by Sarah Eadie

Behind the Budget with Behavioral Investigator Vanessa Edwards


Welcome to Behind the Budget, a series that takes you into the finances of the most interesting people in culture and technology.

Vanessa Van Edwards is a self-described “recovering boring person,” though you wouldn’t guess it from interacting with her now. The author and behavioral investigator is a presence–drawing in and engaging her audience with her science-based approach to human interaction.

She’s always working on new studies for her website, Science of People*. Her goal? To push the boundaries of popular science. Most recently, she’s been conducting a study on happiness—one of her biggest yet.

When she’s not sharing the nuances of human behavior, she’s building a home, taking trips, and adding to her shoe collection.

Here, in her own words, is what she’s saving for.

Film set

I film a lot of videos for our human behavior research lab. I built a small home video studio, but it is quite boring–just a plain black background and a few lights.

I would love to save enough to build the modern woman’s version of Bill Nye the Science Guy’s set! I envision test tubes and Rubik’s Cubes, lab stools and goggles. And of course a big wall-mounted whiteboard and screen.

The perfect work-from-home space

Holiday adventure trip

My husband and I decided that since we don’t have kids yet, we should do some big adventure travel during Christmas and New Years. We save up for our trip all year, and see how much we end up with when the holidays come around. The amount we’ve saved helps dictate where we go. Last year we went to Thailand and Cambodia! This year we are thinking somewhere in South America.

Holiday adventure trip


I just love boots. I love brown ones, black ones, grey ones, pink ones… I can never get enough of them. I save and then I buy and then I save and then I buy some more. Soon I’ll have to save for a new boot closet.

New boots

Game-ified self improvement app

I would love to hire a developer to create a Science of People iPhone game where people can test their body language skills and people skills.

Building out your business

Greenhouse treehouse

Our house is kind of like a treehouse: long and narrow and nestled onto the side of a hill, surrounded by trees. We have a back porch that doesn’t get enough sun right now to grow anything, and I would love to save enough to glass it in and make it a greenhouse inside our treehouse. It could be a studio or office–either way, I think it would be awesome to be surrounded by trees and glass on all sides.

Home improvements

Australian speaking tour

Science of People has an amazing following in Australia, and I would love to be able to save up for flights and hotels to do a speaking tour across Australia.

Trip to Australia

Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: The links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; Neither Simple nor Bancorp, our partner bank, endorse any of those linked-to websites; We didn’t pay/barter with/bribe Vanessa to appear in this post; And finally, all the prices we used for Vanessa’s Goals are estimates. Real prices are set by retailers, manufacturers, and other people with magical powers over digits and dollar signs.