The first thing you notice upon entering Graham Stephan’s Las Vegas house is a large 310-gallon aquarium. The favorite property of the YouTube star is unmistakable: it has color-changing lights, coral reefs, and colorful fish.
The $45,000 he invested in the aquarium, filtration system, and marine life is what he refers to as a “pure expense,” but he has no qualms about investing more money in it.
The 31-year-old claims, “The degree of satisfaction I get from the aquarium is just incomparable to any other experience that I would be able to afford.” If I had my way when I was twelve years old, I would have built this tank.
Graham Stephan invested $45,000 in the construction of his ideal aquarium.
Since he was first interviewed for CNBC’s Make It Millennial Money series in November 2019, the aquarium has been a sign of how much his life has changed. Then, Stephan was still a part-time real estate agent who also used his 700-square-foot Los Angeles apartment to record videos for his well-known YouTube channel.
With five YouTube channels and a podcast under his brand today, his workload has grown to the point that he has taken on not one but two staffers, one of whom resides with him full-time. He currently lives with his girlfriend Macy in a 3,900-square-foot, $1.4 million mansion that is 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip.
After generating $5.1 million in 2020 and surpassing the $1 million annual income mark in 2019, Stephan is on track to make $6 million in 2021 after costs, with $3 million coming from YouTube ad revenue and the remainder from sponsorships, affiliates, and the sale of courses on Teachable.com.
He got to this stage by giving up his work as a real estate agent and concentrating on YouTube full-time. He was forced to stay at home and create movies during the early lockdowns brought on by the coronavirus, which helped him advance.
He tells CNBC Make It, “That was the turning point for me, where I was like, ‘I want to go all in on YouTube. Stephan is finally allowing himself to take pleasure in his accomplishments, as content production has taken center stage in his life.
relocating to Las Vegas from Los Angeles
Beginning in mid-2020, COVID-19 lockdowns required Stephan to live entirely inside his modest Los Angeles house, which “really made me re-evaluate where I wanted to go and where I wanted to work,” he says.
After visiting a close friend who had recently purchased a home in the community where Stephan is currently living, he made the decision to relocate to Las Vegas. Stephan decided to take advantage of the opportunity when his acquaintance revealed that the house that was being built next door was for sale. He moved in last December after closing on the home in the summer of 2020.
For Stephan’s career, the new house has been a huge asset. Stephan used to create videos in his garage, but now he has a dedicated workspace with a copy of the Los Angeles location of his original set. He even acquired a T-Rex skull and another aviator’s wing desk in order to maintain total continuity between his videos while moving.
In addition, the residence contains a professional podcast studio with soundproofed ceilings, a full office, a bedroom for his live-in helper, and an office for his other staff. On his four Los Angeles homes, Stephan continues to make mortgage payments and collect rent; instead of selling his previous flat, he chose to rent it out.
Working full-time to YouTube:
For a few reasons, Stephan made the decision to resign from his position as a real estate agent at the Oppenheim Group. First, he had to surrender his estate licence in order to leave California. Furthermore, he had realised that his YouTube channel would benefit more from the time and effort he was investing into home sales.
Stephan believes that when his first Millennial Money episode was published, he was spending 80% of his time on YouTube and 20% of his time on real estate. He frequently worked until two in the morning on his YouTube videos.
Stephan’s channel had about 1.5 million followers when he decided to switch to being a full-time YouTuber in mid-2020, and he was on track to make his first $1 million from the platform. His primary channel currently has almost 3.5 million subscribers. With his many platforms, Stephan had already brought in $1.42 million in ad revenue as of the beginning of July.
Stephan’s growth isn’t just a result of more time spent on YouTube; it’s also a result of a shift in the kind of content he produces.
Stephan initially gained notoriety by posting videos about his investments and real estate profits, but he has subsequently shifted his focus to news analysis and deciphering difficult financial concepts. According to Stephan, reading the tens of thousands of comments left on his films made him realise how much the public wanted someone who could explain the state of the markets.
