- SALARY: I make $950.72 each month working as a teaching assistant based in Cape Town, South Africa.
- SAVINGS: I have $365.66 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $255.96 each month on rent. I don’t contribute to a 401(k) or pay for health insurance right now.
- DEBT: I am not in debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: The best thing I ever spent money on was my airplane ticket to South Africa from the United States.
- SPENDING REGRET: I regret spending money at bad clothing stores. It never is worth it.
- CHARITY: I most recently donated to the Saartjie Baartman Home for Women and Children.
- GOALS: I want to start investing. If I won the lottery, I would immediately start putting cash into stocks and bonds.
e'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 make $100,000 working as a leadership training coach in New York. I have asked for and received, a raise in the past.
- SAVINGS: I have about $50,000 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: My husband and I live in an apartment that costs $9,000 per month to rent. We split the bill. I contribute to an IRA every month. I also pay for health insurance, Netflix, Rent the Runway Unlimited, a cell phone, condo fees and office space each month. I’m a sustaining member to WNYC as well.
- INVESTING: I currently am investing through a financial adviser.
- DEBT: I am not in debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: Our condo in New York City. It was so worth it.
- SPENDING REGRET: I spent money on online advertising for my business that I completely regret.
- CHARITY: I give to WNYC every month.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I have a side hustle as a fashion designer.
- GOALS: I want to eventually own a beach house.
-She Spends Issue 31
- SALARY: I make $38,000 as a talent acquisition representative outside of Pittsburgh, Pa. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have about $3,000 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I still live with my parents, and they still cover my health insurance. I do contribute to a 403(b) at work. I also pay for monthly subscriptions to Netflix, Ipsy and PlayStation Plus.
- DEBT: I am in debt. I pay $800 a month for school loans. I also pay $400 in credit cards to pay off some school supplies (laptops, books, etc.) and a Disney trip. I am paying a lot of interest on the credit cards though.
- SPENDING VICTORY: A trip to Disney World! I went for the first time last year. It was a treat for myself and so worth it.
- SPENDING REGRET: I bought a Mary Kay kit as an impulse buy to support a friend. I do like the product, but I have no intention of making a living or business from it.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was a relief fund for Puerto Rico.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I work as a house manager at a local college’s performing arts center.
- GOALS: I want to pay off my student loans and to buy a new car.
- She Spends / Issue #29
- SALARY: I make $37,500 as a research assistant based in Maryland. I have not yet negotiated for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have about $4,800 in my savings and $5,700 in a money market account.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $750 per month for rent. I also pay for utilities, Amazon Prime and WiFi. I'm still on my parents' healthcare plan. I was in an accident last year that required me to take four months of medical leave from my job. I was lucky that my position was held for me even though I did not qualify for FMLA and that I am covered by my dad's health insurance. If I had bought my own health insurance through my employer, I probably would have chosen a plan with more limited coverage, like an HMO, being young and never thinking I would have to heavily utilize its services. My dad's PPO plan is widely accepted and I didn't have to worry if a doctor or physical therapist took my health insurance -- they all did. While I was recovering, I lived at home with my parents and didn't have many expenses (i.e. rent) but we had to spend a great deal on basic wound care essentials that my health insurance does not cover because they are over-the-counter products (Ed. note: You can buy these products at the FSA Store with flexible savings account funds; your company will let you put pre-tax money into these accounts.) They were vital to my healing, and it added up! This experience opened my eyes to the realities of healthcare in America.
- DEBT: I am in debt. I have monthly auto-payments set up for my student loan. I still haven't decided if I should pay my undergraduate student loans off more aggressively than I do now. I'm in an income-based repayment plan that is reasonable, but knowing that I plan to go to grad school I wonder if I should pay more.
- SPENDING VICTORY: My MacBook Pro cost about $1,200. I purchased it in the summer of 2012, which was right after I graduated from high school. I bought it using what I saved from my cashier job at a fast food restaurant, babysitting, pet sitting and graduation cash.
- SPENDING REGRET: Sometimes I spend money on experiences and other fun things, and I almost immediately regret it. Going to a fortune teller with my roommate and getting our tarot cards read was fun but definitely not worth $40.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was Partners in Health.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I babysit on the side to pick up some extra cash.
- GOALS: I'm currently taking prerequisite classes for a master's program in occupational therapy. I take one class a semester at a local community college and pay for them on a monthly payment plan. It's pretty reasonable. I hope to start the master's program in fall 2019. I am nervous all the expenses of grad school. I hope I am able to get a graduate assistantship to defray the cost, or at least work part-time while in school full time. My goal is to figure out a common sense plan to make grad school as affordable as possible.
