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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • CHARITY: I contribute to Planned Parenthood every month.

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

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

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

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

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

  • INVESTING: I invest using an Ellevest account.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • DEBT: I am not in debt. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How a 24-year-old New York-based digital marketing manager spends:

  • SALARY: I make $35,000 per year as a digital marketing manager in the music industry in New York. The company is very small and growing so I took the position with the knowledge that it would be a bit of a startup mentality for a period of time. I've given a deadline for when I would consider looking at other options that pay more appropriately, though I love my job.

  • SAVINGS: I have $3,000 in my savings account right now.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My partner and I split the cost of a $1700/month one-bedroom apartment. My share is $850. Our friend owns the building! I do not contribute to my 401(k) and I'm still on my parents' health insurance plan. Since our friend owns my apartment building, we split all of the household bills between everyone. My share for utilities and internet is usually about $50/month. I pay $121 for my MTA card. I subscribe to two podcasts for $10. I have a Spotify subscription, which is $10. I have a chronic health issue and pay between $50 and $100 per month in copays, though these are non-negotiable.  

  • DEBT: I am not in debt.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: Occasionally I help my friend who is a business owner do research, copy editing, etc. This is varied income so I don't count on it but he pays me $25 per hour and there will be an extra couple hundred dollars here and there from it.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  We made the decision to move apartments last year since this one was $800 less per month and I like living with people that I know and who are friendly to me. Though all of the moving costs set me back for about three months.

  • SPENDING REGRET: I worked three jobs in high school and saved every penny in order to move across the country for college. I wish that I hadn't blown through all of that money so quickly on discretionary purchases.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would probably invest the majority of it. And would likely set aside a portion for new clothes and maybe a vacation.

  • GOALS: My long-term goal is to have six-months income in a high-yield money market account and to max out my Roth IRA every year. After that, I'd like to invest my money into buying a house at some point in the distant future. 

How a 31-year-old Boston-based partner manager spends:

  • SALARY: I make $90,000 per year as a partner manager at a tech company based in Boston. I've been able to receive a raise every time I've negotiated. I highly recommend reading 'Women Don't Ask' by Linda Babcock for tips on how to negotiate and the long term cost of *not* negotiating.  

  • SAVINGS: I have $17,000 in my savings account right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $800 per month to rent an apartment with two other people. I contribute to my 401(k) and pay for my own health insurance. My other monthly expenses include tithing $600 to my church, giving $50 to charity, $300 for my car payment, $225 for car and renter's insurance, $100 for utilities, $700 for groceries, dining out and coffee, $84 for my monthly train pass, $80 for four therapy sessions, $70 for my phone bill, $100 for shopping, toiletries and makeup and $30 for Netflix, Hulu and Spotify.  

  • DEBT: I still owe $4,000 on my car but I could pay that off from my savings account. I've paid off my student loans and credit card debt (about $50k total) and now paying off my car - minimum payment is $211, I pay $300.

  • INVESTING: I contribute to my 401(k) monthly. I have also purchased stock in the company I work for.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Travel! Those are experiences that are worth every penny.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Food - I spend waaaaaaay too much money on dining out/coffee/eating in general. 

  • CHARITY: I tithe regularly to my church and I also support campus ministers and missionaries in our church network. I donate to disaster relief funds as events come up, I volunteer with Big Sister/Little Sister and donate to that organization, and also support the Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: Pretty stereotypical, but I would buy my own house/condo.

  • GOALS: I would like to pay off my car and be completely debt free for the first time in my life, have an emergency fund of $20,000, and start to save for a house. 

How a 30-year-old Bethesda-based legal marketer spends:

  • SALARY: I make $90,000 per year working in legal marketing in Washington, D.C. I have never asked for a raise. 

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

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1000 for my half of the rent. My boyfriend and I live together in Bethesda, which is close to D.C. I contribute to a 401(k) and pay for my own health insurance. I pay $550 per month for a personal trainer and $10 per month for Google music. 

  • DEBT: I am not in debt. 

