Ramit Sethi — Automating Finances, Negotiating Prenups, Disagreeing with Tim, and More (#371)

Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi

“Most of us should spend less time on most decisions, and we should spend a lot more time on a few key decisions.” Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi, (@ramit) author of the New York Times bestseller I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has become a financial guru to millions of readers in their twenties, thirties, and forties. He started his website, iwillteachyoutoberich.com, as a Stanford undergraduate in 2004, and he now hosts over a million readers per month on his blog, newsletter, and social media.

Ramit grew up in Sacramento, the son of Indian immigrant parents who taught him the art of negotiating — his father once spent five days negotiating with a car dealer, only to walk away over a set of floor mats. He wasn’t the smartest kid in his class, but he loved building systems, which ultimately earned him over $200,000 in scholarships, which he used to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees in technology and psychology at Stanford. His understanding of human behavior and money led to him creating innovative solutions in self development.

Ramit and his team of dozens of employees build premium digital products about personal finance, entrepreneurship, psychology, careers, and personal development for top performers. The IWT community includes one million monthly readers, 400,000 newsletter subscribers, and 35,000 premium customers.

He has written about personal finance for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and been interviewed on dozens of media outlets including NPR, ABC News, and CNBC, and popular podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the interview on YouTube here. You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#371: Ramit Sethi — Automating Finances, Negotiating Prenups, Disagreeing with Tim, and More

Want to hear the first time Ramit was on this show? Listen to Ramit and me talk about persuasion and turning a blog into a multi-million-dollar business. (Stream below or right-click here to download part one; right-click here to download part two.):

#33: Ramit Sethi on Persuasion, Negotiation, and Turning a Blog Into a Multi-Million-Dollar Business

This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. The right hire can move your business quantum leaps forward, while the wrong hire can crater it. Luckily, you can rely on LinkedIn Jobs to find you the most relevant, qualified candidates so you can focus on making a hire you’re excited about.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Ramit Sethi:

Website  | Instagram | YouTubeTwitter


  • Ramit shares a childhood story that beautifully illustrates why he grew up to be such a savvy negotiator. [03:09]
  • What made Ramit consider “I was right” as an appropriate beginning for the second edition of I Will Teach You To Be Rich? [05:55]
  • As someone who once wrote “How to Negotiate Like an Indian” as a blog post for me a few years back, why has Ramit rented the same apartment for 10 years instead of buying a house? Is it a myth that real estate is the best investment? [08:37]
  • Sometimes your good financial decisions won’t equal someone else’s good financial decisions — or even your own at another stage of the game. Small nuances add up. [12:36]
  • “What am I missing?” Why Ramit wishes he could go back in time and shake his 22-year-old self. [16:53]
  • An expenditure that once seemed frivolous and why it makes perfect sense today (after learning the hard way). [18:21]
  • What Ramit means by living a “rich” life — and why his might not match yours or mine. [20:26]
  • Life-running, invisible scripts that Ramit inherited from his parents. [22:44]
  • Examining wise but seemingly counterintuitive words from marketing consultant Dan Kennedy: “Why pay less when you can pay more?” [25:31]
  • Frugality has its place: Parts of Ramit’s life in which he chooses to be frugal and why. [27:51]
  • Adjusting what Ramit calls the “money dial” to spend extravagantly on things we love and cut costs mercilessly on the things we don’t. [31:49]
  • Examples of how convenience is applied to Ramit’s rich life. [36:56]
  • How does Ramit keep track of travel and other convenience protocols and convey them to his team when necessary? [39:04]
  • As we’ve discovered, some of the most game-changing conveniences and lifestyle upgrades are cheaper than you might expect. [40:30]
  • Even if you don’t generally carry cash, here’s why always having a few $20 bills on hand can save the day. [43:09]
  • A tip for becoming a lifelong VIP at your restaurant of choice. [43:39]
  • How Ramit’s wife got a free cooking class from their restaurant’s chef just by asking for a spring roll recipe on their honeymoon, and what this and a tea tasting taught Ramit about how easy it is to learn from people who love what they do. [45:06]
  • A recap of Noah Kagan’s Coffee Challenge and cultivating the muscle for asking. [51:31]
  • Two exercises for challenging accepted “truths” you may believe about money. [52:09]
  • Ramit gives us a glimpse at his own system for funneling income where it needs to go, including investments (and an explanation of target-date funds). [55:53]
  • Ramit is an open book about a much-shunned topic he and his wife agreed to share: the pros and cons of the prenuptial agreement (aka prenup) and why therapy might be the best place to start for any couple considering one. [1:02:20]
  • If we can avoid decision fatigue by having systems in place to automate the mundane, we might live long and prosper like Ramit’s uncle. [1:41:07]
  • Ramit’s Book-Buying Rule, the power of sub-accounts, and why some areas of your life shouldn’t have a budget. [1:42:10]
  • How a couple can reduce decision fatigue by establishing guidelines for travel and daily chores. [1:43:53]
  • How Ramit and I agree and disagree on morning routines. [1:48:27]
  • How we agree and disagree on the use of tools. [1:54:15]
  • The value in understanding that our principles change over time, and what has changed for Ramit in the 10 years between editions of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. [1:59:10]
  • Financial freedom, retirement, and mini retirements. [2:01:30]
  • How does Ramit encourage his students to think about their objectives? [2:02:41]
  • Checking in and general organization: If it’s not in the calendar, it’s just not real. [2:05:50]
  • Calendar rituals for the care and feeding of a healthy relationship. [2:08:20]
  • How do you say Ramit Sethi correctly? [2:19:18]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:19:26]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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46 Replies to “Ramit Sethi — Automating Finances, Negotiating Prenups, Disagreeing with Tim, and More (#371)”

