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Chelsea talks with YouTuber Mina Le about fast fashion, how to shop more sustainably, and how social media has completely overtaken our relationship with style.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Financial Confessions.

It is me, your host, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet, Chelsea Fagan. I'm also a person who loves talking about money and everything that it touches.

And one of the topics that comes up quite a lot on our channel, because it is such a powerful use of our consumer decision-making, is how we dress ourselves. Now, there's a lot that goes into beauty and style beyond just the fashion aspect, but that is a huge focus for where, especially, women are going to be directing a lot of their discretionary funds. We've talked a lot on the channel about things like fast fashion, and how much the normalization of consuming in that regard has changed the way we spend and changed the world that we live in.

We used to buy and own very, very few items of clothing as a rule. And now, we have almost as many new pieces of clothing as there are weeks in the year. On average, this is not normal.

This is not how things have always been. And especially when it comes to the financial and environmental impact, this is not the way things always have to be. Similarly, the way we spend on beauty has been severely warped by things like social media, how we view ourselves, how we view others.

And especially as women, which most of you watching and listening are, it's important to remember that these spending decisions and all of their implications don't exist in a vacuum. It's OK to have problematic faves, to spend on things that might be objectively somewhat frivolous, or to invest heavily in things that might even be ephemeral. But it's important that we understand why we're doing these things, that we're not spending blindly, and especially not spending blindly in a way that is going to be harmful to our personal finances or the world around us.

There are many people who are making more thoughtful and informed commentary on these subjects than I am, and I'm very, very grateful to have one of my favorites, one of the TFD office's favorites, in the studio with me today. She is a YouTuber, a video essayist, someone who speaks really thoughtfully on the topics of fashion and beauty and culture and media. She's also a fellow New Yorker and a fellow former Marylander, which I don't run into every day.

And she's sitting right next to me. Welcome, Mina Le, to the channel. Thank you for having me.

Thank you for being here. And before we get started, I want to thank HelloFresh for supporting this episode of The Financial Confessions. Go to HelloFresh.com/TFC16, and use code TFC16 for up to 16 free meals and three free gifts.

And I also want to thank Ship Station for supporting this episode of The Financial Confessions. If you're a small business owner and want to save time and money while shipping your products, try Ship Station. With Ship Station, your small business can now access the same rates usually reserved for Fortune 500 companies without the contracts or commitments.

Use my offer code TFC to get a 60-day free trial. Make ship happen. Do you have a theme that you feel encompasses your personal style?

That's so hard, because I don't like to limit myself either. And I think that's another plague of our times, where people just want to box themselves into these little aesthetics. And any time they come across a new aesthetic they, like, they just upheave their entire wardrobe, and just find something new.

So for me, I do have a lot of stuff that I don't think coincides with my normal day-to-day look. Like, I have a lot of just random '80s paraphernalia, and I don't usually dress '80s-like, but I like having that option, because I do treat my clothes kind of like a costume, a costume layer. And I like to have fun with it.

So I don't know. Currently, I would say that I do include a lot of pearls and a lot of romantic, historical-inspired silhouettes. Simone Rocha is basically everything that I aspire to be.

I don't know this person. I'm gonna have to google. Oh!

Oh my gosh! You're killing me. Simone Rocha's a brand.

Oh. (LAUGHING) Oh my god! I'm, like, 0 for 5 on this episode. I mean, she's a person.

She's a person, too. It's like, Coco Chanel is like a brand and a person. OK.

But yeah, she's like a designer that I really look up to, but I can't afford, like, anything. Got it. But you know, inspiration board.

Mine is Eileen Fisher. [LAUGHTER] Sort of. How do you decide the topics that you're going to speak about, particularly as it pertains to the more pop culture stuff? I think I'm just genuinely interested in media culture and social ramifications.

Like, I didn't really decide to take that angle when I first started doing these YouTube videos, but then it kind of just ended up being the angle I took when I was writing out the scripts and everything. But one of the major issues that I've always had with the fashion sphere is that I find it's very exclusive, and it's very white. And there's not a lot of discourse about colonial roots, for instance, or cultural appropriation in the space.

And those are all things that I've always had an interest in. So I think it's like-- by nature of exploring a lot of these topics, you kind of just end up going down this sociocultural route, regardless, whether or not you want to. [CHUCKLES] Do you feel-- so some of the other YouTubers that I'll occasionally watch in the space, I think, fit a lot more into what you're describing as being a sort of exclusionary sort of framework, and I think, in a lot of ways, about upholding what has always been elitist about fashion. And your videos, to me, often feel a lot more accessible and friendly, I think, in part because obviously, your personal style is very playful and very unique, and not-- I mean, not like cool fashion-girl style in that regard.

Do you feel, ever, a sense of anxiety about how the, quote-unquote, "fashion people" are going to take your work? Uh, no. [LAUGHS] I mean, I definitely do get some kind of anxiety about where my trajectory is going, you know, like in the future. And I've been invited to a couple of fashion events, and sometimes I'll go, and I'm like, wow, I'm really-- I don't belong here.

And I'm definitely comfortable with who I am nowadays, that I try not to see myself not fitting in as any particular crutch. I think the fashion industry needs a lot more diversity and a lot more creative energy that comes from not just nepotism babies. [LAUGHS] Enough of them. Enough.

Yeah. So I don't know. People will just say whatever they want about my style, and I think I've been experimental for a long time.

I think I started really stepping outside of my box even in high school. When all my classmates were wearing, like, Lululemon and Uggs, I never had-- I never had any of that. So I'm just used to getting comments about my style, and it's become something that I don't really care about anymore, as long it's fulfilling to me.

Well, we're fans here. So you did a video, I want to say pretty recently, about TikTok and fashion, and how it specifically kind of creates this-- because obviously, as I mentioned in the intro, fast fashion in general, as an industry, has created a level of hyperconsumption that's pretty unprecedented in human history. And social media apps, particularly ones like TikTok, can, I think, really heighten that sort of normalization of overconsumption.

Obviously, on YouTube, we've talked a lot about things like haul videos and whatnot. But in the video, you really kind of dive into the relationship between brands like Shee-- Shein-- She-- Shein? [LAUGHS] Shein? Oh my gosh.

