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For the inaugural episode of The Financial Confessions, Chelsea chats with the producer of this very show: Ryan Houlihan! As an editor, comedian, and small business owner, Ryan wears many hats, and brings with him some wisdom to share about juggling responsibilities, curbing frivolous spending, and pursuing passion projects.

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Hello, everyone. I am Chelsea Fagan.

And I am incredibly excited to welcome you to our brand-new show, The Financial Confessions. It's very exciting for us for a lot of reasons, primarily because it's a podcast, which we've never done before. But it's also a video podcast, which.

I feel like is the best of all possible worlds, as someone who likes to listen to her podcasts on YouTube, for some reason. I can't really even explain why. But it's also just a chance for us to really kind of deep dive into money with people in a way that we're not usually able to because, obviously, our YouTube videos do have a time limit generally.

And even for things like articles, there's only really so far you can go, especially when you're trying to focus on one topic. Whereas with these conversations that we're going to be having with all kinds of people on the show, we really have a chance to talk about money in a way that people are a little bit nervous to at first. Usually in, like, minute 12, 13 of the conversation, you start getting into the real good stuff.

But people have to really warm up to it, because most people are really not used to talking about money. But we're lucky that people, for whatever reason, feel comfortable talking to me about money. So we're going to hear people share a lot of stuff on this show that they've never shared, things like what they earn, what they used to earn at old jobs, the financial secrets of their industry, all kinds of stuff that truly is a confession for people.

So I want to tell you guys a little bit more about the show and introduce you to our incredible producer, who we're so excited to be making with. But first, I also want to quickly talk to you guys about who we are producing this fabulous show with, and that is Intuit. And if you've never heard of Intuit, that's not that surprising.

But you have almost certainly heard of a lot of their products. They make things like TurboTax and QuickBooks and Mint, all three of which are products. I use every single day.

They're tools that I have on my phone and my computer because, obviously, I have my personal finances to manage, but I also run a small business that has employees and payroll and invoicing and all kinds of stuff. So using these programs have truly saved my life. In fact, one of the very first things.

I ever did to get good with money, well before I even started TFD, was download Mint onto my phone so that I can start tracking my budget, which is something that I had literally never done before at that time in my life. And so I can say with total sincerity that I absolutely love the Intuit suite of products and can endorse them wholeheartedly. I have used, or to this day use every single one of them.

In fact, I was on QuickBooks about an hour ago looking at stuff for TFD. So all that to say, throughout this show, we are going to be learning a little bit about the Intuit products and what they can do for you. And we're just incredibly excited to be working with them to produce this show because they have done so many awesome things in my financial life.

Just check out the link in our description or in the show notes, and you can get started right away. But I am also incredibly excited to introduce to you guys our producer, a very good friend of mine, someone who is just so talented and so on the internet that it's unbelievable the quantity of things that he does. And it's so exciting that he's doing this project with us because, frankly, I didn't think he would have the time.

But he is going to be our producer, and we'll see him on every episode. He'll be part of the conversation and also sharing a little bit about his financial life. And his name is Ryan Houlihan.

Hello! Hello. And he's sitting right next to me.

It's so exciting. Where will you usually be? I will usually be at a little booth we've built, where I'm running all the tech stuff.

I'm looking things up. I'll be like in The Matrix, where they're like hacking and, like, jacked in. But for today, I'm here just to say hi so you guys can get to know my face a little bit.

Yes. And so tell our audience, who may not know you yet, a little bit about yourself. So I am a video producer.

I am a comedian and an editor. I wear a lot of different hats. I also love-- I am very passionate about doing charity work for women in New York City.

So I'm a busy body, red head. And I absolutely, absolutely love The Financial Diet. And I absolutely love podcasting.

It's a real passion of mine. And it's been my entire adult life. Do you like talking about money?

I love talking about money. I would say I get the kind of thrill that some people get from, like, dirty talk. I love it.

Oh, same. Because it's a taboo. And you know me.

