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Full Interview With Rebel Finance School Founders Alan & Katie Donegan

Listen to this series via our Date Smart podcast. Episodes are released weekly!

Alan

I guess my dad would've been from a very working-class background. He worked for the electricity company back in the day. He lost his parents very young, and he eventually got into entrepreneurship, grew a hugely successful business, made an absolute fortune, and then went bankrupt for $5 million, losing everything and gambling the family home. So we've had a roller coaster all the way from, yeah, very low working class, all the way to making a fortune of money and all the way back down again.

Taylor

Wow. And how would you explain your family's mindset around money when you were growing up? For example, what were some common sayings such as money doesn't grow on trees or money is the root of all evil.

Alan

Those are two that my mom has directly said to me, money doesn't grow on trees and money is the root of all evil. And she's had some very negative experiences of money. And I think coming from an environment where there was a lot of money at some point… so my dad would bring home these suitcases of money and we would have to count them and we'd have to put all of the Queen's heads around the right way on the notes and stack them for him so he could put it into the bank the next day. And he always kept a bunch of cash in the fridge in case he ever needed to do a deal. Who's gonna look in the fridge for the money. So that was his safe place. Yeah. So if you can find his house, look in the fridge, you never know where it is. I'm not recommending that. It's not a good thing to say on a podcast. So like on one hand it was incredibly entrepreneurial and there was money flowing. And on the other hand, money ripped our family to pieces in the end because the entrepreneurial business died because there were arguments because they completely ripped us to pieces.

Taylor

What was the dynamic like between your parents? For example, who handled the finances?

Alan

This sounds so eighties and it actually has formed the basis of a lot of what I say to Katie and how we work together. My dad was in charge of the money and he gave her housekeeping and she ran the house with that money and I hate that. I hate that the man deals with the money, I think it's wrong. So for us that has informed, we do everything together. We make the decisions about where we invest together. We make the decisions about finances together. It's not my money, it's not Katie's money. We do it all together. And I think like so many in the past, the woman has gone, you deal with the money and almost doesn't even want to know. They just expect it to keep flowing, which puts a lot of pressure on the man. It can all go wrong. It can end in huge arguments. And I hate that model of the world.

Taylor

Yeah. The dynamics were the same in my family history as well. My grandma expected my grandpa to make and manage the money. And that was passed down to my mother who also gave over all of the financial responsibility to my father. She didn't even have a bank account for a good period of time. I think it was such a common family dynamic in the past. And I feel like this conversation about who makes and manages the money was almost non-existent. What else did you absorb from that whole experience or put another way, what kind of programming did you adopt from your family around money beliefs?

Alan

A bunch of good and bad. Money creates massive problems between families. It has ripped all sorts of brothers, sisters, and parents apart, it has destroyed relationships. Money has completely wrecked my family in so many ways. And that programming was very strong because I viscerally experienced all of the damage it created. On the other side, my dad was an incredible entrepreneur and at one stage he couldn't afford to give me pocket money to be able to get the train to school. So instead he said, you can take anything from my sportswear shop, and sell it. I'll give you a base price and then any profit you make is yours. So he couldn't afford to give me money, but he gave me a way to earn money. And I made more at school between 16 to 18 than I did in my first jobs. And I learned to create money and my dad gave me that opportunity. And that was an incredible blessing. In some ways, I learned so many different things about money that were good and bad, and it took me so long to unpick these different elements.

Taylor

When was it when you realized that you wanted to change how you perceived money?

Alan

Well, I think my entire journey on belief started, I remember exactly the point. My parents were getting divorced. I was working in the family business. You do not want to work in the family business when they're getting divorced. So I left that. So I'd lost my job. My family was falling to pieces and I went to see my girlfriend at the time and said, “I want to get away. I've always wanted to go to Brazil, let's go traveling.” And she said, “No, thank you. I don't love you anymore.” So I lost my family, my job, and my girlfriend, and this guy gave me a book and he said, “You're in a mess. You need this.” I was like, “Thanks, I think.” He gave me this self-development book called Notes From A Friend by Tony Robbins, in which one of the foundational elements is the beliefs that create your life.

And it talks about the beliefs that you're handed by your family. It talks about the beliefs that you're handed by society. And it talks about beliefs that might be more positive that can help you. And one of the beliefs he suggests in the book is I can learn anything. And I love that belief. I firmly took that from that book and went, okay, I can learn anything. And that book blew my mind. And I was like, whoa, there's so much you can learn. That led to another book and another book, and I was devouring, self-development books. I was devouring ideas and learning and learning and learning and deciding which beliefs would help me and which beliefs would trap me. And eventually, I read The Millionaire Mind Intensive, and we went on the course and it talks about what you believe about money, and “money is the root of all evil” is a belief that was repeated in my childhood. However, that does not lead to a happy future because it's not the money that causes the problems, it's the people and the way they react to the money, and you have to differentiate the two. And the actual expression is “the love of money is the root of all evil” and I don't even think that's true. You can love money. It's just when you put it above other people that it becomes a problem and analyzing those beliefs in the way you think and deciding what was right or wrong. And it all started with a self-development book going, you can choose what you believe. So choose wisely because it affects your life.

Katie

I had a much more stable upbringing.

Alan

Much more stable.

Katie

I remember a few phrases that were repeated. One was, “Live within your means.”

Alan

This is a good one.

Katie

Don't spend more than you earn or spend less than you earn. Because there was a very big saving mentality as well. I loved saving. I used to hoard money almost. And the other one was basically, “Don’t go into debt.” So have a credit card by all means, but pay it off in full every month, and don't borrow money.

Taylor

It sounds like you got an actual education on how to handle money. I'm surprised by this.

Alan

There are some good basics.

Taylor

I mean that's more than what I got. I don't remember having any sort of tips or advice on how to handle money. We didn't even talk about money, it was a very taboo topic.

Katie

It was taboo in my house as well. My mum for years would not tell us how much she earned. I think her family was quite secretive about money. Don't ask how much you earn. Don't ask who you voted for in an election. “Secret ballot, secret ballot.” Yeah. If you asked my mom who she voted for in the election, she goes, “Secret ballot.” Which just shows the programming that came from her parents, which then gets passed down, and if you're not careful, then you just automatically adopt it.

Alan

One of my favorite expressions along that line is, “You are not responsible for the programming you received as a child, but you are 100% responsible for changing it as an adult. But I don't think we often notice these things that are just passed down. They are said to us so many times and we just end up repeating them in adulthood.

Taylor

Well, whenever we met for ceviche last week with Diego, we were talking about this, right? How things get passed down and I was trying to say, we either replicate what we had seen in our house from our parents or we see that we don't want to be that way and we do the opposite, but I loved what you said when you said, “You can take the time to actually create your own set of rules and create the way that you want to be and handle money and go forth and go forward. I love that.”

Katie

I think often it doesn't come out until if you choose to have your own children and the things that you want to teach them. Maybe you don't notice all these things until it's time for you to be like, “Okay, I'm a parent. I'm going to impart my wisdom onto my children” and then this stuff comes out. Like I hear myself saying things to my nieces, not about money, but just random stuff that my mom used to say to me, to them so I can see how it happens. And yeah, it's interesting how maybe it only starts to come out when you are in the position of trying to teach your children something.

