Series 21: For the Love of Podcasts | Episode 02
Manage Your Money Like a Boss: The Rachel Cruze Show
One of THE best things about podcasts is how we can instantly connect with wise teachers who change our lives for the better. And that’s 100% true for today’s guest, personal finance expert Rachel Cruze! For some of us, throwing around words like “budget” and “401k” is the verbal equivalent of sticking pencils in our eyeballs. But thankfully, Rachel doesn’t have that effect on us. In her podcast and web series, The Rachel Cruze Show, Rachel takes a warm, practical approach to money that makes it all so much more doable and manageable (after all, she’s had a lifetime of training, thanks to her dad Dave Ramsey!). Today Jen and Rachel talk about why sticking to a budget actually gives you freedom, the surprising secret to having more peace with your partner around finances, and how to teach your kids healthy money habits from an early age. As a self-admitted spender at heart, Rachel empowers us with tips and tools to help us remember that despite our feelings and past choices around money, it is always possible to make a change—because we are more than just our stuff.
Narrator: Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people every week on this podcast. Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the show.
Jen: Hey, guys. Jen Hatmaker is here. Your happy host to the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show.
You’re going to love today. I always tell you that, but I’m serious this time. We’re in a series right now called For the Love of Podcasts and we are talking to some really phenomenal people in this lane who have incredible shows, really interesting, intriguing content. They’re great hosts, and I have absolutely loved having them on. I mean, I actually wish this series was twice as long.
My guest today, oh man, this conversation was so good, you guys. I took an entire page of notes. She’s carrying the torch for cultivating really healthy habits around a topic that affects every single one of us so deeply. It affects our well being, it affects our marriages, it affects our children. It affects our futures, it affects our careers, our gratitude, all of it. And the topic is money. And she is doing it in the warmest, most approachable way. You’ll see as this conversation unfolds.
So today, I am so happy to have on Rachel Cruze. Rachel is a self-admitted spender at heart and a lover of pizza. Same. She’s also the #1 New York Times bestselling author and host of The Rachel Cruze Show podcast and web series. I know a ton of you already watch it, so you know exactly who Rachel is, watch and listen. She teaches people from all walks of life. Everything she says today is so simple and manageable and approachable. How to get out of debt, how to make a budget. And you might be interested to know she’s had a lifetime of training in how to handle money because her dad is Dave Ramsey. She knows some stuff, all right?
So you’re going to hear from Rachel about what it was like to grow up with him and what she learned from her dad over the years. But this is really her own work and how she has made it her own. There’s so many great things that I want you to hear today. So, however you come to this conversation—if money is absolutely crippling for you, if it is a source of fear and shame, which it is for so many of us. First of all, you are not alone. If you feel like you are so far in the hole that there’s no light at all, I want you to listen because there is so much hope in this conversation that Rachel and I have today.
If you’re thinking, How do I raise my kids to not go into $100,000 of college loan debt?, she and I talk about. How do we start them out on the right foot instead of ten paces behind? This is your episode. And if money is a real tension point in your marriage—which Rachel absolutely normalizes, I loved what she had to say about this—this is your episode.
I think money is a weird topic, especially in the Christian world. What I’m walking away from this conversation with, what Rachel talks about, is how much handling our money well unleashes generosity, contentment, and humility in our lives.
If you’re thinking, This is a banking class, or, This is just how to get rich, or, This is how to hoard all your money, it’s kind of the opposite approach. This is what sets us free to be generous, to be givers, to be humble, to love what we have, to not keep clamoring for more and more and more. I found a ton of freedom in our conversation today. No matter which way you look at it, I think you’re going to discover the same thing.
So, I am really, really pleased to share my conversation today with the delightful host of The Rachel Cruze Show, the one and only Rachel Cruze.
I am not just happy, but now doubly happy to welcome Rachel to the show. Thanks for being on the podcast today.
Rachel: Yes, absolutely, Jen. Thanks for having me. I so appreciate it.
Jen: Well, I’m doubly happy because five seconds ago, I just found out that this podcast recording is Rachel’s very last thing on her to-do list before she leaves for maternity leave today. Right? Did I have that right?
Rachel: That’s right. I was like, “This is the exclamation point before I go home and have a baby.”
Jen: When are you due?
Rachel: Oh, I still have another week and five days, but who’s counting, right?
Jen: Oh my gosh. You are. Mm-hmm.
Rachel: Yeah, I know. Well, my second [child] came a week early, so I was looking at my calendar when I found out that I was expecting, and I was like, Man I’d hate to be in the office the day before. I know some people have to do that with their schedule. But I was like, Man, if I could have like a solid week five days before the baby comes. If he comes a week early, kind of thing. I’ve timed it out, so I have a little wiggle room.
Jen: This is so exciting. And how old are your bigs?
Rachel: Yes. Amelia’s four, Caroline is two.
Rachel: And then we’ve got a little boy coming, he will be here soon.
Jen: That is so exciting. That is exactly how I had my babies.
Rachel: Was it?
Jen: I had a four year old, and I had a two year old, and then I had my third.
Rachel: And you survived. I’m glad to know you survived.
Jen: I mean, here I am. I have at least half my brain working. And they’re in college and high school. So you can do this.
Rachel: Yes, I can survive. I can survive.
Jen: So, okay. I have filled in my listeners about who you are and what you do a little bit. But if you’ll indulge me, I’d love to roll your story back to your beginnings, because in some ways, it feels like you’ve been preparing to do this work your entire life.
You’re a self-admitted spender at heart, and your dad is Dave Ramsey. Well, that’s a lot. That’s a lot in one sentence. Can you talk about what that was like growing up? And how that in general led you to the start of your career here?
Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. I know people, when they find out I’m Dave Ramsey’s daughter, are just intrigued. They assume that we were this money-obsessed family and every question around the dinner table was centered around money, and we had mutual fund birthday parties and budget camps every summer.
Jen: Budget camps!
Rachel: Yeah. They just expect this money household because Dave Ramsey. And honestly, I give such credit to Mom and Dad, because even though this was a big part of our family’s story, they did not make it, by any means, the identity of our family. If anything, they downplayed it. They taught us how money worked, which I was so thankful for, and I learned that [it was a] gift later on, after leaving my house and being an adult, realizing not everyone grew up in that kind of environment. They were very intentional with teaching us how money works. But it was definitely far from a legalistic, obsessive household, when it comes to this part of our lives, of money.
Rachel: But I was born, actually, the year they filed for bankruptcy. I was born in April and they filed in September. My whole life really was having this front row seat of watching my parents figure out how money works. And after Dad pulled together common sense and biblical principles and started small things at our local church, it then grew into a book thing. And then there was a radio station here in Nashville that was actually in bankruptcy, so he went on for free for a few hours, and then that grew. So just the whole organic part of Ramsey Solutions, I was side by side [with my parents]. I mean, that was just our lives.
Jen: Yeah it’s like a sister, or it’s like a twin.
Rachel: Totally, yes. I know I always laugh, my older sister and I were the first shipping departments because I remember stuffing envelopes with books and stuff in our living room. That’s how things got mailed out. That was a big part of our upbringing and understanding all of that.
I started traveling and speaking with my dad when I was fifteen.
Rachel: He’d put on these huge live events with 9,000 to 12,000 people in these arenas. In high school, that was my part-time gig. I would get up before one of the breaks and talk about kids and money and how parents can teach their kids about money. “And here’s what Dave Ramsey and Sharon Ramsey did with us.” I pitched the kids products, and then I got a cut from whatever was sold on the book table.
Rachel: So I’d run off the stage, run back to my little table to sell during the breaks, and it was a great gig. I loved it. In that process I learned that I loved speaking. I loved public speaking. From there, I went to college and that was kind of my light bulb moment. I always tell people that when I was a freshman at the University of Tennessee, I realized that, Wow, people have no idea. My peers at the time, they had no idea how money works. I remember thinking, I’m eighteen, nineteen years old, and I don’t have all the answers. But I have enough knowledge to help them, if they want the help, to start guiding them in these conversations that we’re having about money.
Fast forward four more years, after college graduation, I paired the idea of loving to speak and my heart for my generation and this message. It was kind of like God just kept opening these doors down this path that I probably wouldn’t have been able to verbalize back then. But when I look back, that’s exactly what was happening.
And then fast forward, I’ve been doing it for 10 years, and here I am, huge, with a baby in my lungs. I’m out of breath right now as I’m talking.
Jen: Totally. I love hearing you sort of roll it out like that. I think that’s so interesting. What did you originally go to college to study? What did you think your path was going to be?
Rachel: In my original dream, I wanted to live in New York City, and still to this day every time I’m there.
Rachel: I feel like the Holy Spirit’s like, “Rachel you’re supposed to be here.” And I’m like, I know I am. But I have a husband who likes to turkey hunt. So I don’t know how [that works].
Jen: Oh my gosh, absolute same. We are twins in this.
Rachel: How am I going to reconcile these things? Yeah, so I wanted to live in New York and work for, back in the day, a magazine, doing something in marketing or advertising for a magazine company.
I went into [college to do] that, and then I switched to communications, my major, halfway through because I realized, Eh, I probably won’t do the New York thing. But, again, my heart for my message that had always been there kind of bubbled up and I realized, Man. This is really what I could do.
Jen: You obviously made the right choice.
Jen: You have a fantastic show called The Rachel Cruze Show. I love the fun and warm way that you approach folks about money. Because money rattles people’s cages. It’s anxiety producing, it has a lot of shame around it. For a lot of people, like you mentioned, who’ve just never been taught, it feels inaccessible and overwhelming and intimidating. And so something that many of us need when we are entering this conversation about how money works, is that we need to know that in it, we’re not going to feel judged or shamed. We have a seat at this table, and you do this really, really well. This is, I think, your very special gift.
Why was it important for you to create your own podcast specifically? Because you have several lanes that you operate in. When did you decide to podcast? And what’s your key distinctive aim in that venue?
Rachel: Yeah. So the podcast itself, honestly, was kind of an offshoot of doing video content. I got challenged a few years ago of like, Okay what’s something I can put content out on really quickly to start helping people? I was starting to get my own voice and figure out my message and all of that. Video has always been my comfort zone, almost. I so enjoy video, I love doing TV media hits—anything with a camera, I just feel the most natural. Honestly, audio is where I’m the most intimidated. Any kind of podcast or radio show or anything in that lane, I always stayed away from because I just didn’t feel like I was great at it, because there’s a certain skill set that you have to have.
I just thought, Man, there is a whole other audience out there to be reached with podcasting. But I’m like, It has its lane, its own way of doing things. And people are so loyal to podcasts. And I love podcasts. I love listening to them. So we actually pulled the audio from The Rachel Cruze Show, the video version, and made it into a podcast. I kind of rerecord some things, and I even interrupt myself from the show. But I’m always like, Okay, no, let’s dive in deeper here, because [with] podcasts, you can.
Jen: Yeah, absolutely.
Rachel: You can go to much deeper levels. And it’s so intimate, right? You’re with people in their car, while they’re doing dishes. It’s just like you’re with people in their lives when you’re doing a podcast.
Money is one of our biggest stressors because there’s just so much emotion wrapped around it almost all the time. I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about that? Why, in your experience, do we make such emotional decisions about money? And what does that have to do with contentment or lack thereof?