Brands like Shein-- this is how knowledgeable I am, you guys. And platforms like TikTok-- can you talk a little bit about that for those who may not have seen the video? So I know it's Shein, because they actually used to be "She Inside," and they did a little rebrand.

They used-- What? They used to be a drop-shipping company-- Oh, OK. Back in the 2010s.

Can you define drop-shipping for those who are listening? I think, in the most basic terms I can say, it's like-- factories in, normally, China, they'll create a bunch of products, and then other companies will just basically buy the products from this factory and sell it under their own label or their own brand name. But it is like fast fashion.

So but going back to what you were saying about my video, I made that video because I was getting very annoyed by all the TikTok hauls people were doing back-- I don't know if they're still-- I guess they're still doing them. I think now, my For You Page just knows I don't want to see it anymore, so I haven't been exposed. But it's essentially when someone just shares, like, 20 pieces that they bought all at once in one video.

And it's like bulk-buying. And it's very unsustainable, because it promotes consumerism, and also because these fast fashion brands tend to sell their clothes very cheap. It's a lot easier to bulk-buy fast fashion clothes than bulk-buy sustainable clothes, for instance.

There are a lot of brands, though, that I think-- and we got some questions about this-- are trading on marketing perception of being more ethical, more sustainable, but often fall into the same practices. And I think a lot of our audience often feels lost as to how they can really suss out which products are more ethical, where it's worth really investing your money. Do you have a system you use for that?

Oh, I mean, my system is not necessarily like the most reasonable system for a lot of people, because I just tend to buy vintage clothing, or secondhand, or clothes that are made by, like, one person on Instagram. I am very into just finding random dressmakers on Instagram and buying from them. And I know it's just like one person who's doing everything from beginning to end.

And I know that's not reasonable. So my other alternative is, there's an app called Good On You. I don't know if you've heard of it.

But-- I'm learning something. Yeah. They're an amazing app.

They basically do all the research for you about certain clothing brands, and they will rate them on a scale. And I think they consider sustainability and animal cruelty, and also the humane working conditions. And I think that's a good resource.

They don't cover every single brand that's out there, but they have most of the major ones. Other than that, I think it is really hard because of how prevalent greenwashing is these days. And just because a company is doing well on like one factor, for example, the environment doesn't mean that they have the best labor conditions.

Or I don't know if you heard about the whole Everlane scandal that happened in 2020-- No, but I'm ready for those to go down. [LAUGHS] Well, they were just union-busting. And they fired a bunch of people or laid off a bunch of people who were trying to form a union. And so in that sense, it's like, no, this brand is not ethical either for doing that.

There's just so many layers that go into it, unfortunately, and it's really hard to be on top of everything. And news articles will always come out every year exposing a brand that you thought was really good, and you're like, oh my god, I bought all this stuff from them, and I was like, do I keep it now? So I think it is very difficult.

And the only way really is just to limit overall consumption, buy from smaller brands. Usually, larger corporations tend to be greedy. I take a look at Reformation.

They're known for being more on the sustainable side, but can any brand really be that sustainable if they're pushing sales all the time? Because in a way, that is encouraging overconsumption. So yeah, I just tend to buy small, buy less, buy less new.

And if you're really unsure, you can always email the brand. I think however a brand responds to emails about ethics and sustainability shows a lot about who they are. If they give just vague answers, if they have an About page that's just extremely vague, they're probably greenwashing.

Because I think we definitely live in a time now where environmental impact is really important. Humane labor conditions are really important. So if a company is doing all those things correctly, they're going to want to market that.

They're going to want to share what they're doing. Generally, any company that has photos of factories where you can see the workers actually working in clean conditions, that's usually a good sign. So the more information that they put in their web page, the better.

And if they don't have anything, then it's kind of safe to assume that they're not ethical. What do you say to someone who feels like they are on the hamster wheel of overconsumption and have just gotten so used to doing their shopping through things like fast fashion? I've been there. [LAUGHTER] I sympathize, because the way that companies market to you, it's really hard to pull yourself out of that cycle when you see there's constant 50% off sales and constant trends that are coming in.

And then, people on TikTok saying you look cheugy because you're still wearing something that you have in your closet-- Is that how that's pronounced? Is that how that's pronounced? Sorry!

It's cheugy! OK, I've just been saying "chuggy." No! Oh my god.

I'm going to go take myself out back and put me out of my misery. Please continue. I apologize.

Yeah, so I definitely can see why people want to buy, buy, buy. But the way that I've personally gone about it is, one, I definitely feel less bad if I'm buying secondhand. Because I know these things were already produced.

I'm not feeding into this cycle where we're just producing new, and we're passing it on to consumers, and companies are measuring statistics, and they're like, yeah, consumers are-- you know, I'm not factoring into those metrics, I would like to think. And also, I limit myself to buying only one day of the week. Mm.

And this is not something that I do every week, where I'm like, OK, Friday's the day that I buy. Just gonna log on and buy as much as possible today. But if I see something that I like and it's not Friday, which is my designated buying day, I'll wait till Friday.

And if I still like it, then I'll buy it. If I'm like, eh, I've had a couple of days to think about it, this is not actually something that I really want, then I won't buy it. And I think having that amount of time to pause and actually think, is this something that I'm going to value, that will kind of put a brake on spontaneous spending.

And then, also, something that I always have tried to do is, if you can imagine yourself wearing this five different ways, then I think it's a good purchase. Because some people will just buy something, and it's like, oh, it's like a statement piece or whatever, but then you just never wear it. And that's not a good use, either for your wallet, and then also for the environment.

That's very true. And I will say, I mean, as much as I've spoken my relative distaste for minimalism on this channel, as a political concept, which it often is, or like a social status marker, which it also often is, I do think that there is something for most people to be said about some kind of a capsule wardrobe, in terms of making sure that the majority of your pieces are things that can be worn with other things. Because I do feel, at least for myself, as someone who dresses pretty conservatively, it is usually the items that are most sort of attention-grabbing that I personally am, like, well, I'll wear that once a year, and then never otherwise, whereas I'm sure you're sort of the reverse.

