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Cautionary Tales presents: Against the Rules Season 2


Hello Tim Harford here. It's been awhile since lost new episode. So I'm very excited. Tell you that there is a new cautionary tales mini season coming this June. I've looked back at earlier. Disasters Fiascos and occasionally tales of heroism specifically. Because in each case. I feel less something we can learn about the pandemic we face today so hang in there because the series will appear in this feed in just a few weeks. I some more good news against the rules with Michael. Lewis is back for a second season. The show focuses on fairness in every aspect of American life and this season Michael Returns with a very special series on coaches. Wasn't that long ago that we only had coaches in sports. Now they're everywhere. Ever life coaches and death coaches. You can hire a coach to improve your executive skills your online dating performance. Even your charisma. Coaching has also become an odd source of unfairness. Just look around and ask yourself who has access to those coaches and who doesn't stay tuned to hit a first episode of against the rules right here right now and welcome to season two of against the rules. I'm Michael Lewis before we get to where we're going. I WANNA go back for a moment to where. We've been a little backstory from season one. The story involves a woman named Katie Highland. She's in her late thirties. A PUBLIC SCHOOLTEACHER WIFE. Mother of two small children her entire adult life. She'd been made miserable by student loan. She'd taken out when she was eighteen years old. I don't see any payoff. And it just keeps getting harder and harder and that's soul-crushing her state of mind Even her children could see. It wasn't good. It might be actually kinda painful for her. Has all of this couch with a bell and getting something changed to another thing sustain but changing too it it feel. It does feel kind of painful right. Mommy your papers yet there. It's a lot of paperwork a lot of a lot of pain you're doing. It killed me to hear but especially this next part. It is a very good to be thoughtful for everybody. But the person who's the most best person honor says this lady this lady Jackson's Mom Katie. Highland shouldn't have owed anybody a dime. That was the point of the story. Katie had qualified years ago for a program that Congress created to forgive the student loans of public servants but her student loan servicer made money offer only long as she still owed the money and they had more or less tricked her to keep her in debt. I like to try to always find the good in people and when you have experiences like my experience you get discouraged and you start to think that people aren't as good as you once thought they were. Sometimes you stumble onto a story and you can't get it out of your head. Katy highland had played by the rules made all her loan payments thrown herself into being a good mother and a great teacher and she'd been abused by the company that was meant to help her navigate her finances and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The one financial referee that might have stepped to help her was doing nothing to help. So we decided to help on the website go fund me to try to pay off. Katie student loans. When I looked at the page and I think I saw at that time that it was like eleven thousand dollars I was completely blown away. I was at my son's baseball game. I remember I showed my mom. We were like freaking out about it and just reading people's responses and the encouraging words and like where people were from their people from Ireland there were people from England. We started this campaign two months after the show originally aired so after most people it listened to it even then took you our listeners. Less than three months to pay off fifty thousand dollars and I think the last person that donated donated like enough to hit it and it was so I was like. Oh my God mom. We like it happened. We did it and can't even tell you it's because you said to me in one email like just pay it forward or just do it for someone else in every gofundme campaign that I see I make it a point to do the same. Even if it's ten twenty whatever I can do that. Don't you dare go get into debt again. I thought that would be the end of the story but there was a lot more to it. Of course there was more to it. I mean Katie had told us that financial stress caused her to grinder teeth at night and she started losing her teeth. She used to smile all the time now. She avoided smiling and along the way she picked up another debt problem already. I'm on a payment plan with Dentists League five hundred dollars a week. I've spent like thirty thousand dollars. I've lost a bunch of teeth through the grinding. And all of that. That part has been really difficult so I still have a lot of remaining with that. Still allowed to pay off so a lot of dental work to get done so you do have credit card debt. I how I have credit card debt any big purchases that I've had to make I've put on credit cards. Unless you're a very lucky kind of American you may recognize yourself here. You try to do Putin things to save money like drop the vision