest it? She said, I put a million in the market and I put all the rest in bonds. And everyone in the personal finance community was outrage. Oh, my God. Why would Suze Orman tell everyone bonds? Well, Suze Orman has 24 million reasons than you to put her money in bonds. She already won the game of personal finance.
So once you win the game, you don’t have to compete at the same growth levels as other people. Therefore, I’m risk-seeking in my business, but in my investments, I have a very stable, roughly 70-30 portfolio equities and I wouldn’t call it aggressive. I wouldn’t call it conservative. It is slightly aggressive. That’s it.
Scott: It’s average.
Ramit: It should be average, exactly.
Scott: Love it.
Mindy: Where do you keep your one-year emergency fund?
Ramit: I split it up over multiple savings accounts. So I have like a variety of different savings accounts. People who want to maximize the FDIC insurance will use this thing called Cedar’s or a variety of other services and you can just split it out over any high-interest savings account.
By the way, one thing that I hear people make a common mistake about is they rate-chase. They’re like, what’s the best savings account that’s going to give me 0.02% more? And I call that a $3.00 question. Most people spend their lives asking $3.00 questions. You need to be asking $30,000 questions. Or once you become more successful, $300,000 or $3 million dollar questions.
If you take a $10,000 balance and you count a 0.02 or 0.01% difference, you’re talking about a few bucks a month. It’s nothing. We shouldn’t even be talking about this. You need to pick a good account, stick with it, move on. There is no more optimization you need to waste your time on.
Scott: I love that. I totally agree with that concept. I think I’d even apply it at scale to investing, right? People are always like hey, what should I do? Should I invest in stocks, bonds? Should I keep this here or there and they’re talking about $5,000 bucks, right?
And the answer is, no, you shouldn’t focus on investing your $5,000. You’ve got an extra return. You can think about it but be average. You need to get to that $50,000 or $100,000 in terms of your investment liquidity because that is when the returns actually begin to have significance. That’s when it becomes a $3,000 question instead of a $3.00 question.
Ramit: I completely agree. I’m so glad you had that. So, I had a woman write me an e-mail. I have an e-mail list at IWillTeachYouHowtoBeRich.com. We have 400,000-500,000 people on it. And I e-mail multiple times a week and I read every response and it’s very dynamic so you’ll hear from me a lot.
Try to send out some awesome stuff every week. And I once asked people, what is something you know you should be doing more of, you claim is really important to you but you just don’t do it?
And the answers were very typical. What do you guys think the answers were?
Mindy: Invest more, eat less, save more money.
Ramit: Bingo. Call mom more often, things like that. So there was a woman who wrote me and I was really struck by her response. I keep dreaming about going for a run three times a week. I never seem to be able to do it.
And I wrote her back and I said, why not just go once a week? And she wrote back and said, why would I run once a week? That doesn’t accomplish anywhere.
And I thought to myself, how interesting. This woman would rather dream about running three times a week than actually run about once a week. And that’s exactly what people do with their money. They would rather dream about being a millionaire or being financially independent or FIRE. Than to actually say, you know what? I’m going to put $1000 into this account. And then I’m going to ratchet it up to $250 and then $500.
So my message to people is dreams are great but all that really matters is, what did you do yesterday and what are you doing tomorrow? And so behaviorally if you’re on top of it, you’re going to end up living a rich life. If you’re not, you’re going to leave it up to chance.
Scott: Obviously, this is related to personal finance and getting rich, but more on the concept of personal development, what do you do to keep on track with these goals? Or what do you encourage people to do to stay on track with their goals? Do you have a goalsetting system or some sort of thing in your mind there or to just—
Ramit: Okay, so first of all, I think for a lot of people, especially in the FIRE community, there’s a lot we can talk about when it comes to FIRE but one of the key messages I want to encourage people to do is once you get your basic system set up, it’s not magic. It’s just math. You know exactly your debt payoff date. You literally know it down to your month and year. You know the exact month and year that you will become a millionaire or whatever your crossover point is.
So sitting there running another Monte Carlo analysis is not going to change your life. In fact, you need to turn off your spreadsheet, turn off Excel. You need to live your life outside your spreadsheet. Okay, that’s it. And what I find with the FIRE community in particular, there’s a lot of growth gains and [Inaudible][18:10] as well. But I think there’s some problems, too.
And one of the problems is that, at a certain point, it becomes very addictive to play with cell E62 because there’s a lot of control. E62 is never going to turn its back on you. E62 is never going to require your emotional intelligence to go up. E62 is very logical and the FIRE community loves it. Well guess what? E62 is the same as it was last week, last year, etc.
So you have a plan. Why do you need to spend more time on it? You need to actually develop the muscle of living outside the spreadsheet, and that’s really what a rich life is. It’s you automated your money. I spend less than one hour a month on my money and everything runs. It’s paid, it’s automatically saved and invested, all of that. But the real rich life is what am I doing on Friday? Which friends am I travelling with this year? Am I working out?
And I think for a lot of people, particularly for those people listening to a personal finance podcast, all you need to do is get 85% of the way there. Get there. Your asset allocation is dialed in. All that important stuff is good. But then like, you’re good. You’ve won the game. Now, it’s just time. And now you need to spend that time building the skill of living outside the spreadsheet.
Mindy: I really like how you acknowledge in the book that if you are inherently unhappy, becoming financially independent, fixing all of your problems is not going to make all of your other problems magically disappear. And you know, reading that can be powerful, especially in a book that says, I Will Teach You too Be Rich.
Ramit: Yeah, thank you for saying that. Listen, I know the name. The first thing you think is like, this is scam. And the second thing, you’re like, was this guy drunk when he named his book, which is like a New York Times bestseller now. No, I was not drunk. I was sober. And I have a friend, Tim Ferriss, and we both talked about how we picked the scammiest names on earth for our titles.
But when you open it up and you read like the first four pages, you’re like, oh wow. This actually is totally different than anything I’d expect. So one of the reasons I wrote this book, which was, I do want to teach you how to be rich. I do think that money is a foundational item and it is important, a small but important part of a rich life. But it’s very hard to live a rich life if your money is not dialed in.
What do I mean by dialed in? I mean that you should know all the basic stuff of what is the percentage of what I’m saving and investing? That stuff’s easy. Your money should be flowing automatically, right? You wake up, you should not be deciding over paying bills. That question should have been decided weeks, months, years ago. You should not feel guilty about a latte or a $500 jacket.
Hey, you want to buy a $1000 pair of shoes? Be my guest. That’s guilt-free spending. You already decided? I’ll show you how to do it. In fact, I have a story in here about somebody that spends, I think $21,000 a year going out and I totally applaud that.
And then, really, you should have—you get to the point by Chapter 9 where you’ve already automated all this stuff. You’ve done the mechanical parts. So now it’s the real stuff like talking to your partner about money, getting aligned. Do you have parents who are in financial distress? What about going on a trip with your friends? Or like, what about investing in yourself?
Maybe you want to take a class. Maybe you want to splurge on something. Where does that fit into a rich life? That is the more advanced part of personal finance, which I really enjoyed updating and writing about in this book.
Mindy: Yeah, that’s the fun part, the getting your spouse on board. The talking to your partner about money. If you’re married, if you’re in a long-term committed relationship, you really can’t do this without having your partner on board. I mean, you can, but you are really fighting an uphill battle.
And some of the common complaints of people who, maybe couples aren’t on the same financial page. My partner spends more than I do. My partner feels like we should spend more money now, not save for the future. I really like in the book, you talk about your fantasy of hosting a TV show where couples have their first financial conversation together on the show and you throw in potstring questions like ooh, what’s a secret that you’ve been hiding from your partner about your money? I would totally watch that show, by the way.
Mindy: I would totally watch that show. I’m sorry, have you ever heard of a show called Jerry Springer? Small show. Maybe I just got it in Chicago, but yeah, they were on for a couple of years.
Ramit: That’s a good show.
Mindy: How do you start that first conversation with your partner? Maybe you don’t want to be a guest on the Ramit Stir Sh*t Up Show. Oh, I just said a bad word.
Ramit: You definitely want to be a guest on that show. I’m accepting applications for my new show, not even announced until Mindy here just told us, it’s happening. So if you and your partner have money problems and you want the biggest stir on earth, sitting there, eating chips and habanero salsa, just throwing pot shots, send me an e-mail and you might be the first guest. Okay.
Mindy: Yes, and for people who aren’t on the show.
