How a 27-year-old Bay Area-based writer spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $46,000 per year as a writer, substitute teacher, copywriter and occasional maid. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $7.16 in my savings account. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend about $2375 each month on rent. I do not contribute to my 401(k), but I do pay for my health insurance. I pay for Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Susan Millers astrology app, and a workout app each month. There's also my monthly bills, which include PG&E,  the water/sewer/trash bill, the internet bill, the phone bill, and my student loan payments.

  • INVESTING: I have not yet started investing. 

  • DEBT: I have student loans that I'm working toward paying off right now.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  I legitimately cannot think of an answer to this. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: Any time I buy anything for myself I usually regret it especially clothes, skincare and makeup that I don’t end up liking. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd buy a house and a car, and then get rid of my debt.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: Floral design and sometimes I do tarot readings for people. I also clean houses on the side and pick up freelance writing work when I can.

  • CHARITY: I contributed most recently to my town’s girls' softball league as well as my town’s resource center.

  • GOALS: I want to make enough to be out of debt with zero balance on all my bills. I also want to have a savings big enough to cover like six months of living. I eventually want to buy a house.

How a 34-year-old Colorado-based educator for a college-access nonprofit spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $47,000 as an educator for a college-access nonprofit based in Colorado. I have not asked for a raise before. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $300 in my savings account.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend about $725 per month on rent. I contribute to my 401(k) and I pay for my own health insurance. I pay for Hulu ($11.99), NYT Digital ($15), Bitch magazine ($9), Apple ($3) and Spotify Premium ($10) each month. 

  • INVESTING: I invested through the 401k my previous employer offered.

  • DEBT: I cashed out that first 401k and will use what’s left after taxes to pay off the debt I am still in.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  I never regret spending on travel or experiences. These included a six-week road trip around the eastern US when I left NYC and a weeklong end of semester “don’t anyone try to contact me” vacation to south Florida. Also Hamilton tickets in NYC and London.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Rather than practicing fiscal restraint in my 20s I spent more than I had and I did so using credit cards. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would buy property. 

  • CHARITY: I contributed most recently to a GoFundMe for a graduating senior who’d been shot 11 times and somehow survived. The money he was going to use for a summer bridge program and his first-year tuition was now needed for medical expenses.

  • GOALS: I want to no longer be ashamed of my failures with money. This means learning from those mistakes and forging a healthier relationship with money, my spending, my consumption of goods and making more prudent and strategic decisions.

How a 32-year-old Los Angeles-based non-profit fundraiser spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $80,000 per year as a non-profit fundraiser. I asked for a raise before. It initially went well, but then the company reneged on their commitment. I ended up leaving a couple of months after for a job that paid me the salary I had asked for.

  • SAVINGS: I have $977 in my emergency fund, but no real savings to speak of.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I split the cost of a one bedroom bungalow with my finance, so we each pay $875 a month. I contribute to my 401(k), but I don't pay for my own healthcare. Each month, I pay for the YMCA ($47), a yoga studio membership ($95), and Netflix ($13). 

  • INVESTING: I am investing via my 401(k) plan. 

  • DEBT: I have $63,000 in student loan debt (mostly from grad school), which I pay $1,500 towards each month. I'm trying to be as aggressive as possible to get out of debt so I have more life options available to me.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Trips back to the East Coast to see family and friends. It's always so refreshing to be back with those you love (and out of LA).

  • SPENDING REGRET: Lots of aspirational clothing and anything having to do with diets and weight loss (fuck diets forevah!).

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would pay off my student debt and put the rest towards a house.

  • CHARITY: I contribute each month to Planned Parenthood and the Joyful Heart Foundation.

  • GOALS: Have enough money saved to live a simple, comfortable life and not be obligated to work so intensely anymore.

How a 26-year-old Denver-based civil engineer spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week — completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $68,000 as a civil engineer based in Denver, Colorado. I have supplementary income thanks to my side hustle and overtime. I have never asked for a raise.

  • SAVINGS: I have $22,000 in savings, plus about $18,000 in my retirement fund.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $700 per month for rent. I contribute to my 401(k) plan and pay for my own high deductible healthcare plan through work.  I pay for Spotify, gym, 3 recurring donations, and parking each month. All utilities are a flat rate at my building. I live in Denver so I also get an annual pass for snowboarding. My family shares Netflix and newspaper subscriptions. 

