- For Business Insider’s “Real Money” series, Andrew Kozlovski, a 21-year-old student at the University of Southern California, shares a week of spending in Los Angeles, California.
- Kozlovski runs his own business, which generates $US6,000 to $US10,000 a month, primarily driven by marketing on Instagram.
- He usually eats at home and rarely parties, but this week he spent a lot of money on Ubers to capture social media content.
Andrew Kozlovski, a 21-year-old student at the University of Southern California, told Business Insider that his mother imparted on him a piece of financial wisdom that has been key to his success.
Worry less about saving money, she said, and focus on how to make more money.
Kozlovski took that advice to heart, starting a business at 19 selling nootropic supplements, primarily by marketing on social media.
Kozlovski built a social-media following selling a supplement called Brainz Power. Today, he has nearly a dozen accounts – with followers in the hundreds of thousands– where he posts aspirational content for budding entrepreneurs.
As a star swimmer in high school, Kozlovski had taken all kinds of natural supplements, so he started compiling a list of those said to boost cognitive performance. Then he found a lab near his hometown of Atlanta that was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration and willing to run a small order of pills combining the various supplements; he’d pay using the $US500 he had saved up over the year.
While supplements are legal and many people swear by their effects, evidence about their benefits are murky, and US poison-control centres have received about 275,000 reports of people reacting badly to them over the past two decades. The supplements industry, estimated to be worth as much as $US37 billion a year, is not regulated by the FDA.
Brainz Power generates around $US6,000 to $US10,000 per month, depending on sales. But that hardly means Kozlovski is balling out. He uses what he needs to pay his yearly living expenses and tuition to USC and invests the rest back into the business.
Outside of rent and tuition, Kozlovski’s biggest expenses are equipment and transportation to create promotional content for Brainz Power.
Here’s a closer look at what he spent over the course of a recent week:
Kozlovski’s biggest monthly expenses are his tuition and rent. He’s managed to pay for both by himself since he started Brainz Power at 19. “Every single dollar I make as an entrepreneur covers my tuition, living expenses, and everything else is invested back into the business,” he said.
One of the biggest advantages of making money from Brainz Power is that Kozlovski is able to pay off his hefty tuition bill as he progresses through college, rather than taking on student loans and paying later.
Kozlovski said the biggest thing he realised tracking his spending for the week was “how much more money I could be making if I didn’t have to pay $US69,000 in tuition every year from what I earned in the business.”
Weekdays when Kozlovski is in class are pretty light on spending. His biggest expenses are on the weekends, when he frequently travels to Malibu, Santa Monica, or Hollywood to create Instagram content for Brainz Power.
While Kozlovski said he tries to eat at home as much as possible, sometimes he splurges for a night out with friends. On Saturday, he hit a Korean BBQ spot in downtown LA.
Kozlovski planned to spend Sunday photographing and filming content. He wanted to get to his location in Hollywood before sunrise so he took a pricey Uber ride from campus.
Kozlovski works 18 hours per day almost every day of the week, he said, so that he doesn’t have to work a corporate job later on in life.
That means being up at 5 a.m. on the weekends to capture social media content for his many Brainz Power accounts and working every day to fulfil orders. One of his biggest business expenses is camera equipment. Though he has most of what he needs, on Sunday he realised that he needed to buy a new microphone and flexible action tripod for his DSLR which cost him $US100.
Monday is a heavy class day for Kozlovski. He got his usual morning cappuccino, but ate breakfast and lunch at home to save money.
Kozlovski’s usual Monday routine is to wake up at 5 a.m. to answer emails and fulfil orders for Brainz Power and then head to the gym. Because he belongs to the USC gym, it only costs him about $US100 per semester, or about $US20 a month.
Expenses continue to stay low on heavy class days. He did decide to get lunch with another student and a potential business partner, so they headed to a food truck to keep costs down.
During the week, Kozlovski spends a lot of time on campus. Rather than work at a cafe or a co-working space, he utilises the conference rooms in the university business school to take care of homework and work on Brainz Power.
His usual splurge is on a coffee before class and then a fast-casual lunch if he can’t get back to his apartment to cook.
On Wednesday, Kozlovski grabbed his usual coffee before class and then got lunch at Chipotle. For dinner, he cooked up some steak from his groceries and saved the leftovers for future meals.
Working as much as Kozlovski does has its benefits. He rarely goes out to parties or bars, so he doesn’t waste money on the usual things that college students do. He prefers to socialise with his friends over meals or at the gym to save money and be more efficient with his time.
Kozlovski realised he needed to film some content for Instagram and YouTube on Thursday, so he took an Uber downtown to capture content. While he was there, he grabbed some breakfast at a nearby café.
Whereas most people in his position might use the revenue generated by Brainz Power to buy luxury goods or spend profligately on meals out, Kozlovski said he tries to keep his costs low so he can keep reinvesting money back into the business.
“It just doesn’t make sense to strangle my own business and take money out of the ‘fire,'” he said.
Friday was a big spending day. Kozlovski got up early to film content in Malibu, had lunch at In-N-Out, and then picked up groceries for the week. He usually spends about $US100 per week on groceries, as he eats tons of beef, veggies, and yogurt.
One of Kozlovski’s biggest expenses is groceries. His usual cart consists primarily of steak, chicken, vegetables, coffee, tea, and smoothie materials (milk, yogurt, fruit). Because he stays away from carbs, which are usually cheap and filling, it can get costly.
“I’m 6’5″ and 230lbs, so I have to try to not spend too much on food, which I love so much,” said Kozlovski.