coverage on your health insurance then. Suddenly your daughter needs glasses. That was the kind of thing that Katy and her husband did. That wound up biting them. They now have five credit cards between them. All charging high interest rates even though their credit scores Great. Personally I just want to not be scared to look at my bank account. I don't think I've looked at my bank account in years to be honest. I just yeah. That's not good. I know that's not healthy But it I don't know why it's it's just terrifies me. I'm not I'm not sure. Why the credit card industry already had her by the throat. She was ashamed of it and she had no sense that anyone would help this time was. So here's my goal. My goal season one. The goal was to get rid of your student debt and season to restore your smile. So that's what we're going to try to do all right. Okay things Michael. I'm Michael Lewis and this is against the rules. Last season was about referees. The attack on our societies refs is obviously a big problem. This season is about coaches. What are you doing and their rise? In American life you need to stop being lazy piece of Shit and work for your pitcher or I'm GonNa kick your ass got it. It wasn't that long ago. Coaches were confined to sports. Now they're everywhere we're GONNA refocus like we're training puppy to train your mind likely. We train a puppy there. People who call themselves life coaches and other people who call themselves death coaches. I am here to guide you in making sure you grow as a person every big time. Corporate boss has an executive coach but now so to new. Mba starting out at Wall Street banks and consulting firms. These are super smart. People who may be just haven't heard the right strategies. You can hire a coach to improve your online dating performance or your charisma. There's a saying which is therapies. Positives Tears and coaching is the PATH OF NAFTA. And that's all great. Coach is also becoming an odd source of unfairness. Just look around and ask yourself who gets good coaching. And who doesn't that guy would never have gotten to Yale but this guy got all this. Coaching did get into Yale. It just seems like anyone who can answer. These questions has got to be coached. Oh my God. We're living wars fucking team. Money's a great place to ask this question about coaching and fairness but I you have to stop thinking of finance as a business and start thinking of it as a competitive sport when eighteen year old Katie highland took out her student loans and twenty something year old. Katie started using credit cards. She was basically walking into an arena alone with a target on her back. The giant company should be facing off against knew more about her game than she did. That's how they made their money from her weakness. You can always make more money exploiting people's irrationalities. Then you can buy fixing Richard Taylor winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. He spent his career trying to understand the ways that people don't act in their own self interest in one. Big thing has worked suggests is that ordinary people need coaching far more than they know. That's think about the people who get the most coaching well. Professional athletes would be one take Roger Federer. He's probably got ten guys coaches and fiscal trainers. So here's Roger Federer one of the greatest athletes in the world and he has ten coaches who else actors Meryl Streep has a Director. Helping her act. Now knows voice coach. Yeah she doesn't need it right. Brad Pitt. Does he really need help? But the richest best performing people in the world have the most coaching and WHO's coaching Uber. Driver what hours to drive when you should go to the airport and if you get a ride to the airport should you wait in line are immediately leave so coaching just ends up making the rich richer? Yeah it's one of the many factors that contribute to this curve. We've all seen about the one percent or the point. Oh one percent share of the economy. No one's coaching the tens of millions of Americans on the wrong end of consumer finance. No one even seems interested. I tried unsuccessfully to get somebody to create what I call the Good Bank. This good back look like well so it would warn you when you're about to overdraw your credit card rather than wait until the end of the day when you swiped five times and they charged you twenty five dollars penalty for each swipe twenty five bucks a swipe. It's supposed to scare you from drawing your account but you only get the warning. After it's too late I mean there's a reason for this. It's a subtle form of coaching. That makes the banks a lot of money now. The problem is people. Pay Bad coaches and not good coaches right right so now and they pay because they don't see the charge right to bad coaching. Never show the bill exactly the problem. Good coaching is. You have to show the bill. Eight manually goes goes something like this right so at the start of the month. You're paid your paycheck. This is Angela. Strange venture capitalists and Connoisseur of how the financial sector exploits human nature and. So you send your rent checkout and you don't see in your bank account that that check has cleared probably