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real women. real budgets.

Make your money work for you with real-life examples.

đź‘€ 9minute read

real women, real budgets

đź“·: Pinterest

We *love* real-life financial advice. It’s always – Save 20% of your income, Never spend over 30% on rent, Keep 5% for retirement… How the heck do you action that? Yeah, not happening. 

Full disclosure: We don’t love “budgeting” in the traditional sense. Budgeting implies you have to cut things out. And who wants to do that? Nobody. (us included)

We think of budgeting differently. Our mini budget method helps you think big picture. It’s a learning exercise that promotes mindful spending (and stops letting the small stuff weigh you down).

Basically, budgeting = knowing your numbers. 

When you know what you are working with, you can make better decisions that suit your lifestyle – like deciding if you have to fund a negative balance – with your own money rules. Not random percentages with one-size-fits-all solutions. 

We promised we’d show you how. 

Here are 3 anonymous women’s budgets, with notes, to give you more perspective on the mini budget method, and how to tweak it to make it all work for you.

Money Maker 1 - Hometown Gal

This money maker is a home-owner, car-owner, living in the burbs, and working in the healthcare industry (ty for your service!)

$52,000 salary >> wow!

$11,000 taxes >> yup, don’t forget about this – read your pay stub to get where it goes

$38,000 expenses >> when you add it up, kinda makes you feel sick huh?

$52,000 - $11,000 - $38,000 = $3k left to play

Ok what makes up the $38k in expenses?

*Mortgage $1,182: Wahoo, homeowner, you go! – we fully support your new home as long as you can comfortably pay this every month and don’t mind parting with the down payment (which you do with $3k left over at the end of the year!)

*Electric $40: gotta live 

*Home insurance $129: you never know, gotta do it 

*Property taxes $400: remember to factor this in before you buy that house!

*Car payment $250: some of us need wheels

*Car insurance $150: gotta have protection ;) – super saver tip, the higher your credit score, the lower your car insurance 

Wifi/tv $41: gotta connect – this is actually really low – with cable and all the streaming services, you could pay close to $200 in here 

Spotify $6: music fuels the soul – I see a lot of women want to cut things like Spotify out, but in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t break the bank (but your mortgage might, which is why you gotta think twice before you buy!)

*Groceries $320: gotta eat

Going out for food + fun $350: great! – pick a number and stick to it. 

Clothing $120: again, pick a number and stick to it – it really helps to set a goal, but make sure it is realistic. Some of our Penny gals would be fine, I would surpass $120 every month for sure lol

Eyebrows $50: whatever makes you feel good, seriously, as long as you are mindful!

Personal care $45: this is very low – think haircuts, manicures, etc. – who can get a haircut for less than $100 these days? 

Misc. $75: yup. life. random things come up. 

OK what does this all add up to?

$3,158 per month total

(aka $38K annually)

$2,471 per month are *must-pay* items -- we put a * next to those

(that means we want your emergency savings to be about $14k before makin' any other money moves)

P.S. We've built these calcs into our platform, if you wanna get your personal numbers

We are SO proud of this gal! She’s making bank AND being extra-mindful of expenses.

Surprised we didn’t tell her to cut out Spotify, shopping, or personal care? Girl, you’re here to enjoy life, not hate it. 

This is what we mean by mindful spending vs traditional budgeting. 

Your Spotify subscription, in the grand scheme of things, won’t break the bank. That’s one of the biggest counter-intuitive money secrets no one tells you.

But to anyone who thinks buying a home is the end-all, be-all of life: DON’T. 

We’re all for you being the owner of your dream home – just PLEASE think twice before you jump into a 30-year mortgage commitment that could potentially suck up all the life (and money) out of you. 

Sometimes, the more financially savvy thing to do is rent an awesome place, and continue to save for your future home at your own pace – and have more money in your pocket so you can keep your Spotify account (Netflix, Hulu, you get it).

Money Maker 2 - City Gal

This money maker lives in the heart of a big city (New York City to be exact), doesn’t own a car or a house yet, and works in a salaried job in the biz world 

$57,000 salary >> wahoo!

$15,000 taxes >> ugh, gotta love taxes

$45,000 expenses >> ooooh ya, spending money honey

$57,000 - $15,000 - $45,000 = negative $3k, uh-o

Ok lets look at her expenses and see what magic can be done.

*Rent $2,000: this is a lot – start looking for a roommate OR rent out your apt on Airbnb for a month to help cover expenses OR find a cheaper place in a different neighboorhood OR ask your landlord for a concession when you sign next year's lease (they won't have to paint, repair, find another renter, etc)

*Student loans $300: triple check this is the minimum payment, and that it covers interest – if it’s more, drop it down to the min payment, for now (ONLY because you are negative, normally we'd want you paying ABOVE the minimum payment all-damn-day)

*Health Insurance $300: gotta have insurance

*Subway $100: gotta get to work (but if this was uber/taxi, would opt for public transport if possible)

*Cell phone $120: gotta have a phone – keep an eye out for a promo!

