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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 Andres, a 26-year-old teacher (and then some) living in Miami, although he’s almost ready to head back to Philadelphia.
What's your job?
I’m a reading teacher for this summer reading program called The Institute of Reading Development. I teach all ages, from 4-year-olds in kindergarten through adult and college classes. I also tutor, and I’m an aspiring journalist; I freelance here and there on occasion.
What's your annual salary?
I’m very into the gig life. This is a 10-week program. Before that, I was tutoring and also freelancing and just getting odd jobs here and there. As far as salary goes, probably somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 per year.
What brought you to Miami?
I was born and raised in Miami. Then I moved to Philadelphia. It was a post-grad thing; I wanted to be where there’s exciting music stuff happening. I was living there for about two years, and then I came down because my family is going through some stuff. My dad is getting older and needs help around the house, so I came down for a year. I’ve been here for about nine or 10 months now. By the time the year runs out, I think it’ll be a good time to head back up to Philadelphia.
How much do you spend on rent?
Currently, I’m sharing a room with my partner that’s $450 in Miami. I’m spending $225. I should have a smile on my face because I feel so blessed.
That’s pretty amazing. What's your biggest monthly expense besides rent or housing?
Geez, I don’t know if I budget that well. I bike. I take Metrorail, and then, occasionally, I drive. Usually, for work, I have to drive. I would say I spend somewhere in the $75-a-month range.
How much do you put toward your savings each month, if you have a savings account?
I do. Lately, since this teaching gig has been the first full-time work that I’ve had in a while, I’ve put away a nice sum each check. I would say every month about $400 goes into my savings.
How much would you say that you spend on clothing per month?
Not much, maybe $50-$60.
Do you budget for that, or do you just shop when you feel like it or just happen to need something for an event?
I shop when I feel like it. There’s a string of thrift stores that I like to visit down here. The other day I was at Nordstrom Rack because I like that they have Calvin Klein underwear and nicer socks and stuff that you’re going to need anyway, but they’re at a discounted price, so I picked up some stuff from there.
What are the most expensive items of clothing or accessories that you own?
I have a pair of Grant Stone boots. They're an Australian boot company that my gracious mother got me for Christmas last year.
What’s the average amount of money that you typically spend on jeans?
I haven’t bought a new pair of jeans in a while. Levi’s is my go-to brand. I used to work at American Apparel, so I have a lot of American Apparel in my closet because of the discount — they let me have allowances every few seasons, which is when they would give you a set amount to spend at the store, so I have a lot of that, and American Apparel clothing lasts a long time.
What about T-shirts? About how much is average for you on a T-shirt, and how much is the absolute maximum?
I mostly thrift T-shirts. I've gotten into the ethical side of thrifting as well, in that a lot of clothing is made by underprivileged workers, and that makes me feel uneasy. I try to either keep my clothing made in America or thrifted so that it’s not supporting one of these sweatshops and stuff. I’m definitely not going to spend more than $8 or $9 on a T-shirt.
What about a fancy outfit, like if you’re going to a wedding or somebody’s graduation or something like that?
For teaching, I have to look presentable. I have a lot of button-down shirts that are my trusty items, things by Polo, Ralph Lauren, a few Banana Republic shirts, Calvin Klein, definitely. I’ll pick out those from my nicer part of the wardrobe.
How often do you pay full price for an item instead of buying it on sale or at a thrift store?
I’m definitely enticed by a good deal, but I do this thing in my head where I say, “If this wasn't on sale and this was the regular price, would I still like it?” That was a trick that a friend taught me. It’s seemed to work out.
Do you have similar shopping habits as your friends or coworkers? What about your partner?
Absolutely. I was decently into thrifting before, and then once I started dating my girlfriend, it was like she’s Queen Thrift and loves looking for deals. It’s even, like, a pastime, to just go through thrift stores and see what she can find. If you do come across something that’s nice and makes you look good, makes you feel good, then you go for it.