for few days you pay a bunch of other bills. You know that those are going to hit as cost in your bank account but that also hasn't cleared now you're like well. Can I pay this bill? I think so. But you're doing some mental math around the checks that you have in the air like you just don't have a sense of what is your real time cash position and then by the way if you screw it up it's a thirty five dollar overdraft each time right there in thirty four billion dollars overdraft fees paid last year again really fitting from people screwing up. It's huge. It's huge huge. Where we're thirty four billion dollars in overdraft fees. Yup is the typical penalty. Thirty five bucks. Yeah it's kind of it. Used to be twenty-five about ten years ago. So that means that they're a billion instances of this year yes and they tend to be concentrated where the people they got hit with overdraft get hit a what thirty four billion dollars overdraft fees is really just the start. There's more than one hundred billion in credit card late payment fees and interest charged each year. And then there's the entire credit card industry which thrives on the mistakes people make playing the money game. There is now over one trillion dollars credit card in the US people who have this dead. It's about fifteen thousand dollars. Tend to have it across three to four different cards. So let's say you're like okay. I don't want to be in credit card debt. Need to get out of credit card debt just going through. What is that process? You have debt across three to four different cards. They likely charged different rates. They have different due dates. So do you pay off the highest rate card? I oh by the way. Like what is the highest rate card? It's just it's just a very complicated mess to get your way out of. Angela wondered why no one had tried to help people who had gotten into this mess. Why no one had say tried to create a money. Coaching business the same way that Richard. Thaler wondered why no one had even tried to create a good bank then. She realized the sort of people with the ability to coach other people about money or to finance company to coach other people about money. Those people already had money people who didn't have money. We're like Martians to them. Like your investment. Banker is not the person who grew up on food stamps right and he's not the person who's got five different credit cards maxed out in his paying thirty percent interest rate. Dick some bank another problem. Angela saw trust Americans had been screwed by consumer finance for so long that they were likely to be wary when some companies sprung up claiming it was actually going to be on their side like takes time as an athlete or anything to build. Trust with your coach until they'll start by making these suggestions and you might follow them. You might not follow them and you know if they're good coach and they know you really well then you'll notice that over time as you take more of their suggestions you tend to perform better the explosion of coaching. It's related to the war on referees. It's what happens when more and more of life feels like a brutal competitive sport. The scarier it is to lose the more people scrambled to find an edge. That's what a coach offers an edge Angeles strange had noticed an absence. Just as Richard. Thaler had noticed an absence of a coach who really should exist in the middle of American financial life. Both were waiting. For whom or what? They did not know In the Year of Our Lord. Nineteen seventy nine in the mountains of Colorado. A woman gives birth out of wedlock to a boy Jason. She names him. The MOM's name is Kristina Brown. She's a fundamentalist Christian and takes the Bible as the literal truth. She doesn't know how she's going to make ends meet but she knows what she wants for her child. She wants him to be well educated to make sure that happens. She'll educate him herself when we were studying. The Health Unit I had jason cleaned the four on his hands and knees with an extra fifty pound backpack on his back so that he would know what it would be like to be overweight. That's Christina. She didn't want her son to be taught what was taught in schools. The theory of evolution for instance but mostly. She just thought she could teach him better than any school. Could it was like? Hey Jason What do you WANNA learn? The world is your classroom. You can learn anything you want. That's Jason Brown all grown up now and you know there's one time in particular I remember She's like what do you WANNA learn it. I said I WANNA learn about taxidermy. And she said okay fine She goes through the yellow pages. This was in the time where you had yellow pages. And she calls all the taxidermist. And convinces some Guy. Who owns taxidermy? Shop to let us go camp out and in his workplace for a week and we would show up there and he would. He would show us how he would take these animals and End Up stuffing them and turning them into things that could go on people's walls and what was really cool as I learned about biology. I learned about the anatomy of animals He taught us about the chemicals that were used. And then I'd ask a lot of questions about just the business of taxidermy like how