Thinking About Finance in a New Way

This episode features Amanda, who is the creator of the YouTube channel Let Us Think.

Her channel and IG page (@wethinkfinance) focus on complaining complex financial markets topics in simple terms.

We discuss how Amanda’s earliest money memory working with a bull (no, really) shaped her identity as a saver, and why she thinks more women should invest in the market.

Bonus!

Don’t forget to check out my interview on Amanda’s channel here, and learn about how my immigrant upbringing shaped my outlook on personal finance choices, as well as what inspired me to pursue a career in finance.


Episode Transcript

ILV: [00:00:00] Good afternoon, Amanda, and welcome to Money Memories. For those of you guys who don’t know, Amanda is the brilliant host of the YouTube channel “Let us Think Finance” and the Instagram page, “We Think Finance.” So be sure to check her out after the show’s over. So Amanda, let’s get started. Can you tell us a little bit about, your upbringing?

Amanda: [00:00:18] Sure. Growing up, my parents were not together. So for the most part, I actually lived with my mom. And I would say finances were definitely tight. My mom was a single parent with three kids, she only had a high school education, so obviously that put some financial strain, to be honest.

So for me, I would say that I definitely learned the value of working for your money at a pretty early age.  I remember my, I think I was maybe like 15 or so is when the summer, when I was able to officially work in the state of Missouri and I had two that summer. One I worked at Popeye’s and the other one, I actually worked for a company that ran concessions at the fairgrounds and other various events that were hosted at the fairgrounds apart from just the fair itself. I remember one time I was actually assigned to making the cotton candy. And for that, I had to go sit in this back room by myself, just making the cotton candy.

But in that room, that’s also where they kept the bull for this rotation, that was going on, that was about to go out, next. And so it would just be me and this bull, in this room while I’m making cotton candy. So that was interesting, but it was a way to make money.

ILV: [00:01:36] Was this bull, I hope he was in like a pen or something?

Amanda: [00:01:40] He was in a pen, but it was. I mean, it didn’t seem sturdy. I will say that. But I mean, I didn’t get attacked, so I guess it did its job.

ILV: [00:01:49] This sounds like one of those stories that, you know, your parents would be like, “when I was your age and I walked 50 miles to school,” you can be like, “when I was your age and I worked with a bull.”

Amanda:  I will make sure once you rub that in my children’s face that’s for sure.

ILV: [00:02:02] Oh my goodness. So that leads me to my next question, which is what is your earliest or most impactful money memory? Although I don’t know what could be more early, more impactful than that, but.

Amanda: [00:02:13] True, true. I guess, wen I think about this, the first thing that comes to mind, was when I was maybe like 9 or 10 or something, and I had this yellow smiley face piggy bank.

And I would put every, every like penny or dollar or whatever that I ever got into this thing. And eventually I ended up saving a hundred dollars and I was so proud, so happy. I thought I had just needed so much money, for me that I don’t know why I had this innate desire to just save money.

And maybe that’s what destined us for working in the field of finance. But yeah, it was like I had this urge, like I had to save this money and then I remember I was able to go to the store and buy something. But even when I went to the store, I made sure that I only spent like $10. I don’t know.

I was just so proud of, so that’s probably my earliest money memory.

ILV: [00:03:04] So how does your financial personality compare to that of your siblings?

Amanda: [00:03:09] So I have five siblings, so we definitely run the spectrum. I’m out of all of us, I’m probably more on the financially like, saving side.

ILV: [00:03:19] So you mentioned being a pretty frugal kid. And you mentioned that you, work in finance now. So can you tell us a little bit about, more about like your journey into the financial services industry and what motivated you to start?

Amanda: [00:03:30] Yeah. So for me, actually, what got me interested was a class that I took in college. So when I originally went to college, I went there to study communications because my goal was to be a sports anchor, which I’m not really sure why, because at this point in my life, I don’t really watch a lot of sports and I didn’t then either. So not sure where I decided that I wanted to be a sports anchor.

But the summer after my freshman year, I stayed on campus and took summer school classes and I took an econ course. And for me that was really, really impactful. For whatever reason, I really loved that class. I thought it was so interesting. I was like, this is something that I don’t know, like I never  heard of, and I really wanted to work in that field.

And so, yeah, I think it’s just, it’s just interesting that I became so enamored with it, that I ended up changing my major. And here I am some 13, 14 years later in, I don’t regret that choice, right? Like I ended up getting my bachelor’s in finance. I got a masters in finance. I’ve worked in finance now for like a decade. And I, it’s just crazy to me that it all really hinges on one econ course. So

ILV: [00:04:39] I can actually relate because the reason I studied finance was because I too, had a chance to take an economics class at, at a local college when I was a senior in high school and I totally loved it. So I can definitely relate. So you’ve mentioned, you’ve spent your entire, your whole career in finance now. And what do you think it is about the industry that keeps you in it?

