Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
Like it or not, managing money is part of life. Whether you make $30,000 a year or $100,000, there are money management lessons to be learned. "Creating wealth is all about choosing correct habits now," Lou Cannataro, partner at Cannataro Park Avenue Financial, tells Bustle. "Most know if they have one or two less beers or coffees a month, they can build in some room to pay down debt, still enjoy themselves, and begin to plan for the future! Many are just not ready to make the little changes in life... yet."
Maggie Germano, a certified financial education instructor and financial coach for women, agrees with Cannataro. "The key to financial health is paying attention to your money," she tells Bustle. "Figure how much you make and how much you spend every month. Come up with a budget that aligns with your goals, and then track your spending as the month goes on. Apps like Mint or LearnVest can take a lot of the effort off your shoulders. If you have room in your budget to save (which I hope you do!), automate your savings so that it happens every month."
Although Cannataro and Germano make excellent points, here's how 11 women who all make approximately $35,000 spend and save their money. Like I said above, I think that no matter how much you make, you can pick up a money-management trick or two from the women below, or relate to something they said.
"I make $36,000 in public relations, which is hilarious for a single 23-year-old who has a bad habit of searching for flights for fun. To help, I freelance in social media and teach fitness classes. Each month, I save 9 percent in a 401(k) and 15 percent in a high-yield savings account, which I *never* touch. Compound interest is my biggest motivation, and I want to create a solid foundation while I have the ability to save. I spend 40 percent on rent (thank you, Colorado marijuana laws for the insane property rates!), have a smart TV for Netflix instead of cable, and rarely use my thermostat. To save on water, I shower at my gym and run the dishwasher once a week! I have $10 monthly subscriptions for Spotify and Birchbox for my 'fun' purchases. To generally stay on track, I use Mint to look at the trends of my spending — I don't focus on the specifics of my purchases too much. And I use common sense to spend the rest! The kicker is that everything — and I mean *everything* else — I spend on travel. I justify it with the 24 percent of my income saved each month, so I can swing it!"
"The most important lesson for me financially was learning to create a budget. This helps me not to spend as much, but also really pay attention to where the majority of my money goes. When I did start to budget, I noticed the crazy amount of money that was spent on eating out. Now, I grocery shop and can see the results in my bank account. There is still a great portion that goes to bills, but now I have more to move to savings, and I save for rainy days or for a fun vacation with friends."
"My paychecks are every two weeks, so one of them basically goes entirely to rent (I live in Boston; not downtown, but on the fringe of the city). I basically have no savings either — I have an automatic transfer set up for $25 per month to go into my savings account, but I always end up dipping into it for various expenses. It rarely grows to over $100-200 at a time. I used to try budgeting a lot more carefully, but I basically know what I can and can't afford at this point. I have to admit, I rely on my credit card a LOT. Thankfully, my parents started building credit for me when I was in high school, so I have a low interest rate and a high limit, which is super helpful. I never let it get too crazy, but I'm trying to put money down on a new apartment right now, so my bill is a little out of control at the moment. I've borrowed money from my parents a few times and still owe them a few hundred dollars."
"I'm not anal about my spending habits, but I try to keep my expenditures really low. I try to be generally aware of what's coming in versus what I am spending. I make sure my rent and bills are always covered, and those immediately come out of my paychecks. I'm in entertainment marketing, and my work income varies depending on overtime. In terms of savings, I monitor bank accounts and make sure I am always at a certain figure (an arbitrary number in my head). I use Digit for savings and have used their Rainy Day Fund Goal-Setting. I have also used their Travel Goal-Setting. For example, I started in January and said that by May 1, I wanted to save $1,500, and I did. I used to use [a budgeting app], but it would make me feel bad, saying I spent too much money on food — but there's a difference between food out and grocery store food. Plus, when I eat healthier, it costs more when I shop for better food. So, I factor in my lifestyle changes. If I am going out more often one week, I will scale it back the next week. I also don't shop for clothes a lot; I do shopping binges now and then instead. And, in general, I mostly use my credit card with travel rewards for purchases, and pay it off right away, and keep regular track of my credit score."