much all these chemicals costs. How much did you pay for this thing? What do you sell it for? The education of Jason Brown wasn't normal. It was kinetic hands on. His mother encouraged him to ask questions but at the same time he lived in a very small world it was just her and him and his little brother maybe because he was so dependent on his mom he worried about her even as a little kid he could see that she was exposed. Invulnerable especially when it came to money. My money was in envelopes and each envelope had a different designation. In when the money was gone it was gone. Would they have been? The envelopes designations okay. The first envelope was my tithe then it was rent then. It was groceries miscellaneous electric gas and you paid in that in that order. That's right we've literally and I'm not exaggerating. Ate Beans and rice pretty much. Every day I ground my own. We made my own whole wheat. Bread made my own tortillas made cereal in the Crock Pot for breakfast and we had peanut butter on toast. We ate very simply we shopped at goodwill even for a Christmas gifts birthday gifts sometimes. Jason Snuck a peek inside the money envelopes. A lot of the time. They were totally empty yet even when she had no money his mother insisted on staying home and teaching him and his brother by the time he was ten years old. Jason was fully aware that his mother was running huge risks. They were totally on their own. There was no safety net. The most trivial events could disrupt their lives so we we had this friend. His name is donny is a big kid and he came over to the House and spent the weekend or something like that and donate a lot and he really really liked bill to and I remember specifically in the kitchen and donny was pounding the milk and he he he finished the milk and I remember looking at my mom and she looked at me and I can just see the dreaded fear on on her face because Donnie. Drink all the milk down drivel. Yeah drinking and we like because I. I knew that the envelope for for food was already used up and you know I could see in her is like what are we gonNA do like we can go by more milk like? That's it so they went without milk. Another memory is the day. Jason's mom told him that she needed to take on a second job. And it have to go to a real school. He was in the eighth grade. The real school was hellish. Other kids made fun of him. One day he just walked up to him and punched him in the face and no one did anything about. Jason felt totally loved by his mom and he loved her back. Should give him real strengths. He knew how to learn to teach himself but it also left him with a fear of money of being one accident away from disaster. His mother couldn't afford for him to fall off his bike and break his wrist much less pay for him to go to college. He went to the University of Colorado. Any way to pay for it. He took out student loans but the moment he did that he felt exposed and vulnerable like his mom. He was eighteen years old. I would drive home every single weekend. Starting in January and I would go home to my hometown where I grew up and it was about two two and a half hour drive and I would spend the weekend knocking on doors handing out. Flyers say hey. Would you hire me to paint your house? Jason had never painted a house but then there was a time when he didn't know how to stuff an animal and had figured out how to do that. And there's just you know they're six feet of snow outside in. This kid is trying to convince you to paint his house and and they're like number one. Come back to me in the summer number two. How many houses have you pay like? I've never painted a house in my life but I promise I'm GonNa hire people who do know how to paint their house. Maybe the oddest thing about Jason Brown. Is he found nothing odd about any of this in eighteen year old convincing grownups in the snow to trust him with their homes. So I brought snowshoes and I would have a pair for me in a pair for them and I as long as I can convince the homeowner to put on there. She using her. Go around the House with me and snowshoes that they would then by the end of that. Have a pretty good chance of hiring me. He was still a kid but pretty soon. This wasn't a kids business. The crazy thing is by the end of the summer I had painted something like forty or fifty homes and I had I think fifteen or twenty employees and I actually put a fifty thousand dollars in my pocket for one summer. Really you cleared fifty thousand dollars. One hundred fifty thousand dollars a total revenue and it was fifty thousand dollars and that to me. He wasn't done. After Jason's first year in college he set out to grow his business. Rural Colorado wasn't a great market. There weren't that many houses. The weather was hard on paint but not as hard as it was in other places he decided to find a better market and so I transferred to Boston University and by the time you transferred to Boston University specifically to pursue the business of painting houses. I did yes. 