Previous: How I Bought A House At 19 While Making $24k
Next: How I Cut My Beauty Spending In Half Last Year



View count:268,820
Last sync:2024-06-14 20:00
Chelsea answers your questions on some of the most controversial topics in the personal finance, digital, and political worlds. Want to hear more on Minimalism? Check out this 3-Minute Guide:

Learn more about getting great credit no matter where you're starting from with

Read about the TFD readers rebuilding their credit here:

John Oliver on MLMs:

Military spouses and underemployment:


What is FIRE?:

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here:

The Financial Diet site:

Hey, guys.

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

And today, I thought I would do something a little fun, because we haven't done one in a long time. And you guys are very, very active in the comments, both here and on the TFD site and social media, asking me lots of questions, so I thought I'd take some time to answer some, some that are more just about money generally, some that are more about me as a person. And hopefully, these will answer some of your biggest ones as well as some of the ones you sent me on Twitter.

The first question-- and I get asked this actually quite a lot with varying levels of tact, but basically, it's how much money do you actually make from TFD. So I won't share the exact amount that TFD makes as a company each year because I have partners and it's not just me that affects. And I should really have their permission to do that too.

But I can tell you my salary. So my take-home salary this year is $60,000. I might get a bonus if I've been really good.

I don't know. And last year it was about $25,000 of take-home salary. And the year before that it was basically zero.

So although for a lot of you $60,000 as a salary may seem less than you thought, or it may be more, for me it's just hugely, hugely cool that, that salary is paid out of a sustainable business that I own. And it's also substantially more than I ever made at other office jobs that I had before I started my own business. So that feels in and of itself like a huge success.

And whatever small business ownership may look like to you on the outside, it's always important to remember that these looks can be very deceiving, especially on social media. And if at all possible, if you are someone who is self-employed or owns a business, sharing with people the real numbers behind what you do is not just good for maybe hopefully the other creators being able to also advocate for themselves, but it's also just good to give people a more realistic image of what that business ownership is like. So for me, this year it's a $60,000 salary.

The second question is actually one I got from Twitter when I threw it out to you guys. And this person asks, "Is it better to use savings to pay down credit card debt or to maintain savings in case of an emergency?" So I would say personally-- and not every finance person is going to agree on this-- but for me it's extremely true, that if you have no emergency fund, that has to be your priority. Now, the problem is, especially with something like credit card debt, if you're only making minimum payments, that could seriously impact you in terms of interest and lead you to spend way more than you should have to pay off that credit card.

So if at all possible, when saving up an emergency fund-- because that should be, theoretically, your priority beyond anything else-- you need to go into emergency mode, and that means working really hard to earn extra side money, do everything you can to not compromise those super high interest payments, while also diligently working toward having at least a couple thousand dollars in the bank. Because the problem with not having an emergency fund is that literally anything that comes up unexpectedly could completely derail you, potentially put you on the street because you can't afford to pay rent. I always look at it as, not having an emergency fund is like speeding down the street without a seat belt.

You need to put on your seat belt before you do anything else. But in an ideal world, you would not compromise. If I had to pick and you only have room for one, I would say make the minimum payments and at least get $1,000 or $2,000 in an emergency fund before you start really more aggressively paying down that credit card.

Other people might disagree. But that's just my experience. I've been without an emergency fund and it landed me in an enormous amount of trouble.

So take it with a grain of salt, but that's been my experience. The next question is also from Twitter so I'll read you guys that one. "What are some steps to take after being let go from a job unexpectedly, especially with student loan debt?" So unfortunately, my honest answer to this question is somewhat of a don't get in this situation scenario, in the sense that I believe everyone should always have multiple streams of income on top of that emergency fund. So A, let's hope you already, in this situation, have an emergency fund.

And that's what emergency funds are partially for. Unexpected loss of income is an emergency. And you may need to tap into it to pay your basic bills, rent, et cetera.

You're not going to be living particularly high on the hog during this time, but ideally you have that money in case this happens. So to the person who asked the previous question, if your credit cards are maxed out and you have no emergency fund and you lose your job, you're completely screwed. You need an emergency fund for this kind of thing.

So assuming you have that, definitely tapping into that while you immediately get another source of income to replace it, even if it has to be a temporary gig between jobs, is definitely step one. But also in terms of avoiding this situation, I always advocate having at least two streams of income so that if something happens to the first one, you're not totally broke and without any income to rely on. And that could be something as simple as picking up a weekend job or being signed up for different gig apps that you can pick up when one job goes down.

And so lastly, if all else fails, I would say in the immediate, while you're looking for that new job-- and you should obviously be doing that the second you lose the main one-- sign yourself up for some of the apps that will allow you to pick up work on a short notice, things like babysitting apps, dog walking apps, house sitting apps, Uber, Lyft, all that stuff that you can just pick up and then let go when you maybe don't need it as much. If it's something that you're legally allowed to do, you can even get more creative with, for example, renting out your room on Airbnb and going to crash with a friend or even your parents for a month, and just figuring out ways that you can really, really supplement your income, slash, reduce your costs in that immediate time. But on an emotional side, I would say the number one thing to do, as someone who has been fired many times, is to look at it in a lot of ways as a good thing, as a blessing, as someone doing something that you maybe didn't have the courage to do.