  • INVESTING: I contribute to my 401(k) and invest outside of that via TD Ameritrade. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was my Saint Laurent bag. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: I regret spending on designer clothes that I don’t wear because they don’t fit my lifestyle.

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was the ACLU.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I’d dump it into my brokerage account.

  • GOALS: I want to save $1.2 million for early retirement.

How a 23-year-old Pennsylvania-based teacher spends:

SALARY: I make $50,000 per year as an elementary school music teacher based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a teacher your salary is non-negotiable. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $12,500 in my savings account right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I live with my parents, so I don't pay rent. I contribute to a 401(k) and I'm on my parents' healthcare plan still. I go to weekly Pure Barre classes that cost me $100 a month. I pay $40 a month for FabFitFun Membership, $10 for Spotify and $40 for manicures each month.

  • DEBT: I am in debt. I only have $10,000 left in student loans, so I make extra payments every month to hopefully pay it off in the next few years.

  • INVESTING: I contribute to my Roth IRA every month.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was going to Europe in college - we traveled to Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: I regret leasing my first car rather than buying it.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I teach private voice and piano lessons, bringing in an extra $400 a month. 

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was Make-A-Wish.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would pay for a vacation for my entire family! (Then I'd probably pay off my student loans....) 

  • GOALS: I want to be out of debt and save for a down payment of a house.

How a 25-year-old Virginia-based partner marketing manager spends

  • SALARY: I make $60,000 per year as a partner marketing manager in Stafford, Virginia. I have asked for — and received — a raise before.

  • SAVINGS: I have $10,301 in my savings account right now.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My mortgage payment each month is $2282. That includes the private mortgage insurance payment and taxes. I contribute to my 401(k), but I'm still on my parents' healthcare plan. My husband and I share a gym membership with a friend. It costs a total of $150 per month, which we split.

  • DEBT: I am in debt. I have $1,000 in credit card debt and a $2,000 car loan. I'm lucky to have no student loans. My interest rate on my car is so low so I only occasionally make an extra payment. For my credit card, I pay about $300 per month towards it, so it should be gone soon!

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

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was my dog's adoption fee! I also love the couch I bought this year. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: I regret all my Amazon impulse purchases. 

  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was our local SPCA.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would pay off my house! I would also purchase a luxury fashion item.

  • GOALS: I want to pay down my debt and then learn how to invest (and take the risk!) as well as focus on my retirement. Sometimes I wake up in a panic about it.

How a 26-year-old Phoenix, Arizona-based physician assistant spends

  • SALARY: I make about $110,000 per year as a physician assistant based in Phoenix, Arizona. I have asked for a raise before. I was offered an $8000 salary bump when changing jobs this year. My mom always told me "a man would never think twice about asking for more" so I simply asked, and got another $7000, plus a sign on bonus. Thanks, Mom!  

  • SAVINGS: I have $30,000 in savings that is split between a Roth, a 401(k) and an online savings account (Barclays, for the interest rates).

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1384 each month to rent a spacious one bedroom apartment in downtown Phoenix. I contribute to my 401(k) and I pay for my own health insurance. I got Hulu (with commercials) for $0.99 a month on Black Friday! I pay $40 a month for a wine club (that averages to about 12 bottles every 2 months). My monthly internet bill is $43 and my water bill is $35. 

  • DEBT: I am not in debt. 

  • INVESTING: I have invested by myself in the past, but now that I have some more money to play around with, I have established with a financial advisor. He is helping me save for a down payment on a house, max out my retirement allocations, and invest. I was nervous about getting a financial adviser, but he took the time to work through my priorities with me and seems to genuinely have my best interests at heart. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  The best thing I ever spent money on was a long beach weekend away with my boyfriend, two cases of canned sparkling rose and every bottomless mimosa brunch we could find. We had both been way overworked and stressed and those three days are the nicest memory of the whole year! 

  • SPENDING REGRET: This is reaching wayyy back, but my limo on prom night. It cost about $150 each and was not a special experience. I think about it every so often when my spending is growing and I could be using the money for things that truly matter. 

