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On this episode of “Talking Points,” host Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, brings on the New York Times bestselling author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” Ramit Sethi. Sethi shares personal finance wisdom on how to earn more in the long term without having to cut back on what you love. He also shares his experience traveling through India and Thailand and offers advice for first-time travelers to India.
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Here are 4 Take Aways:
Brian: And now I’m sure people listening are saying, “I want to be rich.” So what is “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” for those who haven’t heard of it?
Ramit: So, I started off writing a book. Some people may have seen this extremely bright colored book in bookstores and Amazon. And I know it sounds like a weird name. And, yes, I was sober when I created that name. But it actually is about automating your finances, learning how to invest, avoiding Wall Street scams. So I started off writing about money. And, eventually, I wanted to teach people that rich can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Like for you, it might mean taking your family to China and staying at an amazing hotel. For other people, it might mean funding a school in a different country or paying for your retirement early. And a rich life is what you make of it. So over time, I’ve built up, you know, a million readers a month and we create video courses and we do all kinds of stuff but it ultimately started with getting financially savvy and using psychology to help with your money.
Brian: Do you recommend that people, on their first trip to India, go to Mumbai? Do you go to Delhi? Do you think it’s too overwhelming? Or what would your recommendation be?
Ramit: So I used to say yes, definitely hit Delhi up and, like, go into the craziest markets of all. I now take a bit of a softer approach. I think Udaipur is a beautiful place to start, or anywhere in Rajasthan. Jaipur, you’re going to get the markets and you’re also going to feel at home because, you know, some nights you might say, you know, “I just want more of a Western style.” And they have that. If you do that, and you’re actually like, “Oh my god, this is, like, unbelievable. I gotta come back here,” I would say then go straight to Delhi next time. But I would not mind if people skip a few cities. Like, there were even times I was in Agra. We saw the Taj Mahal. There’s another big monument there, and we actually skipped it. And people were like, “Oh, my God, how could you not go see that?” And I said, “Look, part of being abundant is not having to check every single box.”
Brian: And your last trip, one of my favorite places to visit, to scuba, to just chill, to be immersed in culture, (is) Thailand. If you have a bad time in Thailand, you need to really rethink your life.
Ramit: Thailand was amazing. I had been to Bangkok before and a few other places. And this time, we knew that we loved food. So Bangkok was all about food. We always take food tours whenever we travel. It’s one of our favorite things to do. It’s local culture. It takes us to places we would have never experienced and we just eat crazy stuff. So Bangkok was awesome. We also went back to one of my favorite restaurants, Issaya Siamese Club. Nahm was also amazing. The final capstone of the whole trip was in Phuket. We went to the Aman, Amanpuri. And that was my first experience there.
Brian: I always struggle, especially in a country like Thailand… Amans are expensive wherever you go. And people will grouse, I know, whenever I say the nice hotel in Thailand, but, yeah. I mean, it’s all about the experience.
Ramit: I agree. I don’t think it’s for every day. Like, I’m perfectly happy staying at like a very budget airport hotel when I need to. I don’t mind it. But I do think that there are moments in life where you say, “I truly want to go as far as I can on this.” And I have this concept on my site where I talk about money dials. Think about like a dial in on your car radio. And most people have one or two money dials that they just love spending on. For you, it’s travel. And so you can turn that money dial all the way up and you can stay at Amans, Ritz Carltons, wherever it is that you love. Some people just couldn’t care less. But they love clothes. A lot of people love convenience. I love convenience, that’s mine. So if you know what your money dial is, then you can go all in and you can spend extravagantly on the things you love.
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Brian: Today we’ve got a very special guest, Ramit Sethi of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, the newsletter, the lifestyle. Ramit, thanks for joining us.
Ramit: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Brian: And now I’m sure people listening are saying, “I want to be rich.” So what is “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” for those who haven’t heard of it?
Ramit: So, I started off writing a book. Some people may have seen this extremely bright colored book in bookstores and Amazon. And I know it sounds like a weird name. And, yes, I was sober when I created that name.
But it actually is about automating your finances, learning how to invest, avoiding Wall Street scams. So I started off writing about money. And, eventually, I wanted to teach people that rich can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Like for you, it might mean taking your family to China and staying at an amazing hotel.