Ramit: All right. So let’s think about what most people do and let’s think about how we can do it differently. So I got an Instagram DM the other day from a woman who wrote me and said, my husband spends, WAY TOO MUCH, in all caps, WAY TOO MUCH on iced tea. And I rubbed my hands together and I said, here we go. Let’s do it.
I said, how much does your husband spend on iced tea? And she goes, he goes out at least 20 times a month. It’s at least $1.50 each time. We’re talking $30-40 and I said, wow. I knew where this was going but I had to lay the track. I said, hey, out of curiosity, what’s your household income? And she got real quiet. She didn’t respond for ten minutes.
Then finally, she wrote back and said, “I’m not comfortable sharing that”. I said, give me a ballpark number. I’m not going to share your name or anything. What do you think that she said their household income is?
Mindy: I’m going to go like high 5’s or low 6-figures?
Ramit: So let’s just say $100,000. And Scott?
Scott: Yeah, I would go with that $80-$120K.
Ramit: $80-120K. Okay. The answer that she gave me was $600,000.
Mindy: Oh, my God. What does he do?
Ramit: They live in New York. So let’s just take this example, because interesting your reaction. First of all, it’s like exactly the same whether they make $100K or $600K. The $30 monthly expense is meaningless. It’s literally a rounding error. So it literally doesn’t matter that they earn $80K or $600K, it doesn’t matter.
What’s the psychology going on here? The psychology going on is that she has a money value that you can make iced tea at home and I would be willing to bet her parents raised her, saying we don’t usually do that kind of thing here. There’s no need to eat out, etc. I know because I was raised in a similar household. Her husband’s money perspective is probably very different.
And what happens is that are both speaking at this tactical level, the level of, you do iced tea—and by the way, if we looked at her expenses, I’m sure we can find something that she’s “wasting” money on. That’s what they’re focused on. They’re fighting a ground war. When in reality, they both need to reframe themselves, instead of infantry, they are generals. They need to be having a strategic conversation and move one or two levels up.
The questions that I would start with would be, first of all, I would pick something that we could do together. I’d say, you know, my husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend, I’d say, you know what? I really want to get better at money. And I’d love to pick up a book. This book coming out, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, or whatever book. Would you be down to read it with me? I think it would be a really fun exercise.
Okay, so let’s just go through the decision tree. If your partner says yes, I would go through it week by week. And I would encourage you to both put some skin in the game. Maybe for Chapter 1, your partner writes the notes up. Maybe for Chapter 2, you write the notes up, right? Make it something where you’re both consumers. You’re actually producing.
As you get to the later chapters, you’re going to have lots of realizations. You might discover that one of you likes a lot more money sitting in your checking account because it makes you feel safe. That’s what happened in my relationship. The other might say, I really like to invest in a local bar in Brooklyn. Well, you’re going to lose your money but okay, you want to do that? Fine.
So you’re going to discover lots of things. What you’re doing now is you get to have a conversation about values. What do you want to do with our money? What’s important to us? Oh, we want to travel? What kind of hotels do we want to stay in? Where do we see ourselves? Do we want to live in Manhattan or Chicago? In what kind of place? What about kids?
These are the conversations that we need to be having. These are big conversations. And when you talk through those, how were you raised? Did you go out to eat? By the time you get those big things out of the way, you can have those conversations in the spreadsheet. What happened with this couple on Instagram was they started with the spreadsheet and they just started attacking each other.
$1.50, $1.50, iced tea. That’s too much. They’ll never get out of that unless they get a third party to come in and help. And so that’s what I would suggest is, take it up a notch. Have something together that you can work through that will open up conversations. And when you do that, it’s going to be less about, you did this wrong and I think this and more, here’s a plan that somebody wrote. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Where should we go together as a team?
Mindy: You know, I love this. I love the suggestion to take notes on every chapter. The book is called I Will Teach You to Be Rich, but the subtitle is No Guilt, No Excuses, No BS. Just a Six-Week Program That Works. And it does work if you do the work. If you are looking for an excuse for this to not work, you will find it. You will always find whatever you’re looking for. So if you’re looking for success, you’re going to find it.
Ramit: Yeah. And I think success, by the way, one thing that I talk about, when it comes to relationships is the most common thing people do when it comes to money is they start by telling the other partner what they’re doing wrong. And that’s a real surefire way to basically pollute your money relationship forever. I actually would encourage a couple to start off by saying, what is something amazing, something so over-the-top and awesome that we want to do this year?
We want to take a trip to Thailand. We want to take a weekend trip to London. Whatever it is. Okay, great. Let’s ballpark it. How much is it going to cost? Well, it’s going to be $1000 for the flight and this and that. Ballpark it. Fine. Okay, awesome. $3000 or $300, it doesn’t matter what the amount is. Okay, great. Let’s start there. That’s one of our goals.
Now, let’s figure out how we can make our money work for us. Notice the profound shift of let’s start from a place of richness from what we want and let’s work towards that and make our money work, versus you’re bad, you’re bad. Lattes this. No jeans, no vacations. No—just seal yourself up until you’re 68 years old and then one day you can have some compound interest. Not a good place to start. Start from what you want, not what you don’t want.
Mindy: I cannot agree with what you’re saying more because I am actually in that position. My husband is—I say my husband is financially independent. We’re both financially independent. What’s his is mine. But he doesn’t work anymore. He’s this financial independence guy who did not—he didn’t enjoy his job and now he’s got other things that take up his time that he enjoys doing a lot more.
But he actually just wrote a post a few weeks ago about how he wished he would have done things differently because it was like this mad dash to the finish line. And then, oh, well it could have taken an extra year to get here and that would have been okay, too. I would have had more enjoyment in my thirties if I would have stopped to smell the roses. And it’s not just a fun thing to say. It’s actually something that you should really be doing.
Ramit: Yeah, so this is what I was talking about with FIRE. I do want to talk about the thing that I love about FIRE. My actual favorite thing is, anything in America that gets people to save more, I’m a big fan of. We’ve got a horrible savings rate and what I love about FIRE is they came along and said 10% savings rate, 20%? Screw that. Let’s do 60% and they just blew the barn doors off. It was amazing.
Now, for most people, we’ve all seen the common threads when there’s a mass media piece. People are like, that’s impossible. Inheritance. And I think it’s inspiring. I thought I was doing well and then they come along and make me realize there’s always another level. I love it. So when they did that, I thought it was absolutely amazing. And guess what, I guess it did get some people thinking like, hey, do I really need to be spending on all this stuff that I really care about? Let me get conscious. Okay? So I love that.
I will say that, it attracts a certain type of person and that person tends to have certain things in common. They tend to be hyper-logical. They tend to have the wherewithal to change their lives. If you’re going to have a 50, 60, 70% savings rate, you’re willing to make a sacrifice, which is amazing.
But I would also say there’s some troublesome things in FIRE. I would say that there are a lot of words like people saying “I’m unhappy with my job” and if you just go to the financial independence subreddit right now, at the top of the 30 posts people are using words like anxious, hate, hate my rat race job, want to get out, can’t wait for the weekend. Those are not the signs of a healthy financial decision-making framework. That’s simply the sign of somebody who does not like it, and humans don’t like pain so they want to get away from pain.
You know, you asked a question. Well, why don’t you just get a better job? And the answer is always blown off. I don’t want to do that. I just want out. Well, what are you going to do when you finally achieve FIRE? I’m going to sleep. What kind of answer is that? You’re going to sleep? What is that? I would rather people say, you know what, I don’t know that answer right now. But I tell you what, I’m really unhappy. Here are the steps I’m taking. I’m going to go look for a better job. Maybe I find it, maybe not.
In the meantime, I’m increasing my savings rate. I’m also taking a couple of classes. I bought a couple of courses and some books and I’m meeting with my friends every Saturday morning. Who knows what FIRE will look like, but I’m setting myself up for success when I get there. That is a much healthier perspective than, I hate work. Work is not for me. Get me out of here, and I’ll save 80% and then one day after I take a long nap, I’ll figure it out.
So I just want to call out—there are lots of pluses to FIRE. Anything that gets you to save more and be conscious, I’m a huge fan of. But I also want to make sure people study who they are taking advice from. If all the people around you are unhappy at their jobs, saving 70%, spending two hours a night in their spreadsheet, that might not be the role models you want to follow.
Scott: You know, I’ll chime in here because a lot of what you describe kind of describes me. When I first started in this FIRE thing. I worked my first job at literally the worst company to work for in the United States of America. It got that ranking.
Ramit: Wait, what is it?