At a dinner party, I can go for five hours on a taboo topic, like religion, sex. But money is the one of that trifecta that people are still terrified and guilty and embarrassed and uncomfortable. And that's what makes it fun to talk about.

It's so fun. And I'm going to let you guys into a little bit of fourth-wall breaking here to say that we've already filmed a few episodes with guests, because we thought it would make this conversation even better. And we've already had a big number reveal.

We've already had one of our guests, who you'll see very soon, share exactly what she earns and earned for the past few years. And we were saying when that happened, we got to get a bell or something, because it gives me-- and I'm sure it gave you-- an actual physical chill to hear people break that barrier. It's a relief.

Yeah. It's a relief because you're not talking in these vagaries, where you don't want to step on their toes. And they don't want to--.

I just moved into a new apartment. And everyone has been so nervous to ask the question, what are you paying for the place? Yeah.

I was asked it at lunch when I was talking about your apartment. And I was like, I'll let Ryan answer. Well, the entire world would like to know.

Our new apartment is 2.89 K a month, which is under budget for what we feasibly could pay, but over budget for what we were hoping for. But to just have that number out, then someone knows the reality of what you're dealing with and what it would cost to live where you live. And if you got a deal, if you can talk to your-- some co-workers are going to be uncomfortable.

But if you can talk to people in your industry, you can talk to family members about your raw numbers, then people know what's feasible for you. They can compare and know what they should be asking. The big thing with freelancers-- we both work in media-- is they don't want you to talk to each other and say what the rates are because the biggest, oldest magazine brands are the best at low-balling you and making sure you have no contact with anyone else that works there.

And having five people on their roster that they pay, like, $7 a word. I-- it's--. I feel like the worst part, too, about people not feeling like they can talk to each other about money is that, to this end, all it does is further consolidate the power in a few people's hands.

And even-- whether it's what you pay for rent or what you paid for your house or your salary or your net worth, whatever the number may be, the more people who are--. I'm not certainly not putting us in an oppressed class. Mm-mm.

But no matter what the kind of number you're talking about financially, the more numbers we have about each other, the more it really diffuses that leverage and diffuses the power. I'm curious what you're most excited to talk about on the show. I think I'm really excited to put together a larger theme of two things.

One, the amount of luck that is-- most people's lives are 90% luck because you didn't get hit by a car, and you didn't get cancer, and you didn't get struck by lightning. And you were born where you were born. You were born within the vicinity of a higher-learning education scenario and that you could afford, through loans or something else, and you're able-bodied.

And there's a lot of luck. And I think that's going to be a theme that emerges when we talk to successful people, that they can show up. They can be the right place at the right time, which is luck.

But they can also work really hard. But that to get there, it's sort of like the thing where people say self-made. But you use the roads that we all paid for.

And you--. I hate that term. But also, the other thing I really, really, really can't wait to talk to people about is.

I love knowing what people splurge on, because I don't think--. I think, obviously, for some people, it is a bad habit that they shouldn't have. But for other people, it lets you know their priorities.

Some people splurge on Broadway tickets because they truly-- that experience gives them a creative push, or it's their big outlet. And I would love to see if people splurge on investing, if people surge on family, if people splurge on recreation, creativity. I always like to know that because I know where I splurge.

And I always feel guilty about it, even though I know the reasons why I spend more on something or less on something. And I wanted a little picture into other people's minds so that we all can be more comfortable with the fact that sometimes you roll up to Starbucks, and you drop $20, and you're like, I don't care. What the hell are you buying for $20 at Starbucks?

You get that grilled cheese sandwich. Oh! You get yourself a trenta Refresher.

Oh, right! This is like we're getting a peek into his order. Well, speaking of splurges, that actually happens to be one of our rapid-fire questions.

Oh, yes! Look at that transition. We have to do like, (SINGING) rapid fire. (SPEAKING) We have to get some sort of liked so these are questions for you guys that we're going to be asking to all of our guests at the end of our show to kind of just get to know them a little bit better in a sort of off-the-cuff fashion.