Amanda: [00:05:01] Ah, that’s a great question. I mean, I would say for me, I think that it’s very intellectually stimulating, I think would be the biggest thing for me. I like to learn, it’s for me, something that I enjoy.

I like to always learn something new. I like kind of a fast-paced lifestyle, and I just think that it keeps you interested. There’s always a new kind of product or something going on in the market or, just a new problem that we’re having to face that we have to come up with some solution for it.

I just remember, so I had a mentor and he worked on the trading floor, and one day I was there with him for the day and he had me talking with different people on the floor. And I was talking with this girl, who worked on the floor, who worked in something called a stock loan program. And I just remember thinking like, this is so inventive.

So for those who don’t know, basically a stock loan is so say you hold your securities in some accounts at like, let’s say JP Morgan. Now, typically when they’re sitting there, they do something with them, right? Like if, as long as you sign an agreement, they can link those out to people who are trying to do some sort of fancy trading thing. So that’s what she was doing. And she was approving these stock loans. And I was like, who thought like, this is the most interesting thing! Like people are just so innovative. And I, I don’t know to me, it’s just interesting that you can come up with so many different ways to finance, whatever it is that we need, whether it’s a school or a library or some company that’s trying to go public. I just find it very interesting.

ILV: [00:06:39] I feel like oftentimes people don’t associate with financial services with like innovation and creativity, so speak on it. Let the people know there are many ways to be creative in finance.

Amanda: [00:06:49] There is!

ILV: [00:06:51] And so can you talk a little bit about what motivated you to start your YouTube channel, “’Let Us Think Finance?”

Amanda: [00:06:56] So really I started Let Us Think Finance to provide insight, I would say into the field of economics. I think that finance often has this air of mystery about it. And people don’t really know what to think. I know growing up, my mom would often say that investing in the stock market was akin to gambling.

And I think a lot of people feel that way. And honestly, I can understand why you would feel that way, especially if you haven’t read a lot about it or maybe you just don’t understand it. I like to say that my channel takes finance topics and finance news and makes it digestible. Or like in other words, it makes it more relatable to your, your life. So whether it’s taking that finance topic or whatever, finance news that’s out and discussing what that means in general, but also what that means for you as an individual specifically.

ILV: [00:07:43] Yeah. One thing I love about your focus is that it’s much more like on the markets and not necessarily like personal finance. And I just think it’s like a really refreshing point of view. So I’m a big fan and, other people are really big fans of your page as well, because for the first time in Money Memories, we’re doing this new segment that we’re going to call… I don’t even have a name for this yet. I was going to call it listener letters, but can we call it like money, money McQuestions? So I was trying to get it to alliterate – it didn’t work. So over the course of this last week on both of our Instagram pages, we’ve been asking you guys to submit questions for Amanda and we’ve selected four that we really enjoyed. And so Amanda is going to answer your questions. The first one submitted by Blissful Wallet is, should everyone invest?

Amanda: [00:08:37] So it’s a good question. And honestly, I think it’s kind of challenging to say, give like an absolute, everyone should absolutely do something. However, I think to the extent possible everyone should try to find a way to make sure that they are able to grow their money.

And I know that people obviously run the gamut in terms of their risk acceptance or their risk tolerance. Some people feel like no, I’m not willing to take any risks at all. And for those people who are not really willing to take any risk, I would hope that at least, at the very least, you’d be putting your money into some sort of savings account or CD account where you are making as much interest as possible.

And for those who are willing to accept some level of risk, obviously there are other investment vehicles such as index funds, ETS that you could potentially try to invest in. But yeah, obviously there’s not a “one size fits all” investment strategy for everyone. But as an individual, I think you have to decide for yourself, what is my risk tolerance?

And how can I make my money grow within that kind of limitation that I’ve set for myself?

ILV: [00:09:41 I think that’s really well said. So the second question is from Minted Millennials and they asked, should you pay an expert to manage your money, or should you do it yourself?

Amanda: [00:09:52] So this question I think is actually become a pretty popular one these days, especially with like kind of the advent of Robinhood and Webull where you can trade pretty much commission-free. And also the fact that there’s been a lot of research, that has suggested that kind of more of these actively managed funds or meaning that they’re managed by a professional actually have not been doing so well over the long-run in terms of their, in terms of their returns.

So I think it’s kind of put people in that position of, well, what should I do? I hate to say it depends, but obviously it does. So I think for me, I can tell you what I do for myself personally, all of my non-retirement investments, I do myself. And for me, this works because obviously I pay attention to markets.

Obviously it’s something that I’m interested in. But for those of you who may be somewhere, you fall somewhere in the spectrum, or maybe you don’t know anything at all, maybe you think to yourself, I should pay someone to do this, but that is obviously a fee that you have and that you’re going to incur.