Scott: You can look that up afterwards. I don’t want to publicly disparage anybody. But yeah, I was very unhappy at that role. I didn’t want to do that long-term and I discovered the concept of FIRE. And I remembered, after I discovered FIRE, I cut everything. I stopped spending basically any money. I made my lunch every single day. I would literally have days where I would show up to work. I would make breakfast, show up to work, listen to podcasts the entire time.
I would leave work, go and tutor or drive Uber and whatever else and then get back at 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock at night. Miserable, right? That lasted for three to six months and then I got a new job at this startup called BiggerPockets.com and really started loving my work from there. But I literally went through a phase that you’re describing of this all out thing because I was so afraid and stuck in my old position.
So I couldn’t completely relate to that unhealthy obsession with FIRE for that first maybe two and a half years of my journey towards FIRE. That was kind of the piece there but it did allow me to make up some of that money in those first big investments that kind of propelled my position forward.
Ramit: Totally agree on both counts and thank you for being so candid about that. I think it’s amazing to hear people who have gone through the process. And I have a concept I want to talk about called Hot to Cool. So, I gave a talk yesterday actually at Business Insider and there are 50, 60, 70 people in the audience. I asked them, what are the words that come to mind for you when you think of money? And what do you think the words were that they shouted out?
Scott: Margaritas on the beach.
Ramit: No way. Not even close. That never comes up. You guys have been in too many FIRE rooms. I can tell you no one ever says those answers. It’s always the same. Anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, is it too late, confused, stupid, all negative words. Okay, this is average Americana. When you ask normal people, not FIRE nerds or FAT FIRE, LEAN FIRE, none of them, just normal people—that’s how they think about money.
Just think of the words they are using. Overwhelmed, anxious, confused, stupid. Those are hot words. They are very hot. If you think about scale, they are really hot, right? They are boiling over.
We were testing a fitness class for many years and these were people who were trying to lose weight. And we studied the psychology quite a bit of people who struggled with their weight. And they would tell us these heartbreaking stories.
They would say, I sit down at a restaurant. There’s a plate of nachos in front of me. They would say, it’s like I’m fighting a demon and the demon is trying to convince me to get the entire plate of nachoes. Right? They are literally fighting a battle every day of their lives. That’s a hot emotion. Now, what I told them in the first week is by the end of the program, your emotions will go from hot to cool.
Cool means, you can see a plate of nachos and you can say, you know what? I feel like having a couple of nachos. I’m going to have it. Or you know what? I’m not in the mood. I’m good. Similarly, with money—you know what? My savings rate is 12%. I think that’s pretty good. I’m good. Or you know what I feel like I could use? I want to increase my savings and I’m going to take half of it and go spend it on something. I’m good. Cool. Okay.
FIRE has a lot of hot emotions. Hot. And that’s not healthy. Hate my job. Depressed. What’s that canonical famous saying? I built my savings but I never built my life. I think that when you go a little bit at sort of the FAT FIRE side, there’s slightly healthier psychology there. Now, I get that FAT FIRE is earning way more money, I get that. I read all these different subreddits.
But you will see that people are not saying, oh my, God—I hate my life. I want to retire. No, they are much cooler about it. They’re like, you know what? I have two kids in private school in Connecticut and this is what it’s going to take so I’ve decided to work extra and dah dah dah.
I want everyone listening, if you’re FAT FIRE, LEAN FIRE, NO FIRE, to realize that when you get your infrastructure in place and when you have a healthy mindset and psychology around money, it shouldn’t be hot. Money should not be exciting. It shouldn’t be dramatic. It shouldn’t be fun. It should be boring. You should log in maybe once every six months. And your real life is outside the spreadsheet.
So if you find yourself listening to a kajillion podcasts, except this one—this one is okay. You guys can listen to this every day. This is the best podcast ever.
Mindy: I agree.
Ramit: But if you’re listening to like 30 FIRE podcasts and 50 FIRE blogs, you have a larger problem. Get the FIRE stuff right, but then flex the other part of your muscle, which is living outside of the spreadsheet.
Scott: And I think it come down to that savings rate. Automate your savings rate. Automate your investing program and you’re going to be on track to achieving FIRE or whatever it is that you consider to be rich, in a pretty short amount of time. Right?
Ramit: It’s not that hard.
Scott: Especially if you can get it up to maybe, let’s call it 30%. If you get to that kind of range, you’re going to be on track. I like to get more aggressive and we’ll obviously continue to encourage you, the listener, to be more aggressive than that 30%. But I like it. It shouldn’t be stressful after you get to a certain point. Once you get to a year of runway or a year of savings in the bank, life is good. You’re going towards FIRE and it’s a matter of how fast. You’re right. How much do you want to give up of my life in order to get there a year faster?
Ramit: You know what, when my wife started talking about money, I think that having frameworks or general rules are really good in life. For example, I mentioned one rule I have in one year, no debt, etc. Some people have rules like, I wear the same thing every day, right? Some people have those rules. Some people have rules like any flight over five hours, business class.
One of the things that I talk to my wife about, which I had to remember to compromise because I haven’t had to compromise on money in the last 20 years. Now I’m married so we have to like talk about it and we have to go through that together. I’ve been learning that lesson, which has been very humbling, and I said, you know what? Here’s how I feel about it. As long as we’re doing a savings rate of roughly 20-30%, the rest of it in general is good.
We need to keep an eye on expenses, etc. but if we’re hitting that number, we’re in a good place. We don’t have kids at this point but I said, I’d like to actually be higher than that because we’re in a really fortunate place. Dual-income, no kids, all that. So that took some talking through but I totally agree. If you have a few key numbers you’re hitting correctly, 20-30%. 28% of your pay for housing, etc. You’re in a really good place and all of a sudden, it’s not that hard to gain a substantial amount of money.
Scott: Love it.
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Scott: One of the topics that we haven’t talked about yet, we talked about getting that automatic savings rate, kind of automate some of these things, investing to the average, all that kind of stuff. You’ve got some really good stuff about increasing your income, and negotiating a raise. Do you want to touch on that real quick before we get more into the changes for the new book?
Ramit: Yeah, so I’ve become known for, if you Google Ramit Sethi and negotiation advice or you subscribed to my newsletter, I sent you a bunch of scripts. Word for word scripts. Now, first of all, Americans hate negotiating. You guys are scared of picking up the phone to order from a restaurant, much less going in and talking to your boss. It’s so funny, you talk to Americans and they’re like, negotiating? What am I going to do, kick in my boss’s door and demand money?
I’m like, who said you have to do that? Where’d you come up with that? The concept of negotiation in this country is so bizarre. Now, I grew up with immigrant parents. I tell the story about how my dad, when we bought a car growing up, I literally thought it was normal to go to a car dealership for five days in a row to buy a car. We did that. I thought that was normal. Then I found out, normal people just go and they pick a car and leave with the car that day? I’m like, what?
Anyways, I learned all about negotiation. Anyone with ethnic parents probably does. And I grew up in America so I also know American culture as well. And this dichotomy gave me a really interesting perspective. I negotiated my salary in multiple places, both at jobs and also as a freelancer and consultant as I raised my rates. I started at $20 an hour, eventually raising my rates to thousands of dollars per hour for a client.
So you have to understand that when you move up the value chain at those levels, there’s a lot of things that go into that. You don’t just go into someone else’s office and say, give me $3000 an hour. Nobody will give you that kind of money. You need to understand a lot of things happening behind the scenes, so I started helping people negotiate their salary in my early 20s and I would tell them this. They would say, can you help me? I’d say, yeah, I’ll help you.
Number one, you do everything I say any number two, you take notes. And they were like, yeah, okay. So they would negotiate on average, $6000. The number grew. People start making more money, you can negotiate more. Now, I live in Manhattan and I would say, three times a week, I walk down this street and people will stop me and say, you helped me negotiate $25,000. And I have a course called Dream Job. Well, I wanted to put some of the best stuff in this book.
So, I talked first about the psychology of negotiations. The idea that people are worried if they negotiate their offer, it will be rescinded or they’ll get kicked out, which is exactly the opposite. By negotiating, you can actually increase your perceived value, because the only type of people who negotiate are top performers. And then, second, there’s an exact way to do it. You don’t just walk in and say, give me money. Of course, your boss would kick you out. That’s a stupid question.
What you should do is spend the time doing the work beforehand telling your boss exactly what you’re doing, making sure that the boss knows you are going to accomplish these things and if you do, you are going to ask for a compensation or adjustment. Note the words I’m using. The words are carefully chosen. They’ve been tested. Field tested with thousands of people.
