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Chelsea answers another round of your questions, from the minimum amount she would consider comfortable to live on in NYC to the work she would do if she wasn’t doing this.

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD30V46E07RR99cC0gCjKUbt-BKoDUcnc

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Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is brought to you by CuriosityStream.

And today, I am going to do one of my favorite and maybe one of your favorite types of videos, and that is an "Ask Chelsea Anything!" Whoo! It's been a long day. I'm kind of delirious.

But that means I'm going to be extra honest. So I threw it out to Twitter this morning, and you guys came through. I've got tons and tons of questions here, more than I can ever answer.

But let's just try to get through a lot of them. And I'll do my best to be honest and provide good information and advice. And you guys will hold me accountable in the comments, I'm sure.

So let's start out with a fun and lighthearted one, which is "what is your favorite cheapest/healthiest meal that you don't get tired of making"? I love to make what I call "city girl tapas." I don't know if I call it that. But anyway, it's basically just I'll make myself a little board of all different kinds of foods.

Sometimes, it's what I have around. But it's also just the things I like. Here's a picture of a time that I did it kind of recently.

But basically, you can just sort of pick out your favorite easy vegetable dish. Have a little bowl of hummus or some other kind of relatively healthy dip. You can put something a little unhealthy on there, like some really yummy cheesy popcorn or fries or whatever.

And then you can also have some good protein, maybe a little piece of cheese or two. Anyway, the point is I feel like making those little tapas boards for one is kind of one of the best ways to feel like you're having kind of a special moment at home. You can include a lot of healthier stuff, like really yummy vegetables in there, without it feeling like that's all you're eating.

And it's really fun to eat while watching TV or movies or whatever-- so definitely the solo tapas. Also, it's extremely easy. You just basically assemble things on a board. "What do you think is the most overlooked money advice?" "What do you think falls through the cracks more than anything else because it's boring, not sexy, no one writes about it, et cetera?

And on the flip side, what do you think is the most overrated advice?" Honestly, overlooked, especially because it's boring/not sexy, though not because people aren't writing or talking about it, would definitely be saving for retirement. We speak to a lot of young women especially at the events we go to. A lot of them are in their late 20s, early 30s.

And many of them will say, I haven't started saving for retirement. And I know I should, this, that, and the other. And these are women who literally pay money to come to a personal finance-themed event.

So you couldn't get people who are more in the mix. And yet they're even still not really even understanding the process to saving for retirement. Or a lot of times, you'll just see people are like, I have my 401(k).

I put money in that sometimes, and that's it. But I think it's really overlooked to save for retirement because a lot of people just can't picture themselves old. And on a darker note, a lot of people are like, the world's going to be underwater by the time I'm retired.

Who cares? And my response to that is always that the chances are that society will still exist in its relative form when you're in retirement. And you'll want to have that safety net.

And if it doesn't exist, well, then we're all screwed. And your money is probably entirely irrelevant, anyway. So it's kind of just a question of hedging your bets.

But not having any plan for retirement or any really meaningful money saved for it is definitely the number one thing that even otherwise smart people will overlook, for sure. "And on the flip side, what is the most overrated advice?" It's got to be the latte bullshit. A lot of people make entire careers off of this really sort of quasi self-help, like you stop spending money, or your money is going to spend you! It's this very-- I don't know-- this very just outdated approach to personal finance that kind of imagines that we're all in the situations that we're in because of just pure consumer decisions.

And I think that's just, A, demonstrably not true. But even if it were, there's only so much you can cut out. And especially when it comes to really policing every purchase that poor people make, for example, like, why does that poor person have an iPhone, it's like, well, A, in many cases, that's statistically their only computer or form of smart technology.

But, B, for many of us, having a smartphone is a pretty key element of being gainfully employed and getting places on time and having access to important information or banking. Even if the person was just playing Candy Crush, our obsession with policing every purchase of people under a certain income level or blaming everyone for every small luxury they might indulge in is just really gross. We had an article a long time ago on TFD by a guy I actually know personally who went to Harvard.

And it was about how he's going to be paying off student loans basically forever. He's 40 and still very much in the midst of paying them off. And someone took it to their personal finance blog and ripped it to shreds and was like, he has Netflix.

He has a car that's only 10 years old, basically just policing every single one of his purchases and basically painting a picture of life that he could live that is completely devoid of any joys or any luxuries or indulgences that would allow him to pay this insane debt burden slightly faster. And it's like, or maybe we could interrogate ourselves about why we're all living with these enormous burdens in the first place and not overly focus on individual shaming to a degree that doesn't even really help us. That's the overrated stuff. "What is the one thing you're looking forward to in the next year or so professionally, personally, New Yorkally, et cetera?" Well, TFD's going really well, and we're moving into our own big office space.