Because chances are, if you've been negligent enough in a job to be fired with cause-- now, being laid off is a very different thing and can feel very unsatisfying-- but if you've lost a job with cause, there's a good chance that you weren't overly enthused about that job in the first place and didn't care enough about it to treat it with the respect that it deserves. And you would probably be better suited at another job. If you did get laid off, as I said, it can be very unsatisfying.

But it's important to remember that layoffs are beyond your control. And clearly, if the company is laying you off, your future was probably not great there regardless. Either way, you will probably have many jobs in this lifetime.

And sometimes, unexpectedly having to leave one is the reason that you needed to seek out the job that was better for you. So maybe you can spin that straw into gold. I did several times.

So this one I get asked all the time, especially on videos where I talk about it or articles where I talk about it, because me being bilingual is a really good thing for me earning money. It was a huge source of income for me before I got into my current career and while I was transitioning into being a writer full time. And whether you do pick up that second language and can work with that or you're using your English skills to tutor that way, language is a really, really good way to make side income and also to just enormously broaden your horizons.

And a lot of times you can do those jobs from home with your computer. But so the point is, this question, in some form or another, is, "How did you learn French, and can you say something in French?" So to kill two birds with one stone, I'm just going to answer this question entirely in French. And I'll provide subtitles for you guys. [SPEAKING FRENCH] So the next question is actually one that I got on Twitter when I asked.

But it's a really good question. And it's something that I personally think about a lot, and maybe you guys do too. And that question is, "Do you have more practical tips for getting out of fast fashion and buying durable classic pieces?" Like where to shop or what to look for in places like thrift stores, et cetera.

So for me, I will say that for most people, myself included, getting totally away from fast fashion or stores that have fast fashion practices is very, very difficult to do completely. Because even though the stores that we kind of associate in our minds as being like the major culprits of fast fashion like H&M and Forever 21-- they are by far not the only companies that do it-- and even a lot of the more upscale clothing retailers have a lot of practices that are very similar to those stores and environmentally and human rights wise not good. So it can be very, very hard to avoid those things.

Now, obviously, doing some research off the bat on which companies really engage in the kind of practices you want to support is a good way to go, because you may find that some of the less expensive brands actually have practices that you support. And that may be a way for you to broaden your range of places that you're shopping from off the bat. So beyond that, I would say that thrift and consignment shopping, on top of outlet shopping-- which I would say is my biggest personal shopping strategy-- is just a really underrated skill that almost anyone can develop.

We'll link you guys in the description to a couple of really, really good bloggers who totally break down how to navigate thrift stores and consignment stores. Because there's tons of strategies about which ones you go to, which days you go to them on, what questions to ask the people that work there to really ensure that you're getting the right products for you. And I would also say, once you really train yourself up on how to master that shopping, I think beyond that, my biggest tip would be specifically to go to these stores and try only to buy higher end and high quality material pieces.

You don't want to go to a thrift store and then just buy fast fashion pieces because it might be cute. You want to go there and buy nice wool sweaters that will last you for many winters, or leather boots, or wool coats, things that really can stand the test of time and are really justifying the deal that you're getting. I actually recently got a really nice leather jacket that was originally like $450.

It was actually mislabeled at Marshall's. And I got it for $49. But I frequently found pieces like that.

Our editor, Holly, actually found a $300 coat at a store for $50. And these are pieces that will last for years, possibly even decades. And there's really no excuse not to buy them at least at an outlet, if not second hand, because most of these high quality materials are built to last for a long time.

So there's some of the few items that you really don't need to buy new. Also, I would just say, as a general rule, you should really get used to thinking of your pieces in terms of how you can maintain them. I have gotten my favorite shoes resoled many times.

I have fixed many small problems on items that I love and wear over and over again. I've replaced buttons on things as my style changes. And I've even kept some items, put them in storage, and didn't get rid of them because I kind of thought, maybe I feel like they're not really my style right now, but I might grow into them.

And low and behold, I ended up liking them a few years later. And one personal challenge that I did with myself as far as trying to really get a fresh perspective on my wardrobe, was I did a 30-day challenge last year where I could only wear outfits that I'd never put together in that combination before. And some of the outfits were a little wack, to be honest, but at least it pushed me out of my comfort zone of always defaulting to the same three pieces worn in the same three ways and feeling like I needed to totally overhaul my wardrobe.

So those are just a few of my personal tips that have really helped me. So the next question is also one from Twitter. And it's something that I'm happy we got because it talks about the TFD site, which maybe not a lot of you guys read, or maybe a lot of you do, but it's the

And we publish new articles there every day from tons of different writers about all things money and how to live with it. And that website is actually run by our editor, Holly. So I threw this question to her.

