How a 33-year-old Dallas-based investment director spends:

  • SALARY: I make $111,556 per year as an investment director at an endowment in Dallas, Texas. I have asked for a raise before. It was a moot point, though, because they promoted me. I am about to ask again in six months (at my new company) to bring my pay in line with my qualifications. 
  • SAVINGS: I have $15,773.20 in my savings account right now. 
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $1,550 each month on a mortgage. I pay for my health insurance and contribute to my 401(k). Each month I pay for a barre studio membership, Rent the Runway and iTunes. 
  • DEBT: I am in debt. I am paying it off by managing and reducing expenses. I work in investments, so I beat myself up mercilessly for some of the decisions I made. Looking back, I wish I would have accepted the facts and moved forward more quickly.
  • INVESTING: I have a Fidelity brokerage account through which I regularly invest. Conventional wisdom says that since I’m young, so I should have an 80% or more of my long-term assets in equities. However, given my profession, I know that markets are at an all-time high with a lot of unknowns. All this to say, I manage the $60,000 or so I have in longer-term investments using the endowment model. I built an asset allocation and model portfolio in Excel, researched funds carefully and now rebalance my portfolio two to four times per year. Invest in what you know.
  • SPENDING VICTORY: I spend $170/month for a membership to a local fitness class. It feels unnecessary, especially when compared to ClassPass or Equinox, but I started going during the height of a stressful period at work while going through a divorce. It’s the best way I’ve found to help manage my stress. I use it three to five times per week, so my average cost per class is under $10.
  • SPENDING REGRET: I needed a new car, so I did my research online and settled on a used SUV. (So practical!). I went to the dealership (think foreign, luxury cars) with my down payment and immediately fell in love with a brand new sports Sedan almost double the price of the used SUV. Long story short, I leased it. I didn’t read the fine print, so when I return the car in a year (no asset!) I’ll have to pay $3,000 or more due to mileage overages. I learned so many lessons from this: 1) When you make a plan, stick to it. 2) Read the fine print. 3) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 4) Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Ultimately, I can cover the charges and I’ve enjoyed my car, but the experience wasn’t worth it for me.
  • CHARITY: The last charities I contributed to were the Genesis Women's Shelter and The Birthday Party Project.
  • GOALS: My main goal is rebuilding the assets side of my balance sheet. I raided my brokerage and retirement accounts to the tune of $80,000 to support a business that wasn’t mine and avoid lifestyle changes while I was in business school. Post-divorce, my financial security felt comprised, so I’ve been working diligently to reclaim it. My 2017 goals include building up six months of expenses in cash (which I’ve almost done) and renegotiating my salary closer to the market rate. In the next one to five years, I plan to pay off my debt completely, buy more real estate and continue teaching my daughter solid saving habits. I want to learn more about how to replicate the volatility and return profile of hedge funds and other alternatives in more liquid investment strategies.

- She Spends / Issue #25

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How a 25-year-old Brooklyn-based software engineer spends:

  • SALARY: I make $112,000 a year as a software engineer. My company has "readjusted" salaries, which gave me a raise. I work for a tech company you have heard of and probably use. But I just cannot imagine myself being in my mid-30s to 40s working as a software engineer. It just doesn't seem like something I would or could do. That just seems so boring, even though I like my job and get to work on fun, cool problems; I am boggled by my young coworkers who can imagine themselves climbing the ranks. This is a job I do now because it's interesting and challenging, but I want to use it to do something cooler in the future. I just don't know what. I used to want to get an MFA in fiction.
  • SAVINGS: I have $7,500 in my cash savings account, plus $30,000 in stocks and bonds.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES:  I spend $640 per month on rent. I contribute to my 401(k) at work and I get free health insurance there. I don’t pay for monthly subscription services.
  • DEBT: I am not in debt. Here is where I admit that I have money from my grandparents, who are still alive (almost $150,000, and they give me $28,000 each year because it's the maximum tax-free gift amount), and they paid for my college tuition.
  • INVESTING: I bought a little Ethereum, I have a Betterment account and I have some money in a Vanguard low-cost index fund. This is all the result of reading and listening to economics/personal finance podcasts. A few months ago, I knew nothing. I want to know if there is going to be another huge drop in the stock market soon, and if so, am I an idiot for putting any money in the market now. Should I pull out? I guess this is how recessions start, and I should just think long-term and diversification, and think of that money as for, let's say, 10 years from now.
  • SPENDING VICTORY/REGRET: I  went to two sample sales for Ilana Kohn jumpsuits. In one, my birthday-addled mind decided I would look OK in a jumpsuit that is ultimately really ugly. I still have it. In another, which was technically not a sample sale but a "warehouse sale", I bought another Ilana Kohn jumpsuit for 20% off, so I think it was like $280. I feel really stupid about the first one I bought. I am not plus sized, but I feel like I generally have a lot of difficulty finding clothes that fit. For better or worse, I have always had expensive taste in clothing, but I never really bought any. Both of these jumpsuits were very big purchases to me. Now that I am a little older and have money and want to invest in high-quality pieces, I feel frustrated that I can't fit into things I like because I fall in between sizes. This is what I have been obsessing about the past few days.
  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was Planned Parenthood. 
  • GOALS: I want to eventually buy a house. I just don't know if I will do it in Brooklyn or in Los Angeles, where my parents live. Even though I am OK with being far from them now, I can't imagine it as I get older and hopefully have children. I would like to save at least $100,000 before I decide to buy. As of a few months ago, I was very into saving money. I saved $30,000 from my salary last year and want to do that every year. Recently, I've chilled on that, and started to spend more money, such as a  trip to Morocco and Korean beauty products. I know I should really get my savings back in order. It would be nice for me to understand how I spend my money and balance saving and spending, while also saving more than 50% of my income. 

- She Spends / Issue #24


How a 23-year-old Texas-based broadcast journalist spends:

  • SALARY: I make $40,000 as a broadcast journalist based in Central Texas. I have not yet negotiated my salary, but I plan to soon! 
  • SAVINGS: I have $5,500 split between two savings accounts to get the most out of my credit unions' rates.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I live at home, so I pay nothing for rent. I contribute to a Simple IRA each month, and my employer pays for health insurance. I enrolled in a Health Savings Account to take care of vision and dental, which aren’t included in my employer’s plan. I’m also on my parents’ healthcare plan as backup. I also pay for Spotify, HBO Now, ipsy, Bulu Box and a gym membership. Additionally, I annually pay for Amazon Prime, Audible and my personal website domain. I recently bought a lifetime subscription to the Headspace meditation app for $400. 
  • DEBT: I have student loans, but I’m using my salaried job to pay them off. 
  • SPENDING VICTORY: I am obsessed with Amazon Prime. I waited pretty far into my college career to get Amazon Prime Student. Far, meaning my senior year because signing up earlier would have made spending too easy! After the free six-month trial, the cost is $49 a year. I am still technically under student status a year out of college and saving 50% on membership. There are plenty of Prime benefits that people don't know about: free access to Audible channels and original content, unlimited photo storage, discounted subscription to The Washington Post, and pretty soon, benefits at Whole Foods. Understanding that Amazon as a company is aggressively growing to monopolize the online marketplace, branching into more industries, and probably data-mining my personal habits, I think it's only a matter of time until they start charging more as well. 
  • SPENDING REGRET: I used PayPal credit to pay for clothes at online retailers once, which I completely regret. 
  • CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was Meals on Wheels.
  • SIDE HUSTLE: No, but I plan to start selling the things my ex gave me!
  • GOALS: This seems very unconventional but a short-term goal for me right after I got my first "big girl" job was to have one year of "whatever" spending. I did this for two reasons. 1) Growing credit early: My personal credit limit grew by $15,000, from $1,000 to $16,000, in one year. As with many post-recession women, I grew up with skepticism about borrowing on credit and even the word "credit" seems like a confusing concept and such an adult thing to have. I actually had to take out my first card in 2014 from my credit union to pay for a ticket to the Salzburg Academy on a cash advance, since funding from my school would not have let me pay for the flight in a timely way. After careful management of the low-interest rate card for a few years, I did more research and took the plunge into rewards cards. 2) It's a good chance to get bad spending habits out of my system, allow me to celebrate earning a salary with benefits and investments and figure out the true cost and value behind the lifestyle I prefer to have. I signed up for subscription boxes, took trips across the country on a whim and bought my family awesome presents for Christmas. This short-term goal ends in October on my one-year work anniversary. After this, I will still travel as I like but will need to plan further out and around certain responsibilities. I use the Mint app to help me keep track of multiple accounts and track budgets. I look at the value of a material item and how long I can see myself keeping it rather than giving into the impulse to get it in the first place. Long term, I plan to pay off the students loans in my parents' names (Federal Parent PLUS loans) on track over the next 10 years. Currently, I pay more than $300 a month. Even if I go through a period of time being unemployed or leave the workplace to pursue a higher degree, this timeline is a commitment I made for myself out of respect for my family's sacrifices to help me get an education. Also, the next sibling is set to graduate from college in 10 years. Finishing within the terms of the loan would avoid any borrowing overlap for my parents on paper.

