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.
Chances are, if I ask you what you spend the most money on per month, it would differ from what another female Millennial spends the most on. After all, everyone could probably afford to spend less, right?!
"When considering a purchase, it's not necessarily always about how much something is," Canon Hickman, wealth manager at Equity Concepts, tells Bustle. "It's about getting value for the money that you have. Money is there to be earned and spent — it's going to be spent on something, whether it's your retirement or going out with friends. It's there to accomplish the things in your life that you want to accomplish. The real key differentiator is spending money on things that actually bring you value. If you look back at your last month's bank statement and see all of the money that you sort of just wasted — you didn't get any value out of that fast food purchase or one of the other random items that you bought that didn't really mean anything to you — you'd see how much that adds up to be."
So What's A Person To Do?!
"Try using the envelope system," Hickman says. "Every week, take cash out of the bank to use as your spending money and stick it in an envelope. Each week, you’ll see how much cash you had and what you're spending it on. A credit card or debit card doesn't tell you how much you've got in your bank account every time you swipe it, so when you look in the envelope, you know how much you have left before you make your next purchase. It's a rudimentary system, but it's a helpful way to hold yourself accountable."
OK, I'm going to try using this system — STAT. Meanwhile, here's what 19 Millennial women spend the most on per month. See if you can relate. I'll bet you can relate to ~something~ someone said — I know I did!
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"Rent is my #1 expense, by far. I always look for cost-effective apartments to rent, but, at the same time, I always make sure it is in a nice neighborhood and that my essentials are ticked off (like having a balcony and a shower). I don't think this expense could be reduced, as rent is expensive in general, and it's a priority for me to feel comfortable where I live. Next would be travel and food."
"Oh, child care, definitely (though my mortgage payment isn't far behind). With two kids under five who need full-time care, the costs add up. It's possible I could find cheaper options or try to lower these expenses. But, to be honest, child care is not an area where these savings are worth the trade-off on value lost. It's hard to justify paying less for lower quality child care. My husband and I are frugal in other areas of our budget, so we can afford to pay more for what's most important to us — our kids."
"I probably spend the most money on food each month. An average workday usually starts with me grabbing a coffee before work, going out for lunch, then maybe getting one more coffee before the day is over. Being that I work in SoHo, spending $5 on each coffee and at least $10 on lunch is not uncommon. When you add it up, that's about $20 before I even have dinner. If one of my coworkers invites me out for dinner/drinks after work, that could be at least another $30 that I'm dropping on food. It's also a social sort of thing. If someone asks me to go out for coffee or lunch, I'm not going to say no. Getting to know people in NYC can be hard, so sometimes it's worth it just to participate, even if you'd really rather save the money on dinner/drinks."
"Right now, I spend every single dollar I have (and the dollars I don't) on my business, Multivitamin Media Inc. I left my high-powered career in PR to start my own digital advertising and PR agency with my boyfriend-turned-partner (in life and business). It's been a pricey move giving up a huge salary, but a long-term investment. Our biggest expenses each month are actually software-related, because we use so many tools to do what we do."
"Honestly, this varies month-to-month for me, according to my budget tracker. It looks like, on average, it's a three-way tie between restaurants and dining, shopping and entertainment, and travel. Since I pay relatively low rent living back home with my family (I DO pay, though) and my utilities are minuscule, I have more discretionary income at my disposal. I can definitely reduce my spending in the first two categories by eating out less and cutting back on retail therapy. But I will always keep traveling since I work for a remote company and can basically work anywhere in the world!"
"Rent. I live in NYC, so it's probably not something that can be avoided. Before that, I lived in San Francisco and it was even worse. My husband and I constantly talk about whether we should move farther away, but then we'd spend more money in transit, so the cost would even out. We even talk about moving to smaller cities, but then earning potential goes down. At best, we can look at a less expensive neighborhood than we're in, but, overall, there's not a lot of room to budge when it comes to rent in NY."
"I spend a lot on running to the drugstore — an iced tea, Band-aids, a nail file, etc. I could probably reduce my spending in these areas, because multiple trips in one day is overkill. The Walgreens down the hill from me is their delectable West Coast flagship and it calls to me like a siren on the rocks."
"Sadly, food… I have REALLY cheap rent currently, and so my husband and I have taken advantage of our low cost of living by traveling and eating at restaurants probably more than we should. It didn't hit me that this was a problem until I downloaded the Mint app and saw that our food category (restaurants and groceries) is consistently around the same level as our rent. We've gone back and forth between trying to cook more at home and just giving up and going out throughout the week, but, in general, I think we're getting better over time. Still, it makes me pretty self-conscious to know how often we end up just eating up a significant amount of the money that we're earning…"
Lauren Zangardi Haynes, 33, Evolution Advisers
"Personally, for my husband and I, our mortgage is our largest expense. There are certain expenditures that people lock themselves into — primarily, housing payments, car payments, and, increasingly, student loan debt — that can really affect their ability to save for the future (even if the future means a trip to Thailand next year). The good news is, these are all expenditures that we can control. Tempting though it may be, it's so important to shop for an apartment, new home, or car with a monthly payment in mind. Remember, people in sales — even really nice people — tend to get paid more if you buy more. Don't be afraid to remind your realtor of your budget. You have to lookout for yourself. Creating a spending plan helps, too."
"Hands down, a huge chunk of my income goes to rent. I live in a shoebox with two roommates and pay enough for a mortgage almost anywhere else. Plus, I only pay as little as I do because we flexed our apartment! My second largest bill is my student loans. In general, NYC is expensive: my grocery bill is super difficult to budget, mostly because I hate cooking and love salads, which are almost always overpriced; my subway card is a money suck; and then there are nights out. I think I could cut down on my coffee runs, gum chewing, and nights out — but hey, a girl has got to live!"
"This pains me to say, but the two things I spend the most on are probably food and alcohol (going out). I do so well money-wise on weekdays, that on the weekends, I eat out and go out with my friends Friday-Sunday. I think this can definitely be both avoided and reduced. Will it? Probably not. :)"
"I would say my mortgage for the studio I own is the most ($900). However, in terms of other expenses, I spend probably $300-400 a month on Ubers, which I could definitely cut down on. When something is not easily metro-accessible, or I'm feeling tired (i.e., after drinking), I tend to just Uber… I also spend a lot of money on social activities (happy hours, brunches, dinners at restaurants), which could also be avoided or reduced."
"I spend the most money on food — if we exclude rent for my apartment and office. I think that it can definitely be controlled, but I'd rather spend money on food than a Louis Vuitton bag, so..."
There you have it, what Millennial women spend the most money on per month. The answers definitely make you think and perhaps reexamine your own spending choices, right?!
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.