Taylor

Yes. Well, I think milestones, in general, will bring up things you never realized before. I mean, that's exactly what's happening with me and Diego right now as we're preparing for the wedding, we started having these conversations about, oh gosh, everything: what we value in life, what we want our lives to look like 10 years from now, why we want to grow our money, where we want to live, do we want to have a normal wedding or do we want to elope? Would we rather put that money towards buying a house? Do we even want to buy a house or do we prefer the freedom of renting? Do we want to have kids? When do we want to retire? What kind of vacations do we want to have? How much we should save for vacations and fun. I mean, just everything. And here we are two months later still having these conversations. I mean, just this morning we had a conversation about whether or not we should get a prenup and what we should include in the prenup. I mean, I feel like these conversations are never-ending and as you said, it's amazing the things you realize during these life milestones, whether it's having kids or getting married or whatnot.

Katie

I'm curious when you say conversations and discussions, is that code word for arguments?

Taylor

That's a great question. Yesterday. It was on the brink of argument. I got emotional. I started crying twice. Diego was just looking at me like, “Why are you getting so emotional?” He's very cool, calm, and collect. I'm the more emotional one. But yeah, I had a lot of emotion. I was getting angry. I was getting upset. I was crying and, and it's really interesting because it's not just in the moment, but afterward, you have to think, why was I getting so emotional about that? And where did that come?

Alan

And the other interesting question is, what do I have to believe to feel that way? Because you're feeling a certain feeling, you’re feeling defensive or you're feeling challenged or you're feeling sad, or whatever it is. What do you have to believe for that to be real?

Taylor

Right. It challenges your whole framework for who you are. It's a great opportunity to ask yourself is that who I want to be or is that what I want to believe?

Alan

And there's one thing I'd love to say to everyone listening to the podcast: You do not have to wait for a milestone to happen to have these conversations. You can start at any point by asking your potential partner, your friend, I don't care who it is. Start talking about it with questions like, so what did your parents teach you about money? Taylor asked some great questions on this podcast. You don't have to be on the podcast to answer them. Take them to dinner. What did your parents teach you? How did you grow up? What expressions did they teach you? And it's fascinating. Then you'll start to learn where that programming came from, and you can make a decision about whether you want to perpetuate it or not.

Taylor

I love that so much. Okay. Katie, going back to you, what did you absorb from your childhood and how has it affected your life?

Katie

For me, it was that I was a definite saver. So I saved money. I felt like that was a very strong part of what my parents taught me. I sometimes took it to the extreme. So I said like, I hoarded money almost. Now I need to dial it back a little bit. I'm too much wanting to save for saving's sake. And Alan and I have hit financial independence and we have an amount of money that we can spend each year. And I'm still trying to save and spend less, even though I don't need to. And I don't want to go too far the other way and be irresponsible. And I know Alan would normally think…

Alan

You are so far from irresponsible. Buy the smoked salmon. It'll be okay. 

Taylor

Just buy the blueberries!

Taylor

Just for everyone listening quickly, what is financial independence? When you say you're financially independent, what does that mean?

Alan

The simple definition is your assets, the things you've invested in produce a bigger return than your expenses. So you never have to work again if you don't want to.

Taylor

Aka, they’re living the cush lifestyle.

Alan

Yeah. Our savings and investments have grown over the years to a point that they produce more than we spend. So whether we work or not, there is money turning up in our world.

Alan

This is one of the biggest learnings I'd love to give to your audience: do courses together, do books together, learn together, find someone to do it with. I used to go off and do courses on my own. I'd get really excited. I'd do a three or four day course. I'd come back and tell Katie about it. And of course, how am I meant to describe in 20 minutes what's happened over four days and I botched the content I'd tell Katie and she'd go, that's interesting.

Taylor

Right? <laugh>

Alan

And then I'd have this sad moment and it just didn't work. And we were growing in opposite directions and it was pulling us apart. And then at some stage we realized do the courses together, learn together.

Taylor

I feel like it's the only way. I had a similar experience just with this one book that we began reading together because I was reading it on my own and then trying to relay the information to Diego and just feeling deflated because he would just look at me with the same reaction, "That’s cool, honey. Thanks for sharing.”

Alan

And you're like, No it's life-changing. We need to do this. Why are you not excited like I am?

Katie

Are you then trying to have these discussions in Spanish, which is not your native language?

Taylor

At this point, my Spanish is better than his English so it just makes sense to have these conversations in Spanish. I think we're going to reread it now though because we read it last year and I feel like we are running into the same walls that we ran into last year.

Alan

Interesting.

Taylor

Or last year we didn't realize how big of an issue they were. But now we do because we're getting married. I think that's the bigger issue.

Alan

At least you're talking about this before you get married rather than most people who do it 20 years into being married and it falls apart. I know some people who don't even know their partner is in debt when they're getting married.

Taylor

I know! Okay, this is why I got emotional yesterday. My parents got divorced because of money. They never talked about it. And I'm seeing similar patterns with Diego and myself as with my dad and my mom. And I hate to say it, but I'm just really scared of falling into that same pit and that same pattern. And so I got really emotional yesterday because I don't want to follow that path. I want to create our own path and I want Diego to be there with me to do it. And I got really emotional about it.

Katie

The fact that you're getting married, is it prompting this because of the thought that you're going to combine your finances together? What is it about the fact that you're getting married that changes anything?

Taylor

I was the one that told him, before we get married I want to make sure that we're on the same page with everything. And that includes a lot of different things: How we view money and our money psychology and then number two, creating our life together and what kind of lifestyle we want. And then three, actually going through the numbers together, because I want you to know that I have student loan debt like everyone else in the US.

Katie

Yeah, to go into it with eyes wide open.

Alan

Yeah, to know where you’re going and what you’re doing. Because money is the number one reason for divorce in the US. And I think it’s a huge problem elsewhere as well. And I think maybe it's infidelity and other things as well, but sometimes money can be the cause of that and it's the outlet as opposed to the real reason. And it's really fascinating. So if we could do anything to get people to talk about money earlier, money philosophy, money ideas, your beliefs, your way of operating. I would love that. Please, please talk to your friends. Anyone!

Taylor

At what point did you begin talking about money in your relationship?

Katie

We did a couple of courses, didn’t we? We did The Millionaire Mind that we just mentioned. And we also did one called Billionaire Bootcamp.

Alan

It was interesting, and it promoted what we were doing and I was building a business and I thought entrepreneurship was my route and I wanted to go that way. So we started talking more about earning money and different things. And those courses would inspire us about assets. And I read this book by Robert Kiyosaki called Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which is kind of one of those seminal books people talk about. And he talks about how an asset puts money in your pocket and a liability takes money out of your pocket. And then for about two years afterwards, I was saying to Katie, where do we buy an asset? Where's the asset shop? How do I buy an asset? What is an asset? Show me the assets! I got really frustrated about, what is an asset? How do we do it? And so it's the self-development, it's the learning, it's the concepts and the ideas gradually brought it in and then we would discuss the books and what we were doing.

Katie

I think we were both keen to build wealth as well.

Alan

I never wanted to end up like my parents. Yeah. That was a huge motivator.

Katie

And Alan had kind of shown me this different world where you can do anything. You don't just have to follow the standard path. And my family's very traditional, so it's go to university, get a good degree so that you can then get a good job and then work in that job and advance up the career ladder. 

Alan

Until you're 65 and you die.