And then, finally, how do you walk in and have the conversation? For example, what if the boss says, we don’t have the budget for that. Well, guess what, I have 30 answers for that question which you can use straight from the book. So I think that most people are underpaid. We did an exercise on my email list and we found that my readers are underpaid on average something like $8,000-$12,000, which blew their minds.
That’s like saying there’s oxygen in the air. That’s not surprising. Of course you’re underpaid. You don’t know what you’re doing. Now, let’s talk about how to fix it. So, remember for people listening that you can be paid more. Remember that a single $5,000 raise in you 20s when properly invested, can be worth over a million dollars.
Remember that when people negotiate once, tend to negotiate multiple times. And remember that it’s not as scary as you think. It’s just a skill. You can learn it. There are actual words and processes to use. It is one of the best things you can do to increase your earnings.
Scott: So let’s roleplay here. I’m a senior financial analyst making $85,000 and I think I should be paid $98,000, right? How do I construct that argument? What do I say to my boss to get that raise using your kind of philosophy there?
Ramit: Oh, my God. I love this. I love roleplays. Can we flip it so I’ll be you and you be the boss?
Scott: Sure. Exactly.
Ramit: That’ll make it easier for us. Okay. So I’m going to e-mail you. Hey, Scott. You know what, I was wondering if we could talk about my role and I really want to understand what it would take to be a top performer in this role. Would you be available to discuss it next Friday or next Monday between 1-3PM, I can come to your office anytime. Great.
Great, so it’s Friday and I come in Friday. Hey Scott, thanks so much for taking the time. First of all, I just want to tell you, I really enjoyed my work. I’ve been working on xyz project and we had a goal, feeling really good about it. Now, the reason that I wanted to talk to you is I want to understand what it takes to make your job easier and also to be a top performer in this role. I have no interest in just being average. I really want to be the best.
So I figured I could come to the source and just ask you, what might make your job easier and what would it take for me to be absolutely amazing in this role?
Scott: Sure. So I need you to put together our Proformas or PNL to make sure that we’re spot on with our predictive analytics and what our Proforma financial statement or what budget is going to look like next year. I need you to help the team compute the ROI of various ad hoc projects, like the return of an investment of projects like this new blog post that we’re going to be putting in next week. Put in those types of infrastructures. Those sorts of things.
Ramit: So this is super helpful. I’m taking notes, by the way. So just so I understand, you want me to get the Proforma to you. It sounds like that would be a typical part for this role. How could I do that in a way that would be exceeding expectations? Would it be getting it to you say a week early?
Scott: Yeah, I think it would be getting it in on time and getting it in early, and then working with the people who are actually going to be operating against that Proforma. This is what I do for my regular job. I want you to put together this Proforma and work with the stakeholders that are important for each of the revenue and expense categories and make sure that they are driving performance against those things.
They are driving performance against those things and getting me kind of reports on that and in your opinion, from that perspective—
Ramit: Okay, I love that. So just so I understand, no one has given you these reports before, right? It seems that it’s up to you to have to go through it yourself and have to figure it out. So exceeding it would be me doing the work for you and taking it off your shoulders, is that right?
Ramit: Okay, great. So that’s number one, and then we do the same thing for number two and number three, and I’m just going to do one other thing. Scott, I totally understand this. Help me get some numerical targets here. So, I get it into you seven days early. Okay, great. But help me understand because right now it seems like a lot of process, which I will do, but I want to know what number I can be working towards.
Scott: Sure. So in this case, which would be a financial role, is port function for the business. How are you helping the rest of the team make cases for increased investment, increased budget, increase in the resources they have available so that they can actually expand their targets and drive results faster than before? Show me what that looks like in terms of the amount of return you think you can help facilitate.
Ramit: Okay, so I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to go talk to John. I know that he was in this role four years ago and I’m going to ask him what he would recommend and I’m going to come back to you with a numerical target. It helps me really work faster and better and I will help you get a quality score that we can measure against. How does that sound?
Scott: That sounds perfect.
Ramit: Okay, great. So, if I do the following things that we talked about, x, y, and z, it sounds like that would be not just average but excellent performance. I just want to make sure I’m not putting words in your mouth. Is that correct?
Scott: That is absolutely correct.
Ramit: Okay, because that’s what I want to do. I want to just exceed expectations, I don’t want to just be average. And if I exceed these expectations, let’s say in the next six months, by the time we have our next discussion. At that time, one of the things that I would ask for you is that we have a discussion about compensation and adjustment. We don’t have to deal with that right now, but I just want to put that on the table so that we can discuss potentially having it later. Would that be okay as well?
Scott: I’d love that.
Ramit: Okay. Well, thanks so much. I’m going to send you a summary of this in an e-mail and I’ll keep you updated every week. Thanks so much, Scott.
Okay, pause here and just diagnose what happened. First of all, what did you notice, Scott?
Scott: Well, I noticed that I had to kind of define what outperformance looked like for this person, right? And then that gives them a solid target to go after, right? So now I kind of said, what do I want in addition to what I’m currently getting?
Mindy: That’s really important because you’re the boss. What I think is outperforming might not be the same that you think is outperforming. I might say, oh okay, I’ll have this to you six weeks early. And all you wanted was a week early. Great. I look like a better hero when I outperform your outperforming. But you made him—I love that because you’re exceeding your own expectations just by doing your job. I don’t know what to say. Go ahead, sorry.
Ramit: You were great. Here’s what I’ll tell you that happened in that conversation that I observed. First of all, Scott, clearly you know your sh*t because that was the best roleplay ever. I mean, you went into it. That was great.
Mindy: He’s not just a pretty face.
Ramit: So things that I noticed were, first of all, I took it step by step. A to B to C. I first e-mailed about having a conversation. Then I had a conversation. Now, I’m going to send a summary of the conversation and a weekly update for the next six weeks. Six months. And then I’m going to send an e-mail about the next conversation and only then will I walk in to request a salary increase.
Do you see that as I say in the book, 85% of the work is done before you ever walk in the room. So all these delusional people who think you kick down the door and beg for $20,000? Get the hell out of here. You deserve not to get a raise. But the people who really do the work, it’s not just sweet talking—you actually have to be great at your job to get a raise. That’s why it makes sense.
The second thing that I noticed was that you the boss didn’t really know what outperformance was. You were surprised. And what I did as a skilled employee was I pinned you down. I didn’t let you get away with these B.S. process things. Like, of course I’m going to do that process stuff, and then I’m going to come back in six months and you’re going to be like, that’s your job. So I knew that. And I said, okay.
Boss, I really appreciate it. I was very agreeable. But I’d really like a numerical number. It helps me work. Blah blah blah. And I pushed you. And then when you still couldn’t get me one on point number three, I was like, you know what I can do? Because I’m resourceful. I’m going to go talk to John. Who is the Senior Director and he’s going to give me some advice. I’m going to follow up with you.
And the final thing I did was I did not bully you into any answers. It’s easy to walk in with a structured plan and get the boss to be like, yeah okay, fine. Just get out of here. At each step, I slowed it down and I said, am I reading you right? Do you agree? Is there anything else I should be thinking about? Because I need you to be bought in before I go off and spend the next six months doing something.
So that’s like the beginning of a conversation, right? You’ll notice it was super agreeable. We were on the same page. Scott, if you were the boss, how would you feel about that conversation?
Scott: I’d feel like I’m about to get five things that fixed and implemented that I didn’t have previously that is going to make my life way easier and make results come way faster.
Ramit: You love it! You’d love it your employee out of the blue came and said, how do I do better at my job? Specifically so I can make your life easier. This is a boss’s dream. Okay, so just to fast forward the whole rest of the example. You now send a summary, make sure that they respond in writing so you have it.
Hey, this is what we talked about, compensation and adjustment. Every week, here are the three things. Here’s the goal. Seven percent conversion rate. I’m currently at two. Here are the issues I’m currently working on. Next point. Boom, boom, boom.
By the time you go in for that six months’ review, there should be no question. You should have crushed the goals that were set out. This is where the hard work really—if you deserve a raise, you’re going to crush it. And then you walk into that final meeting. You set it up. Just again, step by step. You walk in with your Salary.com numbers, your PayScale numbers, any other data you can pull. You say, you know what, boss?