For other people, it might mean funding a school in a different country or paying for your retirement early. And a rich life is what you make of it. So over time, I’ve built up, you know, a million readers a month and we create video courses and we do all kinds of stuff but it ultimately started with getting financially savvy and using psychology to help with your money.
Brian: I think that’s really smart because I know… So before I started The Points Guy, I was actually in credit card debt in college. I mean, people… I think, you know, one of the biggest travesties of our generation is, like, millennials especially, we were not taught to, you know, balance checkbooks really, or like to think about financial security and how small decisions can make big changes down the line. So what are your thoughts on the people that say, “Cut out the avocado toast and then you’ll be rich?”
Ramit: Oh my god. Oh my god. All right, first of all, I love that you asked me that because here’s the typical two pieces of advice, and I hate them both. Number one, “Don’t spend money on lattes. If you cut back on your morning latte and you save that money, after 32,000 years, you’ll be able to buy a nice coat.” It’s like, “Go to hell. I don’t wanna live like that.”
Brian: By the way, if I wasn’t caffeinated, I would not be nearly as successful.
Brian: And that afternoon break to go to Starbucks, sometimes the only one that I get is, like, the breath of fresh air, (the) creative burst that I need.
Ramit: I agree. And then the second one is the avocado toast one, as if people are simply spending money on these random things and that’s why they can’t get ahead. Now, I will say this. I think most people in America and most people listening, you could probably do a better job with your finances.
Let’s be honest. Take a hard look in the mirror and you can start to think about where it makes sense to improve your finances. The second part, though, that nobody talks about is instead of focusing on these random $3 purchases that actually don’t add up to anything over the long term, focus on a few big wins.
Get the right job, negotiate your salary, automate your investments, even if it’s 100 bucks a month. If you do all those things, the 5 to 10 big wins in life, you could buy as many appetizers, lattes and avocado toast as you want. You will still live a rich life.
Brian: And now, what’s your background? Are you a financial planning expert? Like how did you get into this?
Ramit: Well, so I’ll tell you what. For those of you who can’t see me, I’m an Indian guy. My parents said when I was in high school, they said, “Look, if…” Well, they didn’t say, “If you want to go to college….” I’m Indian, so definitely I was going to go to college.
They were like, “Look, you need to find a way to pay for it because we have a big family. We don’t have enough money saved up.” My parents are immigrants. I said, “Great.” And I love thinking in systems. So I built a system to apply to about 65 scholarships.
And I ended up paying my way through college, undergrad and grad school. The first scholarship I got, they sent me the check. Now here I am, like, a 17-year-old kid. This is around 1999, 2000. And what do I do? I take that money and I say, “I’m a genius. I’m gonna invest it in the stock market.” Yeah. And I thought it was so cool.
Brian: Just go to the casino and put it on black, why don’t you?
Ramit: It probably would have been better.
Ramit: I lost half that money right away. And I started realizing, “Man, maybe I better learn how this money thing works.” So I’m studying all the books. I’m reading about actual financial management.
At the same time, I’m studying psychology and I’m studying persuasion. I’m studying how people actually work. And you remember that book, “The Emperor Has no Clothes?” Everyone’s saying something, but you just know it’s not true.
I’m hearing all this advice. Cut back on lattes, don’t buy jeans. Don’t do anything. Just retreat into a cave for 50 years and maybe, just maybe you can have a rich life. And I said, “I don’t wanna live like that.”
And so I started developing my own philosophy. I started helping lots of people in college through my blog. Eventually, I had a couple hundred thousand readers a month. And, like a laboratory, I would test my ideas. And, finally, I learned how to help people automate their money, start to earn more. Here’s a quick little question for everybody: “How come all the financial experts talk about cutting back, but none of them talk about how to earn more?” And the answer is, they don’t know how. So we cannot just cut back, but we can actually earn more and live a rich life that way. That’s how I started.