Like, I'm sure you don't have many very basic items that you're putting on frequently. I do have-- [LAUGHS] You do? I just don't photograph myself wearing them, but I do have-- I do have basic items that I wear pretty often. [LAUGHS] I do have a pair of yoga pants.

Whoa. But no, you're totally right. And I think the whole idea of the capsule wardrobe is great.

I think what we think of a capsule wardrobe is bad, because if your capsule wardrobe includes something really bright and colorful, and it's still something that you're willing to wear, that's a capsule wardrobe. It doesn't have to be just, like, two white blouses and a black dress. Right.

So yeah. And also, it's like you can buy a statement piece if it's something that you'll wear multiple times. Like, if you're not someone who just wears it once to a party and never again, if it's something that you actually think is a staple in your closet, sure, go for it.

But I think with our current consumers' patterns, that doesn't tend to be the case. Are you an inspiration boarder? I am.

I have a Pinterest, if that's what you mean. Ah, yes. We love to see it.

What do you typically put on there? Is it more individual pieces, or what's on there? So my Pinterest is kind of like a cluster of all kinds of things.

So I have my home decor Pinterest, which doesn't even make sense, because it's mostly like architecture. And I'm like, I can't actually decorate my house like this, 'cause I live in a box of an apartment. Right.

But you know, it's nice to-- it's a fantasy mood board. I have-- for my fashion mood boards, they tend to be more thematic. So I'll have a lot of runway pictures, like movie screenshots, even just random costumes.

I tend not to do actual pieces, for some reason, but I like to use my mood boards more conceptually than literally. So we have the fashion part of it. Now, not to put you on blast, but I'm looking at what I assume is your bag.

I don't think that's Holly's. [LAUGHTER] It's a Prada bag. Vintage? Secondhand?

Secondhand, yes. secondhand. From the 2000s. Where do you stand on your relationship to the hyper luxury of it all? [SIGHS] So that's a difficult question, because I think, growing up-- and I feel like this is the trajectory for a lot of people who love fashion since they were a child-- you kind of idolize luxury brands, because it's what you see plastered in all these magazines.

It's what you know is like the apex of fashion. Nowadays, you have all these smaller designers that are paving their way, and I definitely wear a lot more smaller designers than I have luxury brands. I think all the luxury things I own, which is not even a lot, are secondhand or vintage.

And my opinion just on high fashion is that I think it is very nice. Like, the quality tends to be very nice-- not always. I have seen a lot of polyester on the runway, and I'm like, why would you spend $5,000 on polyester?

But I digress. A lot of them are very aesthetically interesting. I love haute couture, always.

I think that's kind of-- that is the peak of design. In my opinion, it is like where art and fashion combine. So I have a lot of respect for a lot of the fashion houses.

But I do think there is this misconception that just because something is luxury, it means it was ethically made. And that's not always the case. Like, you hear of those stories of Burberry and how they burn a lot of their bags to keep the whole exclusivity factor going when they can't sell all their bags.

And that's not good, so I definitely think there is a line between-- yeah, this is well-made, but also let's make sure that it's actually well-made. I've always had-- I've always found it so interesting, the very sort of household-name luxury brands and their relationship to wealth and status. For me, when I think of what the very few really, really wealthy people in my life that are-- OK, not my parents, like no one super close-- but the people that I know well enough and up close enough to know what they buy, what they wear, et cetera.

Probably, the most common brands are things like Brunello Cuccinelli and The Row, maybe, for women and things like that. But they're often these brands that most people don't even really think of when they think of luxury brands. They're very, in many cases, understated.

Like Brunello Cuccinelli, for example-- you buy an ugly crewneck sweater that looks like it came from J. Crew, and it was, like, $3,000. It's like a very specific type of wealth.

And I'm interested in how you sort of see the relationship to what is ultimately, you know, what the average person thinks of as the highest level of personal style, and what the actual ultra wealthy are wearing. I mean, you're totally right with The Row. Those are egregious prices for what looks like very basic clothes.

Props to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for that empire. But yeah, I don't remember exactly all the brands, but I do remember people talking about how Mark Zuckerberg has $400 T-shirts that are so unassuming. Like, I think to the average eye, you couldn't tell the difference between what he's wearing and a Walmart T-shirt.

But I did a video recently on the old money versus new money. Hi-- Excuse me, guys. I'll be back in 30 minutes.

Anyway. [LAUGHS] So I think that's kind of what you're talking about, where it's like old money-- they tend to go for brands that are more understated and you wouldn't necessarily know how much they're paying for their clothes, whereas new money are people who are like influencers. Or the Kardashians-- they wear a lot of monogrammed stuff, so things that we as a culture understand are worth a lot, because we're seeing the monograms. So Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Birkin bags-- those are what I think most of us would see and we're like, ugh, wealth!

But there are tons of brands that are not monogrammed and are also very expensive. What's your relationship to a big logo? Like, you see a Gucci belt.

What do you think of that? Uh-- [LAUGHS] I'm not like-- I'm not, like, a hater. I don't have extreme views on it.

I do think that when people just go for the monograms and they don't really care about styling otherwise-- you know, like people who are like, oh, this is fashion, just because they were like a Gucci belt, I think it's kind of like conflating what fashion really-- or diluting what fashion really is. So I find that kind of annoying. But otherwise, I'm just like, uh, it's just not my thing.

I'm a hater. I'll say it. I'm a hater.

I really-- it's very interesting to me, because I do think that there is something-- even the people that I think of, like, for example, the people that I know who are very, very wealthy-- they're actually not new money-- or old money, rather. They're not old money. But I think that there's this very, very specific-- and I think social media probably heightens it, right?

Like, this very specific relationship that we often have toward, if we're going to spend money on something, it has to look like I spent money on it from as far away as possible. And I do think a lot of people-- and the thing is that-- listen, it's not my taste to wear something like a Gucci belt, and I wouldn't judge someone for spending their money on it. But I do think when we talk about these decisions not being in a vacuum, it's worth interrogating why it is important to the point that it is worth inflating the price to that extent, just so that other people will know that it's of a certain quality, you know?

Right. I mean, do you feel-- what would be sort of your advice to people who are-- maybe, for example, they might feel an insecurity about their wardrobe, or about looking a certain way in their professional environment, sort of learning to separate something looking-- giving an aura of affluence with just the quality of it. I mean, I think we live in a society-- [LAUGHS] We live in that society.

