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Chelsea spends the season finale diving into unpopular money opinions and hot takes from the audience. Don't worry — TFC season 4 starts Monday, November 7!

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Hello, everyone.

It's me Chelsea Fagan, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and person who loves to talk about money. And today, I am here for another solo episode.

We're getting to the end of our season. And I thought it was time to just sit down one-on-one with you guys and do something that we did a little while ago that you guys seemed to really enjoy. And that was kind of fun for us.

And that is just responding to your hot takes/unpopular opinions about money and just talking about them. And before we get started, I want to thank Avast for supporting today's episode of The Financial Confessions. Avast's new all-in-one solution, Avast One helps you take control of your safety and privacy online.

Learn more about Avast One at Avast.com As you can see, by my clean girl aesthetic bun I've got going on it, is 90 degrees and 90% humidity outside in New York City. It is fully soup weather-- not where you eat soup but you feel like you're in soup. And we're about to head out for a little hiatus at TFD with some stuff.

We don't do any events in the month of August. We're office optional in August. A lot of us are traveling.

We have a reduced publishing schedule, all that kind of stuff. So we still work. But it's a more chill time.

It's going to be August in a few days as of filming this. So it's just a good time to chill out and have a little fun. I always feel like when I'm recording one of these, eventually I'm going to be like now that we're post-pandemic, but that just seems like that will never, ever happen.

And now it's like we've got COVID. And we've got monkeypox. So I guess we're just like always in this liminal space.

But basically, you guys, we asked you guys to send in your unpopular opinions and hot takes, and I'm just going to dive into them. We received quite a lot of them. So I'm going to dive into as many as I can.

And we'll just talk about them. There should be a marginal tax rate on home ownership based on the number of homes you or a company own. Primary residences should be essentially tax-free or very minimal as everyone needs a place to live.

Every house after that should be a progressively larger and larger amount to discourage the hoarding of assets amongst wealthy landlords/Airbnbers, whether corporate or mom and pop, and of course, no corporate ownership of single family houses at all. Yeah. that sounds reasonable to me. I don't see why I would disagree with that.

The only thing I would maybe push back on is the idea that a primary residence should have no property taxes I do think that if they're allocated responsibly and people are being paid a living wage, both of which are big ifs in our current economy, but there is a utility to property tax. Now, the fact that it's currently used to fund the school systems essentially ensuring that rich neighborhoods get good schools and poor neighborhoods get [BLEEP] schools is obviously not an ideal sort of allocation of that. It would be better to have all in one pot and get divided evenly.

But I do think, progressively higher taxes on people who own a lot of homes is a really good idea. And actually, it's a really interesting thing that comes up sometimes on the channel. Because we have people in the TFD community, we've had them on this show, we've worked with them, who use real estate, to some extent, as a wealth-building tool.

That means owning more than one property or renting out a part of your property or flipping homes or things like that. And the truth that is is that is a truly-- not a completely zero-sum game. And I think that there are ways to do things like this more ethically and ways to do it extremely unethically.

But I do hear and understand the criticism of it's basically never-- it's basically never OK to build your wealth on someone else's rent essentially. And I don't do it. And I feel like I wouldn't do it.

It's a really tough thing. Because I don't want to completely cut those people out of the conversation. And I don't have a huge moral issue if you're doing-- so if you're being an ethical property owner.

But it's some-- yeah, I don't have a hot take. I don't even have a warm take. It's something that comes up a lot.

And I don't know where we land on it. Period. This person says children should be financially-planned for.

Don't have children if you can't afford to give them their basic needs. Yeah, that sounds like-- I know that's not how you mean it. But it sounds like low-key something Ben Shapiro would say and also like almost borderline eugenics-y in the sense of sometimes people-- first of all, sometimes, people unexpectedly get pregnant.

And I don't think it's fair to say as a society or even in our interest as a society to be like, you can't have or keep the child if you're not financially-- if you have not-- and it's not even just over a certain income level or something. It's like if you haven't explicitly financially-planned and optimized for that child. I think that's really dystopian and not fair.

But I also think comments like this, to me, speak to a much deeper soul sickness in the United States, which is very much about this really, really hypocritical and unfair concept of who deserves things or who gets to have things rather than providing a community and a social safety net where we're all able to access both basic human dignity and services, but also benefit from the enormous wealth and power that our country generates. Making it easier for people with lower incomes to have children isn't just the ethical thing to do. It's also better for the society as a whole.