Brian: And that is sage advice. I actually just downloaded the app Robinhood because it actually… So I’m curious of your thoughts on it because, in one way, it does cut through all the crap. Like I, for example, wanted, you know…and I have play money. You know, I’m not investing. I’ve got money in the markets, but I was like, you know what? I kind of want to like do a little bit of day trading, you know, I like gambling…
But that’s really what it is. I mean, it is like high-stakes gambling in your pocket, so easily. But on the other side, it does make… I wanted to buy Bitcoin last year just for fun, like a couple. And it was so hard to try to figure out the exchanges. And Robinhood’s super easy. I bought gold. I’m actually up 12% … I will say I may quit my job as The Points Guy although it’s not hard because I got in right when the market was low.
So do you recommend apps like Robinhood that make it so easy to…
Ramit: No, hell no. You just said every word that’s like the worst words in the world to me: gold, Bitcoin, day trading. I mean, I’m going crazy right now. Here’s the deal, guys…
Brian: All right, I’m cashing out today. I’m taking my $12,000 win.
Ramit: So, OK. Not bad. First of all, congrats. Whenever you talk to these Bitcoin fanatics, okay, you always ask them… They come to me, they’re like, “Ramit, you’re so stupid. You got used to 7% returns. What an old man you are.” I’m like in my mid-30s. Like, what? And then they go, “You’re so stupid. Bitcoin is the way of the future. It’s going to the moon.”
And I just asked them one question. I said, “What does the rest of your portfolio look like?” And it looks like all the life has been drained from their eyes and the light has gone out because they don’t have a portfolio. They took all their money and they put it all on black, which is Bitcoin. So for you, I’m like, “God bless. You have your money in the rest of the market. You’re diversified.” If you wanna take 5% or 10% and have fun, do angel investing, gold, Bitcoin, be my guest. The vast majority of people who are doing it…
Brian: They’re gambling their lives.
Ramit: They’re gambling. And they don’t understand what a diversified portfolio means. In fact, they scoff at it. Those will be the first losers. They are what’s called the dumb money and you do not want to be that.
Brian: Yeah. You know, I actually feel dumb … when I sold the business years ago. I got a private bank adviser and they were charging me a point and a half. I felt hosed on that angle, too, like, too much advice from these people. I’m still in their private equity deals that have no end in sight. It was such like a… So I can see, from the average consumer… You know, the point of today’s podcast is not to get into financial advice, but I have you, so…
But what do you think for the average person who wants, you know… do a market fund, like…what do you recommend to…cut out the middleman yet also protect yourself and not just completely, you know, gamble, essentially, in the market?
Ramit: So there’s a lot of really sensible things you can do with your money. If you were to take one thing away for financial advice that we’re talking about today, it is to invest your money in a target date fund. Now, what is that? You basically decide how old you’re going to be when you retire. For most people, you can just assume 65.
And they have funds that automatically take your money and diversify it. And as you get older, it automatically makes it a little bit more conservative. This is great because you don’t need to be sitting around picking stocks. Investing is not about picking stocks, that’s a huge misconception. All you need to do is take as much money as you can every month, put it into this fund, and everything else works automatically.
Brian: So you can focus on making more money, to put it…
Ramit: Yeah. And you can also live outside the spreadsheet. A lot of people think that I’m sitting there typing in Excel every day. Like, I spend less than 90 minutes a month on my finances. My rich life is outside of the spreadsheet. It’s outside with my friends, with my parents. It’s traveling. That’s what I want to do. And I bet most of the people listening do not want to sit around fiddling with Excel.
Brian: Now, how does it play… So, obviously, credit cards, when it comes to traveling, and our listeners, readers know that, you know, credit cards can save you a massive amount if you pay them off, and play the game right and just being smart about your finances. What is your personal credit card strategy? Are you a crazy points guy? Do you dabble in these dark arts?
Ramit: I do. I’m not as good as you. I mean, sometimes I’m like, “I gotta text Brian and be like, ‘Dude, what am I missing here?'” So I do believe in maximizing credit card points. I have quite a few. And part of it is just my business spend and personal spend. I’ll tell you something funny though. I think your readers are, like, way savvier in general than I am. And I decided I wanted to learn because I had this huge spend that I was running on my business and I’m like, “What am I missing?”
