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


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

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

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

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

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

  • DEBT: I have never been in debt before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

- She Spends / Issue #18