Having achieved financial success, many entrepreneurs buy a big house, perhaps an expensive vehicle. But not Steve Chou. He co-owns a thriving ecommerce business, runs a growing YouTube channel, and teaches popular courses from his “My Wife Quit Her Job” website. And he loves frugal living.
“Being frugal and spending less is great for my peace of mind,” he told me.
This is my second interview with Chou. Two years ago we addressed Bumblebee Linens, his ecommerce company. Today’s conversation covers stress, quality of life, and, yes, low personal overhead.
The audio for our entire discussion is embedded below. The transcript is edited for length and clarity.
Eric Bandholz: You have your courses, YouTube channel, and ecommerce business. Plus you’re writing a book. How do you do it all?
Steve Chou: I’ll tell you my schedule. My typical work week starts on Sunday when I’ll prepare an article. I have a writer and editor now, but I add my personality. After Google changed its algorithm a couple of years ago, writing has become boring for me. Google wants only the answer. Providing more than just the answer could hurt organic rankings.
Mondays are when I do most of my work. Using a tool such as Ahrefs, I look at what my competitors are writing about and then pick some keywords. I have a spreadsheet with hundreds of topics. The writer usually creates an outline on Mondays, and I’ll approve it.
On Mondays, I’ll also film a YouTube video for my channel where I teach people how to start their own lifestyle ecommerce businesses. I will usually publish a podcast on Mondays, too.
On Tuesdays, I prepare a lecture for the two courses I run, and I’ll only work from 8:00 a.m. to noon or 12:30. Wednesdays, I teach those classes.
Thursdays, I work on tasks for Bumblebee Linens, our ecommerce business. Fridays are my thinking days, where I plan long-term goals and tasks for the following week.
Bandholz: How do you deal with stress?
Chou: There have been two periods as an entrepreneur where I had stress. The first was when I tried to hit seven figures in revenue with Bumblebee Linens. I went all out to reach this stupid number. My wife and I fought constantly. Our marriage wasn’t good. We have since agreed not to obsess over growth because of the tension.
The second period was during Covid. We sell items for weddings and events. Many of our customers are airlines and hotels. Covid decimated those businesses. On March 23, 2020, our revenue dropped 70%. We had employees and warehouse rent. Fortunately, we recovered.
We recently bought a building, which means no more rent checks.
Bandholz: What’s your tolerance for debt?
Chou: It works well when the going is good but not when there’s a downturn. I’m debt free.
Here’s my philosophy on money and frugality. Being frugal and spending less is great for my peace of mind. I need to know that if my businesses were to suddenly stop, I could still live without worrying. So, that’s why I keep expenses low. I try not to spend a lot of money or increase my lifestyle.
I look at my net worth regularly. I need to see it growing. That’s how my mind works. We have plenty of money in the bank and can cover our kids’ college. We don’t spend much. Our whole family spends maybe $100,000 a year. Stuff doesn’t make me happy. I’ll spend money on experiences, but not things.
Bandholz: Bumblebee Linens. How do you acquire customers?
Chou: Our focus is mainly on Facebook and Google Ads. Our average order value is $60. Almost 50% of our customers spend less than half of our AOV, and only 10% spend more than twice that amount. Most of the smaller transactions come from Facebook. But the 10% that spends double represents almost 50% of our revenue. Most of those buyers come from Google Ads.
However, Google Ads is not easy to scale. We switched to Performance Max about three months ago, and it’s been doing well. It requires very little brain power. But, unfortunately, it sucks up traffic for other Google campaigns. My return on investment from Google Ads was higher before Performance Max.
I have different Performance Max campaigns. Most are set for a 3-times return on ad spend. I know I can reach event planners with Google. We look for people who buy an abnormally large amount of linens. Chances are those people are event or wedding planners and come in through Google.
After their initial purchase, we’ll contact them via phone, asking, “Are you an event planner?” We also have a post-purchase survey that asks, “Are you a business?” If yes, we reach out to them with a coupon code and a dedicated account rep.
Bandholz: How can listeners connect with you?
Chou: Check out our website, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, where you can find our podcast and courses. The YouTube channel is @MyWifeQuitHerJob. Our ecommerce site is BumblebeeLinens.com. My Twitter is @mywifequit, and I’m on LinkedIn.