'cause you'd make so much money painting houses. I didn't that was I even in the right place to pay now exactly picked your school based on where there'd be the most houses to paint you've got it exactly at Bu. Jason ran his painting business from his laptop at the back of classrooms prepping for the big season in the summer when we were painting all the houses it was about four hundred employees and I think in the year that I sold the company we were doing about three million dollars total revenue. I don't remember the exact amount that I made from all that couple of questions. One any are you conscious that you're being driven by having grown up in an environment. Where money was scares I did so when I was I think I think I was probably about ten. I really loved Avocados and You know money was so tight in our household we'd go to the Grocery Store. I'm like mom can. Can I have avocado? She's like I'm sorry. They're too expensive every now and then we get when it was a treat and I remember just savoring buttery avocado and I in my mind. I committed exit. I will be rich enough one day to meet as many Avocados as I want and still to this day. He did not MOCATTA almost every single day and not a single time. Do I've ever opened avocado and not feel. Just immense gratitude for being able to afford as many Avocados even gotten used Avocados. I've gotten tired of them. Know Jason went to Grad School in business at the University of Chicago Pretty soon. He knew rich people but they didn't seem nearly as admirable or hard working as his mother. He was coming to see money and the problems are money as its own thing as problem. Some people just had Jason Brown started more companies and sold them. The companies all had one thing in common. They made it easy for people to do things they really should do. One of his companies made it easy for people to get their home. Computers Fixed Remotely Geek Squad before Geek Squad. Another made it easy for homeowners to switch to solar power and cut their electricity bills in half. Jason was all about making it easy. We did not evolve to do multi period financial optimization right as hairless apes. We did not have this expectation that we're gonNA live eighty years and have be part of a global economy with all this complexity. One day he was reading a Book Yuval Harari Sapiens. It was about how humans evolved and where the species might be heading. Evolution was a new idea to Jason. He thought it explained a lot almost out of corporate evolution this entire industry. The finance industry has evolved to exploit every single cognitive bias. Or every mistake that people make when they're thinking about money exactly every little bug we have our brains that that you know served us well when we were on the Savannah but now is not maybe directly translatable to the kind of lives we live and every product they have every contract they make is designed to exploit these. Bugs are getting people to do things they really shouldn't do. Yep for Jason. Money wasn't just money at some point. He realized that every time he thought about money he also thought about his mom and her three envelopes of cash for the month. Actually need to tell you a little bit more about about my mom so my mom is. She's my hero and the reason she's my hero is Shiro up in a pretty challenging childhood. I'm not a lot of resources. Not Very supportive. She ended up having me when she was twenty. One and twenty two just a high school graduate no higher education. She'd overcome all and giving him and his brother the most amazing education. She is just the model of discipline. I mean the. She's a robbing and I'm so proud of that that's hard to be presumably it is. It is a Vegan. It is very hard. And she she sixty-two now sixty two and most of her life. She's had to figure out everything on her own including money but like let's let's say graduates high school and there's like an accountant and financial adviser. They're just like we're going to do all your she to coach coming out of high school. If she had a coach coming out of high school I know she don't a home right now properly. She'd have little nest egg retirement. She would be a good spot. It definitely was possible but she didn't have. Jason could take care of his mom and he did. What about all the other moms? He decided to create a company specifically to help them. He looked hard at the entire money game before he settled on consumer finance and especially credit cards because if finance is a competitive sport. The credit card companies are undefeated. They've smashed together a payment tool and alone into one. And they've designed the payment tool to again exploit all these these bugs in our brain so you get points for spending you get access to lounges. It comes in different colors and metals. You can even get your dogs picture printed on the card right so the the the creative all of these things that you want to use it. Yeah exactly make you want to use it and make you when you go. Go get a credit card. You're not thinking about oh I might. I might end up getting charged. Us interest down the road. You thinking about. Oh I'm GonNa get these points in have access to these hotels. Whatever it is and that allows banks to substantially overcharge everybody on the interest rates. They just distract you from the cost of the interest rate exactly. So there's no one out there competing by saying get our card and we'll give you