CNBC make it 2024-07-09 09:19:19

How a couple making $230,000 have set themselves up to ‘constantly feel poor,’ from a money expert

Maddie, 29, and Paul, 33, live well in London.

Although Paul recently left his job, they’re still earning $230,000 a year from Maddie’s income, the couple tells self-made millionaire and money expert Ramit Sethi on a recent episode of his “I Will Teach You to be Rich” podcast. Their last names are not used.

Maddie’s high salary, along with some savvy money habits like regularly saving and investing, have helped them live comfortably even in a high-cost area like London. But they still stress about money, especially as they plan their wedding for next year.

Maddie oscillates between two mindsets when it comes to finances. One tells her, “‘I’m going to live a bougie, great life. I work hard. I’ve made great money. I can do what I want, and we can travel a ton and have a great wedding, and all these things,'” she tells Sethi. “And then the other side, constantly feeling stressed and guilty about it.”

Though Sethi encourages his listeners to keep a “guilt-free spending” category in their monthly budget, Maddie and Paul seem to be overdoing it. “You’re actually setting yourself up to constantly feel poor relative to everyone else around you,” Sethi says.

Spending on travel, shopping, means ‘losing money every single month’

Going through their finances, Sethi found the couple has done relatively well at keeping their fixed costs in check. Their rent, groceries, car payment and other necessities come out to about 63% of their take home pay, even while Paul isn’t working.

But a look at their discretionary spending showed that Maddie has good reason to feel anxious about their finances. The couple admitted they spend around $7,000 a month on travel and shopping. That brings their total spending above their monthly income. 

They’ve managed to stay out of debt thus far aside from a small auto loan, but with several friends’ weddings as well as their own around the corner and their spending habits unchecked, Sethi worries they’re on a path to destruction.

“I think you earn the right to feel okay about being in the red occasionally if you have a very large net worth,” Sethi tells them. “But I think when we factor in the fact that you’re losing money every single month, that you’re planning to continue that for the foreseeable future … that starts to be trickier.”

Overdoing it on trips and social events because ‘we want to keep up’

Maddie and Paul say they hesitate to change their lifestyle in order to rein in their spending and feel more comfortable about money. They know Paul getting a job will help improve the situation, but they don’t want to rely so much on high incomes that they can never stop working.

Yes, Paul bringing in any income, especially a six-figure salary as he expects, would help, Sethi agrees. But the spending is the real problem.

“It’s not actually normal for people making $230,000, which is a very good income, to be traveling eight times a year internationally, plus your own personal travel, plus Barry’s Bootcamp, plus shopping and golf trips,” Sethi says.

Maddie and Paul admit that a lot of their spending is prompted by pressure from their friends and culture.  “We hang out with people [for whom] money feels to be less of a concern due to their backgrounds,” Maddie says. “There’s definitely a sense like we need to keep up. Or not [that] we need to; we want to keep up.”

“It’s this compulsion to be at everything and live such a social life [that] just drains us,” Paul adds.

‘Your income is not commensurate with your vision’

Sethi presses Maddie and Paul about what they actually want out of life and what sacrifices they may be willing to make to get there.

Having a big wedding for themselves is important to Maddie and Paul, as is their financial security, they reply. They plan to have kids within the next several years and want to make sure they’re setting themselves up for success in that phase of life.

Even if Paul gets the salary he expects at his next job, the couple would be wise to make some changes, Sethi says. “I love your vision for an even greater life. It’s beautiful,” he adds. “But your income is not commensurate with your vision, nor will it be.”

The idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” and lifestyle creep are common pitfalls because humans are social animals, Sethi says. But Maddie and Paul need to acknowledge that their friends’ lifestyle choices have nothing to do with their personal financial situations and goals.

Decide which societal influences you want to accept and which don’t align with your rich life.
Ramit Sethi

“We’re all part of a larger community that influences our spending,” Sethi says. “The minute you start accepting that is the minute you can decide which societal influences you want to accept and which don’t align with your rich life.”

Paul and Maddie acknowledge they need to work on declining when their friends invite them to go on trips or to attend weddings that aren’t a priority so they can put their money towards the things that are most important to them.

