CNBC make it 2024-07-10 16:25:28

An investment banker quit her job to become a YouTuber and now makes over $1 million

Personal finance YouTuber Nischa Shah quit her six-figure investment banking job to become a full-time content creator — and it was a gamble that paid off.

After working in banking for a decade, Shah became an associate director at Crédit Agricole in 2022, earning well over £200,000 ($256,000). However, the London-based banker was not satisfied with her career, she told CNBC Make It in an interview.

“It was about nine years into the corporate journey where I had this revelation that this isn’t fulfilling me, it’s not really challenging me, and it’s not intellectually stimulating,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to help other people whilst getting paid for it and what I was doing in banking was helping corporations, sovereign governments.”

She eventually reached a “rock bottom phase” about two-and-a-half years ago and decided to use a Law of Attraction planner — which involves manifesting goals and dreams — to reassess her life.

“I was thinking I want to change the course of my life,” she said. “This Law of Attraction planner had prompts or questions like ‘What would you do if money was not an issue?’”

Shah knew she had a passion for personal finance and making complex information accessible to everyone. She once helped her parents avoid a tax bill of around £14,000 when they were selling their home because their accountant had missed some key information.

“Just having a knowledge in personal finance can have such a huge impact on the money that’s going into your pocket,” she added.

Shah started dabbling with making YouTube videos about personal finance and self-development in December 2021 — and now has over 1 million subscribers on YouTube.

This success led her to quit her investment banking job in January — despite the fact she was due to receive a six-figure bonus two months later.

It was worth the risk. Shah is now earning over $1 million by monetizing her YouTube videos, selling courses and products, doing corporate talks, and partnering with brands.

“I’m making a lot more than I was in banking,” she said. “As a result of not chasing money anymore and just chasing what I’m good at, my passion, and what I really enjoy, it’s managed to surpass everything that I had before.”

Shah walked CNBC Make It through how she grew her YouTube channel and prepared to quit her investment banking job.

‘It took 11 months to get to 1,000 subscribers’

Shah’s videos cover topics ranging from “Money Habits Keeping You Poor” and “7 Passive Income Ideas,” to “How to invest your first $1000, and her videos receive anything between 100,000 to 9 million views. 

Loyal subscribers will be familiar with Shah’s no-nonsense approach, straightforward advice, and black turtleneck. But back in 2021, Shah’s YouTube account was merely a side hustle that she wasn’t taking very seriously.

“In June 2022, that all changed. Shah decided to start posting twice a week, every week, and finally, in September, one video — a day in her life as an investment banker — resonated. She gained 50,000 subscribers in one month and earned £3,000.

“So it took me 11 months to get to 1,000 subscribers, and then two months to get to 100,000 which was crazy,” Shah said. “It’s just literally the power of compounding in a nutshell, not knowing when that lucky break is going to be.”

Shah says her audience includes many young adults, women and people who may not have had access to financial education.

“When I talk to the camera, I think of it as I’m just talking to me when I was 22-years-old or 23-years-old,” she said.

“There are many people younger in their careers who are at a point where they have started making money, but they just want to get better with it. They just want to know ‘What do I do with my savings? How do I grow wealth? How do I set myself up so I can quit a job that I don’t like?’”

Shah saw an opportunity to become a trusted figure on the subject due to her banking experience and accountancy qualifications, especially as misleading financial content runs rampant on social media.

“There’s incorrect advice being given on TikTok and Instagram, and it’s sad because giving the wrong advice on shampoo or lip gloss will cost someone like £7, but giving the wrong advice about finance could cost someone their life savings.”

Use your day job to fund your side hustle

A day job that provides a stable income can help accelerate the success of your side hustle, Shah says.

“If you don’t come from a family which is well-to-do, it’s really important to have a steady income coming in … but also having a job where you can learn from without consequences,” she explained.

Setting up a business is a learning curve, according to Shah, and if there’s no backup income, the consequences — like losing all of your savings — could be dire.

“If you’ve got income coming in from your day job, but you’re also building a business on the side, you’re working from a place of creativity, rather than from a place of ‘I need to make sure I pay the bills and I need to make sure I make ends meet’,” she said

“That makes you operate from a place of stress, which I think has a huge impact on whether you’re able to succeed in the entrepreneurial world.”

When Shah first started making YouTube videos, she used her investment banking income to invest in a £1,000 camera.

“I would advise, for as long as possible, to continue exploring side hustles or side businesses alongside a day job. It gives you security. It gives you freedom or creativity. It helps you build an emergency fund and it gives you extra cash that you can then plug into your side businesses to help it succeed,” she said.

Shah built up an emergency fund to support her for at least nine months after she quit her job. “It doesn’t need to cover my fancy holidays. It doesn’t need to cover any clothes or bags or anything like that. It just needs to cover my living expenses.”

She acknowledged that if she waited to quit only after she’d made a lot of money from YouTube, it would have taken much longer to make the jump.

“It was really important that I just went all in, and I had my emergency fund as a buffer, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I thought: ‘I’m at a crossroads. I’ve done what I known for the last nine years and that hasn’t made me happy … so now is the point for me to take my life in my own hands and just go for it.’”