  • INVESTING: I used to have an Intelligent Portfolio with Charles Schwab. I took the money out and put it into a high yield savings account when I decided I wanted to use it for a down payment in the near future. 

  • DEBT: I have two debts, my car and my student loans. My car loan is private through a family member and I pay $300 a month. The minimum on my student loans was $300 when I graduated but I've made a lot of progress paying that down. The minimum is down to $160 but I am putting in $550 a month. $200 on auto draft and $175 to my snowball on payday. Twice a year and with my tax return I make extra payments on top of that.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I teach religious school. It pays $75 a week before taxes. Next year I hope to switch to something else but I'm taking the summer to decide what I want to do.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  My education. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: Housing. When I first graduated college I thought I was doing the right thing with my degree/ career trajectory by leasing a luxury apartment. It didn't take long to realize that didn't fit me as a person and was not helping me accomplish my goals. I downgraded when it was up. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd pay off my parent's mortgage. 

  • CHARITY: I have recurring donations set up for my local NPR station, a scholarship fund I benefited from in college and JEWISHColorado, the local umbrella organization for Jewish communities in Colorado.

  • GOALS: I have a world domination plan! Phase one is to pay off my car and student loans, pass my engineering licensing exam (the PE) aaaaand buy my first property. I'm on track to complete this phase in winter 2021. But after that, I aspire to work by choice. Largely inspired by the FIRE movement, I want to build a nest egg that will enable me to spend time with loved ones and focusing on things that speak to me. I'm lucky that my current job makes the world a better place but full financial independence would let me do things like going home for every Mother's or Father's Day, birthdays, volunteer more or just take a long weekend to go camping if the weather was just right.

How a 31-year-old Brooklyn-based risk operations manager spends:

  • SALARY: I make $95,000 working as a risk operations manager in Brooklyn, New York. I have asked for a raise before. Usually, it takes a lot longer than I'd like—have to keep checking in for months.

  • SAVINGS: My emergency savings fund is $28,000, but we also have index funds and company stocks.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My husband and I split our $3,500 monthly mortgage payment. I'm on my husband's healthcare plan, but I contribute to my own 401(k). Our other monthly payments include cable and Netflix/Sling TV, which we pay probably about $100 month for, plus a yoga studio membership, which is $280 per month.

  • INVESTING: I just opened a Vanguard account and started throwing money in index funds.

  • CHARITY: I donate to political campaigns and Planned Parenthood. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Travel - that's where we allot like 5% of our money!

  • SPENDING REGRET: Maybe a pair of shoes that ended up hurting. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd buy a nicer apartment in the city.

  • GOALS: I would like to have the flexibility to retire early or rely on one less income. I'd also like to buy a weekend home.

How a 26-year-old Long Island City-based private equity accountant spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $100,000 per year as a senior Accountant at a private equity firm. I also receive a 25 percent bonus. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $10,000 in savings right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,820 per month on a one bedroom that I split evenly with my boyfriend. We live in a brand new building in NYC with a lot of amenities, so this essentially covers the cost of access to an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, squash court, basketball court and gym. I contribute to my 401(k) but I don't have to pay for health insurance. My other monthly expenses include a $302 student loan payment thanks to refinancing it this year, a $127 metro card, and $15-30 at LOLA for menstrual products. 

  • INVESTING: I invest via my 401(k).  

  • SIDE HUSTLE: Flower arrangements, in its initial stages, now so not making any money yet.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  A trip to Thailand, which also included a time spent component in terms of time on a plane. Best time of my life.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Every single bathing suit I have ever bought online. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: Either a gallery or a house that I can convert into a gallery. I'm looking to create a Banksy style hotel/event space in which artists could display their work. But I want it to be somewhere in the woods like the Catskills or the Blue Mountains.

  • GOALS: Make enough to not have to go to an office and stare at a computer everyday (my eyes aren't getting any younger).