Rachel: That’s a great question. I think it’s emotional because money touches every part of our lives. What ends up happening is that money is a symptom, usually, of a bigger problem. When people come to Ramsey Solutions and they’ve either read a book or listened to the radio or gone through a class, they’ll say things like, “Our marriage is better.” And you’re like, You didn’t go to a marriage class. You went to a money class. But why? Because the money problems are really a symptom of a marriage problem, or lack of communication, or you. Fill in the blank.
Same with parenting, right? We’re living in 2019 and the accessibility to buy your kids stuff and feeling like you somewhat can justify it [helps us] feel better as a parent. Maybe you’re working two jobs. I can just throw some money at it, I can buy them something and that makes me feel good in that moment. But then you have a parenting problem. Right?
It ends up becoming this symptom of greater problems in our life, so it is emotional. I think it gets emotional, and you touched on this, because people really don’t have a common sense of view of money. When you look at the stats and the studies of personal finance in America today, it’s pretty sad. We’re in a really sad reality with the amount of debt, the lack of savings, and lack of security people have when it comes to this part of their lives. People have made, including myself, major mistakes with money. I mean everyone has, no one’s excluded from that. But yet we allow, for some reason, the shame of our past to stop us from changing our habits and doing something different in the future. Because money, in a sense, has this weird security that even though you’ve been doing something with your money for so long and you know it’s probably not the smartest thing, but you’re like, “You know what? The change, it’s just too scary. It’s too scary to change.” Change is uncomfortable.
Rachel: And I think we can get to a point in our lives, this could be for any area, where we can plug this in.
Jen: That’s true.
Rachel: It’s just hard. Right? It’s not fun. When you have to do a complete mind shift on something as extreme as money because you handle it every single day, it’s really, really hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing great. No one would have debt.
Jen: That’s true.
Rachel: Everyone’s 401Ks would be funded. All of that. But it’s so hard because personal finance is 80% behavior, and only 20% head knowledge.
Rachel: And so understanding it is a really small part. Because again, it’s pretty much just common sense. Most of what I teach, you hear it, and you do not leave a podcast or finish one of my books being like, Wow, I have no idea. I’ve got to Google half the words she said in that book. No. You probably finish and you’re like, Man, I knew that. But doing it, changing the behavior, is what is so difficult. That’s emotional in and of itself, like any behavior in our lives. Money is just a part of that.
Jen: You have said time and again that budgets, contrary to how it may feel, don’t limit your freedom, they give you freedom. Can you talk more about that and sort of unpack that a little bit more for us?
Rachel: Yes. In my own personal story, budgeting was the hardest part for me. Because I’m a spender, I’m kind of a free spirit, details are not great. If you looked in my car or my bathroom sink or my closet, you’d probably be like, “Who is this woman, and why is she not organized?” I’m just not a super organized person. So a budget went against my natural being, right? This idea that, I have to keep up with a receipt, back in the day. I have a checkbook that I actually write in.
Rachel: It didn’t seem fun. And the concept of a budget, every time it was presented, almost felt like it had this negative factor to it. Like, Oh yeah I can’t go shopping because I’m on a budget.
Rachel: We can’t go out tonight, we’re on a budget. Or, Yeah, we’re not going on vacation this year because we are on a tight budget. And I’m like, Man, people on budgets are not fun people.
Rachel: On a budget, you’re not having any fun. I had this experience when my husband and I [were first married]. We’ve been married almost 10 years, but the first few months we didn’t do a budget. And growing up as Dave Ramsey’s kid, in my head it was like, “You do a budget, you do a budget, you do a budget.”
Rachel: But doing it again was so hard.
Finally, after a few months, we got into the habit and we did it. And then I had this experience on a vacation with Winston before [we had] kids. We were probably married four years at the time, and he told me on vacation, “Okay, babe, we have our money set, we know what we’re going to spend. But I don’t want you to have to think about it. Don’t worry about the budget, I’m going to take care of it all. You just relax and enjoy.”
And I was like, Oh, speaking my love language. Thank you. But even that night at dinner, I’m sitting there like, I can’t enjoy dinner because I’m trying to figure out if I order a drink and an appetizer with the meal, am I going to spending too much here? Are we going to have to buy granola bars at Walgreens for breakfast because I’m spending too much? I mean, I just started this semi-internal panic with my money. I don’t know where it’s going.
And I realized, Jen, at that point, I was like, Man, I’ve spent probably four years really grasping and having control over where my money was going. And the one time I thought I would “have freedom” where I wouldn’t have to have control, I realized in that moment, I can’t enjoy my things because I have no idea where my money’s going. I’ve been brainwashed into this nerd now, and I realized a budget does not limit your freedom. A budget gives you freedom. It gives you permission to spend money on the things you value. It’s very difficult to win with money if you are not intentional. If you are not purposeful, even with every single dollar, it’s going to be very, very difficult to win.
A budget does that. It really does. It gives you this control and you get to say “yes” to things. You get to say “no” to things. But when you say “yes” to things, you can say it with such freedom. If you have a clothing line item in your budget, you can go shopping. Go to J. Crew, go wherever, and spend that amount of money. You don’t have any second guessing, any doubt, any shame at the register. Because you know, this is what I can spend, this is what I’ve planned. It’s just so much more enjoyable. Long term, never again will you look back when you’re doing your taxes in April and be like, “Where did all of our money go?”
Jen: Totally, absolutely.
Rachel: “We worked so hard, but where did it all go?” You can look back and be like, “No, we knew exactly where every dollar was going.” It gives you that control. And I’m saying that again as a free spirit and a spender. I have been converted to the budget and I love it. I really do, because I can spend. I have permission to spend now.