So I went online and I asked some people, “Who can do an audit of my spending and make sure I have the right cards?” And I got a lot of people who were like, “Yeah, I can help you.” And my first question to them is, “What hotels do you stay at?” And most of them were like, “I stay at hostels.” I’m like, “Not interested.”
Then I had some people who were like, “Okay, I’ve worked with CEOs, dah, dah, dah. I can help you.” So I had this guy come in, Chris Hutchins, and he runs this financial site called Grove. He’s super savvy. Here’s how I knew I wanted his help.
He goes, “All right, Rami. Let me tell you how I get some extra points.” He goes, “I stay at SPG hotels.” He goes, “I’m staying alone. I get the twin beds or the dual beds so that I get the extra points for not having my room cleaned. I just go over to the other bed, I use the other towels.”
Brian: Oh, that’s a smart…
Ramit: This guy is a genius. I mean, he’s really drilled it down. So he went through all my spending. He worked with my assistant. And we basically built this massive, like, 15-page playbook on what to spend when, but it all kind of boils down to Chase Sapphire for personal travel and dining out. And I use Cashback Alliant for other cashback spending.
Brian: Got it. Smart. We’re gonna take a quick break.
Brian: So you just got married and went on a six-week honeymoon around the world. And you took your parents. So, first of all, what did your wife say when you were like, “Let’s bring my folks on the first portion of the honeymoon?”
Ramit: Well, it’s funny. We both independently came to this idea, which is one of the reasons I love her so much. I mean, we both love our parents. They’re both alive. They’re healthy. They love each other. They hang out alone, which is like a real treat.
Brian: That’s awesome.
Ramit: And so, you know, by the time we got married, we knew that we were family-oriented, and we both kind of came up with it. And it was so funny, the reactions, because some of our friends were, like, super supportive. They’re like, “Oh, my god, that’s amazing.”
Others were a little bit weirded out, and I get it. If you’re going on like a seven-day honeymoon, it probably doesn’t make sense. We knew we were going on a long one. And so it was amazing to be able to invite our parents and tell them just show up at the airport.
Brian: So both sets of parents?
Ramit: Both sets of parents. Yeah, that’s the treat. It was magical.
Brian: I thought it was just yours.
Ramit: No, no, no. Both of them came.
Brian: Oh, that’s cool.
Ramit: And it was amazing. Like, my wife’s parents had never traveled abroad. So they didn’t even have passports. So imagine, they get on a plane, with my parents. And it was so funny, they arrived finally to Italy, and they were like, “Oh, yeah, it was so surprising that, you know, we ended up on the same flight.”
I’m like, “That wasn’t coincidence.” Like, I had to move heaven and earth for that to happen. But they came and it was amazing to watch their eyes, because think about how most parents travel, right? We thought about our parents. My parents had four kids, not a lot of money.
Brian: I’m one of four as well.
Ramit: Yeah. And I was just thinking if they were to come to Rome, they would have come in the hot summer. They would have planned out every place they went based on how much it cost. And so for us to be able to be like, “Don’t even think about it, just show up,” and we gave them … you know, we took private tours of the Vatican. We took them to a cooking class. Both the moms had never taken a cooking class in their whole life. They’ve been cooking 30-plus years.
And we just hung out. The dads bonded. I mean, it was one of the best memories of our lives.
Brian: That’s amazing. I travel with my parents quite a bit. I try to do one big trip a year. And that would be a dream to do that. So you did four different destinations. So you did Italy. What were the other three? And how did you put this together?
Ramit: Okay, so we started in Italy. Then we went to Kenya for safari, then India, and then finally Thailand. We had originally just thought of going on a seven, eight-day safari. Like most Americans, we kind of think, like, one to two weeks.
And I remember we were out at dinner with some friends and we were telling them our plans, and they were like, “Oh, yeah, that sounds really cool. Like, when we went on our honeymoon like 20 years ago, we went for six months.” And my now-wife and I look at each other, we’re like, “What?” And then the next couple was like, “Yeah, we took a year off.” And we walked out of that dinner like…
Brian: Were they Americans or were these are Australians? Because I feel…
Ramit: Yeah, they were Americans. But I’m like, “Who are these people?” This is unbelievable. Yeah, I would have thought Australians. So as we walked out, our mind was kind of blown because we realized, “Hey, we can actually dream bigger.” And because we run our own businesses and as long as you’re financially able, like, what if you actually push the limit on how big you could dream?
