fashion insiders personal budgets

9 Fashion Insiders Get Real about Their Personal Budgets

I got my mind on my money and money on my mind.

When it comes to money, people start to get a little funny, especially when it comes to sharing advice about how they handle their budget. Honestly, it feels like I know more about some of my friends’ sex lives than I do about their financial goals! In a culture of oversharing (and not to mention the fact that women still earn 20 percent less than men), it’s disappointing to know that we aren’t more transparent about our coins.

Upon going freelance, I had a very sobering conversation with my financial planner about how much I really needed to earn to maintain my lifestyle. Thankfully, the number wasn’t as terrifying as I assumed, but it got me thinking, What do other successful women in my industry do about money? So I decided to be bold and ask. Because the first step in moving the conversation forward is having one. I caught up with nine beauty and fashion insiders to get raw and real about money; see below for what they had to say.

Who: Sharifa Murdock, Co-Owner of Liberty Fairs and Founder of ENVSN Fest, 37

fashion insiders personal budgets
Money Mind-Set: “Money and I are in a pretty healthy and committed relationship. I don’t obsess over it like I might have in my younger years; [through] maturity and experience we (money and I) have found our balance. It’s rooted in mutual R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Personal Splurge: “Saving a percentage on my annual income on a monthly basis! It’s just as important as drinking water to me. It’s so routine and also a requirement to living.”

How I Stay in Check: “I am completely old-school! My husband and I still operate our monthly expenses via an Excel spreadsheet. It’s broken down into multiple sheets that allow us to see where our money is going, due dates, savings accounts, and a monthly payout [that] we ‘pay ourselves’ after our core responsibilities are taken care of.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “Write it down. If you see your money, you will treat it differently! Weighing monthly income versus what needs to go out really puts things into perspective. Also, paying myself a ‘small fee’ monthly and forcing myself to live within that salary helps to really create a healthy savings account! I don’t live my life based on my salary. I pay myself based on a percentage that is left after I have handled business.”

Who: Crystal Anderson, Manager of Production at Man Repeller, 37

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: Courtesy of
Money Mind-Set: “I’m all-around pretty trash when it comes to managing my money, but have realized that I need to be better. I don’t really believe in a ‘rainy day’ fund. Obviously, I believe in creating generational wealth and having a savings account. But I also subscribe to the notion that I work incredibly hard, and there are times that I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor!”

Personal Splurge: “Uber! I’m really trying to get my life together here and take the train more, but it’s really damned hard! My girlfriend is really helping me by shaming me into oblivion anytime she knows I’m in an Uber.”

How I Stay in Check: “My friend Lily has a bomb little Google Doc that she shared with me that allows me to account for money before I get paid, which has been incredibly helpful. Seeing where your money goes in real time is both a mind f*ck (because you realize how much money you spend on bullsh*t!) and also incredibly humbling.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “My mom tells me it’s not what you make, but what you save, and I’m realllyyyyyyyy trying to lean into that ethos!”

Who: Julie R. Schott, founder of Starface, 31

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: Jane Espiritu
Money Mind-Set: “My money method until this point has been very shoebox; I won’t spend money I don’t have if I can help it. I check my Citibank app a few times a week, and it shoots me warnings like ‘Hey, you just spent x amount more than you should, don’t do that.’ I’m building a business right now, and it’s teaching me a lot about how to budget, borrow, and invest. Some months I land a couple jobs and feel like the richest b*tch on the planet, other months I’m refreshing Citibank checking for a wire transfer. Money, salary, rates, it’s a weird open secret sometimes, but it’s OK to to ask for advice (advice-advice, not money).”

Worth the Price: “In my early 20s I thought boutique fitness classes were the place to blow a bunch of money, but I could’ve been outside running and walking for free! What I’m not willing to sacrifice ever is therapy. There have been months when I’ve gone twice a week. A friend put it well: Therapy is like the Birkin of mental health.”

How I Stay in Check: “I don’t shop for clothes if I can help it, and I never use food delivery apps. I had to delete Postmates off my phone because it’s financial poison! I’m lucky to live in places with food options on every block; there’s no excuse to order in.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “There was a MarketWatch article a few months back that said you should have double your salary saved by 35, and Twitter went crazy because its creatives (half of the feed) [have] never been on salary. I put that into practice by ignoring it.”

