Reach the magic million—without earning six figures.
Before I understood the almost-unbelievable magic of exponential compounding, I thought becoming a millionaire was an almost-impossible goal only achievable by the highest earners or people who were already rich. Granted, inflation has certainly shifted the meaning of a million dollars over the last 20 years—but it’s still no small potatoes.
Fortunately, we can calculate this path to the magic million with relative ease—so that’s exactly what we’re doing on the show today. If you’re trying to reach a $1 million net worth with a partner in 10 years or fewer, good news—neither partner even needs to make six figures.
Of course, the temptation is strong to try to time the market in the context of our current volatile shitstorm. We’ll address why that’s a fool’s errand, historically speaking, and discuss some ~alternative options~. (And reminder: Past performance is not indicative of future returns.)
Finally, we're joined by my friend Delyanne Barros, otherwise known as The Money Coach (https://www.instagram.com/delyannethemoneycoach/) and host of CNN's Diversifying (https://www.cnn.com/audio/podcasts/diversifying). Delyanne shares her path from being a high earner and equally high spender to becoming a millionaire on track to retire by age 45.
To learn more about our sponsor, Vin Social, check out https://vinsocial.co/.
Episode transcriptions can be found at https://www.podpage.com/money-with-katie-show/.
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Katie: If I told you that you and a partner only needed to invest $36,300 each per year to become a millionaire couple in just 10 years, would you believe me? The good news is it's very possible, and you don't even need to make six figures to do it. Here's how. Welcome back to The Money with Katie Show, #RichGirls and Boys, and get pumped, because today we are talking about the magic million, with a sprinkle of wisdom about market timing.
Before I understood the almost unbelievable magic of exponential compounding, I thought becoming a millionaire was an almost impossible goal, only achievable by the highest earners or people who were already rich. Granted, inflation has certainly shifted the meaning of a million dollars over the last 20 years, and if you're curious to replicate the purchasing power of a million dollars in 2005, you would need about one and a half million dollars today. So no, it doesn't go as far as it used to, but there's still something a little tantalizing about your first million bucks. It's still a very unique feat. There are 51 million millionaires worldwide, representing just 0.6% of the world's population. That's right. Fewer than 1% of people alive are millionaires, according to Credit Suisse. So while we can argue about inflation and purchasing power, there's still no denying that it's a very impressive financial characteristic.
Today's guest is a friend of mine, Delyanne Barros, better known as Delyanne the Money Coach, on the internet. Describing herself, Delyanne says that she grew up poor as a Brazilian-born immigrant, and had to overcome a lot of her own limiting beliefs around her ability to build wealth. Despite these things, she became a successful employment attorney, but it didn't take long for her to realize that her six-figure income didn't necessarily mean she was going to accumulate wealth. She began educating herself about financial independence and is now on track to retire at age 45 as a multimillionaire. I'm very excited that she's here, in case you couldn't tell.
Now, after I learned about financial independence, investing in all of its various forms, I started to wonder: Could anyone become a millionaire? And better yet, could anyone become a millionaire early in life, regardless of income? I think the answer is technically no. Your income does impact how quickly you can reach your goal, but the income level required is a lot lower than I think a lot of people would assume. The catch is that you gotta be willing to be a little bit creative and a lot patient. That's because long-term investing strategies are not “get rich quick” hacks. They are “get rich slowly” hacks. These are “get rich in a replicable, reliable, and fairly predictable way” strategies. Short-term investing strategies are really no different than gambling, which is fine if that is your game, but investing is probably not the right term to use to describe that game. Get-rich-quick strategies rely on that razor's edge of chance. Everything has to go perfectly, right on time, in order for your big payday to come through. If any little piece of your get-rich-quick scheme goes wrong, you risk losing it all.
Long-term index investing is not like that. In fact, most of the time a lot will be going wrong, and your biggest challenge when things are going wrong will be…doing nothing. A JPMorgan asset management study that I love to reference (we’ll link it in the show notes) found that the 10 best days in the S&P 500 over the 20-year period from January 1st, 2002 to December 31st, 2021 accounted for roughly half the growth. Okay, 10 days over 20 years, half the growth.
