- SALARY: I make $58,500 per year as a business analyst. I asked for a raise before. It was tough and a little awkward because I was a young woman in such a male-dominated technology company, but it paid off!
- SAVINGS: I have about $2,600 in a high interest savings account earmarked for buying a house.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: My company pays for private insurance. I split rent for an apartment with my boyfriend. We both pay $870 per month. I share a Netflix account with my boyfriend and brother so I pay $6.50 for my part of the family subscription. I have Apple Family Sharing with my boyfriend and his brother so I pay the same for my part of that. I pay $130 for a gym membership each month. I pay $5 for a 1Password subscription. It’s a program that memorizes all of your passwords for you!
- DEBT: I am in debt, and I’m working to pay it off right now. I recently switched my credit card debt to a 0% balance transfer card with a great deal and am trying to aggressively yet comfortably pay that down every month.
- SPENDING VICTORY: A recent spending victory for me has been learning to drive. I know I'm late to the party but I've always lived in such a big city that driving wasn't an essential skill! It's cost me nearly $2,500 but the doors it can open in terms of property, jobs, hobbies (I'm a major horse obsessive and riding is my life) is worth every penny. It pained me to part with so much money in one go, but I'm thinking this is a massive investment in my life so it certainly won't be money wasted.
- SPENDING REGRET: My main spending regret is always clothes, which I know isn't one big disastrous purchase but it does add up to a lot some months! I'm trying to work on being less of an emotional shopper, I have the worst habit of thinking a new sweater or something will be the thing that makes a bad day good. I adopted a capsule wardrobe approach after being majorly inspired by Caroline from Un-fancy and Lee from Style Bee but sometimes I fall off the wagon hard and rush buy something I don't really need. This month, I spent $50 on some cute colorful print espadrilles that I thought would jazz up my life without any thought to the fact that I live in a city where rain is the default weather and those white shoes would be melted dirty messes in one wear!
- SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- CHARITY: In money, I am a Guardian newspaper supporter and I also give monthly to an animal rescue charity. In time, I volunteer with two charities in a variety of ways.
- GOALS: Short term, I'm striving to finally pay off my credit cards. I've had a lot of health problems lately as I have autoimmune issues and the unexpected sudden need to see a lot of specialists has created a lot of debt I want to pay off. I recently opened a long term 0% balance transfer account that I am paying down as my current credit card had a pretty high APR that meant my payments were basically just covering interest. Long term, my goal is to finally buy a house. I've bounced from rental to rental but I really want to have a place to fully call mine, that I can decorate however I want and that has some little patch of greenery that I can enjoy when the sun finally shows its face. While I know they can be risky, I always envy those who can talk and navigate money investments so confidently. I don't think I'll ever be someone to fully play the stock market, but I would love to know more about how I can make my money work for me.
SALARY: I make $55,000 as a communications specialist based in Philadelphia. I have not yet asked for a raise, but I definitely want to know more about it. I think I make pretty good money, but I know I'm going to want to ask for a raise sometime next year. It would be helpful to know what a man would be making at my same position and how to ask for a raise in a compelling way.
SAVINGS: I have $14,000 in my savings account right now.
MONTHLY EXPENSES: I currently don’t spend any money on rent. I’m on my parent’s healthcare plan, but I do contribute to a 401(k).
DEBT: I am not in debt.
SPENDING VICTORY: My most recent spending victory would probably be the trip I just took. I spent two weeks traveling across Spain and obviously spent a ton of money between flights, accommodations, food, tours, clubs, souvenirs, etc. I had originally wanted to take this trip right after graduating college in May 2016, but my savings account was pretty depleted from school. So I waited until I'd worked at my full-time job for six months and had more of a cushion; then I went. It was nice because then I didn't have to worry about cutting corners like skipping awesome meals or missing out on tour tickets, and I could just really make the most of the time I had there. Plus, I got to use two weeks of paid vacation, so I pretty much ended up breaking even!
SPENDING REGRET: I don't have one singular spending regret. My biggest regrets are just little everyday things that I don't really need but spend money on anyway. I really hate spending money on mediocre food — that always haunts me. Or buying clothes that end up in my closet for a year with the tags still on them.
SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
CHARITY: The last organization I donated to was the ACLU.
- GOALS: I'm living at home while I save up enough money to move out, and in a perfect world, I'd like to buy a condo in Philadelphia instead of renting an apartment. I'd want to live in the condo for a few years before eventually moving into a house in the suburbs; I would keep the condo to rent out. I'm still a while away from recognizing this dream, though!
- She Spends / Issue #15
- SALARY: I make $44,820 per month as a communications coordinator at a nonprofit. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have $5000 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $900 on rent in a Washington, D.C., apartment. I contribute to a 401(k) and pay for my own health insurance. I also pay $10 per month for a Spotify Premium membership
- DEBT: I am in debt. I make monthly payments and contribute more as I can. If I won the lottery, I’d pay off my student loans.
- SPENDING VICTORY: My spending victory is a small one, but it makes me happy every time I look at it, so I definitely consider it a victory. I bought a pair of antique theatre seats for $75. With the cost of a shared flatbed truck rental, they were about $100 all together. One of my friends is the managing director of the theater. She posted to Facebook that they were selling them and I reached out almost immediately. It was truthfully very close to an impulse buy, but because I love theatre and at the time was looking for another furniture piece or two, I snapped it up. I didn't have a strict furniture line item in my budget, but I shifted things around. Looking ahead, they're in great shape, but could use reupholstering, so eventually I'll have to put money into that.