Because societies need children. And population decline, when it gets sharp enough, is really, really bad for societies because you need people to care for older people as they get older. And you also need people to work jobs and do all of that stuff.

So I really disagree with this. And I also think that, again, when it comes to the narrative of who deserves things, we really never have any compunction. Those people will never take any issue with wealthy people who, again, the majority of whom inherited some or all of their wealth.

We never take issue with that. We never think, well, I guess they're not deserving of that, because they literally did not earn it and had no part in its creation or benefited enormously from being born on third base. But we love to nitpick and decide who deserves when it comes to people who were born in poverty, who live in poverty, and so forth.

And it's also the same with the purchases they make and all of that stuff. So I really hate this line of thinking. It's really, really pervasive in personal finance.

It's really pervasive in conservative politics. And I just think that we, being the wealthiest country in the world, we can afford to live in a better society. And lastly, yes, thinking in terms of the social safety net of providing resources and allocations for new mothers who may be struggling financially, new parents who may be struggling financially, I think is a really big step in the right direction.

But also this is the same zero-sum stingy mentality that leads to basically us being the only developed country without federally-mandated maternity leave. Letting everyone fend for themselves hurts everyone, even people who may be a little bit higher up financially on the ladder. Lastly, just because you have money for a kid doesn't mean you should have one or would be a good parent.

So let's start there. It's OK if one partner pays for more than the other if they make a lot more. Agree.

Buying an investment property to solely Airbnb, it is just gross. Here we are. I knew this would come up.

Well, as I mentioned in the first question, this is something that comes up quite a bit. And is it just gross? Maybe.

Maybe it is. Again, I wouldn't do it. And I know how harmful Airbnbs are to a lot of communities and to the rental markets.

And we've definitely experienced that here in New York City when we were renters. And it's really, really problematic for a lot of communities. And I do think we need a lot more regulation on it just like things like this person earlier suggested about a progressive tax that disincentivizes hoarding properties would be helpful as well.

The thing is, though, that I do think from-- and again, I wouldn't do this. It's not something that I think I would feel good participating in personally. But I also think-- and this is more of a political almost communications question-- I don't think in general, the best response to social ills that are often policy-driven and regulatory and regulation-driven and are incentivized financially by our current system, I don't think the best answer is usually to stigmatize individuals for optimizing themselves within that system.

I think that can be part of the solution. When it's a more extreme case like you see people going viral on TikTok for buying foreclosed homes and cheaply renovating them and then putting them all on Airbnb to saturate the market, yeah. I think those can be people to go after or make examples of.

But when you look at, for example, someone who, let's say, has inherited a property in Florida. And they live in it for part of the year, and then for part of the year because they can't long-term rent it out because they do live in it for part of the year, they will put it on Airbnb or Vrbo. Or they'll rent it month to month.

Do I think going after them and shaming them for doing that when, again, a lot of these people are probably-- this is one of the primary ways that they have access to building enough wealth for things like retirement? I don't know that that's the best approach. I think we really have to look at this from a regulatory perspective and a policy perspective.

Because, yeah, shaming individuals, I just think is not overly effective, especially because, again, for every [BLEEP] couple who's putting their Airbnb empire on TikTok, there are a bunch of people doing it who you'll never hear about. You don't even know that they're doing that. But I wouldn't do it.

Sometimes, being a female breadwinner sucks. Because you still end up doing all the chores. Yeah.

So there's a lot of really bleak data out there about couples where the woman outearns the man. They typically have higher divorce rates. They typically express higher levels of dissatisfaction on a lot of different factors.

And that does seem to be mainly the result of, A, society which, like you said, expects women to take the majority of the domestic labor both in terms of maintenance activities on the home-- things like cooking, cleaning, et cetera-- and then also the child-rearing activities when and if a child comes along. We live in a society that's still expects women to take on the majority of that responsibility and punishes them when they don't, even if by the standard of breadwinning quote unquote they shouldn't be that person. So, obviously, like you're saying in this question, that is a recipe for, I think, frustration and resentment.