  • CHARITY: I contribute regularly to various charities including St. Jude, the Arizona Humane Society, a food bank near me and I just spent a bunch buying an underprivileged family Christmas gifts. That was my favorite Christmas shopping this year!  

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would pay off my boyfriend's and best friend's student loans, and then buy my mom the beautiful lake house with a wraparound porch that she has always wanted. 

  • GOALS: I am saving toward a down payment on a house and for retirement. And to help my mom move closer to me!

How a 31-year-old Denver-based software developer spends:

  • SALARY: I make $104,000 per year as a software developer in Denver, Colorado. This past year I took on a lot more responsibility at work, so I asked for a 20% raise, they gave me 16% which I am happy with.

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

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My partner and I pay $2500 per month to rent a two bedroom townhouse. I pay for my own healthcare plan and contribute to a 401(k). I pay $13 per month for Hulu, $42 per month for YouTubeTV, $140 per year for an NHL package, $85 per month for Massage Envy, and roughly $30 per month for a Project Fi phone.

  • INVESTING: I Invested $8,000 over the past few years in stocks, using the app Robinhood. I try to invest in companies where I use their products and understand what they are doing and that has worked well for me.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Travel, I try to budget well when I go on a trip, but I think the experience is always worth more than the money.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Late night online shopping, later on, whatever I bought doesn't seem so great or necessary, or I stop using it pretty quick.

  • CHARITY: This year I contributed to several political campaigns, other than that I give to local homeless charity and support artists on Patreon.

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I would buy a house. 

  • GOALS: I want to save up to own property. Not in the city we live since its so expensive, we hope to buy something cheaper for a weekend getaway or place to rent out, somewhere closer to the mountains.

How a 29-year-old Louisville-based television news reporter spends:

  • SALARY: I make $47,000 per year as a television news reporter based in Louisville, Kentucky. I have never asked for a raise. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $3,000 in my savings account right now. 

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $400 rent each month. I contribute to a 401(k) and I pay for my own health insurance plan. I spend $200 on utilities, car insurance, and my phone bill.

  • DEBT: I am not in debt.

  • INVESTING: My dad helped me get started with a mutual fund and I recently started an Ellevest account. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  Traveling abroad. The experience of travel is well worth the money to me. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: Spending money on drinks and late night eats

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I pick up random transcription work. I charge about $40 per 30 minute interviews. The work doesn't come often enough. 

  • CHARITY: The last charity I supported was the Red Cross. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I’d buy a new computer. 

  • GOALS: I want to save enough money to start my own bakery one day. 

How a 28-year-old Saint Paul, Minnesota-based independent book publicist spends:

  • SALARY:  I make $90,000 per year as an independent book publicist. At all of my corporate jobs, I negotiated for promotions with raises and got them.

  • SAVINGS: In our joint savings we have about $10,000.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My husband & I recently bought a house, so my half of the mortgage is about $1,000/month. I pay for my own health insurance. We pay $200 for a family gym membership (split between my husband & I), $150 for pet insurance for our two dogs, roughly $200 on bills & utilities (cable, electric, etc.). I also contribute to a few of my favorite artists' Patreons, which comes out to $50 each month. We use my parents' Netflix account and have been thinking about adding Hulu but haven't done so yet. 

  • DEBT: I actually just fully paid off my student loans this year (YAY!), but am now in debt with my mortgage. We're working to pay extra on top of the monthly bill (of about $2,000) in order to pay it off faster. 

  • INVESTING: I have 401Ks from previous corporate jobs that I need to roll over into a Roth IRA. It's my goal for next year to get my independent retirement accounts in order! 

  • SPENDING VICTORY: Moving! I lived in NYC for a long time, and hit a wall and ended up moving across the country to Seattle. It was expensive for sure, and risky, but I'm SO glad I trusted in myself and made such a major change. Also, any money I've spent on my animals (2 dogs and a cat) is always very well spent! 