- SPENDING REGRET: My biggest spending regret is not paying attention to my budget and anticipating large payments coming up. I use You Need a Budget (YNAB.com) and highly recommend it! They encourage people to look at the budget lines instead of the total account number and to only budget with the money in your account right now, rather than forecasting all inflow and outflow you'll have each month. It works well for me, but when I get out of the habit of keeping track and regularly updating my budget, I think I have more money in my account than I actually do and let myself spend more money than I actually should. By sheer luck, I've kept myself out of any seriously bad financial situations, but I've definitely had days filled with anxiety until my next paycheck because rent, health insurance, and a credit card payment all cleared my account at the same time and the balance dropped to scary levels.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- GOALS: My short-term goals are to consistently stick to my budget and to have at least a month's buffer (essentially, that I'll be paying for July's expenses with June's income). Beyond that, I want to build back up my emergency fund (quitting your job will exhaust it more quickly than you think!!). I want to keep setting money aside to fund my Roth IRA and start investing more. I also want to travel more, which is somewhat easier because I work remotely (but somewhat harder because I have a cat!). Once I'm feeling like I'm back in a good place financially, I'm really looking forward to planning a trip to someplace new, even just a weekend getaway.
- She Spends / Issue #14
SALARY: I made $45,000 overall for 2016. I have a union job and my pay follows the union pay schedule, so it changes throughout the year. My wages are dictated by a union pay schedule. Benefits like vacation time increase by year, pay increases in January and then again on your date of hire each year. You can under some circumstances ask for a raise on top of the pay schedule, but to my knowledge that's very uncommon.
SAVINGS: I have $5,000 in my savings account right now. I just had some big medical expenses, though. It's usually between $6,000 and $7,000. I also have a money market account through a bank. They have me pick from different stock pools depending on how risky I'm feeling and they take care of it.
MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $1,075 on rent each month. Our Long Island apartment is $2,150 total, but I split rent with my boyfriend. It's more than I'd prefer to be paying, but it's very hard to find a decent place on Long Island that welcomes pets, is legal and within my price range. I contribute to a 401(k) plan. I’m still on my parents’ health insurance plan. I also pay for subscriptions to Planet Fitness, Hulu, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Spotify Premium and Showtime (just until Twin Peaks ends).
DEBT: I am luckily not in debt. I am very, very lucky to have been able to pay for school through scholarships and money my parents had saved. Also I only have one credit card with a low limit because credit card debt terrifies me.
SPENDING VICTORY: Our dog, which we rescued from Thailand from smugglers who were going to illegally sell her for meat. We put down $500 at a rescue for the adoption fees for her (fees are higher for dogs coming from other countries to cover travel and import expenses). She's also had a lot of medical problems and anxiety issues from that experience. She was a dog that really needed a loving home with a permanent caretaker and now she is my child. I pay $30 a month for pet insurance and have paid about $1,500 in out-of-pocket vet expenses. An additional $4,000 in vet bills was covered by our pet insurance company and the rescue we worked with. Our return on investment is dog snuggles though and those are priceless. Definitely the adoption fees, vet care expenses, monthly pet rent, cost of replacing chewed shoes/destroyed window blinds, etc. for my dog.
SPENDING REGRET: Before I moved into my current apartment with my boyfriend, we were swayed by a new luxury building opening up in our town. It was just barely affordable for us, the in-building gym and new appliances seemed great compared to our the shitty Craigslist basement we were living in. They said we could move in in a month, so we put down the deposit ($500 out of my bank account) while the building was still under construction. BIG MISTAKE, DON'T DO THIS. The construction timeline was off, then they failed their fire safety inspection, and we experienced delay after delay for three months. We finally made arrangements to move out of the basement and packed everything up, only to be told days before the move that our new apartment would not be ready for at least more two months. Our landlord already had a new tenant for the basement space and at that point, we just canceled our lease with the new place. Our current apartment was the first thing we found that we could immediately move into (and that's why the rent is higher than I'd like. I love the apartment and don't want to move out, just wish I'd had time to find something just as good for less). I eventually got that original deposit back, but only after hounding the apartment management company for SIX months. Do better research than I did, y'all. We had to call and email them every two weeks or so for six months to ask where our deposit refund check was. I considered small claims court, but that seemed like way too much work and extra legal fees for $500. The check did eventually arrive. We also had to pay for three months rent in our previous "apartment" because of the delays, which was ultimately around $3,300 that could have been going to a new, better place instead or furniture.
CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was ProPublica.
SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- GOALS: I'd done a decent job building up my savings the last couple of years, but then had some big unexpected medical expenses this year that dipped heavily into it. For the short term I'd like to build my savings back up, especially because I know that I only have a few more years on my parents' stellar medical insurance plan. Long term, I'd also like to have enough for a down payment on a house. I know what credit is and how it works, but I'd like to have a better understanding of how to manage it and get more comfortable with it. At the moment, things like credit cards really freak me out so I avoid using them and I know that's not good for the long term.
- She Spends / Issue #13
- SALARY: I make $35,000 per year as a first grade teacher living in Mississippi. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have $3,268.20 in my savings account right now. In my investment accounts (taxable and Roth IRA combined) I have $24,637.39. I previously invested a little bit of money on Loyal3, a fee-free investment tool that allows you to buy into initial public offerings, then I realized how much of a waste of time individual stocks are, so I only invest in index funds now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $200 on rent. I pay $10 for a gym membership. My parents cover my health insurance.
- DEBT: I am luckily not in debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: A spending victory would be my Aeropress coffee maker. I'm usually really hesitant to buy things for myself and I'd been wanting it for a long time. I plan on making myself iced lattes all summer long. It cost $29.95 on Amazon.
- SPENDING REGRET: I'm often regretful about spending on dining out when it isn't something planned or when I'm not all about the experience. I have no problemspending money to go out to dinner with friends, but I always regret spending money when it's more random. Looking at the past month, I've spent $305 at restaurants, and around $100 of that was less planned, not as great of an experience. It was probably higher this month than average because I spent time traveling.