“We have to be more intentional and purposeful with our spending decisions, especially by getting more comfortable saying ‘no’ both to ourselves and to outside commitments,” Paul says in his follow-up video. 

Check out the full podcast episode here.

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This is the most affordable country for expats in 2024, according to a new report

Moving to a foreign country may seem like a pipe dream, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.

When deciding whether to move overseas for life or work, one of the biggest factors to consider is personal finances.

For the fourth consecutive year, Vietnam is the most affordable country in the world for expats, ranking first out of 53 destinations when it comes to personal finances, according to a 2024 InterNations study.

To be clear, out of 53 places, it came in 40 for quality of life, 29 for expat essentials such as digital life, housing and language, and ranked 14 for working abroad — with considerations like career prospects, salary and job security factored in.

More than 12,000 expats across 174 territories worldwide participated in the broader Expat Insider 2024 survey which provided insights including the best and worst places to live, quality of life, working abroad and personal finance.

For the Personal Finance Index, InterNations asked survey respondents to rank their personal satisfaction levels in three areas: general cost of living, satisfaction with financial situation, and whether disposable household income was enough to lead a comfortable life.

This data was used to compile the report which remains largely unchanged from last year, with the exception of a new entrant to the list — Brazil (9th) — replacing Malaysia, which dropped from 5th in 2023 to 11th this year.

Here are the top 10 destinations expats say are best for their personal finances:

  1. Vietnam
  2. Colombia
  3. Indonesia
  4. Panama
  5. Philippines
  6. India
  7. Mexico
  8. Thailand
  9. Brazil
  10. China

Asian countries dominated this year’s list, nabbing six out of the top 10 positions. Southeast Asia, in particular, stood out with Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand all ranking in the top 10.

“Housing is a big plus in all four countries: Thailand ranks 1st, Vietnam 2nd, Philippines 5th, and Indonesia 8th,” Kathrin Chudoba, chief marketing officer for InterNations, told CNBC Make It. “Most expats agree that it’s easy to find housing, and they are happy with how affordable it is.”

Out of surveyed expats living in Vietnam, 86% rate its cost of living favorably — that’s more than twice the global average of 40%, and 65% of respondents in the country say they are satisfied with their financial situation compared to 54% globally, according to the report.

In addition, 68% of respondents say their disposable household income is more than enough to lead a comfortable life, compared to 41% globally, the survey showed.

Life here is stress-free for me, it’s a wonderful change from my work life, which was very consuming and hectic.
British expat living in Vietnam

Not only are costs of living low, expats tend to be paid more in Vietnam.

“Close to double the global average report a gross yearly income of 150k USD or more (19% vs. 10% globally),” according to InterNations.

In addition, general job satisfaction is also very high among expats in the country. Vietnam jumped from 24th rank last year to 3rd in 2024 for this factor, which is part of the “Work Culture & Satisfaction” subcategory, said Chudoba.

Generally, “work-life balance trumps career advancement” in Vietnam, according to the report. Notably, less than half (46%) of the country’s expat population works full time, compared to the global average of 57%. About one in five expats (21%) works part-time, and about 18% of expats are retired.

“Life here is stress-free for me, it’s a wonderful change from my work life, which was very consuming and hectic,” said a British expat in the report.

Along with measuring expats’ satisfaction with their personal finances, the InterNations Expat Insider study also gathered data on what the overall best destinations are for expats globally.

This broader list explores how expats feel across other aspects of life abroad, based on 5 indices: general happiness, quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad and their “expat essentials” index, which is based on administration, housing, digital life and language.

Out of 53 destinations globally, four Asian countries made it into the overall top 10 list this year: Indonesia (3rd overall), Thailand (6th overall), Vietnam (8th overall) and the Philippines (9th overall).

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

28-year-old left the U.S., relocated to Thailand, and pays $544/month for his 1-bedroom apartment

In April 2021, Paul Lee took a vacation to Thailand. Five months later, he decided to leave the United States behind and make a permanent move to the Asian country.

