This 25-year-old crypto YouTuber quit college, made millions last year


This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial money series, which details how people around the world earn, spend, and save their money.

In late 2018, Brian Jung, then 21, decided to drop out of college to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. His South Korean immigrant parents were baffled: Jung had some part-time e-commerce secondary activities that earned him about $ 200 a day, but did not offer the long-term financial security of a college degree.

Jung also had a YouTube channel, which was more of a hobby than a full-fledged business. But he relied on his decision: “I had to tell my parents, ‘I know you’ve worked really hard and I know how scary this is going to be, but I’m not going to finish school,'” says Jung. CNBC Make It.

He was determined to make things work, despite the uncertainty. And he did.

Brian Jung in his apartment building.

CNBC Make It

Now 25, Jung has switched to full-time YouTube. It has earned about $ 3.7 million in the last year, largely from its personal finance-focused channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers.

Looking back, he says the decision to drop out of college to become an entrepreneur was a “pivotal moment” in his life: it allowed him to devote more time to the channel and turn it into a business.

How Jung spends his money

This is how Jung budgeted his money in March 2022.

Elham Ataeiazar / CNBC Make It

  • Investments: $ 50,000
  • Rental: $ 3,745
  • discretionary: $ 3,350 for purchases, gifts, donations and laundry
  • Food: $ 2,534, with $ 1,645 spent on restaurant meals
  • Parent support: $ 2,478
  • Subscriptions: Spend $ 223 on gym subscriptions, Disney +
  • Landlord Insurance: $ 176
  • Gas: $ 92

Although most of his earnings go to operating costs and business taxes, Jung invests approximately $ 50,000 in various investments each month, including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, collectibles, and angel investments.

Jung says his cryptocurrency assets are long-term investments and does not plan to change his investment strategy despite the recent slowdown in the cryptocurrency markets. He says he wants to continue to diversify his portfolio by investing in more cash-producing companies.

In addition to the investments, Jung pays himself $ 400,000 a year, or about $ 33,000 a month, to cover living expenses, taxes, and gifts.

Jung’s biggest living expense is a three-bedroom apartment in Rockville, Maryland, that doubles as its office space. Your business covers utilities. He also made an initial payment of $ 145,000 on a $ 1.8 million home, which he plans to move to in 2023. It is a new development under construction.

Jung drives an Audi RS7, which he bought with his YouTube revenue. He also owns a 2019 Toyota Tacoma, which he recently gave away to his parents. He still covers the $ 600 monthly payments for the truck, as well as his parents’ $ 1,878 monthly mortgage payments.

Recently, Jung bought a 2021 Lamborghini Huracan for $ 290,000. He has dedicated $ 100,000 to the car and will fund the rest.

In addition to wasting meals outside, Jung receives premium source water glass bottles for $ 249 a month. It’s worth it, he says, “It makes me feel better, it makes me feel clearer in my head.”

Jung is affiliated with a gym and a climbing facility. In addition, most of your subscriptions, including access to Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime, are covered by the benefits of your 14 credit cards.

Growing up when money was scarce

Raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, Jung grew up in a low-income household. Her mother cut her hair in a salon and her father worked long hours as a contractor installing wood flooring. Sometimes they struggled to make ends meet.

The motto of saving money was the norm: “Don’t spend too much. Don’t eat so much outside. Don’t drive too fast or you’ll spend more on gas. Maximize every possible coupon, every possible discount, that’s what you do. I grew up with.” of Jung.

Brian Jung with his parents and sister.

CNBC Make It

Jung says he didn’t feel private. He had friends, he enjoyed fishing with his father on the weekends, and he liked games and cars. But as one of the few Korean-Americans in his high school, he also felt he didn’t fit. He became a self-proclaimed “troublemaker”, regularly interrupting classes and fighting.

In the 10th year, Jung was expelled from school. He entered an educational program that advised students to misbehave, a turning point in their lives. “I used to have this victim mentality,” he says. “I used to complain all the time.” But when he saw that version of himself in other students of the program, he decided that the path he was on was a dead end.

“I said to myself,‘ I’m not going to live my life like this, ’” Jung says.

He began to focus on self-improvement: working harder, working, and doing better in school. After six months, he had a GPA of 4.0 and was allowed to return to his high school, where he excelled in rugby.

Brian Jung, in high school, playing rugby.

Courtesy of Brian Jung

Searching for success on YouTube

Jung started posting videos on YouTube in 2013. As a teenager, he did content on video games and fishing. He started his channel on personal finance and entrepreneurship during college in 2018.

That same year, he earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Montgomery College, a prerequisite for a law career. From there, the plan was to transfer to the University of Maryland for a bachelor’s degree in criminology.

Instead, Jung decided to pursue a full-time business.

“At first YouTube didn’t pay me anything. But I realized the disadvantages of [the e-commerce] and I’ve seen the benefits of YouTube, “he says.” I didn’t have to trust customers. I didn’t have to work with other people. I didn’t have to climb up and buy an office and get hundreds of employees. “

In December 2019, Jung was fully focused on YouTube. His most successful videos were credit card reviews. At the time, the channel had about 6,000 subscribers and earned between $ 200 and $ 300 a day, he says.

Brian Jung poses with his awards to the creators of YouTube.

In 2021, amid the craze of retail investors and the cryptocurrency bullfight, the channel really took off. “It took me years to get my first 100,000 subscribers, but in less than a year I gained 900,000,” says Jung.

Between affiliate marketing, Patreon subscribers, ads and sponsorships, Jung’s business contributes just over $ 300,000 a month. He now has four full-time employees who help him produce videos.

Jung with a newly purchased stake in a Japanese barbecue restaurant that brings in another $ 5,500 a month, Jung earned nearly $ 3.7 million last year.

Looking forward

Jung says he hopes to continue to increase the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel, look for investment opportunities and accumulate more wealth to ensure his financial independence.

Brian Jung in front of his 2021 Lamborghini Huracan.

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