Technically, the finding was that if you had missed those 10 days, your return would be cut in half. But functionally, these two statements, they mean the same thing. I want you to put that factoid in your back pocket, because it's the gateway to a conversation about market timing that we're gonna circle back to momentarily. I also feel obligated to add my classic legalese here. Oh, hey gang. Yeah, file on in. Find a spot. Bean Dog, you go there. Okay, Sam Cat, right in the front. Just turn a little bit that way.
Alex Lieberman: Katie!
Katie: Whoa. Morning Brew co-founder, executive chairman, and host of the Fresh Invest podcast, Alex Lieberman. I'm happy you could join us.
Alex Lieberman: Katie. I heard the call and I am ready to roll. And yes, we're halfway through our third season of Fresh Invest, and have been working tirelessly to get listeners the tools that they need to make smart, confident investing decisions during economic uncertainty, and set their portfolios up for the long run. Anyway, let's do this thing.
Katie: All right, let's do it. Okay, gang. You ready? One, two, three…
All: Past performance is not indicative of future returns.
Katie: It is tempting to dive into the cool and sexy money stuff right away, like making millions and cheating the IRS and finding the next Amazon. There is a reason why so many courses purport to share with you, and only you, the secrets of magical wealth-building through real estate and stock picking and yadda yadda yadda. But here's the actual secret: It does not matter how tax-optimized you are if you are overspending. The number one thing that is going to drive real financial progress…drum roll, please…is how much you have to invest in the first place, and how much time that money has to compound. A solid spending plan is the nonnegotiable foundation here, because if you don't spend it, you can invest it. I am personally trying to become a multimillionaire ASAP, and my approach to spending helps make that possible. So I'm sharing my specific step-by-step process via my signature take-at-your-own-pace, on-demand course, Budget Like a Millionaire, with over 500 graduates so far. If you would like to get a little taste, you can download my free money management routine at the link in the show notes.
Back to my millionaire quest. There are a few common misconceptions about building wealth quickly, chief among them that only high earners can do it. Just consider a Milwaukee grocer named Leonard Gigowski, who died and left a $13 million donation to his former school. He was a grocer, okay? He was not a hedge fund manager. An article that I'll link in the show notes has other amazing examples of these secret millionaires working normal jobs.
So let's walk through the logistics of just how much money you would need to invest to become a millionaire after only 10 years of working. So if you start work at 22, like most of us do, this will outline the path to being a millionaire by 32. So it's gonna be aggressive, but likely a lot less aggressive than you're probably expecting, and you can start this 10 years whenever. So if you go to medical school and you don't start working until you're 32, this is 32 to 42. Before we do that, let's address one other common misconception with the truth, and talk about why so many people with objectively high incomes don't become millionaires.
The bizarre thing about earning a lot of money is that oftentimes it's accompanied by spending a lot of money. We'll talk to Delyanne about this in a little bit, and as we know, your income matters less than your save rate. To quote Morgan Housel from his book, The Psychology of Money, when most people say they wanna be millionaires, what they usually mean is they wanna spend a million dollars, and that is…you guessed it…the literal opposite of being a millionaire. So what level of income does someone need to get to a million over a 10-year span? Remember, you're not just saving the money, you are using it to buy assets, via investing, that theoretically go up in value, maybe not every day or every month or even every year, but over that 10-year period, the money you're investing is likely growing on its own and supercharging your timeline. If you're invested in a low-cost diversified bundle of index funds that offers exposure to uncorrelated assets without the power of investing, you would have to save a hundred thousand dollars per year to have a million dollars after 10 years, and by then it won't buy what a million dollars buys today. But in order to become a millionaire via investing in 10 years, you'd only have to invest $72,600 per year, assuming a 7% average real rate of return, which usually is the result of the average 10% return minus 3% inflation, which is, I know, maybe not feeling so common after the last few months, but we'll get to that part later.
And I know, I know. “Only” $72,000 per year—no big deal, right? Though I will pause and say, if you and your spouse are trying to become a millionaire couple together, that might look a lot more reasonable. That's $36,300 per person, which is, to be sure, not a small amount of money, but I think if you asked someone, “Hey, how much do you think you're gonna need to invest to become millionaires in 10 years?” That couple would probably assume a lot more than that. From this point forward, we will assume that the average real rate of return is 7%. By using 7% instead of 10%, we are controlling for inflation—we're accounting for inflation on the purchasing power side, and the number it's spitting out, so in this case, a million dollars. That way it'll retain similar purchasing power to what that money can do today. The real rate of return is lower than the rate of return you'll see on the stock ticker, because we're shaving off that 3%, since our money is gonna lose purchasing power every year as the price of goods rises. In case you're keeping track, that is $6,050 per month, or $3,025 per month per person, if you're a couple striving for that millionaire status, and at this point it's probably helpful to pause and remember that we really are shooting for an arbitrary number in an arbitrary time span here.
