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.
As you probably know from life experience, everyone spends and saves their money in different ways. But what about those who all make the same salary? "Make choices today that align with where you want to be in 10 years,"
Leanne Jacobs, MBA, wealth expert, and author of , tells Bustle. "Many women leave today's choices and spending patterns to their feelings and impulses. This leads to burnt out and broke! Make choices today that are worthy of an empire and amazing lifestyle. You may want the expensive accessory or luxury resort vacation, but wouldn't you rather prioritize your longevity as it relates to health and your home? Today's financial choices will determine where you will be in 10 years." Beautiful Money: The 4-Week Total Wealth Makeover In-te-rest-ing, right?! These 13 Millennial women explained how they spend and save their money — and they all make roughly the same salary. Are they more in the spending camp? Or in the saving one? Or a good balance of both, so to speak? Here's what I found out from the 13 Millennial women who all make the same salary, approximately $60,000. 1Colleen, 27 graja/Fotolia "As far as spending and saving money, from every paycheck, I immediately pull the amount I need to cover bills into a separate checking account, put money into savings, and put money toward credit cards. Then, whatever I have left is what I have to spend on groceries, gas, and fun until I get paid again. Not the most sophisticated system, but I've managed to put two cars in my name and buy a house while maintaining a healthy savings account, so I'd say it's working out pretty well so far!" 2Stephanie, 32 "I'd like to think that I save more than I spend. I was unemployed for about a year-and-a-half in a sort of 'discovery phase' of my life several years ago and consequently accrued some credit card debt, so I've been mostly focused on paying that off and saving every other penny I can. I typically spend on the necessities, like rent, groceries, and my car/phone, etc. I've recently become quite enamored with the concept of 'minimalism,' so that's helping me save even more money. Saving is easy when you don't buy a lot, so I just ensure that I've got my necessities covered with each paycheck. I allot myself a little 'spending money' for the two weeks in between pay periods and save at least $50. The goal is to always put money in savings, even if I think it isn't a lot, doesn’t matter, isn't enough, etc. It's the intention behind it." 3Melissa, 31 "As a recent homeowner, most of my income/spending goes toward my mortgage and house improvements. In my particular neighborhood in Dallas, the area is booming, so it's definitely an investment. Otherwise, my spending mostly includes traveling and dining. Regarding savings, I have a 401(k) profit sharing plan." 4Casey, 25 yaibuabann/Fotolia "Saving money is tedious — especially when you're 25 and living in New York. After all the bills, the extracurricular activities of urban living are just as expensive — $30 drinks, high-end clothing, and solid tipping at restaurants. It adds up. I am a stickler about saving money. I first developed the habit when I started modeling with a large agency. You make a lot of money in a short amount of time, and I wanted to save it. I saw a savings account as independence from my parents. They say 'no,' and my savings can say 'yes.' I don't model anymore, but am making more than before doing PR. It's enough money to first start thinking about investing, maybe buying a house later on, and renting a nicer apartment for the time being. With saving, the small things matter — because they accumulate. I'm hyper-sensitive to my spending, and track my spending religiously (Chase is great in that regard). My goal is to keep 'x' amount in my savings — no matter what. Money is empowering and nothing is more satisfying than a growing savings account." 5Jessica, 27 "I follow the 50/20/30 rule in my budget — 50 percent of my net income goes toward my cost of living, 20 percent goes directly into savings and retirement, and then I have 30 percent to spend on lifestyle purchases (aka: fun money). I've turned that budget into a Google Sheet that I can update as I spend money throughout the month using the app. It helps me stay disciplined as I see the leftover money in each bucket decrease. It's not as easy as using an app like Mint, but it helps keep me honest!" 6Shelby, 26 "I've always had a pretty good understanding of money and how to manage it, thanks to regular coaching from my dad. He started me out when I was about seven, bought me a kid's checkbook, and had me sit down with him every month when he was paying bills. We'd balance our checkbooks together — mine was fake, of course — but it taught me a lot about how to manage money. My regular costs include my car payment, rent, groceries, etc. Typically, my goal is to save about $400 a month, not including my employer-provided 401(k). Some months, I'll save more — very rarely do I put away less. I try to keep unnecessary spending to a minimum, but I do allow myself about $100-200 a month for something nice — clothes, home décor/furniture, accessories, and/or upgrades for my beloved car. When I find something with a high cost, I decrease my discretionary spending down to about $50 — some months, I won't buy anything, allowing me to spend on those large items later." 