Six months ago, I’m so excited. Because in that conversation, we talked about A, B, and C. We talked about these numbers. Here are the numbers I got. You already know it because I’ve been updating you every week. How do you feel about that? I feel great. He’s going to say, he or she. Oh, my God. My life is so good. You know, I’m in utopia. Okay, great. You know, there’s just one other thing. We also discussed the compensation adjustment. I’d like to discuss that now.
Based on what my research shows, this is where you pull out your briefcase or your backpack or whatever. I call it the briefcase technique. I would encourage everyone to Google the briefcase technique. You will see this happen in magic. It’s like truly magic. This is responsible for people getting $30,000-$40,000 raises. I put it out on YouTube for free.
You say, you know what? Based on the research that I’ve found, my role actually should be, I should be compensated at a rate of, you know, between 92-96,000 and I’d like to discuss a compensation based on my performance. Boom. Now you’re having a discussion based on performance, not on does he or she like you and what’s in the budget? It’s like, this is what the market is. Let’s talk about it.
And the rest of the script is in the book and I would encourage you to use it and please Instagram me, e-mail me, tweet me. I want to hear your stories about your negotiations. You will be blown away how you can get massive salary negotiations but there’s no tricks. You have to actually be great and you have to be good at your job and then you have to learn communication skills.
Mindy: That. That right there. You have to do the work. You have to be great. You have to just say hey, in six months, I want to talk to you about a raise. And other compensation adjustment and then you know, come back in six months and be like okay, you didn’t do any of the work. You have to do the work. You have to present yourself as a valuable employee.
But Scott, if somebody came to you and said, hey, I want to do this. And you said, okay, do all of these things and they do all of those things, how much is your life better? Like a million percent.
Scott: Oh, I’d look great. Yeah.
Ramit: I mean, a rich life is about being fundamentally about being excellent at what you do. When you are excellent at what you do, everything falls into place. I remember my parents—again, both immigrants. My dad worked. My mom stayed at home with us. And it was so funny and peculiar the way they behaved about education but in retrospect, I believe they were completely right.
Indian people love education, right? They’ll spare no expense on education for their kids. And I can think of one specific example where my parents, like we really did not have a ton of money. We went on vacation. It was driving. My mom would pack lunches. We would stop on the side of the road, eat, and go down, drive to L.A. and visit family.
We hardly ever stayed at a hotel as a family ever. So we grew up pretty middle class. I would say that one thing that surprised me when I was in high school, there was a Kaplan class. You know, these classes, they try to teach you how to take the SAT and stuff, and I was interested in it. It was $600. That’s a lot of money for a class. My parents said no problem. And I don’t know to this day where they had the money or found the money from, but they would spare no expense on education.
Well, when it came to college, they said, look. Of course you’re going to go to college but we don’t have any money so you have to apply to scholarships. And I’m a systems guy. I talk about this in the book. I built a system to apply to 65 scholarships and pay my way through undergrad and grad school. So they really taught me a lot about that.
What was amazing was their nuanced understanding of psychology which was get in, be good enough to get into a great college and the money will take care of itself. So be excellent first and the money will take care of itself. So I think for all people, whether you be FIRE, whether you want FAT FIRE, whether you just want to take an amazing trip to India or Thailand, if you’re excellent at your job or your business, if you’re excellent at your savings rate, you’re investing your allocation, all the rest of it falls into place. But that excellence is really the core foundation of it.
Scott: Love it. It’s just like business, too. Like hey, what is your customer? If your customer is your boss, what do they want? How do I serve them as well as I possibly can, and if I do a really, really good job, I’m going to be really indispensable. Right? And that’s amazing. I love it. Great philosophy.
Mindy: Okay, so Ramit, let’s talk about your book. You originally wrote, I Will Teach You to Be Rich in 2009. And you’ve updated it for 2019. What is different in this Second Edition?
Ramit: Okay, so ten years have passed. By the way, March 2009 was the bottom of the recession. Do you know that? It’s so crazy. And the people who bought the book in March ’09, who followed the advice, are financially set for life. Now, that is a little bit of luck, right? The last ten years have been crazy. I don’t believe in market timing at all, but I also know that people seize opportunity when they see it.
And if you had a chance to do it versus the people who sat on the sidelines and said investing is over, blah blah blah, the people who followed have done tremendously well. And I believe the people who buy the book and follow it now will also do tremendously well over their lifetime.
I did a top to bottom update of the book. Every page, I went through. I reviewed it. I updated it with new tools. There are a lot of new tools out there, new accounts. I’ve changed credit cards, bank accounts, etc. I named names in the book so I tell you the best accounts. I also tell you the worst accounts. Like the absolute worst ones and I really go hard on them because they are predatory.
So I don’t care if they are never going to cut a deal with me, they are not my customer. You are. The people listening. And so I told you the truth about who are the best and who are the worst. There are also new insights about money and psychology that I’ve had over the last ten years. You know, there’s these things I call invisible scripts. Beliefs that we have that are so deep, we don’t even realize they are visible.
For example, most people in America believe that real estate is a great investment, always. I happen to disagree. And I talk about that in Chapter 9. I show you how to run the numbers yourself as opposed to saying, I’m throwing away money on rent, which is not true. Did you throw money away on a sandwich you bought yesterday? No. You paid $5 and you ate it. It was a great use of money. Same thing for renting a place.
So there are different ways to look at real estate. I know some people might disagree with me. I welcome the challenge. I think you should make your own decisions but I show you some counterintuitive stuff. I also talked about love and money. So getting married. Going through that process, and I’ve shared some things I never really shared publicly with my wife’s blessing, that we wanted to talk about because we find that people don’t talk about these kinds of things publicly. It’s really behind closed doors and I want to shine the light on it.
So lots of updates. Lots of new ways to look at it. Also lots of things that I talk about in terms of spending psychology. You know, everybody teaches us how to save, but nobody teaches us how to spend. And that is a very different way of looking at money. I think people will find that whether you’ve heard of the book before, whether you have it, or whether you’ve never gotten it, it’s a very different book than most other personal finance books and I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Scott: What are some of the intro to the book? You talk about some of the key mistakes you made in the First Edition, which I think is really cool that you can kind of look back and do that. I have a book called Set for Life as well and there’s a couple of things that I would change that I think are mistakes—I need to go and update that. I need to include travel. Oh, I’ll get to those at another point. This is your show.
What were some of those mistakes that you had in your book that you think—
Ramit: Well, I’m really glad you asked that. There were a couple of things that were just, accounts have changed. And that’s normal. That’s to be expected. I really should not have included interest rates. That’s a massive mistake I made because when I wrote it, interest rates were 5% on the accounts. Like the day after they published, it dropped. Just like a rock. And I started getting these e-mails, and by the way, I’ve gotten these e-mails for the last decade. And they are like, “Hey mother-effer, where’s the 5% interest rates? You’re a liar”. And I’m like, oh my, God. Plus, it doesn’t even matter. The amount they have in their savings account is like $300. I’m like, we’re talking about pennies. Anyway, I shouldn’t have done that. So I changed that. And you know, so that was another thing. I also think that I’ve matured over time, so to be very honest with you, I had some jokes in there that I just don’t—they don’t align with who I am now. As somebody who has matured, I think that I wanted the book to be very inclusive of everyone.
In fact, if I can show you something, one of the things I’m most proud of and I’d fight the publisher for this, was to show people’s photos and their rich life stories. And these are people who used the book to create their rich life. And some of them are massive wins and some of them are modest. One guy, in here, he writes that he retired and he and his wife, they retired from full-time work at 33 and 35. They travel around in Airstream RVs—
Mindy: That’s Steve.
Ramit: Yeah, that’s right.
Mindy: I know him.
Ramit: I’ll bet. You are like on top of it. So what I love about that is, first of all, that’s not my rich life but that is his and his wife, and I love that they used the book to accomplish it. I also love that there’s men, women, black, white, young, old. And I’m so proud to be able to share their stories because I think ‘rich’ has traditionally been thought of as one type of person. And I want to shatter that myth, right?
We can all live rich lives. You can have ten million dollars, you can have $50,000, you can have an extra $20 bucks a month. But if you are aligned with how your spending is working and where you’re spending your time and money, you can be living a rich life, too. So just to bring it back, in the last book, I really dialed in on all the tactics and I was perfect on that, really good.
But I think that I neglected some of the psychology which I have now corrected. I made a couple of comments which I think some people wrote me some very thoughtful notes saying, Hey Ramit, I love your book. It’s earned me a ton of money. But it makes it a little difficult to share because there are a couple of jokes in there that really—they’re just not appropriate.