  1. Super excited to listen! Ramit jump-started my online career and his advice has helped me shape my purpose so I can get to the essence of the things that matter the most-to me.

    From his blog to his first book to spending thousands with him in online courses-he’s the man!

  2. The second edition of Ramit’s book is great. I bought copies for my teenagers (who are soon off to college) and taped a $100 bill to the inside of the back covers, so they get the money when they finish the book!

  3. Many clients/businesses would fire their consultant/employee for pocketing the business class fare and flying coach. They’re paying that money because you are representing their organization, to allow you to more comfortably do some work along the way and to show up well rested.

  4. Tim, I listened to this podcast today and Ramit and you had some great content. Thank you. I heard you say you are looking for a trainer… I have something better. Check out F3 Austin, we meet downtown, it’s a great fitness group, completely free and an amazing workout. It’s early and hard but so worth it. [Moderator: link removed.]

  5. Tim, love 5 bullet Friday, but that’s all I want in my email. I had to unsubscribe because I didn’t want to get emails about new podcasts. Could you make a list group for 5 bullet Friday so I can subscribe to that only? It should be simple for you to do with ConvertKit.

  6. Very cool to know the book has been updated and I’m going to pick it up for my son. Funny comments about taking saving APR’s not being what they used to because I searched everywhere for those rates. Paid off a lot of debt using these methods. Just need to focus on cashflow vs debt.

  7. Hey Tim, thank you for the podcast! Toward the end you mentioned Enneagrams. I recently read “The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery” by Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, a quick read that I found to be very helpful for navigating different personality types. Have you talked/written about this concept before? If not would love to hear you expand upon it.

  8. Every time I listen to your show (podcast) Tim, I walk away with delight and amazement. Why? Because you find and know the super team of brilliant minds, hearts and minds. It’s a treat for me to be a newcomer to this world of individuals who are inspiring.

  9. I wanna be your fixer in Copenhagen.

    I will load up the car with kettlebells and canned beans for your breakfast.

  10. Why can’t we do business like we do marriage? Or, maybe a better question: What if, we’d put in the same effort into business relationships?

  11. RE:5-Bullet Friday (5/24) – The Helix Sleep codes are not “an additional $110, $165, or $220 off, respectively,” they are an additional $10, 15, or $20 off, respectively.

  12. Tim – from your 5 Bullet Friday post this week, you shared what’s called a story map of The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes. This is built on tech made by Esri, a billion-dollar company no one’s ever heard of. I highly recommend considering the private owner for an interview: Jack Dangermond.

    Here’s a piece from Forbes that gives a background. https://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2015/03/31/you-cant-kill-jack-dangermonds-company-try-and-it-will-only-get-stronger/#738ebaee5cd7

    One from Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-12/bankers-can-only-dream-of-deals-with-reluctant-tech-billionaire

    And an interview he did with Ralph Nader:


    Feel free to contact me if you’d like to get connected!

    1. Great leads. Thanks for sharing! So interesting to learn about. I love when we consider ‘wealth’ in terms of the commons shared within the relational ecosystem.

  13. This note is regarding the blog post about Richard Evans Schultes’ travels in the Amazon. I am deeply in love with this character.

    I will reccommend additional material on the subject:

    Book: One RIver, by Wade Davis. [Moderator: link removed.]

