YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=5yfB-Hpaqd0
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Duration:25:59
Uploaded:2020-05-19
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In this episode, Chelsea answers questions from TFD subscribers and followers, including what it's like to run a small business under quarantine, how she feels about various definitions of "success," and why she'll never buy into hustle culture.

Watch Chelsea's first rant on internet culture during COVID-19 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG-QR2iEsJ4&

Justine Musk article: https://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/a5380/millionaire-starter-wife/

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

The Financial Diet site: http://www.thefinancialdiet.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefinancialdiet
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Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And today, we are doing one of my personal favorites-- and I hope one of your personal favorites-- a Q&A.

I threw it out to you guys on Twitter today to ask me any and every question. Obviously, a lot of them are 'Rona relevant or have something to do with the current times in which we're all living, but they kind of run the gamut. So let's just get right into them.

Is there an equitable way to move into an affordable neighborhood where you can be fiscally responsible without gentrifying and displacing the original inhabitants that gave the neighborhoods their characters? Wow, that's a really high-level question. I don't know.

I live in New York. I live in a neighborhood that I would not describe as overly gentrifying. It's remained fairly consistent over the years.

But I have lived in extremely gentrifying neighborhoods, probably the most aggressive of which being Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which I was living in at the height of the girls Brooklyn hipster era. It was horrible. On a more macro level, I think the answers to this are obviously to be found more in policy and things like zoning laws and rent controls and stabilization.

Because ultimately, what will decide whether or not a community is able to remain in their place of origin and have stability if they are lower income is going to depend on the housing laws and what is available to them. Also, the degree to which the residents are owners of their homes rather than renters, who are obviously often much easier to displace. And of course, the changes on that level can be much more long term, depending on election cycles and who's in office and who has power.

But I will say that for every neighborhood that I'm aware of, there are always community organizations you can join that work on the ground to help make the community more equitable and more livable for people of all different incomes and make sure it's not just about displacement and replacement. I'm a member of a community organization for my neighborhood, Morningside Heights, that focuses on several of the development projects going around right now, which are basically taking locations or buildings which are currently being used by the public or have mixed income housing or various other less profitable things for the community and are trying to be replaced with things like luxury condos or further extensions for the universities here that don't at all serve the community. And when you break it down into individual projects, individual buildings, individual locations, it can become a lot easier to have a direct impact on the neighborhood you live in, in a positive way.

I think for most of us, when we move into a big city, often if we want to live in a decent apartment and we have a relatively normal income, the housing stock that's going to be available for us is often going to be in neighborhoods that are in some kind of a transition. But it doesn't mean that you have to be a shitty resident when you live there. You don't have to be part of the problem.

You can choose where you're putting your consumer dollars in terms of the businesses you're supporting. You can choose to support elected officials who work for everyone, not just the wealthy developers. And you can just be aware of the history of your community and what's happening in your community and how you can be a force for the positive.

It's not a perfect answer, but in cities like New York, I'm often a little bit frustrated by the binary nature of the gentrification conversation. Because it's often pitted as working class versus upper class. But for most of New York, it's really not.

Most of the middle class in New York has a hard time finding a place to live. So really, for most of us, it's working all the way through upper middle class who are fighting against a very, very wealthy elite, who are taking up so much of the housing stock with investment apartments and demolishing things to build luxury condos. We have much more in common with a homeless person, who might be living in our neighborhood park, than we do with a billionaire developer, who's trying to turn an old church into another Whole Foods.

Keeping that mentality and using your voice for as much positive impact as you can, I think, are the best solutions we have. What is the worst contemporary definition of success you have encountered? Oh, for sure, like the hustle porn, like the LinkedIn tech bros writing their diaries about how they get up at 4:00 in the morning and eat only two meals a week and all that deranged shit so that they can be more productive and optimize their lifestyles.