How a 27-year-old Washington, D.C.-based recruiter spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $78,000 per year working in recruiting and events based in Washington, D.C. I was able to get a 30% raise as a salary bump when I switched jobs. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $10,000 in savings right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1435 in rent and about $120 in utilities and cable each month. I contribute to my 401(k). My employer pays for most of my healthcare costs, but I contribute to them as well. I spend roughly $200 per month on fitness-related expenses. 

  • INVESTING: I have a couple of investment accounts that are leftover from my college fund and I use the financial planner that my parents use. They are incredibly nice, and I trust them a lot so it works out really well. 

  • SIDE HUSTLE: Tutoring - I make $60 per month. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Workout classes in general because they make me feel great. Also excited to move into an apt alone this summer, though it will definitely increase my monthly rent (by about $500!).

  • SPENDING REGRET: I could walk to work more regularly instead of taking shared Ubers, Lyfts, etc. That could save me around $150 per month, and the walk is only about half an hour. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: A house or a condo.

  • GOALS: I would like to own property vs. rent and also save enough for my retirement (I don't even know exactly what that amount looks like, though).

How a 25-year-old Denver-based fund accountant spends:

  • SALARY: I make $68,500 per year as a fund accountant for a large hedge fund and private equity fund administrator based in Denver. I asked for a promotion and a raise, they gave me about half of what I asked for on both fronts.

  • SAVINGS: I have a regular savings account with $5,000 in it and a couple of Qapital savings accounts for specific things coming up (a trip with my sister, a move across the country, a road trip before said move) with $8,800 in it total. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I split a one bedroom 700-square-foot basement apartment in Denver with my boyfriend, we pay $1,525 a month including all of our utilities, and I usually pay around $900 of this. I contribute to a 401(k) and I'm still on my parents' healthcare. I also pay for pet insurance ($40/month), HBO Now ($16/month), Patreon ($45/month), Classpass ($39/month), work parking ($180/month (pre-tax)), and a NYT subscription ($27/month). 

  • INVESTING: I have a couple of investment accounts that are leftover from my college fund and I use the financial planner that my parents use. They are incredibly nice, and I trust them a lot so it works out really well. 

  • SIDE HUSTLE: Tutoring - I make $60 per month. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Upgraded skincare, I was a die-hard cheapest thing at the drugstore girl for years and recently got new skincare and makeup that was slightly more expensive and my skin has never been happier.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Cheap clothing, I always end up replacing it with nicer items that will actually last.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: A new car, I love mine but it is 14 years old! 

  • GOALS: I would like to start saving to buy a house, and possibly think about going to graduate school.

How a 25-year-old Mississippi-based math teacher spends:

  • SALARY: I make $38,000 per year teaching fifth-grade math at a charter school. I negotiated for a raise to $41,000 that will take effect next school year I asked for $42,000 and they gave me $41,000. My previous salary offer was $39,500.

  • SAVINGS: I have $5,000 in my savings account right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay roughly $296 on my mortgage, but my roommates pay me rent (it's a house hack) that covers more than that. I contribute to my 401(k) and I'm still on my parents' healthcare plan. I pay $35 for my gym membership, about $100 for the electric bill and about $60 for the natural gas bill.

  • INVESTING: I am investing in my Roth IRA at Vanguard and in a taxable investment account with Vanguard.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: Tutoring - I make $60 per month. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  My house! I love my house, and I love that my roommates are paying my mortgage and utilities.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I went to art school for my first two years of college, and I wish I had a better idea of what I wanted before I did that. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would buy an investment property - probably a duplex or triplex in my city.

  • GOALS: I want to retire early.

How a 28-year-old Minneapolis-based cafe manager spends:

  • SALARY: I make $26,000 per year as a cafe manager in a bicycle retail shop. I know it sounds like an odd position, but quite common in the industry. This amount is soon to be zero, though. I'm quitting my job, which I hate, in order to give myself some mental respite and continue applying to work in the field of my degree. I have been unsuccessful at juggling work and finding a new job, so after several tipping point factors at my current position, I decided to quit. I have asked for a raise before at this job. I received my raise and was also able to express other concerns I had about my job. Getting the raise was barely part of the conversation, so I feel lucky in that regard. But, I also feel I didn't ask a high enough starting wage.