With this modification, Stephan was also able to produce news-based material that attracts users who may not be familiar with his brand. He has written about a variety of subjects recently, including the housing market, cryptocurrencies, and meme stocks. Stephan says of his new approach, “It gives me a lot more flexibility to be able to comment on financial news or whatever is happening and give my viewpoint, as well as some actionable measures that the viewer might be able to take from it.
The “Graham Stephan” team’s expansion
A typical day for Stephan starts at 6:30 a.m., just before the east coast’s markets open. He stays in his office until 6 or 7 p.m. most days. The average person spends ten hours every day in front of a computer reading about topics that are popular and conducting market research.
Stephan took pride in his channel being a one-man show up until lately. Yet when his workload for YouTube rose during the pandemic, he became aware that something needed to happen. The turning point for him was when, despite working 12 to 15 hours a day, he noticed a reduction in his own output. At that time, it began to make sense to bring someone else aboard.
Even though I put in 12 to 15 hours a day, the turning point for me to hire someone was truly when I noticed a drop in my own work.
Stephan Graham. A live-in editor and an editor with an office in Stephan’s house are now part of his team. All three of them work together to manage Stephan’s channels and help with his weekly show. Each week, Stephan releases a total of nine new pieces of material. “The vibe in person is so much different than if you’re doing it over a Zoom call or over the phone,” Stephan says of the desire to keep his team nearby. “We can produce so much more,”
Leaving (some of) his thrifty habits behind:
Home in Las Vegas: $6,448 for the mortgage, taxes, and HOA costs. Food: $820 covers team dinners and restaurant expenses. Monthly grocery expenses for the couple are handled by Stephan’s girlfriend. $632 was the cost of his Tesla payment. Utilities: Gas, electric, and internet bills total $570.
Discretionary expenses include $446 for entertainment, a pool technician, a house cleaner, and credit card fees. $437 was spent on insurance for both health and auto. Phone: $50 $20 for Spotify and Amazon Prime subscriptions.
Despite having a net worth of $15.5 million, Stephan is well aware of his reputation as a frugal billionaire. Yet, he claims to have learnt over the past few years that occasionally spending money can be more beneficial than saving pennies. He won’t be visiting a Starbucks anytime soon, but there are several locations where he is more likely to take out his wallet.
“Being able to purchase back my time was the major thing that I would say I started spending money on,” he claims. “I think this transition occurred for me around a year ago when I was overworked and taking on too much,” the speaker said.
He now pays a specialist $130 a month to maintain his pool once a month, and he and his girlfriend divide the $250 a month cost of a home cleaner equally. He claims that having more time to unwind or devote to his business makes the expenditure worthwhile.
Stephan still keeps track of every dollar coming in and going out of his accounts, but he no longer adheres to a tight spending plan since he always chooses to invest or save new money rather than spend it. He says that on average, he saves roughly $400,000 each month, with 60% of that amount going to investments and the remaining 20% going to high-yield savings accounts.
He sets aside approximately $800 each month for meals, and he treats the staff to sushi when one of their videos performs very well. The roughly $300 monthly grocery expense for the couple is covered by Stephan’s girlfriend. When he relocated to Las Vegas, he was able to cancel his $220 Equinox gym membership because the local facility was already fully occupied.
When it comes to furnishing his home, Stephan didn’t cut any corners. He claims to have spent about $100,000 on furnishings and artwork, which includes a large neon sign bearing the motto “Smash the Like Button” and a $80,000 piano that he purchased used for $16,000.
Even though Stephan is busier and more successful than ever, he is aware that his professional path has led him into unfamiliar territory.
“The history of YouTube’s financial creators hasn’t been well-documented. Even five or six years ago, there were no individuals creating financial-related videos on the scale that exists today “He claims. He no longer has any milestone financial objectives and instead plans to tour the nation in an RV someday.
He is devoted to concentrating on YouTube and building his brand up until that time, though. “How long it will last is a mystery to me. I have no idea how this could change “He claims. “I have no idea how it will continue to adapt and evolve, but I’m pretty confident that it will continue for quite a while.”
Citation: CNBC Make It