- CHARITY: Uhhh… I need to get it together and contribute to charity on a regular basis.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I haven't started this yet, but I got the job - I'm going to be running professional development programs for other teachers. It'll be about five to eight hours per week and pays $8 an hour.
- GOALS: I have a very specific net worth goal to hit by next May, and I move that goal up in increments whenever I reach it. That net worth goal is tied to a longer term goal of buying a house someday. It's a very vague goal because I'm not sure where I'll be living and where I'll want to settle down. My shorter term goal is to save for a trip to the U.K. around Thanksgiving. I'm saving $1,200 for that, so around $200/month. I want to be able to see into the future to know if grad school would pay off for me; I've been thinking about going to grad school to become a school counselor, and I wish there was some way to know if it was worth it, from a financial standpoint.
- She Spends Issue #12
We're sharing the spending secrets of one woman each week - completely anonymously. This section draws inspiration from Refinery29's Money Diaries and NYMag's Spending Diaries (gotta give credit where it's due, right?) Click here to take our anonymous survey on spending habits and see your column published on She Spends.
- SALARY: I make $95,000 per year, plus a bonus as a documentation editor in New York. I have asked for a raise before. When I asked, I was told my boss would "try" and that I deserved it. I heard nothing for 6 months, but then got more than I asked for, 8 months later.
- SAVINGS: I have $30,000 in savings right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $1,000 per month to live in an apartment with my boyfriend. I contribute to my 401K and health insurance through work. I pay for a Planet Fitness membership, a Sephora Play subscription, a Lip Monthly subscription, Netflix and NY Times subscription.
- DEBT: I am in debt. It's my student loans, so I pay monthly to eliminate them.
- SPENDING VICTORY: My big ticket items are always plane tickets. I’ve spent around $6,800 in the past seven years on plane tickets, plus thousands of credit card points so that I would pay less for a ticket or not pay at all (90,000 Delta points plus $56 got me to Tokyo in February 2016). The most expensive item I’ve ever bought was the flight for my first trip to Europe. It cost $992.90 roundtrip on Delta from Detroit to Paris, and I traveled solo for a month to France, England, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Instead of taking a semester to study abroad (and incurring more student debt), I graduated a semester early. I was fortunate enough to get a job offer during finals week which allowed me to start two months after graduation, so I didn’t have to cancel my trip. In total, the trip cost me around $4,000 with that flight included, including: places to sleep, train travel, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had (Angelina’s in Paris), a pair of walking shoes because I didn’t pack appropriately ($30.85 at a Clarks in Oxford, England), and 220 euro for a locksmith after getting locked out of an apartment the night before Christmas. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent. The money came from savings from various jobs from the age of 15 to 21. I had moments that were the most thrilling, the most depressing, and the most self-reflective of my life.
- SPENDING REGRET: The end of 2015 was incredibly stressful. My boyfriend finally moved to NYC after three years of long distance and a lot of negotiation. We found an amazing apartment while he was here in the weeks before, and rushed home to fill out an application. Five days later and less than two weeks before he was supposed to move, we found out someone beat us to it. Alone on my hunt and terrified we would have no place to live, I signed up for as many apartment viewings as I could. Our budget was very tight for what we wanted, plus he had real furniture which was Midwest-sized and needed to fit as he hadn’t had a chance to sell any of it. I saw an apartment, half in the dark, that fit the budget and would have fit his king size bed. When the broker said “I have someone waiting to see it who wants to the apartment, and has the cash,” I panicked and said we’d take it. Three days later I called my father to talk about it. I debated if I should take it or call the $700 deposit a loss because I was already having doubts. But I thought, “we can do anything for a year.” On a Monday, six days to move-in, I got the money from my boyfriend and I together. It totaled $5,700. I signed the lease on my own, as my boyfriend was still out of state. Three days before move-in, I got the keys and walked into the apartment. I immediately knew I had made a terrible mistake. My boyfriends furniture wouldn’t have fit through the door. There wasn’t a real living room. The apartment was so small, we would have been on top of each other. Wrapping up this long story, I was able to get out of the lease but it cost us all of the money to do so. I had to tell a girl who I had sign a sublease agreement to take over my room in my apartment that I was so sorry, but with everything that happened, I couldn’t give it up. My boyfriend and I shared the apartment with my (now former) roommate for two months. The lesson I learned was to trust myself. My gut said the apartment was wrong, but I didn’t listen. And we both paid the price.
- CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was the New York Abortion Access Fund.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I work on freelance web design on the side to supplement my full time income.
- GOALS: I want to be able to buy an apartment. Assuming I still live in NYC in the next ten years, this means I’ll need at least $100,000 in the bank that I can part with for a down payment. I know apartment prices will continue to go up (though hopefully not as crazily as the past 10 years). That number seems pretty much impossible unless I can get my salary to double without my expenses also doubling. I want to be able to retire and not rely on social security, which I don’t expect to be around. I plan on putting in the full $18,000 to my 401k this year, and hope I’ll be able to continue to do so. I want to be able to live on a salary of $70k/year post retirement, which is 1.5 million dollars if I retire on time and don’t live to be 100. That feels basically impossible, but hopefully that compound interest will do its magic. I want to take a trip to Asia, which I know will be more expensive to get to than it will be to do anything while there. Hopefully I will have a fund in the next two years to be able to see the Great Wall, ride the elephants in Thailand, and have dim sum in Hong Kong.