So at that point, I started using my systems mind. I started researching travel agents and tour operators. And I actually discovered, like, so much about the travel industry, how it works, who does budget travel, luxury travel, adventure travel. And, eventually, we settled on… we worked with a firm called Scott Dunn, and we went to them and we said, like, “This is what we want. This is our dream.” And we worked through the itinerary. And it was amazing. I mean, we showed up at these places and they kind of got our vibe. We wanted ultra-luxe hotels.
Brian: Were you able to use points for, like, the flights and hotels?
Ramit: The flights, yes. The hotels no, because that’s their business model. So I was like, “Oh, man. I got all these points. It’s like burning a hole in my pocket.” We used them for flights, but we wanted to blend ultra-luxe with also, like, street food and local culture as well.
Brian: So how long… I love safaris. I actually just took my parents to South Africa, you know. And, actually, they’ve been in Tanzania as well. We’ve done two. So how long did you stay in Kenya? Because I also think, with safaris, like three nights, especially because you’re spending like 14 hours a day on the game drives that by the end of three, I’m like, “Okay, you know…” But did you spend a whole week on safari?
Ramit: Yeah, we spent about 8 to 10 days. And, like, some of the magical things I remember, one was we took a horseback riding safari. And we were in the middle of this herd of giraffe. And it was like Jurassic Park. Just to be able… again, that rich life, to be able to experience something you never even conceptualized or conceived of. At that moment, it was like watching my own life through a movie. And so that was one. The parents was another. In India, you know, I’ve been to India many times because my…
Brian: Your parents were both born in India?
Ramit: Yeah, they were born there, and my extended family is still there. But I’ve never gone like this. When I’ve gone, I stay with my family. And if we go to the Taj Mahal, we take a train. We go for the day, we come back. This time we stayed at my new favorite hotel which is the Udaivilas in Udaipur. Everyone who listens and reads has probably seen a photo of this place. We were honeymooners so they put us in the most secluded area. You have your own pool. I mean, it’s just unbelievable.
And we also didn’t just want to stay behind palace walls. So, like, one night, we went to a local woman’s house, an auntie, and she made us dinner. And we just talked to her for two or three hours. “How do you live? Oh, you had an arranged marriage for your daughter? How did that work?” And we just talked and learned from her. So it was stunning to go from the palace walls to this local woman’s house.
Brian: And did the travel agent help organize that? Because I know a lot of people want to travel like a local, but it can be difficult, especially if you’re planning on the internet. Like, how do I just sync up with… So do you recommend doing it with the travel agent or at the hotel? I’m sure they can…usually.
Ramit: Yeah, yeah, we did. So I think a great travel agent can help. And I think for a lot of millennials particularly, they don’t really think of using a travel agent. But I found immense value in them. They helped us do the ultra-luxe things that we wanted. And of course, we had a lot of perks that were offered along the way. But then these local things, we would not have been able to find it on our own.
Brian: Yeah. So India. So I’ve only ever been once and it was… I went to Goa and Mumbai for a fancy event.
Ramit: Dude, we gotta go together.
Brian: I would love to. So, India, and especially the north, my chief of staff, he got engaged in Udaipur. I think at that…
Ramit: Taj or the Udaivilas probably.
Brian: I think it was the Udaivilas, but I’ve never done the north. And it’s funny actually, there’s a gay Prince of India and he invited me to his castle. And he’s been on Oprah. He was…
Ramit: I just like everyone to just listen to what you just heard from Brian. “The gay Prince in India invited me to his castle.” Can we just pause for a second?
Brian: And he Instagrams me. He’s like, “When are you coming to India?” So I got to get to India again this year. So how many times have you been in India?
Ramit: Oh, five to 10. I went a lot when I was a kid, too.
