This Gen Z'er Makes $82K A Year And Is Still Struggling Financially — Here's How It Affects Her Daily Life

As an older Gen Z’er, I try not to compare myself to my peers. However, when I see people my age posting on social media about how they’re traveling the world, starting families, or moving into their own place, I sometimes can’t help but feel like I’m “not where I’m supposed to be.” I feel like it’s common to think you’re supposed to have life all figured out and settled by a certain age — but that’s just not realistic for everyone.

Maskot / Getty Images/Maskot

So, to showcase that there’s no real timeline to follow in life, I sought out Gen Z’ers from the BuzzFeed Community who were willing to share their lives with me — and the internet — by highlighting parts of their day-to-day existence.

Welcome back to Gen Z Journals.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

Check out the last Gen Z Journal here.

And by the way: If you are interested in submitting your own Gen Z Journal or know anyone who might, fill out this short form with just the basics for a chance to be featured in a future edition.

This week: Meet Haley (she/her), a 25-year-old from Upstate New York. The remainder of this post will be from her POV.

Haley K.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I am a digital marketer for a workers’ compensation insurance organization. I make $82,500 a year and have been in my position for a little over a year.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I am pretty intense about budgeting. I use a software/program that allows me to allocate every dollar I have to a specific job. If I had to guess, my average weekly spending is probably around $600. We currently pay $1,050 in rent, but that will change in a week to $1,475. We set aside $500 per month for groceries, $100 a month in cat food and litter, $100 a week for my therapy sessions, $225 for gas, about $1,000 between both of our car payments, and about $1,900 a month for student loans. I am very fortunate to be able to pay an extra $600 a month on my loans to try to get rid of them faster.

I typically budget the money I already have in my bank account for the current month, and then as paychecks come in, I budget them toward the next month. Also, my partner and I share the budget, so we don’t really look at our bank accounts separately anymore.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

My financial situation is a lot better than most people, and I’m still not comfortable. My parents made enough money that I received very little federal aid, with the assumption that they would help pay for college. They didn’t help me pay for college. I was over $110K in debt when I left school, with the majority being private loans. I’m very privileged to live the way I do, but I still can’t afford what older generations were able to at my age. Buying power has decreased significantly, so when someone asks me why I’m struggling financially when I make more money than they did at my age, I want to scream.

Dannica Ramirez

The money I make now is proportionately less than the money older adults made when they were my age, and the cost of everything has risen. It’s not that Gen Z doesn’t want to work — we’re just not tolerating the work culture that older generations accepted. No one should feel like they need to work 80 hours a week for a job that only pays for 40. That’s exploitation. Also, I think many of us don’t feel like a job needs to be your life’s purpose. I set boundaries with work because I want to be able to live my life outside of it.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

Dannica Ramirez

A typical to-do list for me looks like:
• Wake up and get dressed
• Make an iced coffee, tea, or some other drink and breakfast
• Feed my cats breakfast
• Sit down at my desk in the other room for work
• Check my email and respond to any as-needed
• Scroll on company socials to get caught up
• Check our website for new inquiries
• Decide on social content for that day
• Design a graphic or video for each platform
• Eat lunch (If I remember to)
• Feed cats lunch (spoiled!!)
• Design a marketing email or invitation to training
• Respond to questions from members regarding our new learning management system
• Work on quarterly, annual, or monthly reports as needed
• Edit content for articles or newsletters
• Post on all our social media pages
• Finish the day by responding to more emails
• Try to go to the gym for an hour (Monday, Wednesday, and either Friday or Saturday)
• Make dinner for or with my partner
• Feed the cats dinner
• Run off to one of my hobbies (doing stage lighting or acting) or try to decompress by watching something, scrolling on my phone, or going to Target
• Go to bed by 12:30 a.m.

Haley K.

I usually get eight hours of sleep unless I’m working on a show. I do theatrical lighting for my former high school’s drama club and local community theaters in my spare time. Rehearsals can run late at night, so I get home much later.

Haley K.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I am in a relationship with Conner, my wonderful boyfriend of two and a half years. We support each other in a million ways. We are very open, honest, and communicative with each other. We support our individual interests, and we both have ADHD, so we try to balance each other’s weaknesses. I am very grateful I have Conner because the current dating scene is scary to me. I would NOT like to be on dating apps right now; people seem to avoid talking about difficult things and end up in situations where neither person is satisfied.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I’m currently in the middle of moving out of the apartment I’ve lived in with Conner for one and a half years! We’re not moving far, but I’ve never moved with another person before. Plus, this apartment is all our cats know. We’ve had to adjust our budget to afford this new place and figure out how to downsize from 1,100 sqft to 890 sqft.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

My boyfriend and I want to start a life together, but we feel really held back by my student loans. The minimum payment (after refinancing!) is $1,000 a month. Even though we both make really good money for our age, nothing is affordable with the amount we have to set aside for bills. Buying a house is completely out of the question for at least another six years. We’re thinking about how to afford a wedding eventually, and that feels impossible, too! That said, I’m really hoping my boyfriend will propose to me.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I have amazing, wonderfully supportive friends, some of whom live far away and I don’t see often. I know that when I need someone, I have people to turn to. I think the hard part is remembering to turn to them when things get tough; it’s easy just to turn inward and get lost in your problems.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I am pretty close with my family. My parents split when I was very young, and my mom and I moved to live with my stepdad when I was nine. My dad and his family are three hours away, and the rest of my mom’s family is about four hours away. I have four half-siblings — three on my dad’s side — and one on my mom’s. All of them are at least 10 years younger than me. My mom, stepdad, and sister only live 20 minutes away now, so my partner and I try to visit them once a week.

Dannica Ramirez / Canva

I constantly feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I watch people on social media DIY their homes, get pregnant, travel to other countries, and buy luxury items, and I can’t help but feel like I’m behind.

Dannica Ramirez

Dannica Ramirez

Content creators give us a perfect snippet of their ‘lives,’ and it’s easy to forget that they get multiple takes to create the final product. I just try to keep in mind that my priorities and situation are different from theirs — and that’s okay.

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