- She Spends Issue #11
- SALARY: I make $36,000 per year as a project manager for a Pittsburgh-based marketing firm. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have $7000 in savings right now. I tend to be cautious with my money. It's not that I don't spend it, I just like to have a nice cushion in case anything were to happen. One thing I do tend to splurge on is food though, which is definitely my worsespending habit. I love to eat out, which is not cheap.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $500 for rent. I'm about to move in with my boyfriend, so that is going to change. Being v. transparent about money with your partner is a #majorkey so it will be interesting to see what happens. Beyond rent, I contribute to my 401k each month. My workplace doesn't really have an HR department, so I basically just put 5% into my 401K and call it a day. My employer covers my healthcare, luckily. I also pay for Netflix and Hulu each month.
- DEBT: I am in debt. It's student loans, thankfully only federal (I am blessed with a fairly low interest rate). I pay monthly and use direct deposit (so I won't forget and plus you receive 0.5% off your interest rate). Although I have no trouble paying them, the idea of having that hang over my head for the next eight years is a bit daunting.
- SPENDING VICTORY: This one is tough for me. I tend to be very cautious with my money so it's been awhile since I've spent money on anything out of the ordinary. Back in December my boyfriend & I splurged on dinner out, beers and Pittsburgh Penguins tickets. It was my first game and it was a ton of fun. Even though it ended up being an expensive night, it was worth it. It's fun to go all out sometimes, especially when I tend to avoid dropping large sums of money.
- SPENDING REGRET: I love getting free stuff (who doesn't?) so on several occasions I have been roped in to purchasing monthly subscriptions once the free trial ends. It's nothing major at first, but then I don't want to give it up so there's an extra $10 a month I end up spending on streaming TV shows and music.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was Planned Parenthood.
- GOALS: My goal short-term is to save up for a trip to Ireland with my family & boyfriend next year. I've been wanting to travel more since graduating college, but it was difficult to do when just starting a career. Both because of money and vacation days. I'm planning on starting monthly installments fairly soon so it seems like less of a drain on my bank account when the time comes. My long-term goal is to buy a new car within the next two or so years. I'm driving a 2000 Honda Accord at the moment, which works great for now but may not last for much longer without needing major repairs. I want to be able to put a decent down payment on a car and not worry so much about a monthly payment.
- She Spends / Issue #10
TELL US YOUR SPENDING SECRETS!
We're sharing the spending secrets of one woman each week - completely anonymously. This section draws inspiration from Refinery29's Money Diaries and NYMag's Spending Diaries (gotta give credit where it's due, right?) Click here to take our anonymous survey on spending habits.
- SALARY: I'm currently a research project assistant. I'd like to go back to school to get my masters degree but I'm nervous to add more loans on to my undergrad loans. After taxes, I make about $30,000 per year. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have $1,400 in savings. My fiance and I had about $2,800 but recently purchased a new fence and some other items for our wedding. We are trying to keep the savings above $1,000 for emergencies and above that is wedding, vacation and house repairs fund.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I live with my boyfriend. Our mortgage is about $800 per month without utilities. I have contributed to a 401k since 2015 and I've had a Roth IRA since 2008. I also pay for healthcare. I pay for family Apple Music which is $15 per month, I have a subscription to an e-magazine that is $10 per year and I have a membership to Headspace meditation app which is $100 per year.
- DEBT: I pay $300 monthly for my school loans. I have $25,000 in loans and sometimes I pay $50 extra a month, but that is rare. After the wedding, we are going to work toward getting debt free in the next 2 years. I have no credit card debt (I just opened a credit card a few weeks ago for emergencies), and I'm fortunate enough to have my parents' old car that is paid for so I only have car insurance to pay ($40/month). I guess another thing we pay for is the new mattress we bought ($70/month). I'd like to pay that off in 2018 mostly because it's an annoying payment to make every month.
- SPENDING VICTORY: When I was 25, my dad co-signed on a house with me. I didn't have a credit card and I couldn't get a house loan by myself, but I had been working almost full time and making enough money that I could afford a mortgage & utilities. My dad knew the guy selling the house, it had been on the market for more than a year with no one interested. I believe the final offer was $55,000 which was a steal. It was the cutest first house I could ever dream of. It was awesome having a place of my own, and as frustrating as it was sometimes (peeling paint, replacing hot water tank, cracking ceilings, leaking fridge...) I knew when I was done with this house, I could sell it. I wasn't necessarily throwing all my money away on rent. Fast forward 3 years and I'm finally at the point in my life where I'm ready to sell the house and move closer to the city to work. The commute was getting too long to handle and too expensive to make it worth living an hour away. My now fiancee lives about 15 minutes from my work and I moved in with him. If I were patient I could've asked a lot more for my house, but I settled so that I didn't have to keep commuting back to the house for mail, checking up on safety, etc. The house sold in 3 months and I didn't make all my money back, but I made enough to start an emergency fund.
- SPENDING REGRET: When I graduated high school I thought I had everything figured out. I wanted to move far away from home and start over (the teen angst was so real). I went to school for one trimester at a small Pennsylvania college and I realized I hated it and I was lonely and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I applied and got accepted to the school in the city for the spring semester. A combination of terror, being on my own, and depression lead to me barely passing and getting on academic probation. The following semester I moved into an apartment with three dude friends and everything seemed okay on the outside but nothing had changed on the inside and I was still dealing with depression and I didn't know it if that makes sense. I failed out of the school, not even showing up for my finals because I was so behind in all my classes and didn't know how to ask for help. Up to this point, I had financial aid in forms of subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans and luckily a few grants. My parents paid for my apartment living in the city, I want to say it was ~$400/month but I'm not 100% certain. So my parents made me move back home and get a job. I enrolled in classes at a community college because I refused to give up. I got my associates of fine arts degree, with some Spanish, French and Italian classes under my belt. I realized how much I love learning languages and comparing and contrasting them. I re-applied to that city school, got in, and completed my B.A. in French with a minor in Spanish. I qualified for student work/work study so I was able to make ~$1,200/semester. I lived at home and commuted to Pittsburgh every day for classes. In the summer I was still able to make money working my student work hours. I currently have $22,600 in school loans. Now, who's to say if I started at community college, would I still have fallen in love with languages? I can't say for certain, but! I could guess that I would have a lot fewer student loans.
- CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was a local animal shelter.
- SIDE HUSTLE: From time to time I'll sell my art, but this is few and far between. I'd love to have the time to make/sell more
- GOALS: Money goals are always on the forefront of my mind. We are saving for: 1. wedding 2. honeymoon 3. land 4. bus/camper. The wedding is in about 80 days and my fiancé & I both decided that it was very important for us to NOT go into debt over a single day. It will be a beautiful day and we will be married at the end of it. Nice and simple. The wedding and honeymoon are short term (both in September), land and bus or camper are long term. We almost put an offer in on a house 2 weeks ago, but we had very little money to put down and our monthly mortgage would be $1,200 + utilities, which would be very tight for us. We are looking for a simpler lifestyle that doesn't require us to work jobs we don't love, to pay for a house we're never at because we're working so much... We would love to be debt free by 2019 so we have more freedom to choose jobs and location of land/living. The saving seems so sporadic with a wedding on the horizon, but after the wedding, it will be much easier to save/pay off loans. Currently, I'm trying to learn to budget better, looking up what percentage of my paycheck should go to different categories and use only cash. It is a slow process, but I just need to be less lazy and go to the bank to get the money out.
- She Spends / Issue #9
- SALARY: I make $75,000 per year while working at a large, national publication. When I was asked to move from D.C. to New York a few months ago, I told them I wanted more money-- specifically a bump to $80,000 from my previous salary of $70,000. My request was sidelined at the time and I was we could discuss it when raise time came. At the time, I told my new editor what I wanted. He took it to management, and a compromise was reached to give me a $5,000 raise and a $5,000 retention bonus if I stay with the company until the end of the year.
- SAVINGS: I have roughly $1200 in my savings account. I also am putting away money though my Roth IRA.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $1,625 per month for a studio apartment in Manhattan. It is so worth it! Beyond that, I contribute to my healthcare plan and my Roth IRA. I also pay for Netflix, Hulu and Spotify each month.
- DEBT: I have about $15,000 in debt between school loans and credit cards. I pay my student loans, credit cards at least monthly, and sometimes if I have extra cash, I will pay a bit more on my credit cards to pay them off sooner. I have only an undergraduate degree and my only language is English-- all dings on my ability to negotiate. Get those degrees (have someone else pay for them) and learn those languages. Brains=cash.
- SPENDING VICTORY: My spending victory is sooooo important to me because I am a difficult person to live with, and I find the stress of having to share a space with one or more people extremely daunting and, frankly, pretty shitty for my mental health. You can never regret spending dough for the sake of your own peace.
- SPENDING REGRET: I know for a fact I spend too much money on needless recreation, specifically on alcohol. It's a pricey little weekly/daily expenditure, and that money would be much better saved or spent elsewhere.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- GOALS: I would love to save $10,000 by the end of the year and open up an IRA. I already contribute 10% of my salary to a 401k, but having liquid and higher payoff savings would be such an achievement for me. I also obviously want to pay off all my debt.
- She Spends Issue #8
- SALARY: I make $47,500 per year working as a communications manager in Washington, D.C. I have not yet asked for a raise. I also have shares from the startup I work at, but I'm not sure how they work just yet.
- SAVINGS: I have $25,000 in my savings account. This does not include what I set aside each month for my Roth IRA. I obviously have these savings because I was lucky enough to have parents who provided me with everything when I was growing up and in college. I did have a part-time job in high school and all throughout college, which helped a little, but it would be nothing without having had my college tuition and room/board paid for.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $1,163. I live with my boyfriend and our total rent is $1995 - we split it up proportionally to our income. My work doesn't have 401K matching, so I just contribute the monthly max to my IRA. I choose the lowest possible healthcare plan at work, so I pay $0 per month on healthcare coverage. I also pay $59 per month for ClassPass, $4 per month for Amazon music, $26 per month for cable and $10 per month for Birchbox. I paid a lump sum up front for Birchbox.
- DEBT: I don't have any student loans or credit card debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: I just took a trip to Paris with my boyfriend for 7 days in April. It was the first real vacation I've ever taken without my family that I paid for 100%. The tickets were super cheap and we bought them back in October - it was $400 round trip, each. Then we spent $500 total on the Airbnb, which was in a great neighborhood and made it easy for us to walk everywhere when we got there. The thing I think is the biggest victory for me overall is that I have a hard time spending my money without feeling bad about it - but if I'm not saving it to spend on a trip to Paris, what am I saving it for? So I tried when we were there to not feel bad about spending our money, and we ended up not spending as much as I feared. All in all, I personally spent under $1000 and had the best week of my life.
- SPENDING REGRET: When I was staying in my first apartment post-grad, I handled moving out TERRIBLY. My roommate and I both didn't realize that we had to give notice when we were moving out, and the management company never contacted us about renewing the lease, so we just assumed (like idiots) that we were all on the same page about moving out once it was over. Obviously that wasn't the case, and we had to give two months' notice, but I had already found a new apartment. Which was a studio with an exorbitantly high rent to live in basically a very tiny box. Which meant that for a two-month period of time, I was paying BOTH RENTS. $1000 to a two-bedroom in Bethesda, and $1500 to a studio in D.C. The only people who know about this are my roommate at the time (because she had to do the same thing, except she was moving back in with her parents so didn't have double rent), my mom and my boyfriend. It was extremely embarrassing.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was the National Eating Disorder Association.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- GOALS: I have a few money goals. One is to be more concrete about what I'm saving for. Right now I don't have any specific goals, and for a while just had one big savings account. This wasn't great because that made me feel bad any time I was spending money, because I could have been saving it -- but for what? I want to really nail down some buckets — an emergency fund, travel savings, eventual-house savings — and decide what to be saving for so I can stop being so uptight.
