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.
Everyone spends and saves their money differently. Even though there may be some common ways as to how — from having one bank account for expenses and another for saving to using 401(k)s and Roth IRAs — there are several differences, too,
"It's about getting value for the money that you have," Canon Hickman, wealth manager at Equity Concepts, tells Bustle. "When considering a purchase, it's not necessarily always about how much something is. 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."
Scary — yet wonderful — test, right?! So here's how nine women who all make approximately $50,000 spend and save their money. Even if you make more or less, I think there's benefit to seeing how other people spend and save, as well as new money tips to learn from them.
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"I am self-employed and put a lot of my money back into my business so I can continue to up-level. I save 20 percent of my monthly earnings and sometimes more if I'm saving for a major vacation or event (like my upcoming wedding). I live with my fiancé and we completely split everything 50/50. Our rent is about 25 percent of one of our paychecks. Having a 'roommate' definitely cuts living expenses. Recently, we started packing lunches and have definitely noticed a cut in our spending. I also invest in myself a lot, whether it's a well-needed vacation or spa treatment. I believe in treating yourself when you work hard."
"I work for a non-profit in Washington, D.C. My salary is very difficult to live off of in such an expensive city, but I make it work. I live in a one-bedroom apartment with a den that I share with another female Millennial. The money that I have left after I pay rent and utilities — keep in mind, I don’t have a car and my company pays me $120 a month in Metro fares — tends to go to brunches and food. I get food, alcohol, and socialization with my friends for an all-inclusive price. Eating out can be a tad expensive, so I keep it to a minimum on weekdays and splurge on unlimited brunches on the weekends. Other than that, I try to save some money each paycheck and then don’t spend money on too much else, considering there isn’t much left to spend."
"I make about $50,000 (translated from Singapore dollars, since I live in Singapore) as a fitness and nutrition director for two small boutique gyms. I save for lots of reasons — for my health care (since it is not provided here in Singapore), for trips home to the U.S. to visit my family, for weekend trips around the region, and, of course, for retirement. I don't have 401(k) or Roth IRA options here in Singapore, but I do have a savings account in which I put about $500 of my monthly salary, and try not to withdraw except in case of an emergency (or again, health care needs). Per month, I spend and save my money roughly as follows: $1,500 - rent; $200 - phone and Internet; $300 - clothing and accessories, mostly fitness clothing and running shoes; $500 - dining and drinking out with friends; $500 - student loans; $500 - groceries and toiletries; $1,000 - travel and related expenses (hotels, tours, etc., since I live in Southeast Asia!); $500 - monthly savings/medical savings (no medical insurance here)."
"My rent ends up being nearly 1/3 of my income (which isn't too bad in NY). I try to lump in all my responsibility expenses — rent, utilities, student loans, and transportation — as half my income. The other half goes towards savings and fun, so whatever is left from fun goes towards savings. I buy most of my clothes online because you can filter, search, and plan ahead. My advice is to prioritize what you feel comfortable spending on. For me, it's an overpriced salad for lunch and a daily coffee. The cost is worth not having a soggy desk salad or burnt office coffee. I also use Mint to track my expenses, which is one of those things that ends up working a lot better than you would expect — which reminds me, I have a few subscriptions I need to cancel."
"Living in NYC can be SUPER expensive. All the convenience comes at a cost — something I learned all too quickly after my first year living here (I came from Dallas, where the dollar seems to go a lot further). I have learned the importance of grocery shopping and packing lunches for work instead of ordering food (which always turns into $20, give or take). This makes a HUGE difference in my monthly budget. I also recently moved, for the third time in NYC, but this time I finally learned my lesson — move close to subway stations! Though my rent might be a little extra per month, the ease of being able to hop on multiple trains has saved me so much money. Plus, it saves my shoes/hair/makeup from the winter weather, so it balances out and I'm still "saving" money. As for fun things, I limit the number of brunches or happy hours I agree to/plan and I choose locations wisely, since there are so many fun places that have better deals than others — only bottomless brunches for me!"
"Once I became eligible for my company's 401(k), I immediately enrolled, starting with a three percent contribution and personally contributing 2 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 (thank you, Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, for the suggestion). It allows you to create separate savings accounts online so you can allocate savings to different categories. For me, I've 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 work in public relations at an agency in Omaha, NE. 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."
"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 used to spend money on clothes, food (eating out/groceries), and travel. Since I got married and we had our first baby recently, that's changed some — with bills and such. But, thanks to my husband also having a good job, I still spend 'my money' on what I used to, just in different amounts and times. I spend way too much money now at Target. Ha! My husband and I both make money so we aren't weird about the other spending money, as we see it as 'our money.' We do follow a rule we set during pre-marital counseling — if we are spending more than $50, we run it by the other person. As for a budget, we haven't set anything in stone — we just pay attention to our spending and make sure we put money into savings first, always. We try to put in anywhere from $400-$700 per paycheck, or more if we're able (we get paid twice a month)."
As you can see, different women who make approximately $50,000 spend and save in different ways. Like Hickman says above, one person may value spending now overspending later (i.e., retirement), and vice-versa. "You have to think about what it is that you really want and what it is that's going to make you happy and successful," Hickman says. "Having a financial plan and strategy is the key to it all, because it'll help you stay focused." On that note, I'm going to go review my financial plan right now. Hopefully, you've been inspired to look at yours, too.
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.