- She Spends / Issue #23

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How a 23-year-old Indianapolis-based social media specialist spends:

  • SALARY: I make $35,000 as a social media specialist based in Indianapolis. I have not yet asked for a raise. 
  • SAVINGS: I have $800 in my savings account.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $960 for rent, not including utilities. My employer doesn't offer a 401(k), so I opened a simple IRA. My employer covers 98% of my healthcare costs. The only subscription I pay for is Orangetheory, which is $99 a month and so worth it in my opinion. I don't have cable, just internet and use streaming logins from various family members. 
  • DEBT: I have student loans in my name, but I am fortunate that my parents are paying for them. I also have a car loan. I make the monthly payments on time as far as the car loan goes.
  • SPENDING VICTORY: Honestly, upgrading to a nicer apartment when I moved. The rent is $150 more, but the apartment overall is 100x nicer as far as just general aesthetic. Add in the fact that I have more square footage, a laundry room, an open floor plan and a balcony, I don't mind paying more for it because I'm also getting a lot in return. My former apartment in Arizona cost $820 per month for a 650-square-foot one-bedroom in a nice area of Phoenix. It was built in the ‘70s, which was a plus because it meant I couldn't hear my neighbors (new construction in Phoenix uses paper thin walls, apparently). I never enjoyed being in the apartment because all of the furnishings were very old and it was very dark and dingy. Other options in the area of Phoenix where I lived were either much higher rent for a nicer place (more than $1,000 for a studio), or the same rent I was paying (or less) for a bedbug-ridden home. No thanks. Moving to a new city across the country where there is a lower cost of living definitely allowed me to upgrade my living space. I am now paying $960 (I also got a pay increase with this new job) for a 750-square-foot one-bedroom and it's a totally different feel than my last one. It is kind of a weird spending victory, but it's something I'm really happy to spend money on. It is more money than my last apartment, but the ratio of rent paid to my paycheck is about equal. 
  • SPENDING REGRET: I spent about $350 on a new Tory Burch handbag a couple months back. I was in the market for a new purse when she was having a sale and I fell in love with this style of bag, but of course, the color I really wanted wasn't included in the sale. I ended up getting the bag in a different color than I wanted. Part of this reason was that it was one of those sales where if you spend more, the percent discount gets larger, and my mom was getting a few items as well to get us to the highest discount. Sheprobably wouldn't have cared if I pulled out because she didn't need anything from the sale either, but I did feel a bit bad. I do wish I had said something now because I want a different bag I actually love. 
  • CHARITY: No major contributions as of late. It's something I want to add to my budget once I get real savings habits down. 
  • SIDE HUSTLE: In addition to my full-time job, I am also a remote social media manager for a government organization. This is something that takes barely any of my time and was something I found almost immediately after I graduated college and hadn't found a full-time job. I took it so I wouldn't have a gap in my resume and I have stuck with it. I also work at a retail job two or three times per week. I actually really enjoy it and I get a great discount.
  • GOALS: My money goals are to get better at saving, both for the long term and for the short term. I kind of live paycheck to paycheck in a way, but there's no reason for me to. I just need to come up with a system of determining how much money I am going to put into different accounts every month, like a short-term travel spending account and a long-term savings account. I want to know more about investing. I've been reading a lot of personal finance blogs and all of them, for the most part, talk about investing. But they also all have salaries that are at least $20,000 more than mine, but more often that number is closer to $40,000. For that reason, it seems like it's only worth it to invest if you have at least like $1,000 that you can part with for the purpose, as well as add rather substantial amounts every month. I can't do that.