So it is really hard, and I understand why people who would want to spend money to look rich-- because you get treated better if you have a lot of money. I remember when I was in college and I went into this the Off-White store. Please tell me you know what Off-White is.

Is that-- did the designer of that recently die? Yes. OK.

Virgil Abloh. Virgil Abloh. Yes.

Yes. So Off-White-- it's a very expensive brand. And I would kind of go into the store, because I had a crush on one of the salespeople.

Hell, yeah. So you know, I was just, like, walking in. But the way that they treated me was so bad.

Because they could tell I didn't have the money to be spending in that store. And I had a friend who actually conducted a social experiment, because she was like-- she's Chinese, and she does own a Gucci belt. And she walked into the store wearing her Gucci belt.

She was on the phone, talking in Mandarin to her mom, and she just looked very rich. And all the salespeople were kind of, like, fawning over her, being like, oh, would you like to see our latest collections, like, blah, blah, blah. And then, after a couple of months, she went in just looking the way that she does.

No one came up to her. Like, no one wanted to help her, anything. So to say that you're treated better if you look rich-- I think that's so true.

And I can see why someone wants to show that they're wealthy. Because they want to be treated better. And I don't think that's a slight on anyone who's participating in that, but it is just kind of like an unfairness in our society.

What was the question again? I got off-topic. [LAUGHTER] Well, that anecdote definitely illustrates it. But for people who are-- again, maybe they're in a professional environment where looking a certain way is really important, or maybe they have insecurities about presenting themselves a certain way-- sort of learning to separate your image from the image of wealth that you might be projecting to others.

I think it's like a lot of practice, because you may just have to wear certain clothes in your profession, you know. Like, I'm not someone who I think would ever go for a business attire. But if I was working an office job, I would do that, because I want the respect that wearing that kind of clothing commands.

So I think it's just a lot of introspection at the end of the day-- your personal relationship with your own worth, and the clothes that you have, and knowing the clothes don't necessarily make the man. No, they don't. Can we talk on that note about the importance of tailoring?

OK, tailoring is something that I became obsessed with once I started making more money, because I never realized how expensive tailoring can be. As someone who grew up at home, and my mom tailored all my clothes for free, because she-- My mom, too. Yeah, it's a lost skill.

I've tried learning how to sew since then, and I think the best I can do is just hemming things. But tailoring, I think, is so, so important, because it makes clothes look more expensive, for one. Because we live in a society that prioritizes-- [LAUGHS] sorry, I'm just, like, taking a dump on society.

But brands use, like, the 2, 4, 6, if we're lucky. If not, they'll just use the S, M, L, or the one-size-fits-all. And these size measurements don't actually reflect human sizes most of the times.

So if you buy a pair of jeans that are waist-- I don't know-- 30, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to fit you properly, because it only takes in a certain measure of your waist, and you could have different waist-to-butt ratio, waist-to-butt-to-thigh ratio. Producers don't really care about these sorts of things, so they don't care about making sure clothes will fit you perfectly. They just care what clothes will fit an average person who resembles you.

So I think tailoring can, one, definitely build the confidence of people who are struggling with finding clothes that really fit them well. Because I think feeling good in the clothes that you wear is such an important part of having a positive self-image of yourself, and kind of walking through society in a confident way. And then, also, tailoring and mending clothes is just super sustainable.

Like, I've definitely been at different sizes throughout my life-- not dramatically, but enough where I'm like, oh, this outfit-- like, this skirt no longer fits me. What am I going to do? Right.

And if you bring it to a tailor or if you know how to tailor things yourself, it's like you can give new life to these garments that you no longer fit in. It's very true. And I will say on that note, one of the-- I'm very big on all of that stuff myself, and I will say, it can be expensive, although much less expensive than constantly having to replace clothing that doesn't fit for you or you feel terrible in, what have you.

And I do think that plays a huge role in the overconsumption part of it-- is that we're getting these things that look good maybe on the internet model that's been photoshopped, but not on a human body. Oh my god. Have you ever seen those viral tweets about people's like boo hoo or pretty little thing reviews, where it's like on the model, it's so different from when it comes to them, and they try it on?

It's so-- I mean, I feel so bad for these people, but it's so funny. Well, it's literally, in many cases, not even on the model. It's like literally-- It's photoshopped on the model. --photoshopped onto them.

That's not even an exaggeration. But another thing that a lot of people don't know, or I didn't know at least-- the tailors can do that. I've done a couple of times.

So if you find it-- it has to be a relatively simple piece, depending on the person. But if you find a piece you really love, like a very simple skirt that fits you really well, you can take it, and they will make that skirt for you in another fabric. Yeah.

So you can actually-- because a lot of times, there's just-- I'm a big-- like this-- have it in four colors. If I like it, I buy it in multiple colors, sometimes even multiple of the same color. But if there aren't that many options, you can get a tailor to make pieces that fit you really well.

And this is like a lost-- I don't know. OK, obviously, people still do it, but a lot of people don't know that, which I think is so crazy, because that's how clothes are made for much of the 19th, 20th century. People would take fabric into a tailor and be like, I would like it in this pattern, and they would make you the dress.

And I think that's really great. That's why I've been reaching out to a couple dressmakers recently, because I'll have an idea of what I like, and I just want someone else to fulfill the vision for me-- someone with the skill set that I don't have. And I had a regency dress made for me custom by one of my friends recently, and it's in the style of Keira Knightley's Pride and Prejudice dress-- Oh my gosh. --that I've always loved like as a kid.

I was like, that's my dream dress. And I had it made, and I was like, wow, I can't believe I went through this much of my life, not knowing that I could get this done. Like, I always thought I had to be the one to make it myself if I ever wanted this dress.

Did you wear to the Bridgerton Experience? Yes, I did. How much did you pay for the dress?

Would you mind sharing? I paid, I believe, $950. I mean, listen, not a cheap dress.

But I mean, probably not that different from what you would pay if you got it made from a very, very high-quality producer. Yes. And it was very high-quality.