Brian: For listeners out there, I think a lot of people want to go to India. We hear… You hear the naysayers, you know…
Ramit: Oh my god. Okay. I already know what you’re gonna say. “It’s dirty. There’s so many poor people.” Okay, as I was on this honeymoon with my wife, I started Instagramming.
Brian: Where can people follow you on Instagram?
Ramit: @ramit, R-A-M-I-T. Thank you. And I started showing different…you know, of course, like the horseback safari. But when I was in India, it totally blew up. Number one, it’s the most visually stunning place you’ve ever seen. And I don’t just mean beauty. I mean the contrast of beauty and poverty, food, colors.
The second thing is, two or three or four days into it, I had so many people that were DMing me and saying, “Wow, I had thought of India as this dirty, dusty, impoverished place. You’ve shown me a totally different side.” And I was like, “First of all, India Tourism Board, are you watching my stories? ‘Cause this is unbelievable.”
But I think that so many people, they’re so conservative when it comes to traveling. And, look, if you wanna go stay in a nice W Hotel in Amsterdam or Europe, like, great. It’s going to be clean. You know what you’re gonna get. It’s gonna be very American. If you want to go to India, somebody told me this, they said, “If you have the smallest desire, you should get on a plane and go. If you don’t, you should never go.”
Go with somebody if you can. Either get it arranged through a tour operator or go with an Indian person. But when I was showing people the magic that they can actually see, like, for example, when we arrived at one of the hotels, we’re walking in and they dropped rose petals on our head. Why? OK, that’s a nice luxury. But why?
Because they used to do the same when the king arrived on his elephants. And when you see, “Wow, how does this lake work?” It’s actually owned by the royal family who still lives in that palace. And then, of course, the food. This person who’s making this food has been doing it for five generations. Like, this to me is unbelievable and it opens your mind about travel.
Brian: So Udaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, those are all indisputably beautiful in certain ways. Now, do you recommend people, on their first trip to India, like, do you go to Mumbai? Do you go to Delhi? Do you think it’s too overwhelming? Or what would your recommendation be?
Ramit: So I used to say yes, definitely hit Delhi up and, like, go into the craziest markets of all. I now take a bit of a softer approach. I think Udaipur is a beautiful place to start or anywhere in Rajasthan.
Jaipur, you’re going to get the markets and you’re also going to feel at home because, you know, some nights you might say, you know, “I just want more of a Western style.” And they have that. If you do that, and you’re actually like, “Oh my god, this is, like, unbelievable. I gotta come back here,” I would say, then go straight to Delhi next time.
But I would not mind if people skip a few cities. Like, there were even times I was in Agra. We saw the Taj Mahal. There’s another big monument there, and we actually skipped it. And people were like, “Oh, my God, how could you not go see that?” And I said, “Look, part of being abundant is not having to check every single box.”
Brian: Every box, yeah. I like that. Last question about India. So our #1 review of 2017 was Air India business class. It was a total meltdown. Since then, we’ve had reviews and the services, it’s hit or miss. As an Indian-American, do you fly Air India?
Ramit: No. Don’t do it. Look, I’ll tell you guys the truth.
Brian: Tell me how you really feel, Ramit.
Ramit: I’ll tell you when it’s good. I’ll tell you when it’s bad. Like, you know, you’re asking me about these companies, Robinhood and this and that. Like, I’ve always said it, I will teach you to be rich. I will always tell you the truth. Sometimes, to our own detriment, I’ll tell you the truth. Look, I’m not gonna fly Air India if I have a choice. So find a different airline. There’s a lot of great ones.
Brian: And your last trip, one of my favorite places to visit, to scuba, to just chill, to be immersed in culture, (is) Thailand. If you have a bad time in Thailand, you need to really rethink your life.
Ramit: It’s not them, it’s you. Yeah. So, Thailand was amazing. I had been to Bangkok before and a few other places. And this time, we knew that we loved food. So Bangkok was all about food. We always take food tours whenever we travel. It’s one of our favorite things to do. It’s local culture. It takes us to places we would have never experienced and we just eat crazy stuff. So Bangkok was awesome. We also went back to one of my favorite restaurants, Issaya Siamese Club. Nahm was also amazing. These restaurants are great. And then street food. So, awesome.