7Danielle, 23 mandarina/Fotolia "I have a budget that is realistic for me, my daily life, and my spending habits, but still places a lot of emphasis on saving. I set up two automatic transfers to move my budgeted savings right off of my paychecks, so it's like I don't even notice the money is there. One transfer goes to 'future me' in the form of retirement savings plans (RRSPs) or other investments, and one transfer goes to 'fun times,' like trips abroad. Whatever money is left goes towards paying bills on my Visa (to collect those rewards points) and spending money. Ninety percent of my commission check goes towards saving for long-term goals, but I always treat myself to a spa day or a nice new pair of shoes. It's a good system, because I don't even notice the money being taken directly off my paychecks, so it's like a nice little surprise when I check the account and see I can afford to go on vacation." 8Anna, 26 "I earned my master's degree from NYU at 23 (putting me in a ton of student loan debt), and became a communications director at a financial services firm at 26. For budgeting purposes, I use an app called Level (I believe a direct competitor to Mint). It works wonders for people who want to take control of their finances and crawl out of debt. Within my first year of using Level, I was able to save up $15,000 and start contributing generously to my retirement. Another way I save is by meal planning: Every Sunday, I spend at least a few hours of the day looking for ways to make my lunch for the rest of the week so I don't buy food at work. This has helped me save a ton of money over the course of my professional career." 9Emmy, 26 "I'm a Millennial mama, professional, and blogger. As a young girl, I was very focused on earning enough money to provide a comfortable life for my future children, and I am now able to do just that as a school psychologist. This income range does allow for our family to go on small trips once in a while and fun family outings a couple of times per month. However, we do have some consumer debt, student loan debt, a car payment, a mortgage, and part-time daycare payment. We do not pay for cable or satellite TV, because we prefer to access our entertainment through Netflix and Hulu. Any extra income that I might have typically goes toward eBooks." 10Christina, 33 Dirima/Fotolia "I'm married and have a six-year-old. I have my own business as a freelance grant writer. I save by maxing out my IRA each year, and am saving up for a six-month 'cushion' for a rainy day. I probably spend too much money. I spend it on vacations, going out to lunch with friends, clothing, Target runs, and decorative things for the house." 11Lindy, 26 "I spend my money mostly on bills and necessities. I am the sole responsible individual for my household and cover all my bills alone. However, this doesn't mean I don't spend on other things. I do treat myself to the occasional Starbucks and meal out. I also am able to take day trips here and there or go to a baseball game or concert. At the very least, I save $100 out of each paycheck. This does not include the money I have already set aside to go into my retirement account." 12Samantha, 28 "My union offers a ton of great perks that pull directly from my paycheck, but, as a result, my monthly budget is truly paycheck-to-paycheck right now. I have about $45,000 in a rainy-day fund and about $4,000 in my savings account that I'm saving for an upcoming trip and my dream of having real furniture. Occasionally, there are after-school, weekend professional developments, and/or summer school that I can get paid to attend — this can bring in anywhere from about an extra $1,000-$2,500 a year. I'm pretty frugal (and it's definitely a challenge, but I also kind of enjoy it). I also try and make myself aware of what stores offer what discounts. Like most New Yorkers, my biggest expense is on food. I do, however, bring lunch and breakfast every day, so I know I save a lot there." 13Kathy, 30 Hannah Burton/Bustle "How I spend my money: Aside from my household expenses, I spend a lot on travel for our family (severe wanderlusters here!), and personal development. When I say 'personal development,' I mean courses, programs, school (working on a second master's degree), coaching, etc. I put a lot of money back into my business as a success and business mentor helping women launch their coaching businesses. How I save my money: I was a financial advisor at one point in my career, so I manage my own investments — I have a 401(k), brokerage account, and 529 plans for my kids. Plus, I've got a small emergency fund."
So... can you relate to any of the female Millennials above? I know I can! Jacobs shared some final thoughts on money matters, because everyone can use an extra tip or two
when it comes to saving money, right?! "Think outside the investment box," she says. "Investments that were top choices a decade ago are not always the wisest. Consider thinking outside of the box to align yourself with what will be hot and holistic down the road. Consider starting a home-based business, a real estate portfolio, or an online business. Starting small and simple is a wise choice. Even if you have a corporate career, everyone should give entrepreneurism a chance."
OK, all that talk about spending and saving is inspiring me to go check my budget. Hopefully, it's done the same for you.
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.