- She Spends / Issue #22

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How a 24-year-old New York-based business journalist spends:

  • SALARY: I make just under $75,000 per year as a business journalist. I'm really lucky to be making enough money to save in a notoriously expensive city, and I understand that it's not as easy for other people. I asked for a raise about six months into my current job and was basically told a raise that early on wasn't going to happen. I asked again after nearly a year and a half and got a 5% raise, which doesn't sound especially impressive but in my industry is pretty good.
  • SAVINGS: I've got about $20,000 in a money market account and about $7,700 in a robo-investment account. I’m the saver in my relationship. My boyfriend is less personal finance-obsessed than I am, so many times when we're deciding about eating in or going out or where to go on vacation, it feels like I'm the non-fun one who's forcing us to cook or take public transit instead of a cab. We talk about it and it's a process, but it's tricky.  
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,150 for rent each month, not including utilities and cable. I share an apartment in Brooklyn with one roommate. I am still on my parents’ insurance plan. Each month I pay for a gym membership ($50/month, which is reimbursed through my work's wellness program, though) and Spotify (just switched to a family plan). I benefit from certain privileges that I'm acutely aware of: my family lives here and takes me out to dinner sometimes, as do close family friends occasionally. Additionally, I had the option of living with my parents in New York City (even though I don't). I find discretionary spending a really confusing topic, especially in an expensive city. People say to save 20% of your income, including retirement savings, but discretionary spending percentages seem less hard and fast. What's normal to spend? How do people avoid spending insane amounts of money eating out and still have social lives? It seems really hard.
  • DEBT: I am not in debt.
  • INVESTING: I invest through a robo-investment service that my boyfriend referred me to and, separately, I've been experimenting with low-cost index funds using my Roth IRA. (I set that up separately from my employer-sponsored 401(k) for the money I contribute above my employer match. It sounds like that makes sense if you're younger and in a lower tax bracket, so you pay taxes on that now rather than, as you would do with a 401(k), later.) I also have a 401(k) that's invested in one of those target date funds that's supposed to invest keeping your expected retirement date in mind. 
  • SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I've ever spent on was a $179 vibrator during a very "treat yourself" moment. I had previously had a $20 one in college, and when it broke I waited a while to replace it. Then, around the holiday season, Lelo was having a sale and I just did it. No regrets: I've had it for a year and it's a great product. Hopefully it'll last me several years (it's rechargeable, haha). So much of what I spend on is at least in part for other people, whether it's clothes for work or going to a restaurant a friend wants to check out. Investing in this was something I was doing 100% for myself. And that felt good. 
  • SPENDING REGRET: I very stupidly bought a dress for about $100, with $20 shipping, that I'd seen linked to in an online newsletter. The dress took forever to arrive, didn't fit me quite right and oh yeah, the return address was in HONG KONG. It would have cost more money to ship it back than the dress was worth. I still feel like an idiot about that, even many months later. I also used to spend a lot of money on eating out and drinking without realizing it. I've cracked down on that a lot now, limiting myself to a budget of $70 max for going out for dinner and drinks, but should have realized earlier how quickly that adds up. Even though $70 sounds like a lot in addition to groceries, you can blow through that really quickly in New York City with a brunch with an out-of-town friend here and impromptu drinks there. 
  • CHARITY: My last donation was to Planned Parenthood.
  • SIDE HUSTLE: I don't know if this is exactly a side hustle, but I am working on a novel. I'm not doing it for the money exactly, but the dream would be getting it published, having the book take off and then getting to write books full time. 
  • GOALS: My main money goal right now is saving for a down payment on an apartment. I live in New York City, where housing prices are insane; every time I fork over $1,150 for rent I die a little inside, and that's hardly the highest rent I know of in this city. So saving aggressively toward a down payment helps me feel more in control of that. Realistically, I'd probably need at least $120,000, and that's with current housing prices (I'm many years away from that goal). There are all kinds of programs for first-time homebuyers, which could be helpful, and it's possibly that my boyfriend and I might buy together at some point, though it's just too early to say. And at the same time, I'm also ambivalent about staying here for a long time. Even as I'm trying to save and be strategic I am also not totally sure what the end goal is. 