It was tailored to me exactly. Like, she sent me multiple mock-ups that I got to keep, and also, it was one person doing all of it. Her name is Emma, and I fully support her business.

And I feel really good knowing that all the money went to her and her dressmaking hobby. If you'll share her link with us, we'll put it in the description. Yes, I will.

I will say, my husband is-- he's like a little hard to fit, because he's 6'4" and very thin. So he gets all of his stuff tailored, and then redone. Like, he had his favorite wool coat-- he had the lining of it completely redone, which is quite an undertaking.

But he has such a nice relationship with his tailor. She calls him the handsome man. I'm sure she says that to everyone.

So if you've been following TFD for any amount of time, you'll know how many of us love to cook, and many of us on the team use HelloFresh. Whether you're an avid home cook or someone who is learning their way around the kitchen, HelloFresh makes cooking at home both easy and enjoyable. HelloFresh is America's number-one meal kit, so go to HelloFresh.com/TFC16, and use code TFC16 for up to 16 free meals and three free gifts.

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To be totally honest, one of the reasons, here at TFD, we've never ventured into selling tangible products online was because of the logistics involved. It's either too expensive, fulfillment is overwhelming, coordinating with shipping companies felt like a hassle, and it wasn't even something I had the energy to think about personally. But it's 2022, and as much as it's nice to shop in person, we've all defaulted to shopping online for one thing or another.

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Just go to ShipStation.com, click on the microphone at the top of the page, and type in TFC. Ship Station, make ship happen. So beyond fashion, another topic that you do cover a fair amount on your channel is beauty.

And recently, you did a video about cosmetic procedures. Can you talk a little bit about that video for those who might not have seen it? I talk about cosmetic procedures, because I've noticed there is a bit of an epidemic lately of people going in to get work done, and it's not just like a rhinoplasty.

A lot of it is very subtle, like fillers, Botox. And I just kind of wanted to unpack that phenomenon and talk about how society pressures people to get that done nowadays, and yeah. I don't know.

There's a lot. I have a problem summarizing my thoughts in that way. Have you had any cosmetic procedures that you would be willing to disclose?

I have not had any, not because I'm against them personally, but I also have a very complicated relationship with body image, in that, yes, I understand these procedures, they would make me feel better about myself. And I definitely feel like there is that pressure, because I'm in-- I guess, in some ways, in the entertainment industry, where a lot of people I know get them done. But on the other hand, I also do want to cultivate a positive relationship with my own natural features.

And I don't know. I think getting cosmetic procedures would be in conflict with that. I feel you.

I have similar thoughts. I've had laser, Botox in my jaw, and that's basically it. But I'm coming back for more, Dr.

Green. So buckle up. [LAUGHTER] But I mean, I feel similar to you, in that, for example, growing up, I always wanted a rhinoplasty. I was like-- I went to a high school where a lot of girls would get 'em.

It was very common in my town, very normalized. And I think there was a two-year period for sure-- where if I had had the money, I would have, for sure, gotten my nose done. It's hard to feel like this might not be regretted in a while-- a lot of these procedures.

Yeah, I definitely have also thought about that. I think that's also why I haven't gotten a tattoo. Because I'm like, oh, no, am I going to like this in 10 years?

And no, you're totally right. Unfortunately, we don't really know what will happen, like what people will look like in 20 years' time, like all these people who got BBLs. And speaking of BBLs, that is also a very dangerous procedure.

And I think there are certain procedures that are pretty safe. Like, I think Botox is pretty safe. I don't know.

Dr. Green, weigh in. [LAUGHTER] Listen, I mean, I think Botox-- we have enough data that, I mean, I certainly feel fine getting it. And also, the thing about Botox, as opposed to fillers-- Botox dissipates over the course of, like, six months, roughly, whereas fillers are there forever.

And when people start-- not to derail, but the stuff that I think is most worrisome is the stuff that doesn't go away. But continue. Right.

So yeah, I think there's definitely a certain ranking of procedures that are more dangerous to less dangerous. But I think what's also a problem is, the less dangerous procedures can be a gateway to getting more and more complicated and dangerous procedures, which I find very scary. And also, what's concerning is that body types have been trendy for most of human history.

So I've seen articles already about people lamenting the end of the slim, thick body type, and that we're apparently moving on to the skinny waif body type again. No! I know.

And I just-- I can't imagine all these women who got BBLs in the last two years, and just probably going through a crisis once the new body type has switched. And I just don't think that's healthy at all. No.

I don't think it is. And also, I mean, fast fashion is a problematic industry, right? But if you buy a $5 T-shirt and don't really think too much about where it came from, the long-term ramifications, at least for you personally, are relatively small.

You can wake up tomorrow and make better consumer choices. But for a lot of these procedures that are increasingly marketing themselves as being hyper financially accessible-- like, you'll see Botox starting at $10 in the windows of some of these med spas. If there is ever a place not to skimp, it is on stuff that someone is injecting into your face.

Yeah, it's actually scary. I did a dental video, and some people would go to Turkey to get veneers. Veneers.

But then, I forget what the procedure's actually called, but they did not end up getting veneers. And they got this other very detrimental procedure, like crown. I don't know.

But when they showed photos of these people, it was like they had shark teeth, like little shark teeth. And so yeah, I'm like, do not skimp on any cosmetic procedure. The problem is people will, because there is this societal pressure to get these procedures done.

And unfortunately, if you don't have enough money to go to the best doctor in Beverly Hills, you're going to get it at whatever cost you could get it, which is-- Often not very high. I will say, though, that something that I think is really important to remember for people who are considering this stuff-- the veneers thing is a great example. Because I do feel like there's been a weird-- I think it's somewhat tapering off, but there's been a weird process over the past 10 years, where a person gets over a certain level of famous, and then one day, they come back, and they have completely different teeth.

And they all have the same crazy-ass blue-white horse teeth in their mouth that look completely unsuited to their overall facial structure. And obviously, those aren't their teeth. Famously, if someone's on a reality show for a season, and then they come back for an all-stars or for a return in later seasons, we got a whole new teeth set of teeth going.

But I think what people often don't understand in those kind of procedures is that when you make these one changes, it's not in a vacuum. Everything else now is different in proportion to it, you know? And I do think that especially when you take the social media filter aspect of it and the photoshop aspect of it, it's no wonder that people get themselves on a hamster wheel, because once you change one thing, you sort of have to change other things.