But let's say that was your target. What does that look like in practice? Well, we know we need $6,050 bucks of post-tax income that's ready to invest each month, and we know we need to spend some of our money now on our cost of living. Remember though: You may find yourself coming into unexpected money not typically accounted for in your normal cash flow, via something like a bonus or a tax refund or maybe even an inheritance or a gift. It likely will not play out as a perfectly uniform $6,050 per month breakdown in reality. Now, this is where we have to make some distinctions between a one person or a couple scenario. If you are a single person trying to invest $6,050 bucks per month, let's assume that you need another $3,200 or so for your living expenses. You can plug in your own number there, but $3,200 a month was the average single person's monthly spending in 2021, according to NerdWallet—we'll link it in the show notes—so I am running with it. That's a total post-tax income of $9,250, between spending and investing, which is…fast math, carry the one…$111,000 per year of post-tax income. Now we can back into how much pre-tax income we would need to pay our federal and FICA taxes and still end up with $111k left over, and it's around $150k per year. That assumes no state taxes. I plugged in a California zip code, though, for reference, and you would need about $165k pre-tax to end up with $111,000 post-tax in a state like California that has high state taxes.
Okay, you got it. Around $150,000 per year pre-tax income with $3,200 per month of spending, and investing the remaining $6,050, means you'll be a millionaire in 10 years or less, assuming average returns occur over the 10-year window.
$150k is an exceptional income for a single person, especially a young single person. In 2020, roughly 18% of households made $150k or more per Statista, though unfortunately I couldn't track down any sources that delineated by individual earner versus household, probably because of the way our tax filing system and reporting works. But what about for a household with two earners? What would it be for them? Would it be $150k? Well, maybe, but probably not, since our $3,200 per month spending was for a single person. When we revisit that original source for that figure, we see it rise to about $5,500 a month for a couple's average spending. You start adding kids to the mix, it goes up to $6,200 total per month if you have one kid, $7,100 total per month for two, and weirdly, $6,800 for three, which is strangely lower than the statistical average for two. Anyway, this data tells us what we probably all already know: that when you start having kids, your expenses go up. But if we're just talking about a couple, we can work with that $5,500 figure. We can add $5,500 to our $6,050 of required investing to hit a million dollars after 10 years, and we have a post-tax income of $138,600 required to support that spending and investing. I'm gonna back into the pre-tax income required, but this time we get the marriage benefit of married filing jointly.
Sidebar: The history of the married filing jointly tax break in the US is extremely interesting. It goes back to some pissed-off rich people in the early 20th century, which is, maybe unsurprisingly, how a lot of our tax code was formed. Anyway, while a single person needed to earn between $150k and $165k per year pre-tax, depending on where they live, to spend the average amount per month and invest enough post-tax to hit the magic million in 10 years, a married couple only needs to earn between $175k and $190k per year together to spend the average monthly amount, invest the difference, and become a millionaire in 10 years, depending on the state taxes. So $175k would be the amount in a state like Texas or Florida, while $190k would be closer to the figure required in a state like California or New York, after taxes.
Still, it's much easier to create $175k of income between two people than it is for one individual to create $150k. Theoretically, a married couple making $87,500 each would be millionaires in 10 years if they kept their spending under $5,500 per month. Think about what this means. A couple could have a million dollars invested in their thirties without ever having been six-figure earners. What's most important is your ability to keep your structural expenses small and then layer on the discretionary stuff that brings you the most joy.
Going through an exercise like this one makes it pretty astounding to consider that the average retiree in their sixties in the 2019–2020 subset only has about $200,000 saved. And typically we consider that generation to be the luckiest economically. They may have gotten cheaper homes, but they did not have access to free investing tools at their fingertips until their forties or fifties. And in some ways, our generation has a much lower barrier to wealth-building entry. You can't dollar-cost average into your single-family home the same way you can into the stock market. So even if you're not obsessed with hitting the magic million, now you know what it takes.
