Ramit Sethi Blasts 'Generic' Finance Goals Over Conscious Budgeting: 'I Want to Do What I Want, When I Want' Are Just Words

Finance coach and money personality on the Netflix hit show "Watch How To Get Rich," Ramit Sethi, has empowered individuals by challenging generic finance goals and encouraging them to take control of their financial plans.

During an interview with Moneywise, Sethi spoke about a response he had noticed for quite some time. He explained that often, when he asked people what it meant to live a rich life, they would say, "I want to do what I want when I want." 

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For Sethi, this response is concerning. While he admits that having access to a lot of money and strong money management could unlock that desire, he believes that it is generic. Sethi asserts that the mentality of doing whatever one wants because they have money is "just words."

Sethi explains, "We work 40 plus hours a week, we agonize over how much money we have in our checking account," and adds, "yet we’ve never actually thought: What’s it all for? What is the point of earning this money?" 

We spend all our time working to meet financial milestones like paying off student debts, buying a car and buying a house without actually taking the time to stop and really think about why we're earning the money. 

While there's nothing wrong with having financial milestones, Sethi reveals that he wants to understand how individuals truly want to spend their money. For example, Sethi elaborates, "What I want to hear from people are vivid specifics that fit them like a glove." This could include things like going on a dream vacation in Italy with the family to watch the sunset over the Colosseum while enjoying a glass of fine Italian wine. 

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"Now, that is a vivid vision, and we can use money to get you there," Sethi said. 

To do this, Sethi advises that you first need to have the right mindset by being specific about your financial goals. Don't just give a generic description of "I'm going to Spain." Be descriptive. Explain what you're going to do in Spain. List the places you're going to visit and the food you're going to eat. Make your goals a reality by creating a realistic financial plan. 

A realistic financial plan means scrapping your budget and following Sethi's advice to come up with a conscious spending plan. Over the years, Sethi has made his stance on strict budgets clear, claiming that "Budgets look backward instead of forwards." To make planning easier, Sethi has shared a conscious spending plan that you can use and adapt. 

Sethi's plan includes dividing your monthly earnings into four categories:

  • Fixed costs (utilities, housing, gas and groceries)
  • Savings (emergency, Long-term or vacation) 
  • Investments 
  • Guilt-free spending (fun activities like eating out or going to the movies) 

Between 50 and 60% of your monthly income should be set aside for fixed costs that you have no choice but to pay, like housing, food, and utilities. Then, around five to 10% of your money should be used for savings with another five to 10% put into investments. Your final 20 to 35% of your income can then be used for guilt-free spending. This plan can be adjusted according to your goals. 

For example, you could always take 5% of your guilt-free spending money and put that into your vacation savings fund. Sethi advises being more cutthroat in your spending to meet your financial goals faster. This doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of all the things that make you happy. It could be as simple as canceling subscriptions you no longer use. 

According to Sethi, there are many ways you can achieve all your financial goals as long as you have a specific goal or target in mind.     

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Posted In: Personal FinancePersonal Finance AccessRamit Sethi
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