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, spending and saving money is part of life. After all, chances are, everyone spends and saves differently, though some ways probably are better than others. And, let's face it, the more money-saving tips, the better, right? "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."
However, Cannataro believes that you can still save money and invest in your future — even if you only have $20 left at the end of your paycheck. "Without the proper guidance, this generation has a habit of forgoing the right way of saving for the future," he says. "The average millennial replies to 'Why don't you invest?' with, 'I don't have enough liquidity to invest because I have to make student loan payments.'"
Sound familiar? I know I can relate. 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."
Check out the entire ‘Young Money’ series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Yes, I know, easier said than done. But important nonetheless! Below, 21 millennial women making $30K to $150K per year explain how they spend and save their money, so prepare to be inspired.
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"I am a health coach and I make around $30K per year. I spend my money on organic groceries, Audible, Netflix, my business, and common necessities — like rent, gas, electricity, etc. I am actually in the process of writing a book on all my spending habits and tricks now to explain to women that they can make a healthy lifestyle work at any income level.
The main thing I do that makes this whole thing work is having a budget. The budget keeps me in line so I can save and spend without worry. I also prioritize spending on my values, which are health, knowledge, and building wealth. I don't spend what I don't have. Instead, I keep a wish list of things or experiences I want and I save for them. If I accomplish a goal or a milestone, I reward myself with something from the wish list with money from my savings. Sometimes, by the time that comes around, I am no longer interested in some of the items, so I avoid frivolous spending."
"As an author and programs instructor, I make roughly over $30K, but that doesn't include overtime or royalty payments. I spend my money on bills (unfortunately) and enjoying happy hour festivities with my closest friends after a busy workweek. After I concluded a fast with my church, I became serious about my finances. I found ways to cut corners when it comes to socializing with my friends (i.e., inviting them over), and decided to take all of the extra money from each check and put it in a checking account that is not locally accessible. This habit helps me from spending frivolously."
"I am publicist and make $35,000. I thankfully have no student loans, so my money is mostly spent on rent, utilities, and some treats (like a quarterly subscription box). I live with my boyfriend and we split expenses. I don't have much in savings, but when I really discipline myself to save, I directly deposit money into an account. Right now, I'm depositing $20/paycheck into a savings account for a vacation, and six percent of my income goes to my 401(k)."
"I work as an online PR specialist at a digital marketing agency. After buying a house one and a half years ago, I found some interesting ways to save money. I don't have cable at my house, only Wi-Fi; however, back in November, I decided to splurge and get Netflix. The Gilmore Girls reunion was a worthy cause! Additionally, I always keep my thermostat set between 62-64 degrees. It does get chilly sometimes, but you can always add layers. Plus, my little pug is a good heater. Also, I never shop at big-name grocery stores; I opt for the smaller ones. I found you can get the same, if not better, food for half the cost. I also pack my lunch every day. That has been a ~huge~ factor in saving money.
When I spend money, it usually isn't in large quantities, aside from my mortgage, student loans, and bills. When I go shopping (which is about every one and a half to two months), I'll go to T.J. Maxx or Ross and find what I'm looking for. I never pay full price for an item, and I only buy a few things at a time. For my birthday or Christmas, I always ask for gift cards and try to make them last as long as possible. Aside from gifts, or if something breaks, I don't spend money regularly."
"I'm a freelance journalist and editor and make around $43,000 per year. Most of my money goes towards rent and eating/drinking out. I do not have student loans, so I'm really lucky with that. Since I'm self-employed, I don't touch the money that goes to rent/utilities/write-offs, and then I pay myself a certain amount each week that's within my means, and that's my spending money. I generally try to hit under that amount so I can scoot the rest into savings. Some weeks are much better or worse than others, so it evens out. Though I don't have a real, set plan for savings, my system works for me because I live pretty frugally. Also, if I get a new gig I wasn't expecting, I save any excess earnings so I don't feel tempted to spend them."
"I work as an account manager at a public relations agency. My salary is $45,000. Right now, the biggest way I'm saving money is by still living at home with my parents. Living at home definitely helps a lot, and I'm still on my parent's health insurance, which I plan to keep doing until I’m 26. The money I save from that goes into trying to manage my debt.
I recently had to get a new car and I’m making $300 payments on it every month. That $15,000 of debt joins the remaining $20,000 of student debt that paid for my undergrad education, which I'm also making monthly payments on. That's the major source of my spending, but of course there's the more gratifying expenses: I eat out a lot. I try to travel whenever I can. When I see a good sale, I struggle to resist, fail to resist, and then spend money on items like candles, clothes, or gifts.
To help with long-term savings, I've got my paycheck set up to auto-deposit money into a Roth IRA. For accessible savings, I've actually started to use an app called Qapital, which I've really enjoyed. You can set your own rules for how you want to compile your savings — for example, I have a 'Round-Up Rule,' which rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and puts that change into savings, as well as a 'Set and Forget Rule,' which just automatically takes out a pre-selected amount (for me it’s $10/weekly)."