- She Spends / Issue #28
- SALARY: I make $35,000 per year as an event planner based in Indianapolis.
- SAVINGS: I have about $2,100 in my savings account.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $750 per month for rent. I contribute to a 401(k) at work, and I’m still on my parents’ healthcare plan. I also pay for Spotify each month.
- DEBT: I have about $1,700 in credit card debt at the moment and I am throwing every extra dollar I can at paying it down. I also have around $28,000 in student loans that I try to pay more than the minimum on every month. When my pup gets older, I will probably get a part-time job serving like I did in college so I can pay off my student loans faster. I plan to have my credit cards paid off by the end of next year and I want to have my student loans paid off before I'm 30.
- SPENDING VICTORY: I recently adopted a puppy because I live alone and have been wanting a dog for my entire life, basically. Dogs, and pets in general, can be pretty expensive once you factor in food, vet bills, doggy daycare, membership to an off-leash dog park and all the toys/goodies I buy to spoil her with, but I couldn't be happier with my decision. I live alone and I'm pretty introverted; the last time I lived alone I wouldn't leave my apartment all weekend but now I have my pup and we go on adventures together all the time. Plus, I get someone to cuddle with at night.
- SPENDING REGRET: I have two! I lost my car key at a music festival and had to pay $300 on the spot to get a new key made. It was the dumbest thing I have ever done and I still regret being such an idiot and losing my key to this day. The other is a couch that I was super excited about. It was $700. The stupid couch has USB ports to charge phones (which was like half of the reason I bought it) and the couch electrocuted my iPhone and now it's dead. So I'm a little bitter about that and I am not happy at all about the couch. I would say this stupid couch is now a HUGE spending regret.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was Planned Parenthood.
- GOALS: My short-term money goals are to pay off my credit cards and student loans. I am also saving for a trip to Morocco, which I hope to take within the next year. Long term, I want to become more financially literate so I can understand investing and stocks.
- She Spends / Issue #27
- SALARY: I make $53,000 per year working as a research analyst in New York. I never asked for a raise, but my boss offered one.
- SAVINGS: I have $14,400 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $1,695 each month on rent. I pay for my own healthcare insurance and I contribute to a 401(k) each month. I also pay for Amazon Prime and Spotify Premium.
- DEBT: I am in debt. I am making regular payments on my student loans to pay it off.
- SPENDING VICTORY: My boyfriend and I rented a cute cozy cabin for a long weekend with no WiFi or cell service. I spent $355 in total. The cabin, split with my boyfriend, cost $610 and we spent about $100 on groceries (which we also split). This was my first real vacation I've ever paid for and I saved up over the winter so we could go on this trip together.
- SPENDING REGRET: I honestly can't think of any! I'm a Libra and I tend to overthink things. So any big purchases I've made I've spent a lot of time researching and deciding whether it's really worth it.
- CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was Planned Parenthood.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I babysit on the side to pick up extra cash.
- GOALS: I'm in the process of applying to PhD programs, so I'm trying to save up enough money to help pay for living expenses once I no longer have a full-time job. Long term, I'd like to pay off my student debt more aggressively once I hopefully finish my doctoral degree.
- She Spends / Issue #26
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
TELL US YOUR SPENDING SECRETS!
We're sharing the spending secrets of one woman each week - completely anonymously. This section draws inspiration from Refinery29's Money Diaries and NYMag's Spending Diaries (gotta give credit where it's due, right?) Click here to take our anonymous survey on spending habits 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
- 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
SALARY: I make $55,000 as a communications specialist based in Philadelphia. I have not yet asked for a raise, but I definitely want to know more about it. I think I make pretty good money, but I know I'm going to want to ask for a raise sometime next year. It would be helpful to know what a man would be making at my same position and how to ask for a raise in a compelling way.
SAVINGS: I have $14,000 in my savings account right now.
MONTHLY EXPENSES: I currently don’t spend any money on rent. I’m on my parent’s healthcare plan, but I do contribute to a 401(k).
DEBT: I am not in debt.
SPENDING VICTORY: My most recent spending victory would probably be the trip I just took. I spent two weeks traveling across Spain and obviously spent a ton of money between flights, accommodations, food, tours, clubs, souvenirs, etc. I had originally wanted to take this trip right after graduating college in May 2016, but my savings account was pretty depleted from school. So I waited until I'd worked at my full-time job for six months and had more of a cushion; then I went. It was nice because then I didn't have to worry about cutting corners like skipping awesome meals or missing out on tour tickets, and I could just really make the most of the time I had there. Plus, I got to use two weeks of paid vacation, so I pretty much ended up breaking even!