    Movie: The Embrace of the Serpent [Moderator: link removed.]


  14. This is the first I’ve ever heard a frank chat about pre-nups. It is amazing how little there is out there on this.

    Loved the conversation all the way through. Long time fan of both of your minds and philosophies!

  15. Tim, this is for #TimInMexico but twitter had a character limit. I enjoy travel and food very much (>90 countries) and recently lived for 13 months in Mexico City and explored the country extensively. I love sharing travel tips almost as much as traveling itself, so below are a few recommendations beyond San Miguel de Allende.

    Oaxaca for me has an edge over SMdA. Both are worth a couple of full days of exploration each. Oaxaca has a stronger indigenous influence in its cultural mix and the food is spectacular. (Try Pitiona and Casa Oaxaca restaurants). Oaxaca is also where Mezcal comes from and a good visit to a production site (combined w/ Hierve el Agua and Arbol Tule) makes for a very nice daytrip outside the town center.

    Bacalar: this freshwater lagoon near the Belize border is a great place to unwind. it is still not super developed, so Alkalki hotel is one of the best bets there. (This place is best to go as a couple)

    Mexico City itself is one of the most underrated metropolises in the world. Also worth exploring for ~3 days.

    Quintonil and Pujol are must try restaurants. At Pujol, try to get the Omakase tacos bar option for a 4-5 hr lunch at an 8-person counter, with fine dining eat-with-your-hands experience, each course paired with it’s own creative beverage/cocktail/mezcal etc…

    Other 2 must try restaurants:

    Contramar (lunch only, seafood, if cannot book a table just show up 10’ before opening time.)

    Maximo Bistrot: Read this piece before and the food will suprise you even more: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/25/style/eduardo-garcia-restaurants-mexico-migrant-worker-convict-deportee-star-chef.amp.html

    Add a day in the Capital region for a day (or overnight) jaunt to Tepoztlan. which has a great short (<1h) steep hike to a piramid at the top of the cliff, and is the best place in the country to try the hot Temazcal Ceremony.

    Finally, for an off the beaten path, natural and historical exploration, the state of San Luis Potosi offers the following (along w several gorgeous waterfalls)

    1) The crazy folly/castle of eccentric brit and Surrealist patron Edward James in the town if Xilitla. (Rene Magritte lived w him for a bit and at one point he cut a deal with Salvador Dali to buy everything he painted for a full year)

    2) watch 3 million birds fly out of the largest cave shaft in the world and then rappel down into it to explore (cave of swallows, sotano de las golondrinas)

    3) visit Real de Catorce, ancient silver mining town next to the sacred valley where Peyote grows and the Huicholes still make a pilgrimage to each year, foraging the cactus and performing ceremonies at a nearby mountain top that is their most sacred site.

    Also worth researching: Chiapas (nature/ruins) and Valle de Guadalupe (gastronomy)

    I hope this helps!

    Cheers and happy planning!

  16. Hi,

    Great to see Ramit back on the podcast! I have been listening for a long time and it is a great use of my free time (sometimes so fun it becomes procrastination). I would love to hear you interview Eric Barker, the author of the great blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

    Thank you

  17. Really open, informed discussion about prenups. Thanks and well done. I went back and listened to Ramit’s original interview on the show afterwards. It’s striking how being in relationships has changed both of your priorities. Great content, thanks again.

  18. Ramit Sethi’s approach to finances is amazing and I really appreciate how he openly mocks financial advice like “Don’t spend money on lattes”.

  19. Great show, I heard Ramit on the Mad Fientist podcast and was pleased to see that he was making the rounds. On the relationship front re: having regular meetings, I’d recommend the RADAR Template from the MultiAmory Podcast (Google “Multiamory RADAR Template”). It is a great starting point for anyone in a long-term romantic relationship, modify for your own use. We are monogamous (20 years) but I’ve found these monthly meetings to be super helpful. Good luck!

  20. I am so sorry Tim but the section on pre-nups was very uncomfortable for me personally.

    Everyone is entitled to their views on marriage and relationships and money and I respect that a man has worked hard to amass a certain amount of wealth.

    But it reeks of complete selfishness – and disrespect – to yourself to use your money, your net worth, your assets, as a weapon of power in a relationship. When you love someone, you don’t ‘trade’ money for affection, for sex, for love – or for admin services for a vacation.

    Both you and Ramit are lucky to have tolerant women who accept this power imbalance in the name of love.

