CNBC make it 2024-02-16 10:50:49

40-year-old millionaire who retired early only lasted 5 months—here’s what made her go back to work

My entire life used to be about maximizing my time for work. I spent over a decade building a career in New York’s tech scene.

I worked at Foursquare and Google, and in 2014, I started my business, Tech Ladies. My goal was to help women in the industry find jobs, negotiate and network. I hired a team and bootstrapped the company from $0 to millions in revenue.

I was proud of the mission, but I never exercised or took a vacation, and I rarely saw friends. I didn’t realize how burned out I was. I finally sold my company in 2021, but stayed on for a year to help with the transition.

Since I had seven figures saved, I realized that I could consider leaving the working life behind. So in 2023, I turned 40 and decided to retire early. The funny things is, I only lasted five months.

From retired to unretired

When I retired, we moved from New York City to New Jersey for my husband’s job. For the first time in years, I had a blank calendar.

I planted a flower garden. I started weightlifting and took long walks with new friends. I volunteered a few hours a week at the local soup kitchen and animal shelter. I fostered dogs and adopted a rescue named Addie.

Five months in, my quality of life had vastly improved. But I had mixed feelings, and at times it felt boring. I knew I couldn’t go back to 80-hour workweeks, but through volunteering at the shelter and spending time with my dog, I had come up with a business idea: an online community for Gen Z and Millennial pet owners.

I missed the creative outlet of entrepreneurship. I’d been in extreme work mode for so long that I thought cutting myself off entirely was the cure to my burnout. While I enjoyed my new hobbies, I didn’t feel challenged like I did when I was running a startup.

The truth is, I never had balance in my work life before, but I owed it to myself now to try.

The No. 1 lesson I learned about happiness

When I ran Tech Ladies, stealing even a 15-minute break felt impossible. I was obsessed with how much time I didn’t have, when I should have been paying more attention to where I put my energy and how it made me feel.

The most valuable lesson I learned is that you shouldn’t wait to do the things you dream about doing in retirement. So I asked myself three questions as I began my next chapter:

  1. If you didn’t have to work, what is on your list of things you’d do that brings you joy?
  2. How many hours a week would it take to actually do it? 
  3. What can you take off your plate to give yourself more time and energy to do it?

Your ability to free up time and energy will vary, especially if you are taking care of kids or older parents. Push yourself to be honest and audit your time relentlessly. Just don’t give it all to a job.

I started working in earnest on Juniper, my business idea, this past August and it launched in November. I’m bootstrapping the business again, and in the last few months started to bring in revenue. I’ve gotten a lot of joy from growing this new community.

Most importantly, I’m working a more manageable 40-hour workweek. I also have some non-negotiables: I carve out time to walk my dog, work out and cook every day — and I take weekends off. My husband and I also don’t skip vacations anymore.

I want to build another successful company, but my definition of success now is accomplishing my goals without sacrificing my health, or the things that bring me joy and purpose.

Allison Esposito Medina is the founder and CEO of Juniper, an online community and pet product discovery platform. She also founded Tech Ladies, an online network for women in technology. Before that, she spent a decade working at various startups like Foursquare and Google.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Here’s how much money you’d have if you invested $1,000 in bitcoin 10 years ago

Bitcoin is flying high again, with the price of a token topping $52,000 Wednesday — the first time that’s happened since November 2021.

That’s a remarkable recovery for the ever-volatile cryptocurrency, which was trading at less than a third of its current value in November 2022. 

Back then, the currency had lost more than 75% of its price following the collapse of FTX, the largest cryptocurrency exchange at the time. The price has recovered since, although it’s still short of its November 2021 peak of nearly $69,000.

The recent rise in price is largely related to the Jan. 11 launch of spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds, which allow everyday investors to buy a stake in bitcoin on regulated stock exchanges rather than cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval makes it easier to invest in bitcoin, while also lending legitimacy to an industry plagued by scandal. Bitcoin’s approval has seemingly attracted renewed investor interest, as the value of all bitcoin in circulation exceeded $1 trillion for the first time since 2021 on Wednesday.  

How much $1,000 invested in bitcoin is worth, based on purchase date

If you had invested $1,000 in bitcoin one, five or 10 years ago, here’s how much your money would be worth now. CNBC’s calculations are based on the token’s price of $51,793 as Feb. 14.

