Finance maven and TikTok sensation Vivian Tu wants to be your new rich best friend, someone who will help you navigate the world of personal finance—and help you get rich, too, just like her. “The secret to thinking like a rich person is to view money as neither morally good nor evil,” Tu says, “but rather a tool to help you live the life you want to live.”

The founder and CEO of Your Rich BFF Media, Tu, 30, is a former J.P. Morgan Equities Trader and BuzzFeed Strategy Sales Partner who made her first million dollars by age 27. She’s the author of the 2023 bestseller Rich AF: The Winning Money Mindset That Will Change Your Life—an accessible guide to personal finance that has sold nearly 49,000 copies, according to her publisher, Portfolio/Penguin, and that offers tips on everything from how to ask for a raise to creating an easy-to- follow investment plan.

“We’ve always been told that talking about money is taboo, tacky, and rude,” Tu says. “However, in reality, when we talk about money we gain access to more knowledge, more insight, and more ability to negotiate for what we deserve.”

Tu points out that it’s no longer possible for most people to save their way to being rich: they have to know the rules around money, and be willing to discuss them. She aims to empower people to make their cash work for them, particularly those who haven’t traditionally had a seat at the table.

“For so long, finance only catered to wealthy, old, white men,” Tu says, “but now I get to help young people, women, people of color, and marginalized communities get better with their money as well.”

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Tu grew up in the Maryland suburbs, a chatterbox with a knack for math. “I was a really strong student,” she remembers. “That said, I got in trouble a lot. I was a bit of a smart aleck and thought I was smarter than my teachers.”

Tu’s immigrant parents taught her the value of a dollar—but also made her see that there was more than one way to approach money. “My parents heavily focused on saving and frugality,” she says. “They were of the camp that if you put your head down and did good work you’d be recognized, but throughout my life I’ve recognized that to not be the case. I am more of a believer in advocating for yourself to ask for what you want and deserve.”

After graduating from the University of Chicago in 2016 with a degree in environmental studies and public policy, Tu moved to New York to pursue her fortune. “At every single job you have, you need to be learning or earning, ideally both,” she says of the importance of making pivots in one’s career—and maximizing job opportunities. The more successful Tu became, the more her friends asked for money tips. On Jan. 1, 2021, she started posting on TikTok—answering basic financial queries—and those posts, delivered in her trademark casual style, quickly gained followers, and led to the writing of Rich AF.

Tu’s Your Rich BFF community currently has over six million followers across eight social media platforms. When she’s not busy posting, she loves to eat pizza and watch trashy reality TV. She’s getting married this summer, too—an event she’s eagerly anticipating. “The wedding is going to be incredible,” she says. “But if we’re being totally transparent, I, like every other bride that I’ve ever met, went over my budget.”

Tu’s not worried, though. She knows that in life you can’t skimp on what you want—you just have to find new ways to cover the costs. And, hopefully, get rich doing it. “You can only save as much as you earn,” she says, recalling some advice she once got from a Wall Street mentor, “but you can always earn more money.”

Vivian Tu will deliver the closing keynote at 5 p.m.

Elaine Szewczyk’s writing has appeared in McSweeney’s and other publications. She’s the author of the novel I’m with Stupid.

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