Ramit Sethi Credit Card Debt
DJ confessed that she doesn't care about her finances and would only work on it for Adam. (Screenshot: YouTube)

DJ, 33, and Adam, 37, live in rural New York and have been dating for three years. The main reason stopping Adam from getting married to DJ is her $15,000 credit card debt. She has been carrying the debt her whole life despite making $6,000 monthly.

The couple's anxiety over the future led them to seek guidance from millionaire author and the host of Netflix's "How To Get Rich" show, Ramit Sethi.

In his YouTube podcast, Adam shared that he made around $3,000 monthly and has no problem with the DJ's debt but her attitude towards money. He is all right if DJ isn't debt-free, given he had several loans himself, but he wants her to manage liabilities in a way that doesn't drag them both down one day.

It is understandable, given that Adam's previous marriage fell apart due to staggering debt levels. He finally moved back in with his parents a few years back, cleared his debts, and saved enough out of his average income to buy a house with a downpayment.

What's Stopping DJ From Clearing Her Credit Card Debt?

DJ grew up in a household where her mother would take care of the finances due to his father's gambling habit. She recalled heated discussions around money and how her father's poor money habits could have imbibed in her a sense of "living in the now" without any consequences for the future.

She graduated from college to become an elementary school teacher, earning $45,000 annually in a costly neighbourhood. She started living off her credit card and spent beyond her means all the time, like going to her hair stylist or buying new outfits every weekend. DJ worked hard to secure a better-paying job, but her unaffordable lifestyle choices overshadowed her attempts to clear credit card debt.

She wants to be able to travel, have a home, go on vacations, and buy outfits at any time, as these choices carry value for her. What surprised Ramit was that she'd value savings only if it mattered to Adam, not for herself. He understood that avoiding money issues and delegating them to someone else, like Adam, is a habit DJ formed over the years.

Her mom still pays her cellphone bill and expenses when they plan vacations. As a child, DJ couldn't take no for an answer for something she wanted. She'd make it her mission to collect change around the house, even "from under the couch," to buy what she wanted.

How Is Adam Coping With These Issues?

When Ramit asked Adam why not get married tomorrow, he said it wasn't suitable for his finances, even if that sounded harsh.

Adam's trauma ensured that he never fell into the same debt situation in a marriage. He isn't in a rush to marry again but understands how much DJ wants it. However, Adam's answer that he is still OK with manageable debt despite a failed marriage surprised Ramit.

He had no disagreements or fights about money, but Adam would go quiet when DJ overspends. Adam said it's her income, and she chooses how to spend it how she likes.

Ramit understood the couple would seek ideas from each other but never implement them, like "two magnets circling each other without touching." He thinks Adam's attitude could be due to several reasons. For instance, he may need more time to be ready for marriage or isn't comfortable telling DJ what to do.

DJ Confesses To "Not Caring"

DJ appeared to talk about herself as a person she doesn't understand. Despite having tried budgeting and being curious about personal finance, she was disillusioned that using a credit card for points was worth it, even if that meant going deeper into debt. Her reason was that there were no rewards for spending from a checking account.

Ramit rightly pointed out that while DJ wants less emotions when dealing with money, her entire perspective on money is emotional. He believes everyone is emotional about money somehow, and a non-emotional solution to emotional problems won't work.

Despite her parents and elder sister being financially well-off, DJ's view on affordability needed an upgrade. Ramit makes an interesting point about knowing if we can afford something.

DJ understands that she can't afford a purchase if she has to use a credit card. Ramit explained that the definition of "how much can you afford" is unique to everyone, like having a 6-month emergency fund and not making purchases that compel you to use that cash you've set aside.

So, if you expand your view on affordability where the least you have is a year's worth of emergency funds, the stress around insufficient cash automatically subsides.

When Ramit asked why DJ isn't accounting for the money DJ spends, she reluctantly admitted that she "didn't care," but deep down, it affected her to the extent that she sought financial advice.

DJ said, "I have a scarcity complex. What if I put too much on a credit card and don't have enough cash for something else? I'm afraid to fail."

Her decisions are not related to the amount of money she has or her debt levels but are influenced by her unaffordable lifestyle and fears of not having enough cash. Ramit explains DJ is "basically subsidized against having any real consequences" related to her spending. He understood that when specific questions about her behaviour came up, she dodged them repeatedly.

DJ Was Shocked To Find How Fast She Can Clear Her Credit Card Debt

Ramit was slightly disappointed when he learnt that DJ should have calculated the time she'd take to clear the debt. She assumed it would be around two years in her head, but a few moments later, her jaw dropped with Ramit's revelation.

On average, DJ repays $2,000 towards her monthly credit card debt. Considering a 26% interest rate, Ramit estimated that she'd clear the debt in nine months.

The couple had a combined debt of $185,000, including mortgage and student loans, while their investments were around $100,000.

Ramit's efforts to help DJ look within helped her discover issues affecting her money moves, lifestyle decisions, and overall personality. She agreed to use her debit card for purchases until she clears the credit card debt.

Credit card debt in the US inched over $1 trillion in the December-ended quarter. Adam and DJ's challenges show how extreme debt levels and surging living costs continue to impact relationships worldwide.