  • SAVINGS: I don't have a savings account, but I have $12,000 in checking as my emergency fund/savings. I don't want to put any portion of the money in savings or invest it because I simply do not make enough to give me room in an emergency if I tie the money up elsewhere.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay roughly $500 per month for rent. I have paid around this amount for the past three years renting a room and now splitting rent with my boyfriend. We pay proportionate amounts to our incomes. We do this for rent, utilities, internet and laundry. I do pay for my own health insurance through my work's plan. When my job ends, I will be applying for my state's care program. I pay for Netflix, an auto-ship protein powder, cell phone and student loan payment each month. I also have biannual payments for car and renter's insurance. 

  • INVESTING: I went to grad school out of my own pocket. That was an investment. I inherited a small amount of money, enough to cushion a part time job and rent for a year, after my mother's death. I then decided to use it to support further education.

  • DEBT: I am in debt. I pay $179.00 per month, which covers interest. I have that on autopay. Otherwise I'm waiting to have enough income to drop some of my money in checking into the student loan.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Since I've been financially independent (i.e. I'm not counting study abroad travel in college), I have best spent my money on my bicycles. Riding bikes is a huge component of my mental health and physical well-being, plus I obviously love riding itself. I've bought two bikes in the past two years and put money into each changing their components.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Some clothing items that were really out of my price range.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: Bye-bye student loan. Then I would buy property or land.

  • GOALS: Find a job with adequate income. Pay off my student loan in three years after that point (or sooner). Invest in employer retirement, Roth IRA, and index or mutual funds.

Two Years of Money Diaries, By The Numbers

Since the inception of She Spends, we've been sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. During that time, 257 readers shared their money diaries. Here's what we've learned! Don't feel like your experience is represented in the data below? Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • AVERAGE SALARY: Survey respondents make $61,909 per year on average. The highest take-home-pay clocked in at an impressive $300,000.

  • AVERAGE SAVINGS: Survey respondents are impressive savers. On average, they report having $15,274 in their savings accounts. Our biggest saver had $600,000 in their account. We hope some of that was invested!

  • HOUSING: Survey respondents reported spending an average of $1068 on housing each month. For some, that included utilities. Still living with your parents? Don't worry, 33 other folks who responded to the survey said they are, mostly because they're working to pay off student loans. 

  • AGE: The average age of respondents was just over 27. Our youngest was 20, and our oldest was 55. 

  • LOCATION: We have only been tracking where our readers live for about a year, but our survey respondents by and large dwell in urban areas. Twenty-nine respondents said they live in New York, so if the average housing costs seemed high to you, that could be why. Twenty respondents live in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas. We are lucky to have some international respondents, including folks from Cape Town, South Africa and Munich, Germany. 

  • CHARITY:  She Spends readers are super charitable. Some of your favorite organizations to give to include Planned Parenthood (30 respondents recently donated to the organization), the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Eating Disorders Association. 

  • SALARY NEGOTIATION: Of our survey respondents, 130 have never asked for a raise, while 120 have done so. We hope that reading She Spends inspires some of you folks to ask for a little more! 

How a 26-year-old Munich-based private equity intern spends:

  • SALARY: I make €28,000 ($31,167.22) per year as a private-equity intern based in Munich. My salary will be much higher with my upcoming contract. I have asked for a raise before. I was nervous from the inside out, but kept my calm and reminded myself that I was worth more than I was asking and that they would be able to see that as well. It went smoothly and the next paycheck included a 20% raise!

  • SAVINGS: I have about $12,000 in my American account and about €4,000 in my German bank account.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay €1,000 per month for my share of a city center apartment with one roommate. I put away 10% of every paycheck into an annual maturity certificate through my bank. This serves as a retirement savings account. I pay €100 per month for mandatory student health insurance. I bought my gym subscription for half off, which brought the total to €15 monthly.

  • INVESTING: I had my father's guidance for this, which helped immensely (he works in finance). We doubled the initial investment which paid for all of my undergrad education at a well-ranked school. 