    1. You would think that with all the enlightened guests that Tim has interviewed that he had become more spiritual and less material. I know I have, just listening to his podcast (Sam Harris, Tara Brach, Susan Cain etc.). Thank you Tim. I now know that there are things more important than being ridiculously rich.

  21. Hi Tim,

    I liked the reshaping of the money mindset to spending money without guilt on the things you truly love and being extremely frugal in the areas you couldn’t care less about. I was raised by very poor and frugal parents and have always had a guilt complex about spending money. Seeing spending as an investment in my future happiness or productivity helps to reshape that and makes me feel more comfortable in spending while still being able to save in other areas.

    QUESTION: What Podcasts are you listening to? I have listened to all the backlogs of this show and need some new inspirational and brain stimulating suggestions? Thanks for all the material you have put out!

  22. Ramit on Tim! My eyes popped seeing the re-match post, having learnt so much from you both.

    I jotted a ream of questions and “heuristics” on which to muse, the top being:

    – Remember the North Star

    – Go slow to go fast

    – Learn about yourself by observing what you actually do.

    – For habits and goals, the default is that you have to opt-out

    – Have things for which you’ll buy without even thinking about budget

    Appreciate too the conversations and sharing from your relationships on check-in meetings and reviews.

    Look forward to Round 3!

  23. A lot of what you two spoke in this episode has been applied to my life in relationships and work over the years now – absolutely brilliant, has made my life some much more meaningful, because there is a lot more time to do what makes my heart tingle. It’s so nice not to deal with food management and grocery decisions when you can automate a lot of simple, but important aspects of your life.

    Thank you, Tim, for starting this podcast, been listening from the beginning, grown a lot and will keep on.

  24. Tim and Ramit, Among the takeways for this episode are your approaches to using the calendar in relationships for checking in, and using an agenda for that time. Much appreciated!

    “If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not real.”

    “Everything important should be opt-out.”

  25. Tim, Great interview (as usual)! Do you have an agenda or list of topics you cover in your monthly sit down with your girlfriend?

  26. Tim – Interest in grabbing a run in Austin either Wed afternoon or Thurs AM? (Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?) I’m starting a wellness and curative disease center in Utah with 2 world renowned Cardiologists and would LOVE some advice. I’ve enjoyed your books and podcasts and believe you could play a big role in what we are looking to do. Mainly looking to CURE chronic diseases via sleep, long term fasting, movement and outdoor therapy all under guidance of MD’s in a research environment.

  27. Kind of a waste of time.. talking about his travel routine and “spending money on what you love”, what does that have to do with finance…

  28. loved this interview! I was really intrigued to hear that Ramit set a value of convenience and would be really interested in a follow up in-between-a-sode where he could go into crazy detail T Ferriss style. I’d love to hear what his regular meals are and all of the unique and creative ways he’s found short cuts. Thank you for all the great content!!

  29. I really enjoyed this episode, and appreciated the open dialogue you two had on difficult topics. I got hung up on the comment about not having a consistent personal trainer. I’m a physical therapist and personal trainer, and would jump at the chance to meet that need for you. I couldn’t listen to this podcast and not ask. Thank you for all of your content and please keep it up.

  30. Tim is growing/aging perfectly and so we are. By far I loved this episode. I would like to hear more insights on building healthy romantic relations e.g, from hookups, early-stage dates to maintaining mature relations. I also enjoyed episodes with Alain De Botton and Alice Little. Probably soon we will start hearing episodes on how to grow your kids. 🙂 Good job!

  31. Fascinating podcast. I found the discussion of pre-nups interesting but problematic. You made an analogy to safety briefings on aeroplanes: it’s not that you’re planning on the plane crashing, but rather that you are preparing for a worst-case scenario. The critical point where the analogy fails is that the safety briefings themselves don’t change the chance of that scenario actually occurring (they don’t make a plane crash more likely).

    I think the fear that some people have about pre-nups is that preparing yourself for a worst-case scenario (relationship breakdown) could change your behaviour within the relationship when the marriage gets tough – thereby making the relationship breakdown more likely.

    Compare with your interview with Jim Collins and the negative value of a safety net. When making a decision about going it alone (his “Thelma and Louise moment”), a colleague advised him NOT to keep the option of a return to a ‘safe’ job at Stanford open – because that would change his behaviour (and make success outside of the university less likely). THIS explains why people think pre-nups could have a negative effect on a relationship.

    Can you explain whether/how you reconcile these viewpoints (i.e., pre-nups are a good idea, analogous to aeroplane safety briefings – but safety nets can have negative value)?