SPENDING REGRET: I don't have one singular spending regret. My biggest regrets are just little everyday things that I don't really need but spend money on anyway. I really hate spending money on mediocre food — that always haunts me. Or buying clothes that end up in my closet for a year with the tags still on them.
SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
CHARITY: The last organization I donated to was the ACLU.
- GOALS: I'm living at home while I save up enough money to move out, and in a perfect world, I'd like to buy a condo in Philadelphia instead of renting an apartment. I'd want to live in the condo for a few years before eventually moving into a house in the suburbs; I would keep the condo to rent out. I'm still a while away from recognizing this dream, though!
- She Spends / Issue #15
- SALARY: I make $44,820 per year as a communications coordinator at a nonprofit. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have $5000 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $900 on rent in a Washington, D.C., apartment. I contribute to a 401(k) and pay for my own health insurance. I also pay $10 per month for a Spotify Premium membership
- DEBT: I am in debt. I make monthly payments and contribute more as I can. If I won the lottery, I’d pay off my student loans.
- SPENDING VICTORY: My spending victory is a small one, but it makes me happy every time I look at it, so I definitely consider it a victory. I bought a pair of antique theatre seats for $75. With the cost of a shared flatbed truck rental, they were about $100 all together. One of my friends is the managing director of the theater. She posted to Facebook that they were selling them and I reached out almost immediately. It was truthfully very close to an impulse buy, but because I love theatre and at the time was looking for another furniture piece or two, I snapped it up. I didn't have a strict furniture line item in my budget, but I shifted things around. Looking ahead, they're in great shape, but could use reupholstering, so eventually I'll have to put money into that.
- SPENDING REGRET: My biggest spending regret is not paying attention to my budget and anticipating large payments coming up. I use You Need a Budget (YNAB.com) and highly recommend it! They encourage people to look at the budget lines instead of the total account number and to only budget with the money in your account right now, rather than forecasting all inflow and outflow you'll have each month. It works well for me, but when I get out of the habit of keeping track and regularly updating my budget, I think I have more money in my account than I actually do and let myself spend more money than I actually should. By sheer luck, I've kept myself out of any seriously bad financial situations, but I've definitely had days filled with anxiety until my next paycheck because rent, health insurance, and a credit card payment all cleared my account at the same time and the balance dropped to scary levels.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- GOALS: My short-term goals are to consistently stick to my budget and to have at least a month's buffer (essentially, that I'll be paying for July's expenses with June's income). Beyond that, I want to build back up my emergency fund (quitting your job will exhaust it more quickly than you think!!). I want to keep setting money aside to fund my Roth IRA and start investing more. I also want to travel more, which is somewhat easier because I work remotely (but somewhat harder because I have a cat!). Once I'm feeling like I'm back in a good place financially, I'm really looking forward to planning a trip to someplace new, even just a weekend getaway.
- She Spends / Issue #14
SALARY: I made $45,000 overall for 2016. I have a union job and my pay follows the union pay schedule, so it changes throughout the year. My wages are dictated by a union pay schedule. Benefits like vacation time increase by year, pay increases in January and then again on your date of hire each year. You can under some circumstances ask for a raise on top of the pay schedule, but to my knowledge that's very uncommon.
SAVINGS: I have $5,000 in my savings account right now. I just had some big medical expenses, though. It's usually between $6,000 and $7,000. I also have a money market account through a bank. They have me pick from different stock pools depending on how risky I'm feeling and they take care of it.
MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $1,075 on rent each month. Our Long Island apartment is $2,150 total, but I split rent with my boyfriend. It's more than I'd prefer to be paying, but it's very hard to find a decent place on Long Island that welcomes pets, is legal and within my price range. I contribute to a 401(k) plan. I’m still on my parents’ health insurance plan. I also pay for subscriptions to Planet Fitness, Hulu, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Spotify Premium and Showtime (just until Twin Peaks ends).
DEBT: I am luckily not in debt. I am very, very lucky to have been able to pay for school through scholarships and money my parents had saved. Also I only have one credit card with a low limit because credit card debt terrifies me.
