This story is part of CNBC Make It’s millennial money The series details how people around the world earn, spend and save their money.
In late 2018, Brian Jung, 21, decided to drop out of school to pursue a full-time entrepreneurship. His South Korean immigrant parents were surprised: Jung had some part-time e-commerce side jobs that made around $200 a day, but they didn’t offer the long-term financial security of a college degree.
Jung also had a YouTube channel that was more of a hobby than a full-fledged job. But he was confident in his decision: “I had to tell my parents, ‘I know you’ve worked really hard and I know how scary it will be, but I’m not going to finish school,'” Jung says. CNBC Make.
Despite the uncertainty, she was determined to make things right. And it did.
Now 25 years old, Jung has moved to YouTube full-time. She earned around $3.7 million last year, largely from her personal finance-focused channel, which has over 1 million subscribers.
Looking back, he says his decision to drop out of school to become an entrepreneur was a “significant moment” in his life: It allowed him to devote more time to the channel and turn it into a business.
How does Jung spend his money?
Here is how Jung budgeted his money in March 2022.
- Investments: $50,000
- Rent: $3,745
- optional: $3,350 for shopping, gifts, donations, and laundry
- Food: $1,645 to $2,534 spent on dining at restaurants
- Support for their parents: $2,478
- Subscriptions: $223 spent on gym memberships, Disney+
- Renters insurance: $176
- Gas: 92 dollars
While the majority of his earnings go to operating costs and taxes for the business, Jung puts about $50,000 each month into various investments including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, collectibles and angel investor ventures.
Jung says that crypto assets are long-term investments and he does not plan to change his investment strategy despite the recent decline in the crypto markets. He says he wants to continue to diversify his portfolio by investing in businesses that generate more cash.
Besides investments, Jung pays him $400,000 per year, or about $33,000 per month, to cover living expenses, taxes, and gifts.
Jung’s biggest living expense is a three-bedroom apartment in Rockville, Maryland that doubles as office space. His job covers his electricity bills. It also placed a $145,000 down payment on a $1.8 million home it plans to move to in 2023. This is a new development currently being built.
Jung drives an Audi RS7, which he bought with YouTube revenue. He also owns a 2019 Toyota Tacoma that he recently gave to his family. He still covers the truck’s $600 monthly payments and his family’s $1,878 monthly mortgage payments.
Recently, Jung bought a 2021 Lamborghini Huracan for $290,000. He invested $100,000 in the car and will finance the rest.
In addition to dining out, Jung delivers glass bottles of premium spring water for $249 a month. For what it’s worth, she says: “It makes me feel better, it makes me feel clearer in my head.”
Jung has memberships in a gym and a rock climbing facility. Beyond that, most of their subscriptions, including access to Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime, are covered with 14 credit card benefits.
Grow when money is tight
Growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland, Jung grew up in a low-income household. His mother got a haircut at the hairdresser’s, and his father worked long hours as a flooring contractor. Sometimes, they struggled to get together.
Slogans about saving money were the norm: “Don’t spend too much. Don’t eat that much. Don’t drive too fast or you’ll waste more gas. Maximize every coupon possible, every discount possible – that’s what I grew up with,” says Jung.
Jung says he doesn’t feel deprived. He had friends, he enjoyed fishing with his father on the weekends, he was interested in games and cars. But as one of the few Korean-Americans in his middle school, he also felt that he didn’t fit in. He became a self-described “troublemaker”, regularly dividing the class and getting into fights.
In the 10th grade, Jung was expelled from school. She attended a training program that was a turning point in her life, counseling students who misbehaved. “I used to have this victim mentality,” she says. “I was constantly complaining.” However, seeing this version of himself in other students in the program, he decided that the way he was going was a dead end.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to live my life this way,'” says Jung.
He began to focus on self-improvement: working harder, playing sports, and doing better in school. Six months later he had a 4.0 GPA and was allowed to return to his high school where he excelled in rugby.
find success on youtube
Jung started posting videos to YouTube in 2013. She made content about video games and fishing as a teenager. She started her personal finance and entrepreneurship channel in 2018 during her university years.
That same year, he earned an associate degree in general studies at Montgomery College, a prerequisite for a career in law enforcement. From there, the plan was to move on to the University of Maryland for a bachelor’s degree in criminology.
Instead, Jung decided to pursue his jobs full-time.
“Initially, YouTube didn’t pay me anything. [the e-commerce] I’ve seen the benefits of YouTube,” he says. “I didn’t have to rely on customers. I didn’t have to work with others. I didn’t have to scale up and buy an office and hire hundreds of employees.”
Until December 2019, Jung was completely focused on YouTube. His most successful videos were credit card reviews. At that point, the channel had about 6,000 subscribers and was making $200 to $300 a day, she says.
In 2021, amid the retail investor spree and cryptocurrency bull run, the channel has really taken off. “It took me years to get my first 100,000 subscribers, but I gained 900,000 subscribers in less than a year,” Jung says.
Between affiliate marketing, Patreon subscribers, ads and sponsorships, Jung’s business generates just over $300,000 per month. He now has four full-time employees helping him produce the video.
Combined with a recently purchased stake in a Japanese barbecue restaurant that is bringing in another $5,500 a month, Jung made almost $3.7 million last year.
Jung says he hopes to continue growing his YouTube channel’s subscribers, pursuing investment opportunities, and amassing more wealth to ensure his financial independence.