Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome to Racked’s How Do You Shop? series, in which we ask a variety of people some deeply personal questions about how they earn, save, and especially spend their money. If you know or are someone with an interesting relationship to $$$, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week, we spoke with Sherry, a married 49-year-old realtor from Atlanta, Georgia without kids. She told us about her mortgage, her usual spending habits, and her former struggle with credit card debt.
What's your annual salary?
I think I'm at about $125,000.
How much do you spend on rent or housing?
My mortgage is actually really low, so it's about $450 a month.
What's your biggest monthly expense besides rent or housing?
My car payment — $365 per month.
What's your biggest discretionary spending category? Like going out to eat, going to concerts, and traveling?
It's probably going out to eat or shopping.
How much do you put toward your savings each month, if at all?
I typically try to put... hold on, I can calculate it for you, even. So I put $50 into my regular savings, then I have... where's my calculator? So right at $500 a month.
How much would you say you spend on clothing per month?
Probably $200 a month, maybe.
Is it something that you budget for, or do you just kind of shop whenever you feel like it?
No, I shop whenever I feel like it.
What are the most expensive items of clothing or accessories that you own?
Shoes and bras.
Yeah, bras are so expensive. Why is that?
Particularly when you wear a 30G. Or H, actually.
What's the average amount of money that you typically spend on jeans?
What's the most that you would ever spend on jeans?
If I could get a custom pair, I would pay as much as they'd do it for. So I'd probably pay, I don't know, $250?
What's the average amount of money that you typically spend on T-shirts?
T-shirts, those are something I just do seasonally. So probably, annually, maybe $200 total.
What's the average amount of money that you typically spend on bags?
Oh yeah, I forgot about those. $250 to $500.
What's the most that you would ever spend on a purse?
$500 is probably the max. I typically try to find them on consignment somewhere.
What's the average amount of money that you typically would spend on a fancy outfit, like a nice dress for a wedding?
Is that pretty much the most you would spend?
Yeah, unless it was something really great.
How often do you shop?
Once a week, maybe.
Do you shop online or in person?
Mostly online, but I do shop in person sometimes. I used to enjoy it a lot, but the older I get, the less I enjoy being out digging through stuff.
Do you exclusively shop sales?
And how often do you pay full price for an item, rather than buying it on sale?
Probably 10 percent of the time.
How long does it typically take you to make a decision to buy something?
If it's something super expensive, like a purse, I might come back in a month to see if it's still there. But otherwise, if I like it, I'm going to to buy it right then.
Has shopping ever gotten you into debt?
How does your approach to shopping compare to your parents' or family's approach to shopping?
I think we all pretty much shop the same way. Of course, I got myself in trouble as a young adult because my mom always shopped with credit cards, and I didn't realize credit cards were things you had to pay off.
Do you have pretty similar shopping habits to your friends and co-workers?
Probably; I may shop a little more, but I tend to shop for weird things, too. I buy stuff for houses and staging and materials for projects around the house.
Where did your family shop when you were younger? A mall, thrift store, department stores?
J.C. Penney Outlet.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.