The Creative Coder
Amanda Cheung, 24, Boston
Occupation: Web designer for DockYard design and software consultancy
Annual income: $57,000
Home, sweet home: "I share the second floor of a large three-story house in Jamaica Plain with three roommates and pay $430 a month in rent. My neighborhood has a diverse LGBT community, which I'm involved in."
Bills, bills, bills: "My portion of the utilities comes to about $6 for gas, $50 for electric, and $20 for cable and Internet."
Savings & loans: "I saved nearly $50,000 while living at home after college. I'm a painter; someday I'd like to open a gallery for contemporary artists."
Meal plan: "At least twice a week I spend about $15 on rice, dumplings, eggs, and chives from a nearby Chinese market."
The weekender: "I get up at 10 a.m. and head to South Boston Yoga, where I pay $100 for a pass. At night, I'll go to a house party at a friend's or head to a local bar, where a few drinks go for $15."
My biggest splurge: "Last year at New York's Scope Art Show, I bought Jason Snyder's painting Locket for $900. It was supposed to cost around $1,500, but the frame was broken." —As told to Melissa Bykofsky
The Funny Girl
Megan Gailey, 28, Chicago
Occupation: Stand-up comedian and waitress
Annual income: $25,000
Home, sweet home:"I pay $617 in rent for my room in the apartment I share with two friends. I love having roommates—we save money by sharing clothes and hanging out at home."
Bills, bills, bills: "My share of the utilities is $65. I have a $45 monthly gym bill and spend up to $100 on gas driving to shows."
Savings & loans: "I try to save a few hundred dollars off the top of my performances and have $1,100 in an emergency fund."
Meal plan: "I make a lot of salads and spend $50 a week on groceries. I'll often get a free meal at a show."
The weekender: "During the day I hang out with my friends; we usually get lunch, which costs about $30. At night, I perform."
My biggest splurge: "Three years ago, I quit the job I had at the time and spent $6,000 I had saved on a six-week trip to Europe. Traveling solo was probably the most fun I've ever had." —As told to Marisa Carroll
The Sensible Stylist
Amber Starks, 33, Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Owner of Conscious Coils natural-hair studio
Annual income: $45,000
Home, sweet home: "Last year I put down $4,000 for a $132,000 two-bedroom townhouse. I pay $800 a month for my mortgage. Friends have asked to rent my second bedroom and I've told them, 'Sorry, this is my fortress of solitude.'"
Bills, bills, bills: "Gas and electric are $25 to $30 each a month; wireless is $35. My garbage collection is $44 every other month; water is $150 to $200 every three months. I also rent Conscious Coils' down-town space for $400."
Savings & loans: "I save for emergencies, travel, and my business. I have around $5,000 in my emergency fund and $1,000 in my vacation account."
Meal plan: "I spend $90 to $110 two to three times a month on groceries. And I eat out a lot because I'm exhausted from 10-hour braiding stints! So I make practical choices, like a $6 vegetarian burrito at Chipotle."
The weekender: "Braiding on the weekend boosts my client list. But after that, all I want to do is watch PBS's Masterpiece Theatre."
My biggest splurge: "I wanted to study abroad in college, but my boyfriend at the time said, 'Why would you leave me for six months?' So I didn't go. Now I'm making up for lost time. Last summer, I spent around $2,000 going to Mexico. I've also been to the Florida Keys and Hawaii, both of which cost me less than $1,000 because I stayed with friends." —As told to Marisa Carroll
The Startup Guru
Shauna Causey, 37, Seattle
Occupation: Founder of online personal shopping startup Mysatisfy.com
Annual income: $175,000
Home, sweet home: "After putting down $40,000 on a $400,000 four-bedroom house in West Seattle, I now spend $2,500 on my mortgage and $300 in upkeep each month. I just got out of a live-in relationship—I used to split these costs!"
Bills, bills, bills: "Gas and electric combined cost $95. My cleaning service is $120. Cable and Internet are $125, and my iPhone 5 is $110."
Savings & loans: "Five years ago I bought a two-unit duplex as an investment for $600,000. It's appreciated $80,000."
Meal plan: "I'll buy sushi for dinner or make a salad. I spend about $400 a month on vegetables."
The weekender "I'll take a Spin class at Flywheel, which costs $180 a month."
My biggest splurge: "In August, I went to Burning Man in Nevada, which cost $2,000. Next I went to Peru and Machu Picchu, a $3,300 trip." —As told to Melissa Bykofsky