And I wrote back and I said, you know what? Thank you. Thank you for being honest enough to write that to me. For being so thoughtful. And I can tell that you took the time—you didn’t have to take time out of your day to send me that note. Like, the way they wrote it was so caring that I knew that it was actually doing myself a disservice to not acknowledge that.
So I’m very proud to have grown as the decade has gone by and I think the book really reflects that. I think people will enjoy it. The jokes are still there. I call the ball when it comes to crypto-lunatics. And others. I call it out exactly as it is. But I also think that this is a book that you can be proud to read whether you are in your 20s starting out or in your 40s or 50s. Age doesn’t matter. It’s just about your mentality about your rich life.
Scott: You mean bitcoin isn’t going to be my key to financial freedom?
Ramit: All the bitcoin people hate me because I call them out like very early and also—it’s funny. The bitcoin people. They used to have it on their LinkedIn profile, right? Bitcoin expert. Hey guys, where’d you go? All the profiles are wiped and now it says CBD expert. You’re not a CBD expert, my friend—you’re just jumping from one thing to the next.
Mindy: Wait, that’s not a sound financial plan?
Scott: My favorite book in the whole insanity of this crypto phase was when Kodak released Kodak coin and their market capitalization tripled overnight. I was like, oh wow, that is going to change the fortunes of Kodak.
Mindy: Oh, my goodness. My favorite story about the bitcoin was the guy who went—he bought bitcoin really low, went really high, sold it, invested it in something else that, spoiler alert, went to zero. And then had this huge bitcoin capital gains tax bill that he couldn’t pay. Because like, $75,000 tax bill that he couldn’t pay because he had lost all of his bitcoin earnings. If you make money in bitcoin, cash out now and stick it under your mattress.
Ramit: You know, I’ve got to tell you something. First of all, that’s a horrible story.
Mindy: It is.
Ramit: Actually, most things about bitcoin are horrible, including why it is what it is. I remember writing this book and I remember sitting in a coffee shop and I spent six hours writing two pages. Because I’m kind of rusty. I hadn’t written a book in ten years. So I was writing about bitcoin and I had looked at the writing I’d done and it was garbage. It was like, on the one hand this, and on another hand, that.
And I found that I was pulling my punches, that I wasn’t being honest. The reason that the book had done so well and has helped so many hundreds of thousands of people is that I just came out and I told you exactly what I had seen. Now, you need to believe me. You need to trust me, and I happen to be right about a lot of things. But I think people want to hear what somebody that they respect thinks about the world. And that’s a great reason that people listen to, for example, Oprah Winfrey, who has earned her credibility and trust over decades.
So when I found myself pulling punches and saying, well, on one hand, this. And I tore it up and started it again. And I think the bitcoin section for one, is one where you see the edges back. I tell you exactly what I think. I’m not gratuitous. I tell you exactly why they do it. What’s the psychology? What are the analogies? And you can start to identify, hey, do I want to invest in crypto? If so, fine, but let me have some parameters. Let me have a framework around it.
Meanwhile, let me look at what most people are doing. It’s called ‘dumb money’ for a reason. And let me help you understand, what is this psychology that gets people into fad after fad after fad? So you know, I do want to have a little fun with it. I think money can be fun. But I also want people who can apply it to their own life. If it’s not bitcoin, it might be another fad. So I want people to understand what goes into these decisions and how I can apply them to your own rich life.
Mindy: Well, that brings up an interesting point where in the beginning of your book, you say that you made three mistakes. I disagree. You made two mistakes. Your second mistake was that you said you were overbearing. Are you too overbearing? And I don’t agree with that at all. I think you were, let’s call it Forceful, no let’s call it authoritative.
Scott: Appropriately bearing.
Mindy: Appropriately appareling. You named your book, I Will Teach You to be Rich. You didn’t name it, I might teach you to be rich—maybe this book might teach you something about money. I Will Teach You to Be Rich. You have to back that up.
Ramit: Thank you for saying that. You know, usually start off a sense with, you had three mistakes. They usually complete it by saying, you had 30 mistakes. And I’m like, thank you so much. I mean, this is the best day of my life. I will say this—you know what? I love having a strong point of view.
If you’re still listening to this podcast, or if you turned it off, that’s fine. I’m not for everybody and I totally acknowledge that. If you’re still listening, I think you’re going to find that the book is written exactly as I talk, and when people tell me that, I consider it a compliment because it’s very easy to water down your writing.
But what I want to do is make money fun, is to challenge you, is to have some fun with it. We can tell jokes about each other and you can still become rich. you can become extremely knowledgeable. You will know more about investing, asset allocation, different ladders than anybody else in America. That is the gift that I wanted to create, which is to teach normal people, not just nerds about personal finance. But normal people can give it to your friends or your parents and they can become really smart about money.
I was overbearing, though, I’ve got to say. What I realize is in the FIRE community, it’s really great because in the past, I said your rich life is yours but I had one way to get there, which was 10-20% invest save, compound, maybe start a business. But like, that’s sort of the caputilate rate. That’s sort of the general path. FIRE came and they just blew that out of the water. They said, no, I’m going to save 50-60%.
And so what I have come to maturely understand is, your rich life destination is yours but also how you get there is whores. You better not want to live in Manhattan. It just might not appeal to you. And now, I get that. And I should have respect it back then. I wasn’t mature enough to. But you know what, some people are like hey, I live with my husband or wife.
We live in a quiet ranch. We don’t care about going to the newest bar or whatever. We enjoy ourselves. We like being outdoors. Respect. You have consciously decided—that’s the title of Chapter 4, Conscious Spending. You’ve consciously decided where to spend your time and money. Who am I to say no? If anything, I should say, tell me more. How’d you decide that? Teach me.
Now, I might not want to live on a ranch. I’d rather be dead than live on a ranch, but—I love that you decided to do it. And you’ve changed your whole life for it. So I think I was overbearing. I think that the book now—allows for a bigger diversity of different people.
For example, Steve, who travels in an RV. That’s why I’m proud to feature him and other stories like his in the book. So I think it doesn’t matter whether you wanted to live FIRE-FIRE, FAT-FIER, this one you got this. No FIRE. You will find a story in the book of people who resonate with you and I think there’s nothing more powerful than finding a group of people like you. To me, that is rich.
Mindy: Wow, that’s beautiful.
Scott: All right, so before we go and kind of get to our Famous Four and the closing statement of the show, I want to kind of see if you’re open to discussing your viewpoint of why you’re not a fan of real estate investing. And let’s exclude the topic of buying our first home. I think we all have a similar viewpoint on hey, you probably shouldn’t buy the nicest, fanciest home if you’re trying to become rich as a smart investment. bBut what about property investing in particular? What’s your approach to that or how you think about that as a suggested investment asset class for people?
Ramit: Okay, thank God. First of all, by taking the first house, your primary residence out of the equation, we’ve now taken out like 98% of the bad decisions in real estate. If you want to invest in a rental property, God Bless! I’m all for it. Run the numbers. And I find that people who invest in rental properties are pretty disciplined in general. They are disciplined about cash flow. They speak to other people, they understand risk tolerance. I love it.
The one thing that I would say that they are a little bit less disciplined about is their overall portfolio. You will typically find a lot of real estate investors way overweight in real estate and they don’t have equities to balance it out. And you see this because what happens is, they start buying. They start to understand leverage and you know, they start to get better at it so they’re like, oh yeah, I’m going to roll my next thing over and get two and three and four. Now I’m really cash flowing in that.
It’s like, all right. That’s all great when things are going up. But like, what happens when they are not? So I would encourage real estate investors—not speculators—to diversify their portfolio, to make sure that you’ve got stocks, make sure that you’re thinking about your cash equivalents and all those things. But aside from that, I have nothing but great things to say about true real estate investors.
I have a lot of things to say about mom and pop who bought a house for $200,000, sold it four or five years later for $450,000 and they magically think they made $250,000 as if that’s a good thing. First of all, you didn’t make that much. Second of all, even if you did, that was horrible performance. Even if you could, you could have put it into index funds and made way more. Third, you are intentionally undercounting all the phantom costs, taxes, maintenance, all those fees. But that’s mom and pop. We’re talking investors? I’m double thumbs up on that.
Scott: Okay, got it. One of the things I think is interesting about what you said there is, people overweight in real estate investing. I think that that’s true for a certain percentage of people but I think the real problem for investors long-term is that real estate as an asset class, performs worse as a stock market as an asset class, unless you’re applying leverage in a consistent way. So it’s like balance of risk and return.
