Credit Sesame interviewed Brady Kelly aka BradyYourTutor as part of its 11 Money Questions series asking personal finance questions most people don’t like to ask.
1. How old are you and what is your yearly income?
I’m 24. I think I made like $80k to $100k last year.
Brady’s occupation has morphed from providing tutoring services to earning most of his money as a social media influencer.
The videos he creates to promote his tutoring business are popular and have allowed him to sign lucrative brand deals and monetize the traffic his posts get on social media channels. His content has attracted 3.1 million followers on TikTok and 387 thousand followers on Instagram. He estimates that 90% of his income comes from brand deals.
Brady is highly confident in his finances and is more concerned with building his business than simply making ends meet.
When asked if there is anything about finance that worries him, Brady replies: Not doing my best. The ROI (return on investment) on my time is my biggest concern.
In a nutshell, Brady believes that income growth conquers all other financial issues. When asked what financial advice he’d give his younger self, he says, income over everything. Skills turn into income, and income turns into net worth.
2. How much is your rent or mortgage?
My rent is $850 a month.
Brady lives very economically. He has one roommate and plans to add a second.
He is content with this arrangement, and the notion of buying a home does not appeal to him at this stage of his life – especially given his focus on advancing his career.
I think renting makes the most sense because it gives me more options by not tying up too much money. It also doesn’t tie me down to one location. I want to go where the opportunity is. I think the worst thing I could do is limit my opportunities.
3. What’s the last thing you bought?
It was pizza at a Detroit Pistons basketball game last night.
For everyday purchases like that, Brady uses a Discover credit card. He says he uses this method of payment to maximize his cash back rewards. He never carries cash.
4. What do you spend the most money on?
My business expenses and coaching-related things related to my business.
Brady is hard-pressed to think of an expensive purchase he’s made for himself. He’s not an impulse buyer, and is more focused on expanding his business than inflating his lifestyle. Between his growing income and modest personal spending, he hasn’t felt the need to create a formal household budget.
5. What kind of car do you have? How much is your monthly payment?
I have a Honda HRV and I think the payment is $290 a month. It’s leased jointly with my dad.
Brady pays for the car, but many drivers in their early 20s find a vehicle is more cost-effective if they get it in conjunction with a parent. Both leasing terms and auto insurance are likely to be more expensive for younger drivers obtaining them independently.
The decision to lease rather than buy was influenced by positive experiences his parents have had.
My parents have always been leasers. They like to have a new car. And it’s more reliable, with the dealer servicing.
6. What’s the most expensive thing you own?
The expenses that go into Brady’s business are mostly ongoing rather than large, upfront costs.
My business expenses are two main ones: my editor who edits my videos and then I pay someone who has landed way more sponsorships than me to give me advice on how to land more sponsorships.
In terms of managing his business spending, one of Brady’s goals is to formalize a process for this. That’s one of my recent goals. I need to get better at creating a budget and tracking my spending.
However, he quickly explains that one reason he hasn’t set a formal budget so far is that his primary concern has been on top-line income growth. I kind of think of it as income trumps all. Instead of tracking my spending, I’d rather spend that time sending out cold e-mails to generate more brand sponsorships.
What kind of sponsorships has he attracted? Education sponsors. Math-solver apps. Websites that have to do with helping you find scholarships, and college-matching apps. Recently I’ve gotten into puzzles, like Kanoodle. I thought it was cool to promote because it encourages brain health.
Brady says that a key to the rapid growth of his business has been approaching it with an open mind. I like to experiment. I like to try something and give it a shot to see how it goes. I look at whether the things I pay for help me get more business, or if I can outsource something that lets me spend more time improving my ROI.
The nature of his business is that the income can be variable. Brady’s comfortable with that because so far, much of the variability has been on the upside.
Yeah, it probably has varied 30% to 50% from month to month. I love the variance, believe it or not. I’m into the high-risk/high-reward situation because I think it’s more fun. I’m happy with a small opportunity to make a lot of money, and then turning that into a larger opportunity. So I’m not opposed to the income amounts being random. I keep an eye on the pipeline to make sure there isn’t too much variance.
In terms of what that pipeline looks like for 2023, Brady is optimistic – despite the fact that many economists expect a recession this year. He expects to be able to continue to attract brand sponsorships even if the economy slows.
Marketing dollars overall might shrink, but if the brand has an option between TV advertising and influencers, influencers can be a much lower investment. Marketing dollars have to be more efficient in a recession. Brands will need to lean more into the influencer front, the TikTok front if they see they’re getting better results there. So a greater share of their marketing budgets will go to social media.
Even if those social media budgets shrink, Brady sees himself as well-positioned to compete for his share of them: I think of myself as being near the top of the pool of education influencers, so even in a recession I should still win.
Another reason why Brady likes his chances in a recession is the way an economic slowdown could affect the way people spend their time and money. Maybe during a recession people spend more on vices. Like during COVID alcohol and social media usage went up. So that could play a role – more time spent on social media during a recession, which would be good for my business.
7. How much do you have in savings?
I have $110k in savings, a lot of stocks.
While Brady’s business has begun to take off recently, he got an even faster start on building wealth through investing.
I was a big beneficiary of getting into stocks in my teens. I’ve had some major wins with things like Tesla and Shopify so that had a gigantic effect on my net worth. That gave me more leverage to take risks.
Brady’s early interest in stocks came from his family background. I started early because my dad’s a stock broker. I’ve been investing since I was 16 – and even before that I was suggesting stock ideas to my dad. When I was 18 I got more serious about it. I tried a little bit of day trading but then turned to long-term investments.