"I am a marketing manager at a small IT-managed services firm in Chicago. My annual salary is around $45K. I am very careful with how I save and spend my money. I only have one credit card that I only use on expenses for my car (gas, tolls, maintenance, parking) and, for everything else, I use my debit account. When I use my credit card, I make sure to pay off the full balance every month, so that I don't have to pay any interest or fall into a debt situation. I have everything hooked up with the Mint app, so that I can constantly monitor my spending and get alerts if I've exceeded my typical spending patterns in a certain category. I also have text updates set up with my bank account for when a deposit is made in my account. I also get updates whenever my checking account gets below a set value. Finally, I have recurring deposits set to transfer funds from my checking to savings account every month, so that I don't even have to think about saving. Basically, all of my living expenses come out of my checking and I act as if that amount of money is all that I have to live off of for that time."
"I work in public relations and make $47K a year. Each month, I spend $1,150 on rent and utilities, $50 on a gym membership, and $10 on Spotify. I share my two-bedroom apartment with a friend and we split our household spending evenly. I contribute four percent of each paycheck to my 401(k). I walk to work to save on transportation, but my boyfriend lives on the other side of town, so I end up taking Ubers a few times a week ($50).
I’ve been trying to stick to Whole30, and have not found a way to do so on a budget, meaning I spend about $150 a week on groceries, but feel good about most of that money going toward fresh fruit and vegetables. I don't eat out during the week, but will splurge on dinner once or twice each weekend. I try to move $200 a month to my savings, but sometimes I forget. I love dogs and joined the app Rover to do in-home dog watching. I I'm a sucker for beauty and skincare products and spend around $100 a month trying new things. For clothes, I bought the unlimited ASOS free shipping plan this year for $19 and love how I can order a shirt I find on sale and get free two-day shipping. It helps me spend less, but still treat myself to a new going-out top."
"I work in the public relations industry earning about $50,000 a year. Once I became eligible for my company's 401(k), I immediately enrolled, starting with a three percent contribution and personally contributing two percent towards my Roth IRA. In addition, I've found having a savings account balance equivalent to two months of my salary is a good cushion to be able to fall back on for emergency purposes — it helps put my mind at ease.
Capital One 360 Savings is a life-changer for young professionals trying to save money. It allows you to create separate savings accounts online so you can allocate savings to different categories. For me, I had separate accounts for emergency funds, my first car's down payment, Christmas gifts, and even my boyfriend's 25th birthday gift. It has been extremely helpful for setting and achieving goals. I was able to put 20 percent down on my first car, purchase Christmas gifts for my family without panicking three weeks before the holiday, and surprise my boyfriend with the watch of his dreams. Plus, their annual percentage yield (APY) is .75 percent, which is a nice bonus, too. I have Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich to thank for the suggestion.
"I work in public relations at an agency in Omaha, NE. In addition to holiday bonuses, I make around $51,000 annually. Without a doubt, the majority of the money my husband and I spend is on experiences — whether it's trying a new restaurant or traveling outside the state, we spend very little on 'things' and more on special memories. In terms of saving, we have some fun while being pretty frugal. We both have student loans that we pay off more than the minimum each month, put income towards our 401(k)s and retirement accounts, and add to our savings each month (since we're looking to purchase a home). All in all, the main goal for balancing saving and spending is to not do it above your means."
"I work for a telecom consulting company and my salary is $52,000 base, with bonuses. For me, the best way to save money is to set a goal on how much I want to save and by when. I also take into consideration any recurring expenses, such as rent, my cable bill, credit card bills, groceries, etc. I keep it all in an Excel sheet that balances out money going out/into my accounts. This helps shape how much is 'safe' to spend on other items, like clothes, going out with friends, etc. I buy dog toys at T.J. Maxx, and I always find myself with 10 other items in my cart asking, do I REALLY need this? Words to the wise, if you're in need of a bigger ticket item, always shop around and see who has sales coming up. If you can take the subway, do it.
"I am a community relations manager and I make approximately $55K per year. I became a first-time homeowner 15 months ago, and these days a lot of my income goes to my condo. Although a condo is a big expense, I do believe in treating yourself, so traveling is something that I like to splurge on, as well.
I hired [a financial adviser] in 2014 and it was the best thing that I could've done; I never thought I'd be in the position to purchase a home and I owe a lot to her for that. Also, I suggest getting a savings and/or CD account to put your money — one where you don't have access to an ATM or it makes it difficult to withdraw money. It's all a mind game, but thinking about going inside a bank and withdrawing money is daunting and makes it less likely for me to do it."
"I'm an 'executive recruiter,' and I make a base salary and commission and made about $58K last year in total. 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 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 minimum. 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."
"I make about $60K a year and that's split between a salary and commissions. 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 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."