Shah’s salary was verified by CNBC Make It via her contract and a tax form, but the exact figure will not be disclosed for privacy reasons. Her YouTube earnings from May 2023 to May 2024 were also verified by CNBC Make It via bank statements.

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15 U.S. states with the lowest cost of living—a single person can live there on $20 an hour

As a single person, you’ll need an annual income of $40,000 to cover basic expenses in the cheapest U.S. states, according to a recent SmartAsset analysis.

The state with the lowest costs of living is West Virginia, closely followed by Arkansas and Oklahoma, the analysis says. In West Virginia, a one-person household needs a pre-tax income of $39,386 to pay for necessities like housing, transportation, health care, taxes and other common expenses — as tracked by the MIT Living Wage calculator.

The good news: The median American yearly wage for full-time workers is nearly $60,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But minimum wage workers in many of the least-expensive U.S. states lag significantly behind that figure. With a 40-hour workweek, West Virginia’s $8.75 hourly minimum wage translates to just $18,200 per year, for example.

Here’s a look at the 15 U.S. states with the lowest cost of living, based on how much a single person needs to cover basic costs:

  1. West Virginia: $39,386
  2. Arkansas: $39,724
  3. Oklahoma: $40,211
  4. North Dakota: $40,262
  5. Kentucky: $40,355
  6. Ohio: $40,359
  7. South Dakota: $40,718
  8. Louisiana: $41,233
  9. Mississippi: $41,361
  10. Iowa: $41,678
  11. New Mexico: $41,807
  12. Nebraska: $41,849
  13. Alabama: $41,911
  14. Missouri: $42,024
  15. Wisconsin: $42,062

Based on a 40-hour workweek, these totals work out to an hourly wage that ranges from about $19 to $20. In contrast, the most expensive state for a single person is Massachusetts, where a single person needs $58,009 per year to cover basic costs. That works out to roughly $28 per hour.

While rural states have lower costs, they tend to have lower wages, too. The median household income in West Virginia is $52,460, compared with $75,910 in New York, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data from 2022.

The difference in basic costs between states is largely due to housing, which tends to be most affordable in rural states. Urban areas typically offer a higher concentration of jobs, attracting more residents — and increased housing demand drives up home prices.

Annual housing costs in heavily urban states like California and New York are close to $20,000, compared to roughly half that figure in the 15 least expensive states.

Rural states also tend to have lower taxes than states with large cities, because their public services and infrastructure are less expensive. Taxes vary by about $5,000 to $10,000 per year between states, according to SmartAsset’s analysis.

MIT’s Living Wage calculator is based on data from various federal agencies, adjusted for inflation as of December 2023.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

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28-year-old left the U.S., relocated to Thailand, and pays $544/month for his 1-bedroom apartment

In April 2021, Paul Lee took a vacation to Thailand. Five months later, he decided to leave the United States behind and make a permanent move to the Asian country.

Lee, originally from Georgia, had been living in New York City and grossing around $1 million a year thanks to his e-commerce business. Despite doing well enough to pay for his parent’s retirement, the 28-year-old tells CNBC Make It he found himself without purpose, feeling depressed, and needing to make a change.

“When I first arrived to Thailand, I just felt rejuvenated. Everything was completely new to me, and I felt like it was a fresh new start,” Lee says. “The more and more I live here, the more and more I fall in love with the city.”

Since moving to Bangkok, Lee has been making around US $150,000 a year as a content creator and real estate agent, according to documents reviewed.

Working in real estate helped Lee find several living arrangements in Bangkok, including luxury condos. The apartment he’s in now is a one-bedroom in the Thonglor neighborhood which Lee says is “the Soho of Bangkok.”

It’s a 650-square-feet unit that costs 20,000 baht — around USD $544 — in monthly rent. Lee also pays $20 for Wi-Fi, $80 for electricity, and $3 for water each month. The apartment came furnished, and Lee has access to amenities, including a pool and a gym.

To move in, Lee had to pay a security deposit of two months’ rent or about $1,088.

Despite lower grocery costs in Bangkok, Lee eats out for every meal and spends $500 a month on food. “I’m not gonna lie, the food in New York City was very good as well, but I think in Thailand, it’s just a lot more homey, a lot more local, and a lot spicier,” Lee says.

His other expenses include a $93 monthly gym membership which is a bit of a splurge considering Lee has free access to a gym in his building. But the cost is worth it for Lee, because he can take advantage of the co-working space, coffee, and numerous networking opportunities in the space.

Also his current gym’s price is nothing compared to luxury gyms in New York, like Equinox, where memberships can start at $240 a month.

Lee has only returned to the U.S. one time since his big move to Thailand — for his sister’s wedding. He tells CNBC Make It he chose to leave New York City because he found himself being too materialistic and living in an “environment that was just very individualistic, very doggish, and very hyper-aggressive.”

“Bangkok stood out to me because it seemed very metropolis. It seemed very fun. It seemed very affordable and it just had a very good culture and didn’t really have any major compromises to me,” Lee says.

Lee has made a new life for himself in Thailand, he says, and returning to the U.S. doesn’t feel likely.