The final capstone of the whole trip was in Phuket. We went to the Aman, Amanpuri. And that was my first experience there.
Brian: That was your first Aman?
Brian: That’s the original one, isn’t it?
Ramit: Yeah, yeah, absolutely incredible. At one point… One of the most memorable things… I mean, of course, it’s very luxurious. And you feel very private and secluded. But the general manager came up to us at dinner one night, and he said, “Is there anything I can do for you? Welcome.” Etc. And I had told my wife, I said, “At these kind of places, if there’s anything you want, just ask, because odds are they’ll find a way to do it.” So she said, “You know, I really love these spring rolls. Is there a way for me to get the recipe?”
And the general manager said, “Let me speak to the chef.” The chef comes out five minutes later. He says, “I’d love to arrange a cooking class for you tomorrow.” So they arrange a private cooking class for her, and they take her back and they make four dishes. They even said, “OK, I know your stove isn’t as hot so this is how you tweak it when you’re at home.”
She walks away with these beautiful photos, beautiful memories. She’s now making spring rolls all the time. I’m the ultimate recipient. But I thought to myself, “What an amazing memory that they created for us.” And when I asked them, one of the things they told me was… I said, “How do you think about the guest experience here?” And the guy looked really surprised. He’s like, “Oh, no one ever asked me that, especially honeymooners. I don’t want to waste your time.” I’m like, “Dude, this is what I live for.” He goes, “When you come here, we like to treat you like family,” which is just words. But then he said, “Think about it. If you went to eat at your parents’ house, would they give you a bill?” I said, “No, of course not.” He said, “When you come here, you will never sign anything on property.”
They knew who we were. “Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Sethi.” We just got up and left when we were done eating. And it was just like family.
Brian: I do love that about Aman because… I never thought about it, like, that’s why they do that. You know, I always struggle, especially in a country like Thailand … Amans are expensive wherever you go. And people will grouse, I know, whenever I say the nice hotel in Thailand, “How dare you? You can stay…” But, yeah. I mean, that experience is like … it’s all about the experience. You know, a room is a room, you know. You can get a hostel anywhere or a room. But staying at a place like that…
Ramit: I agree. I don’t think it’s for every day. Like, I’m perfectly happy staying at, like, a very budget airport hotel when I need to. I don’t mind it. But I do think that there are moments in life where you say, “I truly want to go as far as I can on this.” And I have this concept on my site where I talk about money dials. Think about like a dial in on your car radio. And most people have one or two money dials that they just love spending on.
For you, it’s travel. And so you can turn that money dial all the way up and you can stay at Amans, Ritz Carlton, wherever it is that you love. Some people just couldn’t care less. But they love clothes. A lot of people love convenience. I love convenience, that’s mine. So if you know what your money dial is, then you can go all in and you can spend extravagantly on the things you love.
Brian: All of those money dials, I just checked the box — so I’m screwed. But I don’t have kids, so whatever. So you had an amazing six weeks. What would you change, I mean, if you had to do it again?
Ramit: I would have planned out at least one day every two weeks of doing nothing, absolutely nothing. And I realized five weeks in, one day in Bangkok, that I just wanted to cancel our entire day’s plans and just sit in bed.
Brian: Where did you stay in Bangkok?
Ramit: We stayed at the COMO. And we basically…I realized we hadn’t planned a weekend even though it was our honeymoon vacation. But we had been going every single day, waking up at 5am for safari. And I would really think about just downtime even among vacation. And that’s the one thing. But beyond that, I mean…
Brian: Were you bored by the end of the six weeks or were you…
Ramit: I’ll tell you something truthful. Like, going into it, I was a little nervous because I’ve never spent six weeks 24/7 with one person. Even my wife. And I told her this about five weeks into it. I said, “You know, I was a little nervous.”
Brian: That’s a real test.
Ramit: I mean, eating every meal. And the truth is, like, I never got bored. We did have times at meals where we would pull out our iPads. And we would just look at that and check email or whatever. But, you know, when you’re with your partner and you’re just… you’re vibe-ing, there’s no getting bored.
Brian: What are some of the things that you’re gonna take away from this trip now that you’re back?
