This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Money Series describing how people around the world make, spend and save their money.
When Lauren Simmons introduces herself to new people, she usually says she works in finance.
But the 27-year-old is actually an author, producer, podcast and TV presenter, business angel and board member of several financial companies.
It’s a lot for one person, but Simmons is used to taking control of her career. She has made history on several occasions: in 2017, at the age of 22, Simmons became the youngest full-time trader on Wall Street and the second African-American trader in the 229-year history of the New York Stock Exchange.
But while at the NYSE, Simmons learned she was only getting paid $12,000, while male colleagues with the same job and qualifications were making more than $120,000. From that point on, she made a commitment to never earn less than $120,000 a year.
Simmons left the trading floor in 2018 and formed an LLC to manage all of their projects.
In recent years she has signed deals for a book, a film, a television show and two podcasts. Her most consistent income comes from speaking engagements (an average of two a month) and she can make up to six figures from branded businesses.
No day looks the same. Simmons works late hours and weekends and attends meetings from 3am to 11pm because she works with people around the world. Her latest venture is a hosting job on the streaming series Going Public, which involves filming the series itself and traveling to promote it.
In 2021, Simmons moved to LA and earned $650,000. In 2022, she’s on track to make $1 million.
Simmons grew up in Marietta, Georgia with her mother, twin brother and younger sister. She credits her mother’s strict budgeting for how she learned to save 85% of her income, beginning when she was making just $12,000 in New York City. It was barely enough to pay for transportation while she lived with her family in nearby New Jersey, and she didn’t spend any money going out.
Simmons admits her savings strategy isn’t the most traditional today, but it works for her.
She puts all of her income into a savings account and mostly doesn’t touch it. She also waits as long as possible to deposit her earnings. Simmons finalized a couple of engagement deals in January, but her manager will keep the checks until just before they expire, so she won’t see that income until March.
“I like my money to be out of sight and out of mind so I won’t spend it,” she says.
Sometimes she transfers money to a separate checking account that she keeps at $2,000 for day-to-day expenses. She gives herself a little extra for birthdays and holidays, but never allows herself to spend more than 15% of her income per month.
Though she’s made a name for herself in the financial world, Simmons doesn’t always feel like an expert. She only started investing in the stock market during the 2020 pandemic downturn. She keeps her emergency fund, savings, and retirement savings in a bank account. And she uncompromisingly splurges on Bath & Body Works candles: “Any time they have a sale, I’m there.”
As for managing her own money, “I think there are days when I’m decent,” Simmons says, but “I know there’s a lot to learn every time I move into a different phase of my life .”
How she spends her money
Here’s a look at how Simmons typically spends her money as of January 2022.
- Rent: $3,850, prepaid for one year and includes Wi-Fi, water and parking
- Transport: $215, including auto insurance and about $20 to charge her Tesla, which she leases under her LLC
- Domestic animal: $200 for dog food and grooming
- Discretion: $182 includes shopping, entertainment, and housewares
- Food: $165 for groceries and dining out
- Health insurance: $100 paid for a year in advance
- Utilities: $43 for heat and electricity
- Subscriptions: $24 for meditation app Hay House, Hulu, and The New York Times
Simmon’s income fluctuates wildly between $12,000 and $150,000 a month, so she plans big expenses ahead of time. For example, she paid a year’s rent in advance when she moved in. She pays one year for health insurance and six months for car insurance.
Another big constant in her budget is her 7-year-old Maltese Kasper. She spends about $200 on him every month between grooming and pet food. “He lives a very luxurious lifestyle,” says Simmons.
Otherwise, Simmons keeps their budget pretty meager. In January, she spent $182 on shopping and entertainment, $165 on groceries (mostly groceries from Whole Foods), and $24 on some subscriptions. She shares streaming service logins with family and contributes Hulu to the pot.
Given her hectic schedule, making time for health and wellness is non-negotiable. Simmons prefers to hike, do yoga, and exercise outdoors — it’s a big reason she moved to LA. She meditates between 15 minutes and two hours every morning to stay grounded and focused.
Simmons believes taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. “I don’t want to become that person who spends thousands of dollars on wellness because I think you can do it at home for free,” she says.
However, she does indulge herself “once in a blue moon”: She recently gave herself and her mother a seven-day trip to a wellness retreat as a gift.
become a millionaire
This year, Simmons expects to earn $1 million through brand deals, partnerships, speaking engagements and returns on business investments.
But even for someone who likes to talk about money, saying it out loud still feels awkward.
Simmons knows all too well that when young women are successful at work, they “are not given the same standing as our male colleagues.” But those reminders only make them talk about their accomplishments and pay even more.
“That’s why we’re trying to fight societal norms and have these open dialogues and change the way people think,” she says. She wants to do away with the cliché that “young, successful women who earn a lot of money brag”.
The million-dollar milestone also has a lot of personal significance: “I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree,” she says. “My family and I have come a long way and I’m super grateful.”
Simmons could not have predicted how much her life would change from the day she stepped onto the NYSE trading floor. But she still has big plans to negotiate new projects for herself and invest in more startups.
Given the twists and turns of her career so far, it’s hard for her to predict what her life will be like in the next five to 10 years. But she’s hoping to have an investment property in Florida and maybe a house of her own somewhere else.
“Other than that, I have no idea, but I look forward to watching this video in five to 10 years and seeing where I stand — maybe as a presidential candidate.”
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