  • If you had put $1,000 into bitcoin a year ago, it would have grown by 133% and be worth around $2,331 as of Feb. 14.
  • If you had invested $1,000 into bitcoin five years ago, the investment would have grown by 1,352% and be worth around $14,524 as of Feb. 14.
  • If you had bought $1,000 worth of bitcoin 10 years ago, it would have grown by 7,644% and be worth around $77,443 as of Feb. 14.

And if you bought bitcoin on Jan. 11, when the ETFs launched, a $1,000 investment would now be worth $1,113.

Do your research before investing

Because cryptocurrencies are highly speculative, financial experts commonly recommend investing no more than you’re willing to lose. Similarly, past performance isn’t necessarily indicative of future success.

That said, a small amount of crypto can be part of a diversified investing strategy.

“I think it makes sense for most folks to hold a small holding of cryptocurrencies, maybe 1% or 2% of an entire portfolio,” Chris Diodato, a CFP and founder of WELLth Financial Planning, previously told CNBC Make It.

However, “I’m hesitant to recommend more because, in addition to its significant volatility, it doesn’t produce cash flow like traditional investments — it’s only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.”

Instead of picking individual stocks or other assets, experts often recommend investing in low-cost index funds or ETFs, which offer automatic diversity. When you invest in the S&P 500, for example, you’re essentially buying part of around 500 of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., so your investment’s success isn’t tied to a single company.

As of Feb.14, the S&P 500 is up about 21% compared with 12 months ago, according to CNBC’s calculations. Since 2019, the index has grown by around 82% and since 2014, it has ballooned by around 172%.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Using this 1 word more often can make you 50% more influential, says Harvard study

Sometimes, it takes a single word — like “because” — to change someone’s mind.

That’s according to Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who’s compiled a list of “magic words” that can change the way you communicate. Using the word “because” while trying to convince someone to do something has a compelling result, he tells CNBC Make It: More people will listen to you, and do what you want.

Berger points to nearly a 50-year-old study from Harvard University, wherein researchers sat in a university library and waited for someone to use the copy machine. Then, they walked up and asked to cut in front of the unknowing participant.

They phrased their request in three different ways:

  • “May I use the Xerox machine?”
  • “May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?”
  • “May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

Both requests using “because” made the people already making copies more than 50% more likely to comply, researchers found. Even the second phrasing — which could be reinterpreted as “May I step in front of you to do the same exact thing you’re doing?” — was effective, because it indicated that the stranger asking for a favor was at least being considerate about it, the study suggested.

“Persuasion wasn’t driven by the reason itself,” Berger wrote in a book on the topic, “Magic Words,” which published last year. “It was driven by the power of the word.”

Other ‘magic words’ and how to use them

Companies use “because” to make their advertisements more convincing, behavioral scientist Nuala Walsh wrote in an column last year: Makeup company L’Oréal has used the slogan “Because you’re worth it” for five decades, and furniture stores need you to shop their sales now “because it’s for a limited time.”

The seven-letter word isn’t the only one with communication superpowers. Arguments, requests and presentations aren’t any more or less convincing when they’re based on solid ideas, Berger says — rather, they depend on the individual words you use.

“You could have excellent ideas, but excellent ideas aren’t necessarily going to get people to listen to you,” he says. “Subtle shifts in our in our language can have a really big impact.”

Saying and writing the word “recommend” instead of “like” makes people nearly a third more likely to follow your suggestions, Berger noted in his book. The same is true when you swap out verbs for nouns, he says: People are up to 30% more likely to oblige your requests when you ask for helpers instead of help, or voters instead of votes.

You can, and should, use these strategies when you’re on the receiving end of a conversation, Berger says: Listen to the specific words other people use, and craft a response that speaks their language. Doing so can help drive an agreement, solution or connection.

“Everything in language we might use over email at the office … [can] provide insight into who they are and what they’re going to do in the future,” says Berger.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

MrBeast brings in $700 million a year but says he’s not rich: ‘I’ve reinvested everything’

There’s no disputing that MrBeast makes a lot of money.

The YouTuber — real name Jimmy Donaldson — rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars from his YouTube channel and Feastables food brand. But despite bringing in revenue between $600 million and $700 million each year, Donaldson says he’s not rich.

His massive channel has 239 million subscribers, and his videos regularly get well over 100 million views.

