Meet Caleb McLaughlin.
Most of you know him as “Lucas Sinclair” from Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, but there is so much more to his story. He’s an actor, musician, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and most importantly, he’s navigating the complex world of personal finance just like you!
Six years ago, before McLaughlin was cast in that pivotal role fighting demogorgons with his friends, he was a 13-year-old teen living in Carmel, NY with his family, hustling to make his dreams become a reality. While a lot has changed since then, the 20-year-old continues to be a perpetual student and today he’s opening up about his financial journey, why he decided to partner with Step and is inviting teens to #StepUp their finances with him!
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
1. Why do you think financial literacy is important?
Everyone needs to learn about finances. How to spend, save and invest. I could go on and on about money. I hate to say it..but money is everything. We spend money on clothes, food, cars, gas and we have to pay taxes! Money makes the world go round. I think it’s very important to learn about finances––especially at a young age––so you can make smart choices.
2. Do you have a financial role model?
My dad! He’s talked to me about the money he’s made, mistakes he’s made and what he learned from them. How to invest, spend and save. He often says that he doesn’t know everything about finances, but being in the conversation and talking to other people really helps you evolve with this world so you don’t miss out on information.
3. Why did you want to partner with Step?
It’s an amazing tool that teaches people how to spend money, invest and really just learn about financial literacy. Being thrown into this industry and trying to figure it all out yourself, it’s just a lot. And there’s so much more that I need to learn about saving and investing, but Step gives you this incredible financial blueprint. So, I want to use my platform to help others and for this to be something my fans and I can do together––just being students with Step as our teacher.
4. What are the financial challenges you see facing teens today?
Uh…UberEats. Nah, but for real, food is a big one. I feel like it’s just really hard to learn how to budget your money and truly understand the value of money. It’s so easy to spend on food and online shopping and the money just goes so fast.
5. Is there a moment that sticks out to you when you first understood the true cost and value of money?
Definitely. When I started paying taxes. You know, you’re working hard making money and you don’t always think about taxes and that’s something that really hit me after my first year filming Stranger Things. Now, instead of just spending my money, I really try to budget and plan ahead so when taxes come around, I’m prepared.
6. What is one financial tip you know now that you wish someone had told you when you were younger?
That you don’t need a lot of money to invest. It doesn’t matter if it’s a penny, a dollar, five dollars or one-hundred dollars. Just start investing!
7. When you got your first Stranger Things paycheck, what's the first big thing you bought for yourself?
Honestly, I don’t think I bought anything with my first paycheck. What I can say is when I was able to drive I bought a car––and it’s something I’m really proud of. I saved up for it and worked hard to be able to buy that car, it wasn’t purchased on a whim. It was something I really needed at the time, going back-and-forth between work and home. 💡 Pro tip: If you use your car for work, you can actually write that gas money off in your taxes.
8. What advice would you give a teen who is trying to follow their dreams?
Never second-guess yourself, never have an afterthought or plan b. If it’s your dream and what you really want to do, then manifest it. Write it down and just go for it. Don’t give up!
9. Do you have any mantras that you live by?
Yes! Nothing in the world matters unless you give it value.
10. Any final words of wisdom you want to share?
Never stop being a student, especially when it comes to financial literacy. Be curious. Just watch, learn and be in the conversation. Evolve. Money will always be a part of your life so just be a student and really embrace it and continue to ask questions.
Ready to get #FitLit 🔥 with Caleb? Sign up here to join Caleb on Step and continue learning about finance together! 💪