Those long-term investment picks are based on company fundamentals. I haven’t done much buying recently, but innovation is what attracts me. I was big on the whole Cathie Wood philosophy. I look for businesses with twice as much assets as liabilities, and ones where cash on-hand outweighs their debt. I look at PE, but balance that against growth potential. I look for an upward trend in earnings, and whether the company’s been hitting their forecasts. I also look at the CEO a bit.
For investors, buying is only half of the equation. Knowing when to sell can be just as important. Brady’s approach to selling is less influenced by how a stock has performed for him than by what he sees looking forward.
I don’t look to sell based on my own returns. It’s more a matter of if I would still buy the stock. If not, I sell. I also diversify if a stock has become too big a part of my net worth. That’s why I sold some of my Tesla when it was doing well – I had too much of my net worth tied up in it.
Though 2022 was a particularly bad year for investments, Brady isn’t shaken by the experience. I lost a bunch of money, but it’s okay because I’m in my income-producing years.
Part of the reason for his even-keeled attitude is that Brady recognizes that markets tend to run in cycles.
I think some kind of recession is looming. But it doesn’t bother me that the market was down a lot last year. Historically markets have similar-sized booms to busts. Like the dot-com collapse followed a big run-up in the 1990s. After the dot-com bubble burst, the market had a few good years then pretty much lost it all again in the financial crisis. After that, we had a bunch of good years before last year.
8. Do you have student loans? If so, how much?
Brady has no student loan debt. He was able to avoid it because of advanced planning by his family, and by choosing a cost-effective college.
My dad set up a 529 college saving plan years ago – maybe even when I was born. Also, the school I went to wasn’t very expensive. I went to a school where I could get in-state tuition, which was crazy cheap. I graduated two years ago, with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Brady sees a direct link between not having debt and the freedom he’s had to invest his time and money in his business. I can take more risks, like starting a business and go after my dream. Not having debt increases your net worth so you have more power, more opportunity. That allows me not to have to rely on a steady, bi-weekly check.
Though Brady appreciates the advantages of not having student loan debt, he has bigger-picture concerns about the impact of loan forgiveness proposals. I just think it’s inflationary. It could also devalue a college education.
9. Do you have credit cards? If so, how many?
Yeah, I have one but I also have one that came in the mail yesterday that I’m going to activate.
When it came time to choose a credit card, Brady checked on the experiences his peers had had. A lot of my friends had the Discover card, especially friends who are into finance.
Since then, Brady has added a second personal credit card, plus one for his business. The choice of the second personal card came about as a result of changing banks. Like a lot of newer bank customers, he found that a traditional bank didn’t cater well to his preferences. I changed banks because my original one didn’t have an interface suited to my demographic. Their customers are more like retirees.
Brady makes it a habit to pay off his credit cards in full every month. However, even someone with good intentions can suffer an occasional slip-up. In Brady’s case, it resulted in being late with a monthly payment.
At one point I thought I had automatic payments set up, but I guess I didn’t.
Automatic payments are a great convenience, but they still take some monitoring. Bank customers using automated payments should check the account balance in advance to make sure there are sufficient funds to cover the payment, and then check their transactions to make sure the payments are being made on time.
10. What’s one of your financial goals?
To definitely make $10k to $20k per month consistently next year.
Brady has gotten a fast start on building wealth, and he wants to continue the momentum. His early orientation towards business and investing started with what he learned from his father being in the financial business, and then Brady’s desire to learn more more took over.
Once I was interested I learned a lot by watching YouTube videos. Shark Tank was cool for me too – I watched that a lot when I was a teenager.
These experiences were complemented by some formal financial education in high school and college. I had an economics class in high school, and then we went a bit deeper when I was a freshman in college in macro class. That sparked my curiosity. I’m interested in how economic decisions are interwoven throughout society.
Curiosity can be the key. Many young people leave school with little in the way of financial education. Often, it’s left to individuals to pursue the knowledge themselves.
11. What’s your credit score?
It’s 761. I’ll show you on Credit Sesame.
Within seconds, Brady accessed the Credit Sesame app to find his score. Though 761 is considered a very good credit score, Brady recognizes that his one slip-up with setting up an automated payment cost him having an exceptional score.
It is only down to 761 because I missed a payment. It has been as high as 800.
While he keeps track of his credit score, Brady doesn’t shoot for a specific target. I don’t set goals for it – it should be a byproduct of healthy financial habits.
What healthy financial habits has Brady developed? Having an account for a while helps. Almost always making the payments. Using the credit and paying off the credit. I think the way to get a good credit score is to avoid negatives.
When did he first start paying attention to his credit score? A few months into having my Discover card, when I was maybe 19 or 20. It was in the 600s. That was because it was a new account. Also the credit limit wasn’t very high.
New credit users can expect their scores to start out relatively low, but they can build them fairly quickly with the right habits. Brady explains why this is important:
You not only can get loans easier, but you can get better terms. It’s not real important to me because I’m not getting a lot of loans, but when you get a better rate on loans it helps your ROI.
Whether it’s his credit score, his stock portfolio or the time he puts into his business, Brady is demonstrating the benefits of getting a good return on his investments.
If you enjoyed the answers to these personal finance questions, you may be interested in:
- 11 Money Questions | It’s James Seo
- 11 Money Questions | The Money Plug
- 11 Money Questions | MoneyCoachVince
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