  • DEBT: I'm about €30,000 in debt for my Graduate schooling in France (€15,000 government, €15,000 from my father). My monthly payments are set at €215, but I try to pay anywhere between €500 and €1000. I want to pay off even larger lump sums so I can take care of the governmental aid within 18 months at the latest. Interest rates are high and I would rather see that extra money going into a currency trading fund! 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  My horse. I paid for his monthly expenses while in Uni, and do not regret any of the hours I worked towards his expenses. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: I like to watch my spending very carefully for little things and not overspend, so every few months I can really splurge on a designer item or a fun trip. I guess I regret spending so much on my master's program when I could have completed an equally rated program in Germany or Switzerland for a fraction of the cost.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I really want to point out that most of the answers I read in this section perturb me. We, most likely, all follow financial industry news. I see so many answers that are centered around short term happiness. I would take half of the lottery winnings (and I'm guessing we're speaking of dream lottery winnings which would be millions) and invest in diverse markets. This would be aimed at growing my winnings and supporting my future in a big way. Plus, it would be really cool to 'buy' into a start-up and help them grow from the beginning!

  • GOALS: I want to be making €90,000 by the time I am 30. I have a 40,30,30 spending split of 40% toward apartment costs, 30% toward dinners and fun things with friends, and 30% toward investing (10% towards retirement, 10% into stocks, 10% into currency investing). Later on, I would like my investments to be the majority of my income and my job to be necessary because I enjoy this field, not because I need a monthly income. 

How a 29-year-old Brooklyn-based knowledge manager spends:

  • SALARY: I make a $70,000 base salary as a knowledge manager for a humanitarian organization. I asked for a raise just a few days back and got an "absolutely," though we are figuring out the best way to frame the request and my new role. I also asked for a contract change in a previous role which didn't work because of bureaucracy, but I got bumped up a level and paid more money instead.

  • SAVINGS: I have $6,900 in my emergency fund and $5,960 in my retirement account. Plus there's $1,200 set aside to be spent for VACATION next month!

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My partner and I pay $1795 for a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. My partner is chipping in more and more as he earns more money as a personal trainer (we just moved to the city six months ago and he's getting established). I contribute to a 401(k) and pay around $380 per month for health insurance for myself and my partner. I have a Netflix subscription, and I got a good deal on a Hulu/Spotify bundle. I pay electricity ($100-200/month depending) and gas (about $50/month). My partner covers our car insurance ($120/month) since he mostly drives to work, and I pay for my monthly transit pass out of my pre-tax transport allowance at work ($120/month).

  • INVESTING: I invest through my 401(k).

  • DEBT: Right now I'm paying $1000 per month, trying to really aggressively pay off my graduate loan while paying a bit less on the lower interest ones. I hope to pay a bit more in the near future so I can get it paid down more quickly. I try to think of this as an investment in my future to keep from getting frustrated about it. I will probably never buy a house but I hope that if I have kids I can pay for their college!

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was bringing my pup along when we moved from Italy to the US. It was crazy expensive (he weighs 125 poundds and needed a custom carrier and to travel animal cargo) but it was worth it to bring him and to do it properly. Also, every vacation I have ever gone on.

  • SPENDING REGRET: My master's degree. I am not convinced it has gotten me anything in terms of work and it doubled my debt with an enormous interest rate of 7.65%. I did it because I felt lost and unsure of what to do next, and that seemed like the obvious next step. It wasn't!

  • SIDE HUSTLE: It varies. I do consulting work for non-profits, I have been asking $35/hour but I think I will bump that up now.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd pay off my loans! And maybe buy a house.

  • CHARITY: I contribute to Planned Parenthood every month.

  • GOALS: Solid emergency account, solid retirement account, no more loans, and to start investing in an account which could either be for buying a house one day (but probably not) or (more likely) for covering hypothetical children's college. Generally, I want to create a situation in which I can feel at ease and less anxious about my financial status.

How a 28-year-old Raleigh, North Carolina-based systems administrator spends:

  • SALARY: I make $56,900 as a systems administrator living in Raleigh, North Carolina. We have a salary/position review in the next few weeks so *fingers crossed* that I get a raise! 

  • SAVINGS: I have about $6,120 in my savings account right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $1,225 on renting a townhome. My roommate just moved out but before that, we split the rent. I contribute to a 401(k) but I don't pay for health insurance. I pay for Hulu and share Netflix with my family. I also pay for my dog's wellness plan, my cellphone plan, utilities for my house, and my orthodontist bill each month.