And something that you can compare guest to guest. Exactly. So I'd love to hear from Ryan.

Number one, what is the big financial secret of your industry? As a digital creator and as a comedian, the big financial secret is that most people aren't being paid for the first half of their career enough to live, especially in comedy or the performing arts, but even in digital content. Everybody you see, even when they've broken big-- we see an actor who suddenly is on a television show-- they're not getting paid anything.

You see a pop star the first two years, they are getting paid certainly a living wage, but those Pussycat Dolls were sleeping on the couch between tours because they couldn't afford apartments. And I think even when you go down lower level-- obviously I'm not a Pussycat Doll. That we know of.

That we know yet. Robin could give me a call. Nicole-- but even lower down, you see some BuzzFeed writers, and you think, wow, they've got 50,000 followers.

Wow, look at them. A book deal is usually the first time those people see a small chunk of change. And that's an advance, that you're not going to get paid for a long time.

And that is a huge privilege. The fact that I both had physically didn't have a ton of medical needs in the early part of my life, that my fiancee could help support me, that I happened to find jobs that were compatible with what I wanted to do as my passion career was incredibly lucky. But I was paid nothing until the last few years.

And I think that's the case for most people. And so most of those people are going to come from privilege. Most of those people are going to come from lucky circumstances.

And it's not a meritocracy. And not everybody with 100,000 Twitter followers, even if they're a journalist, is the best journalist. Oh, this is a good opportunity to share some numbers for context, the TFT book.

So we had an interesting situation with that because it went to a publisher, and then that publisher went under and got bought by another publisher. But all told, our advance, we ended up receiving about $65,000. And obviously, at that time, we were still a business so that just went into the business pot.

The book has sold very, very well. It's in, like, its fifth or sixth printing. So we do receive royalty checks, which is extremely unusual for a book.

Most books never earn out their advances. But so keep in mind, $65 grand-ish is what we got all told for the advance part of it. And so that would be like realistically like a person's yearly salary.

It wasn't an individual, so I didn't just pocket that. But that's what that was. And then for a book that is like selling, selling, selling-- we're still two years later on the Indie Best Seller list.

We receive from royalty checks and when it gets sold in other countries, on average, between $10,000 and $20,000 every half year. So all told, a book that is selling about as well as most books could expect to sell is not making a living wage for a person. Nope.

So you can only put that into context with people whose books are doing meh. And even a book that just squeaks by earning out its advance is still a success. Most book do not.

Huge. To be in the phase of earning royalties is not unheard of, but it's rare. And even then, the royalties are not much money.

So--. And you look at some of these people who have the biggest podcasts. Like, I have a friend who is the biggest podcast in a certain genre of entertainment.

And I know for a fact that she's not making a living wage on it and that even with ad sales, with brand partnerships, it's not killing the game. And it can be frustrating for her because there are a lot of expectations placed on her in regards to the show by the listeners. And she's like, I wish I could, but I have to have two other jobs.

And so, yeah, I think the big secret would be that most people aren't being paid a living wage. And when they are, it's been after a long, long period of not. Also, that bro-y male comedians are bitchier than a bunch of middle-school girls.

They are-- it's unbelievable. Every comedian has the same personality disorder, myself included, which was like I didn't feel my parents paid enough attention to me. And now I will make all of you.

What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? Cheap about, I will say, is I do not indulge in Ubers or Lyfts. I do not indulge in delivery food that is not being expensed.

I don't indulge in-- these are some of the convenience stuff that I, for myself, personally, know that a little goes a long way for me, and that if I was to start abusing it,. I would stop cooking. I would start eating worse.

Even stuff like my laundry, I do have that picked up and delivered. But for dry cleaning, I make sure to go out once a week and do it. Just those little things, it adds up really fast.

But also it forces me to go on a little walk once every. Saturday and talk to the person who's doing my dry cleaning. When I know that I am not Amazon Priming regularly things to my office, it helps to keep me from making purchases I wouldn't otherwise make.

