In our “Let’s Talk Money” series, we ask respondents from all walks of life the same set of raw money questions. The answers reveal intimate details of their financial lives.
Talking about money is one of the longest held taboo subjects in our culture. With this weekly series, we open people’s wallets (and with them fears, hopes, and closely held beliefs). We don’t approach this with a certain outcome in mind—we just want to open doors and find out if money is taboo for good reason, or if remaining quiet is keeping us all down. We hope you’ll join us in considering this question: Is it time to reimagine polite society when it comes to money?
To participate in this series, please email us at [email protected]
From: Nick, Age 19
HipLatina: How do you make your living?
Nick: I work part-time in retail. I am a sophomore in college and don’t have time to work full-time at the moment.
HL: How worried are you about money? How do thoughts of money affect your life?
N: I am constantly setting goals for myself and trying to spend no more than a given amount each month. I worry about money only when I know I have a limited amount to spend at any given time and that it might not be enough.
HL: How do you spend your money? How would you describe your level of debt?
N: Most of my money goes to my hobbies and food. Living in Chicago is hard, since it costs nearly an average of $10 or more per meal. I am not currently in debt.
HL: How would you describe your credit score? How does your credit score affect your life (for good or for bad)?
N: I am working on my credit score right now, for where I am and how little I spend a month, I like where I am with it.
HL: What regrets do you have about money–decisions you’ve made, actions you’ve taken, or not taken? Have you changed anything because of these regrets?
N: I feel like when I have extra money or get paid more than I expect, I don’t save enough. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to buy more food, or stuff for my projects. I also feel like I am too generous at times — I have bought friends food or gifts that I didn’t necessarily have to. Lately I’ve been trying to cut down each month and it seems to be working.
HL: How often do your parents talk about money–with each other, with you? How much do you know about their income, assets and savings, and economic future? Are your parents “spenders” or “savers?”
N: My parents talk about money with me so often. They do help me with my expenses, since I’m still in college. I know a little about their income. My parents save more than they spend, but they do spend a lot, for many reasons. They work very hard.
HL: Are you in a relationship?
N: I’m not currently in a relationship, but my past relationships suggest how expensive it is to be dating. Usually food bills are split.
HL: Do you have children?
N: I have no children. (Let’s keep it that way for a while.)
HL: Do you have friends in different economic situations? How do you make social decisions with friends who have different incomes, such as where to go, what to do, taking vacations, or how costs are handled?
N: I have a lot of friends who are in severe student debt, and others who are very well off and get spoiled by their parents. I have seen all of it. Those who have student debt sometimes have siblings who are also in college or who have just recently got in or out of it, which is very hard for parents to afford. With my friends, we usually go places that are affordable for all of us, such as a movie where the tickets are less than $12, or museums where the admission price is no more than $20.
HL: How does your financial life differ from others in your life, such as friends, family, or neighbors?
N: My financial life is better than most of my friends, but I would still like to be able to save more.
HL: If you had more money, what would you do with it?
N: If I had more money, I would buy more groceries, spend less on food outside of my apartment, and put the rest to save for birthdays and other holidays.