Table of Contents
- Jennifer Castillo is an attorney, blogger, and self-proclaimed “Henry” — an acronym that stands for “High Earner, Not Rich Yet.”
- Henrys are millennials with six-figure incomes who are using investment and savings strategies to meet their future financial goals.
- Castillo shared with Business Insider how she spends her monthly income, which includes saving for emergencies, investing in real estate, and purchasing a gym membership.
- She wishes there was a “greater appreciation for the aspirational sentiment” of the term Henry.
- As an Afro-Latina immigrant, Castillo said she hopes to showcase other BIPOC Henrys on her blog, Jenny the HENRY, to cultivate a more inclusive definition.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Jennifer Castillo is a Washington, DC-based attorney by day and a blogger by night. Castillo, 33, is a self-described “Henry,” a term (and acronym) that she said encompasses “a subset of millennials that have six-figure incomes, but are not quite rich yet” (“High Earner, Not Rich Yet”).
The acronym first appeared in a 2003 Fortune magazine article describing families with an income between $250,000 and $500,000. Since the Fortune article, Castillo said that the term Henry has evolved to describe households that command an annual income between $100,000 and $250,000, but have not amassed investable assets of $1 million.
Pamela N. Daniger, author of the 2019 book “Meet the HENRYs: The Millennials That Matter Most for Luxury Brands,” writes that Henrys have high incomes now but aren’t resting on their laurels — they have even higher projected incomes for the future.
“Investable assets include cash, funds in your bank accounts, money held in retirement accounts, among others, and [do] not include physical and tangible assets like real estate,” Castillo said.
She added that Henrys like herself have disposable income and generally would spend those funds on experiences, dining, travel, technology, and quality goods.
“Pre-COVID-19, I enjoyed travel, dining out, and noteworthy experiences like going to museums and special exhibits,” Castillo said. “Now, given the circumstances, my fun is limited to enjoying outdoor events and watching copious amounts of TV.”
As an attorney, Castillo earns $130,000 a year. She started her blog, Jenny the HENRY, at the beginning of 2019, and since then has made around $5,000. Her monthly budget is $10,250 per month, based on her $10,000 per month gross attorney income and $250 gross LLC income.
Redefining the Henry stereotype
Some descriptions of Henrys have emphasized that these young professionals “still feel broke,” despite a healthy income, because they have a hard time balancing bills with their preferred lifestyle. But Castillo told Business Insider that this isn’t true for her.
“I was a first-generation college student, raised by a single mother, and came from modest means,” Castillo said. “I grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a low-income city. I know firsthand what financial instability and poverty looks like.”
The aspects of the Henry definition and lifestyle that resonate with Castillo are that she’s a high earner and, through investment and savings strategies, is on the trajectory of meeting her financial goals of amassing investable assets of $1 million within the next 20 years.
Castillo stressed that the term Henry is positive, a point she believes gets lost in translation.
“My favorite component [of the Henry acronym] is the ‘yet’ portion because while Henrys may not be rich yet by definition, they have the potential to be,” she said. “I wish there were a greater appreciation for the aspirational sentiment in the definition, rather than framing it in a negative light.”
Giving BIPOC Henrys a spotlight
Castillo created Jenny the HENRY in order to bring together like-minded individuals and show people from similar backgrounds that those that look like them can also be Henrys.
“Most Henrys are portrayed as white and male, but I am an Afro-Latina immigrant from the Dominican Republic and a high earner,” Castillo said. “Representation matters at all levels, and Henrys are a powerful consumer base, so it is important for me to highlight that BIPOC [Black, indigenous, and people of color] are also Henrys.”
She also highlighted that what constitutes “rich” is complicated by the fact that not everyone agrees on its definition. For example, in a 2017 poll by Seniorliving.org on 1,000 American adults, those surveyed pointed to a net worth of at least $2.3 million to be considered rich. For those still working, poll participants said that an annual salary of over $300,000 qualifies as rich.
Similarly, according to Schwab’s 2019 “Modern Wealth Survey,” DC residents indicated that it takes an average $3 million in personal net worth to be considered “wealthy” in their area.
“As a HENRY, what I am saying through my blog is that I am not ‘rich’ [based on my own] definition, but I am working toward that and in the process, I make room in my budget for things like travel, dining out, and noteworthy experiences because those things bring me joy and are part of living a balanced life,” Castillo said.
When Castillo was growing up, she believed that once you graduated from college, you would automatically be “rich.” She soon determined, though, that becoming rich is an active practice that requires spending with intention and planning.
“I have come to understand that in order to meet my financial goals, I not only need to rely on my salary and spend judiciously, but I also need an investment strategy,” she said.
Balancing her two roles of attorney and blogger is an important part of the equation. Some weeks, she admitted that it’s almost impossible to do both.
“My schedule as an attorney is demanding, and that takes priority,” Castillo said.
On weekends and some evenings, she dedicates her free time to working on her blog and Instagram, @jennythehenry, which generally absorb about 15 hours a week. She considers her blog a passion project because she started it with the goal of building community, and said the small amount she makes from blogging is “a welcome surprise.”
How she spends her money
The millennial generally spends her money in three major categories: savings, bills/expenses, and “fun.”
“My priorities are covering expenses and saving,” she said. “I graduated college during the Great Recession, and that experience taught me to always have a savings account. Growing up, my mother was industrious and worked hard to raise two daughters on a public school teacher salary. She always prioritized balancing her checkbooks and savings, and it’s a practice that I have also adopted.”
Her monthly expenses include $1,000 toward her mortgage (she has a house that’s about 3,000 square feet that was originally purchased as an investment property in 2015), $1,600 in student loans (she graduated from Boston College in 2009 and from Boston College Law School in 2012), $500 on groceries, $350 on transportation, and $150 toward her gym and Peloton membership.
Castillo generally saves 10% of her monthly income; in her September budget, this included $500 toward her 401(k) contribution, $500 into her emergency savings account, and $500 into her general savings account. She also financially assists her family, and until last year she was financially contributing to her sister’s college education.
She then sets aside $400 for “the things that I want to indulge in that are not necessities,” she said.
“It is important for me to have a fun account and take time to indulge in activities that allow me to enjoy life,” Castillo said. “My career is demanding and I have experienced increased stress and anxiety when I do not take time to step away and recharge.”
While she normally travels a lot, she hasn’t traveled for fun in over eight months. Last year, she went to Peru for a five-day blogging retreat.
“I considered it a business expense, but I love traveling generally so it was also personally fulfilling,” she said.
Lately, in lieu of travel, Castillo has been purchasing plenty of self-care goodies from small businesses and haircare products.
“Recently, a hair item that I purchased was a Dyson blow dryer,” she said. “It’s pricey and retails for $399, but I contemplated it for a long time and determined that it was a worthy investment and I would get sufficient use out of it.”
While Castillo said that she definitely feels comfortable where she is financially, she’s not satisfied.
“My salary allows me to save, invest, and indulge in experiences or items that are not a necessity,” she said. “Although I am comfortable financially, my goals are to continue to increase my assets and build generational wealth.”
Looking ahead, she added that she doesn’t anticipate making significantly more money as an attorney and expects to supplement her income with real estate investments. She currently invests in real estate with her husband, and their goal is to acquire additional properties in order to increase the amount of passive income they bring in.
“I assist my husband with the maintenance and upkeep of our investment properties,” Castillo said. “Generally, I contribute about $800, which includes saving toward acquiring new properties and/or repairs for existing properties.”
“In the next five years, my goal is to generate around $15,000 a month in passive income from real estate,” she added. “Five years from now, I plan on paying off all my undergraduate and graduate student loans.”