SPENDING VICTORY: Our dog, which we rescued from Thailand from smugglers who were going to illegally sell her for meat. We put down $500 at a rescue for the adoption fees for her (fees are higher for dogs coming from other countries to cover travel and import expenses). She's also had a lot of medical problems and anxiety issues from that experience. She was a dog that really needed a loving home with a permanent caretaker and now she is my child. I pay $30 a month for pet insurance and have paid about $1,500 in out-of-pocket vet expenses. An additional $4,000 in vet bills was covered by our pet insurance company and the rescue we worked with. Our return on investment is dog snuggles though and those are priceless. Definitely the adoption fees, vet care expenses, monthly pet rent, cost of replacing chewed shoes/destroyed window blinds, etc. for my dog.
SPENDING REGRET: Before I moved into my current apartment with my boyfriend, we were swayed by a new luxury building opening up in our town. It was just barely affordable for us, the in-building gym and new appliances seemed great compared to our the shitty Craigslist basement we were living in. They said we could move in in a month, so we put down the deposit ($500 out of my bank account) while the building was still under construction. BIG MISTAKE, DON'T DO THIS. The construction timeline was off, then they failed their fire safety inspection, and we experienced delay after delay for three months. We finally made arrangements to move out of the basement and packed everything up, only to be told days before the move that our new apartment would not be ready for at least more two months. Our landlord already had a new tenant for the basement space and at that point, we just canceled our lease with the new place. Our current apartment was the first thing we found that we could immediately move into (and that's why the rent is higher than I'd like. I love the apartment and don't want to move out, just wish I'd had time to find something just as good for less). I eventually got that original deposit back, but only after hounding the apartment management company for SIX months. Do better research than I did, y'all. We had to call and email them every two weeks or so for six months to ask where our deposit refund check was. I considered small claims court, but that seemed like way too much work and extra legal fees for $500. The check did eventually arrive. We also had to pay for three months rent in our previous "apartment" because of the delays, which was ultimately around $3,300 that could have been going to a new, better place instead or furniture.
CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was ProPublica.
SIDE HUSTLE: I do not have a side hustle.
- GOALS: I'd done a decent job building up my savings the last couple of years, but then had some big unexpected medical expenses this year that dipped heavily into it. For the short term I'd like to build my savings back up, especially because I know that I only have a few more years on my parents' stellar medical insurance plan. Long term, I'd also like to have enough for a down payment on a house. I know what credit is and how it works, but I'd like to have a better understanding of how to manage it and get more comfortable with it. At the moment, things like credit cards really freak me out so I avoid using them and I know that's not good for the long term.
- She Spends / Issue #13
- SALARY: I make $35,000 per year as a first grade teacher living in Mississippi. I have not yet asked for a raise.
- SAVINGS: I have $3,268.20 in my savings account right now. In my investment accounts (taxable and Roth IRA combined) I have $24,637.39. I previously invested a little bit of money on Loyal3, a fee-free investment tool that allows you to buy into initial public offerings, then I realized how much of a waste of time individual stocks are, so I only invest in index funds now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $200 on rent. I pay $10 for a gym membership. My parents cover my health insurance.
- DEBT: I am luckily not in debt.
- SPENDING VICTORY: A spending victory would be my Aeropress coffee maker. I'm usually really hesitant to buy things for myself and I'd been wanting it for a long time. I plan on making myself iced lattes all summer long. It cost $29.95 on Amazon.
- SPENDING REGRET: I'm often regretful about spending on dining out when it isn't something planned or when I'm not all about the experience. I have no problemspending money to go out to dinner with friends, but I always regret spending money when it's more random. Looking at the past month, I've spent $305 at restaurants, and around $100 of that was less planned, not as great of an experience. It was probably higher this month than average because I spent time traveling.
- CHARITY: Uhhh… I need to get it together and contribute to charity on a regular basis.
- SIDE HUSTLE: I haven't started this yet, but I got the job - I'm going to be running professional development programs for other teachers. It'll be about five to eight hours per week and pays $8 an hour.
- GOALS: I have a very specific net worth goal to hit by next May, and I move that goal up in increments whenever I reach it. That net worth goal is tied to a longer term goal of buying a house someday. It's a very vague goal because I'm not sure where I'll be living and where I'll want to settle down. My shorter term goal is to save for a trip to the U.K. around Thanksgiving. I'm saving $1,200 for that, so around $200/month. I want to be able to see into the future to know if grad school would pay off for me; I've been thinking about going to grad school to become a school counselor, and I wish there was some way to know if it was worth it, from a financial standpoint.
- She Spends Issue #12