Katie

Until you retire. Alan was like, you know, you don't have to live that way if you don't want to. And I was like, what do you mean? And so then he showed me there are all these other possibilities, which was a journey in itself. I was quite resistant to start with because I thought, "This is weird. No, you can't do that.” And then one of the things that we talked about of the possibilities was having enough money so we didn't have to work anymore. I think that came later. To start with, having enough money so that you can take a month off a year and that seemed really out there to start with. And then suddenly we learned about the fact that you could take the rest of your life or you could retire early and not have to work again. So yeah. Alan kind of opened both of our eyes to all these different ways of living.

Taylor

Yeah. Those are two huge doors you opened. I mean, I’ve just noticed between our clients and also with my relationships, if one person is an entrepreneur and the other one isn’t, it makes a huge difference. I mean there's a huge mentality shift between entrepreneurs and people that are working in the corporate world. And the second thing, financial independence, not having to work for the rest of your life, that’s another huge concept that you introduced into the relationship. So, how did you feel whenever he brought those conversations up at first?

Katie

You're weird.

Alan

That’s factually correct.

Katie

I remember Alan studied NLP: Neurolinguistic Programming. And I was just like, this is weird and so much so that he knew I came from quite a more scientific background and that things need rigor and proof and things. So he bought me a book called NLP, The Scientific Approach or something like that in an attempt to..

Alan

…in an attempt to come over to the dark side.

Taylor

Smart. You learned her language.

Katie

But it was weird and foreign and different.

Alan

And some of it is hocus pokus and some of it actually works and is really clever. And you have to decide on your own what it is. I’d gotten addicted to learning from these books. So I'd read a book and then I would instantly apply it and see whether it worked in my life and I think that's a strange concept to most people. My friends used to joke with me, take the mickey out of me, I don’t know what the American expression is…

Katie

Tease me. That’s also a British expression.

Alan

Thank you. They would tease me. Thank you for helping me with my linguistics. They would tease me because I would say you can learn anything from a book and they thought this was a weird concept. I'm like, well, it's not, you can read about it and then do it. And I got passionate about reading and learning and eventually, I stopped telling people that I was reading and learning because they just teased me about it. So I just did it. And I wanted Katie to learn with me. I wanted to grow together. I wanted to learn together. I wanted to do all of this together, but it was quite hard. I think Katie was skeptical of some of the stuff I was learning and the science-based “show me the proof” and both your parents are into chemistry and science and teachers and all of that stuff. And there's me going, "Here’s a self-development book with no proof, but it'll change your life. Woo!”

Taylor

Well, that brings up a good point. How do you talk to your partner if he or she is reluctant to start learning or start thinking about these concepts?

Alan

You wear them down over the days.

Katie

<Laugh>

Alan

No, that's not true. I always focused on, I want to build this incredible life with you and I want a cool life and I want all these things. So we should be setting goals and thinking about where we're going and what we're doing. And then we read one book Tim Ferris’s The Four Hour Workweek which spoke of mini-retirements. I was like, I want a mini-retirement after our wedding. That's what I want to do. And we both got excited by that.

Katie

We had a six-month honeymoon basically.

Alan

Yeah. We took six months off for our honeymoon, which people go, what? Six months for your honeymoon? They go for two weeks in the Seychelles and blow about the same amount of money that we spent on six months traveling the world. And we had an amazing time. It was phenomenal. And then we came back and we both had a taste of a different way of living.

Katie

I was so grumpy going back to work after that. I was like, what is this bullshit? I completely lost my mojo for work. After doing that, I didn't go for promotions. I was like, this is that. I'm not up for this.

Alan

And then in 2015, I read another book, which was basically about how to sort your finances out on money. And it showed us the level of investments you would need at three different levels to retire. So like the basics to cover your house and electric and bills and food, and then an upper level where you can go out once a week and do a few nice bits, but it's not living big. And then a big level. And we're like, oh, this is incredible. So we read this book, and we got absolutely fanatical about it. We told everyone and one of our friends sent us a link to Mr. Money Mustache, the financial independence world. You (Katie) devoured his blog.

Taylor

What was the book called?

Katie

Don’t read it. We won't tell you because we don't recommend it because it's like a thousand pages intense.

Alan

You have to translate the thing to be able to even understand it. And there are much better books that we have now read, but it started us.

Katie

We had to translate it because it was written for an American audience, and we had to figure out how that worked for us in the UK in terms of investing.

Alan

If you want to read the simple version, read The Simple Path To Wealth by JL Collins. It’s a phenomenal book that lays out very simply the principles of financial independence, how much you need, and how to get there. And it's like a 300-page book that's simple and practical. This one just was too much, but it started us and you need something to ignite the flame, to know where you are going.

Katie

Actually, that book did serve us well because it got rid of your fear of the stock market.

Alan

I had a huge fear of investing. Huge fear.

Taylor

Why?

Alan

My dad, back when I was 19 or 20 years old, all of the money that I'd earned at school, through buying and selling his sportswear through selling school and college party tickets through all my entrepreneurial ventures, I'd saved up like 7,000 pounds. It was my life savings back then: 7,000 pounds. Like it was a house deposit, a big house deposit. And he persuaded me to invest the entire amount in an actively managed high-tech, high-growth fund right before the.com bubble.

Taylor

Oh no.

Alan

And I lost everything. It all vanished. And my house deposit evaporated. I was left with nothing from all that work. And my mom backed up the belief that the stock market was evil because of the amount of money my dad had lost in different ways through doing these crazy things. So all the way from 20 till my early-mid thirties, I was allergic to stocks in the stock market.

Taylor

How did you get over your fear?

Alan

I read this book that said actively managed funds are evil. And basically, an actively managed fund is where you pay a higher fee to get someone to pick stocks and shares for you because the professionals know best <laugh>. However, the data shows that you’ve got just as good a chance of success if you took the financial papers and threw darts at them and used that as your technique for picking stocks. There's like a handful of people that you can name like Warren Buffet, Ray Dalio, no one else can pick stocks and shares over the long term. It just isn't a thing. And I'm like, okay, so now I understand why I lost money when I was 21. And I understand why it went wrong. And then it showed me the way to do it in a different way, which was passive investing or index investing.

And it suggested this was the route. So that education showed me the mistake I'd made, why I was an idiot, and how to do it differently. <Laugh> And so then I was like, okay, there's this different route. Let's test that. And we tried it and we started to work and we learned more. And then Mr. Money Mustache’s blog, and then we booked to go on this course called Chatauqua, which is a financial independence retreat. It was in Ecuador at the time. So we flew to Ecuador to meet JL Collins and Mr. Money Mustache and the Mad Fientist. And we met all these people who'd retired in their thirties and it was just crazy. You can do this. Yeah. So we followed the path and Katie retired when she was 35 and I got there at 40 slightly behind her. It was actually exactly the same time. I'm just older and less efficient at earning money <laugh>.

Taylor

And I'll list all of these books and courses in the show notes for everyone listening. I would love to learn more about how you guys actually had these conversations and what they were focused on in the very beginning. So were they focused on what's the reason for creating our wealth together or was it more just learning about how you guys view wealth and your habits or was it just straight up here's an Excel sheet and we're gonna go through the numbers? What was your process for having these conversations? I'm selfishly asking because I would love some help with Diego and myself.

Alan

It was the books and courses.