Jen: It’s so funny that you say that. A few years ago, my family did this experiment. It was called 7. It was an experimental mutiny against excess. We took seven areas of our lives in which we felt like everything was excessive, out of control, and unchecked, unregulated, just completely unintentional. We wrangled it into some sort of format. So, for example, we did food. For a month, we only ate these 7 same foods.
Rachel: Oh wow.
Jen: We did clothes. We only wore the same seven pieces of clothing for a month. One of our months was spending, and it was interesting to do the groundwork on it, because I had this sense that we were spending willy-nilly. I was absolutely that person, Where did the money go? I don’t really know. I’m not sure, but it’s gone. Before we even started that month, I had to sit down and go, Well, where is our money going? I averaged the previous twelve months of our bank statements, which, by the way, I’d never looked at. Never.
Rachel: Yes, totally.
Jen: I found out that on average, we were spending money every month in 66 different places. That does not even count repeat expenditures. So we were mindlessly swiping in 66 different places a month. And I couldn’t have told you where half of it was, or where it went. There is something so real about looking your stuff in the eye and going, What am I doing? Where is it going? Is there any intention around this at all? And frankly, it may be emotionally challenging to put in budgets and guardrails and intentional plans. But it’s actually not that hard, functionally. It is possible. Anybody can do this. This is not just for the finance majors. Or the people who intuitively understand money. This is possible. But it does require that really deliberate look at what is going on and where I am spending and how I want this to be different.
I am sure that you, at this point, have recognized patterns of money snafus or mistakes, pitfalls that many of us are making. I don’t know if you can quantify it this simply. But what are three money mistakes that we can get back on track fairly easily, with just a little bit of attention to it?
Rachel: I think one would be what we just talked about. I’d say that is probably the number one money mistake.
Rachel: Yeah. People are not intentional. They have no clue what’s happening, so do that budget. We have an app called Every Dollar, and it walks you through it. It does not take a finance major to do it. I mean, it really is fifth-grade math. I say that in a non-shaming way, not an intimidating way. You really can do it. It takes about three months to get it to work, because you may not know where everything’s going, and you’re going to have to change stuff. But man, if I could rewind the tape for so many people in their stories when it comes to their money, if they had just been purposeful, they would be in a completely different spot. So I think that’s one thing, for sure.
I’d say the second is something that we fall into as a culture, and it’s the heart aspect of money. It’s just this lie that just seeps in for people on different levels and different intensities. [It’s this idea that] money is going to make everything better. If I just had money, if I could just make more money, if I just had that thing, I could just buy that new car. If we just have that house, everything would be better.
Rachel: It is such a deceitful lie, because if you’re like me, you’ve fallen for that. Whether it’s a coat from Ann Taylor, that I’m like, Oh that’s so cute. If I just had that this winter I’d be happy. Something as small as that, to as big as where you go to college, or whatever it is. And you get that thing, you end up being a rat in a wheel for the rest of your life.
Jen: That’s right. Yup.
Rachel: It never, ever fulfills, and yet that is something that I still, to this day, fall into. And I have to remind myself like, Man, Rachel why did you think that? It’s so hard.
If you’re listening in America in 2019: We’re such a materialistic culture. I’m not against stuff. I always tell people it’s okay to have nice stuff. Just don’t let your nice stuff have you. And it has you when you go into debt for it.
The borrower slaves the lender. When your stuff owns you, at that point, you don’t own it. It has you if your identity, your happiness, what you think life is about is wrapped up [in it]. Because you will be disappointed over and over again.
Jen: That’s so real.
Rachel: Yeah and social media doesn’t help with it, reality TV doesn’t help. We’re not in a winning situation, so you have to fight against it. That’s a big mistake I see people make.
And then the other one, which kind of sounds cliché, but it’s really, really not, is giving. I find that with giving, people don’t feel like they have the capacity or the financial ability to give. I always challenge that though, Jen, because I’m like, Man, are you paying Comcast, but you’re not giving?
Your priorities [shift] with your money, when you start to have this mind shift with money. I believe [we should] steward it for God. This is one of the top things that he shows us constantly through scripture, and Jesus is the perfect picture of this. Serve people really well, serve people financially. Even if it’s a little. Give a little until you can give a lot. But when you start living with that open hands mentality, it changes stuff, Jen.
Rachel: Your mind [when] you save people, your quality of life, your joy. I mean, things just change when you’re a giver.
Jen: That’s right.
Rachel: It is so, so huge, and it’s something I feel like we missed out on a lot because people either don’t think about it, or if they have the heart to give, they just don’t feel like they have the means. But I would challenge that and say, “Hey, what can you cut? Even if it’s a little, even if it’s Starbucks or whatever it is.” [I challenge people] to be doing something, because you start to value people more than stuff and money at that point.
Jen: That’s right.
Rachel: It just changes your whole perspective on life.
Jen: I cannot agree with you more. When we finally looked money in the face and decided to deal [with it] instead of just always letting the tail wag the dog with a big shrug of the shoulder. What it unlocked in our lives, in our hearts, and in our minds wasn’t just a better handle on our personal finances. What it mainly unlocked was a generosity, which was a surprising byproduct.
Rachel: I love it.
Jen: And it was amazing. That, for me, was the key takeaway. Because at that point, the sum was greater than the parts. You are so right, that being generous with what we have is . . . it’s powerful. It’s powerful in our lives, it’s powerful in our faith, and then of course it’s powerful in our communities. I mean, there’s a very real impact that generosity has on the people, our neighbors and our cities and our communities. And so I’m really glad that you said that one, because that’s not typically what people think of when they think of personal finance. And yet to me, this is a key motivator in getting a hold on what we’ve been given, so that we can really live faithfully in this way. Thanks for saying that.
