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YouTube Stars Who Make Frugality Cool—and What We Can Learn from Them

By Jackie Lam
January 31, 2019

Life without YouTube is like a morning without your cup of joe.

You can spend countless hours stumbling across everything from baby goat videos to makeup tutorials to the adventures of mink trainers. And, it’s far too easy to fall down a rabbit hole, engrossed in clips that speak to your curiosities – even if your interests include videos about saving money.

So, we’ve rounded up our favorite YouTube stars who make frugality cool. Chances are, you can learn a thing or two from these Internet sensations and their interesting views on money.

Tabasko Sweet

My favorite YouTube celebrity, hands-down, is Tabasko Sweet (real name: Nate Contreras) of Super Deluxe’s Cheap Thrills. The Martha Stewart of crafty homies on a budget, Tabasko has charm and a unique lexicon that instantly makes you feel like you’re part of his “fam.” Plus, you’ll learn clever hacks to replicate designer fashions for a fraction of the price. DIY Gucci belt? Or perhaps a counterfeit Louis Vuitton coin purse? Tabasko’s got you covered.

Takeaways: Tabasko has it right in my book: Frugality is the ultimate act of creativity, resourcefulness and self-expression. He’s superb at advocating just how cool it is to be frugal. His main message: You don’t have to spend a small fortune to look like a baller.

Budget Girl

We all love a good story with trials and tribulations. The Budget Girl’s YouTube channel reveals how she crushed $33,000 of debt in three years. A crowning achievement, no doubt, and The Budget Girl recounts her success with humility. From her bare-all videos that break down her budget sheets to how-tos, she offers engrossing content if you want to improve your finances.

Takeaways: Per a Federal Reserve Study, the U.S. household debt is almost $13.3 trillion. It’s safe to say that many people carry a debt load.

An advocate of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, the Budget Girl’s ascetic ways can be a bit extreme for some. That being said, you can glean pearls of wisdom. For example, paying off debt requires focus, diligence and making trade-offs. And, after you’ve conquered your debt, guess what? You’ll develop solid habits to be judicious in your spending and grow your money.

Matt D’Avella

Documentary filmmaker and podcaster Matt D’Avella shares philosophies on being a modern-day minimalist. His hugely popular video “A Minimalist Approach to Personal Finance” details the basic tenets of personal wellness: Avoid lifestyle inflation, kill debt so you can take more risks and have more options, develop a positive relationship with money, and openly talk about your finances. His simple, no-frills videos are easy to understand and info-packed.

Takeaway: The beauty of D’Avella’s minimalist approach is that it humanizes financial wellness. D’Avella once was drowning in nearly $100,000 of student debt. What’s more, he gets why you should make the effort to care about your money in the first place: To live a life based on what makes you happy.

Personal finance goes beyond crunching numbers and information. By learning how to track, spend, save, earn, and invest your money, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals.

Joanne the Scammer

Joanne the Scammer has amassed a huge following, and rightly so. Honored as being one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Most Influential People on the Internet,” Joanne the Scammer, aka Joanne Prada, boasts over 1.8 million followers on Instagram, and has provided inspo for some of the most iconic, viral memes the world has seen. (For example, scam today, before today scams you.)

Donning a luxe fur coat and bedraggled wigs, she speaks with a “caucasian” accent and brags about her acts of money crimes: credit card fraud, identity theft, and stealing from unsuspecting rich men. Joanne’s money mottos include “When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When a man hands you his wallet, you scam him.”

Takeaways: If only wealth-building was as easy as grifting rich dudes. But growing your money takes planning and discipline. You’ll need to drum up a spending and savings plan to make sure you’re on track.

One simple thing you can do today that will help you big-time down the line? You can start auto-saving. Set up auto transfers so you can pay yourself first.

And sure, you don’t want Joanne near your passwords, but there are also more serious threats to your finances: credit card fraud and identity theft.

Sorry to be a downer, but identity theft is at an all-time high. According to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in 2017. As for credit card fraud, $905 million in total fraud losses were reported in 2017, which was a 21.6% bump from 2016, according to a report from Experian.

To prevent yourself from getting scammed, set security measures in place. For instance, opt to receive phone alerts for any suspicious activity. And be sure to check your credit score. There are a handful of money apps and credit cards that offer free credit scores. Or you can order one from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus at

Beyond Entertainment

The YouTube stars listed here are engrossing and fun to watch. But more importantly, if you dig a little deeper, there are also some important money messages and lessons you can take away from your YouTube fix.

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