Remember 10 minutes ago when I asked you to put a pin in my reference to the JPMorgan study that showed missing just the 10 best days in the market would cut your returns in half? I want to close with a note on market timing, sometimes commonly referred to with the euphemism “buying the dip” or “waiting it out” or “sitting in cash.” Be very, very wary of that. This is super common during periods of high volatility, because things feel dicey, and as a result, we flee to assets that feel safer, like cash, and think, you know, we can just just wait things out until they feel calmer before we get back into the market. And if you're like, yeah, but shouldn't it be relatively easy to not miss the best days? Like if I'm pulling my shit out when it's tanking, how likely is it that I would quickly miss a best day? Turns out, it's pretty fricking likely. Seven of the 10 best days in the 20-year period, okay? Seven of the 10 best, 70% of them, occurred within two weeks of the year's worst day, meaning the days in question that we need to achieve average returns, the days of the 10 best returns, quickly follow the worst days of the year 70% of the time.
It's very, very difficult to time bottoms and rebounds. And there are entire industries built on the foundation of hubris that it's consistently possible. I'm sure you've heard this a zillion times, but it bears repeating. Time in the market beats timing the market. So even though this millionaire exercise might feel a little silly or overly optimistic during a down market, it's important to remember that investing through the bull and the bear markets is how we achieved the average returns. And Delyanne's gonna talk about that a little bit more in a minute. The scariest numbers I saw in a recent report referenced the 30-year return of the S&P 500, which is the benchmark this report is using—though I will always advocate for diversifying beyond it and including things like small cap value and international funds in your portfolio, but I digress—was 9.96%, where that 10% number comes from that we often use. While the average investor only got—are you ready for this? 5.04% on average, because the average investor pulled out of the market during a few key downturns. So, while past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns, I do think it's worth mentioning explicitly that the chances you don't get 10% average returns before inflation likely have far less to do with the market and far more to do with the way we tend to invest less during bear markets. Or worse, we pull out altogether, or we attempt to time the market, which completely invalidates any sort of average return statistics that we turn to. When you're implementing a buy and hold strategy, you can't just buy, you also have to hold, and then keep buying. We'll be right back, after a message from the sponsors of today's episode.
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Katie: Now let's welcome our guest, Delyanne Barros, better known as Delyanne the Money Coach, host of CNN's Diversifying podcast, and one of my favorite people on the internet. So Delyanne, welcome to The Money with Katie Show. Thank you so much for being here today.
Delyanne Barros: That is high praise, coming from you. Right back at you. I obsess over your content, so it's happy to know that it's mutual.
Katie: Oh my gosh, likewise. Well, today's episode is about something that I know you think about a lot, which is how much money you have to earn, spend, and invest to go from $0 to millionaire in a pretty tight timeframe. We're talking just 10 years. Now, you were making a great income as an employment attorney prior to Delyanne the Money Coach days, but you've talked about how your net worth at the time didn't really reflect the fact that you were making a great income, and that simply having this high income is not enough. Can you speak to that?
Delyanne Barros: Yeah, I think that having high income without direction is not as powerful as people think, right? A lot of us think, oh my god, if I just make it to six figures, I've made it, and somehow magically your money will just start multiplying like little gremlins. And I'm like, that's not exactly how it happens, because unfortunately we all get a little lifestyle creep. We wanna live in a better place, we wanna buy nicer clothes, we wanna eat at better restaurants. And so I was living in New York City, which is the mecca of lifestyle creep, and I had an Equinox membership…I don't know, I had no business having this membership, and I still owed $150,000 in student loans. My thinking was, why should I rush to pay off these student loans? Like, what is the point of that? Why should I rush to get a check to Sallie Mae? Like, I'm gonna live my best life right now. She can wait 20 years to get like that very last check, right? There was no motivation that made sense to me as to why I should rush to pay it off, until I discovered like financial independence and investing, and then I was like, okay, now this makes sense. This is why you should become debt free, so that you can get to this next level of like wealth-building. But when it was just like this naked debt-free for the sake of becoming debt-free, I was like, that's not very exciting, right? That's not gonna motivate me. And that's what most people face. So the money that I was making instead went to things like travel, because I grew up undocumented, so I could never leave the country. So when I finally got my green card and I could leave the country, you bet your ass I was on a plane, I was traveling. It was all budget, by the way, all very budget, but I felt very bougie traveling and that's where the money was going, right?