One of the biggest topics you mentioned that you tackle is helping people get out of debt. Which is just, oh man. It’s so crippling. It is so crippling and it hamstrings so many of us. And it feels impossible, like a mountain we will never climb. I think about students. I’ve got two kids in college right now, and three more to go. And so we’re watching student debt just mount and mount. Students are carrying more debt than ever in history. And for much longer periods of time.
I would love for you to talk a little bit about debt and how it affects us and our students, if you want to funnel into their future, because we are telling them this is the only way. This is the platter that they are being handed right now, that there is no other path. And then what is our path out here? I know this is a huge topic. I mean, this alone is 700 episodes. But if you could just sort of high-level a debt conversation for us and our students. What would you say?
Rachel: Yeah totally. With debt, there’s a mathematical side and then there’s an emotional, spiritual side. On the mathematics side, you look at it and you say, “Okay, what debt really does is steal your paycheck from you”. So you make an income, it comes in, and then [debt] takes it from you. It takes your car payment, your student loan payment, your credit card bill. And it’s all things in the past, so it’s like you’re living life in your rearview mirror, right? Everything is just in the past, because every financial industry is against this topic because they’re all for debt. They’re against you getting out of debt.
Jen: Oh, of course. Yes, totally.
Rachel: That’s how banks make money, it’s how credit card companies make money. And so, to live a life where you say, “Okay, what if I had no payments?” What if your paycheck came in, and we’ll keep a mortgage for the heck of it. Say you have your mortgage, because it’s the one type of debt I won’t yell at you for. So you have your mortgage payment, but that’s it. You have no other payments. What could you do? Where could you go? Who could you help? What could you do?
We’ve bought into this lie that we have to have the standard of living in America. If you don’t look like X, Y, and Z, you’re missing out and here’s the avenue to debt to get there. And we just blindly walk down this road thinking that it’s going to make everything better and it doesn’t. Because it steals our future, it steals our decision making, it steals our choices and our options. Because when you have debt, you can’t leave the job you hate with a jerky boss. You sit in traffic, you deal with this terrible person at work and this terrible environment, but you do it because you have to pay the bills. And if you didn’t have those payments coming in, what options would you have? There’s that financial side.
And then there’s the emotional and spiritual side. My friend Chris Hogan says, “Debt’s a thief.” It steals your income, but it also steals your sleep at night.”
Jen: Yeah, it does.
Rachel: It steals your peace of mind. And when you owe someone something, it changes the way you do life. Getting people that freedom to say, “You don’t owe anyone anything,” you are able to truly live life the way that you feel called to. You feel like God’s calling to you, that you actually have the option to do it. And sadly, we’ve strapped ourselves with stupid car payments and credit card bills and I’m like, Man, we’re in a crusade mentality to help people get out of that. I want you to find that freedom.
On a very tactical level, we teach people to get out of debt by paying off your smallest debt to your largest debt, regardless of the interest rate because again, personal finance is behavior change. And when you get those quick wins, you see hope.
Jen: That’s incentive.
Rachel: Yes, exactly. And a lot of people lose hope. I’m sure some of your listeners are hearing this and feel like there’s no way out. That the light at the end of the tunnel is a train. It’s not hopeful. I mean, we are walking people [through this] and helping people do this. We’re seeing day in and day out that it works, but you have to put some things into place, you have to shift your mindset again to say, Okay what is life like if I stop going into debt and I start working my way out? We find that people are getting out of debt completely in 18 to 24 months.
Jen: Wow. Regardless of where they’re starting?
Rachel: Yes. That’s the average. And it’s phenomenal, because you hear different income levels, different debt levels. It is possible, and that’s the great thing. I’m like, If you believe you can or you believe you can’t, that’s your destiny. Right?
Rachel: That’s what’s going to happen. I’m just here to scream from the rooftops that anyone can. It might take you longer, but it’s possible. So there’s that whole aspect.
I think the student loan conversation is such an important one, and one that we’re seeing highlighted more and more on the news and the political circuit. I mean, it is such a mess, Jen.
Jen: It is.
Rachel: It is such a mess because we really have taught a whole generation that, number one, if you get a college degree, you’re automatically going to be successful.
Rachel: We’ve taught them that lie. That yeah, you have to have a college degree to be successful. Now does it open up doors? Are there certain fields of study that you have to have in order to make a career?
Jen: Sometimes. Yeah.
Rachel: Yes. 100%. But it does not automatically mean that you are going to win in life.
Jen: No, it doesn’t.
Rachel: And I think we’ve taken the grit out of the hard work, out of what it takes to really win in your career and we’ve plastered this sheet of paper and said, “Well if you don’t have this sheet of paper, there’s no hope for you.” And that’s just not true.
Jen: It isn’t.
Rachel: As a parent, you don’t want to helicopter parent, but you have wisdom. Parents, walk with them and show them and teach them how to do this well.
Jen: I’m so grateful for you saying all of this, because it is, as you know, counter cultural to messages that our kids are receiving. They feel locked into this path, and I’ve seen it in my own family, with my own kids who think, This is the successful way and you’ve got to reach to a higher rung, and frankly it’s just not true. It doesn’t even pan out.
And then I have my third kid who is not going to be college bound. He just isn’t. He’s going to go the trade route, which is literally how he is wired. But I had him on the podcast a few weeks ago when we were saying, even in the high schools, he said, “I always felt like an outlier. And I actually feel a little bit ashamed because there is no consideration for another path other than a four-year, expensive degree. That’s the way teachers teach, that is the conversation in the classrooms. It’s just assumed that that is going to be what everybody strives for.” And he’s like, “Generally, I’m the only hand that goes up when anybody asks who doesn’t want to go to a four year college?”