Lee, originally from Georgia, had been living in New York City and grossing around $1 million a year thanks to his e-commerce business. Despite doing well enough to pay for his parent’s retirement, the 28-year-old tells CNBC Make It he found himself without purpose, feeling depressed, and needing to make a change.

“When I first arrived to Thailand, I just felt rejuvenated. Everything was completely new to me, and I felt like it was a fresh new start,” Lee says. “The more and more I live here, the more and more I fall in love with the city.”

Since moving to Bangkok, Lee has been making around US $150,000 a year as a content creator and real estate agent, according to documents reviewed.

Working in real estate helped Lee find several living arrangements in Bangkok, including luxury condos. The apartment he’s in now is a one-bedroom in the Thonglor neighborhood which Lee says is “the Soho of Bangkok.”

It’s a 650-square-feet unit that costs 20,000 baht — around USD $544 — in monthly rent. Lee also pays $20 for Wi-Fi, $80 for electricity, and $3 for water each month. The apartment came furnished, and Lee has access to amenities, including a pool and a gym.

To move in, Lee had to pay a security deposit of two months’ rent or about $1,088.

Despite lower grocery costs in Bangkok, Lee eats out for every meal and spends $500 a month on food. “I’m not gonna lie, the food in New York City was very good as well, but I think in Thailand, it’s just a lot more homey, a lot more local, and a lot spicier,” Lee says.

His other expenses include a $93 monthly gym membership which is a bit of a splurge considering Lee has free access to a gym in his building. But the cost is worth it for Lee, because he can take advantage of the co-working space, coffee, and numerous networking opportunities in the space.

Also his current gym’s price is nothing compared to luxury gyms in New York, like Equinox, where memberships can start at $240 a month.

Lee has only returned to the U.S. one time since his big move to Thailand — for his sister’s wedding. He tells CNBC Make It he chose to leave New York City because he found himself being too materialistic and living in an “environment that was just very individualistic, very doggish, and very hyper-aggressive.”

“Bangkok stood out to me because it seemed very metropolis. It seemed very fun. It seemed very affordable and it just had a very good culture and didn’t really have any major compromises to me,” Lee says.

Lee has made a new life for himself in Thailand, he says, and returning to the U.S. doesn’t feel likely.

“I had to go through this journey of being poor and becoming quite wealthy to realize all this wealth that I had accumulated didn’t really give me what I wanted and didn’t give me the satisfaction I was looking for,” Lee says.

His parents were initially shocked he’d moved so far but ended up following in his footsteps when they moved to South Korea. They visit him in Bangkok from time to time, and Lee travels to see them, too. He says it’s one of the best perks of his new life in Thailand.

“At the end of the day, even though I don’t make nearly as much money as I made in New York City, I am far… wealthier in terms of my happiness, in terms of my well-being, my peace,” he added. “These are things I never was able to achieve back home in the States.”

Conversions from Thai baht to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 baht to 0.02 USD on July 1, 2024. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

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Why Serena Williams tried to deposit her first $1 million check at a drive-thru ATM

In the early days of her tennis career, Serena Williams cared so much about winning that she forgot to collect her earnings — repeatedly.

Williams, 42, brought in $94.8 million in prize money as a tennis player before retiring in 2022, according to the Women’s Tennis Association. Early in her career, she nearly left a decent chunk of it behind: She was so singularly focused on her performance that she’d nearly leave cities without picking up her money, she told First We Feast’s YouTube talk show “Hot Ones” last week.

“Is it true that you rarely collected your winnings your first year on tour and then once tried unsuccessfully to cash your first million-dollar check in a drive through ATM?” host Sean Evans asked her.

“Those are all true,” responded Williams, who won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 73 career singles titles during her 27-year career. “I never played for money. I played because I loved the sport … I wanted to win.”

Williams’ professional debut — in which she played a single game, losing a qualifying match at the 1995 Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada — reportedly resulted in a $240 check. At age 14, she was in no rush to spend that money, she said.

The same was true when Williams got her first million-dollar check. People around her were excited about the dollar figure, but all Williams wanted to do was deposit it and get back to work, she recalled.

“I never really spent a lot of money,” said Williams. “I just went through the drive-thru and the guy was like, ‘Uh, I think you need to come inside for this.’”

