Checks+Balanced: An engineer making $90K in Denver has a monthly leggings budget


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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 Liz Stoyan, a 26-year-old engineer living in Denver, Colorado, making $90,680 a year. She’s passionate about working out (she even works as a spin instructor on the side), eating nutrient-rich food, and living an all-around healthy lifestyle. Oh, and she can’t have enough pairs of leggings—seriously, she loves them. Keep reading for an up-close look at her spending habits.

Here, a 26-year-old engineer living in Denver shares her spending habits.

wellness spending
Graphic: Well+Good Creative

Liz Stoyan, 26, engineer, Denver, Colorado

Income: $86,000 per year as engineer, plus $90 per week as a spin instructor; making $90,680 per year total. I work in systems engineering at a medical-device company. Basically, I communicate what we need the devices to do. I work with different types of engineers and also have experience using the medical devices in the lab to do things like process blood work, for example. I’m also a spin instructor on the side, and I teach about three classes a week, making $30 a class.

Rent: $2,000 per month. I live in a two-bedroom that’s actually a bit bigger than what I need. So I’m thinking about moving to a smaller, less expensive place.

Other reoccurring monthly expenditures: $408 per month. I pay $75 a month for utilities, $50 for internet, and $250 a month for my car payment. I also have Netflix and Spotify. Spotify, specifically, is a must because of my job as a spin instructor. I need to create playlists that keep people going!

Healthy food: $600 per month. I live right near a Whole Foods, which is both amazing and dangerous. I do most of my grocery shopping at a more affordable grocery store and go to Whole Foods for specialty items. In total, I spend about $100 on groceries a week. I don’t follow any specific type of meal plan (I’m an intuitive eater and try to give my body what it craves), but I generally stock up on chicken, eggs, veggies, and greens. I don’t meal-prep my lunch because my work campus has a cafeteria with subsidized food, so I can buy a really good salad from the the salad bar at only $3 or $4. I eat out about twice a week, spending about $50 total. I especially love a restaurant called Dio Mio, which has amazing pasta.

Fitness: $40 per month. I can take free spin classes at the studio where I teach, which is awesome—and I take advantage of the perk. I go to class pretty much every day that I’m not teaching. I also have a Classpass membership, which is $40 a month. I use it to try different classes because I like to switch up my workouts. And, sometimes I use the free gym in my apartment building.

Athleisure: $300 per month. I love leggings. I buy about three pairs a month, typically from Lululemon or Athleta. Both retailers give about a 25 percent discount to fitness instructors, which is awesome. Another brand I love is called Balance Athletica, a local brand with limited monthly releases that feature fun patterns. I don’t really buy beauty products, get my nails done, or have any other regular aesthetic expenses.

Travel: $250 per month. For the past year, my boyfriend and I have been long distance (he lives in Raleigh). We would fly to visit each other about twice a month, and that, obviously, adds up quickly. Additionally, my family lives in upstate New York, so any visits to see them requires a flight, too. Flights cost me anywhere between $150 and $350, but, fortunately, my boyfriend is moving out west. He’ll still be an hour-and-a-half away, but that’s still much closer than North Carolina.

If you’ve thought about becoming a fitness instructor as your side hustle, here’s what to expect during the audition. Plus, how to make $400,000 a year as a yoga instructor.

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