Just all of that stuff, I hate-- hate, hate, hate, hate. I also hate the stuff that's what I would describe as like capitalist feminist, where it's like are we just measuring how feminist a company is by if it has a female executive on the board, even if all their employees don't have comprehensive maternity leave or women are in all the lowest paid positions? I hate stuff that glamorizes kind of sacrificing your life to work, and I hate stuff that glamorizes really superficial, identity-based solutions to much more intrinsic problems.

Don't show me how many women are on your board. Show me how all the women at your company are treated on average. Show me what your company is doing in the world.

And as far as the I wake up at 4 AM and dedicate my life to my job, all that stuff, I'm just like, I think it's rare that you will find a person who, on their deathbed, is like, I'm so glad that I had absolutely no life outside of just optimizing every waking moment to be a more productive human being. That sounds bad. So I hate that stuff.

I hate the life hacking stuff. I just think what we need in the world in general is just much more focus on our humanity and much more focus on living a well-rounded lifestyle. And the fact that all of the technology that is available to us should make it easier for every person to live a more balanced and less harsh life and not be encouraging us to sacrifice our lives more and more to work and production.

Not a fan of any of that. Also, anyone who is writing blog posts on LinkedIn. How has your perspective on your career/business changed since the pandemic?

Have you noticed a change in the perspectives others have on your business? I ask this as a fellow self-employed professional and YouTuber. No, I wouldn't say that the perspective on my business has changed post-pandemic, because I think before pandemic, we had an extremely humanist, moderate conservative approach to business, not super focused on exponential growth or profit margins or any of those things.

Very focused on creating good content, creating a great work environment for our employees, building a great life for the people who work with us, doing projects we all feel passionately about. And as a result, not really much has changed. We're all remote now, which kind of is sad for me, personally, because I miss going into the office every day and I miss seeing everyone.

But I haven't changed. I've just become more convinced than ever that that is the approach that I want to take. I want everyone involved with the company to have a great work-life balance, have a great professional life, and remember that their work is not there meaning of life.

I think that a lot of people who were probably way, way, way too invested in their jobs have realized-- either they've been laid off or furloughed or shown that they were completely dispensable to their employer or they have realized, in this chaos, that there are so many other more important things out there. And I hope that people take that with them. Life is too GD short to be answering emails at 11:00 PM, especially for some faceless corporation.

What's the most wholesome thing you've read or learned about as a result of being stuck at home during this time? Wholesome? Oh, god, it's gotta be those fricking penguins going on various activities.

Nothing more wholesome than those penguins, the ones where they're all bopping down the stairs. They're like doo, doo, doo. Oh, man, when I saw those penguins-- or like those rescue puppies getting to visit the aquarium.

I don't even know if it's really all that great for the penguins. I don't know if the penguin has the prefrontal cortex necessary to understand what's going on, but I love it. The most unwholesome thing I saw during lockdown was the other day on Twitter-- I don't know if you guys saw this-- but someone was like, I didn't realize that a kangaroo pouch is like a hole into their body.

And they showed a kangaroo pouch interior, and I was like, ugh. I just wanted to erase that from my mind. Horrifying.

I don't know if this was already answered previously, but were the initial investments into TFD ever paid back to those investors/partners? And if so, to what extent and how far after TFD's establishment? The only actual literal investment we ever got into TFD was $5,000 from John and Hank Green's foundation, where they were giving it to internet projects and creators that they wanted to support, which was a grant, so it was never paid back.

Although, through our long partnership with Complexly, TFD earned revenue that was shared with Complexly while we worked together. So, yes, that eventually was paid back and then some. They also did invest in some resources for us when we were setting up our YouTube, but everything was paid back and then some.

And then my husband took a sabbatical from his work for a month to help build out TFD's ad infrastructure when we started the website. And he, as a result, owns 5% of the company totally separate from me. So that's sort of his compensation.

And the other "investments," quote unquote, were are just our families. My co-founder Lauren and I, our partners each took a huge burden when we quit our jobs to do TFD, and I think that's been paid back in the fact that we both earn a good salary now and have a substantial ownership in this successful company. So everyone's happy.