“I had to go through this journey of being poor and becoming quite wealthy to realize all this wealth that I had accumulated didn’t really give me what I wanted and didn’t give me the satisfaction I was looking for,” Lee says.

His parents were initially shocked he’d moved so far but ended up following in his footsteps when they moved to South Korea. They visit him in Bangkok from time to time, and Lee travels to see them, too. He says it’s one of the best perks of his new life in Thailand.

“At the end of the day, even though I don’t make nearly as much money as I made in New York City, I am far… wealthier in terms of my happiness, in terms of my well-being, my peace,” he added. “These are things I never was able to achieve back home in the States.”

Conversions from Thai baht to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 baht to 0.02 USD on July 1, 2024. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

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The No. 1 question to ‘always’ ask in a job interview, from a LinkedIn career expert

The final minutes of a job interview — when the interviewer is done with their questions and opens up the floor — is time you don’t want to waste. 

Asking smart, thoughtful questions can give you an edge over other candidates and help you decide whether a role is the right fit for you. 

There’s one question, in particular, that you should “always” ask in a job interview, says LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill.

“What does success look like to you in the first 90 days of this role?” 

By asking how success is measured within the team or company, you’re demonstrating that you’re proactive, and someone who wants to learn the skills needed to excel in the role, McCaskill explains. 

The first 90 days of a new position is the most common timeframe employers use to assess your fit for the job and company culture, McCaskill adds, so it’s a helpful reference point to include — otherwise, the question might feel too broad.

“It cues to the interviewer that you’re curious, and really thinking about how you can help them solve whatever challenges they’re facing at the moment,” he says.

With this question, you’ll better understand what kind of learning curve you’ll face and how your performance will be evaluated. 

The interviewer’s response could make you feel more confident about the role or uncover some red flags. 

If the hiring manager avoids spelling out the specific tasks and responsibilities of the role or is vague about scheduling and expectations for working overtime, “those could be signs that a job is high-stress,” McCaskill explains. 

This question can also help you prepare for any follow-up interviews.

“It gives you a vantage point into what skills and traits the employer is prioritizing in hiring for this role, and what language they use to describe their ideal candidate, so you can mirror it,” says McCaskill. “It helps you get to the very heart of what they’re looking for.”

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.

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Why Serena Williams tried to deposit her first $1 million check at a drive-thru ATM

In the early days of her tennis career, Serena Williams cared so much about winning that she forgot to collect her earnings — repeatedly.

Williams, 42, brought in $94.8 million in prize money as a tennis player before retiring in 2022, according to the Women’s Tennis Association. Early in her career, she nearly left a decent chunk of it behind: She was so singularly focused on her performance that she’d nearly leave cities without picking up her money, she told First We Feast’s YouTube talk show “Hot Ones” last week.

“Is it true that you rarely collected your winnings your first year on tour and then once tried unsuccessfully to cash your first million-dollar check in a drive through ATM?” host Sean Evans asked her.

“Those are all true,” responded Williams, who won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 73 career singles titles during her 27-year career. “I never played for money. I played because I loved the sport … I wanted to win.”

Williams’ professional debut — in which she played a single game, losing a qualifying match at the 1995 Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada — reportedly resulted in a $240 check. At age 14, she was in no rush to spend that money, she said.

The same was true when Williams got her first million-dollar check. People around her were excited about the dollar figure, but all Williams wanted to do was deposit it and get back to work, she recalled.

“I never really spent a lot of money,” said Williams. “I just went through the drive-thru and the guy was like, ‘Uh, I think you need to come inside for this.’”

As her career evolved, her “tax guy” had to remind her to get her money while she toured, she recalled.

″[He] would be like, ‘You didn’t get your money?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get that one in Zurich. I forgot that one in Moscow,’” Williams said. “I was playing to win, and if I didn’t win, I wasn’t thinking. I was just so angry that I wanted to just figure out a way to get better and win the next time.”

When to teach kids money lessons

Williams’ early-career experiences were part of her financial literacy education: When she started making her own money as a teen, her dad Richard made sure that she was in charge of it, she told Bloomberg’s ‘The Deal’ podcast in May.

“I remember having to figure that out and having to learn how to manage from a very early age and not get crazy with it, and so he empowered us to do that,” Williams said, adding that when it came time to weigh sponsorship deals with companies like Puma and Nike, she always had a seat at the table.

“I’m 16, my dad is negotiating, they’re going back and forth, and he wants me there for the whole time to make sure I know what to do in the future,” she said. “I learned early on that your paycheck from tennis — maybe that’s why I forgot them — should be your smallest earning.”

Personal finance lessons for kids are important, experts say. If you start teaching kids basic money lessons as early as ages 5 to 8, they’ll be ready to learn about concepts like saving, spending and investing by ages 8 to 12, Eric Landolt, head of family advisory and art & collecting at UBS Global Wealth Management, told Make It last year.

By the time they’re teenagers, they’ll be well-equipped to effectively manage a small budget or allowance, said Landolt.

“Financial literacy should be a basic skill, a basic skill in the sense of like, reading or writing or doing so something in a way that should be brought to everyone in any circumstance,” he said.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

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