Katie

I think we always had a common goal. So the first one was that we wanted to have our own place together. Our own house. That was such a massive focus. I used to be an actuary and I was doing professional exams. And every time I passed an exam, I got a pay rise. And every time I got a pay rise, it meant we can borrow a bit more for a mortgage because they do like a multiple of your salary. So the more you earn, the more the banks are willing to lend you. And so that was such a big focus that let's earn more money so that we can get a place together. So that was very spreadsheet-based and like going through the actual numbers. And then we were having these conversations around it from the books and the courses that we did. I think conversation sometimes was a code word for argument because Alan was like, “This is amazing. We can do all this stuff.” And I was like, “Oh no, this is weird.”

Alan

Katie is very risk averse. She's trying to look for what would go wrong. Not for what could go. Right. And I'm the opposite.

Taylor

That's our dynamic. Diego and I are the exact same. That's our dynamic also.

Katie

I assume you are Alan and Diego is me in this scenario.

Taylor

Yeah. 

Katie

It just took time. How did we overcome that?

Alan

So Steven Covey wrote The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People and there is a workbook and I'm a geek for learning. So I bought us a copy of each of the workbooks and we did book club where we would go to a cafe for two hours and work through the book, come up with a vision for our family life, and discuss where we'd come from.

Katie

But why was I willing to do that when I hadn't done stuff in the past?

Alan

Because it was Doctor Steve Covey <laugh>.

Alan

I kept asking you to read books and come on courses and do things together. And at some point, I think you said yes, and one of them inspired you. And I just had to keep asking.

Katie

You wore me down!

Alan

I kept things positive. We need to do this together. We need to learn together. And I think I was so desperate and we actually just started this last week, doing another course together. I don't think learning ever stops. And we are doing Tony Robbin's relationship program together.

Taylor

I would love to hear how that goes.

Alan

We're in it right now. One of his questions is, what is your ideal relationship? And my reflection on that is the biggest thing I want is a co-creator. And that's my language for someone that I want to build our life together. And there was an expression I heard years ago that the extraordinary belongs to those that create it. Ie: no one's gonna come around and give you an extraordinary life. They don't go around school going Taylor, would you like an extraordinary life?

Taylor

Yes, please.

Alan

Please pass me one over. It doesn't happen. The extraordinary belongs to those that create it. So we have to create it and I don't want to do it on my own. I want do it together. And that is one of the biggest things I want to create our future together. I want someone to build with, not against.

Taylor

During these conversations that you guys had together, were there things that you guys disagreed on that kept showing up in the conversations? What were some things that you guys disagreed on and how did you reconcile your differences?

Katie

I think it was the mindset of possibility that Alan would come and like, we could do this, this, this, this, or this, and my normal response was you are weird. Or I would make a joke out of something that he said and take away all his power and excitement.

Alan

And sometimes I would get angry and fight for it. Sometimes I would sulk off in the corner and be upset and moody for a while. Sometimes I'd come up with a different strategy. It was difficult at times. And when we first did the getting to financial independence stuff, you had a thing of, why should we be allowed? Why should you be allowed to do it?

Katie

Yes. I had a lot of weird guilt of why should I be allowed to do this thing that hardly anyone does? And you're meant to work for your whole life and everyone's going to judge us. And I projected all my stuff onto other people. Like, they're gonna think this, this, this, and this. And obviously, that was me thinking that and saying that other people were going to think that. I was brought up to be like just like everyone else, to fit in and to do what everyone else does. So when Alan said, let's be weird. I was like, no <laugh>.

Alan

And I never fitted in. I got bullied hideously at school. I never fitted in. And I spent a good decade wanting to fit in until I realized I don't, I'm never going to fit in. I don't care. I don't need their approval. I don't want anything to do with it. And people are vicious. Katie was in the newspaper recently. I've been in the newspaper. People are vicious. They write horrible comments.

Katie

We're in the newspaper about being financially independent. Just for context.

Alan

Yeah, not for weird stuff. It was actually quite a positive story of here's this couple, they’ve reached financial independence. They've retired early. You can do it too. Be inspired world. And then you get all the rude comments of your parasites on society. You are this, you’re evil.

Katie

Don’t read the comments.

Alan

Yeah. Don't read the comments, but it's interesting that kind of stuff exists. I can understand why people don't want to stand out. They don't want to put themselves out there.

Katie

I think in particular, our culture in the UK is very much if someone looks like they're starting to succeed is to pull them back down so that they can be with the rest of us. Whereas I think in the States, it's more a celebration of, oh, this person's done well and they're an inspiration to everyone else.

Taylor

Mm. How long did it take you from this initial point to the point of, okay, I'm on board. I'm going to start diving into all of this with you and learning more about all these new concepts, entrepreneurship, financial independence…

Katie

10 years. I feel really bad. <Crying>

Alan

Don't feel bad. It's fine. Oh, I love you. It's okay. Like we all start where we start and we all do what we do. I was just fortunate someone gave me a book and I actually read it and I was open to it and I was lucky and it starts and like, look where we are now. We've done well, we're happy. 

Katie

But I made it really difficult for you.

Alan

It's okay. I love you. I just wanted to be with you.

Katie

I told you I'd cry. Feel free to keep this in the podcast, by the way. <Laugh>

Alan

It took a long time for us to come together. So for anyone listening to this, if you've been working at it for years, don't lose heart. Keep going. Let's build a bright future together. Let's work together. What future would you like? What do you want? Let's build it together. Have a positive focus.

Taylor

I love that. I agree. It's so important to have that positive focus together and also to reach a point of mutual understanding of one another, right? I mean, it wasn't until last year when I started diving into the vast world of money psychology that I began to see how money problems go so much deeper than what's on the surface. It's like that iceberg image used in mental health where it shows the tip of the iceberg with a symptom and then it shows all of the underlying causes below the iceberg. I feel like money is the exact same concept. Most people will fight for years about a quote-unquote money problem. When in reality, it might have nothing to do with money itself and everything to do with something that happened in their childhood and now they're getting triggered by it as an adult. 

For example, not feeling like you're worthy or good enough as a child could manifest in adulthood as I don't deserve to earn a certain amount of money or I don't deserve to live a wealthy life. And that can cause real issues in the relationship. I mean, that's why I believe these questions are crucial to ask in relationships and not with the objective of getting your partner to think and behave as you do, but purely to understand why your partner thinks and behaves the way that they do, because only with mutual understanding, can you reach a true resolution to the problem, right?

Alan

And that's the start is learning together, asking questions, and understanding the other person. And I think with so many couples, partners try and force their view on the other person rather than understanding. So if I could give one piece of advice to people, it would be to ask questions and understand the person you are trying to date.

Katie

That applies not just to finances, that applies to everything.

Alan

Yes. Every single area of life, where they want to live, what job they want, why they're living, where they want to go on holiday. I'm curious. Tell me, where does that desire come from? What do you want to try? Why are you going over there? Like, get curious about the person that's opposite you.

Katie

Or on top of you.

Alan

Or underneath you.

Taylor

Let's make this dirty <laugh>.

Alan

It's a natural habit.

Taylor

Okay. So back to the topic of curiosity and understanding one another. So Diego and I were able to reach this point of mutual understanding, but that didn't mean that we still didn't have our differences and issues to work through. And a big roadblock that we kept running into is creating a shared vision for five or 10 years down the road. For me, I'm an idealist. I love to dream big and create these seemingly unrealistic goals. And Diego is much more grounded and realistic and practical. So I'm like this very airy energy and he's like this very earthy energy. So when we come together to do or to talk about our vision for the future, it's been a struggle for us because I'm trying to get him to dream bigger and see more long-term and he's more in the day-to-day and thinks more in the present.

