Bling Empire’s Kevin Kreider went from $ 26,000 in debt to reality TV star

Kevin Kreider isn’t quite sure what he’s doing anymore. Technically, he’s filming the second season of his Netflix hit “Bling Empire,” the reality TV show that follows a group of ultra-wealthy Asian Americans to Los Angeles. But the rising public figure has worn many different hats over the course of his career, starting as a bodybuilder and personal trainer after college, then moving to New York City to pursue modeling and acting, and most recently finding a groove in Hollywood afterwards. its january. 15 The debut of “Bling Empire” opened up new speaking and publicity opportunities.

At this point in his life, Kreider, 37, says he finally feels more secure in his career and his finances.

Unlike his wealthy castmates, including recluse billionaire Anna Shay and celebrity plastic surgery businesswoman Christine chiu, Kreider tells CNBC Make It that he expects to finally hit the six-figure salary in 2021 – the first time he’s done so.

He says that after growing up in the middle class in Philadelphia, he always viewed crossing the $ 100,000 threshold as a guarantee of success. Meanwhile, “Here in Los Angeles, it’s a little different. Six numbers is the base. But for me, it’s a huge success.”

With a new season of shows and a concert lineup on the horizon, “this is the first time that I haven’t felt anxiety,” Kreider adds.

Accumulate credit card debt

The sense of stability comes after nearly 14 years of “failure after failure,” Kreider says. He was able to make a fairly decent living as a personal trainer in Philadelphia, although he says focusing too much on physical bulking came at the cost of his mental health. After a few years, he left all of his clients in Philadelphia and moved to New York City, hoping to address his interests in improving the representation of Asian-Americans in the media and talking about perceptions of Asian masculinity and mental health.

He entered modeling after being inspired by the likes of the Ford model Daniel Liu and Godfrey gao, described as the world’s first Asian male model. But the unstable work hit his budget and his ego: “I went from personal training to a restaurant service all of a sudden. It was very humbling.”

Around the same time, Kreider says he wanted to pursue acting and took classes for it, but with no stable income and already munching on, he relied heavily on credit cards to cover everything, fees. from schooling to shooting to food and daily life: literally trying to survive. “

At his highest level, he says he’s racked up about $ 26,000 in credit card debt. It was during this time of financial stress that Kreider started to lose her hair in pieces due to stress – which ultimately was a catalyst for him to prioritize his Mental Health and well-being.

Sometimes he would reduce his debt, like after he booked his first big commercial in 2012 and spent his entire $ 5,000 paycheck on it. But it wasn’t until 2014, after a year of crumbling and finally having to return to Philadelphia, that he finally settled the balance.

“It was such a great accomplishment,” Kreider recalls. “I hadn’t realized how much it weighed and weighed on me.”

Life in LA

A 2014 visit to Los Angeles Inspired him to move there, and he quickly built a network of support among some of his fellow students, including hairstylist Guy Tang, entrepreneur Kelly Mi Li and real estate heir Kane Lim.

Unlike her classmate Jamie Xie, who said she paid $ 19,000 in rent, Kreider recently moved into Los Angeles’ first flat without roommates for a more modest monthly rate of $ 1,700.

“It’s luxury for me – I have 515 square feet just for myself,” Kreider says. “Some people think it’s small, but I tell people, ‘this place is huge! I can’t fill it.'”

Having lived through the stress of credit card debt and as a creator who doesn’t always get paid regularly, he says his main financial habit is not spending money he doesn’t have. That said, he had to learn to spend more freely on things like personal care.

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I had to be stingy with myself,” like going to dinner or getting a massage, he says. “That feeling – I can’t give it a price. I know what it’s like to have to worry about every penny spent and not knowing if it will come back. It’s one thing I do. Also learned – to always have a cushion in my finances and not overspend it. So it’s something that I learned the hard way, but it’s something that I stick with. “

Although he feels more financially drained, Kreider is quick to debunk rumors that his net worth is in the millions. But he hopes to get there one day.

“I’ll let everyone know when this happens,” he said. “For a long time, I felt my most successful years were when I was a personal trainer. And now, after the show, I see my most successful moments are yet to come. And they are happening right now. “

Check: How the myth of the model minority holds Asian Americans back at work and what companies should be doing

Don’t miss: Meet the middle-aged millennial: owner, in debt and 40

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Gail Mena

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