Money Talks, So Should You

Quarter-Life Chronicle: Adjusting your budget for a new pay raise

Abby Dalton
by Abby Dalton , Dimespring 30

After months of meetings and red tape, I recently found myself with a new job offer for a position I’d wanted for some time. I’ll be starting in August, and I’m excited for a number of reasons -- it’s intellectually engaging, it’s in line with my professional goals, it’s a great fit.

But I’m also excited because it’s a large title and pay raise, and who doesn’t like that?

READ: The financial benefits of being a pessimist

Because I just finished a bout of work travelIng that involved tacking a few extra days onto a trip, and spending large sums of money in markets and at food stalls and restaurants (Shanghai soup dumplings, I love you), I don’t feel comfortable splurging on a “reward”-type gift for myself. Some Mexican food and margaritas with my husband were sufficient celebration.

But my money thoughts haven’t ended with, “How can I reward myself for this success?” A pay raise means it’s time to reconsider my savings goals, and time to think about how I’d like to live with this kind of salary.

Of course, I’m not making crazy money, but I will be making enough to reconsider how much I put away each paycheck. I’ve been considering the options.

More money will almost certainly be going into what we deem our “Miscellaneous” fund - money that will eventually go towards a down payment on a house, and which we use for car repairs and other bigger expenses. I also anticipate upping my 403(b) contribution, since I’m at capacity with my Roth IRA, and putting as much money as I can into retirement funds now makes me feel pretty good about my future. But I’m also starting to think about living a little less close to the wire.

READ: Traversing the finances of my mid-20s

At the moment, I don’t have a ton of fun money leftover after I direct most of my money into savings, and I’m starting to think that if I’m being responsible in adjusting my savings rates accordingly, I might also benefit from adjusting my spending money accordingly. If I’m living a little larger professionally, it’s not the end of the world to feel slightly more comfortable with the money I have for discretionary spending - especially as I’ll be entering graduate school part time in the fall, and anticipate a few nights of grabbing some dinner away from home or a coffee or two in the morning.

At this point, I feel that I’ve earned a little financial breathing room.


Abby Dalton graduated with a BA in English and history in 2008. She’s worked in publishing and the non-profit sector, first in New York and now in the Boston area. She currently works on program coordination at a major university in the northeast, where her husband is a graduate student. They live with their cat, Norman. Abby is a member of the  Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.