We've been in an office in a WeWork for a long time, which is fine. But it's definitely got its limits. And we're going to have a nice big office with our own room to build out a set for a very cool new thing we have coming.

And that's really exciting. And it's really cool to be able to do that. We're hiring people.

That's really exciting. I just feel like I have a really good life, and I feel like I constantly have stuff to look forward to. And I can't pick out any one thing that feels most exciting.

But in some ways, that in and of itself feels extremely exciting. Every day is awesome. "Best tips to get over the guilt of leaving a job?" Fuck them. Obviously, don't burn a bridge.

But we all need to keep in mind that even the best job would throw your ass to the curb if they needed to make layoffs. They do not care about you. A job is not a person.

You don't have to feel like you're breaking up with someone. You can feel like you are making a positive career and life choice for yourself by moving on to something else. And provided you leave the job with a fair amount of notice and do your best to make the transition a good one, you have nothing to feel guilty about. "How's Mona"-- got a lot of Mona questions.

To be fair, I solicited them. I was like, ask about Mona. Mona's great.

She was sleeping, so she's probably not super happy about this. But-- [KISSES] Mona's perfect! She's wonderful.

Whoo! Woo, woo, woo. "What is the absolute minimum salary you would personally consider livable for someone in NYC?" There are so many factors to that. NYC is enormous, and there are lots of places here where you can live not for cheap, but you can definitely get a much better bang for your buck living-wise than in the hottest neighborhoods of Manhattan.

So already, that completely changes things. Whether or not you're living with roommates or a spouse or partner really changes things. Your lifestyle changes things.

It's really hard to say. I would say, honestly, if I'm answering this question in a not politically correct way in the sense that, yes, technically, any salary could be made to work and people do live on less than this here-- but what I would consider to be a comfortable salary in New York for someone starting out would be $40,000, because you could live in a reasonable choice of neighborhoods. You would definitely need roommates, but you could have a reasonable choice of neighborhoods to live in.

You could go out a few times a month. You could put money into savings. You'd probably want to work maybe one side gig a week or a month.

But I could definitely-- would you agree with that? I'm asking my cameraperson who also lives in New York. And that cameraperson is Holly, by the way, Holly of TFD fame, if you guys know her.

Yeah, people make less than that. And you can, for sure. I moved here a little bit later.

I didn't move here straight after school, so I was earning a little bit more. But you can make it work. But you have a tough life at $30,000 or below in New York.

I think $40,000 is where you can really start to have a little bit more choice and a little bit more financial breathing room, for sure. "Oh my god, can we just see Mona? We just said goodbye to my beautiful 15-year-old dog this week, so that's all I really need is some puppy time." Well, I've already brought her out, but I'm bringing her back. We love your dog that passed.

We're so sorry-- nothing worse than a deceased pup. "How do you really, really stick or want to follow a budget? Not in terms of the budgeting technique itself, but deep down in the heart and making it work?" You have to have some real goals. I tried to make a budget before I had real plans for my future or an idea of that future, and it was just like, this just sucks.

I can do less fun things on a daily basis. And it didn't feel like I was working toward anything. So making sure that you know not just what your budget is but why you're budgeting and what you're working toward and what you're doing with that money and really keeping track of making progress on your goals and how far you're away from reaching a certain savings amount or debt payoff or some big purchase is really important because otherwise, all you get is the downside of a budget, which is less immediate fun.

And you don't get the upside, which is working toward these really great goals. So have a better idea of what you're actually budgeting for. "What did you think of America's dad, Bernie Sanders, ending Tim Ryan's career?" Loved it-- hilarious. Also, I don't want to get too into politics in this video, just because we've already covered on other Q&As.

But I love-- something that has been great from Warren, too-- I'm a huge Warren fan, as well. It is so great seeing people on that stage actually be like, actually, all Americans deserve free health care, no exceptions, 100%, because when someone's actually saying that, all of the rest of them have to pretend like they're bullshit middle ground that still leaves a bunch of people not covered and still leaves a bunch of people with crazy premiums, because they have to protect the private insurance industry. It makes them look like fools.

They can't get around it. They can't pretend like they're all working for the same thing because they're not. And so I find it very satisfying for there to be that sharp contrast-- love it. "Advice you would give to someone who isn't sure they want to go to college?" Don't, not right now.