“Each video does a couple million in ad revenue, a couple million in brand deals,” he told Time Magazine this week, which noted that brands pay between $2.5 million to $3 million for a shout-out in a video.

But that money doesn’t go into his bank account. And even if it did, the 25-year-old said he doesn’t have access to it.

“I don’t have access to any of my bank accounts,” he said. “I have a CFO and everything, but [my mom is] the one who has access to the master bank account.”

Instead, the income goes back into growing his brand and audience.

“I’ve reinvested everything to the point of—you could claim—stupidity, just believing that we would succeed,” he said. “And it’s worked out.”

Part of the investment involves sparing no expense on his massive, popular stunts such as buying a grocery store and paying a contestant $10,000 each day he is able to live in it. A shoot that captures 12,000 hours of footage may end up as a video that is just 15 minutes long, Time reports.

Of course, Donaldson isn’t exactly scraping by. The creator has a personal chef and a trainer, according to Time, and he lives in a 3,000 square-foot-home that he purchased for $320,000 in 2018, according to the New York Post.

With plans to continue growing his empire, Donaldson admits that he may eventually reap the financial rewards.

“I’m not naïve; maybe one day,” he said of being rich. “But right now, whatever we make, we reinvest.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

3 in-demand freelance jobs that you can do from home—one can pay $500 an hour

More Americans are experimenting with freelancing, either as a side hustle or a full-time career. 

The number of professionals freelancing in the U.S. hit an all-time high in 2023, increasing to 64 million people, or 38% of the U.S. workforce, from 60 million the year earlier, according to recent research from Upwork. 

Businesses are increasingly relying on freelancers to save on headcount and real estate expenses, Yoav Hornung, head of verticals and innovation at Fiverr, tells CNBC Make It

But the services businesses are hiring independent contractors for are constantly changing, Hornung says. For example: In recent months, Fiverr has seen a marked increase in requests for AI professionals, including video editors and prompt engineers, who can help businesses leverage AI technologies to be more efficient or profitable. 

In addition to AI services, here are three of the most in-demand freelance services for 2024, according to Fiverr, including what professionals on the platform are charging for them. All of these gigs can be done from home and pay over $100 per project:

Video editing 

Video editors work in post-production, assembling raw footage into finished packages using different software applications. Two kinds of video editing have seen “huge demand” as of late, according to Hornung: AI video editing and social media video editing. 

Between January and July 2023, searches for AI video editors increased by more than 625% on Fiverr. These creators leverage AI to customize video backgrounds, generate voiceovers and enhance audio and visual elements, among other services.

Video editing for short-form content is another in-demand skill. “The increasing popularity of ‘snackable’ content in the form of Reels, Shorts and TikTok has spiked demand for freelancers who can make snappy, engaging content for brands,” Hornung says.

Video editors on Fiverr typically charge at least $100 per project. 

Social media management and content creation

Social media managers and specialists develop, edit and promote content across different channels for a client or organization to engage with and grow their audience.

The value of a strong online presence for brands and businesses has “never been higher,” says Hornung, as more people — especially younger consumers — shop on social media platforms. 

One skill that will be “especially valuable” for freelance social media managers to possess in 2024, he adds, is the ability to create content that feels “authentic and genuine” for clients as more consumers demand authenticity and transparency from the brands they support.

Social media managers and specialists charge at least $150 per project.

Mobile app development 

Mobile app developers are software engineers who create apps for smartphones, tablets, computers and other devices. These professionals typically work alongside graphic designers and data scientists. 

Globally, people recorded nearly 77 billion mobile app downloads during the first half of 2023, up 3% from 2022, according to, a data analytics tool. 

Hornung points out that, on Fiverr, searches for “app development” have seen a consistent increase since the start of 2023. He explains that more brands are adopting mobile-first strategies to meet consumers’ growing preference for interacting with businesses through their phones versus computers or in person.

Mobile app developers charge at least $500 per project. 

If you’re considering a freelance career or side hustle in any of these fields, it’s not enough to learn the technical skills you’ll need to do the job — what sets the most successful freelancers apart, says Hornung, is their soft skills and endorsements. 

“Trust is king,” he says. “Investing in soft skills such as communication and organization, and proof of how you’ve used these skills, can go a long way in establishing trust between freelance professionals and their clientele base.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.