"Most of my salary goes toward living expenses. I spend about $700/month on rent and over $100 a month on transportation — that's almost half of my monthly income. I also have a couple of student loans I'm paying off ($100+ combined), and my phone bill ($90). I try to save at least $100 a month, but it's hard sometimes. I definitely try to prioritize essentials since they're such a big part of my income."
"I spend most of my salary paying rent and debt (about $1,600 a month total). For electric and phone, there's about another $90. I spend about $100 on gas and groceries per month and, whatever is leftover, I save. I try as hard as I can to not spend money on restaurant food, alcohol, or clothes, because I would rather save that money in case something were to happen or to pay off student loans. I have a side hustle income that I use to build my savings and pay off debt, which really helps! I set about $20 of the whole amount to the side for a little 'treat yourself' gift if I ever feel the need to buy myself something. I have a credit card that I never use, but that is for emergencies only, and I have not had to use it yet. My top priority right now is paying off my debt and so, therefore, I budget all of my negotiable expenses (as I like to call them) pretty low. I also use the app Mint, which helps me see how much money is going where each month. I set the budgets for them (with little wiggle room), and I rarely go over the balance. This helps me save more money in the long run!"
"I'm fortunate that I work at a company that pays for our lunch every day and breakfast on Fridays. Instead of ordering the most expensive item from a nicer restaurant for lunch, I'll order from somewhere I can get two entrees and maybe a side, too, and bring half home for dinner that night. I always try to have a light snack before I go out to a nice dinner so I don't hungry-order the entire menu. Also, a lot of my friends are big fans of bottomless brunch. Since I'm a super slow eater and drinker, I never order the bottomless option, and I'll tell the waiter ahead of time that I'll be paying separately. I also use Via on the weekends (usually around $7 to get anywhere in the city) when I'm too dressed up for the subway but don't want to spend $30 to get downtown."
"For a long time, I was laser-focused on saving as much as I could and paying off as much of my student loans as possible. Then I started dating a guy who challenged me to stop working and saving so much. It was fun for a while, but the money anxiety is getting strong again, so I'm trying to get back into 'save save save' mindset. It's turning out to be harder than expected — I'd say I'm spending about 70 percent of my discretionary income and putting very little in the bank."
"My biggest money-saving tool is a spreadsheet I've been keeping since I started my first job in high school. I use this spreadsheet to track every dollar that goes in and out of my account. I've also divided up the spreadsheet into three categories — necessary spending (i.e., rent, bills, etc.), emergency funds, and personal spending (beauty subscriptions, clothes, drinks with friends, etc.), and put different percentages of my pay 'away' in each category every month. While it can be tedious, it keeps me completely aware of not only how much money I have, but also where I'm spending it so I can adjust my spending habits if I need to. I also have a small portion of my money automatically pulled from my account every month to go into my IRA, so it's like money I never had in the first place."
"I live in a city with my boyfriend. I have one e-banking account set up for all my autopay bills that I deposit one set amount into every paycheck, a savings account that I put $50 per paycheck into NO MATTER WHAT, and everything else goes into my debit account and is mine to spend on groceries, clothes, bus passes, manicures, etc. I usually skip happy hours or bar crawls in favor of cheap wine and Netflix, and I eat a lot of boxed mac and cheese. I live comfortably and can afford to fly home for the holidays, but I'll definitely appreciate the day I can afford to not budget for every single purchase."
"I work in NYC and am married with a 1.5-year-old daughter, so saving is crucial. To save money, I have an automated deposit set each week from my checking to my savings account so that I don't even have to think about doing it myself. Also, I have decreased all credit card spending only to essentials to earn points on my card for traveling. I have even started bringing my own lunch to work rather than eating out every day, which has saved me a ton!"
There you have it — how Millennial women spend and save their money at 35k. Whether you can relate to the tips above or will start using some of them, or even one, knowledge is power, right — especially when it comes to your money!
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.