Checks+Balanced: A 23-year-old making $55,000 prioritizes healthy living for herself—and her dog
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 month, meet Kristen, a thrifty 23-year-old content coordinator living in Oregon who prioritizes wellness (for herself and her dog), splits bills down the middle with her husband, and enjoys a few weekly kombuchas.
Here, a 23-year-old content coordinator shares how much she spends on wellness.
Kristen, 23, content coordinator, Eugene, Oregon
Income: $55,000 per year. My job description is very broad. I do everything from helping with social media management and planning events to updating websites. The social media management part of my job has led me to a few side gigs, like helping other companies with their social media. I charge $30 an hour for that. Between my side-hustling and my full-time job, I make $55,000 a year.
Big expenditures: $1,643 total per month; pays $821 per month. I’m married, and my husband and I split all our bills down the middle. He makes a little more than I do, but not much. Our biggest expense is our rent, which is $1,100 a month. We lease a car, which is $280, and we pay $70 a month for insurance. Our phone bill is $170, and then we have a couple small bills, like Netflix ($13 a month) and Spotify ($10 a month).
Student loans: $700 a month. Since these student loans belong to me, this is the one bill my husband and I don’t split.
Food: $500 total per month; $250 per person. We’re big Costco shoppers because, between the two of us, we eat a lot of food and we like to eat at home a lot. We can spend $110 a week and get really good organic meat, produce, frozen fruit, seeds, grains, and flaxseed. I mostly cook with my rice cooker, making rice or quinoa, which I mix with chicken or beef and roasted veggies. My husband and I both pack a lunch everyday. The fridge is full of Tupperware. We eat out about once a week—maybe twice if it’s a special occasion. We tend to get sushi, tacos, or pizza since those are things we don’t regularly make at home. We also make coffee at home, so we don’t buy that out either. If I’m at work an need a little energy boost, I’ll treat myself to a locally made kombucha. I’ll buy one maybe once or twice a week.
Pet health: $70 per month; $35 per person. My husband and I have an Olde English bulldog and we know that the bulldog breed is prone to some health issues, so his well-being is a big priority for us. We buy him a big bag of dog food for $50 every six weeks or so, in addition to Green Juju, which is bone broth for dogs. It has turmeric, cucumber, cabbage, broccoli…so many good ingredients. He doesn’t like it as it is, so we mix it with his dog food to make it seem like a gravy. We buy him $15 frozen bone-broth dog treats as well, to help him grow big and strong. He also gets flea and tick medications every month, which costs $30.
Fitness: $16 per month. My husband works at a physical therapy clinic and we can use the equipment to work out in the mornings before it opens. I feel lucky to get to do this and avoid paying for a gym membership—even though it means I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. I also do yoga regularly; it’s my form of therapy and keeps me sane. I’ve been using Groupon to try out different studios that offer 50 percent off class-package deals. (I’ve gotten some great steals, like 20 classes for $100.) I try to go to class once a week, but sometimes I skip a few weeks so that $100 can often last me through five to six months. I also like running and hiking outside, and rain or shine, I walk the dog at least two miles every single day. He needs it as much as I do. If I’m setting aside time to exercise, I make sure to give him equal time to do so too.
Activewear: $700 per year. I’ll treat myself to a new tank top or leggings every once in a while. I really like Nike, but I wait until there’s a sale at Dick’s to buy something. There’s a good sale every three or four months, so I’ll buy some things then, spending about $200.
Beauty: $200 per year. I like clean beauty and have been getting more into organic skin- and hair-care products. I try to find brands that are both good quality and affordable. A couple I really like are Cocokind and Alba Botanica, both of which I get at Whole Foods. The products also last a long time. Other than that, I don’t have any other habits. I manicures, facials, and massages—but those aren’t a priority for me right now.
Want to be featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. And Kristen’s bulldog isn’t the only well-fed pooch these days; pet food is getting a lot healthier.