Last winter, we launched Money Diaries, where twice a week, a millennial woman opens up about her spending and saving habits and tells all. While the women stay anonymous, we know everything about them, from how much they make to what they eat for breakfast to whom they go home with, and a million little details in between. It’s amazing how money touches every facet of our lives, and yet it’s something many of us are reluctant to talk about. The goal with Money Diaries is to break down this last taboo, and if the comments (good and bad) are any indication, it’s working.
Ahead, eight of our favorite lessons we learned about money from the past six months of Money Diaries. Surely there is more wisdom to be gleaned from the diaries still to come.
Lesson 1: Budget For The Little Luxuries.
From: A Week In NYC On A $55,000 Salary
The social media strategist celebrating her birthday and budgeting for Starbucks.
I stop by Starbucks to pick up my latte that I have budgeted in three times a week. $4.84
Lesson 2: Tax Deductions Are Your Friend
From: A Week As A Cam Girl On A $70,000 Salary
A cam girl in San Francisco stocking up on work supplies (lingerie, vibrators, and makeup).
This week is "upkeep week," so it's going to be a little more expensive than usual. I head to Victoria's Secret and get 15 pairs of panties, four bras, and a pair of sweats (the sweats are just for me). I keep tabs of these work expenses, so I can deduct them at the end of the year. $250
Lesson 3: Cooking At Home Is The Key To Saving Big
From: A Week In NYC On A $42,000 Salary
An entry-level fashion photographer prepping for a gallery show.
At Key Foods, I grab blueberries (on sale 2/$5!), two avocados, a cucumber, onion, half a dozen eggs, greek yogurt, chicken breasts, ground beef, salsa, and chips. $50
Lesson 4: Avoid Unnecessary Purchases
From: A Week In NYC On A $91k Salary
A woman in Brooklyn buying birthday cards and sushi.
I go work out, but forget my water bottle, so I had to buy water. Such a waste of money. $2
Lesson 5: Sometimes It’s Okay To Splurge
From: A Week In NYC In On A $100,000 Salary
An architect in NYC, spending her tax return.
I got my tax return earlier this week, so I've decided to go ahead and spend it on a few big purchases. I book a plane ticket for a summer trip with a friend. $249
Lesson 6: Don’t Let Bad Days At Work Lead You To Impulse-Spend
From: A Week In NYC On A $65k Salary
A designer who eats her feelings — and goes on back-to-back dates.
I've been pretty unhappy and inundated at my job lately, so I impulse-buy a beauty treatment on Gilt City. Oops. $59
Lesson 7: Set Up Automatic Transfers To Save More Money
From: A Week In NYC On A $45,000 Salary
A librarian buying concert tickets and taking a physics course on the side.
I have $25 automatically transferred to my emergency/long-term savings account, bringing it up to $3,260. My goal is to get it to at least $5,000, and most months I contribute something extra, but this is the minimum.
Lesson 8: Actively Set Aside Savings For “Future Fun” Plans, Like Weddings
From: A Week In San Francisco On A $115,000 Salary
A San Franciscan in biotech saving $1,500 a month for a down payment.
Book a rental car for a wedding we are going to in Hawaii in September, but it’s already been planned for in the “Future Fun” budget. At the beginning of the year, I tallied up the costs of all the trips, travel, weddings, major gifts, and expenses I knew I had to pay for, and then divided that by 12 to understand what I should be “saving” each month.