But that's the only investment we got. Has any other finance/money-based YouTube channel distanced themselves from you after your Bernie video? What has been the reaction behind the scenes from said video?

If they have distanced themselves from me, I'm not aware of it. But to be fair, I wasn't really close with any other personal finance/money-based YouTube channels outside of I have a few friends, and that hasn't changed anything. They've known I'm a bleeding heart since we first met.

I'm sure that I've since been-- I've long since been blocked by certain notable personal finance influencers with, in my opinion, morally and ethically dubious empires. But I'm sure that's for a whole variety of reasons. First and foremost, probably because I'm a mouthy woman.

What was the process like for choosing your company's health care policy? Terrible. Oh, my god.

Oh, my god. It is so funny to me that more small business owners are not like radical activists for Medicare for all, because why am I doing this? I am like, I did not even go to college.

Why am I responsible for sifting through mountains and mountains of paperwork and signing forms in triplicate and reading tons of shit I don't understand to pick a policy? And medical is separate from dental and vision, and just the nightmare. And I will say, we worked with an ADP rep who was super nice.

Zero complaints about that element of the process. But the process itself is like, why am I doing this? And for the record, we picked an extremely good plan.

TFD covers 70% of it. We did all we could to make it a good thing for our employees who opted into it, but ugh, why are small business owners doing this? Why is it left to us?

It's so stupid. Also, more importantly, a lot of them out there are either choosing to be cheap on this or opting out of doing it altogether. So the whole system, I just like-- Medicare for all, guys.

It's a no brainer. Can we see Mona's new haircut? For those of you who followed, I had to give Mona a haircut myself.

And listen, I mean, it's not terrible. It's not good, but-- she looks like she's wearing chaps, because her legs are much thicker than her body hair. But she was getting matted, because she tends to matt really badly after she gets a bath, because she rubs herself all over things and you can't stop her.

So it was a whole thing, and the groomers were closed, so I had to do it myself. But she was such a good girl. She stood still through the whole thing, just waiting there like, I don't know what's going on, but I guess I deserve this.

So, anyway, she was a very good girl, and she got her little quarantine coif. Someone rang the doorbell downstairs, so she's a little stressed. Mona, why are you stressed?

It's OK. It's OK. She's a little stressy girl who's just lost a lot of hair.

This one is cute. How do you find resources that teach you how to do home DIYs like painting, installing shelves, et cetera? And can you talk about your design process for a room like your bedroom with color schemes, fabrics, et cetera?

So here are a few pictures of my home, including my bedroom. So there's a ton of great sources. I am a pretty big follower of Apartment Therapy.

I love their stuff, although sometimes it can be a little intimidating. I watch a ton of YouTube. I just Google the project for YouTube and see what comes up and follow the ones that seem to be highly rated and whatnot.

So there's tons of different sources for learning, and it's really project by project. But I'm also pretty good at knowing where I'm above my pay grade and I need help with certain things. Like if I'm having to mount something into brick, I don't do that.

I have someone help me with that. But for most of it, like things-- like I painted several rooms during quarantine, because I have nothing else to do. And I used to be terrible at painting, and now I can paint very, very sort of demanding colors pretty well and without too much of a mess.

And I can even do some of the edging by hand. So I think for most of it, remembering that most of these things are not that complicated in practice and that it's easy to learn is very important. Because otherwise, it's so easy to throw up your hands and be like, I could never.

You could. And then the other question was, can you talk about your design process for a room, like your bedroom, with color schemes, fabrics, et cetera? Always the same process.

I take an inventory of the items I already have and want to work with and don't want to replace or get rid of. Then, from there, I kind of consider what's feasible in terms of like, well, what are the colors or design cues or eras of these items that I have to kind of work with? And then I will build a mood board with inspiration about the room specifically, drawing usually from Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, that kind of thing.