a lower interest rate crack because it's not even in the conversation which is insane if you stop and think about it. I mean our government hardly pays any interest on most of its dead really risky companies can borrow it seven percent to think that millions of people are paying nineteen to thirty percent interest on anything who other than the American credit card borrower pays so much. And that's not even counting the billions and late fees once jason homed in on this particular racket. He noticed other things like the monthly statements. These lenders send people who the money if you look at a credit card statement. The thing with the biggest font size eighty ninety font is your minimum payment. They're using something called the anchoring effect which show you a low number and gets you to pay relatively low amounts to the card which means that you have more debt and they charge you more money trying to encourage you to go into the so. They're encouraging you to spend an encouraging you bad. Coaching is bad coaching right. The more Jason Brown looked into the credit card industry the more he thought he might be able to get people out from under it with an APP. She think. Financial behaviors can be changed. I one hundred percent. Financial Gamers can be changed. Jason created yet another company and called it tally. He got the investor Angeles strange to give him money and to join his board. The IDEAS BEHIND. Tally could be traced to a class that he had snuck into the booth. School of Business in Chicago taught by Richard Thaler. The biggest idea was it was very hard to change people's behavior unless you make it easy for people to Change. Make it feel to them. Like no more than a nudge. We viewed nudges as an alternative to coaching. That's Richard Thaler again. You know we could try to teach people to sign up for the 401K PLAN. Where there's a company match and down is free money and stupid right or we could just automatically enroll them right and we knew the ladder works really well ran the former is like pulling teeth right. So so part of nudging a response to a sense of the limits of coaching. That's the point right that if you if you really thought well we can. We can coach all these people up and not to get exploited by credit card companies. You would coach them up. The best thing is to make things automatic making good behaviors easy. Yeah the basis of Jason Brown's businesses that classy took from you. It's creating our decision environment where the way that people naturally with lease friction least amount of effort go is in their interest rather than against their interests so he picked that up. It's a good lesson to have learned. They were has not the first memory of Jason Brown in his class. But Jason got the gist of dealers message. He hired a bunch of engineers to spend three and a half years building the company software so that it nudged people with credit card debt in ways that were good for them so I have four different credit cards and four different banks on my visas. I do whatever I do but but you pay them off so so you and I pay you so you tell me what I exactly so you. You download the APP for free. You Pass US off credit check. And then we're saying hey Michael we're GONNA pay all these cards when they're at the exact right time the exact right. So it's a couple of questions in naturally popped to mind you're gonNA charge me a much lower interest rate than the credit card companies. How can you afford to do that if they were charging me? The actual correct rate given the risk. I present yet to them. Well here's the RUB so coming back to this financial industry that is designed to make money off of us. Credit card interest rates are astronomically high. And they do not represent the rate that you should be paying. You'd save a bunch of money just by not paying the high interest rate. Of course you could ruin yourself all over again by going out and buying stuff. You shouldn't but Jason's hoping that he's nudged you a different state of mind a state of mind in which you would make wiser decisions about money and what we've seen is that when people invest more in their debt they actually just tend to spend last mentally kind of makes sense because you know if you go out and let's say that you eat out for lunch somebody like well. Maybe I don't want to eat out for dinner because already spent some money. So so the effect is I feel like I spent money on my dad and now maybe I don't want to go out for lunch. Maybe I don't WANNA GO FOR DINNER. Instead of giving people points for spending. Tally gives them points for saving. Instead of encouraging them to pay off the minimum they help them to figure out how to pay the maximum. Instead of trying to keep people acting on impulse. It tries to get them to think twice. The company took off but something was bothering Jason. He thought a company needed both vision and mission. A vision was where you were going. A mission was why you were going there. Jason wanted to understand the deeper emotional consequences of debt and initially. My thought was that most of the emotions would be around. Regret like Hey. I spent this money in the past and I regret having bought that right and regret is from