Rose Han, a personal finance online educator and YouTuber (@InvestingWithRose) with over 600,000 YouTube subscribers and millions and millions of views, explains what inspired her to leverage the power of social media to educate Americans on financial literacy.

Rose and Kristin embark on a candid, personal and inspiring conversation where each shares her journey and personal experiences with facing, demystifying, and ultimately taking control of her personal finances.


INTERVIEW EXCERPT 

Kristin Messerli: Rose, thank you so much for joining us today. For everyone watching, I’m interviewing Rose Han who is a fantastic YouTuber and speaker on financial literacy. She has over 633,000 subscribers on YouTube, I think. You can find her at Investing With Rose on YouTube. So Rose, thanks so much for joining.

Rose Han: I’m really excited to be here. 

Kristin Messerli: So I want to ask you, what made you start doing this? What made you start a YouTube channel and speak on financial literacy?.

Rose Han: So when I started the YouTube channel, this was about three years ago in 2019, but I actually started offline initially just doing little meetups in my community for free. Five to ten people would start coming in the beginning and then the meetup grew to several hundred member. That came from really just a desire to share what I was learning. I really didn’t see myself as an expert or anything, because at the time I was getting out of debt and just figuring out how to invest. Navigating all that stuff. After many years of really just sticking my head in the sand about my finances, I started actually facing them and doing things about it and that felt so empowering in addition to just learning a lot. My eyes opened and I just wanted to share it.

Rose Han: So I started doing these meetups and it was really scary for me. But I think when you really have something that changed your life and you really want to share it, that’ll help you get over any fears you have about speaking in front of people or whatever. Yeah, I’m not the type of person that loves to be in front of a camera. I never thought I would be doing this, but the meetup started growing and I could see that it was really helping people. I wanted something that could scale and reach more people, and the idea of recording one video and potentially reaching millions of people forever with that one piece of content, that was extremely fascinating to me. So it was the logical next step and so that’s when I started my channel and haven’t looked back since.

Kristin Messerli: Amazing. Well, it’s interesting, I led a study last year of NextGen homebuyers and 74% said that they go to YouTube for their financial education. When they have a question about personal finances, they go to YouTube and that was really surprising to me. But when I thought about where I go for more information, a lot of times it is looking at YouTube videos. So it’s really having I think a huge impact and really there’s a huge gap in financial literacy in America and across the world. That’s very clear and you’re taking a big step towards that.

Kristin Messerli: What do you think… You shared a little bit about your personal, the impact that getting educated about financial stuff, how that was impacting you, but can you share a little bit more about your personal story or why you’re so passionate about the topic?

Rose Han: Yeah, so I would say my financial journey, it started a long time ago. I was 13 years old. My dad, he happened to give me a copy of a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad. It’s not that he was super financially savvy or anything, but something inspired him to give me this book and it really opened my eyes. I mean, I highly recommend this book. It’s basically about how the rich versus the poor, they think completely differently and the difference is financial education. The way the rich approach money is completely different because they know things that the poor don’t.

Rose Han: Not that I grew up poor by any means. We had everything we needed. My parents were extremely well educated, but there were also some emotional ups and downs because of financial problems that my family went through. Dad getting laid off, investments not going well, and although I never understood all the details, it was this gut knowing that, wow, you really need to have financial education to have control over your life so that you don’t have to suffer unnecessarily.
                                
Rose Han: I think if you work very hard and you’re very well educated, you should be able to create the life that you want. I could see that if you don’t have the financial education, it doesn’t matter if you have all the other things.

So it really came from just my experience growing up. I’m the kind of person that likes to go all the way. So I was like, I’m going to master this money thing. I’m going to go study finance. I’m going to work on Wall Street. I want to get on the inside. So that’s the path that I pursued, except that you could do all those right things. You can even work in finance and have a degree in finance, but that doesn’t always translate to being good with your personal finances.

So in my twenties, I graduated with a bunch of student loans. I was spending everything I made, even though I made a good salary and it came to a head. I think I went on like that for a long time, not wanting to look at my finances and not really wanting to address the fact that I probably spent too much and I wasn’t investing. But I sort of hit this rock bottom moment. It was sort of this renaissance in my life. I went through a breakup. I wanted to quit my job. I just had a whole reset on my life and that was my financial awakening because I realized, okay, to get to the other side, I need to face what I fear, which is my finances which are mess. So I have to do this.

That’s when I started reading books, and actually looking up my accounts and seeing how much I actually owed on my student loans and how to… Just coming up with a plan and taking action to improve my situation. So that’s really where it started. I feel like finance is an area that people, it causes a lot of stress understandably, and the general approach to that is to avoid it, but then that’ll only make the problem get worse. I just really wanted to make it easy and not scary for people to face what they’re finally… What they know they have to face but they’re scared to face, because it’s really not that scary. It’s actually really empowering.

So yeah, I think everything that I share really comes from the pain and the empowerment that I’ve experienced on my own journey.

Kristin Messerli: Ugh, I love that and it’s so true how emotional we are with our finances. That’s something I talk a lot about that we don’t make decisions about money based on logic. I personally feel this way. Growing up, I did have enough and all of that but everything was very up and down and I think that you always absorb your parents’ stresses about money and all that kind of stuff growing up.

Still, I have so much anxiety about when I open my bank account and I know there’s plenty of money in there. I’m now taking steps towards investing and different things, buying a home, but it takes so much effort. Once I do it, I’m like, oh, that was really easy and I feel really empowered and it’s not that difficult. But there is a lot of anxiety wrapped up in finances and I think making it more accessible and approachable for people is so crucial.

Rose Han: Yeah, for sure. I think along the way, I realized that it’s not strategy and tactics that people are lacking, although that’s important too, but it’s really getting over the emotional side. I feel like finance, it can invoke a lot of feelings of shame. Oh, I’m not where I should be. Or my finances are a disaster, but other people are doing better and those are not productive feelings at all.

Kristin Messerli: Yeah. Completely. Just like you said, I’m worried about seeing how much money I’m spending on something or yeah, feeling ashamed that I’m not at this place and it doesn’t matter. I’ve realized it doesn’t matter how well I’m doing in my career or with money or whatever. I am always going to have a little bit of that feeling or that emotion around it. So nothing really changes that. We have to take ownership over that. I think even about when I was buying a home a year ago, I had to overcome a lot of my just feelings around anxiety around making that purchase.

Once I actually looked at the numbers and broke it down to here’s how much, if I invest in the stock market and how much I have put in the down payment and all that kind of stuff. Once I looked at all of that, it made total sense and I felt super comfortable and confident in the decision.
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