Once I have the mood board, I'll generally settle on a wall color, whether for accent or the whole wall. That will usually define a few other things. And I really just kind of see what looks good.

I initially, when I started my bedroom, had totally different thoughts on my inspiration board about where I wanted to go with things like accent colors. It didn't work in practice, but the great thing is when it comes to colors, you can easily get swatches and samples. You don't have to go all the way into investing in a gallon of paint before you see how something is going to look.

And especially when it comes to something like paint, definitely do yourself a favor. Most paint stores will offer very inexpensive samples, just a little tiny amount of the paint. It's much better than a swatch.

Swatching is OK for like looking at colors against fabrics or things like that, but when it comes to actually going on a wall, I highly recommend always doing a small sample on a patch of the wall so that you can see how the color looks in different lights. But also how the color looks when it dries, which is very different from how it appears on a swatch or a computer screen or even when you look at a drop of the paint. So, in general, just remember, at the end of the day, yes, inspiration is good.

Yes, having ideas is good. But be open to the fact that things may not work in practice in your space the way they would work on someone else's space. And it's always OK to make changes.

I changed my bedroom, like, four times before I arrived at the final version. It happens. Also, don't be afraid to have fun.

I am so sick of the interior design stuff that's like Scandinavian minimalism, white on white on white on white, those horrible white, white, white, white, white kitchens. I don't know. I feel like there's so few opportunities in life to really show personality, take some risks, be bold.

I change things all the time. Sometimes things don't work out. But I think a space always is my favorite when it looks like it's really reflective of the person and their own style and their own inclinations, even if they're not my own.

Be bold. How do you find your French in-laws are at talking about money? Are they as open and frank about their money mistakes as you are?

And have there been any interesting discussions because of this. I'm interested in there was a cultural difference between you. No.

My in-laws are a particular bunch, but they don't really talk about money. They don't talk about professional stuff. They're very old school.

They're like a big farming-- they're tied to the land. They're tied to they're outdoorsy activity. Mark and I both work jobs that are very abstract for them, and they don't really understand and don't care.

So we don't really talk about those things. And when it comes to money, the biggest cultural difference between us and French people is French people do not realize how difficult finances are in America and how much of this stuff is up to navigate and how hard it can be and how expensive things are. So they genuinely don't even understand the concept of the student loan crisis or medical bills or any of this stuff.

So there's just a lot of lack of kind of understanding there. And I would say, also, like in America, many older generations are like, you just don't talk about money. And that kind of translates as well.

So it all combines to be an environment in which we don't talk to our in-laws, really, about money. But also, because we live in New York City, my husband and I, and we both work these kind of techie sort of jobs to them, they both tease us about being rich all the time. Like oh, you rich Richie Riches whenever we come around.

And we're like, honeys, you guys have multiple homes. Talk about Elon Musk. Your rant's been getting me through these 'Rona blues.

Oh, my god. Elon Musk. Elon Musk.

Oh, my god. What is there to say that hasn't been said? I just, first of all, anyone who is still stanning that man after all of this, just truly love yourself.

But I think the best thing I saw about Elon Musk the other day was someone was like, the most important thing to remember in all of this is that on top of all of the insanity-- and let's keep in mind the fact that he was actively fighting with random Twitter users about the Coronavirus while his girlfriend was in labor with their child. This is his seventh child. This man has a whole fricking family.

And actually, his first wife wrote an extremely fascinating article about that whole arc of them being together and her being a starter wife. Highly recommend that reading. She was the mother of his first six children.

And I just like-- I'm sorry, but my ultimate take on this is men are allowed to be so messy and still be treated as geniuses. Could you imagine a woman out here tweeting the level of mess that Elon Musk is frequently tweeting and literally birthing seven children and having three husbands and all these boyfriends and still being treated with such seriousness by so many people? I submit that that would be impossible.

Just, Elon, get it together. How do you find joy in cooking for one? I can't seem to be motivated to cook if I'm not cooking for someone else.