*Groceries $500: gotta eat – but if this includes eating out, think about how often you go out, how much you spend, and if there are alternatives you can fit into your lifestyle instead

Self-care $100: you can try to cut out or do every other month, but how else are you going to survive in the big city, mental health is #1 priority 

Shopping $150: you can try to lower this a tad but even if you do Rent the Runway or build a capsule wardrobe, it’ll cost you at at least this #.... so focus on feeling confident when you walk into work with the most classic pieces that you can mix&match

Misc expenses $180: this you want to be mindful of – think, laundry detergent, tampons, random household stuff – those are the essentials. BUT sometimes, before you know it, you just bought 2 books, a picture frame, and scrunchies on Amazon – sh!t adds up fast!

super-saver tip – put misc stuff on a separate credit card so you can really see where $ goes to waste. Don’t try to budget $50 or less, you’ll go over every single time and feel like crap. Instead, pay closer attention to what you’re spending on and stick to a number that’s actually realistic.

Travel $0: ya, bummer, sry girl. can you use your credit card points to book a trip?!

OK what does this all add up to?

$3,750 per month total

(aka $45K annually)

$3,020 per month are *must-pay* items -- we put a * next to those

(that means we want your emergency savings to be about $18k before makin' any other money moves. but now that is going to be truly impossible with more expenses than income... soooo.... now what?)

THESE ARE REAL NUMBERS. No shame in any of it. 

Sometimes you are in the red. And it’s ok.

Now, if most of these expenses are justified, how do you deal with the negative balance?

Option 1: Extra income of $250 a month [see ideas below]

Option 2: Cut something out that gives you back $250 a month [from above, eating out or student loan pmt seem to be good spots to look]

Option 3: 0% credit cards [if you are going to find a new apt and reduce rent, and just need a temporary solution]

Our biggest tip for this city gal is NOT to create a super strict budget that you are not going to stick with. That only makes your guilt-trip worse when you fall off the wagon. Life happens. We don’t want you to feel restricted with your money, even in the red.

If you know that you should get a pay raise, or will find a roommate the next year, it is OK to bridge the gap for the short-term with a 0% credit card. But if this is your monthly total, every month, pause. 

Time for a video break? Ya, we think so. Sh!t is getting real... Watch this for a break.

Yup. Scary. Not ideal. Credit card fees are a slippery slope that will snowball your negative balance at a ridiculously fast rate. At the end of the day, you may find yourself in a scary situation where you can’t fund your life. 

See what you can part with or change – and which habits you can add to help fund this $2k apartment. We made a list to get you started.

Money Maker 3 - Metropolitan Gal

This money maker lives in the outskirts of a major city, is a car-owner, freelancer and her own boss working for herself (amen to that) 

$40,000 income >> when income is not guaranteed or ebbs and flows, its *really* important to know your numbers inside and out

$5,000 taxes >> remember, when you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, no one is setting aside tax money for you, pllssss don't forget that or tax day will really suck. also, you can deduct some biz expenses to save on taxes, save those receipts!!!

$27,500 expenses >> a thrifty babe, look at you.

$40,000 - $5,000 - $38,000 = $7.5k left to play

OK lets look at her expenses, because, we really wanna know how she is saving!

*Rent $1,000: sweet! 

*Groceries $400: gotta eat

*Gas $100:gotta get to work

Spotify $11: again, we love music – super saver tip, check out Spotify’s duo plan that is 2 for 1 to cut this in half – obviously doesn’t break the bank, but save where ya can

*Cellphone $60:damn girl – who is your carrier?? 

*Car insurance $50: gotta protect yourself

*Car registration $9: yup – the little things – you don’t have to track all the one-off things like this, but if you do, we are here for it

*Apartment insurance $11: yes – super affordable and worth it 

*Electric $25: gotta live

*Internet $49: yup.

Therapy $75: yes yes yes 

Travel $300: see what happens when you have low-ish rent! amazing

*Health insurance $200:of course, gotta have this

OK what does this all add up to?

$2,290 per month total

(aka $27.5K annually)

$1,900 per month are *must-pay* items -- we put a * next to those

(that means we want your emergency savings to be about $11k before makin' any other money moves, and guess what, you'll hit that number in a year from what you have left over, impressive!)

We are so proud of this metropolitan gal! 

This is a perfect example of how it doesn’t matter what you make – this money maker has the lowest salary, but also the lowest expenses. She chose to live outside the heart of the city and saved big time on rent. Now she has a car, so that helps tons. 

This is an ideal situation – with looots left over to stock away, invest, and save for bigger projects and whatever-you-want spending money. 

It’s not always easy, especially when you are just starting out. One-off expenses come up all the time. Think – moving to your next apt, the friend that is getting married, or those shoes you really, really want. 

It’s all about your priorities and knowing your numbers.

Overwhelmed? Start small. Write down your numbers. Open your credit card statement and start logging where your money goes. Don’t rush into any decisions about cutting stuff out until you know what you are spending on.

Here is what we did -- so you can do it too!

  1. Write it all down – what comes in, what goes out, including future big expenses you might have to save for (like your bff’s bday gift or family wedding)
  2. Add it up! – and don’t shy away if it’s red, we’re here for you girl!
  3. Think about where you’re spending, and what you’re spending on – are these items all “must haves” or are some a “good to have”? 

P.S. At this point, unless you loveeee numbers, you will want some support and love. And that is why we built Penny. We'll show you how, get you trackin, and figure out a plan. We've got you (and your wallet).

Take our money maker quiz!

Budgeting doesn’t have to be this painful exercise that makes you want to crawl under the covers. This post shows you how to make it easy, step-by-step.

Finally, we like to say, don’t cut the budget, increase the income. Find ways to fund your lifestyle with these tips.

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