Why Don’t More YouTube Channels Discuss Finance?

Money is an uncomfortable subject. Some of us are taught from a very young age that it’s like religion and politics: you just don’t talk about it. But the sad truth is, regardless of your discomfort with money and finance as a conversation topic, we all use it, so we all need it. Money is what the majority of the world uses in exchange for goods and services. Regardless of courtesy, I think it’s something we need to talk about, especially with regard to our spending habits, as well as social influence.

As you know, I love YouTube. I have my own channel, and I love watching the videos of other people too.

I spent a lot of time the other day wondering why people on YouTube don’t talk about money. And yes, maybe it’s because it’s a bit of a taboo topic. But there are other reasons as well, and many of them have to do with viewership.

Viewers are turned off by sponsored videos. When people share their lives or viewpoints on the Internet, it is the assumption of their viewers that they are getting authenticity on the creator’s part. When paid sponsorships get thrown into the mix, some viewers feel that the authenticity of the channel has been compromised. And when they feel like the channel or creator has become “fake,” they either stop watching or they make rude comments.

Viewers are turned off when a content creator promotes his or her side-projects. For the same reason I stated above, when a YouTuber promotes a side-project or side business, people get mean. And I think that’s really stupid and counter-productive; imagine you had a YouTube channel that had a decently-sized audience, and a side business that you were equally as proud of, if not more–why wouldn’t you promote a business you are proud of on your channel?

Viewers often believe that YouTubers make a lot more money than they actually do. Yes, AdSense gives creators an opportunity to monetize their videos. However, even with a large subscriber count, AdSense pays based on engagement with a video–usually by clicks. YouTubers don’t get rich based on ads alone, and this is a serious misconception on the part of people who don’t make videos. The amount of money someone can make on YouTube varies and is based on a multitude of factors.

Finance probably isn’t the most interesting subject to many viewers (or creators). I think many of us are interested in getting new stuff but not really how much it costs.  Many of us live in hyper-consumptive societies and as hyper-consumers, we like the gratification of getting something now–or if you watch YouTube, seeing someone talk about their new stuff. We’re not all that interested in whether or not a creator is putting money away for retirement or a college fund for their kids. We just want to see and hear about the new stuff (and maybe get some new stuff of our own).

It’s really none of our business. And it’s true: the amount of money my favorite YouTuber makes in a week, a month, a year, from AdSense, from sponsorships–whatever–is not my business. And it’s not your business either.

Is there anything you wish was discussed more on YouTube?
Take a shot every time you see me write the words “new stuff” and share your thoughts in the comments down below!

Things I Love This Fall

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You probably already know this, but my favorite kind of video to watch on YouTube–aside from daily vlogs–are the “favorites” videos beauty and lifestyle vloggers post on a monthly basis. I can’t get enough of them, and would gladly watch them over and over given the chance. I love that people can use them to make recommendations to others, and seriously–what’s so bad about sitting around and talking about the shit you like?

HOWEVER… I live in a one-bedroom apartment by myself. I have very little space to be bringing in new products to review every month. So I’m going to be making a video and writing a blog post about these things every three months instead.

Here are the things I especially loved from August to October:

Smart Mom, Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer — You might notice this and say, “Wait… do you even have kids, Shelby?” And no. No, I do not. But one day I might. Since moving out on my own, my interest in finance has increased, and I was intrigued when I read an article about this book in the Detroit News. What caught my eye is that it is specifically written for women AND about building wealth, whereas most financial books and magazines are written for men. It really didn’t disappoint, despite the author’s annoying overuse of the terms “mama” and “mama bear.” I like that it’s about managing and building wealth and establishing good financial habits rather than having a coupon for everything. (I even applied what I read to my own life, which I wrote about here and here!)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie — I’ve had this book recommended to me on more than one occasion, and I never wanted to read it. Ever. But something changed in August–a Barnes and Noble trip on a rainy afternoon after I cried my eyes out in an academic adviser’s office at the community college–and I wanted to read it suddenly.  I followed the guidelines that come in the book, which say that to get the most out of the book, you should read each chapter twice before moving on to the next: once just reading, once with a pencil or highlighter in hand. I hate to say it, but–this book CHANGED MY LIFE. Like, holy shit. I’ve never not liked people, but I never realized how much I knew about dealing with them before reading this book–without applying that knowledge to my everyday life. Good work, Dale Carnegie!