Jen: I think this is systemic, and it’s going to take a lot of effort between parents and schools and systems and education, for us to start imagining a way out of this madness for our kids. Because you’re right, they’re making a decision at 18, and some of these kids are still going to be paying the bill at 47. That’s just not okay. That’s just bananas.
Rachel: Totally. Yup.
Jen: I’d like to talk about something you said earlier for a second. Obviously, money is such a big part of our lives. It carries a lot of weight in our marriages. How do you suggest that we make sure we are approaching money with our partners in a really healthy and productive way? Especially if we come into the marriage not seeing eye to eye on spending, or on habits? We bring our experiences to the table as well, the families we grew up in and how much money we did or didn’t have. So how do you advise couples to find their way through these really important decisions? Because they sure do affect the quality of a marriage.
Rachel: Yes, they do. Yeah, money fights and money problems, they’re always in the top three reasons people get divorced. Right?
Jen: Yeah, 100%.
Rachel: I mean, it is a huge tension point for people. So yeah, when it comes to any marriage, I always say that opposites are going to attract, so don’t be surprised by that. If you’re married, you’re probably thinking, Yes, that’s so true. One of you is probably a spender, one of you is probably a saver. One of you probably loves the idea of doing a budget. You heard the conversation earlier and you’re like, Yes, it’s great, I love Excel! I’ll get everything, start my budget now. Where the other one’s like, Oh no, please don’t put me on a budget.
Jen: Interesting. Yeah.
Rachel: So you’re going to have that clash. I just want to normalize that for everyone. That’s going to happen. That happened to Winston and I, that is going to happen.
You have to get to this place where you can embrace each other’s differences and say, “Okay, everyone at the table, as two together, as a team, we bring certain strengths and weaknesses.” Because you need each other. There is just an element of like, okay, you don’t want to be extreme either way because if you’re a saver, you end up being a hoarder and doing nothing in life.
Jen: That’s a great point.
Rachel: But if you’re a spender and that’s all you do, there’s an immaturity to it, you’re going to be broke and living paycheck to paycheck your whole life. And I don’t want that either.
Jen: I love that. Mm-hmm.
Rachel: So there is this medium ground when it comes to the two sides of the spectrum. But naturally, you’re going to lean to one or the other. Your spouse is going to as well. Upfront, embrace the differences.
Number two, I’m going to go back to it, but it’s true. Do a budget together. Sit down and figure out, “Okay, here are all the categories we spend money in. Here are the amounts we’ve spent our money in the last three months averaged in, here’s what it looks like. What do we want to change?” And work together as a team.
A huge mistake I see couples make is they say, “Okay, well one is good at the budget, so they should just do it, handle the money.” And the other one has no idea and you don’t talk about it for years. Then something ends up blowing up, and it’s the first time you’ve had a money conversation. But doing a budget together forces you both to work as a team. So to say, “Okay, we both have equal inputs, we both have strengths and weaknesses, we both have thoughts, we both have feelings. We’re going to bring it all to the table, but we’re going to decide it in more of a factual, less emotional manner on the budget and agree this is where our money’s going.”
Just do a budget together. It sounds so simple, but it’s true. It eliminates so many money fights and money problems, because you say, “Okay, this is what we’re agreeing to.” [It’s] almost like a financial contract or something between the two of you. “This is what we’re doing.” It forces that team aspect. I hate when one person in the relationship is isolated with the money, because the whole burden’s on them. Right?
Jen: That’s true.
Rachel: They have one brain making all the decisions and it’s not that “not fair.” It’s just not a healthy way to go about it. You need someone else [to be] part of the equation. Even if you’re single out there, have a friend, have someone you trust and show them your budget. Be like, “Hey, here’s what I’m doing.” Because if you just have other people speaking into your money, overall it’s a wiser way to go about it.
So as couples, embrace those differences, because you’re going to feel it. But when you acknowledge it, then you can come to the table and actually get some facts and numbers down and say, “Okay, here’s our budget, let’s work together.”
Jen: That’s so great. Virtually all of us come in adulthood with habits we learn from our parents, good or bad. How should we teach our kids to have healthy habits around money, without all of our baggage? Even more granular, what did your parents do with you that you plan on passing onto your littles once they are ready for these conversations? Maybe you’re already doing it at their little, tiny ages. But how would you advise us as parents as we begin raising kids?
Rachel: Yeah. I would say, as much as possible, start with the emotional environment of the household when it comes to money. The best kind of place to be, if you will, is open communication when money is talked about, so it’s not taboo. I think some people grew up in a family where it’s like your parents didn’t talk about money, sex or politics.
Jen: It’s true. Yup, it’s true.
Rachel: They didn’t go there, you don’t know anything. And even as an adult, it’s interesting, some of my friends are hearing from their parents of their parents’ financial state. And they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know my parents were not in a great spot financially. They’re not going to be able to retire.” They’re learning all this stuff.
Jen: Yeah, right.
Rachel: Seeing it as an adult is very common. And I’m like, Not that you have to air out your dirty laundry to your kids all the time. But just [have] that open communication when talking about money, it’s not a taboo subject. And then [work on] the emotional state, not [letting it be] stressful, but almost freeing, if you will.
You don’t have to be wealthy and perfect with money in order to accomplish those two things. You can be working your way out of debt and living paycheck to paycheck and sacrificing and doing all of it. And it’s tough, but you can still have that open, free conversation, that feeling around the household when it comes to money.
Jen: That’s great.
Rachel: That kind of environment is ideal. It’s hard to get there, I understand, because we all grew up in different households. But that’s great.