College is so expensive. Do not go to college unless you are absolutely sure that you want to go to college, why you want to go to college, and what the actual long-term value of any investment you're making in college is going to be. I cannot even tell you the number of people I know who have gotten degrees that they weren't sure they wanted to get, effing gone to law school when they were not sure what they wanted to do.

The amount of money, the amount of time, the amount of energy that that takes, it is not something that should be taken lightly. Grad school should not be a decision you make because you want to delay finding a job. Or you should not just go to college because everyone else in your high school class is doing it, absolutely not.

College is a very serious financial choice, especially in this country, and should only be pursued when you have a real reason for pursuing it. Also, aside from the financial reasons, you are almost guaranteed to do way better in school, no matter what you're studying, if you actually want to be there and know what you're working toward, for sure. Also, community college-- I went to community college.

If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for you guys. "Is it cheaper to rent than to buy a house?" There are so many variables in that question that it would be impossible for me to answer. It's cheaper to rent a home in rural Wisconsin, and it's more expensive to buy a home in downtown Manhattan. We need to refine some terms here.

Generally speaking, though, yes, on a day-to-day basis, especially for the first five years that you own a home, it is almost always going to be cheaper to rent-- again, depending on where you live, depending on the market, are there incentives to first-time buyers, whatever it is that you may be working with. But depending on where you live-- but in many cases, when you combine property taxes, if you have things like condo fees. There are all kinds of fees that will come along with a mortgage you're taking out.

There are way more things on top of just your mortgage that you have to consider beyond just the raw number. So even if you worked out that, let's say, your mortgage would be lower than your monthly rent if you were to buy your current location, that's not the full story of what you're actually going to be paying. In New York, for example, you could be paying thousands and thousands of dollars a year just in condo fees and property tax alone.

So that's something to definitely consider, that it's not just the pure mortgage. Another thing to consider is that owning a home is a serious decision, in terms of having to maintain and upkeep that home. Aside from any kind of cosmetic changes that you might want to make or structural changes you might want to make to the home, when something goes wrong with that home, that is now your problem.

And let's say, for example, you live in a bigger building. You have no choice but to immediately fix those things, because you're putting other homes at risk. There is a lot that goes in-- the level of responsibility and commitment in home ownership is much higher than in renting.

And obviously, also, when you look at the potential to not stay in that home long-term enough to see the financial benefits if and when you did sell it, that's also a consideration. If you're going to buy a home, you want to absolutely be living there no fewer than five, but ideally 10 or more years. So that's a huge commitment that not everyone can make, in terms of knowing where they want to be.

In many ways, it can be not just more expensive, but a much bigger financial commitment to own a home. But there are also lots of reasons that could make it, in the long term, a good decision. For example, while the average appreciation year over year on a house may not even follow, let's say, the market if you were to put that money in a fund, you don't live in your funds.

You don't live in your mutual fund. You don't live in your index fund. You're not going to be using that investment in the same way.

So when people try to undercut just the pure financial value of owning a home by pointing out that it doesn't appreciate necessarily as fast as some people assume it does, there's also that to consider. You have to live somewhere. You have to have a home.

So I could go on about this forever, but I'll spare you guys. The long story short is that owning a home is not always the clear-cut better decision that people think it is. And especially in the shorter term, you will almost certainly pay more money for a comparable place in a comparable neighborhood for some of the reasons I listed.

But in the longer term, it could be the right choice for you. But it's not super healthy or clarifying to think of it in terms of just pure cost, because it's not a question of which is cheaper. It's a question of which is a better value for you in the long term. "How can I build up my credit score?" Make payments on time.

If you have the ability, raise your credit limit on cards so that you're using less of that available credit. Keep cards open so that you have a longer credit history. Pay off any debts you might have.

Be responsible. Those are some good ones. Oh, we have a question from my mom.

I have a two-parter for you. "Why don't you, Marc, and Mona visit me more often and stay longer? And is it true that Mona loves me most?" First one is that we have jobs, but we do come a lot, mom. Thank you.

My parents live in Philadelphia, for reference. We come a lot. We come twice a month.

And the answer to Mona loving you most is I don't know. It depends on how many people are given her snuggles on any given day. But yes, she does love you very close to the most, we'll say. "With some politicians advocating for total student loan forgiveness and the possibility of public service loan forgiveness still on the table, should I invest windfalls or use them to pay down student debt?" OK, this is complicated.

I would not base day-to-day strategic money decisions on the possibility that a politician is going to enact total loan forgiveness. I want that to happen. I think it's increasingly likely that some form of that could happen.

