8 Women In Their 20s Earning $40K Or Less Reveal How They Spend Their Paycheck


How about that paycheck-to-paycheck life, though?

You know — busting your ass from 9 to 5 — more like 8 to 8 — only to have your hard-earned dollars robbed by rent, utilities and that stupid commute that gets you to work so you can do it all over again. The pain is real. But take solace in the fact you are not alone. Repeat after me: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We spoke to a number of women about their salaries and how they spend their paychecks on a monthly basis. Turns out, we're not the only ones who are keen to spend a couple of hundred dollars on drinks and clothes, even though we ought to be saving or paying off those student loans. Check out what they had to say, and please let us know your best penny-pinching, budget-friendly tips — we can use all the help we can get!

Aimee, 28, from Wilmington, DE


Job: Sales and marketing coordinator for a regional magazine Salary: $37,000 Rent/utilities: $775 for a junior studio, aka a bedroom with a kitchen, located in the heart of Trolley Square (It is charming, walkable and safe compared to the rest of Wilmington, which has the lovely nickname, "Murdertown USA.") Basic cable/internet: $90 Car/gas: $168 Hair products/makeup/cosmetics: $70 Massage membership: $50 Eyebrow wax: $24 + $5 tip Groceries: $100 Dinner/drinks: $140 (It's probably more than that, but I'm too scared to check my bank account at the moment.) Regrettable purchases: $80 Marimekko sheets at Bed, Bath, Beyond and $40 worth of West Elm pillowcases to mix and match with the sheets Expenses still covered by parents: Plane tickets for the impromptu trip to LA I am taking next weekend, gym membership, clothing, phone, medical bills (I just had about $700 of dental work done that I never would have been able to afford.)

Aimee's golden budgeting rule: Have a boyfriend/raid parents' house for TP.

Ruthie, 26, from Arcata, CA


Job: Social worker (soon-to-be real estate agent because I don't make enough damn money). Salary: $32,000 Rent/utilities: $400 [and] utilities fluctuate between $80 - $370 Car/gas: $590 Student loans: $100 (I am $17,000 in debt, which may or may not be paid off by the time I die — it's debatable.) Phone: $65 if I manage to stay under my data limit Credit card bills: $170 (PSA: Don't run up your credit cards for the airline miles — not worth it.) Food: $200 Gym: $145 (Outrageous, I know, but it really keeps me accountable to make it to the classes because I pay so much for the membership.) Regrettable purchases: I ordered the SleepStyler half drunk while watching "Shark Tank," even though it has an estimated 12-week delay because it is now so popular from being on the show. Not winning, has yet to arrive.

Ruthie's golden budgeting rule: I can't rave about the Mint app enough. It helps me stay in check and never miss a bill. I also use Digit because who really saves enough money on their own?

Nicole, 24, from Morristown, NJ


Job: HR logistics specialist Salary: $36,000 Rent/utilities: $800 Student loans: $300 Gym membership: $10 Commuter costs: $80 Clothes: $100 Dinner/drinks: $120 Regrettable purchases: I try not to spend more than $100 on a spontaneous purchase.

Nicole's golden budgeting rule: Never let your savings account drop below a certain number.

Jordan, 24, from Cleveland, Ohio


Job: Recruiter and coffee shop barista Salary: $33,000 Rent/utilities: $730 for a two bedroom, two bath downtown (YAY for a roommate) Internet: $50 Commuter costs: $140 Gym: Free gym in apartment block Clothes: $200 (I get a lot of my clothes from secondhand stores and online.) Going Out: $300 - $400 Regrettable purchases: I'm pretty good about not buying anything without really thinking about it

Jordan's golden budgeting rule: If I have to think about it for more than two minutes, then I pass on it.

Lauren, 26, from Los Angeles, CA


Job: Showroom coordinator in fashion PR world Salary: $28,000 + $500/month on company credit card Rent/utilities: $1,010 one bedroom one bathroom bug-infested apartment split with my roommate, who sleeps in the living room Student loans: $550 Internet: $28.50 Car/gas: $206 Discover credit card: $35 Southwest credit card: $50 Groceries: $160 Dinner/drinks: $50 Clothes: Free clothes working at a showroom Savings: $0

Lauren's golden budgeting rule: Have great friends.

Kristen, 27, from New York, NY


Job: Travel PR consultant/founder of my own travel curating business Salary: $40,000 Rent/utilities: $1,573.50 Internet: $21.58 Student loans: Luckily none! Gym membership: $125.00 with ClassPass Commuter costs: I get to walk to work. Going out: Ugh, well lunch every day is between $10 and $11. After-work drinks are $20.00. After-work dinner and drinks are around $40. Dinner and drinks on the weekends are around $80 per outing, and that's being on the cheaper end. Spontaneous purchases: I travel a lot. I spent around $700 on a trip to Tulum in January, Aspen for a weekend in February ($500) and just came back from Morocco, which ended up being around a $1,000 trip. Woops!

Kristen's golden budgeting rule: Avoid large group dinners. You never want to be the jerk who picks out things that she/he only had on the bill so you end up biting your tongue and shoveling out more than your share!

Mom of two, Megan, 27, from Olmsted Falls, Ohio


Job: Start-up tech firm Salary: $40,000 Rent/utilities: $990 Car/gas: $534 Cable/internet: $137 Cell phone: $105 Health insurance: $250 Food: $300 Regrettable purchases: $300 at Target (It is a sickness.)

Megan's golden budgeting rule: Avoid Target.

Katy, 29, former FSU student in Garmisch, Germany


Job: HR assistant Salary: $37,500 Rent/utilities: $570 Phone: $40 Student loans: $300 Commuter costs: $1.50 per bus trip (I bike to work almost every day, but occasionally splurge on a bus ticket if I'm especially tired, or it's too snowy!) Travel: Average trip $400 (since I live in Germany I try and travel every two to three months to a new place) Clothing: $75 Going Out: $120 Regrettable purchases: $10 — German bakeries ARE SO DARN GOOD! — a $15 red wig from Amazon. I was contemplating if I could pull off that hair color. The answer is no.

Katy's golden budgeting rule: I try to only eat out or do an expensive activity once a week.