My 4 Friends and I Make the Same Salary — This Is How Our Budgets Compare
Meet my work friend group: Carlos, Ella, Matt, and Rose. Twenty-somethings that connected after joining a tech company. We accepted the same position with a non-negotiable salary. “I need to stop spending so much money!” is something we often say, whether we’re at a pregame deciding what bar to go to first or having brunch to recover from last night’s festivities. As much as we can be bad influences on each other when it comes to money matters, we try to keep each other in check (keyword: try).
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The reality is that my budget — or lack thereof — may not work for Carlos. The same sentiment goes for Ella, Matt, and Rose. Each friend has different priorities, preferences, and spending habits. There’s no right or wrong way to handle personal finances, but it’s pretty important to talk about money management. That’s what friends are for, right?
I sat down with each friend to get insight on how they handle their personal finances. As we discussed rent, loans, savings, and leisure, we compared budgets. Here’s what we found out.
Moving to a New City
Most of us relocated to or near Kansas City, Missouri as part of the job requirement, with the exception of Carlos already being based there. While Carlos saves on rent by living at home, the rest of us pay rent anywhere between $750 to $1,500 per month. Matt lives alone and pays $1,500 for his convertible apartment, including parking and utilities. I live in the same building but share a full one-bedroom with my partner, and I pay $850 for my split.
Our friends Ella and Rose have roommates. Ella lives with one roommate in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a Kansas City suburb. With utilities and parking factored in, she pays $1,050 per month. On the other hand, Rose recently moved to Chicago after being approved to work remotely. She signed for a three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with two roommates for $750 each per month.
More Bills, Bills, Bills
Breaking down each friend’s expenses line by line, we concentrated on the next biggest bills: auto and student loan payments. Matt and Ella have monthly car payments of $400 and $165, respectively. At this time, Carlos has no auto loan and is in the market for a new car, which he’s been saving up to buy.
None of them have student loan payments, but Rose and I both took out private loans to pay for college. Rose makes a payment of $260, while mine is $1,000. I refinanced my loans to be able to make a singular payment since I had borrowed from two different lenders.
Saving vs. Splurging
I’ll admit I’m not the wisest spender in the whole world. Did someone say triple the points on dining out? Swipe my card. I just have a soft spot for reward programs, which triggers my emotional spending. If there’s one thing I admire about Carlos, it’s his ability to control his spending. Without rent and car payments to worry about, he puts aside close to $1,000 every month.
Ella, Matt, and Rose struggle with emotional spending as much as I do. Ella tries to keep her leisure expenses under $600. Next in line, Rose spends about $700. Matt and I are on the same boat, with almost $1,000 going towards leisure.
However, all four of us still make an effort to allocate a good chunk of our salary to savings and investments. Ella invests $750. Rose and Matt have set up their savings deposits at $200 and $300, respectively. Normally, I deposit $250 to my savings account, however, when I avoid dining out and online shopping, I put away an additional $300.
“I feel like I’m going to be such a bad example,” Rose said before we started the conversation. Little does she know, the rest of the group initially felt the same way.
After going into more detail about our monthly spendings, it’s eye-opening to see how each friend handles their money. There’s no one budget that will work for every single person. I used to feel guilty for not being as great of a budgeter, but that invisible standard doesn’t really exist. I’ve learned not to shame myself for it, as long as I’m able to make it work.