The convenience is a barrier. The inconvenience of having to go to a retail store, plan after work that I'm going to do it, make sure the store has what I need, that wall keeps me from making lots of purchases. Like, when you've had a couple glasses of wine, and it's 2:00 AM, you just got to the end of Succession, and you're like, if I owned a Bluetooth keyboard in the shape of a typewriter,.

I'd write my own Succession. You should, in the harsh light of day, decide on your purchases. And so stuff like that, Seamless, those are things those are tools that I use in emergency situations or--.

But you're cheap about generally. But I'm not going to--. I'm not getting in the habit.

What do you invest in? What I invest in, I always invest in tech. My job is digital focused.

Anything I can do to save time, anything. I can do to make my content more polished and faster--. I am an editor at a tech magazine.

So I do have the benefit of being up to date on what the best purchases are. So you guys poach the end gadget guy. Mark's going to be beside himself.

Yeah. Well, he's got a new favorite website,, by the way, plug for me. I put my money in tech because I know that when it's time to render a video,.

I can do it really fast and in the best possible product. And anything that helps me get my work done faster and makes work more seamless, anything that makes it so that my ideas can come to fruition faster and easier, means I can do more work, do better work, and get home faster. And so I'm fine with buying a new laptop.

I'm fine with buying the latest phone. Because if I can take a picture with my phone camera and not have to carry a DSLR with me,. I'm more likely to take a good picture for my work.

What has been your best investment and why? I think my best investment was probably moving to New York. Aw.

We saved up quite a fair bit amount of money right after college. We paid a lot of money upfront for our apartment. And we didn't make any money for three or four months.

And we said, at the end of this, if we're not able to pay our rent, we're not putting it on a credit card. We're not hitting our parents up. And it was a chance that we took on ourselves.

And it was the most money I'd ever spent out of pocket in my life, certainly didn't have any plan. But I'm glad that I came here. I'm glad I believed in myself.

And I'm glad that I knew that there was a stop clock because it made me make a compromise and say, this isn't the dream job. I didn't walk in and say, I'd like to star in a television show and have someone be like, sure! But I was able to say, OK, I've got a bunch of podcasting gigs lined up.

I'm going to help out at this copywriting place. And I'll do freelance writing. And I'm going to break even.

And that was a great way for me to just start. That's the other thing. When you've invested in something, you have to know what you're getting out of it.

And what I was getting out of it was a stop clock and an incentive to stay where I was and to believe in myself. And I knew that I was prepared to lose it if it didn't work out, and that I was prepared to not-- there's a sense of gambling with any investment, even if it's just, like, I'm investing in a new car because I want to do Uber. There's a sense of gambling there.

Even if you have a plan, something can happen. And you have to be fully prepared for it just go to zero and not to keep digging in deeper. If you go to a casino, you bring $200.

You're going to have a fun night to just do some slots, have a couple of drinks. Can't go to the ATM machine. You can't start whipping out the credit card.

You have to know that it was a silly investment that you were willing to lose. And you're fine. I was willing to lose it all.

But I wanted to live in New York City, and I wanted to pursue my dream. And I wanted to say I did it, and thankfully it worked out. But if it hadn't, I would have licked my wounds, gone home, and been like, mom, make me some breakfast.

I've got to come up with a new plan. What has been your biggest money mistake and why? College.

College was my biggest money mistake. I bet you I lost more. My parents didn't--.

Where did you go? I went to Marist College in Poughkeepsie. In your face, Marist College.

I went to Marist. And then I went to a year abroad, which was great and wonderful. And of course, that college is where I met my fiance, soon-to-be husband.

And you can't put a price tag on that. No, you can't. But I went to college for English with a theater concentration and radio, TV, film, which not telling you not to do it, but if you want to be a performer, go perform.

If you want to be a comedian, it's time to do stand-up comedy and improv and hit the ground running. Going there as an insurance policy was creating a net. I didn't want to use, to be an English teacher or something.

