How a marketing manager making $125K snags free flights for her international vacays


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Photo: Getty Images/Kristina Lindberg; Graphic: Well+Good Creative

Do you know how much money your friends make? What about how much their rent is or how much is in their bank accounts right now? I’m guessing no. Even in a world where questions about menstrual cups and the ins and outs of sex are completely (and blessedly) normal to ask, 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 is able to hit up $34 fitness classes three times a week? It’s enough to make anyone want to ask, “Ummm, excuse me. How can 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 Erin, a 32-year-old marketing manager living in San Diego, California, who prioritizes healthy eating, fitness, and using credit card points for flights. Here, she reveals her expenses and how she affords her wellness habits. 

Keep reading to see how Erin hacks her habits (like by using credit card points for flights).

wellness budgeting
Graphic: W+G Creative

Erin, 32, marketing manager, San Diego, California

Income: $125,550 per year. I make $120,750 a year as a marketing manager, overseeing the marketing strategies for all the accounts at my company, which are primarily sporting-goods brands. I also manage our events marketing initiatives, like media events and sports tournaments. I’m lucky to work for a company that I love and with people who are extremely motivated to grow our brand. Additionally, I generate $400 per month of passive income from the condo I own and use it as a rental property.

Rent: $1,100 per month. I’ve been living in the same apartment for nine years and it’s managed to stay relatively under market value. I have one roommate and we split the rent, each paying $1,100 a month.

Other reoccurring expenses: $433 per month. I drive a hybrid Chevy Volt, and have a $280 monthly payment for it, plus I pay $1,000 a year for insurance. Since I can commute back and forth to work on battery alone, I rarely have to fill the gas tank. In fact, I’d estimate I fill it once every two and a half months. Furthermore, California offers a reimbursement to owners of hybrid/electric vehicles; mine, for example, provides $1,000 allowance for my gas and electric bills, which covers my entire year of utilities. Otherwise, I pay $60 per month for internet and $10 a month for Spotify. I use my parents’ Netflix account, and my company pays for my phone bill.

Food: $170 per week. I spend about $50 a week on groceries. There isn’t one specific eating plan I follow, but I do try to, in general, stay nutritious and vegetable-heavy. Sometimes I’ll go to Costco to buy bulk items, like rice and olive oil, but otherwise, I grocery shop almost exclusively at Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. I love discovering new healthy products at Trader Joe’s and also like to buy unpackaged produce like sweet potatoes, avocados, peppers, and onions there. I purchase other produce items like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and carrots at Sprouts because those products aren’t packaged in plastic there, the way they tend to be at Trader Joe’s.

I like to cook meals in bulk so that they’ll last me a few days, like rice, lentils, and soup, and I also often bring these to work for lunch. On the weekends, I generally eat out for brunch one day and then dinner both nights. I spend about $120 each weekend eating out.

Fitness: $1,600 per year. I pay $30 a month to belong to 24 Hour Fitness, which is conveniently located right by my office. I do get bored easily with my workouts, so I like to switch up my routine, trying different classes. That’s why I love Classpass, which costs me $50 a month for the plan I use. I mostly use it for Pilates classes and Renegade Fitcamp, which is a CrossFit gym that also has bootcamp classes. I’m also in a local soccer league, which costs $80 per season, and I play eight seasons throughout the year, a couple nights per week.

Athleisure: $300 per year. I like to buy new workout clothes and leggings a few times a year. I work for Puma, which gives me a great discount. I also really like Lululemon—especially for the leggings.

Beauty: $50 per month. I spend about $50 a month on skin-care products. Some of my favorites are Honest’s hydration face cream and facial oil and Drunk Elephant’s vitamin C serum. I typically only buy makeup using gift cards I get for my birthday and holidays.

Travel: $4,000 per year. Travel is really important to me, so having an international travel budget is a priority. I try to take a two- or three-week international trip each year. I’ve been to southeast Asia, Peru, and Cuba, and I’m not sure yet where I’ll go this year. Otherwise, I plan a couple of long-weekend trips with friends.

To offset costs, I’m really mindful about using my credit card points for flights I take, so I typically fly free. That helps to compensate for hotel-room costs that I usually share with friends and also meals. Food can really add up, even if it’s just a weekend trip.

Other wellness habits: $0. I’ve been doing a lot of cupping therapy lately, which I find is really helpful for workout recovery. I have a friend who does cupping as part of his job, so performs it for free for me, once every two weeks or so. A couple of my coworkers go to acupuncture, and so I’m considering trying that too. I’m waiting for my insurance to start covering it, which is set to kick in soon.

If you, like Erin, like to travel a lot, check out these helpful travel hacks. And hereare some tips for staying healthy while you’re away.

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