  • INVESTING: I invest using an Ellevest account.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I teach yoga on the side, but don't make much money at all from it. I maybe make $150 per month plus a free gym membership.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Traveling - whether for vacation or back home to see family. It's always worth it.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I worked really hard to pay off my student debt (yay!) but I wish I had been investing money at the same time 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd pay off my mom's home, and then buy a home for myself. 

  • CHARITY: I contribute monthly to WUNC (local NPR station) and the Montana Conservation Corps

  • GOALS: I want to build up my emergency fund, save for a down payment on a home, and save for a new car.

How a 25-year-old Washington, D.C.-based chapter coordinator spends:

  • SALARY: I make $43,000 per year as a chapter coordinator living in Washington, D.C.  I asked for a raise in June, and have followed up several times. I am supposed to get a raise in January (ed note: this diary was submitted back in December -- let us know if you got the raise!). 

  • SAVINGS: I have $150 in my savings account right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,350 per month for rent and parking at my apartment building. I contribute to a 401(k) but I don't pay for my health insurance. My other monthly expenses include electric, Wifi, car insurance, credit card debt, and student loans. 

  • DEBT: I have student loan and credit card debt. I try to pay $5 to $10 extra on every bill to try to get them down.

  • INVESTING: I contribute to my 401(k). 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was food.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I once bought a moped and then realized I was afraid to ride it. I totally regret that. 

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was Renew Oregon.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY:  I would pay my debt and move to Oregon.

  • GOALS: My main goals are to pay off debt and start saving.

How a 35-year-old Chicago-based vice president of marketing spends:

  • SALARY: I make $175,000 per year as a vice president of marketing. I also have an equity bonus. I have asked for a raise before. I asked for a $30,000 raise when I was promoted to my current role, and I managed to get $25,000. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $9,800 in my savings account.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1750 per month for rent. That's my portion of our apartment payment: my fiance and I pay $2500 per month and he picks up the difference. I pay for my own health insurance and contribute to a 401(k). My fiance and I split payments for Netflix, HBO Now, cable, internet, gas and electric. I also pay for Hulu, Evernote, Over, Adobe and Shine each month.

  • DEBT: Just my car. No student loans or credit cards or home loans. I make $600 monthly payments on the car. 

  • INVESTING: I contribute to my 401(k). 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was a condo with my now ex-husband.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I also regret buying that condo with my now ex-husband. We bought it in late 2007, and we divorced in 2011.

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was Cradles to Crayons.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY:  I'd buy a house. 

  • GOALS: Currently we're saving for a house, honeymoon and wedding. Which is a lot all at once. 

How a 24-year-old Washington, D.C.-based policy adviser spends:

  • SALARY: I make $51,000 per year as a climate change policy adviser in Washington, D.C. The first time I asked for a raise it went okay, but it was way lower than I asked for. The second time around it went much better.

  • SAVINGS: I have $4,000 in my savings account. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,200 per month for rent. I contribute to a 401(k) every month, but my company pays for health insurance aside from the copays. I pay $35 per month for ClassPass, $15 per month for WiFi and $30 per month for utilities. 

  • DEBT: I am not in debt. 

  • INVESTING: I contribute to my 401(k). 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was a parka. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: I regret buying clothes that I don't need too often. 

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was Planned Parenthood.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY:  I'd pay for a vacation!

  • GOALS: I want to increase my 401(k) contribution, invest money outside of my 401(k) and save enough money to have a cohesively-decorated apartment with my significant other.

How a 29-year-old Queens-based bookstore manager spends:

  • SALARY: I make $40,000 per year, or about $19 per hour, as a bookstore manager living in Queens, New York. I have never asked for a raise. 

  • SAVINGS: I have about $1,000 in savings. I'm trying to build it up right now.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $925 for rent (just thinking about this number makes me nauseated). I contribute to a 401(k) and pay for my own health insurance. My gym membership is $22 a month.