So if you don’t want to pay that fee, I think, as I mentioned before, index funds are very good choice. Like if you can follow, if you can, I guess, invest in something like SPY  which is, an ETF that’s by State Street that tracks the S&P 500. If you invest in that, then you’re going to get a return that’s pretty comparable with the market and you don’t have to do too much. Like you just put your money in there and that’s what you’re going to get. And if research is correct, then you’re going to make more than an actively managed fund. Yeah. Anyway, but yeah, obviously it is a personal decision.

But yeah, there are plenty of options out there. you, and it just takes a little bit of research. I think.

ILV: [00:11:35] Question three is from Angarita Kareen. I hope I said that. Right. So how can we encourage more women to invest in the stock market and get rid of the fear?

Amanda: [00:11:46] So I think that this is probably one of my favorite questions. I guess, I think honestly, this is where women have to be the answer to go to their own question.

I think in our parents’ generation women investing was not commonplace. Like it probably wasn’t something that we saw that often. However, for our generation, we’re really starting to see a shift and we’re starting to see a lot more women invest. And I think for those of us who do invest, the onus really is then on us to educate women, in our own lives about investing.

Like sometimes I think. Sometimes we can change the world simply by changing where we are. And I don’t think that we should underestimate the power of our own influence on those around us. Because I know for instance, me, I mentor high schoolers and that gives me a perfect opportunity to talk to young girls about investing and starting early on.

But I think also I have sisters, I have cousins, I have friends, I have coworkers, you know, who are women. And I think that I have the ability to influence their decisions. And I think, you know, I do have a YouTube channel and I talk about finance. Obviously I talk about investing and obviously I’m a woman.

So, I think that, yeah, that’s great. But realistically, I think someone could watch a thousand of my YouTube videos and still not invest. But if you have a little sister and you talked to her, I think the likelihood of her being willing to invest goes up exponentially because you have influence in her life.

And so I just think us being willing to step out and kind of talk to those around us. It’s a big deal. And of course there are bigger scale things that we can do. We can set up programs that are targeting women. We can have afterschool programs, that are maybe like stock market clubs. I’d always think that investing clubs are a great idea for those who are in college.

Or even in high school, I don’t, I don’t know if any high schools, I know my high school didn’t, but if a high school had that, I think that’s a great way to, you know, start targeting young people. But I guess, I just think overall we cannot and should not overlook the power of our own voice.

ILV: [00:13:40] And the final question, which I think is going to be a fun, little chat is from Financial Lionness and she asks, what do you think the next few years in the markets will look like after COVID? This is like my imaginary crystal ball.

Amanda: [00:13:56] When I hear this question, I do think, well, I don’t really have like a crystal ball or an eight ball that I think shakeup and tell me, I think it’s a great question.

I, unfortunately it depends on so many things, right? So it depends on this upcoming election. I think that that has a huge, like role to play. Obviously it depends on how long this, COVID situation I guess plays out. Obviously a lot of people who look at markets tend to say that it’s overpriced.

And, so I guess everyone is waiting. When is the correction going to come? When are we going to see a downturn in the market? That’s something that people have just been waiting on and waiting on and waiting on. And it seems that no matter what happens, even in a pandemic that shuts down basically the entire globe, we’re still seeing the market continue to rise, which is pretty crazy.

And I don’t know, it’s something I’ve just been thinking a lot about is. How do a lot of these new kind of platforms such as Robinhood, which I talked about earlier or Webull or whatever it is that allows people to trade commission free. I just wonder how that changes like the market landscape, because traditionally, right, like you had, people who were investment advisors or something who were actually doing a lot of the investing themselves. And so they would do an analysis and it would come to that, but now it’s a lot of retail investors. A lot of just everyday people are jumping in and maybe they haven’t done, you know, just kind of casual analysis.

They haven’t done some LinkedIn research. They’re simply just buying because they think that it’s a good idea. And so I’m, I’m curious to see how, what ramifications that has on the market long term. That being said, I do think we’re long overdue for correction of some form. I just, I do think a lot of it is being kind of inflated by a lot of retail investors who are now able to eat very easily trade in and out of stocks.

Like it’s so easy now, it’s it used to be much more difficult but yes, I guess long story short, I think that there is a correction that will end up coming. I just think that retail investors have changed the landscape. And so I think that that may change overall markets in the long run.

ILV: [00:16:07] Well, Amanda, it’s been such a pleasure speaking with you this afternoon. For our listeners who want to connect with you and listen to more of your brilliant takes on the markets, where can they find you?

Amanda: [00:16:17] So you can find me on YouTube at Let Us Think, and then you can find me on Instagram at We Think Finance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the name the same on both. So, you know, just type it in. We think finance on Instagram is probably the easiest way, and then you can find my YouTube channel from there.

ILV: [00:16:32] Simples, and I’ll make sure to add a link to your platforms and these episode notes. Thank you so much for your time.

Amanda: [00:16:37] thanks for having me.

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