- She Spends / Issue #21


How a 24-year-old Los Angeles-based News Editor Spends:

  • SALARY: I make $35,000 per year as a West Coast news editor. I have never asked for a raise.

  • SAVINGS: I have $110 in my savings account right now.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I don’t have to pay rent because I live with my parents. I do contribute to my 401(k), but I’m still on my parents’ healthcare plan. I pay for ClassPass and Hulu each month.

  • DEBT: I am in debt right now. I'm putting virtually my whole paycheck into paying it off. This involves both student loan debt and credit card debt. I am a terribly impulsive shopper and I rarely say no to myself. However, I follow strict money rules that however much I make that week (including overtime), at least $100 goes into my savings account and that I always, ALWAYS at least pay the minimum on my credit card bill.  

  • SPENDING VICTORY: I never regret spending money at Drybar. I used to get a mani/pedi every week and now I don’t because I am attempting to save up some money so I can travel. I count Drybar as my monthly splurge. It’s $40, excluding the $10 tip, to get a head massage and have your hair washed, blown out and styled. You always leave feeling relaxed and looking fabulous. Plus the stylists are always lovely to chat to and sometimes they offer you cookies/wine/champagne; every time I’m there I feel like a Hugh Grant movie is playing. It is my oasis. Making this a monthly thing instead of a weekly thing saves me a ton of money.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I loved the idea of Sunday Riley but the price point always freaked me out. I did not feel ready to drop major $$$ on a face oil even though everyone and their mother swore to me it was magic. I was given a Sephora gift card with a large sum of money on it for a birthday one year and thought, Why not? I will tell you why not. The product Junodid nothing, NOTHING for my face. And it smelled like salad dressing. I would have been better off buying a bottle of Newman’s Own Italian Style. I was pissed. I still regret this purchase to that day. And I used the whole card! Such a waste. (Editor’s note: Sephora has an amazing return policy. The website says the returns have to be new or gently used, but I’ve seen customers return items with half of the product in it for a full refund.)

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I take on freelance writing projects when I can.

  • CHARITY: My last donation was to the ACLU.

  • GOALS: My short-term goal is to get rid of the credit card debt that I have accrued. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s still more than I am comfortable with and I want it gone ASAP. I am also thinking about light cosmetic procedures which are seriously expensive and may have to be pushed to the long term. My actual long-term goals are saving up to travel to Japan and moving into a one-bedroom apartment.

- She Spends / Issue #20


How a 31-Year-Old Texas-based Assistant Event Planner Spends:

  • SALARY: I make $43,000 as an event planner based in Texas. I’ve asked for a raise twice. The first time I got 25 cents more per hour. The second time got $3 more an hour after a year of no response from management.
  • SAVINGS: I have $2,100 in my liquid savings account, or emergency fund. I also have $30,000 in IRAs and bonds.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,025 per month for my apartment, which is just three miles from work. I contribute to my 401(k) and health insurance each month. I also pay for Netflix and Hulu.
  • DEBT: I am in debt right now, but I’m working toward paying it off by using auto-drafts.
  • INVESTING: I have about $30,000 invested in the markets. My father happens to be a financial planner, which helps me a lot.
  • SPENDING VICTORY: I spent $220 to rescue my puppy. The main reason she is worth every penny is because she makes my life better. She is always there when I need someone. Having a dog has just given me something to live for, and it sounds dramatic, but when life has me really down, I remember that nothing can be so bad with that lil mama around. She also gives me easy ways to meet people and make human interactions at dog parks or on walks.
  • SPENDING REGRET: I was my sister's Maid of Honor for an extravagant wedding; they literally had drones filming the ceremony. The bridesmaid dress was $140, the shoes were $100. But that's just the start of it. I threw an engagement party where all the wedding party planned to pitch in $20 to $30 each. I got $20 total and it was from the groom covering for one of his lame groomsmen. There were 14 members of the wedding party. The MANDATORY bachelorette party was a trip to Cabo San Lucas, which cost me close to $750 plus I missed work and had to get a passport. Her wedding, which happened 18 months after her engagement, cost me well over $1,800.
  • CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was the Immigrants, We Get the Job Done Coalition.
  • SIDE HUSTLE: My side hustle is flipping cars. I just pay for the car and my stepbrother fixes and sells them for more money. I get a return on investment and he gets money for his labor.
  • GOALS: I want to someday own a house with a huge tub. I want to be able to save enough money to get there.

- She Spends / Issue #19


How a 30-Year-Old Portland-Based Self-Employed Consultant Spends:


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.

This week's money diary guest agreed to reveal herself. Lillian Karabaic offers money bootcamps through her web business, Oh My Dollar!

  • SALARY: I'm a self-employed consultant, so my income every year is varied. I make between $27,000 and $40,000 each year. I have asked for a raise before. I got a $10,000 raise in a non-profit job. Asking works!

  • SAVINGS: I have $11,500 in my savings account right now.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $615 per month on rent. Since I’m self-employed, I have a Roth IRA and a solo 401(k). I pay for my own healthcare. I pay $45 per month to go to the gym. That price includes the annual fee.

  • DEBT: I have never been in debt before.

  • INVESTING: I have my retirement in index funds, which are both stocks and bonds. I also own a minority shareholder status is a friend’s businesses.

  • SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I've ever spent money on was my custom bicycle, which I saved up for several years and then waited another year for between the deposit and finally getting the bike. It cost nearly $6,000, which is atrociously expensive, but it was handmade here in Portland by the tremendously talented Joseph Ahearne. I've now taken that bike to several countries and put over 20,000 miles on that saddle. I have rheumatoid arthritis and am under 5 feet tall, so it's very challenging for me to find quality long-distance bikes in my size off the rack. I ride my bike everywhere (I've never owned a car), so this bike was probably one of the best splurges I've ever made.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I hate paying the "stupid tax". Once I got my train ticket for the wrong date in Italy but didn't discover it until hours after I got on (and then was kicked off) the train. I lost my wallet the same day and ended up having to pay significant fees to get money wired to me and another train ticket bought on an international call. Probably more than $100 of stupid fees. Another time I lost my wallet, including my passport, 10 days before an international trip and had to expedite a new one, which ended up costing $260 between train tickets to Seattle passport office and rush fees. Honestly, my biggest spending regret is probably losing my darn wallet so often. I need to bring back wallet chains. Can that be professional femme wear?

  • SIDE GIG: My side hustle turned into my full-time job!

  • CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was the Harry Potter Alliance.

  • GOALS: I quit my job in politics to start my own business teaching personal finance last November and so now most of my biggest goals are related to getting the business income back to my former income. Right now I'm making around $25,000 per year from the business, which is fine for the moment and pays all my bills and a bit of savings, but is not my long-term ideal. As I get my income back up to $40,000 or more, I hope to be back to saving about half my income in my Roth IRA and my 401(k) as I was last year, as one of my big goals is to be financially independent, even though I have no desire to retire early!