the sadness family. So it's the sense of loss of something in the past. He hired a team of researchers test. This idea they came back and told Jason that no. This wasn't about sadness. The emotions that were coming out swinging Zion which is a fear emotion. And the feeling that there's a threat in the future that you don't have the capacity to take your protect yourself. Jason paid for another study one that tried to measure the stress levels of people with credit card debt. We had found. The two thirds of individuals with card debt have medical levels of anxiety. So meaning. You're in a doctor's office waiting for some important test results. The same kind of anxiety that people feel there. That's what people are feeling on a regular basis with our cards. Millions of Americans are sick from this stress and their illness has all kinds of other effects. Oftentimes it's described as a weight on chest drowning. Not being able to breathe so a lot of people. Experienced stress is actual constriction within the body and of tightness or acid in the stomach. Grinding of teeth is really a common thing because it manifest often times while people are sleeping at some point. Jason realized that stress wasn't just a bug in the American financial system. It was a feature. There's a lot of research that suggests that it also affects cognition so if you're like a sinister credit card company and you're trying to keep people trapped in a dark financial world. The first thing you would do is stress about by definition the way that the credit card statements are made especially by store cards. Those cards that are associated with retailers. The banks behind those are some of the best in even they do things like make it so that even if you wanted to set up an auto pay it's actually not a function that is available because they're hoping that people awfully fees and forget about balances and things like that. It took Jason. Three and a half years to create his APP. It took him two minutes to create his first logo. It's a woman reclining in a chair. Her feet up on a table and a cup of coffee in her hand. A woman like his mom but freed from anxiety with the help of a coach. So if we were to use a sport analogy the coaches arranged for food in meals to be delivered. So you get to eat the right thing. They've set up the gym membership for you. They've made it so that not only. Are you being led for how you can get the outcome? You want but also all the sources of interference as much as possible or being removed ninety. Nine percent of the people who sign up to use Jason's APP have stayed with it and it's kind of incredible. What happens to people when they're rewarded for behaving well? Instead of badly they can say. Oh you know. I'd rather buy the coffee than have it be set aside but ninety percent of people are still letting us set money aside for them and I think it has very much to do with the fact that every time it happens you get points. People would do the thing for themselves if you made it easy for them to do the smart thing for themselves make it easy and people would create a buffer for themselves a margin of safety a thing. Jason's mom had never had and then it kept him awake when he was a kid. Jason had not set out to become a coach but he saw that. A coach is exactly what he'd become. The definition of a good coach is one who makes their players feel like they don't need the coach and the way I think you do that is i. You take out all the hard work. And all the distractions second you make it easy to have good behaviors and third. Is You make people want to have good behaviors. And that's the thing about. Coaching makes it so hard to pin down the best coaches. Don't leave you needing them. You start with some fear or sense of inadequacy they help you get past it and in the future every single one of us is. GonNa have this hyper smart service. It's doing all these complex. Things in the background and Nudge. Us and making us feel really good about you. Know eating our financial Broccoli so to speak. And we're GONNA feel great about it but we're not even GONNA see. It's an invisible coach a coach that could maybe even help stop people from grinding their teeth at night To be honest I think I said this you on the phone. I have no idea what's in my bank account last October. We introduce Katie Highland Jason's company tally. She decided she needed a coach but her husband had to sign her up because he was the only one with the nerve to look at their bank account. I Make Stephen. Check it and I asked him whether I'm good or not. And he says yes and sometimes I believe him and sometimes I don't but as long as I don't get a phone call from the landlord that the rented and go through then I know that we're okay So it It scares the Jesus out of me to know what's in there because I don't think like we don't spend frivolously like we even wear. It said like dining out. I put in a Work meals and we don't do those things you can hear the anxiety and our voice right but that could change. I'm better will change because a good coach can change a lot. We gave Katy highlands some time before we bother her again. All right so I don't know how many months ago we we spoke a few months