And radio, TV, film, that was a really bad time for me to go to school for that because the whole industry changed with digital platforms, with consumer electronics basically replacing most pro AV equipment. I learned all of the applications. I used day to day by pirating them and then using.

YouTube tutorials and then making enough money to buy the real version. And everything that I learned to use there is obsolete or highly technical for people who work in local news. And that wasn't what I wanted to do.

So I went into an incredible amount of debt because my parents, they're firmly middle class now, possibly even upper-middle class, depending on the year. But they came from really nothing. And by the time that was for me to go to school, there was a lot of loans.

And I thankfully recently paid them off. Woo-hoo! Which sucked.

But I could have really done with all of that money, and I could have done more with those four years at the time. And I would have learned more, frankly, if I had just started working. But I didn't know anybody in those industries who'd succeeded.

And I didn't have really good advice. My guidance counselors on Long Island, they knew nothing about what I wanted to do. And instead of asking, directly reaching out to my heroes, which a lot of the time still email you back and give you the advice you were asking for, as long as you don't say pick your brain-- never say that phrase.

Unless it's with a pickaxe, and it's a threat. In which case, I've heard a podcast about you. That was a really bad idea.

And every day. I wish I hadn't done it. I have nothing else to say.

Going to a city I didn't want to live in to study something that they couldn't teach me at a private college price was a mistake. Yeah, man, I have no degree. Zero regrets about that.

Not having student debt rules. Oh, I should also say I left with one credit left before my formal graduation. Hilarious.

That is hilarious. Also, honestly, if I wish I had studied anything, it would've been, like, accounting or something. Because, by far, the hardest thing to learn in my job has been learning just like the ins and outs of running a business, which I don't have to make this plug, but QuickBooks actually genuinely makes it a lot easier.

So shout out to Quickbooks. I used to do it all in an Excel spreadsheet. Ooh!

Ooh! Trust me, when you have 800 line items, that Excel sheet is no fun. [CLEARS THROAT] What is your biggest current money insecurity? My biggest current money insecurity is probably my parents and my fiance's parents are getting older.

My parents have a little bit more of a retirement plan set up and better benefits. But it's really hard because you can work your whole life, full time, very hard, and circumstances can screw you. And you can have plans.

You can have saved. But not every crisis is avoidable. And I know that soon there will come a time, that if we don't have a kid within a certain window, financially, with his parents, I'm not sure-- between his parents and other family members,.

I'm not sure that I'm going to have the money to have a child. Because being queer means that you have to adopt, and adopting is very, very difficult and expensive. That's something also that they don't tell you.

Yeah, you can have kids. You can be the modern family dream. But other people can make their kids at home with this little science project called nighttime.

We are trying. But it hasn't worked yet. Oh.

Trying multiple times a week. But so my insecurity is going forward, being able to take care of my whole family and achieving that, making my own family in the future. It's going to be hard.

But I'm working towards it, and that is my ends. What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most? I would say building in savings from the initial idea of what I'm getting paid.

As a freelancer, it's really easy to be like,. I have $4,000 coming in, and nothing's coming in two months, and I know what I want to buy. But if you can philosophically say to yourself, actually $3,200 coming in not $4,000, and you put that money away, like, gone, like, you don't have a card, that it acts as your savings account unless you're at your physical bank, that is very, very helpful.

And especially because I run a lot of my business through an LLC, I try not to touch that money as much as possible. So it means that a lot of my money ends up locked in CDs and stuff. But I know that I physically can't touch it.

Because I know myself. I will always find a reason that I need that money right now to buy this thing or do this thing or, oh, I'll pay it back. I can definitely, in my mind, borrow from Peter to pay Paul really quickly.

So getting in the practice of knowing that my salary isn't x-- it's y-- and that that money, I'm thinking of it as benefits or as money already spent on being saved, that has changed everything philosophically. Because otherwise then I'm like, but it's mine, and I made. Last question, when did you first feel successful?

