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

We're sharing the spending secrets of one woman each week - completely anonymously. This section draws inspiration from Refinery29's Money Diaries and NYMag's Spending Diaries (gotta give credit where it's due, right?) Click here to take our anonymous survey on spending habits and see your column published on She Spends.

  • SALARY: I make $95,000 per year, plus a bonus as a documentation editor in New York. I have asked for a raise before. When I asked, I was told my boss would "try" and that I deserved it. I heard nothing for 6 months, but then got more than I asked for, 8 months later. 
  • SAVINGS: I have $30,000 in savings right now.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: Right now I pay $1,000 per month to live in an apartment with my boyfriend. I contribute to my 401K and health insurance through work. I pay for a Planet Fitness membership, a Sephora Play subscription, a Lip Monthly subscription, Netflix and NY Times subscription. 
  • DEBT: I am in debt. It's my student loans, so I pay monthly to eliminate them.
  • SPENDING VICTORY: My big ticket items are always plane tickets. I’ve spent around $6,800 in the past seven years on plane tickets, plus thousands of credit card points so that I would pay less for a ticket or not pay at all (90,000 Delta points plus $56 got me to Tokyo in February 2016). The most expensive item I’ve ever bought was the flight for my first trip to Europe. It cost $992.90 roundtrip on Delta from Detroit to Paris, and I traveled solo for a month to France, England, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Instead of taking a semester to study abroad (and incurring more student debt), I graduated a semester early. I was fortunate enough to get a job offer during finals week which allowed me to start two months after graduation, so I didn’t have to cancel my trip. In total, the trip cost me around $4,000 with that flight included, including: places to sleep, train travel, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had (Angelina’s in Paris), a pair of walking shoes because I didn’t pack appropriately ($30.85 at a Clarks in Oxford, England), and 220 euro for a locksmith after getting locked out of an apartment the night before Christmas. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent. The money came from savings from various jobs from the age of 15 to 21. I had moments that were the most thrilling, the most depressing, and the most self-reflective of my life.
  • SPENDING REGRET: The end of 2015 was incredibly stressful. My boyfriend finally moved to NYC after three years of long distance and a lot of negotiation. We found an amazing apartment while he was here in the weeks before, and rushed home to fill out an application. Five days later and less than two weeks before he was supposed to move, we found out someone beat us to it. Alone on my hunt and terrified we would have no place to live, I signed up for as many apartment viewings as I could. Our budget was very tight for what we wanted, plus he had real furniture which was Midwest-sized and needed to fit as he hadn’t had a chance to sell any of it. I saw an apartment, half in the dark, that fit the budget and would have fit his king size bed. When the broker said “I have someone waiting to see it who wants to the apartment, and has the cash,” I panicked and said we’d take it. Three days later I called my father to talk about it. I debated if I should take it or call the $700 deposit a loss because I was already having doubts. But I thought, “we can do anything for a year.” On a Monday, six days to move-in, I got the money from my boyfriend and I together. It totaled $5,700. I signed the lease on my own, as my boyfriend was still out of state. Three days before move-in, I got the keys and walked into the apartment. I immediately knew I had made a terrible mistake. My boyfriends furniture wouldn’t have fit through the door. There wasn’t a real living room. The apartment was so small, we would have been on top of each other. Wrapping up this long story, I was able to get out of the lease but it cost us all of the money to do so. I had to tell a girl who I had sign a sublease agreement to take over my room in my apartment that I was so sorry, but with everything that happened, I couldn’t give it up. My boyfriend and I shared the apartment with my (now former) roommate for two months. The lesson I learned was to trust myself. My gut said the apartment was wrong, but I didn’t listen. And we both paid the price.
  • CHARITY: The last charity I donated to was the New York Abortion Access Fund.
  • SIDE HUSTLE: I work on freelance web design on the side to supplement my full time income.
  • GOALS: I want to be able to buy an apartment. Assuming I still live in NYC in the next ten years, this means I’ll need at least $100,000 in the bank that I can part with for a down payment. I know apartment prices will continue to go up (though hopefully not as crazily as the past 10 years). That number seems pretty much impossible unless I can get my salary to double without my expenses also doubling. I want to be able to retire and not rely on social security, which I don’t expect to be around. I plan on putting in the full $18,000 to my 401k this year, and hope I’ll be able to continue to do so. I want to be able to live on a salary of $70k/year post retirement, which is 1.5 million dollars if I retire on time and don’t live to be 100. That feels basically impossible, but hopefully that compound interest will do its magic. I want to take a trip to Asia, which I know will be more expensive to get to than it will be to do anything while there. Hopefully I will have a fund in the next two years to be able to see the Great Wall, ride the elephants in Thailand, and have dim sum in Hong Kong.

- She Spends Issue #11