anyway but since then like we set you up with With tally and just the idea of financial coach so with tally. They've been amazing. How long was it before we introduce the two of you before you said? Actually this is a good thing. This is just humoring. Michael in his podcast. This is actually a good thing. No immediately immediately. I think you know it was definitely whelming at first to sort of gather all of those documents and find out what my interest rates were and figure out what things I was paying month sort of. Get them together in one central location. That was a bit overwhelming but I mean they me and talked me through absolutely every step of the way and made sure that I understood what was going on. I can remember you telling me that your view before was you didn't even want to look at your bank accounts. I knew you were going to bring that up and I have this. How you Michael? I looked at my bank account for the first time about two days ago. Full on the computer screen in front of me and all it's glory. I saw my balance. And you know. It wasn't as bad as I envisioned. It wasn't as good as I wished it would be. But it was an important step in handling my finances is like actually having a realistic picture of what's in there. Not Sort of like. If you're going to get in shape you need to have a scale to weigh yourself on hundred percent. Yeah it's going to help just having the conversations like having set time as a couple for myself and my husband's a sit down and say okay. Where are we with finances? What did we spend this month? What unexpected things came up you know. How are we looking for next month in? What are we putting toward? Our you know our goals. It's going to help just are just not even like you know reach. Our goals is to help. Our relationship might my husband and I because money is a definite source of stress. I mean is there a couple where that's not true? Now there's no near to recount. How many thousands of dollars? She saved herself by having yourself coached or how she's now paying six percent instead of twenty six percent on her credit card debts or how she and her husband expect to be entirely debt free inside of a year. But let's just consider the broader effects. This coach has had this person. Who's on her side encouraging? Her bestself has it changed the tone of the conversation around money. When you and your husband sit down. Talk about it yeah. It was all very emotionally charged before. And now you know he's really taken to okay. I'm laying everything out on a spreadsheet and I you know I put in all this and I did all this income. Look and let me show you so. We're much more of a team and much more on the same page and I think we're excited about the next couple of years You can hear it to write. The sound of voices changed all the other times had spoken with her. I could almost hear her teeth grinding. I could hear her stress and the way it was killing the pleasure. She naturally took in life. I didn't hear that anymore. I found Katie highland in quarantine in new Rochelle New York at the early center of. What was shaping up to be the greatest calamity in modern American history but she sounded almost hopeful. You know what's funny is that you are now sitting at like one of the hot spots of the American pandemic and you sound so much happier than you did a year ago. I know irony and everything is so happy. I feel confident. You know I feel like wow like I can really start to do things and I can really to think that. We set a goal of trying to buy a house by the summer of two thousand twenty three. And that's amazing. I'm Michael Lewis. Thanks for listening to against the rules against the rules is brought to you. By Pushkin Industries the shows produced by Audrey dilling and Catherine Juror doubt with research assistance from Lydia Jean Cot and Zooey win our editor. Is Julia Barton? Meal Bell is our executive producer. Our theme was composed by Nick. Retell with additional scoring by Stellwagen sieff net. We got fact checked by Beth Johnson. Our show was recorded by TOFA. Ruth trace shells at northgate studios in Berkeley and James Ward at live oak studio as always thanks to Pushkin's founders Jacob Weisberg and Malcolm Bladder well. How often do you go into go fund me and give money to strangers? My wife and I were just driving on the road and it just seemed like the right thing to do but I don't typically go into go fund me and donate to strangers. I think it's more when something speaks to me and it's something that you can you can easily cover you. Just go and do it. So it's how I've been taught. This is a meat. Ca-car the guy who made the last donation to the fund that paid off Katie Highland student. Loans HE TURNS OUT TO BE A real estate agent in suburban. Dc makes me wish. I wanted to buy a house. So whose idea was it. Yours or your wife's to go and find the GOFUNDME page and finish off the campaign. It was me but she obviously is used to me doing stuff like that and kind of cosigns it but you know I assume of his over and I heard about the go fund me. I was intrigued to see where it was at. And when I saw the level It was a no brainer to to finish it off.

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