Who: Kilee Hughes, founder of Six-One Agency, 40-something

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: Jerome Shaw
Money Mind-Set: “I’ve tried to minimize the use of credit cards. It’s not easy, especially when credit card companies bait you with frequent flyer points and incentives. At one point I had seven credit cards to my name, which is borderline insane for a single woman. I started working with a financial planner, and now I’m down to four cards and debt-free. Someone once said to me, ‘You have to participate in your own rescue,’ which is true.”

Personal Splurge: “Dining out. I simply love the whole experience. The hustle and bustle inside restaurants, the social atmosphere, the smells, the background noise—it’s addictive! As a result, I eat out five days a week.”

How I Stay in Check: “Resist temptation. I’m not the best at finances, but there are a lot of things I’ve learned along the way so that I’m less burdened. Three apps that I love [are] Digit, Mint, and Acorns. Digit just pulls the funds from my account and stores them for me. Every day I receive a text message with my balance. Having my own business has forced me to stick to a budget. I keep my personal, business, and saving accounts separate.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “The best lesson that I learned is to have a decent amount of funds saved for an emergency or hardship. I’m addicted to The Dave Ramsey show, and he often says that even though something is a good deal doesn’t mean you need to buy it. That advice helps me resist temptation and impulsive shopping. Another piece of advice I received was to call your credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate per month. Every time I’ve done it, they lower it even further.”

Who: Michelle Lee, Editor-in-Chief of Allure, 44

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: Hannah Choi
Money Mind-Set: “We have a love/hate relationship. I’ve gone through times when I was younger when I didn’t have any money at all, like digging in the bottoms of handbags to find loose change to buy food. I think that those experiences help build an appreciation for having a safety cushion. Today I’ll spend carefully on some key items, but other than that, I love a bargain. For example, I share a lot of pics of my nail art on Instagram, and people always ask where I buy my rings. In most cases, they’re $2 or $3 rings from Forever 21 or similar stores.”

Personal Splurge: “Travel. The way I see it, my kids will only be this age once. And I want to have experiences with my husband and kids that we’ll remember forever. So that’s important to me. I’ll also spend (within reason) on fitness. For example, I was doing SLT classes four times a week, and it’s not cheap. But it was helping me in so many ways. So I viewed it as a worthwhile investment.”

How I Stay in Check: “I don’t use a strict budget. I view it somewhat like calorie-counting. As long as I have a cushion in the bank, I won’t obsess over every charge. In the same [way] that it’s unhealthy to obsess over every bite of food, I also think it’s unhealthy to pore over every cent. A lot of financial experts through the years, for example, have tried to illustrate how much money we all waste on, say, a Starbucks latte. But my feeling has always been that we need to enjoy little luxuries.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “To take a look at the small payments you’re making every month that aren’t adding to your life. We ditched our landline cable TV this past year. With Apple TV and Netflix, we just weren’t watching it. If you look at your monthly expenses, you’ll find that there are a lot of charges that you can cross off and will have very little impact on your life. I’m realizing as I get older that minimalism is the new luxury. So I’m more selective in the stuff I accumulate. Don’t get me wrong: I still love stuff. But there’s an added layer of thought that goes into my purchases now.”

Who: Lauren Caruso, Site Director of The Zoe Report, 31

fashion insiders personal budgets
Money Mind-Set: “I never thought I’d be able to support myself and live comfortably with a career in journalism, but now that I’m fairly successful (at least by my own standards!), I have a much different relationship with money. Rather [than] living every day feeling like I don’t have enough of it, it’s just something I have that allows me to live comfortably, as well as help my family. I’ll always fear needing to have two, three jobs (and with my Instagram and consulting work in addition to my full-time job, I sort of do!), so I save quite more than many people at my age would. But I also know that being a thin, cis, white woman in an industry that favors those standards has helped. Though my economic standing throughout my upbringing wasn’t privileged, I know that not everyone has the cards stacked in their favor to succeed. I do wish we were all a bit more forthcoming about our finances, especially during a time where the 1 percent are getting richer at such an accelerated pace.”