    1. Excellent comment and certainly one worth a reply please Tim.

      I think it comes down to this: Is a marriage like any other contractual situation in your life or something more?

      Contracts typically have an inward focus and outward execution for (potential) conflict management. Let’s not be naive – humans, and therefore relationships, are messy. Conflicts happen. And here’s the hard question – are you and your potential spouse up to the task of resolving these conflicts with a genuine heart (and head) for the betterment of the other?* If not, it is time to do some serious training for that. This is why marriage and sex have been thought of as being at the end of the relationship sequence.

      *ie: covenantal not contractual thinking. Love is more than feelings, it is an attitude.

  32. So uhm, this was a fantastic interview. I’d like to know if/when you will be doing a follow-up podcast on your topic of couple’s having a scheduled meeting to have open dialogue and your format for being able to bring up often difficult conversations (What I’ve done well, What I need to work on, what you’ve done well, and what I’d like to see…). I think this is just great advice, and so super simple. My wife and I just scheduled our first meeting. Also, you and Ramit should prolly have regular podcasts together. Your dialogue and batner is catchy and fun to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed listening and 2 hours went by like nothing. Thanks!

  33. Hello Tim!

    I heard a lot of things about relationships in this podcast and so I wanted to ask you something.

    I know you enjoy making experiments and I discovered for myself what polyamori is recently, I don’t know if you ever heard of that?

    I was wondering if you ever investigated or experimented on this area, as you like to deconstruct the way society is built today.

    I figured that deconstructing the way relationships are viewed today could be a good place for investigating and helping people be more happy.

    Thanks for everything you are doing, I am trying to apply the principles of your first books nowadays!


  34. I was really disturbed listening to this podcast until I had time to reflect on it later and realized what they are doing. I was going to write a comment quoting Marcus Aurelius on stoicism and the superficially of materialism, or Tara Brach or Sam Harris or any of the other enlightened guests Tim has interviewed. Then I realized that they are totally trolling us here…. and I love it! Well played gentlemen.

  35. This conversation was incredibly helpful to me. Ive listened to it 3 times. I appreciate that Ramit spoke on the topic of prenuptial agreements. It is something that I plan on engaging in very soon. It was refreshing to hear such a straightforward take. Thank you Ramit and Tim!

  36. Aloha Tim! Big time fan since you first published 4 Hour Work Week! I have all of your books. Quick question about your podcast, would you ever consider interviewing the significant others of these amaizing guests? Like Ramits wife or Tony Robin’s wife? It would be incredible to here something like that! I know it takes a strong support system a lot of the time to get to places like this. I know Ramit was already there, but his wife sounds really interesting!

  37. Tim, it sounds like the pre-nup conversation may be a good one for you. If you are not interested in marriage, but you do have children, how do you account for the sacrifices your partner would take it have the children, from their own career, even if the earning potential (at the point in time of the wedding) is less.

  38. Dear Tim,

    Besides this Prenup convo you and your podcasts are perfect. 

    1) I was writing a book and someone else wrote it (Sigh and yay.)

    Fair Play

    [Moderator: link removed.]

    Let’s skip the heartbreak I felt when I lost my personal current “purpose”, and get to the relief that this author –Eve– is broadcasting a systems, logic-based approach to end the nit-picky misery that enters relationships and to quantify the unquantifiable contributions women make to unions.

    Please consider her for your podcast to balance the episode with Ramit.

    FWIW, I do not know the author.

    The Gist of the Message:

    In short, women have been bringing so much to relationships (skills they acquired prior to marriage) and honing gifts on behalf of their families while married. These gifts are not quantifiable. Their value exceeds the time and $ you’d have to pay to outsource this labor — kids or no kids.  And the benefit of these gifts COMPOUNDS (in the same way investments would).  It’s hard enough for the women who are actually doing the work to see this invisible labor, let alone their partners (and forget unmarried men and women).

    I was actually in the process of writing my own version of Fair Play (my husband and I developed a similar system) when Eve Rodsky beat me to it.  Go Eve. Let’s solve this problem.

  39. This is definitely one of my top 10 favorites. You mentioned that you’d like a “fixer” to travel ahead of you and ensure that everything is perfect prior to your arrival. If that’s something that you’re seriously interested in, I think that I could be a perfect candidate for you. I have extensive experience in hospitality, have worked as a personal assistant, and I have a law degree. Basically, I am a detail oriented pleaser and would love the opportunity to join your team and make your life easier.