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Mounting medical bills

An apparent lack of financial knowledge shown by Williams in the episode led to a number of negative comments on Hammer’s video, including one that described Williams as “essentially a 50-year-old adolescent” and an “example of arrested development.”

In late 2022, Williams announced on X (formerly known as Twitter) that he had been diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a rare blood disorder.

“It’s extremely slow moving and many people live with it for decades,” he wrote at the time.

Unfortunately, the condition required him to live in “northwest Arkansas near my medical professionals,” he told Hammer.

Managing the condition is also a serious drain on Williams’ monthly budget. He pays $775 a month for health insurance and roughly $600 a month for medication.

These costs are eye-watering, but Williams thinks they would have been even higher without the Affordable Care Act.

“If it wasn't for the Obama administration that made it possible for me to purchase insurance as a self-employed person, I would have never had access to health insurance,” he said.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) study, roughly half of American adults said they struggled to pay for health care, and about 4 in 10 of those surveyed reported having debt from medical or dental bills owed to various lenders — including hospitals, banks, credit cards and family members.

Williams also opened up about his mental health, something that has been exacerbated by his recent health concerns and financial woes.

But he’s not alone: a Forbes Advisor survey found that 54% of U.S. adults with debt admit they “always or often feel stressed because of their debt.” This debt-related stress caused sleep problems (for 48% of respondents), higher anxiety (40%), diminished social lives (38%) and depression (34%).

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The precarious income of a content creator

In addition to ballooning medical costs, Williams’ finances are complicated by his variable monthly income.

His YouTube channel has just over four million subscribers and, collectively, his videos have more than 930 million views. Despite these impressive numbers, Williams said he earned only $3,000 a month from YouTube in the previous year.

Williams’ situation could be a cautionary tale for wannabe influencers. According to a survey by Morning Consult, 57% of Gen Z said they believed they could make a living as an online content creator and influencer. But, as Hammer pointed out, where you put your money matters.

Williams hopes to generate more income (potentially an additional $2,000 a month) from new projects, such as a podcast, but his monthly income is still significantly lower than either his personal target of $7,000 or Hammer’s target of $10,000.

Hammer admitted that earnings from YouTube can be unreliable and he himself has put much of his income into cash-flowing properties “if YouTube goes away.”

Unfortunately, Williams invested his YouTube income in riskier assets.

Financial misinformation

Despite his current health challenges, Williams should have been in a comfortable financial position given his success on YouTube. He estimated that he earned roughly $2.5 million in aggregate over the last decade of his career alone.

In fact, he said he was “close” to being a millionaire at one point.

“When I say ‘close,’ [I mean] for two days I had about $780,000 to $800,000 in crypto, went to bed one night and it was worth half that,” he told Hammer.

Williams also owns some alternative assets, with a portion of his wealth tied to Magic: The Gathering playing cards. He’s been playing the game and buying cards since the 1990s and estimated his total collection is worth $50,000.

Williams said he’d sold some cards whenever he needed to meet living expenses; however, even he admitted that this “backup plan” is “incredibly stupid.”

He blames his current situation on a lack of good financial advice.

“I didn't come from money,” he said. “I'm the son of a coal miner so no one in my life was ever trying to teach me what to do with money.”

To help his financial recovery, Hammer suggested Williams make a tight budget to save money and stay on top of monthly bills.

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Vishesh Raisinghani Freelance Writer

Vishesh Raisinghani is a freelance contributor at MoneyWise. He has been writing about financial markets and economics since 2014 - having covered family offices, private equity, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and tech stocks over that period. His work has appeared in Seeking Alpha, Motley Fool Canada, Motley Fool UK, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Post, Financial Post, and Yahoo Canada.

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