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 Sarah, a 24-year-old graphic designer for a medical tech company. She makes around $49,000 a year and lives in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia.
How much do you spend on rent/housing?
$575 a month. For my neighborhood, it’s a low rent — but I have five roommates.
What’s your biggest monthly expense (besides rent/housing)?
I tend to spend money on eating out, drinks, and Lyft. Lyft is probably the largest expense. I also go to concerts a lot.
How much do you put toward your savings each month, if at all?
I don’t really save — there’s no budget. I just try not to spend all my money when I’m given it, ha!
How much would you say you spend on clothing per month?
I’d say around $300?
Is this something you budget for, or do you shop when you feel like it?
I usually shop when I feel like it, or when there’s an event to prepare for.
What are the most expensive items of clothing or accessories you own? Did you buy these yourself? If not, would you buy these for yourself?
The most expensive item of clothing I own is a vintage leather jumpsuit my dad bought for me — very Bowie. I’d want to buy it, but I think it probably cost a million dollars, ha! No idea what it went for originally, but I love it.
How much do you spend on jeans?
I’d say $60-$80. $100+ if they were vintage or had some sort of individualistic embroidery — I wouldn’t want to spend more on an average piece.
I don’t wear a lot of T-shirts — I buy mostly band shirts from gigs, so maybe $20? I would spend more on a shirt illustrated by an artist I like.
I’d say something like $50? Most of my bags came from Etsy or vintage stores.
And what’s the average amount of money you typically spend on a fancy outfit, like a dress for a wedding?
I guess it depends on my role. If I’m a bridesmaid, I’ll spend whatever I need to. I think a couple hundred?
How often do you shop?
There’s no average, really. I’d say, like, twice a month? I work downtown, and H&M is right around the corner.
Do you shop online or in person? Or a mix of both?
A mix of both. Sometimes I’ll buy direct from an artist online or from a sale... I mostly shop at thrift stores.
Do you exclusively shop sales?
No, but I love them!
How often do you pay full price for an item, rather than buying it on sale?
I usually pay full price, I think? Online shopping usually comes with some discounts.
How long does it typically take you to make a decision to buy something?
No time at all, ha! If I want it I’ll get it, unless it’s particularly expensive.
Has shopping ever gotten you into debt?
Nope! I don’t have a credit card and I know my limits. Rent comes first.
Is there anything in your life that makes you feel pressured to shop?
Only if it’s, like, my birthday or something. Shopping shouldn’t induce pressure.
How does your approach to shopping compare to your parents’ or family’s approach to shopping? Do you think you spend more or less?
I definitely spend more on myself and I definitely spend money on pre-owned, thrifted clothing in a way they would never.
Do you have similar shopping habits as your friends or co-workers?
I’m not sure! I think I shop more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.