Ramit: Listen, I want to say that, but I’m in the lion’s den here. Come on, I’m on BiggerPockets, man. You want to talk about returns? Yes, in general, real estate asset class returns are way less than stocks. People find that hard to believe. What about San Francisco? What about New York? Well, what about the rest of the cities? And also, what about the fact that you can’t predict which ones will go up before it happens?
So leverage is a great powerful concept. Leverage also works on the way down as well. And most people, they just see leverage as, you know in Super Mario World, you get the star and you go triple speed? Yeah, leverage is great when you are going well. The minute it drops, even if it drops 10%, it can be devastating to your returns.
The point is not to stay away from real estate investing always. I’ve never said that. The point is to run the numbers and make sure you’re managing your risk. I think that’s a fair perspective. I think if you can argue with that, then you might not think of it as an investment and you might have a religious belief about it. I have zero interest in religious conversations.
Scott: I think that’s a totally fair comment, and to go back to your point about the homeowner buying a place for $200,000 and selling it for $450,000 25 years later—the point I’m trying to make is that in the early years of that hold period, they’ve got a loan and they’re using leverage. So the returns are reasonable in those first few years. That’s also where they’re at the biggest risk because that’s where the market tanks or you’re completely wiped out. You’re under water.
As you pay it off, you’re making no money. You’re literally just making inflation at that point down the line. And that applies to investors in rental properties, that applies to home owners as well, and I think that’s the trap that kind of really compounds against the homeowner to a certain extent.
Ramit: Man, I feel like we’re best friends here. How—this is like so great? I 100% agree. Yes. I’m so glad because I think there’s nuance in real estate investing and what I think I just have zero tolerance for is this idea that I need to buy a home because if I don’t, I’m going to get priced out and I need to do it for the tax deduction. Also, the stock market is gambling. I don’t understand it. All of those are naïve perspectives.
If you want to make the biggest purchase of your life, whether it’s primary residence or it is an investment, you need to get smart. You need to have understood what a lot of people did. You should be pretty good at this, borderline expert. You should be highly familiar with all the terms and you should seek out disconfirming evidence. If you’re only reading sites that are called “How to Make a Kajillion Dollars on Real Estate”, then you’re an idiot.
If, however, you’re reading, “Pro Real Estate”, “Anti-Real Estate”—you’re reading all of them and making an educated decision, then you’re going to be in a way, way better spot.
Scott: Fantastic. Completely agree. Let me and Mindy share what we’re doing with our housing and let me see what your reaction to that is. Okay, so I over the last four years have lived in two duplexes, right? So I bought a duplex, moved into it, fixed it up, rented out the other half. They paid down the mortgage, and then I have a roommate which helps to cover a little bit extra.
So basically, living for free after all the maintenance expenses, move out, keep it as a rental property. Mindy, do you want to tell them what you are doing?
Mindy: I buy incredibly unattractive houses. I make them look significantly more beautiful while I’m living in them as my primary residence, and then after two years, I sell them. I pay no capital gains taxes, thanks to the Section 121 Exclusion, and then I do it again. So I’m taking that $100,000 and putting it in my pocket instead of Uncle Sam’s pocket. And I did not fair so well in the downturn. The house that I bought in the beginning of 2006 and was ready to sell at the bottom of 2010 was not the best choice.
Scott: You’ve done this eight times, right?
Mindy: I’ve done this eight times. And I’m ready to sell the current one for $270,000ish more than what I bought it for, more than what I have into it.
Ramit: Have you taken anything out over those ten, 15 years?
Mindy: I’ve only lived in this house for—well, it’s been six years now. But yeah, no every time I sell it, I take all the money out of it and I put it in the stock market.
Ramit: Oh, interesting. Okay.
Mindy: I put 20% down because I’m not going to pay Private Mortgage Insurance. And then yeah, we cash flow the repairs. At the time, my husband was a computer programmer so that was a lot easier to cash flow those repairs.
Ramit: Yeah, I mean, overall, one thing that I hear both of you doing is you’re very intentional seeking about your decisions. Also I hear sacrifices, right? Scott, you are living in a duplex with a roommate. That’s a sacrifice. It makes it financially very attractive but very few people would be willing to do that. So I think that’s very thoughtful about you.
And Mindy mentioning that you’re taking it out, you’re putting it into the stock market so you have a diversified portfolio and you’re taking advantage of all minimizing taxes and you’re living in it while you’re upgrading it. So there’s lots of sacrifices I hear, and lots of thought. I think that’s great. This, to me, is like the bare minimum of thought that needs to go into real estate. And I know you’ve only given me the high level but clearly, you know what you’re doing. That’s a lot of thought. I think that’s awesome.
I think that the timing issue is one that, if I’m playing from a risk-mitigation perspective or risk-management, I want to be planning for failure. I never want to get caught off guard so I want to be saying okay, if my next investment goes down because the market goes down, what am I going to do? I want to have a full playbook for what happens.
I’ll give you an example. My assistant created something called a travel protocol. So when I travel, my whole life changes, right? My plants magically get watered while I’m out of town. My e-mails gets handled in a different way. If somebody calls me and needs to reach me immediately, it’s all like routed different. I love that kind of stuff. I love convenience. That’s my travel protocol and if things go bad and I’m late to a meeting, we have that protocol as well.
So I think creating what I call a failure expectation. Just expect you’re going to fail sometimes and make a playbook for it. When times are good, that’s awesome. Because when bad things happen, you just pull out the binder and you read it and boom. It’s like a pilot. They don’t learn how to handle engine failure when the engine fails. They’ve planned it all way ahead of time. So I think if you do that with your money, you’re in a great place.
Scott: And I think we can all agree that it is not a wise financial move to live you know, just to save up $40,000 over the course of five years and put all of that down on the nicest, biggest, single-family home you can possibly qualify for and put yourself into a paycheck by paycheck, living paycheck to paycheck situation. Which, sadly, it seems like what most people seem to do with these first-home purchases. These are all liquidity on that home purchase.
Mindy: But the lender said I could. The lender said I could afford this very, very high price.
Ramit: Yeah, I mean one of the reasons I wrote this book is that I was so tired of hearing these stories about people being taken advantage of. My mom was a schoolteacher for a long time and towards the end of her career, I looked at her Prospectus, and I was just like mortified. The scams that these investment companies run on California schoolteachers is truly unbelievable.
And you know, they write it on these colorful, like a kid wrote it in crayon, it looks like really friendly. And meanwhile, it’s just like, if you actually know what the words mean, it’s just saying like, we are screwing you left and right. And I wanted to write a book for people so that they knew how the game is played. In fact, I have a whole chapter on The Myth of Expertise and how all these Wall Street guys, etc., it’s like all B.S. and I’ll show you these crazy stories you wouldn’t even believe.
I found some great ones and some new ones, too. And what you realize is, you can actually be smarter and better performing than all of these fancy stuff that people do. But it’s actually like really boring. So when people ask me like, Ramit, what’s your cool investment strategy? And I’m just like, yeah I have like 90% of my portfolio is in index funds and I hardly ever check it and it just like runs automatically, they’re just like—what? Where’s the cool stuff? And I’m like, I’d rather be rich than be cool. So there you go.
Scott: I love it. I’d rather be rich than be cool. And guess what? That’s Mindy and I. We do the same thing. All index funds, right? That’s the majority, index funds.
Mindy: Yeah, well I’m transitioning out of stocks that we’ve picked that have been really, really good but they are like, outliers. So we’re moving into index funds. Every year, I have to reduce my taxable income enough so I can pay as little capital gains taxes as possible. That’s a story for another day. Yeah, this was fantastic, Ramit. I have really enjoyed speaking with you.
Ramit: Well, me too. Thank you for having me. I’ve got to say, I love this conversation, everything from your real estate decision-making to the negotiation roleplay, like I’m so glad we got a chance to do this.
Mindy: Scott is not just a pretty face. But we’re not done yet. You’re our new best friend. We still have our Famous Four.
Ramit: I’m ready.
Mindy: Okay. These are the same four questions and one command that we ask of all of our guests. What is your favorite finance book?
Ramit: I love Bogohead’s Guide to Investing. I think it’s fantastic.
Mindy: Yes, rest in peace, Jack.
Scott: I always think it’s funny that they’ve got a whole forum for Bogoheads. The concept of Bogoheads for those that don’t know is like, hey, I’m going to follow Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard—how do I invest in index funds and passively just kind of follow the market and be average? And I was like, how much discussion can you have about this concept? But they find a way at Bogleheads. I think it’s Bogleheads.com, too.