Listen, Soledad, a couple weeks, maybe a month ago, I would have been like, oh, you just have to find a project you're excited about and learn and big batch. After fucking, like, what is it, 67,000 days of quarantine, the joy in cooking for one, it's hard to find. It's hard to find the joy in anything at this point.

Cooking for one has become very difficult for me. And all I would say, per my other Corona rant, which I'm happy to link in the description, is pat yourself on the back just for getting through things, even if it means you're having heated up noodles for the fourth day in a row. It's all good right now.

Any advice on dealing with finances in an emotional capacity right now? Quarantine is testing my mental health badly, and I feel like it's even harder than normal to think about what I'm spending rather than just mark it off as frivolous self-care or ignore it altogether. Oh, man, Anna, right there with you.

I think, again, overall 'Rona advice is just focus on making it through. Give yourself a pat on the back for just dealing and coping. But when it comes to emotional spending and feeling like it's pointless to be making the good decisions, I think a lot of people are also feeling similarly when it comes to, like, I'm just going to eat whatever, because who gives a shit anymore?

Life has no more meaning. I think trying to find a few things that you're excited about that have a slightly longer time window-- you know, three, six, nine months, or what have you-- that you will want to work toward. And of course, make them reasonable.

Don't make it to be like, I want to go to a music festival, because not clear when that's happening again. But if you can make it something that feels reasonable to yourself and that feels motivating and that, more importantly, helps you focus on a time past this-- because I think what really saps the most at our mental energy and our will to continue and our ability to feel motivated is often what is natural, which is thinking about what the next few weeks or few months are going to look like. Because it's right in front of us, and it's the most uncertain.

But one thing that I find a high reassurance in is that through so many historical upheavals, including ones very similar to what we're going through now, things always come back to a kind of normal. Life will always find a way, as they say. And you're going to want to be prepared for that.

And if you continue to get caught up in the day-to-day despair at the expense of building for something greater, we're all going to come out on the other side of it, and you're going to be way less prepared than you could have been. So forcing yourself to imagine that time and trying to set some concrete goals around it and trying to tie your decisions on a day-to-day to those greater goals, I think, is very healthy. I have a few of them myself, and they're helping me get through, baby.

What were some of the first signs your business was growing in the right direction, and how did you know to start hiring? You know to start hiring when things are becoming very painful without a hire and it's really difficult on a day-to-day basis. And what were some of the first signs your business was growing in the right direction?

We were making money. People wanted to work with us. Our platforms were growing in a sustainable way.

We weren't just chasing virality. We were building a dedicated, loyal audience. And I think those things are all very good signs, because on the internet, so many things are ephemeral.

And you can have one thing blow up and then nothing else work. And I think that slow, steady-- it may not break the charts, but it's definitely making a dent and making slow growth. That's when you know it's good.

This is hilarious. Someone says, how do I deal with criticism from co-workers who make fun of me for things like veganism, minimalism, and being debt free? I don't force any of these things upon everyone.

They just ask about it, and then they laugh. Fuck them. You don't need them.

Who needs them? They sound horrible. What horrible co-workers.

We're in a pandemic. Can they not find something better to do with their time than make fun of your life choices? How has your budget changed during the pandemic?

I don't spend money anymore. I ordered shoes. No, I spend money occasionally, but I like my spending is like boo.

Just so little, comparatively. I had a great job interview right before the pandemic. Should I reach out or assume that when they're open again and ready they will reach out?

Definitely follow up. We actually interviewed someone who was fabulous right before the pandemic hit. We froze everything the first week or two, when it was really touch and go.

And then things started to be more promising, and we started to see our revenue go back up, and we ended up hiring that person. So definitely be persistent. And I'm sure that if it was a fabulous interview, they're still interested in you now.

It's just a question of staying on their radar until the moment that the trigger can be pulled. As always, guys, thank you so much for watching. And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.

Goodbye.