And what does that word mean to you? There were two moments recently. I will say-- you gave me a question for one, and I'm going to give you three.

The first time I saw my name in the credits of a TV show,. I thought, I did that. I was there.

And now when people look this up in the future on whatever. Net-Disney-Flick-mazon that we're all only streaming from, they'll say--. Peacock.

They'll be like, Ryan Houlihan was an assistant. That's adorable. I was in a theater at the premiere.

And I saw that, and I was like, [SQUEAKY SOUND].. That was a moment. And then recently, I worked on two projects, one of which is this, that have been a long time in the making.

And to see something go from idea to not falling apart or fading or becoming another version of a thing, but to be executing on exactly what we were like, let's do that, that, and when. I sat down on my first day as a formal editor with, like, benefits and people that worked for me, and my creative vision was what we were going to execute on,. I was like, this is it.

This is what I wanted. I wasn't coming in and being told what someone else wanted me to make. I was able to be like-- or wasn't I do a bunch of podcasts that they're mainly other people hosting them.

It was like, I want us to write about this. I think is really important. And I want this person to write it.

And I'm going to pay them this amount of money, which is fair. And I was like, damn. I was like, I am Miranda Priestly up in here.

And what does successful mean? What does the word mean? Successful, to me, means both stability, knowing that you have a ground beneath you, that you can have successes.

But actually successful means that you're not-- the bottom isn't going to fall out on something you're doing. Also, it is being able to look at something with even 80% creative satisfaction. As a creative, as somebody that really has a lot of passion for what I make, you have really high standards for yourself.

And you have really high standards because you compare yourself to other people's work. And you don't want to copy them, but you want it to be as good as theirs. And you want to be proud enough to show it to people.

And you can beat yourself up. And especially someone as a performer, you face a ton of rejection. That is basically the number-one part of the job.

You have to love to do stand-up. You have to love that a crowd of people is looking at you and being like, that's not funny. And you have to be like, yes, it is.

Y'all suck. Whatever, not my crowd. To look at something I'm making, see it the way I want it to be made, and to know that it's good, to know that feeling, that pit in your stomach, where you're like I would defend this.

I would defend this even if my favorite person said they hated it. Well, I totally agree. And I feel very successful that we're making this show.

Yeah! Yay. High five.

Thank you so much for joining me on this inaugural episode. It is incredibly exciting. We are so excited to share this show with you guys and talk about money with so many people.

So of course, we'll be seeing you imminently. But where else can people find you, if not on The Financial Confessions? So if you would like to follow me on the internet,.

I am @RyanHoulihan on Instagram and Twitter. will be coming to an internet near you soon. And yeah, you'll be able to find me here every week, chiming in, controlling levels, hanging out.

He has a little GoPro camera and a little tiny ring light. It's the most amazing setup. Oh, well, daddy's got to look good, so.

He's got the beauty influencer setup a little bit. Well, anyway, thank you so much. Yeah.

And we'll see you next week. And we'll see you next week as well. And of course, an enormous thank you to our partners at Intuit.

As I mentioned earlier in the show, if you're not familiar with Intuit, you definitely know the awesome products they make. Basically, it's like having a little CFO in your pocket because almost every single element of your financial life, except for possibly physically taking the debit card out of your hand when you've had two glasses of wine at 2:00 in the morning and are trying to make a dumb purchase, they can help you do and do it better. I personally use QuickBooks every single day to manage our company's finances.

I use Mint on my phone to keep track of my budgeting. I've used TurboTax many times, and I can confirm it absolutely makes tax time way easier. But basically, all of these products have totally changed my financial life, and I could not endorse them more.

If you guys want to learn more about how you can use these tools to make your financial lives better and healthier and way more efficient, and if you cannot wait to get started on your financial journey with Intuit, check out the link in our description or in the show notes. And there'll be everything you need to get started with all of their awesome tools. [ELECTRONIC MUSIC] .