And I don't regret spending it that way, but at some point you gotta pay the piper, right? At some point it's like, okay, I'm making six figures. Net worth isn't increasing. What's going on here? What can I do to kind of like turn the ship around? And honestly, it took me way too long to get to that point, but it finally happened, and that's when my net worth exploded.
Katie: And explode it did. So last year, you posted this celebratory tweet, I think it's still pinned on your profile, at least the last I saw, that you're now a millionaire. Fewer than 1% of people on earth are millionaires. It's a huge accomplishment, especially given the fact that, as you said, you didn't come from money. You're not, you know, floating along on this inheritance. You had six figures in student loan debt. It's very inspiring. But the responses to that tweet, some of them were interesting. People had a lot to say about a million dollars. Can you share that experience with us?
Delyanne Barros: It baffles me how people love to downplay a million dollars. I'm like, y'all, are you serious? This is a life-changing amount of money. I don't care if you think it's like, oh no, I can only pull so much per year and then it would run out in like 15 to 20 years. What? What are you talking about? Stop, stop, stop, stop. I'm not saying you have to get to a million and stop there. I even asked this question in a separate tweet. I said, “Is a million dollars a lot of money?” And you responded to it, and you saw all the people going through like this back and forth. Oh, it's a lot of money if this, it's a lot of money if that, depending on where you live. And I'm like, what are you guys talking about? Like objectively, no matter what, I don't care what you plan to do with this money, a million dollars is a lot of money, right?
First of all, I think like 99% of the people who made those kind of comments don't have a million dollars, and they don't realize what it takes to get to it. And so instead of thinking like, wow, this is actually a very achievable goal and I should get to it, I would rather make it seem like it's like this very not a big deal. Like why should I even try for this? Like if you're not, if you don't have $5 million, why go for a million? And so that kind of excuses, like excuses their behavior in a way, right? Like why should I even go for this? Because becoming a millionaire is actually very achievable in America. It's achievable here if certain things line up for you, right? Like luck and opportunity kind of line up, your chances are best here, I would say. And so I think people feel threatened by that. Like, oh my god, wait, this is an achievable goal. It might take you 30 years, but you'll get there. And I think that that scares people.
Katie: Oof. I think it's 40% of the world's millionaires live in the United States. So you're absolutely right. It is, statistically speaking, most achievable here. The other thing that I think that I wanna reiterate for the audience that you just said is, it's almost like if I downplay it and if I make it feel like it's not a big deal, then it's not a crushing embarrassment on my end if I don't get there. Like let me, let me put down this person for doing it. So I'm like, oh whatever. That's like, not even enough. But yeah, it's crazy to me that that's even a conversation on Money Twitter. And you know what? It's probably only a conversation on Money Twitter. So someone listening to this right now be like, I've never heard anyone say it's not a lot of money. Get on FinTwit. You'll see lots of that type of garbage.
But anyway, one thing that I noticed you posting about a lot during the bear market, which I really appreciated, and the first half of 2022, was this idea that like, y'all now is not the time to slow down or to stop investing or to like pull back and wait it out. Now is the time to double down. And as of the time of this writing and recording, we are already kind of back in bull market territory, which I think is really unexpected, and who knows where we'll go from here. But can you share a few words of wisdom about the temptations of market timing and why young people should paradoxically be excited about bear markets?
Delyanne Barros: Yeah, I mean young people should be excited, but honestly like it was the thirties and the 40-year-olds that I was yelling at, because those are the people who like come at me in my messages, where they're like, I feel like everything you post, it's for the young people. Like what about us oldies? And I'm like, “Yo, I'm turning 40 this year.” Like what are you guys trying to say? Then I was like pumping out content saying, hey, for all of you who are always telling me “I'm 30, I'm 40, I'm just now getting started,” this is your chance to catch up right now. The market's been up 15% in the last two months—that's your chance, right? And so I was kind of trying to get their attention, because if anything, it's the younger, the Gen Zers, they have more time, they have more time, they can afford to invest 5% or 10% of their income and kind of coast along those lines for a bit. But it's the 30- and the 40-year-olds that really have to be like, like, oh my god, I need to be investing 15%, 20%, which is a heavy toll on your paycheck, but that 15%, 20% is gonna go much further during a bear market than it would when the market's hitting all-time highs.