Ramit: Well, by the time we were in Kenya, which was about two weeks into it, we realized we wanted to change our lives and actually add travel to it as a core component. So we decided we wanna travel four times a year: three domestic trips, or maybe Mexico City, something like that, and then one big month-long trip every year. And, of course, in order to do that, we need to make sure we’re hitting our financial goals. We need to make sure that we can do it. But we decided we’re gonna try to build a life around that.
You know, I was posting these stories on Instagram. And I was blown away. People were like, “Oh my god, I’ve never seen these countries. I’ve never known you could travel like this.”
And I’m sure your readers, you know, for a lot of people when they first start out, they’re like, “Traveling is going to a beach for four days, doing nothing and coming home.” And (that’s) perfectly fine. But there’s also a different kind of travel. And that’s the kind that we wanted to do.
So we ultimately decided we’re gonna create a program. We’re gonna take a small group with us, one domestic trip per year and one international trip. So the first trip this year is gonna be to India. And for a very, very small handpicked group, they’re going to come along with us. We’re gonna show them the crazy sites. We’re gonna actually teach them it’s not just about, like, staying at the coolest hotels.
Brian: And is your wife going, too?
Ramit: Yes! And we’re going to show people…
Brian: Two for one deal, kids.
Ramit: There you go. And we’re going to show you like, here’s what’s going on in India and travel in a way you’ve never even thought about. So for anyone who’s interested and you want to see what that type of traveling is, go to my website. Go to iwillteachyoutoberich.com, sign up for the newsletter. That’s how you learn about it. And, honestly, I can’t think of something better than to create new friendships, new relationships with other people like that.
Brian: And what can people expect? So, with you — do you do everything? You pay one fee and then you’re gonna cover most everything? Or do people pay … how are you structuring it? Can people use their points for flights?
Ramit: No. Oh, for flights, yes. Yes, they can do whatever they want. Please, be my guest. Just show up at a certain time. And as for the rest, we handle it.
So if you see the way I travel, which is, you know, I want to stay at nice places but I also want to experience local culture, food, art, that kind of thing, there’s a certain type of person who wants that. And you probably know, your travel style is very different than other people’s. So it’s not about convincing anyone. It’s about finding people who you fit with and then you select each other together.
Brian: Sounds like an amazing experience. All right, Ramit, we’re running out of time here, but how can people… So you have your daily newsletter at iwillteachyoutoberich.com. On Instagram, @ramit. Any other ways?
Brian: I was like … ’till at the end, I’m a shameless self-promoter. Promote away. Buy your book. How many copies of your book… You are a New York Times bestseller?
Ramit: Yeah. So there’s a book called I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It’s on Amazon. It’s at all the bookstores. You can buy (it)… hundreds of thousands of copies sold. And you know what? To tell you the reason I wrote it was I got the same 10 financial questions and I just wanted people to stop asking.
And I actually wanted people to start early because even one year of starting early can make you tens of thousands of dollars in the long term. So, I don’t like quacks. I don’t like Wall Street. I don’t like companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans. So I wrote the book so that people could say, “This is the right way to save money, earn money, invest my money.” And if you do this, you will live a rich life.
Brian: Well, Ramit, you sold me. And as our readers know, I mean, saving miless … using miles and points can save tons of money and to live that richer life. So thanks for joining us. Congrats on your marriage and safe travels.
Ramit: Thanks so much.
Brian: That’s it for this episode of Talking Points. A huge thanks to Ramit Sethi for his interesting dialogue on travel. And I think I’m gonna book a trip to India right now. Again, I’m your host, Brian Kelly. And this episode was produced by Caroline Schagrin and Jessica Rovniak, with editing by Ryan Gabbos. Our music is by Breakmaster Cylinder. And a special thanks to Adam Kotkin and Mike Bruno.
If you like this episode and want to hear more, make sure you leave a review on Apple Podcast or wherever you downloaded this podcast, but more importantly, tell your friends. The more people we have listening, the more episodes we’ll make. And if you’ve tagged me on Instagram @briankelly, or used the #TalkingPoints on social media, I might even give you a shout out. See you next week. And until then, safe travels.
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