Bible-Hi-Glider ACCU-Gel Highlighters — Let me start by saying that my PaperMate Flair pens are my favorite writing utensil EVER–but these come very, very close. I actually ended up reading every chapter of How to Win Friends and Influence People three times–once just reading, once with a pencil so I could make marks in the margins, and the final time with these babies. I got a set of three on Amazon for $8, and I’m so happy I did it. They’re safe for highlighting the thin pages of a Bible, but they also don’t bleed through on newsprint, which is why I bought them. They’re perfect.

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Best Fiends — I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but at the same time, #sorrynotsorry. This app was making its rounds on YouTube earlier this year–I want to say I saw it being most heavily promoted in April? but I was still seeing sponsored videos for it in  August?–and to be honest, I downloaded it because Tanya Burr was playing it in one of her videos. It makes me sad that so many of the paid-for advertisements for the game that I saw seem so half-assed, because I think it’s a great game. I don’t do game apps normally–never have I ever played Candy Crush–but this one is entertaining, and when I’m having a shit day, playing it somehow calms me down. I 100% am loving and playing this game every day.

Clash of Kings — Yet another game on my phone! How do I describe this game and my feelings towards it? Can I start by admitting that, as a big fan of George R.R. Martin, I was drawn in by the name? Also, my friends didn’t want to hang out this summer, and loneliness drove me to play it after I ran out of lives on Best Fiends. If you don’t know what the game is, you’re basically the lord of your own castle, and you can build your city around it up, attack monsters like griffins and centaurs, and even wage war against other lords and alliances. My alliance had its issues during its early days, but we got over that and started working more as a team. What did you do today? I attacked a Lava Giant, Level 15…. and won. Finally.

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask — This mask though. First of all, I don’t care for the smell. Yes, it smells like pumpkin pie, but I don’t like sweet smells. If you like pumpkin pie though, you’ll love the smell–just don’t eat it. I use it once a week. It’s a very nice mask for the end of the day–just apply it to clean skin, gently massage it in, let sit for five to ten minutes, and wash it off! It’s great for exfoliating. Just be careful–don’t get overzealous with your face massage, because it will hurt after.

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Biore Pore Penetrating Charcoal Bar — Charcoal soap is my favorite thing to wash my face with, and it seems like every brand has their own charcoal soap these days. I saw this product at Target and was fascinated by the shape of the bar, which is why I got it–I like things that look like smooth stones, okay? It has stayed pretty rock-shaped since I first started using it, and I’ve been using it every day since I bought it in early August. Be careful though, because the texture definitely gets rougher as you use more and more of it.

I’d love to hear what you’re loving this fall, so please comment below to tell me!

Experiments in Pennypinching: Using What I Have Already

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In my first post of this series, I talked about making breakfast food in bulk and bringing it to work rather than giving in to my bad habit of stopping at Tim Horton’s. This post features another way I’ve tried to change my spending habits and save a little bit of money.

My mother calls me a hoarder; I prefer to think of myself as a forward thinker.

I have a hard time letting go of things. Not because I am particularly sentimental about them, but because I always think “Well, what if I need that later on?” before getting rid of something.

The same thought process affects my spending habits. I’ll be at the grocery store and see that roasts are on sale, and will think, “Oh! I’ll need that when I make pot roast!” So I’ll buy it, but I won’t make that pot roast for three months. I’ll see that chicken thighs are on sale, and I’ll buy them, even though I still have a package that I bought the previous week. And if they’re cheap again the following week, I’ll probably buy more. I’ll need them for something. Eventually.

I also do this with books. I’ll get bored with a book and put it off “for later,” and then I’ll buy a different one–and potentially get bored with that one, too!

I don’t like to think of this as a waste of money, because eventually I do get around to using what I buy. But it is a waste of space. My freezer isn’t tiny, but it is by no means big. And it’s full of things I have half-forgotten about since purchasing them.

Sales are by no means a bad thing, but it’s not like roasts won’t be on sale again. I didn’t need to buy that roast if I wasn’t planning on making it any time in the near future.

So I’m trying to establish a new habit in which I use what I already have rather than stocking up.

I started by taking everything out of my freezer. I pitched the freezer-burnt items and tossed the frozen soups I made last winter (I washed and kept the containers the soups were in though because what if I need them later on?).

As I was putting everything back into the freezer, I took inventory. I wrote down all of what I have and how much. Then, I took a sheet of graph paper, wrote down the items, and then drew a bar to correspond with how much I have. It’s now taped to my refrigerator, and when I take something out, I fill in one square of that bar. I’ve used up a fair bit already, but as I’ve made or bought more, the list has expanded.