But making solid financial decisions ultimately is about making the smartest bets with the information that you have available. So I wouldn't necessarily calculate that in your risk assessment, at least not until we get a little bit closer to the period of that happening. For example, if we elect, let's say, a president to office who is advocating for student loan forgiveness, maybe wait until there's an actual bill in play.

And maybe wait until it looks like it even has a chance of passing Congress. There are a lot of steps between now and when we should maybe be actively making financial decisions based on that possible outcome. So that's that.

But as far as public service loan forgiveness, I don't know what you mean by "it's on the table." But if that's something you are considering pursuing, I would do everything in your power to figure out whether or not you are actually pursuing that. And if you are part of the program, then it should impact your decisions accordingly and very well may increase the value of putting money in the market versus just using it to pay down debt. But that's something that it sounds like you don't quite have all of your personal decisions totally lined up yet.

And you need all of the information you can get before you make a decision like that, because choosing whether to invest or pay down debt is a calculation. And it's going to be different for everyone. If, let's say, you have heavily subsidized loans that don't have very high interest rates, it very well may be smarter for you to invest some of that money.

Or if you were going to enter a loan forgiveness program, same thing there. But that is a true calculation that you have to make based on real numbers and real facts and not any kind of speculation. "What is your go-to lunch to bring to work? I'm constantly struggling to make something that's fun, healthy, and not logistically difficult." Leftovers-- I'm like the queen of leftovers.

If I'm bringing lunch, it's almost always leftovers. I have great Tupperwares. Pack it up right after dinner when we're cleaning up the kitchen-- got my lunch ready to go. "If you weren't doing the Financial Diet, what would be your backup career?" I'd probably want to work in the hospitality industry to some extent.

I'm assuming this means I don't work in media at all. Otherwise, it's working at another publication, but that sucks. I love cooking.

I love entertaining. I've worked in the service and hospitality industries a lot and really loved those experiences. I don't know that I ever want to own a restaurant, but I could definitely see wanting to maybe work in the boutique hotel industry or something like that.

I really love that kind of experience, so definitely maybe something like that. And maybe even as I get older and maybe one day I could have-- I'd love to have a supper club, where people just pay to cover the cost of the food. I think they're actually illegal in some way because you're not health board-certified.

But anyway, so something to do with making people smile. "How does the Financial Diet generate revenue?" This video is brought to you by the answer to that question. Two questions here, a two-parter-- "what is your very honest take on high-yield online savings accounts? And two, what is Mona's most idyllic New York day?" Number one, high-yield savings accounts are very useful for those more medium-term savings goals.

If you're saving up to buy a home in a couple years, that's a good place to have it, because it could be pretty risky to put that money in the market for that short of a timespan. So I think they're very useful for the right thing. Question two, "what is Mona's most idyllic New York day?" Wake up.

Hang out with me and Marc while we have our coffee/tea. Marc doesn't drink coffee. We go to the park, a really super long walk.

Then Marc and I will go get dinner somewhere or lunch, sitting outside. And she'll be on the ground, and she'll get brought her little bowl of water. And she'll get to hang out with us.

And then we walk home. And then we all cuddle on the couch and watch TV. And she gets lots of bites of people food, obviously, throughout this whole thing. "What motivates you to keep expanding your business now that you have a strong income?" So I pay myself $75,000 a year.

So I wouldn't-- that's definitely a strong salary. It's the most money I've ever earned, and it feels good. I live a good life.

But it's not like I'm like, that's it. I'm capped out. I can't earn any more money.

So there's definitely still a personal incentive. And because I pay myself pretty low compared to what we take in, a small portion of it, obviously, I'm incentivized to grow the company financially in that way. But also, I'm not even primarily motivated by my own salary.

I didn't take a salary for almost two years, and I was still super motivated every day. I just really love the work that we do. And I love being able to work with great people and to pay them fairly and to create this community and talk to you guys about money and listen to you guys talk about money.

I just love what I do. And I think I wish that something like the Financial Diet had existed when I was really, really messed up with money. And I'm glad to be able to provide that for people who are at an earlier stage in their journey now and maybe need to hear it more than the average person or even people who just love talking about money.

I love being able to create this conversation and be a part of it. So that definitely is what motivates me more than my own personal salary. So yeah, I love TFD.

And I can't see wanting to do anything else for the foreseeable future. But you know what I can see in the foreseeable future is learning more about the world around me. And there are few better places to learn about that world than with CuriosityStream.

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