And I think people miss like the other side of an equation of a bear market. So on one side, yes, it's so painful to log into your account and see the balance go down. I completely understand that, but you're also missing the other side of it, which is, ooh, now it's also cheaper to load up and bring my cost basis down, and people just forget like cost basis. I always say, like, imagine walking into your favorite store. You're there to shop, you're gonna buy the thing that you want. You've already made up your mind, you got the money in hand. And then the manager walks up to you and is like, “By the way, everything is 50% off just today.” And what are you gonna do? Are you gonna turn around and walk out of the store? No, you're gonna get two of everything. You're gonna get it in every color, right? And so that's how you should be thinking about the stock market if you really believe that it is a wealth-building tool, that it is a long-term investor's game to win. If you really believe that it's going to recover over time, there's no reason why you shouldn't be shopping the hell out of the stock market when it's red.
Katie: Mmm! Amen. Wow. Mic drop. I almost wanna be like, all right, that's our show. But I do have one last question for you. This might feel unrelated to everything else we've talked about today, but because it's you and you're here, I really wanna go here with you, because you are outspoken on social media, and I would say courageously so, about being a single woman who's not interested in having children. And you posted about this once…it was like a TikTok of a woman who's like, “Oh, me crying about never having kids” and she's wiping her tears with a Chanel bag, and it was hilarious. You got quite a bit of support from other child-free people, but you also faced a surprising amount of backlash, from other women, in a lot of cases. Why do you think people react so strongly to women having desires that run counter to what we are taught culturally is our role in society, and kind of this like woman-on-woman crime of almost like policing and trying to enforce these things on one another?
Delyanne Barros: Yeah, I think people took it personal, right? Like somehow me saying my choice to be child-free was an attack on them possibly wanting to have children, which is not it at all. I'm like, hey, we need people on the planet, we need somebody to reproduce.
Katie: It's just not gonna be me.
Delyanne Barros: Exactly. I'm like, go for it. I am not anti-babies. I love babies. I think they're so cute. I just don't want any of my own. I'm rich auntie vibes. Like that's what I wanna be. And funny enough, the backlash is usually from men, and women without children, because most of the time, women with children who are parents, they understand. They understand. I got…also surprising, I got a lot of DMs from parents who were like, if I could do it again—I love my kids. They always go, I love my kids—but if I could do it again, I don't think I would have children.
Delyanne Barros: It was like shocking to me to hear parents say that, but I'm like…
Katie: ’Cause it’s so taboo, right? It's so taboo to admit that like, I don't think being a mother is for me. Like that's your purpose as a woman, right? Is to like procreate. Maybe even more broadly, like as a human, like evolutionarily you're supposed to want to procreate. Wow, that's amazing.
Delyanne Barros: And like some of them were even not just in my DMs, like in the comments. And I'm okay with that, you know, I'm okay with parents being that honest, because they need a safe space to just be able to say these things, you know, and give everybody a very honest take on parenthood, because it is one of the hardest things, if not the hardest that you will ever do. And nobody should take it lightly. Nobody should take it lightly. It is an extremely sacrificial and I'm, you know, I'm sure beautiful experience, but one that should be taken with a lot of consideration in mind, and especially the financial aspect. That's the other thing I get backlash for, is like, how can you even think about money when you're talking about creating life? And I'm like, I don't know. How about my life? Does it have no value? My mom, who's like, you know, a Latina woman, a little old-school, she's like, I don't understand you kids today. You're over here thinking about money. I just had three kids and I didn't worry about the money. And I'm like, what? I'm like, what? I'm like, Mom, first of all, we lived in like borderline poverty, and there was no financial support at all. And I was a super latchkey kid, where I would walk in, I had to cook for myself, do my chores, take care of my two younger sisters. I was changing diapers, I was giving my sister baths, you know, I was helping them with their homework. I feel like I've raised the kids. I've done it. You know…
Katie: You've had the experience.
