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When Nicole Alba Talks About Money on YouTube, Young Audiences Listen

Meet one of the Philippines' youngest finance gurus.
by Clara Rosales
11 hours ago
Photo/s: Nicole Alba Youtube

Filipinos don't talk enough about money, that's why their finances are giving them headaches, so realized YouTube star Nicole Alba, who is helping her fellow Gen Zs be smarter with their cash, in a language that they understand.

The bespectacled 21-year-old has raked in millions of video views demistifying investments, savings, cryptocurrencies and the many features of GCash on her epomymous channel that she started when she was just 19, and struggling with the shift to online learning during the first lockdown in 2020.

“I didn’t see anyone who looked like me, a lot younger, talk about personal finance, and I think that worked in my favor, my unique approach with putting memes into it,” Alba told reportr of the success of her YouTube channel, with 371,000 subscribers and 2.5 million views in the most-watched clip.

Alba said she feels that talking too much about money makes you sound arrogant, while talking too little implies you’re keeping secrets or you’re stingy. She's out to change that.

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“It's a hard thing to get over especially it's it's cultural, societal, but I think that it's really important for people to be talking about money. Because if you don't talk about it, you don't learn how to manage it. It’s the root of a lot of money problems.”

“The more we talk about it, the better we're able to learn how to manage it.”

A finance guru is born

Alba didn’t start her YouTube with the mission of educating every single Filipino about personal finance. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she had more time in her hands to pursue her love for making videos.

“I decided, why not try making YouTube videos because I've been wanting to start a YouTube channel ever since I was in high school,” she said, finally choosing personal finance as a topic.

Alba, now in her final year of studying Political Science at U.P. Diliman, didn’t think it would get this big. 

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Heavy research goes into every video, and Alba reiterated that everything on her channel is a suggestion or her opinion. She’s by no means a professional, and she's learning about insurance, real estate, and the stock market as she goes.

I’m only 21, I’m so scared of saying something then a 50-year-old or a 30-year-old will make an important life decision for their family because of my video,” she said.

Alba could make big money from sponsors who want to promote their product on her channel, but she has turned plenty of them down.

“I care for the people who watch my videos talaga. There’s a certain level of ethics din when you’re making videos,” she said.

Follow the money

As a teen, Alba had to decide what course to take and possible career options. She had no clue what to do, but she at least knew one thing.

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“I told myself, you know what? If I don't know what I want to do right now, I at least don't want to stress about money,” she said.

She took personal finance seriously in 2018 and began doing freelance jobs while in school. The hobby later served as a content bank for her future channel.

Growing up, Alba said she “saw how money could create arguments in our relationship—sometimes it could break or make a relationship. I was like, I don't ever want to be in a place where I fight about money,” she added.

At one point, Alba’s channel was gaining 2,000 subscribers daily. She kept grinding until burnout kicked in.

“Last year I just stopped posting because I feel like if I kept going, I don't know what would happen na talaga, I would spiral,” Alba said. She had school, YouTube, and internship to juggle.

“I was starting to work with sponsors and I had deadlines to chase. And all of a sudden, it became hard to balance between what I wanted to produce, what people wanted to watch and also what my sponsors want me to talk about.”

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YouTube algorithm and analytics can get cruel on the content creator, but Alba credited the diverse set of friends she made through the channel for keeping her on track.

“I never lost sight of what was real, like I never was super slave to the algorithm. At the end of the day, I had a visual. I kind of knew who was watching, because I was talking to them,” she said.

The long term plan

For now, Alba just wants to graduate and keep doing YouTube. Just not full time.

“I don't want YouTube talaga to be a full-time thing for me. Ang hirap to become a full-time YouTuber, like everything, your life revolves around YouTube,” Alba said.

“I'm always going to be making videos," she said. Someday she will foray into productivity videos.

“As long as my video helps at least one person out there, then it’s still a good thing. I find this fun, I want to share the fun to other people. I think that’s enough reason to continue doing it—as long as it helps one person.”

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How to be your own finance guru

A big chunk of of being money smart comes from self-learning, Alba said. “Personal is finance is very personal. There’s no one hardline way to do it."

“It’s very important to find a system that works for you,” she said. This could be in charts, spreadsheets, or even a notebook to track expenses. What works for your friend might not be as successful for you.

Goals are the starting point of personal finance. “All of us have our own whys, on why we want to learn how to manage money in the first place and you first need to get clear with that.”

“You can do it, regardless of where you come from. But I don’t want to turn a blind eye din naman, there are things that make this hard. But I’m not in the position to tell people you can’t do it because you’re not making enough. As much as possible, I want to encourage people talaga—finding a way to be sensitive to people’s circumstances,” Alba said.

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Youth gives room to “take risks, explore opportunities", she said. “It doesn’t matter how small you have, you are very much capable."

“Never let your age or self limit what you can do,” Alba said.

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