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Is there anything in particular you are bad about using before buying more? Comment below and tell me what that thing is!

Experiments in Pennypinching: Bringing Breakfast from Home

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Summer is the peak time of year for me at work; I put in about 50 hours a week, but sometimes more if that’s what my boss needs. It’s very nice for the overtime, as it gives me both extra savings and spending money. I might complain about feeling overworked, but the extra wiggle room in my budget is admittedly nice (especially because my energy bill is at its highest this time of year).

Then fall starts and my overtime goes away. And while I live within my means year-round, I always feel a little shocked and stressed financially when that happens. I have to give up the bad habits of summer and go back to more disciplined money habits.

Since I started saving for retirement, I’ve really been trying to become more financially savvy. I’m reading up on finance and investing, watching the Nightly Business Report on PBS, checking the stock market, and talking to the people in my life about money. Currently, I’m reading a book by Kimberly Palmer called Smart Mom, Rich Mom, because even though I don’t have kids, there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead.

You’re reading this and probably thinking, GET TO THE DAMN POINT, SHELBY.

Smart Mom, Rich Mom is about building wealth while you raise a family. It discusses savings and investment plans, and so on. It isn’t a book about extreme couponing and pinching your pennies.

However, it does talk about establishing good financial habits and cutting costs where you can.

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Where I’m cutting costs: Tim Horton’s. I spend a lot of money during the week on breakfast food and coffee. I am one of Timmy’s Hos. It is a guilty pleasure to the point that I’m feeling a little too guilty, to be honest.

Let me elaborate: My average purchase from Tim Horton’s costs between $4 and $6, and sometimes I go there 5 days a week. I’m spending between $20 and $30 a week on breakfast.

And with the peak season at work rapidly coming to a close, I need to cut my Timmy’s habit–by 75%, at least. One day a week, every other week is my goal.

Part of why I have a Timmy’s problem is because I really drag my feet in the morning. I like to get ready and just go to work. Usually I pack my lunch the night before, but I’m not very big on breakfast. Preparing breakfast food in the morning makes me feel ill. I can just throw a packet of instant oatmeal in my purse, and I have. But lately, I’ve just been like, Ugh, oatmeal. It’s taken me all month to even get half through the box on my counter.

But I need to cut Timmy’s out.

So I decided to make things in bulk so all I have to do is grab it from the refrigerator and leave.

I may share the recipes later on, but I was up until 1 a.m. the other day (no wonder I drag my feet in the morning!) making quinoa-and-egg muffins and mini quiche. And on top of that, I made enough to last at least a week. I let them cool off, popped them into ZipLoc bags, and threw most of it into the freezer.

It might not be much but I feel good about it. We all have to start somewhere, right?

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Where do you think you can cut costs? Comment below!

Saving for the Future

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When I was 16, I got my first job. It wasn’t much; I was working the cash register at a local hardware store, and in between customers I would carry out tasks like answering the phone and vacuuming. I had to learn how to count back change, and I had to learn how to interact with customers, but the hardest thing was having to balance my work schedule with school.

At the age of 16, I became a workaholic. I. Was. Addicted. To. Working. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I looked forward so much to summer, when I could get more hours (one week I got 39, and they told me I couldn’t get more than 35). I felt so grown up and responsible, and was so excited to see my bank account grow every week.

Then one day I thought, “What am I going to do with my money?”

I don’t remember how I got there, but eventually I decided I should set up a 401(k) for myself. And I was so excited by this decision, and I was excited to tell my parents my plan.

They laughed at me.

tl;dr: I didn’t set up that 401(k).

Fast forward to nearly a decade later, and I didn’t regret not doing it, but I found myself in a position that probably many other people my age were also in: I wasn’t putting anything away for retirement. My workplace offered a 401(k) program, and even though it didn’t match, I did want to set something up. However, HR took their sweet time sending someone over to help me get started.

Even though I anticipated it being 40 years before I retired, I didn’t want to wait any longer! So I did a little bit of research, and one day while visiting my parents, I asked, “Should I set up a Roth IRA?” This time, they didn’t laugh at me. Instead, I was told, “Absolutely!”

There are two things you need to know about investing for your future. The first: it is never too late. Second: you have a lot of options. You can go through your bank or a financial service like Merrill Lynch. Some banks work with services like Merrill Lynch. You can set up a 401(k), a Roth IRA, or a traditional IRA. You can do all three. And so on. On top of that, all of your options come with their own benefits and pitfalls. In addition to talking to family and friends, I recommend talking to someone who works in finance.