No, you're totally right. I didn't even think about that, but your nose, for instance, is such a big part of your face. And if you've got a rhinoplasty, like a different nose, there might be something else that you're like, oh, like the-- I don't know, my cheekbones are not well-placed with this new nose or something.

And I think that is really scary, because you can become so addicted to plastic surgery, and it's an extremely, extremely expensive addiction. My mom used to be obsessed with watching that TV show, Botched. Oh my gosh.

Ugh. Harry Dubrow, what havoc will you wreak on this society? I could never watch it, because I'm so squeamish about surgery.

But you would hear about people spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in their lifetime on plastic surgery. And it's like, the hole in my wallet-- I can't imagine. I was literally debating with myself for so long about getting this regency dress, and just imagining spending thousands of dollars all at once on a plastic surgery procedure.

I just-- I can't. Well, listen, we'll put the regency dress up on screen, and we'll link it to you guys in the description. I haven't seen it yet myself, but I'm sure already that it was well worth it.

So one of the questions-- we've gotten a lot of questions from our audience, and one of the questions-- kind of an overarching theme-- is you do have, I think, a very smart sociopolitical angle to a lot of your videos. But ultimately, fashion and beauty are fundamentally consumerist industries. How do you sort of balance, I guess, just being an ethical fashion girl under capitalism, basically? [LAUGHTER] It's definitely not a balance I have yet to fully achieve.

And I can admit that, because I think we're all imperfect in this capitalist society. I just try my best. I don't really do-- again, the way that my career is built, I think I have it easy, in that I make YouTube videos, and YouTube only requires you to make, I don't know, one video a week to stay relevant, whereas I think a lot of TikTokers and Instagrammers fall into this path where it's like, I have to post new photos, I have to post a new video every single day.

And if you're in the fashion realm, that usually means, oh, I have to buy more clothes, so that I have new content, whereas I don't really fall into that. But I don't know. Again, I try to just buy vintage.

I try to buy secondhand. I try to limit days that I buy. I try to look into all the companies that I buy from.

I try not to promote anything that I'm not fully supportive of. I tend to-- I don't think I've ever worked with a fashion brand, and that's because usually, the brands that reach out to me are fast fashion, and I'm like, no, I don't promote that, because I don't support it ethically. So I just try to keep in line with my own ethics.

But yeah. I like that. No, I think it's-- you know what's weird?

I never really thought of it until you just said it, but I actually really agree with YouTube putting less of an inherent pressure on people. Like, I definitely think Instagram, which I don't even do-- I don't run the TFD Instagram. I have my own, which is much smaller.

But that has been way worse for my mental health than YouTube has been. Yeah. Like, I feel like YouTube allows breathing room, in terms of, you can be nuanced on a subject.

You can speak on something at length. You can take time between things. It's a more healthy place.

I mean-- Surprisingly. Surprisingly. And I'm sure, not for everyone.

I mean, a surprising number of YouTubers have been canceled in horrible circumstances, so like, not for everyone, clearly. OK. [CLEARS THROAT] What is your budget around fashion spending, and how did you choose the amount? I don't actually have a budget.

Tisk, tisk, Mina, no! I know! I know!

But OK, I definitely say that I live below my means. And I think that is the most important thing at the end of the day. I just-- I know that fashion is one of those things that I love to indulge in, and I have a budget in the sense that there's a cap to how much I will spend on a certain garment.

I generally will not spend over $250 on a piece, unless it's for a really special occasion, or it's a birthday event, like something really crazy that I'm like, OK, I'm going to indulge in this. And I think usually, that ends up working out for me, because secondhand, everything tends to be cheaper. I've gotten some pretty nice designer shoes that usually go for, like, $700 retail, for a really low price.

I'll wait for things to go on sale. But sadly, no budget. No budget.

Wow. We're going to stage an intervention before you leave. So OK, you already touched on them a little bit, but we did get several questions specifically about Reformation.

So this person says, I wanted to talk about, quote, "ethical trendy fashion." I'm looking at you, Reformation. It's ironic how trendy summer dresses are touted as investment pieces now, but then they go out of fashion within a year. Also hard to justify the cost-per-wear of a $250 dress-- for a $250 tiny dress.

Yet, the cult following remains unbelievable. Discuss. Wait, the cult for summer dresses or cult for Reformation?

Reformation, I think. But also, summer dresses that are inconvenient to wear in most circumstances, probably. I mean, I think I just don't listen to any of those fashion blogs or people who are like trend forecasters.

Because yeah, then you run into issues where it's like, oh, the summer dress is supposed to be an investment piece, but I don't like wearing them. Right. So I think it's more important to consider what you feel comfortable in, and that will depend also on your personal body type.

For instance, I don't like a lot of summer dresses, because I feel like the gap here is like, they leave a lot of room for cleavage that I don't have, and it always fits me in a weird way. And then, if it's a windy day, then I'll just like, whoop! And I'll have a nip slip. [LAUGHTER] So summer dresses are not a staple for me.

So I think just knowing truly what you feel comfortable in, and that's always going to be a journey, depending on where you are, in terms of fashion experimentation. But yeah, don't listen to anyone. Don't listen to anyone else.

I had my first real-- I mean, I'm sure I've had others, but my first real identifiable moment of, like, not for me. Last year, when it was like the nap dress is everywhere, and everyone-- What is the nap dress? The nap dress?

I feel like everyone woman in my life bought one. It's like-- it's just kind of like-- it's often an empire waist, like lineny, cottony, with big, often, puffy sleeves, kind of romantic. It looks kind of like a nightie from the 1800s, a little bit.

OK, yeah. And I was just like-- it was everywhere in my life, on my internet, in media. And I was like, not for me, no thanks.

And I didn't buy one, and it felt good. Yeah, nothing trendy ever has to be for you, just because everyone else is wearing it. And to go back to the summer dress scenario, I went to a wedding last year.

And I don't think I got the dress code, because everyone who went wore a summer dress. It was a reception. And I was like, oh my god, I definitely do not-- I do not belong here, in that sense.