So it's been interesting because he comes from a very humble background myself as well. So I don't think he was accustomed to thinking long-term or thinking bigger. So whenever I bring up this topic of creating a vision for our future, I can just see his body tense up. And finally, I just asked him, why do you tense up when I bring up these conversations? And he said, you know, we never had extra money growing up. So I haven't learned how to think bigger than the day-to-day or why I'm saving my money. You know, he's a brilliant entrepreneur and so responsible with his money, which I admire so much but I feel like the last missing piece is learning why we want to save and invest our money. There's no real vision or goal.

Alan

The challenge sometimes is the belief in possibility. So people can hear about financial independence, but if they don't believe it's possible for them, they don't want to talk about it. They don't want to entertain it. They wanna push it away. They want nothing to do with it. If you don't believe something's possible for you, you can't entertain it. And especially if you've grown up in an environment where you've never experienced it, you don't even know it. Then you want to try and so my thought is to get around people who have done these things so they can start to sense them, start to experience them, and find people who have achieved what you want to achieve. And I think that one of the biggest moments for us was going to Ecuador and meeting these people who'd done it. We're like, wow, okay. This is real. We're all in. And we set the big FI (financial independence) joint goal that we were both passionate about, and that drove us for five years. That one goal was a five-year vision of we can do this. We can do this. And it was a joint goal. We co-created it. We knew exactly what we were doing.

Katie

The power of that joint goal. It’s all we talked about. It fascinated us for decades. We’d walk around the town after dinner and just talk about how could we get a bit more money here and how could we do this.

Alan

Yeah. We were inspired together to work on that joint goal. But I think we had to truly believe it was possible for us to get all into making it happen.

Taylor

Do you both have joint financial goals? And if so, what are they?

Katie

Not necessarily in finances anymore, but we have things that we work on together.

Alan

We have the Rebel Finance School where we give away courses that we run together, teaching people this stuff. So we have a goal to run one of those a year and we've helped a couple of thousand people sort their finances out. And we have goals to travel to places and do things. And every now and again, I have a goal of, I want to go to Disney for my birthday and stuff like that. Now we do a lot more goal setting together but that's been an evolution over the years.

Taylor

Talk about the evolution. How did it start? Did it start with the financial independence conversation and having that joint goal?

Alan

So it started with my obsession with goals, which came from self-development, which says you should have goals. So I would set goals. I would never meet them. I'd feel utterly demotivated. I would lose a couple of weeks to being depressed and just didn't want to make progress. And I had this love, hate relationship with goals that they'd inspire, but when I didn't hit them, I would be depressed. And that's because you set a timeframe of when you're going to do them and if you don't hit them, it's a very binary success or not. Whereas something like financial independence is a long, long goal. So it was less like it has to be done. Now we just need to chip away at it and do little bits and steps. And then eventually we started talking about different goals. And we started to set things together and like Steven Covey's book talks about you can't build something you haven't first seen. So you need to, he calls it, start with the end in mind. So first visualize where you're going and then set the steps to get there. And so we started to do that and talk about goals. And I started to learn, that it's not just a one-and-done, you don't set them and then forget about them. It's something you do every day. And there's been a long journey of learning about goals, and how they operate. And I think they can put a lot of people off. And if you get it wrong, it can actually damage where you are going and set you back. But if you change your mindset, they can be incredibly motivational over the long term.

Katie

I think that all or nothing mindset hurt you a lot. Didn't it? Because say you had a goal to run 20 miles and you'd never run before in your life. And that one time you run 19 and a half miles. Oh, are you a failure? Because you didn't hit your goal like that all-or-nothing thing.

Alan

Yeah. My goal was to make $100,000 in a year.

Katie

So if you made $95,000 then you're a failure. If you start and maybe what, the year you set that goal, you were making $30,000 and you're like, I'm gonna stretch that goal. I'm gonna go for a hundred and you do 95. So you've tripled it.

Alan

But I didn't, I would go from $30,000 to $35,000 or whatever, and then feel utterly depressed that I was nowhere near it. And it completely destroyed me at that point. And that's the thing about thinking in decades, not years, everyone overestimates what they can do in a year and they underestimate what they can do in a decade. So stop thinking in years and set the big goal for way out and then improve every day on the way towards it. And you'll get there eventually.

Taylor

How did you guys work towards these goals together? Did you have weekly meetings, or monthly meetings? Did you have milestones? How did you work towards these goals together?

Katie

For the finances? One, we would have monthly check-ins.

Alan

We had monthly finance meetings, and constant discussions. What we're going to do. We got fully inspired by that one. And that one took over for a long time and we got very outsized results in that area because of our focus on that one area.

Taylor

Financial independence for five or so years? 

Alan

Yes. 

Taylor

What did those conversations look like? I'm so curious about the details, like what did those conversations look like? Like, give me an example of what you guys would talk about.

Katie

We have a process that we follow that comes from Jim Rohn, who’s one of the original self-development OGs. And he has a process that you go through where you start by saying, what's five things you've done recently that you're proud of to get you in the right mindset of feeling positive and like, oh, I can do stuff. Look, I've already done these five things.

Alan

Write 50-plus goals. Who do you want to meet? Where do you want to go? What do you want to have in your life? Do you want a new fridge? <Laugh> Do you, whatever it is, write 50 plus goals and volume is important. Then you pick your top four one-year goals. And then those one-year goals, you write out a paragraph of why they are important. And then the final piece is the question, who do I have to become to achieve those goals? And that's a really fascinating question because then you say, okay, I want to grow my business and sell this much money. Well, who do I have to become to do that? I have to become a great salesperson. Okay. So now my task is to learn how to sell, to develop my skills as a business person. Then you have the process to get to the goal. Whereas I think quite often we set the goal and think about it, decide some random action that we take and it never gets you towards it.  So that kind of process of goal setting happened.

Katie

We look back over those goals that we set over the years and invariably, even the ones that we didn't focus on, you'll read through and be like, yeah, done that, done that, done that, done that. So that thing about thinking in decades rather than years, yes. You were frustrated after only a year that you hadn't made enough progress but you look back 10 years ago and you're like, blimey, I’ve done all of those.

Taylor

<Laugh>

Alan

And then what did the conversations actually look like? We actually found that walking together was one of the best ways. So imagine a scene where we’re in Basingstoke in Hampshire.

Katie

Most people wouldn't be able to imagine that.

Alan

It's gray. It's cold. It's England, it's raining.

Katie

Google the Wote Street Willy.

Alan

We had this same loop around Basingstoke that was like a half an hour walk. And being next to each other chatting so you're not just face-to-face. Like there's something about that being next to each other, walking, talking, coming up with the ideas that was where a huge amount of the conversation actually happened.

Taylor

I love that because whenever we go face to face, I feel like there's unnecessary tension there. And we've had our biggest conversations either in the car or walking on the beach. Yeah. I remember I don't know why this pops into my head, but the weekend that we went to San Pancho, a little nearby beach town and we had done the 50 questions to fall in love, that one quiz that went viral, or the 36 questions to fall in love I think it was. And we decided to do it in the car ride up to San Pancho and it took the entire car ride. And then we continued the conversation during dinner and then whenever we finished the questions he ended up proposing right afterward. So I thought it was really funny timing that we did the 36 questions to fall in love and then he proposed afterward.

Alan

Do you think it was premeditated?