Saving for your future might seem impossible, but you can 100% do it in a way that works for you. Taking that first step might be daunting, but remember that there is no time like the present.

ON “BOOKS EVERYONE SHOULD READ”

Last week, I went to Barnes and Noble with my mother. If I was 14, this wouldn’t have been a particularly notable event; when I was younger, my mom and I went to the bookstore all the time together, but that was before Borders went out of business and my mom never really liked Barnes and Noble.

For the first time in a long time, I was at a bookstore with my mother. One of mom’s coworkers is retiring and Mom, knowing that her coworker quite likes wine but doesn’t necessarily know what beverages pair the best with what foods, thought that if there was a book that kind of explained how that went, it would be a good retirement gift. We did end up finding it, and it was a lot bigger than we had imagined it would have been. It was thorough, apparently.

As a lover of books, I started frequenting Barnes and Noble after Borders went out of business. As a lover of bookstores, I like to look at displays to see what they’re promoting and how they’re promoting certain books. It’s summer, so of course they’re going to have a table that is all books for the junior high and high school summer reading lists. I marvel that apparently my 11th grade English teacher is still assigning Richard Wright’s Native Son as summer reading (it is a book I probably would have liked better had we read it as a class), and that the teacher at my old school’s crosstown rival still assigns The Poisonwood Bible. Other displays (ones that aren’t school-related) promote books that I find questionable, but I can live with the existence and bestselling status of 50 Shades, because I’m glad people read, and I’m glad that they talk about books, my opinions of those books aside.

However, I am forever iffy about the table with the sign that says “Books Everyone Should Read.”

Truthfully, I like the idea of a world where everybody reads. Even better is the idea of a world where everybody likes to read. But those lists of books that everybody should read? I tend to disagree with any statement that says everybody should read a specific book.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant may well be my favorite book ever, and while I recommend it to a lot of people, I understand that it’s not going to be a book that will appeal to everyone (menstruation! childbirth! Biblical figures!). It’s great when I do find someone who has enjoyed it because then I can talk about this amazing book that I am lucky enough to have found and read and loved.

But the phrase “everybody should read this book” is flawed. It implies that there is something to be gained, often a level of personal growth, from reading certain books. A life lesson.

And not everybody is going to pick up on those hidden messages. Not everybody will learn something from those books.

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In my 12th grade English class, somebody applied “everybody needs to read this” to the book Nineteen Minutes (notable to me because it was the only book by Jodi Picoult that I liked). But even within the book, there is a character who survives a school shooting, and despite having friends who died in the event and even having been shot himself, he doesn’t get that he was targeted by the shooter for having bullied him. He doesn’t change his outlook or behaviors.

It’s also notable that one of my classmates didn’t think the main character’s boyfriend is “so bad.” This was worrisome, even to my teacher, because it’s obvious that the guy is bad news. He has abusive tendencies and refuses to wear a condom when they have sex, and also, right around the time we first encounter him in the book, he’s telling his girlfriend that she’s fat and food-shaming her for eating French fries (I think it was French fries, anyway–12th grade was a while ago).

Not everybody is going to get it. And that’s why, when acting like there is something to be gained by reading a specific book and that everybody should read it, you could be doing more harm than good. Not to mention that the implication that books are for learning from explains why a lot of people don’t pick up books outside of school.

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Confession time: I never understood the appeal of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I didn’t learn anything from reading it. I knew by the time I had read it that racism was bad, and that you should always do the right thing, even if the people around you aren’t. Reading the book didn’t reinforce that message, and ultimately, I didn’t enjoy reading it, even though it’s a standard text in classrooms across the country. Almost everybody has read it, and yet I am sure that there are many people out there who also didn’t enjoy it.

And that’s just talking about texts that are in the American literary canon. There are myriad works that are important in other places that I have neglected to mention here. And to some degree I am happy that they aren’t “books that every American should read” because many Americans aren’t going to understand issues in other countries as they apply to those countries. They might understand an issue as it applies to America, but the context of one’s reading of a text is going to affect the lens through which that text is read. And the culture of that reader is also going to affect the lens.

So, yes, I like the idea of a world where everybody reads, but I’m okay with living in a world where not everybody reads the same books.

Do you think that everybody should read certain books? Why or why not?

CHOCOLATE BOOK CHALLENGE

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetI’m not even going to lie, when Kacie tagged me in her post, my first thought was “How could you do this to me? Now I really want some chocolate!”

However, that’s no different from the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day, so.