And then a lot of men are socialized to have huge ego and self-identity issues wrapped up in being a primary earner and can feel threatened, can feel emasculated, can feel ashamed or anxious when a woman outearns them in a heterosexual couple. Yeah. It's hard out there to be a woman in a lot of relationships.

And I even personally know, through this industry, women who are primary breadwinners whose husbands are not very nice about it or who are entrepreneurs. And their husbands are not very nice about it. And it's really heartbreaking.

Because if I'm the man, I'm just like, sweet. You're earning more money than me? Hell yeah.

But, yeah, it's not the way it is for a lot of people. People saying that they're upgrades or flights or hotel stays with points are quote, "free" is a sham. The points have value.

And you paid to get them. That's not entirely true always though. A lot of programs that people optimize will give you bonus sign-up points just for starting-- let's say if you open a card, and let's say this is a no-fee card and if you spend a certain amount within that first three months, and you pay it off in full so you don't pay interest and it's money that you were spending otherwise-- which is something we've done-- then, yeah.

You had to filter money through a system to get it. But you did get those points essentially as a bonus of what you were already doing. And also, if you have a lot of loyalty with an airline and they give you points for each flight that you're taking, if you're already taking the flight, and now you're just getting points for them-- and eventually, it's like getting a hole punch on one of those coffee cards.

You're getting these points each time you take a flight that I assume you were going to be taking regardless. And it's just about optimizing the benefits of loyalty. So I don't really agree with this.

And I'm all about the points lifestyle. So boo. I never lend friends money and expect to get it back.

I only give it as a gift if I have the means. Super important. You never, ever, ever want to be a debtor for your friends.

I think the really dark, sinister friendship-ending money stuff happens when a power differential is created and all kinds of really negative emotions and shame and all of that start to form around that power differential. Because I think when people talk about money being dangerous for relationships, for the most part, I think they're referring to money as power. Because power can be really harmful in relationships.

It's really shameful to feel that your friend has leverage over you or is now monitoring your purchases because you owe them something. Whereas I think that if you lend money to a loved one and you say this is for you to take-- I don't expect to be paid back. If you want to pay me back, you can do so at your own pace.

But I'm not going to be waiting on it, and let them do as they will. And I think that's the only way to avoid what I think inevitably will often become a source of resentment. Because if someone owes you money and you see them going shopping or going out to a restaurant, you're going to feel angry with them.

But if you have borrowed money from someone and now feel hyper-aware and judged for your financial choices because you owe them, you're going to also feel really resentful. So, yes, I totally agree. Never lend anything you can't afford to treat as a gift.

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People say a man is not a financial plan. But the entire US tax code literally disagrees. Yeah. the US tax code benefits couples.

And the logic behind it is that encouraging people to form couples encourages them to have children, which, again, a society needs to function. As someone who is married and benefits from filing as a married couple and has no intention of having children really game the system on that one. Is it fair?

No, I don't think so. I think the benefits should be much more tilted toward parents rather than just married couples. But you're right in the sense that it is hugely-beneficial to be married in this country.

Now, is that the same thing as a man being a financial plan? No. Because there are plenty of-- we have the data.

A huge amount of women in heterosexual marriages, even if they are more educated, even if they earn a high salary or even more are not in charge of long-term financial planning. many of them don't even manage their own finances. They don't even know their own finances. They're not handling things like retirement.

They don't even have access to their money in many cases and are just not equal partners in a relationship financially. Although sometimes, it can be the right decisions for couples to have one partner, in many cases the man, be the earner and have the woman be an entirely stay-at-home parent, the amount of financial and legal protection that the non-working parent needs around that situation in order to not be at an insane disadvantage were anything to happen is huge. And most people don't take those proper steps.

And keep in mind that if you're someone who has completely back-burnered your career, your education, all of these things, and put all of your financial eggs in the basket of a man, it's not just that he might have a lot more assets than you, have more access than you. All of that's true. But try entering the workforce at 40 with 20-year gap on your resume and no marketable skills.

Just the sheer earning potential for the rest of your life is severely diminished. So I do think not making a man of financial plan is a separate issue from the tax code for sure. Nobody should own an item of clothing costing more than the minimum salary of their country.

I guess this is referring to you shouldn't own like a Birkin bag that cost like I don't know what the minimum wage is probably $19,000 or something. If you look at $7.25 an hour times 40 times 52, I can't do that math in my head. Yeah.