Taylor

I found the ring a year, no, two years before he actually proposed. He doesn't know that I found the ring in his backpack when I was cleaning and so yeah, he had been thinking about it for a while.

Alan

He had been thinking about it for a while. Just looking for the right moment.

Taylor

Yeah. Yeah.

Katie

I think the beauty of when you are walking or in the car is, silence is okay if you're walking, it’s like, oh, we’re walking so it's not weird if you're not saying anything.

Taylor

Oh, that's true.

Katie

So you got the time to process rather than just like looking at each other.

Alan

Like, “Are you going to reply?”

Taylor

<Laugh> Do you guys have joint finances?

Katie

I mean, we don't have any joint accounts or things aren't in both of our names. It's either in one name or the other, but we think of it in aggregate. So it's all of ours.

Alan

But one important part of any relationship is both people should have access to some of their own money. You should never have to go to someone else and say, please give me money for something. You need to have a way so that you both have some independence financially, as well as the joint working on it and the joint goals.

Taylor

Because people assume they need to join accounts or join finances when they get married. But that's not a reason in itself. You have to have a reason to want to join your finances.

Katie

We just always had separate but thought of it as together. So Alan would pay for holidays and fun stuff and I paid the mortgage and the electricity bills. And actually, it came out about the same anyway.

Taylor

Oh, I like that. That makes it really easy. Yeah. You don't have to worry about, okay, now it's February, we're going to pay half and half.

Alan

Yeah. We never had that. We both had incomes.

Katie

Well, when you were self-employed, your (income) was more erratic.

Alan

So some months I would do really well, some months I wouldn't. And it wasn't until later on in my career that my business was growing, that I was bringing in money regularly. It was very on and off to start with.

Taylor

Yep. Makes sense. Making financial decisions in the relationship. I know you mentioned, that you want both of you to create the decisions together. It's like a 50/50 contribution to the relationship. You gave the example of how you guys have your separate accounts and then you handle the mortgage and you handle the vacations. Can you give any more examples of how you shared finances and how you guys came to that conclusion?

Alan

I think how we came to the conclusion. I think it started from that very first bit where right at the start, Katie was at university and I was earning money and I always said, it will go the other way. Like I will pay for food now, but at some point, it will go the other way and it did. And then it went the other way and I was making more money and Katie wasn't and then it went the other way. And so those experiences always led to it doesn't really matter whose it is. It's ours. It doesn't matter which account it's in. It's ours.

Katie

Yeah. I don't remember ever sitting down and being like, okay, I'll pay XYZ. And you do ABC. It kind of evolved naturally.

Alan

And then I guess the big bit in terms of investments, most of the time it's whose name is most tax-advantaged to put this in, and tax drives a lot of decisions and reasons. And it's like, okay, you've got a certain capital gains allowance. I've got a certain capital gains allowance. We've got certain tax allowances and that drives a lot of our decisions is what's the most tax-efficient route.

Katie

It's more like a game to play together.

Alan

It's a game to play together to win the system.

Taylor

<Evil laugh> Love it. What do your guys' meetings look like today? What do your money meetings look like today?

Alan

We have a monthly finance meeting that we do together, which is one of the most exciting times of the month.

Katie

We get very excited. I'll say, Alan, do you know what it is tomorrow? It’s our monthly finance meeting. 

Taylor

I love this. Tell me more.

Alan

It normally involves a nice breakfast out.

Katie

The last working day of the month. We have a net worth spreadsheet, which lists out everything that we have.

Alan

Yeah. Assets and liabilities.

Katie

All assets and liabilities. And we update it to say how much we have.

Alan

And then are we going in the right direction? Or are we not going in the right direction? And what happens? And then we have a good discussion of like, what did we spend? Where did it go? What was a good investment of money? What was a waste of money? What would we spend more on?

Katie

When you say good investment, you mean our spending. So we look at two things, we look at how much we have, a snapshot, and then more the cash flow. So what did we spend this month? And that's what you mean when you say, was it a good investment? Did we get value for our money? What was a waste of money?

Alan

Well, we're in our Airbnb at the moment and we paid a lot more for an Airbnb on the beach, but what a wonderful use of our financial resources. Because we can roll out onto the beach, go running, go swimming. It's amazing. And that's been in our discussion: spend more on the stuff that we value. And sometimes you spend money like we go out for a fancy meal and it wasn't that good and you're like, okay. It just felt a bit awkward. There were too many people around you. It was a bit weird.

Katie

Let’s just go to the taco stand next time. <Laugh>

Alan

And like that didn't represent value for money. So let's not do that. Let's do that instead. Mm. So we kind of have a look at that. Like where could we spend more to have more happiness and where are we spending too much that does not bring happiness?

Taylor

That's really, that's really great. I haven't thought about doing that exercise with Diego.

Alan

Where's your money going? And is it bringing you happiness?

Katie

Is it in line with your values? So Alan and I love having a really nice place to live. The environment that we are in is very important to us and we enjoy food and we enjoy eating out.

Alan

<Laugh>

Katie

Not necessarily fancy stuff. We just like really good food. Good quality, high quality, but not super pricey, super fancy. And then on the flip side, we don't spend money on jewelry and clothes.

Alan

Because that's not what we value.

Katie

I've never been into makeup. Like we don't value it so we don't spend any money on it. And I think it's knowing what is important to you and spending your money accordingly.

Alan

And if clothes are important and you value them, then spend your money on that, don't spend it on a car, just spend it on what's important to you. But sometimes I think people spend to keep up with the Joneses and to keep up appearances, whatever, and they don't actually get the joy.

Taylor

I’m going to steal this exercise though. I mean, we both have an idea of what we value and what we would like to spend money on. I love having a nice environment. So my house is really important to me. Diego could live anywhere and be happy. I'm jealous of him. He's very happy with whatever he has, which is an amazing quality. But trying to get him to understand, I need to have, you know, aesthetics is important to me. I need to feel like I'm in a nice environment, in a nice home. So I can feel good. I feel inspired. I feel safe. I feel all of these things that I feel when I'm in a good environment. And so, yeah, and I try to get him to be like, Hey, what do you value? What would you like to splurge money on? He can't think of anything! He’s such a practical guy. He's like, I don't feel the need to splurge on anything. (And I’m like) But give me one thing, I feel like I'm like pestering him like just give me something! He’s like, okay, a bike. I’ll spend money on a nice bike. He loves cycling. Cycling is his life. He's so passionate about it. But I love this exercise. Like what do you value together? What did you spend too much money on this month? What can you spend more money on next month that you both really value? I love that. Thank you.

Katie

We can send you a list of questions that we ask ourselves each month.

Taylor

Please. Yes.

Alan

It's part of our financial meeting each month we ask ourselves a set of questions and yeah. Questions are the key.

Taylor

How many questions are there?

Alan

Like four or five for the end-of-month meeting.

Taylor

What are they? Can you tell me now? Let's get into the nuts and bolts.

Katie

What went well this month? What did we spend a lot on? What really added value to our lives? What was a waste of money? Where could we spend some more money?

Alan

And the final comment is where is our money invested? How much have we got in equity, property, and cash?

Taylor

Love it. Do you guys have any bullet points or questions from previous conversations? Like a long time ago? I'm just curious.

Alan

It'd be in the old notebook.

Katie

When did we start doing this?

Alan

A long time ago? Did we have a monthly finance meeting?