- She Spends / Issue #18



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.

how a 22-year-old pittsburgh-based student with a retail job spends:

  • SALARY: I'm technically a sales associate at a retail store, however, I'm being trained for a management position within the same company that should start any day now. I'm also a seasonal promotional assistant for a radio station. I make $7.50 an hour at about 30 to 35 hours per week at my retail job, so between $950 and $1,000 a month before taxes. I told my boss that I needed to make more than $7.50 an hour if they wanted me to continue working at the company after graduating from college. They offered me a promotion into a management position that hopefully will start at $9 an hour. I don't know the actual wage yet since I haven't been promoted yet. It's kinda sketchy that I don't actually know how much I'll be making. I also get paid $7.50 at my promotional assistant job, which varies from 5 to 10 hours per week. That could be anywhere from $150 to $300 per month before taxes.
  • SAVINGS: I have approximately $10,000 in my savings account. I think about $6,000 is from when my federal student loans were greater than the actual cost of my tuition so the rest rolled over into my personal spending account. Realistically I have about $4,000 if you subtract what has to go back toward paying those loans back.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $400 per month for my apartment. I spend about $30 to $50 per month on utilities, $300 on groceries and probably $50 on general household and personal hygiene products. Right now I don't pay for my car insurance or cell phone, which I recognize how lucky I am, but that'll change once I graduate. I spent $12 for Hulu without commercials and $5 for Spotify Premium at the student rate. I’m still on my parents’ healthcare plan, and I don’t yet contribute to a 401K. 
  • DEBT: I'm in debt from my student loans, so I'll have to pay back my subsidized and unsubsidized loans. In-state tuition at my college is about $20,000 a year. I also had to take summer classes to graduate, which means I have to pay per credit. I lived on the campus for two years, so I paid an extra $20,000 for room and board. Since I'm still in my last semester of college, I haven't had to start payments on my loans, but I've been saving for it. I also owe my father $3,000 since he helped me buy a car when I was in a pinch. I've been working since I was 16 and throughout college. I've been very careful to track my spending and "treat yourself" moments are very rare in order to prepare for loan repayment. My dad hasn't collected on the car loan yet.
  • INVESTING:  I received stocks when I worked for Starbucks a few years ago, but I don't know anything about how to manage my stocks and haven't touched them at all.
  • SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I ever spent money on was a trip to visit my sister when she studied abroad in Ireland. My dad covered the cost of the plane ticket. I probably spent about $300 to $400 for a hotel, food, alcohol (it's Ireland, hello) and touristy things.
  • SPENDING REGRET: My biggest spending regret is probably my bass guitar and my amp. I bought the bass used for $200 and the amp was around $150. I've always wanted to learn how to play the bass, and for about two or three weeks I played it every day until finals hit last semester and I haven't really touched it since. I'm not in a band or play with friends regularly, and with my work schedule, I barely touch it. I hate to see it wasting space. Maybe one day I'll get a return on it but for now, it's a big stinking money pit.
  • CHARITY: My last donation was to Planned Parenthood ($10) during election season. In the past, I've donated to National Eating Disorders Association and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Since I'm on a tight budget and I'm saving for loans to kick in, I don't donate as much as I'd like.
  • GOALS: I'd like to pay off my student loans within 5 to 10 years. I'd like to keep better track of my spending habits. I try to be as frugal as possible but I don't keep track of small purchases (like coffee and cigarettes, I wish I could quit!) that could rack up a total. I wish I knew more about how the stock market worked, considering I have stocks and I don't know what to do with them. When I graduate from college and have a better understanding of how much money I'll have at any given time, I'd like to explore personal saving options (like an IRA) in order to prepare for my own financial future.

- She Spends / Issue #17


How A 29-year-old U.K.-based Business Analyst Spends:

  • 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. 

- She Spends / Issue #16


How a 23-year-old Philadelphia-based communications specialist spends:

  • 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

How a 24-year-old Washington, D.C., Communications Coordinator Spends:

  • 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 ( 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

How a 24-year-old Long Island Reporter Spends:

  • 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

How a 24-Year-Old First Grade Teacher Spends:

  • 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


How a 27-year-old New York-based Documentation Editor Spends

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


How A Pittsburgh-based Project Manager Spends:

  • 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

How a 27-Year-Old Pennsylvania Research Project Assistant Spends:


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


How a 23-year-old Manhattan-based News Correspondent Spends:

  • 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

How A 25-Year-Old D.C. Communications Manager Spends:

  • 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

How a Washington, D.C. Grants Management Specialist Spends:

  • 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).

 Click here to take our anonymous survey on spending habits.

She Spends Issue #6