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She Spends Issue #7
- SALARY: I make $62,000 per year working as a grants management specialist. I have asked for a raise in the past, but I'm still waiting on it.
- SAVINGS: I currently have $3,000 in savings.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1200 per month for rent on an apartment in D.C. Beyond that, I pay for a gym membership, music service, financial planning and professional development services monthly. I also pay for utilities.
- DEBT: I have student debt that I have taken on side hustles to aggressively pay off.
- SPENDING VICTORY: I would like to be able to have an unending list of successful spending accolades but, not coincidentally, I think that I feel the most victorious when I am spending to save. This year I invested in a personal finance advising service. Investing in my financial future is a long term goal with an observable return on investment. I spent approximately $100 up front for the service, and negotiated the monthly membership rate down to $19 monthly. My plan is to advance my finance and budgeting knowledge to the point where I can cut back if not eliminate this service by next year.
- SPENDING REGRET: I was not brought up in a family whose financial situation afforded me unfettered access to higher education. And so, I regret not asking more questions and gathering more information prior to taking out the various student loans I needed to put myself through college and graduate school. Neither of my parents knew or understood how to help me in the federal and private student lending process so it was a steep learning curve for me at a young age. Had I know the magnitude of my lack of knowledge I might have thought to gather more expertise before signing my life away!
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was the D.C. Abortion Fund. I also volunteer with a group called Ladies Get Paid. I firmly believe that we will not eradicate income inequalities until all women (and especially young girls) have access and knowledge about personal finance, investment, saving, and budgeting. I have seen how that has personally impacted my financial health from a young age as compared to my male counterparts and it is a problem I am motivated to address before the next generation of women enter the workforce. This is why I am involved with the DC committee of Ladies Get Paid. We believe we can change this if we strategize, organize and support one another. Our goal is to facilitate female leadership through community, education and advocacy. We host town halls, workshops, and webinars and also partner with companies to help create an inclusive and welcoming culture.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I dog sit in my free time to make extra cash, which I use to pay off some student debt.
- GOALS: My short term goal is to build my emergency savings and a small nest egg for career and personal development whilst slowly paying down current debt at stasis. Once I have met that goal I would like to get more aggressive in investing for retirement as well as eradicating remaining debt to the point where I can feel comfortable buying a home and potentially starting my own entrepreneurial endeavors. I want to know how to prioritize my budget. There are just SO many things I have to pay for on a limited income. I am doing the work to raise my salary but it just seems that there is always something else that I neither want or need but must pay for (i.e. drinks at a networking happy hour, cable internet, bus/taxi fare, etc). Would love to be able to lower the costs of necessities like rent and utilities but, living in a city like Washington DC puts a lot of pressure on me to maintain a price of living at or below 30% of my budget (I am much closer to 40-50% of my income going toward necessities rather than savings).
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She Spends Issue #6
- SALARY: I make $70,000 per year as a senior account executive at a press relations firm based in Manhattan.
- SAVINGS: I hide my money from myself every chance I get — it’s the banking equivalent of leaving cash in old coat pockets. I put $50 in a “dog fund” every month that is in a high yield savings account, $350 into another high yield savings account with another bank and then $550 into my everyday “savings” account which is a combination of where I keep my rent money and where I keep my emergency fund (I only make withdrawals to pay rent). The rest of my money goes into my checking account — since I’m also contributing 10% of my income to my 401K with bi-annual matching from my company, I feel like for now I’m doing okay. I’m looking forward to spending less on rent and putting that money into savings.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Obviously rent is the biggest monthly expense, because I live in Brooklyn. Since my boyfriend and I pay 60% of the rent on our two bedroom apartment that we share with a roommate, it ends up being only 30% individually. At $855.60 feels pretty worth it for the kind of apartment we have. I have pretty minimal monthly subscriptions — I mooch for Netflix, Hulu and HBO, and utilities and internet are split 3 ways between myself, my boyfriend and our roommate. I usually end up spending $100 in total for internet and utilities.
- DEBT: I am not in debt. I don’t have any student loans. I was really lucky to have my grandmother pay for my education, and I worked really hard to keep that cost as low as possible for her. I earned a $15,000 per year academic scholarship through my college and was awarded several other scholarships while I was in school, ranging from the Washington Media Scholars program to other small scholarships. I also graduated college in six semesters and saved a ton of money by not needing to pay for a fourth year of school. I also used funds from my job as a lifeguard (high school) my job as a retail shop manager (during college) and my job as the advertising sales lead for my college’s newspaper (during college) to keep costs down.
- SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I ever spent money on are any vacations I have taken. Being able to afford travel is so, so exhilarating. I went to Morocco several years ago and having the freedom to take time off work, have paid time off and book a flight and still be able to afford rent was the coolest feeling. The trip itself was amazing, obviously, but being financially stable enough to know I could buy a flight right now without having to go into debt or sacrifice my longer term goals feels like a huge spending victory.
- SPENDING REGRET: My biggest spending regret is my boob job. It was $7,000 I should have spent on literally anything else.
- CHARITY: I make monthly donations to Emily’s List, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, those are $10 each. I put larger donations in when major political events happen, those are one-offs.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I have a blog and an Instagram that have performed pretty well over the last few years, but I’m definitely a micro-influencer at best. As a result, I get a lot of free products. I don’t do paid posts on behalf of brands, but I do post product reviews and share my travels, photography and, let’s be real, selfies. Is it worth it? Maybe. You have to blog about things you care about. If you don’t care about it, it’s not sustainable — and it’s exhausting to try to maintain an image that isn’t you. I don’t think being an influencer is the healthiest thing, and I’ve been taking a step back from my social media lately.