Personal Splurge: “Shopping! I usually have months where I ‘fast’ and give it up two to three times per year—if I don’t set hard and fast rules for myself like that, I’m more likely to slip up and go overboard.”

How I Stay in Check: “I grew up very modestly; my dad was a bus driver, and my mom still works as a secretary at the college I attended, so we were solidly lower-middle class. My parents worked incredibly hard to make sure we lived in a good neighborhood with a great school, but that said, I was always generally aware that my classmates had more money than we did; they had bigger homes, name-brand clothes, fancy cars, and didn’t need to get a job (or three) at age 16 to pay for things like their cell phone or car insurance—and while I had a great childhood, it made me aware of what money meant.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “Start investing your money. I was always so terrified of not having any of it that I had the equivalent of a three-year fund in my savings account. I don’t plan to buy a home (or make any purchase that would require that much money) in the near future, so I invested half of it. I feel more comfortable if I have at least six to nine months of funds liquid, just in case. I use Betterment, but only for investing. Otherwise I just use Google Sheets [for tracking spending].”

Who: Lillian Tung, Co-Founder/CMO of FUR, 36

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: TBC
Money Mind-Set: “I am probably on the conservative side of spending, and I attribute this to my upbringing in an immigrant household. I’m always keen to save, and I pay attention to the details on what is being spent when. I don’t use a budget, but keep a very close eye on my spending via my bank apps and Mint.”

Personal Splurge: “Quality beauty products! Thankfully I have an endless supply of FUR Oil, which I use everywhere from my bath and as an all-over moisturizer. I also spend on skin care and make most [of] my skin-care purchases on Violet Grey.”

How I Stay in Check: “I’ve been using Mint since I graduated, and I find it so useful. It’s a great tool to see where you’re spending in categories, and I like the weekly summary I get on my biggest categories. One week it was all on taxis, and I realized I had to curb that habit!”

Best Financial Advice Received: “It’s so easy to get stuck in the cycle of comparing yourself to those around you on what they are and are not spending on. Stay focused on yourself and your budget—what’s worth it to you isn’t necessarily what is worth it to someone else. It’s best to focus on how you want to spend and what you want to save.”

Who: Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Executive Editor of Teen Vogue, 41

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: Heather Hazzan
Money Mind-Set: “[My relationship with money] is rooted in fear, which has inspired me to create a situation where I am never afraid that I won’t have [the] means for the life of my choice (which is probably true for most people that come from money-insecure backgrounds).”

Personal Splurge: “Taking cars. I was using Mint, but I felt extremely judged when faced with how much money I spend on car service, so I stopped using it. I should probably revisit it though, because I just moved and my rent is much higher now, so [I] will need to budget.”

How I Stay in Check: “I keep a loose budget with target goals and savings goals. Basically, I like to make sure that none of my accounts have below a certain dollar amount. If it gets close, it means it’s time to move some money around or skip eating out for the week!

“I also try to keep monthly costs down. A certain amount per month goes to savings. I also have a 401K and own a house that I consider an investment property to help with budgeting and taxes.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “Most financial advice goes over my head—it is not geared towards the average person who makes a modest income and doesn’t have extra cash for investment. So honestly, I can’t say I’ve gotten any good advice, but when I’m faced with big financial choices, I talk it out with other people that I consider to be financially stable or successful. Just know that if you do work hard, the money will come!”

Who: Brooke Shunatona, former Senior Beauty Editor at, 29

fashion insiders personal budgets Photo: Jason Eric Hardwick
Money Mind-Set: “I hate budgeting, but I love the feeling when I’ve saved up for something and can buy it without getting myself into debt and without feeling guilty about it. It’s a lot of work to stay organized, because I’m not much of a planner, but life is less stressful that way.”

Personal Splurge: “Expensive salads and healthy foods. They’re ridiculously overpriced, but I tell myself I’m investing in my health.”

How I Stay in Check: “I used Mint when I first started working to teach myself responsible spending habits. The notifications would keep me in check. Now I use a zero-based budget.”

Best Financial Advice Received: “Get a credit card, but treat it like a debit card. Traveling is one of my priority expenses because I live so far from family and friends and was in a long-distance relationship for years, so having a credit card for points is key. But it’s important to only spend what you have and pay your bills off in full each month to keep yourself out of trouble.”

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