Even in a world where questions about menstrual cups and the ins and outs of sex are completely (and blessedly) normal, somehow the ever-ubiquitous use of money remains a touchy subject for many. People want to live their healthiest life ever, but—#realtalk—it can add up. Have you ever wondered how your colleague who makes less than you do (or so you think) can afford to buy a $5 matcha and a $12 chopped salad every day? Or how your friend’s budget allows her to hit up $34 fitness classes three times a week? It’s enough to make anyone want to ask, “Ummm, excuse me. How do you afford that?!?”
That’s where Well+Good’s monthly series Checks+Balanced comes in. By lifting the thick, tightly drawn curtain to expose how much women of varying income brackets spend on wellness, we’re spreading transparency and hopefully providing some inspo that’s possible to copy. Because no matter how much you make, it’s possible to cultivate healthy habits that work within your budget.
This week, meet Emma*, a 25-year-old clean-beauty devotee living in Austin, Texas, with her boyfriend. Emma makes $65,000 a year from her job as a restaurant manager, and here, she gets real about her monthly expenses, including how she affords her favorite healthy habits.
Here, a 25-year-old living in Austin, Texas, shares her spending habits.
Emma, 25, restaurant manager, Austin, Texas
Income: $65,000, plus bonuses. I’m a manager at a restaurant, which means I’m in charge of the schedule, hiring, training, and keeping track of finances. I like it for the most part, especially since I know I’m not the type who would be happy with a desk job. I appreciate that I get to be on my feet and am not in a traditional office setting. My base salary is $65,000, and I get quarterly bonuses which can range from $300 to $2,000. The bonuses are pegged to a number of different sources, like, say, as a result of a secret shopper giving a good review or after the restaurant scores a high health inspection score.
Rent: $600 per month. I live with my boyfriend and our total rent is $1,200 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. We split it right down the middle, paying $600 each.
Other monthly bills: $1,220 per month. My biggest monthly expense is my student loans, at $500 per month. Otherwise, my boyfriend and I split our utilities bill, so that comes to $70 each. He pays for wifi, but I pay for our Hulu account, which is $40 a month. My phone bill is $100 a month, and I also have Spotify, which is $10 a month. My job is really close to our apartment, so fortunately I hardly pay anything for gas.
Savings: $500 per month. I contribute $500 monthly to either my savings account or my 401(k) (usually it’s a mix of both).
Healthy food: $600 per month. I like to eat primarily dairy- and gluten-free. A grocery store near me called Central Market is great for my preferences because it sells a lot of healthy-food options at a lower price point than Whole Foods. Staples I always buy include kale, spinach, flax milk, and bananas for smoothies, coconut yogurt, and hemp seeds.
I get free lunch every day at work, so I don’t have to pack or buy that meal. And though I don’t typically shop with my boyfriend (we have opposite schedules), when we do, we split the costs. When we shop separately, we simply buy what we need. In total, I spend about $400 a month on groceries and about $200 a month on eating out.
Fitness: $115 per month. I go to Orangetheory Fitness twice a week and have the eight-class membership deal, which costs $100 a month. I also have Classpass, and on that platform, I opt for the membership with the lowest number of credits, which costs $15 a month. Besides that, I have a friend who teaches spin, so sometimes I get to go to her class for free, which is awesome. My boyfriend and I have two dogs, and they do a great job of keeping me active, too.
Beauty: $100 per month. Besides healthy food and fitness, I don’t have many other wellness expenses—except on certain beauty products, and that’s an important investment to me. I like to buy my beauty products at Whole Foods or online at Credo. I also buy Vital Proteins collagen, which I consider a beauty product as well—inside-out beauty! In total, I spend about $100 a month on skin care, beauty products, and collagen.
Dog food: $80 per month. Just like I pay attention to the fuel I give myself, I care the same about what goes into their little bodies, too.
*Name has been changed.
Speaking of dogs, pet food has gotten a lot healthier recently. And here are some tips on talking to your partner about money, if, like Emma, you two live together.