And then tactically, don’t sit down and have some kind of stock ,market portfolio conversation with your kids.
Rachel: I mean, it goes back to the basics. Growing up, we were never given an allowance. We were always on commission. So you work, you get paid. You don’t work, you don’t get paid.
Jen: Yeah, it’s a pretty simple equation.
Rachel: Yeah. As a kid, we did that. mom and dad were not perfect. We tried to have payday every Sunday night or whatever. There [were] weeks that I’m sure we missed and all of that. It was not this perfect thing. But it was this intentionality of understanding that money comes from work.
Jen: Wow, that’s good.
Rachel: Money doesn’t just come from Mom and Dad’s back pockets. As an adult, I’m like, Oh, it’s the best lesson to learn. Thank you Mom and Dad, because the real world wasn’t like this whiplash to me. Oh yeah, that’s how you make money, you go to work. The working aspect is key. Once they earn money, teach them simply to give first, save second, spend third.
Jen: Oh, I like that.
Rachel: Walk them through that. We even had little envelopes as kids that we wrote on the front of. Give, Save, and Spend. Build those three money muscles, and over time, that becomes the order of how they view money, what they do with money, and debt is never a part of the equation. So you always know, Okay, you give some first. If you want something, you have to learn delayed gratification, you have to save up and pay for it. And, here’s some money to spend. You can learn some great lessons from some spending mistakes as well, even as a kid.
Jen: Heck, that feels like that’s a grown-up plan. I mean, maybe that’s what you’re teaching your kids, but I’m like, That’ll do for most of us in our grown-up world.
Rachel: That’s right.
Jen: It’s so true that it’s a powerful incentive. So as I’m listening to everything you’re saying, gosh, you are a wealth of information. I keep remembering how important changing our mindset is to changing our habits. I’m hearing you say that over and over. So much of this is a battle of the mind, and then it’s a battle of where the money goes.
This year, you released a brand-new tool that’s really helpful to changing our mindsets. You called it the Contentment Journal. Can you talk about the Contentment Journal and how cultivating that sense of contentment can actually change our lives?
Rachel: Yes. So this came out of my last book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs. It was all about comparison living and how to have good money habits in a world where we compare our lives to everyone else’s.
The antidote to comparison, I’ve found in my own life, is contentment. If you can just be content in your life, it’s amazing. You can’t have a heart that is comparing or discontent when you’re saying, Okay, I’m really satisfied with the life that I have now. And I’m like, “Okay that’s great, but how do you get there? What does that look like?”
[It dives] into understanding and unpacking. It’s more of my journey and how I figured it out myself. People can probably go about it different ways. But I realized that in order to be content, the very, very first step is, you have to be grateful. And when you are grateful for what you have, the comparison, this discontentment stuff, it’s not even in the picture. You start your day with gratitude.
There’s studies that [show this], and I love it because I was reading all this stuff I’m like, “Yes it is. It’s so true.”
Jen: Your blood pressure goes down. Yes. It’s really interesting. I feel like I’m hearing this message everywhere right now.
Rachel: It’s amazing. Yes. It’s amazing. I’m like, “Okay, so you go from gratitude and then what happens out of that? And then I realized humility plays a huge part in this process as well. I love CS Lewis’ quote on humility where he said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.”
Jen: Thinking of yourself less. Yup.
Rachel: It’s going back to that generosity stuff we were talking about earlier. I’m like, just be able to take your eyes off your life for a second, and look up and look out to other people. And say, “Hey, how can I not put myself down? Because it’s not humiliation. My life can start to be about other people and not just me. My happiness and everything I want.” You start to serve, you start to give, and things start to change. When you have those two playing side by side, contentment just fits right in. It’s so much easier to get to contentment with those two steps.
With the Contentment Journal, I take each of those subjects, gratitude, humility and contentment, and spend thirty days on each, so it ends up being about ninety days. It’s these prompts that I have and it’s really short. It doesn’t take a long time to do it in the mornings, or whenever you choose to do it. But the power of writing things down, having that journal, is huge in my story. I love my journals, I love looking back and seeing things that I’ve written down and being able to walk people through a process of that.
Because contentment, it’s the heart part of money, it’s that emotional side. If this is the foundation, if you’re good, than the temptation, whether it’s deeper into debt or whether it’s thinking that that school is going to define you, can go. It’s so many aspects of our life. When you are content—and it’s not complacency—you can still be hard-charging and still working hard and have goals and be content. But being able to have this peace in your heart about your life, it changes the quality of your life. Contentment is a huge part. It’s very hard to win with money when you’re not content.
Jen: Great point.
Rachel: Being able to get to that place in my story is huge.
Jen: Thank you for saying that. I’m positive I’ve been there deeply, more than I can ever explain. But I know that I have a lot of listeners who feel overwhelmed by money right now and [have that] sense of despair and question how we can ever find our way out of this. I appreciate that so much because that is also a powerful mechanism toward change. It doesn’t feel like it, it feels squishy to write down what you’re grateful for. This is the soft tissue of the skeleton. And yet you are right, those are levers to pull that can change our minds and hearts, release some of the strangle hold that money has on us and move us into a place where we are able to make the important changes in our life for freedom and for liberation. It’s not small. It really isn’t, and I’m really, really happy that you’re leading us and your listeners. That’s really important work toward the endgame.
Jen: We’re wrapping it up here. This series is all about podcasts, which is so much fun, and we’re asking all of our guests in this series these three questions. So [answer these] just kind of off the top of your head.
Here’s the first one. What podcast are you listening to right now?