Like I am with chocolate to eat, I’m constantly on the lookout for something interesting or new to read. Generally, “interesting” trumps “new” but when you are like me and you do have a dependence on the written word, well. In addition to chocolate and interesting stories, I also crave opportunities to share the books I love with everybody.

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(I did change some of the chocolate prompts from the original post because I have fun with stuff like that, but Kacie has the original chocolate prompts in her post, if you’d like to see them)

Dark chocolate; or A Book With a Dark Subject | I first heard about Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward from a Tumblr post by another author I admire (I want to say it was Roxane Gay). I had previously read one of Ward’s novels, Salvage the Bones, about a Mississippi family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina before reading Men We Reaped, which is a memoir Ward wrote to commemorate five young men she knew, including her brother, who died early. It feels tacky to say that Ward writes beautifully about hardship, but her writing leaves me wordless and teary-eyed.

White chocolate; or A Favorite Lighthearted Read | When I tell you this, you’re going to look at me funny, and I’m going to say, “I know, I know.” The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. There, I said it. And you’re probably thinking, “But isn’t that book about Dracula?” And yes, yes it is, and I’m still going to tell you that this book is super-duper fun. It’s got something for everybody. For you Dan Brown fans out there, it’s got a conspiracy. For supernatural fans, it’s got the Vlad the Impaler/Dracula/vampire element. And seeing as it takes place throughout areas of Cold War-era Europe, it definitely isn’t without its appeals to adventure fans, either.

Milk chocolate; or A Book That You’re Dying to Read; or A Book that Makes You Thirsty | The former rather than the latter, but I wanted to point out that nothing makes my mouth dry the way  milk chocolate does. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a book I have been longing to read for a minute. The authors I like to read have said very nice things about it.

Chocolate with a caramel center; or A Book that Makes You Feel Gooey Inside | In 2012 I was 21, working 3 jobs, and living with 2 roommates who were swooning over 50 Shades. Once I discovered Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell on a “Michigan Authors” table at the local Schuler’s, I also got to swoon over a book. I’ll take your Katniss Everdeen and raise you one Margo Crane, because that’s really how I feel. Margo has had a rough time of it; her mother abandons her at a young age, her uncle has raped her, her father is killed in an accident. Her response is to steal a gun from her uncle’s locker and to take her rowboat out onto the river. And she further continues to be fucked over by men. But she changes, she survives. And I just cannot stop praising this book.

Chocolate chilli pepper; or A Book that Surprised You | Books can surprise a person on a few different levels. Outcomes, I find, are rarely surprising. More often than not, though, I can find myself surprised by how much I like a book. I enjoy books about people and the secrets they keep, something readers of Kate Morton probably also enjoy. The Secret Keeper surprised me not because of the outcome (the actual outcome should occur to you by the time you’re halfway done) but I did enjoy it, which is generally more than I can say for Morton’s other works. The pace was perfect, and it didn’t reveal too much all at once in the last few pages, which is a mistake I see in a lot of books.

Trader Joe’s dark chocolate almonds; or a Book You Are Just Nuts About | Really, I’d rather call this “Author You Are Just Nuts About” but I’ll throw out a book by my favorite author instead. How’s that sound? When I was in  junior high school, I discovered Tracy Chevalier (and it’s ScarJo’s fault for doing Girl with a Pearl Earring). She’s best known for having written Girl with a Pearl Earring, but shortly after reading that I read Falling Angelswhich made such an impression on me that I could still to this day call it my favorite by her. For one, it’s centered around a cemetery. Two, Edwardian society. Three, suffragettes! Did I mention there’s a cemetery? It’s fantastic.

Hot chocolate with marshmallows (but only the colorful ones); or A Comfort Read | You’re going to get tired of hearing me talk about it, but The Red Tent by Anita Diamant has been one of my all-time favorite books since I was a senior in high school. While it draws on stories from Genesis (specifically the stories of Jacob and Joseph), you don’t have to be religious to appreciate or enjoy it. At its heart, The Red Tent is a story of female relationships and family, birth and death, and love and loss. One person I’ve recommended it to commented that they never felt so fulfilled by a book’s ending before. And really, that couldn’t be more true. Every time I finish reading it, I take a moment to hold myself, because it’s like I might burst if I don’t.

That’s it for today! As part of the challenge, I need to tag 5 people to complete the challenge next! So, I’m going to say that I want to see what Meg, Desiree, Harper, Gwen, and Lydia have to say for their favorite chocolate-book pairings! Friends, please take your time to construct your lists or plow through them (I took my time… a lot of it)!

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What chocolate goes with your favorite book?