  • SPENDING REGRET: A million little things that added up to a lot! I'm glad I went out a lot for dinner & drinks in my post-college years in NYC, but I definitely could have been WAY better with saving and thinking about my future financial goals. 

  • CHARITY: I donate monthly to RAGOM, which is a Golden Retriever rescue based in the Midwest (where I live now) that I volunteer with. I also donate to the other rescue I volunteer with, the Minnesota Newfoundland Rescue.

  • GOALS: Beefing up my retirement account! I started my own independent company a year ago and it's been on my list from the start to get in order. I'm finally making steps to combining all of my individual retirement accounts and getting serious about investing. 

How a 25-year-old Dallas-based financial analyst spends

  • SALARY:  I make $80,000 per year as a base salary as a financial analyst based in Dallas. I also make roughly $5,000 in bonuses. My company gives a 3% cost of living raise to basically everyone each year. We also have biannual reviews where we are evaluated for raises and promotions. I plan to apply for a promotion next summer and that will come with a $10,000 salary increase. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $40,000 in my savings account, but I’m getting ready to contribute $30,000 to my existing investment account and leave $10,000 as an emergency fund.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,400 for a 700 square foot one-bedroom apartment in a suburb outside of Dallas. I’m on a high deductible plan at work that costs about $100 a month. I also pay $60 for utilities, $20 for renters' insurance, $100 for car insurance, $300 for car payments, $50 for internet and $56 for my phone bill each month. I use my parents Netflix account and my apartment has a decent gym and pool for exercise. 

  • DEBT: I am in debt. I recently bought a brand new Honda and was approved for a 5-year loan with a $300 monthly payment and a 1.9% rate. I’ve been paying it off for around 6 months now.

  • INVESTING: I’ve maxed out my retirement accounts for the past two years. I also have an investment account with Schwab that I've been slowly transferring most of my savings to since I graduated college. After I get a promotion next year, I plan to make automatic monthly contributions of around $500 a month.

  • SPENDING VICTORY: My best friend and I have taken several big trips overseas which each cost a couple thousand dollars. I also just bought my first car (a new sporty Honda) which I’m pretty proud of. I was previously using public transportation and sometimes borrowing one of my parents’ cars.

  • SPENDING REGRET: Not getting a credit card to build up my credit sooner. I got my first one when I started my first job after college and it has made getting approved for an apartment and a car loan very difficult due to my short credit history. I also wish I started investing in my IRA sooner. You can invest as soon as you are over 18 and have “earned income” and I had several jobs/internships in college that I wish I had invested.

  • CHARITY: I contribute to my church and the Junior League, both of which oversee a lot of local philanthropic initiatives that I believe in. At work, I also contribute one day’s salary pay per year which is donated directly to the Red Cross and gives me an extra vacation day called an “Angel Day."

  • GOALS: I’d love to have my car paid off by age 30 and move back to my home state, where I’d like to buy a house I can raise a family in. I’m also interested in building a passive income stream through rental properties or possibly flipping houses, or contributing aggressively to my investment account so I can retire early. It’s important to me that I work towards having minimal monthly expenses in the future (by paying off my car and my mortgage early) so that I can move into a career I do for fun, not necessarily for the money. 

How a 25-year-old Atlanta-based video journalist spends:

  • SALARY:  I make $56,000 per year working as a video journalist in Atlanta, Georgia. I asked for a raise when I had another job offer on the table. My boss couldn't give me a raise immediately but she secured new camera gear for me so in a sense that was the "raise."

  • SAVINGS: I have $9,000 in my savings account.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $1,228 per month for rent. I live by myself and rent an overpriced studio in Midtown but it has great amenities like a gym, pool, fire pit and an actual parking garage. I contribute to a 401(k) and I pay for my own health insurance. I also pay $50 for electric, $50 for water, $120 for car insurance, $75 for gas, $10 for MoviePass, $10 for Spotify and $20 for Weight Watchers each month. My mom and I share Netflix, Hulu, HBO and a cell phone bill. Shepays them each month.