But I was wearing, I believe, a skull cap and a harness. [LAUGHTER] What! Sorry. It doesn't sound like as risque as it sounds, as I say.

It's like one of those-- I have a picture on Instagram. We'll put up the picture, and we'll let you decide. Right.

And there are a couple of people who were like, oh, you look really good, and I was like, thank you. And I felt good in that moment. I was like, OK, I'm not following what everyone else has done, but as long as it's not offensive to the party, which I don't think it was, then yeah, I'm just going to live my truth. [CHUCKLES] OK.

So I think the most expensive clothing item or accessory you own is probably your regency dress? Yes, that is correct. $950. OK.

So last two things from-- that generally, people are talking about. So one is that-- so I'm 33. You're 25.

So we do, I think, belong to different generations, and we also, I think, have a very different experience of the internet, and especially the social internet. Do you feel like Gen Z is worse off than previous generations, as far as how social consumption is affecting these choices for them? Yes.

But I think it's definitely complicated, because I think at the same time for millennials, we didn't really have-- I consider myself a millennial. I know you're like, uh-- Wait, what is the cutoff for millennial? It's 1996, which is the year I was born.

So I'm technically, I guess, a cuspy. But I don't know. I was like reading The New York Times when I was in high school, and they'd always complain about millennials, and I just felt like I was part of this group of people they were complaining about.

You were reading The New York Times in high school. So chic. That's what happens when you grow outside of DC.

But yeah, so I think, back for millennials, there's kind of one prominent discourse that was fed to us. And I didn't know what was problematic back then, because I just followed The New York Times, and then Tiger Beat, for instance. I had just only a few sources dictating what my life philosophy was going to be, like what my perspective was going to be.

And I think the beauty of social media now is that you have a ton of different voices that are cropping up, and people talking about a lot of topics that wouldn't get so much press back in the day, because they were too controversial or something. So just looking at trans issues, for instance, and I have a younger brother, who is-- (LAUGHING) 18. I always fumble this, and he always-- Fact-check. (LAUGHING) He always gives me so much-- Yeah, he is.

I think he is 18. And I remember when I would talk about him when he was in high school, and he was like, yeah, there's, like, a couple of kids at my school who are non-binary. I would not have known any kids on my high school who were non-binary.

Like, that was not even in our lexicon back at my high school. So I think that's one of those things that is really good about growing up today, where, I would say, society is a lot more tolerant than it used to be. But on the flip side, your brain is controlled by Mark Zuckerberg in a certain sense, and I do get sad seeing these little kids playing with iPads any time their parents don't want to hang out with them, instead of them running around.

And I actually-- I read this book recently called, Stolen Focus, which I highly recommend. It's about how these tech companies-- Who wrote that? Johann Hari.

I love his books! I thought it was his book. I'm a huge fan of his books.

OK, sorry. Yeah, no, it was a really good book. It was a really enlightening read about how technology is controlling us.

You know, a lot of tech companies just try their best to monopolize our attention and all these repercussions for society. But he mentions how back in the day, kids would run around all the time outside. And nowadays, there's this whole crop of parents who are just very, we can't have our kids going out and doing things and being independent people.

There's a lot more helicopter parents, and I think that is a crutch to the newer generation. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I have such vivid memories, growing up, of my mother literally locking the door, and saying, like, I don't care what you do.

You just do not come back into the house until dinnertime. Like, go out and play. It was summer.

She was a teacher, so she was home. She was like, I'm sick of you kids. Get out of here.

Like, go hit each other with rocks outside. I don't care. Yeah, my mom was so vigilant about my TV time, and she was like-- if she thought I was watching too much TV, she would just turn off and be like, go outside.

Like, don't come until dinner time. Exactly that. And yeah, it's disheartening to know that so many kids are just on the internet all the time, and not even because they're actively trying to.

It's just because they don't really have other pathways. Totally. And it's interesting how, I'm sure, for a lot of parents, leaving a child unsupervised outside could feel dangerous.

But we don't-- I think we're starting to now, but I don't think we yet register how dangerous it can be for children to be on the internet all the time. Oh, for sure. I don't know.

I was probably talking to a child predator online in high school, and I had no idea. I was-- listen, I was on AOL, Instant Messenger, ASL, I mean, talking to all kinds of who-knows-what. OK, so last question before we get into our very quick rapid fire.

So you mentioned being a Disney adult, and I know we recently did a video on that phenomenon as well as Disneyland. Much to unpack there. I'm curious.

You seem to have a much more sort of like, not-stan, not-fandom relationship toward the things you love now, and sort of intentionally so. Can you talk a little bit about your transition from being part of such a specific fandom to taking a more critical eye towards the things that you love? It was actually when I did the Disney college program.

You did-- oh my god! Stop the [INAUDIBLE] oh my gosh! You did?

Oh, I thought you just said you were a big Disney fan. I didn't hear the college program. Please continue.

No, it was-- and it's kind of ironic, because I feel like the Disney college program is where they really indoctrinate you. [LAUGHS] But I don't know. It was a very fun time in my life, for sure, but I did it the summer of 2016. And I went to school in Canada.

I went to McGill University. Good for you. Harvard of the North.

OK. [LAUGHS] So because of that, I was technically an international student, even though I was American. And so my program was for the summer months. I know that for American colleges, you do, like, a semester.

But it worked out for me, because I didn't have to take off school to do it. And it was very fun, but I-- [LAUGHS] so I had a lot of these friends from Disney, and when I left Disney World, that was kind of my moment when I had all these reflections, and I was really thinking about my time there. And it was really-- it really clarified some things for me when one of my friends-- "friends"-- from Disney came out as, like, a staunch Trump supporter-- Oh, no. --leading up to the election.

And I was like, oh my god, and I was like, I really don't know any of these people. Like, we all just bonded over the fact that we love Disney, and that's all we talked about. But I don't know anything about these people at all.

And I don't know. It just-- it really put me in this weird spiral, where I was analyzing the social media usage of, like, my fellow Mouseketeers post-Disney college program. And I'm like, OK, I don't agree with this person.

I don't really like what this person is saying. And I just started getting annoyed by the way that they all seemed to idolize this time. And it just-- I was becoming very contrarian about the whole thing.