You shouldn't. You shouldn't own a piece of clothing that cost that much more. Yeah.

Listen I would agree. But again, I think we're often eating away at the symptoms of the problems. And we're not really talking about what's the fundamental problem.

And the fundamental problem is radical wealth inequality. That's going to manifest in 1,000 different ways. But similar to the Airbnb thing-- is shaming individuals for buying a really expensive bag the right approach?

Probably not. I feel like it's probably people are going to optimize within the system that they live in. And I just don't think it's-- and also at the end of the day-- so let's say we had a really good tax code like we did back in the 1950s.

And really, really wealthy people paid the vast majority of their income in taxes and weren't able to sneak around most of it with capital gains and stuff. People still were rich back then and bought Dior dresses and ate caviar and did all of that stuff. And in some ways, it's like if you're able to buy, let's say, a designer dress that was hand-sewn in Italy by a bunch of people who are making good money and products that are sourced ethically and this, that, and the other, am I really that mad at it if you're paying a lot in taxes?

Probably not honestly. And the alternative-- not that it's one or the other, There are obviously middle grounds. But for me, the much bigger problem when it comes to apparel is fast fashion and buying a bunch of [BLEEP] from Shein that is just putting a cinder block on the gas pedal towards climate annihilation.

Yeah. I don't know. Just raise the marginal tax rate.

Let's start there. And then we'll figure out which individual purchases we want to police. Quitting your job and trying out van life to save money is a trap promoted by the wealthy.

Probably. I can't even describe how radically-uninterested I am in anything resembling van life. I won't even hike.

So it's so foreign to me and so unappealing to me. Truly, the definition of I know it'd smell crazy in there. And I just am so not interested that it's hard for me to relate to.

Yeah, obviously, if you want to live van life in a way van life to me is a lot like minimalism or it's like take things that poor people have to do out of necessity but make it ultra glam and aspirational-- not all minimalism, some minimalism, not all van life, some van life. Yeah. If you can afford to live in a van full-time in a way that's comfortable and has all the amenities you need and isn't viscerally unpleasant or dangerous, then, yeah, that's probably really, really expensive van and lifestyle.

So I don't really even necessarily know that it counts as a money-saving thing in a lot of cases. Every time I see those photos of the couple and the mattress in the back of the van with string lights strung up on it, and I'm just like, well. I'm like, first of all, what temperature is that?

What's the dew point? Because if it's like it is out here today in New York City, it's disgusting. It's OK to abandon your student debt if you move out of the US permanently.

Listen, I'm not a lawyer. Is it OK? In what sense?

Yeah, I guess if you're in a situation where you'll never again need a credit score and can avoid collection agencies and don't care about defaulting a bunch. Is it OK? Yeah.

What do you want me to tell you? Isn't that technically a crime? I can't sit on here and advise you to commit crimes.

But I will just say, if you know what all of the risks are of completely defaulting on your student loans, as someone who defaulted on loans and suffered greatly for it in an attempt to rebuild my financial adult life, if you know the risks and you're like, sounds good to me, the risks are preferable to paying this, then do you? I can't tell you what to do. Live your life.

Strict budgeting makes me want to spend more money. I save the most without a budget at all. Good for you.

If you're regularly saving money and allocating that money intelligently, then you really do have a budget. You're just not writing it down. Whatever works for you works for you.

And I think people get way too wrapped up in doing things the right way that they don't think about just doing them the effective way. And it sounds like you've found it. I'd rather be mildly financially-irresponsible and enjoy things than stress and save a ton.

Listen, it's hard to know what mildly means in this sentence. Because if mildly financially-responsible means you go out to restaurants sometimes and fritter away money sometimes, I think that's totally normal and should be part of any healthy budget. But if what you're talking about is like being avoidant, paying the minimums on things or not paying them, or not really saving or not opening up 401(k) or doing like if you're talking about doing things that will sabotage your long-term financial health, I think it's the same thinking as not taking care of your body in your 20s and 30s.

It's like you're going to miss that one that's gone. You're going to wish you had taken care of your knees or got enough iron in your diet or whatever it is. You're going to wish that you had taken care of your body.

