The four things you can do with money
This concept is blatantly borrowed from Financial Planning 3.0 by the late Richard Wagner. My plan is to take it and more specifically apply it to content creators with a focus on streamers. Let’s dig in to the four thing you can do with money and the magic formula you can use it figure out the right mix for you!
Thing 1: Receive it
Receiving money can be extremely sweet or the worst thing in the world. After all, it could be payment for an awesome commission, your first sub, or the sub that gets you to the level you calculated would let you go full time. However, it could also be lottery winnings (check out the stats, usually leads to bad outcomes) or an inheritance because of the death of a loved one.
Here’s the thing as a streamer: you might be receiving money from your stream that you’re not set up to deal with properly. By that I mean you’re an accidental business owner. Have you carefully tracked your income and expenses? Do you have a plan for paying your taxes? Ultimately, are you planning on growing the stream or keeping it as a hobby? If you are planning on growing your stream, do you have a business plan including an analysis of all of your monetization routes? You need to figure that all out.
Thing 2: Save/Invest it
You’ve received some money! Congrats! Now what do you do with it?
One potential route you can take is to save it or invest it. Both are good options and you want to make sure you’re doing some of both.
The absolute first thing you should do as a streamer is build up a personal and business emergency fund. An emergency fund is a stockpile of cash that you can use in a crunch but otherwise you don’t touch. On the personal side an emergency fund can help you cover unexpected bills and on the business side it can leave you with enough to bridge the income gap while jumping to full time.
You can also invest the money. The difference between saving the money and investing it is the intent. A savings is there to be used as cash when needed. An investment is putting cash in to something with the intent to grow it. Generally, when you hear someone talking about investing they’re talking about the stock market. That’s not a bad idea, and it’s something I help people with all of the time. However, as a streamer you also have something else that’s very important to invest in- your streaming business!
It would be a big mistake to strangle your business because of a lack of cash. It might be tempting to take out any earnings you have since you can then spend that money. However, it might be that a bit of investment now in equipment, games, training, or networking at conferences could pay off huge dividends. Work on your CEO mindset and make sure that you’re investing in your business if you want it to grow. Plants need water and your streaming business needs cash.
Thing 3: Spend it
This is the part that people like. The third thing you can do with your money is spend it. I don’t think there’s too much to go in to here since spending is pretty clear cut.
The one thing I’ll say is that it’s good to track your spending (especially for the business) and be mindful about it. We all have our expenses we need to cover (shelter, food, electricity, internet, loans, etc) but after that you have some important decisions to make. Which is more important to you? Spending on going out with friends or on the business? Traveling or getting some cool new tech? It’s up to you to find the right answer for you.
Thing 4: Share it
The Twitch community is incredibly generous. Not only do they support the broadcasters who would entertain them for free but they spend TONS of money on charity drives. Like serious, there are whole companies whose job is to help organize charity drives on Twitch. AGDQ and SGDQ are some of the biggest events on Twitch. PUBG just donated a million dollars to charity and organized a series of charity streams. Thousands of individual streamers run charity drives for causes that they find important. It’s a huge part of Twitch and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So yeah, the fourth thing you can do is share money. It’s really gratifying when you do.
The Magic Formula
Ha! Jokes on you, there is no magic formula. If there were I wouldn’t have a job, or at least I wouldn’t have my current job.
But seriously, there is no one size fits all answer to how you balance the four things you can do with money.
Ultimately, how you deal with money comes down to a mixture of things you learned growing up (no one is born with thoughts on money), your goals and aspirations, and your fears. That is, unless you intentionally take the time to figure out your relationship with the stuff.
That’s a big part of why I’m writing this post. With this framework of the four ways you can interact with money you can make a conscious decision on what’s right for you. It might be that you don’t have full control over the earning side and it might be that your current income to spending ratio doesn’t leave much for saving. However, it’s still good to set up what your ideal framework would be and work towards that.
How this applies to streamers
Hopefully I’ve already somewhat covered this topic but here goes.
First, you’re human in our current economy so it applies to you. More specifically, this is an interesting challenge for content creators because you are a business owner and on the forefront of a new(ish) industry. There is less guidance that you can find for other jobs. You’re trailblazing the path and expectations that will come for what is hopefully a long line of broadcasters. Your decisions on earning, spending, saving, and donating will be seen by others.
Second, as a business owner you have more control than people working for someone else. While there’s a lot of chance that goes in to creating a successful business over time you will find yourself with more and more control. That means more and more decisions. So, it helps to create a framework for making those decisions so they don’t take as much mental energy!
You can receive, save, spend, or share money. That’s it. There’s no magic formula to tell you the right balance for you. The only way to get there is to think on what works for you and experiment. Since streamers are at the forefront of a new industry where they get to set the norms it’s more important than average to be mindful.
You don’t have to figure this out alone. This is what we do- help streamers and young professionals make great money decisions. If that’s something that sounds interesting to you reach out me or schedule some time for a free consult. You can check out what I do here.