Millennial… What does this word bring to mind for you? Do you have an image in mind of what the Millennial lifestyle is like? I wanted to create a series of interviews with bloggers sharing their lifestyle choices and financial decisions as Millennials. Just to clear things up before we get started I know there is some debate on what a Millennial is exactly. The age group that is considered a Millennial for this post is represented by anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in the year 2018) this is the group I am considering as Millennials.

Ashley was born 11/9/1987 she will be 31 soon and she does not eat avocado toast.

What do you do for a living?

I started out as a graphic designer for a local newspaper when I was 19 while I was going to school. During that time I began building a clientele on the side. I would work at the paper and go to school during the day and then at night I would work on my freelance projects. I did that for almost six years. Once I was pregnant with my daughter my husband was finally able to convince me to quit my day job and become a full-time freelance designer. And, now, I’ve been a freelancer for over six years.

Do you have a degree and are you currently using your degree?

I have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Portland. They offer a three-year program which requires taking classes year-round. I worked part-time and full-time while going to school. I also began building my current business while earning my degree.

While I am in the field of my degree, I believe I would be in a similar situation even if I hadn’t earned my degree. Being a freelancer, a degree is not typically needed for people to hire me. My portfolio is far more valuable to my current and potential clients.

How long have you worked in your field and what is your current salary range?

I have been a professional graphic designer for about 11 years, six of those have been as a full-time freelancer. I believe the average annual income for a graphic designer is somewhere between $40-45k, which is about what I was making working at the local newspaper. However, I have been blessed with good, consistent, loyal clients and currently earn somewhere between $65-70k annually as a freelancer.

I also own an Etsy Shop which has become a great source of mostly passive income for me. This is a new venture, but I’m projected to make a little over $20k this year.

Do you save for retirement and how?

I lost my dad when I was very young, and my mom always stressed the importance of not only saving for your future, but also for the unexpected. So, I have had an IRA since I was 19 years old. Now that I’m self-employed I contribute to a SEP IRA.

I’ve always contributed whatever I could manage. When I was young it was very little monthly, but I’m proud to say I did commit to a monthly contribution. As I’ve gotten older and watched my grandma battle dementia and require very expensive care, my retirement savings is more important to me than ever. Putting that financial burden and stress on my loved ones is not something I want to risk.

We are also blessed with my husband’s retirement. He is a tier 1 PERS teacher.

Do you have debt? What kind of debt? What are your goals to pay off this debt?

We have no debts outside of our mortgage. I was blessed to have parents who paid for the majority of my college education and my husband paid his student loans off already. We do not use our credit cards, nor do we have any kind of car payments.

We are on track to have our house paid off in less than 10 years and are hoping to soon find our dream home to move in to while we rent our current home out, but we haven’t found the perfect fit yet.

Do you have or have you cancelled your home phone/cable/satellite TV?

We do not have a home phone. We do have cell phones, TV and internet. We have considered cancelling our TV, but I need high-speed internet for work as I work from home, so we always just end up sticking with what we have.

What percentage of your monthly income do you save?

My husband and I have always had “hers”, “his”, and “ours” accounts. The “ours” checking account is for bills. The “ours” savings account is for emergencies, vacations, and other family needs/wants. Then we each have our own accounts (which we both technically have access to, but we don’t both use). Our “separate” accounts are for when we want to spoil ourselves or when we want to spoil each other with gifts. When it comes to our separate accounts we have an agreement anything goes, we don’t have a say in what each other choose to spend that money on.

But, as far as our united savings account goes, we save about 25% of our combined monthly.

What monthly subscriptions/memberships do use if any and why? Such as a gym membership, Blue apron, Graze, Amazon prime, Dollar shave club, etc?

We don’t have any food or gym memberships. We do have an Amazon Prime membership and a few others related to the Graphic Design industry which are

required and/or helpful for me to do my job successfully, but we get to write all of them off due to my business.

We also pay for our daughter to take piano and guitar lessons. She also does gymnastics year round and soccer in the fall. Guitar, piano, and gymnastics are about $350 total per month and soccer is $100 per year.

I also have a medical condition, rheumatoid arthritis, which even with my husband’s very good health insurance, can still be quite expensive with prescriptions, doctor’s appointments and hospital visits due to complications with my disease. We have a low deductible and can be reimbursed by the school district for many things, but often RA treatments are considered “specialty” and “experimental” by insurance companies so those things have to be paid out-of-pocket.

How much do spend on groceries monthly? How often do you eat out?

We are a family of three and spend roughly $500 per month on groceries. We try to eat fairly healthy which includes some more expensive organic foods. But, we also have take-out taco night on most Thursdays. Other than that, and special occasions such as birthdays, we don’t eat out often. We do try to shoot for date night about once a month.

Do you have any passive income sources?

I own an Etsy Shop which has become essentially passive income. I sell digital files so after the first sale I consider my time paid for and every sale of the same item after that is just passive income. I also am paid royalties for a couple of logos I’ve designed over the years. And, I am paid commission from a printing company I use for all of my clients’ printables.

Do you own or lease a vehicle?

We own both of our vehicles. My husband drives a 2005 Honda Accord and I drive a 2006 Acura MDX. They’re old, but they run great and they’re reliable. I have never had a car payment in my entire life and I plan on keeping it that way.

Do you rent or own your own home/condo/apartment?

We own our home. We have less than 10 years left on our mortgage and are hoping to purchase a second home and begin making passive income in real estate at some point.

About the featured blogger

Ashley is the blogger behind and business owner of garrettgraphics

Ashley was one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started and has been a huge support and encouragement since I began.

Connect with her on

Twitter GGraphicsinc

Instagram garrettgraphicsinc