Katie

Did we jot down those answers? I don't remember doing it.

Alan

I've got January 2020. It's not that long ago, but like two and a bit years ago. Mm yeah. What went well, we rented out our flat. Yay. We turned it into an asset. We're diligently tracking our expenses. We were very happy about that. Yeah. What do we spend a lot on, we booked all accommodation and transport for the next few months, we spent on travel insurance for the year. What really added value to our lives? You loved pole dancing. It says good spending of money.

Taylor

It's a great workout.

Alan

Alan enjoyed coffee out and working on his laptop.

Katie

Each to their own.

Taylor

<Laugh>

Alan

We bought some tickets to an event that we didn't end up going to. So like, that's a huge waste of money. Where could we spend more, accommodation and massages were our two comments.

Taylor

I like that.

Katie

We were in Thailand for context.

Alan

And then our split was 3% cash, 22% property, and 75% equity. That was where our money was at that time. And you reflect on your total net worth and all of that jazz. Where's your money going?

Taylor

Yeah. Perfect. Thank you for sharing. 

Alan

Some random things for you and insight into our lives that you never knew you wanted.

Taylor

But I love hearing this and seeing this and having you guys talk about it because Diego thinks I'm really weird that I have all these questions written down and that I want us to have financial monthly meetings and he thinks it's too much, you know, he's like, just let things happen naturally. Come on <laugh> and I'm like, but I want to plan our entire lives right now!

Katie

I mean, it is weird in the sense that it's unusual. Like no one does this, but then that's why the people that do focus on it have the results that they have because they're building that and they're focusing on it. So yeah, it is weird, but embrace the weirdness.

Taylor

Embrace the weirdness. I like that.

Alan

The thing I would say to Diego and to everyone listening to this is extraordinary doesn't just happen. You don't drift into it. You have to build it. And if you're not consciously creating your life, you will just drift through it. And you can be happy doing that. And that's fine if that's your choice. We wanted to build something else. We wanted to build our version of what an extraordinary life is. And I think for everyone listening, I would say, figure out what extraordinary means to you and then go after it.

Taylor

I love that.

Katie

And it doesn't have to be big and grand and crazy.

Alan

It might just be dinner with the kids every night, that's extraordinary in this time.

Taylor

Yeah, exactly. Figuring out what is extraordinary to you. And that goes back to doing these monthly questions. What do you value? Right. Such an important question. My final two questions for you guys. When, in your personal opinion, should people start talking about money? When should people in their dating journey start talking about money in their relationship with their person?

Alan

I feel like it would come up on the first date with who's paying for the meal or who's paying for the, whatever. It always get a little bit awkward and weird.

Katie

I was going to say, maybe not the first date, but you're right. That can prompt a little bit of weirdness. 

Alan

I don't think you want to go full in with that conversation in the first three or four dates. Like, let's get to know each other, but it's interesting. Like, oh, what do you feel about this? What do you think about this? Ask questions. I think it's fascinating and getting a little bit deeper with the person opposite you, it’s really interesting to actually understand them. So start easing it in.

Taylor

And it doesn't even have to be questions like how much money do you make. It can be, did your family talk about money when you were growing up? Right. Or some sort of non-invasive question about their past.

Katie

Which they can choose to answer in as much depth as they want to. Like, no, they didn't really talk about money, and then maybe they shut the conversation down, which is a sign. Well, it's a sign, but also it's like, I'm not ready to open up about that yet.

Taylor

It's a good point. You can tell a lot by what a person says or doesn't say and their body language, right? Like if they tense up right away.

Alan

And how they react when the bill comes and the tip and all sorts of different things around booking tickets for the cinema for your third date, like, is it up to you to pay? Do they even offer? Is it a discussion? It's interesting. You can notice a lot about these things.

Taylor

And I feel like we're in an interesting time now just because it's changing quite a bit gender roles. As it should. I have a lot of friends that are still very old-fashioned and they say, I want the guy to pay for me maybe the first two dates and on the third date, I'll start contributing, but I want them to pick up the bill the first two dates because I feel like they are making a gesture or I feel like they're showing me that they care about me. I have some friends like that still. And then I have friends that are like, I'm insulted when they pick up the bill for me, like the opposite end of the spectrum.

Alan

It's dangerous. There's no right answer for us anymore. And you don't know what's going to happen. It’s like, so the bill has come, how do you feel about this? Which one of us, are we both going half? Would you like me to pay? I'd love to. I don’t know. It’s challenging.

Katie

It's a minefield.

Alan

It is. I don't want to step on the landmine.

Taylor

It's so true. We're in an awkward phase but I like that, just bringing it up. That's a great conversation starter. Like what do you think about who should pick up the bill? Just bringing up the conversation, right? And do you have any advice for partners, on how they can start having these conversations around money, especially if one partner is reluctant?

Katie

I think, what did your parents teach you about money is a really nice way to ease into it. Because it's exploratory, it's not accusatory. And the other one is, to start talking about what you want to build together. You need that big why before you start going into the nitty gritty of like, well, how much do you have in this account and this account? And people can feel very interrogated.

Taylor

I love that. Yeah. That's exactly what we did. So Diego and I started asking those questions about our family and money psychology. And now we're in the, what kind of life do we want to create together phase. And I have this huge list of questions that I had to translate into Spanish first and then I sent it to Diego and I said, why don't we write a vision statement? That sounds so formal, but like, a vision statement of what we want our family to look like in five or ten years. And, here are some prompts like some questions and we can come together and we can share those with each other and see.

Alan

That's one of the most insightful exercises. We did that when we were heading towards financial independence, we did an exercise where we both created a PowerPoint. We sound like such corporate geeks.

Katie

That's how we communicate.

Alan

That's how we communicate. We created a PowerPoint each of what do we want life to be like in financial independence. And then we shared it and commented on it. I used a lot of pictures. It was beautiful. <Laugh>

Katie

Implying that I didn't use a lot of pictures.

Taylor

<Laugh>

Alan

And we talked about it afterward and it's because I think there's always one more of a verbose partner and that's challenging because then you're trying to pull answers out of the other person, whereas you need to give them the time to write and create and think, then you can swap and comment and it'll inspire conversations. So I love that you did that. We did exactly the same thing and we do it actually every year. We have an annual set of questions that we talk about, what went well, where are we going with life?

Katie

I think it's important, like you said, to answer the questions separately and then come together, because like you said, the danger in our relationship would be Alan would go, oh let's do this, this and this. And I’d go, oh, that sounds fun. Okay. And then I haven't had a chance to input or take the time to think about it and I can be a bit lazy and be like, okay, yeah, you've come up with something cool. Let's just do what you said.

Alan

And that leads to resentment in the future if you're not careful.

Taylor

The first time you guys did this exercise, was there anything that came to light that was like, oh wow, we're both on the same page or we're not on the same page with this or what did that first exercise look like?

Alan

Well, I think I wanted to go and write a movie and Katie wanted to cycle around the world type stuff and we had different things. But that's good to know. And then you can do a bit of this and then we do a bit of that and I wrote the movie first and then we went to New Orleans for music for Katie later. And I think it's good that you find out these things because then you go, okay, that's your dream. I want to help make your dream real because I know that will make you happy, which will make us both happy. And it's not a binary outcome where one of you gets to do what you want and the other one doesn’t. There is a way to fit it all in to create the life of your dreams together. But we did have those like, oh, you want to do that? I want to do this. How does that fit together? And it doesn't have to, you can do them one after the other.