  • DEBT: I am in debt. I put roughly $330 a month toward my student loans. This is a reduced rate based on my income

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I'm working on developing my skills so I can make a career change, so right now it's costing me money in books and online courses.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  I do not have a spending victory. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: I regret my masters in arts. It didn't get me a job in the field like I had hoped it would.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would buy clothes and craft supplies! 

  • CHARITY: I contribute to WNYC, ASPCA, Partnership for the Homeless, and Harlem Grown.

  • GOALS: I want to build up my savings so I can afford to take a risk on a new career and give freelancing a try.

How a 25-year-old Maryland-based program specialist spends:

  • SALARY: I make $54,000 per year as a program specialist for an agricultural nonprofit. I asked for my first raise two weeks ago and my boss was enthusiastic, but it has to be approved by our board.

  • SAVINGS: I have $500 in my savings account right now.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $500 per month for rent. I contribute to a 401(k) and pay for my own healthcare. I also pay $10 for Spotify each month, and I split a $20 payment for Peloton with my partner. 

  • DEBT: I have two vehicle loans, on which I pay $550 per month. I have a total of $15,000 left on those loans. I have two credit cards that I pay $300 per month on. I have roughly $7,000 left to pay back on those. I pay the minimum on my vehicle loans and paying off my credit cards at much more than the minimum. I have no student loans. 

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I side-hustle as a tasting room server at a local winery every other weekend. I also occasionally do pet sitting. This brings in an extra $200 to $300 per month with tips. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Weekend solo trips every three to four months, buying from local farms and businesses, and buying consignment/thrift store clothes are some of my spending victories. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: Most definitely eating out. I love to splurge on coffee and sushi, both wonderful things, but eating out gets very expensive.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would buy a new car for my parents.

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was St. Jude. 

  • GOALS: I want to pay off both of my credit cards this year and pay off my vehicles in two years. I also want to start investing slowly and putting more money away in savings.

How a 21-year-old Washington, D.C.-based intern spends

  • SALARY: I make $23 per hour working as a public policy intern. That totals $22,080 per year because I work part-time while going to school. I asked for a raise at a company I had interned at for three years because I had received one in the past. I went about it the wrong way and asked my recruiter instead of asking my direct supervisors! My recruiter said no, and I decided to leave after that interaction. I now make twice was I was making there. 

  • SAVINGS: I have about $6,259.53 in my "savings account" and $283 in checking. I have another $500+ on a debit card but all of this is going toward/food rent for the next year. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I share a one bedroom apartment that costs $2,300 a month, but I live in the "living room" and pay $1,000 a month. I don't contribute to a 401(k), and I'm still on my parents' healthcare plan. I mainly spend money on groceries, rent and clothing. My work has a gym and my sister (an engineer who got a full ride to college) pays all the Netflix/Hulu stuff. I only pay for Apple Music and it's about $5 a month.

  • DEBT: I am in debt. I am not even sure how much my monthly payments will be because my parents "misplaced" the login information for my student loan websites. This is a major point of stress for me because I am about to graduate and want to plan ahead, but I have no idea how much debt I am in. I am guessing it will be around $200,000. 

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I occasionally babysit and sell clothes on Poshmark when I feel guilty about spending a lot of money on dinner or drinks. I don't make a lot of money from doing it. I would guess that I make around $70 per month on my side hustles. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I've ever spent money on was Ponds moisturizer.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I worked all throughout high school and randomly bought a Canada Goose raincoat one day for around $375 (it was on sale). I used to feel really bad about this but I wore it for 3+ years and recently sold it on Poshmark for around $200 so I don't feel as bad anymore. Also, I once spent $100 to get to the Swiss Alps and I kinda regret that. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would invest, buy two properties in Washington, D.C. and one in New York. 

  • CHARITY: I volunteer my time at an organization called Reading Partners, not in a position to give money right now but hope to someday!

  • GOALS: I want to pay off my student loan debt ASAP. As soon as I graduate I will aggressively pay down my loans. Right now, I am working on building my credit so I can find a good place to live after graduation. I just got my first credit card and make very small purchases every now and again but in general, the idea of money/credit/debt freaks me out because my parents never really talked about it and are very bad with money. The credit card has raised my score about 100 points so I am happy about that! I also hope to open a Vanguard account at some point so that I can work toward early retirement.