Delyanne Barros: Exactly. So I'm like, how can you say that that doesn't have a long-term effect, you know? It absolutely does. So, and then one more thing is, I'm taking care of my aging parent, right? So I'm gonna be retiring my mom, taking care of my mom. So where does that all fit in? How am I supposed to take care of myself, my mother, and then a brand-new kid? Like, it just, the “math is not math” thing, you know, like, and this is what a lot of millennials are facing right now. Like I feel like I just got to the point where I can breathe financially, and I'm turning 40. Biological clock done. You know?
Katie: Oh my god, I love you so much. Wow, mmm, that is so powerful. I, like, my head is spinning right now, 'cause there's so much that I just really admire how forthright you are and how unapologetic you are about what you think and what you believe and the choices you're making. I think that it's just very vulnerable to be like, this is me, this is what I think. And I don't think people understand how kind of daunting that is until you have 150,000 eyes looking at you being like, oh yeah, what? What was that? So Delyanne, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it. That was so fun.
Delyanne Barros: Thank you, Katie. This was a blast.
Katie: Welcome back to Rich Girl Roundup. As a reminder, we will take listener questions about every month. We'll put out a call for questions on Instagram. So follow Money with Katie on Instagram if you're not already. We'll pick one that feels interesting and widely applicable and will answer it. As my standard disclaimer, I'm not a licensed financial professional. This is not financial advice. This is “What would Katie do?” This segment is brought to you by Betterment, the online investing platform that gives you the tools, inspiration, and support that will help you become a better investor. Investing involves risk, performance not guaranteed. Here's this week's question, from Megan.
Megan: Hi Katie, my name is Megan, and I'm calling into the Rich Girl Nation from Nashville, Tennessee. So, clothes. Katie, I know you talked a lot about the cost of being high-maintenance and the trap of materialism, but can we talk about clothes? How do we set a realistic budget for our lifestyles while also feeling in style? I'll admit that having that new dress for a wedding or a new top for a work event can make me feel confident and empowered. So how do I maintain that feeling while also maintaining my budget?
Katie: I love this question. I love that you acknowledged having a new dress for a wedding or a top for a work event makes you feel empowered and confident. And it reminds me of what we talked about a few weeks ago with Haley Hoffman Smith, that sometimes when we identify the feeling we're striving for with the purchase, we can ask ourselves, is there another way I can provide myself with this feeling without making this purchase? Sometimes the answer will be yes. Sometimes it'll be no. After all, money is meant to be spent. And so often, purchases like clothes or makeup, like purchases that are often coded as feminine, get disregarded as frivolous, while purchases that are typically coded as more masculine—honestly, think cars, boats, shit with engines—get more of a hall pass. From a financial perspective, I think it's about two things: A, recognizing the intention behind why you would like to purchase something, and if it's signaling something deeper, or if it's really just about adding a little spice to life. And B, determining, based on your income and financial priorities, how much of your budget you want to allocate to that thing. So in this case, new clothes. I personally had to cut out new clothing cold turkey for several years, because I found that if I gave myself an inch, I would take a mile, but I was correcting for a lifetime of overdoing it and overspending. I would consider setting aside a specific savings account for clothes and allocating a little bit of your income to it each month, say 3% to 5%, and then only using what's in that account to force a bit of prioritization in your shopping habits. That means if there's no money left in the account, you're not buying clothes, and you have to wait a few more months to accrue a little bit more. The other angle that I wanna highlight here is fast fashion. And while I don't think it's fair to put the responsibility on the consumer to make individual choices that'll change that industry, we can be conscientious of our consumption, and what happens to clothes that no longer suit our styles, bodies, or preferences. Per Earth.org, in America alone, an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste, which is equivalent to 85% of all textiles, end up in landfills on a yearly basis. That's equivalent to approximately 81.5 pounds per person per year, and around 2,150 pieces per second countrywide. So I recommend thinking of clothes as long-term investments and renting, borrowing, or only buying quality pieces when you can.
All right, y'all, that is all for this week. I will see you next week, same time, same place, on The Money with Katie Show. Our show is a production of Morning Brew and is produced by Henah Velez and me, Katie Gatti Tassin, and with our audio engineering and sound design from the talented Nick Torres. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia, and additional fact checking comes from the lovely Kate Brandt. Sam Cat is our VP of chaos, and Beans is our chief bark officer.