Newhouse grad filmed 14 episodes of personal finance show this year
Ben Carter has been fascinated by money, investing and personal finance since he was a little kid. Carter, who studied advertising at the Newhouse School and graduated in 2010, has found a way to pursue his passion and hopefully help others in the process. After moving to Washington, D.C. after graduation, Carter spent several years developing “Manage Your Damn Money,” a video series and blog devoted to just what it sounds like: finances. With 14 episodes under his belt, Carter answered a few questions about what it’s been like to create a brand from scratch.
How did the idea for “Manage Your Damn Money” begin? Did you see yourself doing this as a student at SU?
It was never something that I thought would lead into my professional life. (A year or so after) graduating from the advertising program at Syracuse University, I realized there was no space where money or personal finances are dealt with in a cool and funny way. Money is usually dealt with in a more serious way, and when someone is giving advice it’s usually boring. So there’s this complete space that’s open in terms of the market and in terms of building a brand—that was something I was comfortable doing.
So I started developing the brand and it took close to three years to actually launch the project. We finally launched on April 15, 2014. I think our last episode was posted a month ago, and we have 14 episodes.
How do you manage your money? Would you say you’re good at it?
I’ve been holding onto money and saving money since I was a kid. I remember I got $200 for some work I did for my uncle in Virginia and then I went back home and took those four $50 bills and I put them in my jar. I used three of them, but I was just going to hold on to one of them forever, and I never used it. I would probably still have that $50 bill but my dad used it on gas.
Afterwards, I got into investing a little bit and I just started learning more and more about how people go about using the money they have to make more. And that’s really kind of where I started. I do a good job at saving and trying to be aggressive about investing.
You ask most of your guests this question so it will sound familiar: What was your “Damn, I’m broke as hell moment?”
When I graduated I moved to D.C. and I was living on my buddy’s couch for way too long—eight or nine months. I had around $2,000 to my name that I could spend, and was working at Banana Republic. I could spend the majority of it to put a deposit down on this one apartment. I didn’t have any furniture, I was sleeping on this mattress pad thing. So that was my “damn I’m broke as hell moment.” And then soon after that I got a job at this retail place where I could at least pay my bills. Eventually I found a position in my area of study at a communications agency.
What have you learned since starting the MYDM series?
I think we did a good job of executing the vision, but we haven’t gotten the traction in terms of hits or views on the videos. The main thing is that when you do this online content thing, you’ve got to definitely be in it for the long haul. I was under the impression that the name was so unique and the concept was so unique, that that would drive a lot of attention. What I found is there are different things that drive the competition online, and it’s much more of a long game.
What are your hopes for the future of the series?
I hope one day it’s a well-known entity. The ultimate goal is to create a brand that makes money cool and so that when people from our generation see it, they understand that this is something that they can identify with and to go to the show’s events. Hopefully then everyone will find their own way to be better at managing their money.
What advice can you offer Newhouse students?
Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just stay persistent, because it can be tough and it can feel like it’s never going to come, but if you’re persistent and you take small steps, eventually it will.