"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. Some stores also have educator and student discounts, so I try and take advantage of that when I can, too. Like most New Yorkers, my biggest expense is on food. We don't have any of those huge chain stores that have big sales or room in our apartments to stockpile, so it's difficult to save there — you have to just sort of get lucky or bite the bullet and overpay. I do use websites like Jet.com to try and get bargains on household goods, but I'm not sure how much I actually end up saving compared to if I just watch out for deals at CVS or Duane Reade. I do, however, bring lunch and breakfast every day, so I know I save a lot there."
"I'm an SEO marketing specialist. I make around $70K a year. I spend my money on my mortgage, utilities, car/health insurance, my animals, etc. I save money by having my paycheck automatically deposit 10 percent of my paycheck into my savings account. When I get to a certain amount, I invest it — this is still newer to me. I do spend a lot… more than I should! I’m working on it. I spend a lot on my pets… and the LuLaRoe clothing line!"
"I'm a publicist and I make $70,000 per year. Living in New York City, anyway I slice it, I spend half of my monthly paycheck on rent. At the beginning of this year, I began compulsively tracking all of my spending in a spreadsheet. Venmo makes this super easy because I can track my transactions though the app. I give myself a budget for food, beauty, fitness, etc. I have quickly learned one meal out is equal to five meals made at home, compliments of Trader Joe's. The one thing that I do splurge on is fitness — the gym, Barry's Bootcamp classes, etc. I try and stay within the budget, but sometimes I'll sacrifice a drink over a class. Also, I literally walk everywhere."
""I work in marketing, and make $80,000. I've honestly never been great at managing my money, but at the age of 28, know it's time to get smart about it. I spent the past six years living in two of the most expensive cities in the country (NYC, L.A.), eating out way too much, buying a car, and all of the other expenses that go along with being a social 20-something, and it's been extremely difficult to build up a proper savings account. Additionally, my fiancé has been trying to rebuild his career and is essentially starting from scratch, so while he pays as much as he can toward rent and joint bills, I carry most of the financial weight.
So this year, we knew we needed to drastically change our lifestyle. We moved from a massive market to a smaller city, in an effort to save more money without decreasing our quality of life. I've hidden my credit cards so I can't access them, and I've created extensive Excel sheets that account for every penny I spend. When I look ahead at the rest of the year, the next two years, etc., and see how much I'll save if I stick to my budget, it gives me the much-needed motivation and excitement to keep abiding by it. Plus, I got engaged in December, so I have a really fun reason to save!"
“I work in marketing, making $100,000. Currently in grad school and am determined to finish with no more debt, which means a significant portion of my budget goes to tuition. I still save a good portion, mostly to create an emergency fund. I've also made it a priority to set aside money for vacations and ways to treat myself. I try to stick to a zero-based budget, meaning there's no money left over at the end of the month — everything has found a home."
"I'm an electronics engineer with a focus on engineering finance and project management, and make about $110,000 per year. I also run an investment strategy site. I have a savings rate of 30-40 percent, while the rest mostly goes to taxes, rent, groceries, fixed expenses, and travel. My primary tactic of saving is to pay myself first. A big chunk of my paycheck goes into my 401(k), and I make sure to put the maximum amount into my Roth IRA each year. After that, I put additional discretionary savings into a taxable investment account. I spend liberally on things that are important to me, like high-quality food and international travel, and I cut harshly the types of expenses that don't make me happy. I don't put a lot of money into cars, designer clothes, eating out too often, and areas like that, and I favor interesting experiences over material things."
"I work in marketing for an advertising technology company. I make roughly $150K. My husband and I moved in with my parents for three years to save money to buy our apartment. It was the best/worst thing we ever did. We were able to put enough down that our mortgage payment is far less than most of our friends pay in rent. That's a lifetime savings for a few years of sacrifice. We both came out of graduate school with quite a lot of debt — $1,300/month between the two of us, for the next seven years or so. After that and our mortgage payment, despite making good livings, we do need to be careful. In addition, we try to cook much more often than we go out, which is hard for New Yorkers because restaurant culture is so intense. But we have dinner parties so that we still feel social. Everyone wins, because it's healthier, usually more fun, and much cheaper — even on the nights you're the host.
I contribute 10 percent of my salary to my 401(k). It's difficult, but it's worth it when I make a point of opening my statements once a year. Now that we have our home, we're still in saving mode. We decided we need a $30K 'Oh Sh*t Fund' in the bank before we can start really enjoying ourselves and being a little more loose with our spending. That's hard to commit to when everyone is posting photos on Instagram of their amazing vacations, but we love the security we feel building that up. And in the next year or so, when our OSF is complete, we're going to really enjoy ourselves, knowing we aren't coming home from a great trip feeling financially choked."
If you’re still worried about how much you’re spending, remember this trick. “I spend and save using a zero-based budget,” Danielle YB Vason, Founder of She Makes Cents, tells Bustle. “This gives me a proactive overview of my finances and allows me to spend everything on paper before I spend a dime in reality. As for spending tricks, before making a purchase, ask yourself: ‘Does this purchase align with your money, career, or lifestyle goals?’”
I don't know about you, but I think I am going to start re-doing the way I spend and save — STAT.
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.