Ever wondered what your salary and shopping habits are like in comparison to your peers? Money Talks is a new column by CLEO that takes an honest look at how young Millennial and Gen Z women spend their money. If you would like to submit a money diary anonymously, click here.
In this column, Claire Soong talks to a yoga teacher who spends $1,800 a month—almost half of her income—on insurance.
Occupation: Yoga Teacher
Industry: Fitness & Wellness
Education level: Bachelor’s Degree
Salary (including bonus): $50k/year
Savings: No specific amount, but I put $250 or so away for household expenses.
Student debts: $0
Allowance for parents: I give them a lump sum instead of monthly allowance. For example, I’ll give $3,000 and when they need more, they let me know.
Insurance: $1,800 (including contributions to investments)
Miscellaneous: Around $200
How much she thinks she spends: About $200 – $300
How much she actually spent: $162.23
On her monthly shopping habits:
I aim to spend nothing every month, but realistically, if we are talking shopping for leisure and not for household necessities, I would say I spend less than $200. I don’t buy clothes and shoes every month, but when I do I spend maybe $200 to $300 each time.
I like to shop at lululemon (of course)! I am guilty of falling into the fast fashion trend. I pick up a basic top from H&M when I happen to just walk in, or an item or two on ASOS when I’m bored. I don’t think so much about whether the item is marked down or full-priced, but I do think about how much use I would get out of it. That fast-fashion thing is a terrible habit that I’m trying to kick. Other than spending on material items, I attend yoga and spin classes.
I started savings and investing when I was still in my corporate job and had more income, but even though I took a pay cut, I was not prepared to give up what I had put in. I was lucky enough to have savings so it helped support the commitment before I got more stable income from teaching yoga.
On her relationship with money:
I don’t know if I am a good example [of someone whose entire career is in fitness] because being a yoga teacher is a mid-career switch for me. [It was] a big leap, but I had amassed some savings over the years to cushion the transition. So although the numbers above don’t necessarily “add-up”, I make sure my expenses don’t exceed my income, i.e., I live within my means. It’s a trait that my mum trained me well in! I don’t see money as the most important thing, but am well aware that it makes certain decisions easier. That said, I am very clear about not letting monetary decisions and materialistic desires rule my life. I know we all have material needs but when I say the above I mean, big cars, fancy clothes, designer bags, etc. I was one of those who thought these things were important when I was in my twenties—I don’t anymore.
I think that people are way too embroiled in their money-making life to actually enjoy life. They see money as the biggest factor in life and that unfortunately, almost always guarantees a life of worrying and discontent.
On the bare necessities:
I think people think yoga teachers all can chill because they come from quite comfortable backgrounds. [For the most part] I don’t disagree, but I come from a simple family where my mum worked three jobs sometimes when I was growing up. She never once let me worry about money. I knew well that I had to work for things I wanted, but I also knew I had to make my mind up about what was more important (mum said if I wanted expensive things, I’d have to save for half the price. If I did, she’d pay the other half for me). I had the luxury of being taken care of by my partners in the past, but I don’t fret about having a certain lifestyle. If I flew business class today, it wouldn’t make me too good for economy class tomorrow. I think I did get used to having nice things when I was younger but I grew to realise that I not only didn’t need them, they didn’t add to my happiness at all.
I believe so strongly that nowadays we live in so much excess; we hoard and cannot let things go. Decluttering and learning to focus on what is important to your quality of life doesn’t only clear your physical space, it’s a wonderful and powerful clearing for your emotional and mental state.
On the best financial advice she’s ever received:
Save before you spend. You will always think you don’t have enough. Put away what you want to save first. After a while, it becomes a habit and you don’t miss it anymore. I know I indicated that I don’t put away that much but that’s because most of it is in investments and locked away savings that I committed to every month (under insurance).
Also, spend within your means. If you have a little more, put it away or treat yourself. It’s all well and good. If you don’t have as much, stop complaining about the things you cannot have and just enjoy the things you can afford. Any other action will get you into debt troubles or a poor mental state.
More stories from this column:
Money Talks: The 28-year-old Corporate Manager That Shops Whenever She’s Stressed
Money Talks: The 30-year-old Creative Director That Spent $2,625 On Christmas Gifts
Money Talks: I’m A 24-Year Old Creative Who Saves $1,000 A Month
Here’s what she bought in a month:
I have shopped online at lululemon twice this month. Both times I spent about USD$120. I don’t do this every month though. And it sounds silly but I use an app (YouTrip) that allows me to exchange and keep some USD when the rate is low. When I shop online, I use the money from this app/account. So I actually put money away that I know I will spend later.