All right, what was your biggest money mistake?
Ramit: I took my high school money and I invested in stocks. I thought that investing meant picking stocks and I lost half my money immediately. In fact, by the way, that was so—I also took scholarship money. That’s what I meant. I took my scholarship money, which they wrote the check to me and lost half of that money. That was not good.
So lesson learned, but that’s what got me interested in money, because I was humbled. I was so smart, you know. 1999, 2000, not that smart, actually. And I started learning how long-term, low-cost investing actually works. And the answer is not picking stocks that go out of business four weeks later.
Mindy: Wow, Scott, do you have any hot stock tips to share with Ramit?
Ramit: Please don’t.
Scott: I have the same story right out of college. I invested in Chinese stocks, right? Because hey, this company has $100 million in cash, no debt, and trading at $70 million. How can I possibly lose? Well, everybody other than me knew that Chinese companies don’t always report exactly accurate financials. So, lesson learned. Turned my money about half.
Mindy: I think this is interesting. This is the second week in a row that the guest invested scholarship money in the stocks.
Ramit: Oh, really?
Mindy: Yeah. Last week, Dawn Brennigan was on and she did the same thing. She invested some of her extra scholarship money, which I thought was interesting.
Ramit: That’s very interesting.
Mindy: Okay, what is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?
Ramit: It’s not that hard. This is not that hard. It’s not that hard to make a lot of money. This is a skill. It’s a skill like anything else. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to be a genius at picking stocks or that you need to know a lot of math. This stuff is not that hard. And I just want to keep saying that over and over because I want people to know whether you’re young, old, man, woman—it has nothing to do with that.
I intentionally chose to feature stories of different people, different ages of sophistication levels, different genders, different everything. Because I want to show you that you can take control and also that nobody else is coming to do it for you. So I really—I just want to let—my dream is for the people listening to this to take control. My real fantasy, besides some of the stuff I talk about in the book—would be for people to listen to this to write me. Send me an e-mail.
I have my e-mail address on the back cover and all throughout the book. Please. I’m on Instagram. I read every DM. I read every e-mail. And I would love for you to send me a note saying, hey, I heard you on the podcast. You know what? Here’s what I agree with you on. Here’s what I disagree with you on. I got your book. I followed it. I did the six week program and here’s where I am now. Your life will be completely different. In less than six weeks.
By the way, six weeks are for people who are like barely literate. If you can spend a little time, you can do this in three weeks. And your money will be totally flowing where it needs to go. It will be in control. And best of all, you’ll have a totally different way of looking at your rich life. That’s my fantasy, that you send me an e-mail or a DM and tell me what you did.
Scott: Love it.
Mindy: I love it.
Scott: All right, what is your favorite joke to tell at parties? If you don’t have one, Mindy, I think has been eagerly anticipating telling a joke here.
Ramit: Okay, okay. Let me try one. I haven’t tried this. I’m going to try it for the first time here. Okay. A crypto-investor walks into a—wait, there is no such thing.
Mindy: That’s the best one. Okay.
Ramit: Sorry, speculators.
Mindy: So one of our listeners sent this one in. What nationality is Santa?
Ramit: I don’t know.
Mindy: North Polish. Which is now my favorite new joke.
Scott: Oh, dear. All right.
Mindy: Okay, now are we ready for the command?
Mindy: Tell me where people can find out more about you.
Ramit: You can find me on my website, IWillTeachYoutobeRich.com. We have a newsletter there. We have 400,000-500,000 people on there. We’d love to welcome you on and show you some of our best stuff. I’m on Instagram at Ramit. I’m on Twitter, @Ramit. My book is called I Will Teach You to be Rich and it is on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. It’s at every library and every bookstore there is, and I would love to hear from you. I’d love to connect.
I really genuinely love to hear what you took away from this conversation. There’s a reason that I love what I do and I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now and you can tell I’m as fired up today as I was when I wrote my first blog post in August 2004. And it’s because I get to hear from people who listen and read and follow. So, that’s why I appreciate the opportunity today.
Scott: We are delighted to have you. Your passion is just outstanding. You are obviously very knowledgeable about this. You love the debate. You love the challenge, which I think is fantastic. And just to piggyback on what you said there, I see two versions of the book on Amazon. The one you want is released May 14, 2019 not the 2009 version.
Ramit: The new release, it has a black cover. They took me off the cover because she said, look, if you were like George Clooney, we’d put you on the cover. They put me on the back cover now. I was demoted from my own book, but hey, it’s good to know where I stand.
Scott: It sounds like you have some great advice there. Just kidding.
Mindy: Yes. So we will include links to all these things in our Show Notes, which can be found at BiggerPockets.com/MoneyShow73. Ramit, thank you for your time today. This was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoy having a new best friend.
Ramit: Thank you, Mindy, Scott, I appreciate it. So much. And thanks to everyone listening.
Mindy: Okay, we’ll talk to you soon.
Ramit: You guys are great. Thanks so much.
Scott: All right, that was Ramit Sethi from IWillTeachYoutobeRich.com. Mindy, what’d you think?
Mindy: Oh, my goodness. Did I fangirl too much, because I feel like I kept it in check okay. But every once in a while, I just found myself like, wow, everything he is saying is so true. I can’t believe how amazing that show was.
Scott: Yeah, I think—this is a guy who has clearly passionately studied how to help ordinary people build wealth and improve their financial situation for a very long period of time. And really thought through a lot of different scenarios and the context of people, the psychology of what they’re going through, all that kind of stuff. And you know, it’s a great privilege to get a chance to talk with them and go toe-to-toe with them, challenge a couple of ideas, and hear his perspective.
I was amazed at how similar our thought processes were—yours, mine, and his, in terms of building wealth, even given the differences in how we kind of construct some of our arguments around personal finance. He’s obviously less FIRE and more this concept of rich, and what that means as an emotional state and a place of happiness. And we’re pretty mathematical about it and hey, it’s about when your passive income exceeds your lifestyle expenses. At least in terms of financial freedom.
Mindy: Yes, but I really like that he brings that up. If you just doggedly pursue this one goal, what are you going to do when you get there?
Mindy: All you have is one goal. Then once you hit that goal, what’s next? What are you going to do? I’m going to sleep. Okay, great. That’s a day. Maybe two days if you’re super tired. What are you going to do after that? So I really love that he addresses that in this book.
Scott: Yeah, I think that’s really important also along that point, like hey, it’s not about getting away from something I hate, a bad situation. Maybe that’s how I was kind of approaching things in my first year or two on my journey to financial freedom, right? It’s about going towards what you want at the end and backing into that and using money as a tool to get to that outcome. Now, that’s a really important point and a reasonable criticism over some sections of the FIRE movement, maybe inspired along the wrong reasons at first.
Mindy: Yes, and you know, like he said, okay, you hate your job. What are you doing about it? Why don’t you go get a better job? Oh, I can’t. Well, are you looking for reasons to be miserable? I mean, I’ve worked. Not the same company that you did. The award-winning worst company in the world to work for or whatever. But I’ve worked for a company that I really, really, really hated. I hated—I liked my job but I really hated my micromanaging boss.
Okay. Maybe it would have been better to go get a job that didn’t have a micromanaging boss. Check. Now I do something that I love to do. I get to do this. Every day and it’s fantastic. And I’ve never been happier. And I am financially independent and I don’t have to work. But I choose to because I love what I do.
You have to be doing something. I didn’t have a hobby. My kids were my hobby. I really love that point that he just continues to talk about all throughout the book. You need to get your life in order. You’re going to lead a rich life. He’s not teaching you to just have a lot of money. He will teach you to have a rich life. By the book, called I Will Teach You to be Rich.
Scott: Yeah, and what gets me up in the morning every day to do what I do is I believe in the concept of financial freedom as a specific of that rich life. That’s kind of my passion. That’s the deal here, right? When you move towards that and live a rich life, achieve financial freedom, whatever you want to call it. That is when I think people have a chance to live up to their potential with these kinds of things. That’s the advantage of moving towards this goal is you can reach—you have greater odds of fulling your potential, being happy and making a difference in the world and that kind of thing. So that’s my little schpeel there.
Mindy: Yep, I think financial independence can walk hand in hand with Ramit’s rich life.
Scott: Love it. Absolutely.
Mindy: This was awesome. Okay, Scott, should we get out of here?
Scott: Let’s get out of here.
Mindy: From episode 73 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, this is Scott Trench and Mindy Jensen and we are going to go lead our own rich lives.
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