As her career evolved, her “tax guy” had to remind her to get her money while she toured, she recalled.

″[He] would be like, ‘You didn’t get your money?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get that one in Zurich. I forgot that one in Moscow,’” Williams said. “I was playing to win, and if I didn’t win, I wasn’t thinking. I was just so angry that I wanted to just figure out a way to get better and win the next time.”

When to teach kids money lessons

Williams’ early-career experiences were part of her financial literacy education: When she started making her own money as a teen, her dad Richard made sure that she was in charge of it, she told Bloomberg’s ‘The Deal’ podcast in May.

“I remember having to figure that out and having to learn how to manage from a very early age and not get crazy with it, and so he empowered us to do that,” Williams said, adding that when it came time to weigh sponsorship deals with companies like Puma and Nike, she always had a seat at the table.

“I’m 16, my dad is negotiating, they’re going back and forth, and he wants me there for the whole time to make sure I know what to do in the future,” she said. “I learned early on that your paycheck from tennis — maybe that’s why I forgot them — should be your smallest earning.”

Personal finance lessons for kids are important, experts say. If you start teaching kids basic money lessons as early as ages 5 to 8, they’ll be ready to learn about concepts like saving, spending and investing by ages 8 to 12, Eric Landolt, head of family advisory and art & collecting at UBS Global Wealth Management, told Make It last year.

By the time they’re teenagers, they’ll be well-equipped to effectively manage a small budget or allowance, said Landolt.

“Financial literacy should be a basic skill, a basic skill in the sense of like, reading or writing or doing so something in a way that should be brought to everyone in any circumstance,” he said.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

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‘Shark Tank’: Why Mark Cuban invested $500,000 in this invention that helps stop snoring

The benefits of getting quality sleep are well-known and touted by moguls from Jeff Bezos to Richard Branson. And on Sunday’s episode of “Shark Tank” on ABC, Mark Cuban — who is interested in health and wellness — was so impressed by an invention to help improve sleep, he invested half a million dollars.

The main purpose of the lightweight, breathable Somnifix mouth strips founder Nicholas Michalak pitched to the Sharks is to reduce or eliminate snoring and mouth-breathing at night. (The hypoallergenic adhesive strips are applied over the mouth and cause you to breathe through your nose, though there is a vent in case mouth-breathing is necessary.)

And that’s no small market: About 40 percent of adult men and 24 percent of adult women are habitual snorers, which can take a toll on relationships with sleeping partners and also cause a litany of health issues. Plus, the strips are beneficial to non-snorers too, because nose-breathing has benefits like helping to achieve a deeper sleep, according to the company.

Cuban is especially impressed that Michalak and his family invested $1.4 million in the business, including running clinical studies of the product at Harvard Medical School.

“Good for you for doing that,” Cuban says. “Most companies won’t invest that, and they’ll just wing it.”

Michalak — who is seeking $500,000 in exchange for a 10 percent stake — also notes that Somnifix has nine granted patents and intellectual property protection in over 70 countries.

But Barbara Corcoran isn’t sold, and actually sees spending that much money on the product as a negative.

“Nick, I think you spent about twice as much money then you needed to to get this off the ground,” Corcoran says. “That always causes concern for me, in terms of financial judgement.”

She’s out, as are Daymond John (who says it isn’t for him), Lori Greiner (who is unsure of how the market will respond to the product) and Kevin O’Leary (who says the company doesn’t align with the other investments in his portfolio).

That leaves Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban, who asks whether a sports version of the strips is a possibility. Michalak agrees that proper breathing is important for performance and says the company is already working on an adhesive that doesn’t dislodge when it comes into contact with liquid, like sweat. 

There’s just on caveat for Cuban: The product’s marketing materials read, “Your nose is for breathing and your mouth is for eating,” which “sucks,” according to Cuban. With Michalak willing to change the slogan, Cuban offers a non-negotiable $500,000 for 20 percent of the company and the deal is made.

Don’t miss: ‘Shark Tank’: Chemist’s water filter invention was inspired by Flint crisis—why Mark Cuban invested $400,000

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

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