So the question is "I'd love to know what articles on the TFD blog have been the most popular since it started and what are the team's favorites?" So I spoke to our editor, Holly, and three of her favorites were an article about amazing Korean skin care products. That was actually one of our most popular this year, just in terms of traffic, but it was also just a really cool article detailing products that most of us had never heard of, actually written by a team member, Shammara. We'll link that in the description.

Another one that she loved was a piece about how beauty spending is a necessity for many women, not a luxury. And yet it's really perceived as such. And she breaks down the way women are treated differently when they're not groomed in a certain way, how it can really impact them professionally, and financially, and socially.

And of course we'll have that for you as well. And she also loves an article, which I love too, "To All the Boys I Have Wasted Money on in 2018," which is just perfect. And as far as really popular ones, this is probably going to be disappointing, but this such is the way of the internet, I think most of our popular articles are just really, really random articles that no one ever really cared about but just had a really crazy perfect combination of words that it constantly goes up to the top in SEO rankings.

Like we've had this article that I think Lauren just put together the first couple months of TFD when she was still writing-- she's not a writer, for the record. She's a designer. But she was having to write articles just to get content on the site.

And she wrote this article that was like "North East Getaway Vacations" or whatever. And that thing was like we hit the Price Is Right showcase showdown with that SEO combination of words. Because that thing is in the top articles every single month like years later.

So unfortunately, that's kind of our most popular articles consistently. But that's just kind of the nature of the internet. And also I try not to think about too much in terms of the articles that we do that are really popular in traffic because, as evidenced by that, that's not always your best articles or the things that you think most represent you as a site.

And yeah, it's kind of nice to focus on the ones that you can feel really good about and would want to read yourself and show to all your friends. Another question I get asked all the time is, "Why don't we ever see Marc?" And well, here you can see him. Here's a picture of us at our wedding together.

Cute, I know. And you don't ever see Marc because he is just not into the internet. And God bless him, because I totally understand why someone wouldn't be.

He's not really on social media. I mean, he uses the internet, obviously. He actually works in tech, so he's definitely familiar with the concept.

But I think, sort of the idea of, in any way, being public facing on the internet is really not his bag of chips, so to speak. He's a pretty private and demure person. He doesn't really like the attention in that regard.

A couple times, though, he's been on the street walking Mona and the combination of this 6'4" skinny man and really fancy clothes with this tiny white dog is like, "Marc and Mona!" And I think that's happened to him maybe like three or four times. And he always is a little kind of charmed but a little weirded out by it. But anyway, I've never asked him to be on the channel.

And I'm sure that if I really turned the screws he would do it for me to humor me, but it's not his thing. And so I think it's kind of just better to respect that. But he's a great, great guy.

And I feel very lucky to know him, let alone to be married to him. And I hope that he will continue to positively impact the world in all the ways that you can without being on social media or on YouTube. So the last question-- and this is probably the question I get asked most commonly across all the platforms that I'm on-- is, "What is the biggest piece of advice that you would give to someone who's going freelance or starting a small business?" I would say the single biggest piece of advice is that whatever your product, or skill, or talent is that you are leveraging to have this business, that is secondary to the actual skills needed to market and maintain a business.

Let's say you're really good at photography, or repairing computers, or playing the trumpet, or whatever it is that you want to go and do on your own, it is a much, much more relevant thing to be able to properly market yourself, properly manage the day-to-day operations, even just of being freelance, and that means being your own boss, setting your own schedule, doing your own finances, things like that. And obviously, some of that can be outsourced. I've had an accountant since I first went freelance years ago.

But a lot of it can't be. And a lot of it really comes down to the degree to which you are able to be diligent about those other things and really learn how to present the things that you do well in a way that sets you apart. You can be the absolute best, let's say, graphic designer in the world, but be simply terrible at marketing yourself or working with clients, be very unprofessional or unreliable.

I know many, many freelance writers that I've worked with over my career, commissioning them to do projects. And you would be shocked at the degree to which they are unreliable and unprofessional around projects that are paying them a lot of money-- so really just learning that the skill itself is kind of the secondary part. The primary skill is learning how to market yourself, to operate a small business, even of one, and to be someone that people would want to work with.

That is my biggest advice. And one thing I get asked all the time is, "What is one really smart thing I can do for my financial future if I don't have a ton of money right now?" And the answer is, you can open an investment account with literally $1. And you can do that really easily at the link in our description with Wealthsimple.

Wealthsimple is an online investing service that is as simple and human as it gets. They'll build you a custom portfolio to fit your personal needs, goals, and timeline. Just answer a few simple questions about your financial goals and they'll manage it for you on autopilot.

Set it. Forget it. Let it go to work in the background.

And drown out the noise along the way. They also offer a socially responsible investing portfolio that invests in companies that support gender diversity. You can set up automatic deposits from your bank account, as well as set up a smart savings account with higher rates than big banks for your shorter term goals-- your wedding, your next adventure, or that handbag you need.

The fees are much lower than traditional investors. And TFD viewers get a $50 cash bonus for getting started. Check them out at or use the link in our description.

You can get started with literally $1. And it only takes a few minutes. No excuses.

As always, guys, thank you for watching. And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday for new and awesome videos. Bye.