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.


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

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