This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Money series, which details how people around the world earn, spend and save their money.
Despite earning well over six figures, Clinton Stamper still looks for coupons for his food.
The 26-year-old tries to keep his food budget to $5 a meal and uses online discounts to lower the cost of restaurant outings and food delivery services.
The habit stems from his childhood. Stamper grew up in Rootstown, a suburb in Ohio, and was mostly raised by his mom after his parents divorced when he was around 6.
Clinton Stamper, 26, earns $270,000 a year as a software engineer for Google in Austin, Texas.
Will Snyder | CNBC Make It
Stamper remembers watching his mom, who worked as a newspaper reporter, make ends meet on a single income while also caring for his aunt, who had cancer. “We could barely afford food,” he tells CNBC Make It. Back then, going to McDonald’s was a treat, and meals from the dollar store were the norm.
Today, just a few years out of college, Stamper earns $270,000 as a software engineer for Google in Austin, Texas — but he’s more laser-focused on counting every dollar that comes in and goes out than ever. Here’s how he manages his money.
Post-grad lifestyle inflation
Stamper began earning his own money in middle school by tutoring and selling things to classmates. He learned about basic economics playing the video game Runescape and developed a code that he sold to other players on forums, through crypto or in-game currency. He ended up making around $30,000 between his junior and senior year of high school.
It should have been enough to cover most of his college costs at The Ohio State University, along with academic and need-based scholarships. But he’s the first to attend college in his family, he says, and didn’t have a ton of guidance. Stamper ended up taking out $45,000 in student loans and used his gaming money for entertainment, furniture and other lifestyle expenses.
When he graduated in 2018 and took a six-figure job with Amazon in Phoenix, Stamper encountered more lifestyle inflation: He rented a house that was way too big for him and furnished it with things he barely used before leaving. “I acquired bad spending habits because I’d never encountered that much earning potential,” he says.
Stamper graduated college with a six-figure tech job and spent his earnings rather than saving it or paying off student loans.
Courtesy of Clinton Stamper
Despite earning significantly more money than he’d ever seen in his life, he was still stressed about finances. “I was …….