Taylor

Yeah. Yeah. We haven't done the exercise yet. I just sent him the questions. So we're going to convene next week.

Katie

Report back.

Alan

Are you going to record it for everyone listening?

Taylor

I want to, yeah. <Laugh> I told him I'm like, do you mind if I record and we'll probably do it in Spanish, but I was thinking, how can I do like a translation over us speaking in Spanish? I haven't figured out the details yet, but yeah. I want to record. I'm just looking at all the questions I have. It's going to take a while but yeah, that'll be fun. I promise last question. Did you guys talk about, do you guys want to have kids?

Alan

No. We did talk about it.

Katie

We both assumed that we would have kids because that's what you do.

Alan

When we first met, I wanted a four-bed house and two kids. That was my goal way back when.

Katie

Which we kind of just inherited from society and culture being like, that's what you do. And then slowly it occurred to us that we didn't want that. And we like the freedom that we have from not having kids.

Alan

One of my friends made it his mission to show me what bringing up kids was actually like, changing diapers, telling me all the stories and he would always end the stories with, "and of course I love them and they're a massive joy in my life.”

Taylor

The obligatory comment after each word vomit <laugh>.

Alan

He definitely created an “away-from” motivation for me that I don't want kids.

Taylor

I forget now the exact number, but the dollar amount of raising a kid until they're 18…

Alan

It's like a quarter of a million.

Taylor

A quarter of a million. Yeah.

Alan

It's expensive.

Katie

It would be cheaper in Mexico.

Alan

It would be definitely cheaper in Mexico, but we decided we didn't want kids and we love our life and our freedom. And maybe that sounds selfish in a way, but I didn't care. I love my life. I love our life together. I love the way it is. I love that we get to travel and what we do and the freedom we get to create courses, and give them away. It's just incredible. And I'm sure we would be happy if we had kids, just a different type of life and you sometimes see our friends and they love their kids and they love their life, and they're also jealous of our lives.

Taylor

At which point did you guys have the kid conversation, whether you wanted kids or not?

Alan

I think we both assumed when we were first getting together that we would have kids. Yeah. And then it gradually shifted.

Katie

I always just kept deferring it. So we got together when we were quite young and I was like, oh, you know, when I'm 30, then we'll start thinking about it. And I got to 30 and I was like, well, my brother had kids when he was 35. So 35 is my new deadline. And then we got to 35 and I was like, no.

Taylor

We have similar stories.

Katie

<Laugh> So you've decided not to have kids?

Taylor

Well, it's funny because the same thing, whenever we got together, it was just five years ago. We both assumed that we would want kids. And I told him, you know, I think I will want kids when I'm 34, 35. I was what? 30 at the time? Yeah. I was 31. I'm 36 now. Sorry. I'm bad with math. 

Alan

<Laugh>

Taylor

So anyway. Yeah, same story. We both assumed we wanted kids. And then, you know what?  I think it was a year ago or over a year ago, and I was reading Ramit Sethi's book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and at the very end, there's a whole chapter dedicated to how much it costs to raise a child. And I got done reading it and at that time I was 34, and I still didn't have that urge that I wanted to have kids and I turned to Diego and I just said, I don't think I want to have kids and he just said, okay. And I said, really? Okay? And he said, yeah, I think it's okay. And I go, I don't know. I think you want kids. And he said, yeah, but at the same time, they're really expensive.

Alan

<Laugh>

Taylor

And the world, this is during the pandemic when it first hit and he was like, the world is just in shambles right now. I don't know if that's a good choice. And I said, okay, well, we’ll keep talking. Now I'm 36 and I still don't want children. I don't think I'm going to want children. And I'm just worried that he is going to want children. And so I want to keep having that conversation with him and seeing how important that is.

Alan

We always said if like Katie goes past it and we want kids… that’s not what I meant.

Taylor

Well, yeah when we hit a certain age our fertility declines. We're talking about freezing my eggs right now. So I get it.

Alan

We could always adopt, we could always do something else. Like there are plenty of kids out there that need loving parents. There are ways to do it. And we've got nieces and nephews that we can go and hang out with and then return them afterward.

Katie

They kind of fulfill our like parental needs, like that bond and connection but it's obviously not the same, but we get the joy from being around them.

Alan

Yeah. And if we ever want to change our minds, we could adopt, we could do different things, we can settle down in a place. We can work it out. And I don't want to make a decision forever. I want to see how we feel and the way we felt for a long time is no and then we'll just see what happens.

Taylor

Yeah. That's where we are. We've discussed adoption and freezing my eggs. So yeah, we’ll see what happens. But it's a big decision.

Katie

And there's a deadline as well, which is different from other decisions. Like, well, we can always change our minds later. You don't have the same option if you want to have your own biological children.

Taylor

Exactly. I mean, they are working on fertility technology, hopefully, in the next 10 years, that'll be a different story, but currently, yeah, there's a deadline.

Alan

What a conversation.

Taylor

What a conversation. Anything else you want to add before we wrap up? Where can people find you?

Alan

So if they want to find us, I have a website called alandonegan.com and we both write articles about financial independence. And we run our Rebel Finance School that we give away and I run the Rebel Business School. So just Google Alan Donegan, and you will find us and me and what we're up to and all of that stuff. And I have a podcast called The Rebel Entrepreneur.

Taylor

Which is amazing. I binged it last year. 

Alan

Thank you very much. It's all about how to start a debt-free businesses. And that's been my mission to help people make money for a long time. And I guess my closing thought for everyone listening to this is you can build any life you want to. I genuinely believe that any of you listening to this can build any life you want to. Don't just let it happen to you. Take control of it and build the life you actually want. Decide what is your version of extraordinary and then create it.

Taylor

I love that, so important. People check out his blog, his podcast, their rebel business school, and rebel finance school. I will link to everything in the show notes. Where do you like to talk to people? Is it Instagram Facebook, the blog, or the newsletter?

Alan

Face-to-face in a taco shop in Puerto Vallarta would always be good. <Laugh> but yeah, they can send us a message on the blog is a great place to find us.

Taylor

Okay, cool. And they offer amazing courses on finance and entrepreneurship and yeah, all-around amazing people that I've become so close to here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So thank you for taking the time. As always much appreciated.

Alan

Thank you for inviting us on the podcast.

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Eight Dates by John & Julie Gottman
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Notes from a Friend by Tony Robbins
The Simple Path To Wealth by JL Collins
Mr. Money Mustache
The Mad Fientist
Chautauqua Financial Independence Retreat
Tony Robbins Ultimate Relationship Program
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Listen to this series via the Date Smart podcast. Episodes are released weekly!

The Date Smart podcast is hosted by Ambiance Matchmaking’s cofounder Taylor Wade. Twenty years ago, Taylor cofounded Ambiance Matchmaking, an exclusive matchmaking agency that has helped over 100,000 singles master their dating lives. In this podcast, she shares the same tactics and techniques with you. Mastering your dating life is easier than you think –– it’s just a matter of science and a little know-how.

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Taylor Wade

Taylor is one of the founders of Ambiance Matchmaking. She now dedicates her time to curating content for our community through her podcast and blog. Writing and podcasting is the art of great story-telling. As a relationship writer and editor, she has always sought to capture the reality of the dating experience, full of drama, friction, and joy. The best mind is an open mind, so she specializes in asking questions and approaching a story without preconceptions.

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