Sure, you know exactly how much gets direct-deposited into your bank account twice a month, but do you really know where every single dollar goes? We’re asking real working women to track the nitty-gritty details of their spending habits over the course of a month. This time, we chatted with a 28-year-old senior art director, who lives with her fiancé in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Take a peek at how she spends—and saves—her cash.
Her Annual Salary: $97,000 (plus $10,000 from freelance work)
Her Monthly Take-Home Pay: $4,820 (after her 401(k) pre-tax deduction)
Her Freelance Take-Home Pay: $330
His Annual Salary: $90,000
His Monthly Take-Home Pay: $4,800 (after his 401(k) pre-tax deduction)
$775. I live with my fiancé and we split the $1,550 rent down the middle. Our finances aren’t combined so we actually use Venmo a lot to send each other money for household expenses like rent and groceries.
$105. This is my half of the cable, electric and gas bills.
$125. I’m still on the family plan, but not for much longer. (That’s what happens when you get married!)
$600. I automatically deduct this pre-tax so it’s not included in my monthly take-home pay.
$1,250. Six months ago, we did open a joint savings account for the down payment on a future house. We both automatically contribute $500 to that per month. I also contribute $750 per month to a personal liquid savings/emergency fund.
$400. My monthly car payment.
Side Hustle Income
$330. This bonus income comes from freelance work I do for a non-profit organization. I typically work between 15 to 30 extra hours a month, receiving around $330, but I just got a project to redesign an old coworker’s website for $2,000. So, it varies month to month.
Side Hustle Taxes
$100. The money I earn from freelance work goes straight into my checking account along with my earnings from my day job. But since I have to pay taxes on the money earned—plus a 15 percent self-employment tax—I have a separate checking account where I set aside 30 percent of each invoice. I don’t touch that money until I send it to the IRS.
$175. This is my half of our $350 monthly grocery tab. My fiancé loves to cook, so it is money well spent. We also eat a lot of leftovers. He’ll make large batches of pasta, salads, chicken and tacos and we’ll heat them up at work the next day.
$100. I let myself eat lunch out once per week at work—things like a deli sandwich or Chipotle—but that’s it. We’ll also occasionally order in on the weekend.
Going Out to Dinner
$350. This includes times when I split the bill with my fiancé as well as times when I go out independent of him. This cost covers both food and alcohol.
$20. The cost of Netflix and Spotify Premium.
$100. I get my hair done four times a year and spend $50 on a cut, $150 on highlights and approximately $25 on hair products. Total it’s $1,200 per year, which breaks down to $100 per month.
$150. I belong to a boutique gym that’s definitely on the pricier side, but I go four to five times a week, so I feel that I get my money’s worth.
$250. This is my Achilles' heel. In the past, my spending has been a little out of control in this category. I used to spend anywhere from $300 to $700 per month. I love fashion and shopping in general, but I made a commitment to really buckle down on this in 2017. I now understand that to reach long-term savings goals—like a down payment on a house—I can’t spend so frivolously. Now, if I go shopping, I try to make sure that I have discretionary income to spend (for example, if I picked up an unexpected freelance project) and that I have an actual need.
$100. Every other month, I’ll pick up smaller items like artwork or plants. We’re happy with most of our furniture for the time being and don’t want to buy anything large until we know what type of home we’ll be in. In the past, for larger purchases, we’ve opened a credit card with 12 months (and zero interest) from West Elm and ordered couches and coffee tables as a way to easily split those up into monthly payments.
$300. This cost varies widely, but this year, I’m spending a total of $3,500 on plane tickets and hotels for a vacation to Costa Rica, a trip to San Francisco and four out-of-town weddings. To cover these costs, I try to adjust my spending on discretionary items. Still, some months—like when there’s an abundance of weddings—I have to reduce the $750 I typically like to set aside in savings or I pick up extra freelance jobs.
$50. This cost varies, of course, but with the exception of December, I set aside $50 per month for gifts and donations. I have a Google spreadsheet that I’ve set up to track my budget and forecast planned costs over the next few months, too. For example, I know that in May, July, August and October, I’ll need to buy a $100 wedding gift. That means I’ll need to adjust how much I can spend eating out or on personal care.
It varies. Contact lens refills and $25 co-pays are my only health care-related expenses.
$400. This was for contact lenses and an exam—a cost I wasn’t planning on. I will have to order them in addition to paying for my contact fitting. This cost covers lenses for the entire year, but it’s a little hard to swallow. It makes my employer’s HSA sound pretty appealing.
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