You're going to wish you had taken care of your finances. And I do think it's like-- there is a real siren song of just YOLOing it, because it feels like we do live in such a tough economy, which we do. That's not a secret.

But I also think that doing things that ultimately will make your life harder in the long run is just an approach that gets real old real fast. Platonic marriage for a mortgage is better than marriage for love. Why do you have to marry someone platonically to get a mortgage?

I guess for the tax benefits. But is it really worth it to have a fraud marriage with someone? I'm not even opposed to this in theory.

It's just like you really want to take the risk of creating a legal partnership with someone for your entire life that you explicitly are not in love with and never have been and have-- even if you guys get along super well, what happens if one of the two people like wants to go and marry someone else or start a family? I don't know, it's just like you really want to be paying your friend alimony for 20 years or whatever, because you married them to buy a condo or something? This is a very strange approach.

I wouldn't recommend it. I think most people get into marriages way too flippantly, period, including with romantic partners, and don't do their due diligence and don't treat it like the extreme legal and financial engagement that it is. But I feel like it's way more risky to do that to someone who's just like a roommate.

We've all had roommates we would not have wanted to be married to. Saving everything for retirement makes no sense. You should enjoy things before you're old.

Yeah. But it's not one or the other. I'm not saying save every single dollar you have for retirement.

But it's about both. You do realize you're going to want to enjoy things when you're old too, right? Or maybe you don't want to have to-- or even just be able to retire.

Let's start there it's not even about necessarily having one of those diamond retirements where you go live in one of those planned communities in Florida that are responsible for Trump. You can just have a nice, calm, quiet life. But you won't be able to do that at all.

You'll have to keep working till death if you have no money saved. It's not enough to live on Social Security. But also you'll want to enjoy yourself as well.

You don't want to have to live like an extreme Spartan lifestyle. You want to be able to travel and try new things and eat at restaurants and do all the stuff that you like to do as a young person. So you have to spread it out.

And you have to visualize your older self as a person worth taking care of. You're not going to be young and sexy forever. Stop giving-- I'm going to end on this one.

Stop giving money advice to your friend who complains about money but keeps wasting it. Yeah. That's real.

I feel like that's real in a way that we don't talk about enough when it comes to friendships and family members and loved ones in general. I feel like one of the best things that I personally ever learned in therapy that I feel like is a common theme in a lot of therapy is you have to separate out with any relationship in your life-- you have to separate out how a person treats you and what they do to you and what they do on their own time. You can say, hey, please do not talk to me this way.

It makes me feel bad. And I will leave the conversation if it keeps happening or something. But you can't just be like stop being such a [BLEEP] or stop thinking these things that you think or voting the way that you do or spending money in the way that you do or being really loud or whatever it might be. if it's something that is not impacting you directly or harming you in some way, you have to just let them roll.

And of they ask you for advice, sure, give it to them as best you can. If they keep asking for it and disregarding it, then you can say, hey, it does feel like my advice here isn't really being taken into account. So I'd rather just not get too into it or what have you.

But it is never worth wasting time and energy on wanting people in your life to change and be different people. You can want them and you can ask them to treat you differently. And you can set boundaries for yourself around what will happen if they don't treat you differently.

But if your friend is just a [BLEEP] financially, well, don't entangle your finances with them. And you've got to let them roll. Forcing them to change is a losing proposition and is probably just going to make you upset in the process.

So I think that's a really important thing that everyone needs to learn. Obviously, these situations can get a lot more extreme. We can be talking about someone who has an addiction issue.

Or we can talk about someone who's living in a very irresponsible way or let's say is in a terrible relationship that you think is bad for them. There can be all manner of things that they're doing in their own life that you don't like for them. But you can and take that on as your own.

You have to put limits up as they pertain to yourself. And for whatever is their business, you let go and let God honestly. And there are a lot of things-- listen, I have some relationships in my life where they are enormous swaths of topics that we don't talk about, things I don't know about them, things I don't care to know about them.

Because I would like to have a simpatico relationship with them. And knowing more than I do now or getting into certain topics will prevent that from being possible. And sometimes, it has to do with money.

I have people in my life that I'm like, the way you handle money is really reckless and probably going to [BLEEP] over in the long term. But that is none of my business. And I'm not taking that on.

Anyway, guys, that was TFC. Bye. [MUSIC PLAYING]