  • DEBT: I am in debt. My minimum payment for this student loan is about $70 a month but I’ve been trying to pay closer to $150 when I can.  

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

  • SPENDING VICTORY: About a month ago I found a $400 round-trip, non-stop flight to Paris. So my Abuela and I booked the flights and we will be spending a week together in Paris this November. My Abuela is turning 80 years old this year and she's the most experienced traveler I know. This will be my first big trip with her and I'm so excited that we're able to do it.

  • SPENDING REGRET: There's not one big spending regret in particular, but I have been in a bad habit of eating out way too much. At one point I was probably spending upwards of $400 to $500 a month on eating and drinking out. I have recently cut back on that drastically and I try to limit myself to one dining out experience a week. This is very new, so I'm still working towards sticking to it.

  • SIDE HUSTLE:  I do not have a side hustle, but I can get overtime at my job. I'm an hourly employee so I'm overtime eligible and I regularly work a few hours extra a week, which equals about $400 extra month. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd take a long and luxurious vacation. I love staying in very nice hotels and I'm desperate to sit on a beach for a week straight. I'd love to be able to pay to bring family members along with me on this vacation.

  • GOALS: I'd like to start saving more money by splitting rent with my boyfriend when we move in together later this year. Hoping to be able to purchase my own condo in the next few years and for sure pay off my student loan debt before I'm 28.

How a 25-year-old Nashville-based government worker spends:

  • SALARY:  I make $34,000 a year as an insurance worker for the government. My husband makes $43,000 per year working in government as well as well. All of our accounts are combined, so including him gives a more realistic picture of our spending! I have asked for a raise before, and I didn't get it. So I'm leaving my employer! I'm worth more than $34,000 per year. I've been job hunting for a bit, and finally got an offer from a different department. I asked my current boss for a raise and was shot down, so I decided to walk. Honestly, even if I didn't have another job lined up, I would've walked after being turned down for a raise. I'm severely underpaid for my insurance job, and the economy has improved a bit. Know your worth, and if your current employer doesn't respect your worth, LEAVE. 

  • SAVINGS: I have $70,000 in my savings account.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: My husband and I split housing costs. I pay $418 per month. Mortgage, insurance, and taxes for our three bedroom, two and a half bathroom condo in Nashville is $836. We aim for $200 to $500 per month each into our Roths. We put 10% of income into our 401(k)s. Health insurance comes out of my husband’s check. It is $200 per month for dental, health and vision. Otherwise, we pay $120 per month for utilities, $60 for pets, $130 to insure both of our cars, $350 for a car loan, $10 for Netflix, $15 for Spotify, $180 for phones, $20 for a home alarm and $60 for internet each month.

  • DEBT: My car loan is $350, and we have a mortgage of $120,000. We are not aggressively paying these off since the market offers better returns at this time. My car loan is 0%, so it feels like it isn't real debt (even though it definitely is, whoops!) I'm SO glad my student loans are gone, because those are seriously lord Satan. 

  • INVESTING:   I started with my 401(k). Then, I opened up a Roth IRA with USAA. It was the safest mutual fund, so I got more aggressive and opened a Vanguard. I love Vanguard! I used to put $200 per month in my Roth, but with my husband’s job loss, we have paused this. Investing is so, so important. 

  • SPENDING VICTORY: I paid off $38,000 in student loans in under three years by working two jobs and spending no money. We now have breathing room in our budget, and it feels so good! 

  • SPENDING REGRET: My brand new car. It has 0% interest, so it sounded like a good idea at the time.

  • SIDE HUSTLE:  I can barely show up to my main hustle. But I did work two jobs to pay off my loans and to help buy our condo, SO WORTH IT! 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: Grad school. I miss school so much but don't miss the loans. I'd also pay off my mortgage and buy my dad a new house. 

  • GOALS: Live on half our income. Invest in non-tax-deferred accounts, max out our Roths and 401k. Be financially free at 45.