How Spending an Extra $16,000 Annually Changed My Life

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Hi, I'm Michela!

Because I religiously track my expenses using The Personal Finance Dashboard, I can literally tell you how much money I spent the last few years. 

2021: $52,419 

2022: $50,797

2023: $66,000 

As you can see, 2021 / 2022 I held pretty steady in the $50k range. This was just after the peak of the pandemic, when I moved to LA and started having a life again. I was also still in my super frugal era – I wasn’t traveling and I was super cost-conscious about pretty much everything.

My monthly spending average was in the $4,100 -$4,500 range. 

Fast forward to 2023, my expenses made a very clear and steep increase. A $16,000 increase, to be exact. 

This brings my monthly spending average to around $5,500. Which is over $1,000 more. 

There are a few key drivers of this, mostly of which are some life upgrades that I decided to make as a result of not only making a bit more money than the past via my business, but also because I was simply READY to start saying yes and finally enjoy my life after years of not allowing myself to.  

Today, I am going to break down the 3 key areas of my life that I decided to upgrade starting last year. 

As I’ve reached my late 20s, I’ve become much more aware of the passage of time and the importance of truly ENJOYING life as it is, right now. 

Here’s a quick summary: 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Upgrading my apartment & living space

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Investing in my appearanc

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Traveling and leaning into my hobbies

Let’s get into it!

The main driver behind that huge spike in expenses was my living situation. In March of 2023, I moved into my own apartment where I am living by myself.

My rent went from $1,625 per month with my roommate to $2,700 per month living alone. On top of that, I also had to buy furniture (I had pretty much nothing) and outfit my entire apartment with the necessities like silverware and plates and towels and such. These costs ADD. UP!

Was this decision worth it? 100% 10x over.

Investing in my living space and having an apartment I can call my own, not having to worry about a roommate, and really curating my space to feel like an oasis has been the best gift I could have given myself in my 20s.

Your environment is so important, and looking back I really feel like a lot of the instability I felt throughout my early 20s stemmed from instability in my living space. To me, living alone has been worth the money.


I never used to value how I looked or how I dressed. I cared about it – obviously – I wanted to look nice. But I was not willing to invest in it.

I would buy cheap clothes and I didn’t take any time to really learn about or even think about my personal style. I didn’t even BOTHER to look at material or quality, just price.

I had no interest in spending money on makeup or on skincare, and I stopped coloring my hair and went to Supercuts for my haircuts. And while all of this is TOTALLY FINE and I looked fine, I didn’t feel good about myself. 

Moving to LA made me a bit more aware, combined with seeing myself on video all the time for social media. It might sound vain, but now I really do care about my appearance and I want to feel confident in how I look.

This has resulted in my spending more money on shopping and my wardrobe, because I’ve start investing in higher quality pieces of clothing that actually fit me properly.

And I also spend a lot more money on beauty/skincare. This includes money on makeup (although I really don’t spend a lot in this category), daily skincare and preventative skincare (red light face mask), as well as regular hair cuts and colors. 

It’s OKAY to invest in how you look, and I feel a lot more confident in myself now that I spend the necessary money on my appearance. 


Up until last year, I never allowed myself to spend money on my hobbies. I skied a little bit, but outside of that, I kept my spending as trim as possible. 

My hobbies were free or super low cost – walking, hiking, at home pilates app. That’s it. 

Now, I have found A LOT of value in spending a little more money/time/energy in this area to really develop myself personally and the ROI has been major.

I now go to pilates classes (via Classpass), I am taking tennis lessons, I’ve invested in quality cookware and appliances to cook more, I got an espresso machine to lean into my interest in coffee.. and honestly, I am a lot happier. 

Plus, I travel more! I LET MYSELF spend money on trips and I allow myself to actually enjoy them. What a concept!

Hobbies are essential for character development, and having things that are non-work related that are also fun, challenging, and give me something to work towards has made me a lot happier. 

If you don’t have a hobby, here is your sign!!

All this to say, money doesn’t buy happiness and it never well. BUT, it can improve your life if you’re willing to spend it strategically. 

It took me a long time to reach a place where I had the funds (and the mindset) to be willing to invest some money in these key areas to improve my life, and it has been well worth it! 

I’d love to hear an area of your life that you’ve invested in or upgraded, so let me know in the comments!

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