- GOALS: I’d like to save more, but the real answer there is that I’d like to make more. Every time you get a raise, the number represented by 10% or 20% or even 30% of your income increases hugely — and sometimes it can be more worth it to buckle down and do what it takes to get a raise than it is to spend the time investing into a side hustle. Sometimes. Eventually I’d like to have the financial freedom to travel more, or take a short sabbatical from work — and I want to retire early, so I need to be cognizant of where my spending is going. I definitely want to buy property somewhere, but I don’t know where. I think I might feel too much like a real adult if I become a property owner, especially living in New York.
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She Spends Issue #5
- SALARY: I am taking classes while working full time as a manager at a record store. I get paid $28,000 yearly (or $14 per hour). I've been working for the same company for seven years and I'm a store manager, which is one of the higher paid retail positions. Right now, I'm at $14 an hour, so I have to work over 40 hours a week in addition to going to school full time just to pay my rent and bills. It's very discouraging. I've asked for a raise multiple times and it's been turned down each time.
- SAVINGS: $0
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: My boyfriend and I split rent for a one bedroom apartment, which costs $765 per month. We pay utilities on top of that which is usually about $100. Rent and utilities by themselves aren't bad, but we also each have a monthly car payment. Mine is $240 and his is $300. I have more credit cards than he does, but together our credit card payments average out to about $150 per month. We also pay for Spotify ($4.99 per month for students) and Netflix ($10 per month). Add in other expenses like gas and groceries, and it leaves very little extra money to do anything fun. We went out to dinner for the first time in months a few weeks ago and we legitimately felt guilty about it afterward because it was $30 we probably shouldn't have spent.
- DEBT: This one is tough. I owe probably about $20,000 in school loans and about $3,700 in credit card debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: I don't even know that I have a biggest spending victory to be honest with you. Growing up, my mother was very fearful and controlling with money, so I've developed this intense guilt anytime I buy something nice for myself, even things that I need, like clothes (which I do not buy often because I cannot afford them).
- SPENDING REGRET: I deeply regret not being more responsible with my tax return this year. I should have just used it to pay down my credit card debt, but at this point, it wouldn't have made a very big dent. I feel that with the economy is today I'm very likely going to be in debt for the rest of my life. I'm a little fearful for our future because we're just barely scraping by. My boyfriend and I both work very hard and it's discouraging that we don't have anything to show for it. Another thing that is giving me major anxiety lately is my credit score, which I'm told is "very poor." But right now, I just don't have the means to raise it or to make more than the minimum payments on my credit cards. I deeply regret taking out credit cards in the first place, but it seemed like the only way to make sure I had a contingency plan in case a paycheck was smaller than expected. Now I'm drowning in debt that I likely won't even be able to start paying off until I graduate, assuming I get a job, which is a big unknown. I think that older people have this idea that "millennials" are entitled brats who don't work hard for their money, and spend it without batting an eye. In my experience that's just not true. I read an article recently about a millionaire that said that the reason so many millennials are broke is because they're eating too much avocado toast and buying expensive lattes. That's bullshit. We are broke because we're fighting a losing battle. Trust me, I'm not struggling to pay rent because I sometimes I eat a fancy breakfast or bring home Chipotle for my boyfriend and I once a month. People who choose to go to school spend tens of thousands of dollars on their education, and take out loans with high interest rates to do it. And, it's becoming very likely that you will not get a job right out of college. So, you just spent all this money to better yourself, and you wind up in the same place you were before, working a terrible retail job or waiting tables, but now you have debt collectors breathing down your neck. It's infuriating.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I'm going to have to take on a bar tending or serving job at nights to go to after my store closes. So most days I'll have class, work at my first job, and then close a bar. That leaves no time for studying, doing homework, or even sleeping. But please tell me how I'm wasteful and not a hard worker.
- GOALS: I would say that my my long term money goals would be to stop living paycheck to paycheck, start a savings account, and buy a house. I just want to be able to live comfortably and not be scared of finances. But at this point, I feel like my debt and low wages are going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
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She Spends Issue #4
- SALARY: I make $35,550 per year.
- SAVINGS: I have about $10,000 in savings right now. I categorize my savings into several buckets - one for my car, one for Christmas gifts, one for birthday gifts, one for a house, one for our dog and one for a vacation.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: My boyfriend purchased a house last year. I currently contribute to the mortgage, paying half, or about $445 per month. I also pay half of our utilities. I am still on my parent's healthcare plan, and I don't yet contribute to a 401K. My boyfriend and I split Netflix and Spotify subscriptions, so I pay about $10 on those monthly. I pay $165 per year to belong to a professional association. I also have an Amazon Prime subscription, which costs $99 per year. I have a car from my parents so my car payment is $100 a month to them plus insurance which is about $70. I also pay them for my phone which is $50 per month. The car payment is an area where I am privileged to save some money thanks to my parents.
- DEBT: All of my student loans are from the federal government. I am currently on the standard repayment plan, which is ten years at a fixed rate. It's the lowest overall payment plan, and I pay $694 per month on the loans. I am on this plan because my graduate school loans have an insane amount of interest. The longer I wait to pay them off, the more, in the long run, I will have to pay thanks to interest payments. I currently work in a private school, if I get a public school job and hold that job for 10 years, then I can qualify for loan forgiveness. Getting my masters degree was the biggest hit to my loans. For my master's program, other than a small scholarship, I paid almost everything using unsubsidized loans. So while I didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket, the loans are huge and collecting a crazy amount of interest. If I had not gone to graduate school, my loans would be less than half of what I am paying now.
- SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I ever spent money on is either the vacation I took with my significant other to Barbados or Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is super convenient. For example, my dog chewed our food thermometer and I was able to immediately order the same exact one. I didn’t have to try to find a similar one in a store. The second that goes along with that is that it lets me be lazy. If I do not need something immediately then I almost always order it on prime because it saves me a trip to the store. As for our vacation, we kept costs down by putting up with long layovers. If you are willing to deal with layovers and long travel days, you could fly to Barbados for around $300 any time of the year. It’s cheaper than flying most places in the U.S., and it was amazing so we will for sure be going back.
- SPENDING REGRET: I can't really think of one...Maybe unnecessary doctors' appointments that didn't actually help me.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was a nature preservation.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I babysit when I get the chance. I also tutor students outside of school.
- GOALS: I would like to continue adding to my vacation budget so that we could go on annual or semi-annual trips. I will also be getting married sometime in the next two years…I hope. That will be an expense that I know I need to save for, but have absolutely no idea how much. The internet tells you to start saving for retirement at 25, and I'll be off of my parent's healthcare plan at 26, so those are big milestones too. Where I work the insurance isn't great and I have to pay for it. Worse, there is no retirement plan and my pay is less than ideal. So my biggest goal is to find a new job in the next two years, as soon as possible, but the competition is fierce. My most immediate goal is to ask for a raise in the next month. It’s a tricky situation that I don’t know how to navigate quite yet because my boss controls most everything, but the owners of the school control the budget so I will need to ask her and then she will need to ask them and it’s a whole, stressful thing.
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She Spends Issue #3
- SALARY: I'd rather not share my salary - I'm not sure where I stand contractually in terms of discussing my salary publicly and I don't want to risk anything. Erring on the side of caution here!
- SAVINGS: I currently have $2,500 is in my savings account. I try to contribute $400 per month, but it varies. I recently withdrew about $1000 as a payment for my new apartment. I also contribute to a 401K. I contribute 8% of my income to my retirement fund.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $600 monthly on rent and $100 more on utilities. I pay $10 for Spotify and split a $10 Netflix subscription with my significant other. I pay $7 per month for a New York Times subscription and $350 per month for student loans. I spend $50 per month on a gym membership. I get reimbursed 75% of my "health expenses" by my company. I hate going to the gym, so I'm about to cancel this and pay for (more expensive) barre classes instead. My credit card bill fluctuates, but usually, I pay off in full. I only use my credit card for clothes, makeup and skincare purchases. Several expenses are deducted from my paycheck in pretax dollars. This includes $100 for my bus pass and $80 per month for healthcare.
- DEBT: I have about ~$27,000 debt from student loans. My payments of $350 per momth are more than what is recommended for me to pay off the debt ($275 is what the system recommended). At the rate I'm going, I should be done paying it off in six and a half years.
- SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I ever spent money on was the security deposit on my new apartment. I'm moving in with my boyfriend this summer! :)
- SPENDING REGRET: Glossier products - It was one long descent into acne hell. :( By the time I figured it out I was passed the 30-day return deadline.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was the White Helmets. I spend approximately $50 per month on charitable donations.
- GOALS: My near term money goal is to save enough to travel. I would like to be able to afford travel abroad twice a year - and I'm willing to forego some comfort for it. I won't be able to afford a car for a few years, even with raises, if I prioritize international travel. I'm planning on opening a credit card with travel points to help out with that. My savings account is also very important to me. I need to feel like I can pick up and change my life at a moment's notice (it's a thing). Right now, I'm at about $2500 because I just had to pay for my new apartment (woo!) but my long term goal is to always have a base of $4000 with extra money on top for travel - this seems likely to be possible by next summer, since I hopefully won't be paying moving expenses again. Near term, my goal is to have a base of $2000 with extra on top for travel. My overall long-term goal is to be able to live comfortably - have a car, travel and pay off my loans. Additionally, I'm interested in investing, but it scares me tbh - I don't understand the risks involved, and the jargon is confusing. So until I understand better, I'll keep plugging away at my savings account.
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She Spends Issue #2
- SALARY: I make $55,000 per year as a staff writer at a magazine, a job that I started just this month. Prior to that, I was making $42,000 per year. I have successfully negotiated a raise in the past, which is something I hope to discuss in future newsletters. Long story short, though, I used the Ellevest Mind The Gap PDF
to guide my way.
- SAVINGS: $200 (YIKES!)
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $1,000 per month to live in a rat-infested apartment in Bed-Stuy (but I'm moving soon!). I work in a local yoga studio in exchange for free classes each month, so I don't pay for a gym membership. My monthly expenses include a phone bill ($57/month), a membership to Ellevate Network ($8/month), a small 401K contribution, my commuter benefit card ($121/month), internet bill (varies), electric bill (varies) and healthcare plan ($86/month).
- DEBT: I'm slowly paying off a student loan from my parents (that doesn't accrue interest, yes I know this is privilege). Beyond that, I don't carry any credit card debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I ever spent money on was a flight to Santiago, Chile, to see my boyfriend when he was studying abroad there. I paid roughly $900 for this trip, draining my savings account at the time. I do not regret it.
- SPENDING REGRET: I always get recurring additions to my phone bill because thanks to data overage charges.
- CHARITY: I do prioritize nonprofit spending in my monthly budget - I'll contribute to about two charities per month. The last I contributed to was the Girl Scouts of NYC.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I have a few side hustles - I sell clothes online via Poshmark and eBay, and I just started walking dogs via Wag. I do freelance journalism here and there when I have time. New York is expensive! I gotta stay afloat, right?
- GOALS: I want to have a $1000 emergency fund by the end of the year. If I make it there, I'm going to start investing through something like Ellevest or Betterment. I'm also working on building my credit, which I intend on doing by applying for another credit card in the next few months, and continuing to pay it off every month. Long term, I want to make enough money to afford traveling to several countries per year.
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She Spends Issue #1