Rachel: My go-to one, probably because I’m in the thick of parenting right now, is called Raising Boys and Girls. Jen, we have no clue what we’re doing. Sissy Goff, she’s based out of a counseling center here in Nashville. They’re [the podcasts] so great, they’re twenty–twenty-five minutes long. It’s these little nuggets of parenting and I’m like, Yes, thank you. Oh my gosh, so good. I just feel like we just need direction in life when it comes to that.
Rachel: Parenting is where we put in our time and [lose] energy. That’s it right now.
Jen: That’s a great one. While you have worked on your podcast, what is your favorite thing that you’ve learned so far? Either about the medium or just about your content.
Rachel: Every podcast, I always try to have, which we’ve accomplished thus far, a real life story of someone who’s in the thick of dealing with their money, maybe at the very beginning or even at the end. They’ve paid off debt and whatever. I love highlighting people’s stories because as a “personality,” it reminds me that the work I’m doing is not just to puff up Rachel Cruze. It really is about helping people. That is why we work. We say all the time at Ramsey Solutions that we exist for those that are not here.
Having those real-life stories is so fun for me. I love hearing people’s journeys. I love hearing the hope and the different backgrounds they’re from, the different family dynamics they come from. All of it. You see these real people and I’m like, “They’re the heroes. They’re the ones day in and day out doing this.”
Jen: That’s right.
Rachel: They’re changing their family tree, they’re showing it is possible and it’s hard, it’s not easy. But they are doing it. Highlighting those stories in each podcast, I love it so much.
Jen: I love that answer.
Here’s the last one this is a question that Barbara Brown Taylor posed one time. We ask all of our guests, in every series, this question. You can answer it however you want, as sincerely and poignantly, or as silly and small. It could be whatever is real for you.
The question is, what is saving your life right now?
Rachel: What is saving my life right now?
Rachel: Oh Jen Hatmaker, I can tell you. As I’m sitting here nine months pregnant, you know what I’ve become obsessed with?
Jen: Tell me.
Jen: Tell me more about that.
Rachel: Have you embarked into this whole world of reflexology? Because I have and it is amazing.
Rachel: There’s a science behind it, apparently, that your feet—this sounds crazy—that parts of your feet are pressure points for other parts of your body.
Jen: Sure, sure.
Rachel: Like your organs, all that. I guess I believe it. I don’t know.
Jen: No, no, no. I believe that.
Rachel: The experience is basically like a pedicure. When you get a pedicure, they do a foot massage. It’s that for thirty minutes, an hour, however long you want, and it’s half the price of anything you can imagine. It’s so inexpensive. And you feel like you just had a spa day, but you’ve paid $45 for an hour-long foot massage. It is one of my favorite things right now in life.
Jen: Well it sounds like heaven.
Rachel: It is. It’s the most amazing thing right now. I may go do that after we hang up. I may start maternity leave while at the reflexology session.
Jen: Yes. If you can’t start your maternity leave with a foot massage, then why bother?
Rachel: I know.
Jen: So that feels amazing.
Rachel, I want to thank you so much for coming on today. I don’t know if you can hear my pen scratching, but I was taking notes while you were talking. I heard some really important things I needed to hear today, and I’m positive that my listeners have. I know that you are on maternity leave in three minutes from now, so I can’t tell you how much I value your time, that you said yes to this here at the tail end of this season of your life. We are cheering you on to bring that baby boy into the family.
Rachel: Thank you.
Jen: Oh, I hope that you have the most beautiful delivery, and he is absolutely gorgeous.
Rachel: Oh, Jen, thanks for having me on. I’m really, really honored to be on your podcast because I am a huge fan and love it. Thank you for all the work you’re doing.
Jen: Thank you. The honor is mine. Grateful to have you on. Cheering you on for this next season. Thanks for all your expertise today. I just cannot wait for my listeners to hear this. They’re going to go bonkers. Okay post pictures, plenty online, so we can see that baby.
Jen: Thanks, Rachel.
Rachel: Thanks, Jen. Bye.
Jen: Okay I hope that that was as useful to you as it was to me. I really heard some stuff today that I am so glad that I did. It made me think. That showed me a couple spots in my life where I am absolutely just not intentional, whether it’s because I’m lazy or because in my marriage I just hand all this over to Brandon. I heard her say today that that’s not really fair. That’s not necessarily how grown-ups do this. Ugh, it’s easier for me just to say, “You manage it, it’s not my problem.” I heard that today, and that was a meaningful nugget of wisdom that I took away. I heard some stuff that she said about kids. This needs some attention from me.
If you don’t already know Rachel, I hope that you are so happy to have been introduced to her. Her work is meaningful and there’s so many little spots of entry for you if you would like to hear more.
So over at jenhatmaker.com, under Transcript, we’ll have all of this. We’ll have the transcript of our conversation, plus links to everything she mentioned. Her book, her journal, her podcast, everything. So if you’re like, I need some more information here, this is like a starter pack, which I love, that’s one of my favorite things about this podcast, is introducing you to amazing people. This was maybe just an introduction and we’d love for you to explore more.
We’ll have that over at jenhatmaker.com. So grateful to Rachel for her time. By the time we release this, if she has had her baby, we will post pictures over there too.
Thanks for listening, guys. If you haven’t already subscribed, go do it. Wherever you listen to podcasts, it’ll take five seconds. We love our subscribers, that helps us get to you easier. Thanks for sharing the podcasts that you love. This is a good one to share, share this with your kids. Share this with your college kids, your spouse. We packed a lot of good content into this one. I think this is a good springboard for so many of us.
So anyhow you guys, thanks for being awesome listeners. Laura and Amanda and I and our team at large are grateful for you. Happy to serve you week in and week out. Way more to come in the podcast series. You are going to want to tune in next week, I promise.
Okay guys, have a good one. See you next time.
Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!