And I was like, was it really that nice of a time? Like, I was working six hours in stroller parking in the Florida heat. I was yelled at by my manager on multiple occasions for just really mundane stuff.

It was basically like-- they call it the Disney college program, but there's nothing academic about it. Like, you're working a job as someone who works the park, but you're paid less than everyone working full- and part-time. And they have Disney housing that you're forced to live in to be a part of the college program, and they take out rent payments from your check, even though they own the properties.

So there are all these things that I was just thinking about, and I was like, oh my god, I just provided minimum-wage labor for Disney. And yeah, I don't know. I just-- I still love Disney movies, for sure.

They always have this nostalgic place in my heart. But Disney as a company-- we're in-- We've got beef. We've got beef now.

It's giving Scientology, like Sea Org vibes, where you just go work on a boat and be really grateful for it. Yeah. We had to smile constantly.

That's healthy. And it was one of those things where it's like, afterwards, I was like, I can't believe I put myself through that. Yeah.

Even though while I was doing it, I had the time of my life. And that was definitely interesting for me to realize. Favorite Disney movie?

Mulan. Uh, OK. Are we including Pixar?

Yes. Ratatouille. [LAUGHS] Adorable! Unexpected.

I'm surprised it's not classic Disney, given your overall vintage vibe. I know. But it's just like, the reason I love Ratatouille is, one, I have an extreme phobia of rats.

I know, and I live here. But if I see a rat cross my path, I scream like I saw a dead person. And this has always been in my life.

I have no idea when this ratphobia started. Uh-oh. And I was afraid of rats when I saw Ratatouille.

But I don't know. Like, there was something about it. It changed my perspective for an hour and 30 minutes.

It was a magical moment. I did cry at Ratatouille. I did.

When he was eating that dish-- well, the ratatouille-- and he was going back to his childhood. And I was also 10 when that came out, so technically, I was still a child. I was also 10 when that came out. [LAUGHTER] So the time has come, everyone.

Loyal listeners will know what time it is, but for those who don't, it is time for our rapid-fire questions. We ask these to our guests. Now, you can feel free to pass or get clarification.

But the point is them to just-- the point is just to answer them as it comes to your head. No right or wrong answers. What is the big financial secret of your industry?

And we'll say, the fashion industry. Big designers do not pay well. Ooh.

Pay well for like-- For designers. Like, you would make more money working for Zara or H&M as a designer. It doesn't shock me, given the Conde Nast-- like, for me, being in media, the people I've known who worked at Conde Nast have been, like, some of the lowest-paid people I've known in the industry.

Yeah. Though I heard they just instituted a pay floor. Is that right?

So I believe they just unionized, as of a week ago. And so they're probably in negotiations. Good for them.

Fun fact-- some may even know this TFD lore. Our editor prior to Holly was a woman who before working at TFD was an assistant editor at The New Yorker, who was making $27,000 a year. Oh my god.

She quit to work at Murray's Cheese shop, where she made substantially more and got health insurance. Oh my god. She wrote an article about it.

It's on TFD. OK, what do you invest in, versus what are you cheap about? I invest in accommodations, like for traveling.

Mm. I am cheap about food. [CHUCKLES] Out of curiosity, where did you stay when you went to DC? Just with your family, I guess?

I just stayed with my family. OK. I was like, ooh, give me the hot, luxurious hotel recs in DC.

OK, what has been your best investment, and why? Oh my god, I-- college? [LAUGHS] I mean, I can't do an ROI on the spot, but I bet it's probably your YouTube channel. Yeah, I guess.

OK, yeah. Screw you, college! Screw college! [LAUGHTER] It's a YouTube channel.

It definitely wasn't the Disney college program. Definitely not Disney University. Oh my god.

It's so scary. OK, what has been your biggest money mistake, and why? Honestly, all the things that I bought before figuring out my personal style.

Oh my gosh. What was like-- was there a specific aesthetic you were going for? I was very much in the E-girl phase back in 2017.

I had a lot of leather grommet belts, hardware type of stuff. And in a way, I don't regret it, but cumulatively, I think I spent more money than I would have liked to, if it was just going to be an experimental phase. I'm picturing Grimes. [LAUGHTER] What is your biggest current money insecurity?

Oh, where I'll be in the future. Does that count? Yeah, fair enough.

Do you mean, like, geographically? No, I mean, like, how much money I'll have in the future. Because you know, with YouTube, it's one of those things where it's like, oh, you could rise fast, but you could fall just as fast, and I'm really bad with investment type of stuff.

So yeah, just a financial insecurity is being financially insecure. Well, listen, you mentioned not having a budget for clothing spending. Nothing will help you more for financial planning than having a budget.

We need a chat after this is over. Yes. This is like a-- yeah, it's a church.

Everyone comes in, converts to being financially solvent. OK. What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most?

Um, honestly, I don't-- having an accountant? Does that count? That's probably-- I mean, I'm sure your taxes are a mess, being a YouTube creator.

Yeah, my taxes are absolutely a mess, so thank you, Brian. [LAUGHTER] Let's hear it. Let's get a whoo going in the chat. But also, I mean, for what it's worth, if you have complicated taxes, investing in an accountant is almost always-- like, you'll see an immediate return in what you are able to save in your taxes, because the person preparing them understands how to properly deduct and all of that.

OK, last question is, when did you first feel successful, and what does that word mean to you? I first felt successful when I moved out of my parents' house. [LAUGHTER] Whew. That's a great one.

I don't think we've ever gotten that one before, but it's good. I think success is, for me, just being financially independent. Because there are so many times in my life where I just was insecure financially, and it just manifested in terrible, terrible ways.

Like, I was co-dependent in my relationships. I was extremely-- I had more of a toxic relationship with my own parents. And just having my own stuff sorted out has made me just a better person overall.

I love it. Well, it's obviously been such a pleasure for us. But for our audience who wants to go find even more about you and what you do, where should they go?

MinaLe is the most-- (LAUGHING) MinaLe is the best place to find me on YouTube. I also go by Gremlita, G-R-E-M-L-I-T-A, on basically all other socials. So.

I love it. Well, thank you guys so much for tuning in. And we will see you back here next Monday for an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

Goodbye. Bye.