How $2.3 Million Lawyers Tackled Their Biggest Money Fight

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Rachel and Brian are married lawyers with a combined net worth of $2.3 million.

To him, “money represents happiness and freedom,” Rachel, 51, told bestselling author and Netflix star Ramit Sethi in her latest episode. “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” Podcast. Their last names were not used.

But recently, Brian, 56, revealed that he wants to retire in the next year or two.

“It completely paralyzed me,” Rachel said on the podcast.

This revelation led to a huge fight. Rachel is concerned that Brian is underestimating how much money he will need to actually stop working and become dependent on their income. Brian wants Rachel to feel safe, but he’s confident she’s in a good position to retire soon.

The couple earns a combined $270,000 a year. Their only debt is about $96,000 on the mortgage on one of their homes – they own the other home outright. Between their retirement and brokerage accounts, they have more than $1 million invested.

Here’s why they asked Sethi for help.

Different money, different relationships with money

Part of the reason Rachel was shocked when Brian told him he wanted to retire early was that she didn’t know how much money he had already saved. The couple has They kept their finances separate for their eight-year marriage.

“What the separate accounts usually show is that the couple never had a series of specific conversations about money,” Sethi said on the podcast. “Almost always, separate accounts show that they don’t have a shared rich life vision.”

It rang true for Rachel. “It was like we were from two different universes and we didn’t even speak the same language,” she said.

While Sethi emphasized that it’s fine if a couple wants to keep their money separate, he wanted to get to the bottom of Rachel and Brian’s different attitudes toward money.

They both grew up comfortably, with parents who paid for college and grad school. But Rachel’s parents were teachers and librarians, while Brian’s was a bank CEO. This led to different comfort levels and different money lessons.

“You worked as hard as you could to bring in the money. You saved it for some indefinite period of time,” Rachel said, illustrating her parents’ mentality. Some major financial help from her parents came with a condition, such as helping her buy a house so they could get a tax write-off. She was later laid off and struggled to pay her mortgage.

Brian, on the other hand, admits that he was spoiled growing up. And as a young adult, his parents gave him a down payment for his first home.

“I was a little more sheltered with money,” he said. “I probably didn’t appreciate it.”

It’s not about numbers

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