How To Love Your Lifestyle For Less On She Makes Money Moves

By Diana Brown

October 11, 2019

Happy woman jumping in the air in front of grey facade

Experts agree that women should be taking more control of their finances and looking into long-term investments, and Glamour is here to help with their podcast, She Makes Money Moves. On this episode, host and Glamour’s editor-in-chief Samantha Barry hears from Julia Sullivan, an editor and writer at a marketing agency who lives in New York City. She loves it there, but she can’t afford her lifestyle, and her social calendar as well as her living expenses have eaten up all her savings. Samantha finds out what the story is, then turns to The Broke and Beautiful Life author Stephanie O’Connell to get some tips and strategies Julia can use to get her finances back on track and still love her life in the Big Apple. 

Julia was living well on her $60,000 a year job in Arizona, but when her company asked her to relocate to New York, she jumped at the chance. Though she asked for a significant raise to meet the higher cost of living, she only received a small salary bump. Her expenses rose astronomically, and there was also the problem of loneliness. Samantha points out that most apartments in New York are around 400-500 square feet, which means “People aren't entertaining at home. They make friends with other transplants or their coworkers over expensive drinks and even more expensive dinners, which is exactly what Julia did.” Julia would initiate outings after work to further her friendships, and she would try to extend the evenings by buying a round for everyone. “Maybe by offering...this means they’re going to want to go out with me again, and they did.” But now she’s been in the city for three years, and she can’t figure out how to break the cycle of expensive nights out: “I always have this thought that everyone in New York has such a limited amount of time and energy...So for me to suggest a meetup that costs absolutely nothing, that isn't cool or trendy or fun or delicious, feels as though I would get an automatic no...I'm afraid that I might be seen as not someone worthwhile to hang out with.” 

Stephanie’s first suggestion is to get a roommate, which Julia isn’t excited about, but Stephanie says that has more to do with perception than reality. “A lot of this is about what our narratives are about what we think ‘adulting’ looks like,” she says. Sometimes people who don’t live in these pricey areas are derisive of thirty- and forty-year-olds with roommates, but as Stephanie points out, “It saves me half of my housing costs that I can then spend to travel...is that trade-off worth it to me? Absolutely.” Adds Samantha, “Plus there’s the chance that her new roommates could become her new friends, the type she could enjoy a night in with.” Stephanie also suggests looking at the New York Parks and Recreation website or the New York Public Library website to find free yoga classes, concerts, nature walks and more that she can offer to do with friends. (For more tips on how to navigate finance and friendship, check out this previous episode.)

Four young women sitting round a table, eating pizza.

The most important change Julia needs to make is to start building up her savings again, Stephanie emphasizes. Everyone needs a fallback emergency fund to help them get by if they have a major medical emergency, they lose their job, or they have to break a lease. “It’s really tough to think long-term when you’ve been scraping by in the short-term for so long,” she says, but “simply getting in the habit of saving money and investing, even if it’s as little as $5 a month, is so important, because it builds that skillset of long-term thinking.” Everyone has some idea of what they want their future to look like -- owning a home, starting a family, taking an international trip, starting a business or creative project -- so she challenges us to “put a price tag on that future: ‘Here’s how much I actually need to afford all these goals. If I’m going to actually make that happen...I need to get started today.’ That’ll bring urgency to the longer-term thinking.”  

Join Samantha, Stephanie, and Julia to hear more of Julia’s story and Stephanie’s suggestions for taking control of her financial future -- and yours -- on this episode of She Makes Money Moves.

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