Dec 21, 2016 - Money

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $100,000 salary

km skyline romare bearden cash confessional

Our Cash Confessional series, in partnership with Bank of America, takes a personal and anonymous look into how people of all ages and incomes spend their money in the span of seven days.

To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here. This series is completely volunteer-based; if you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email Kylie at [email protected].This week, I spoke with a 35 year old woman whose husband brings in the bulk of the household’s money while she makes around  $10,000 per year working from home. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Communications
Position: Content Strategist
Yearly salary: I work from home (scaled it down to around 5-10 hours a week) while my husband works full-time and brings in the bulk of our cash. He makes $90,000, and mine varies but hovers around $10,000.
Who do you bank with and why: Ally. Their checking accounts earn interest, and their customer service is phenomenal, and since they have no branches, they reimburse most ATM fees.
Savings: Husband handles savings. He has a 401(k) that’s matched by work and he puts aside extra, but I don’t know how much he has squirreled away.
Age: 35

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $1,175. We recently refinanced to drop our private mortgage insurance and reduce the term from 30-year to 20-year.
Neighborhood: North Charlotte/Prosperity Village area
Utilities: 

Electric and gas – Varies, but around $100
Water – $50
ADT – $28
Internet – $49.99. The Time Warner Cable promotion will expire soon. I always call to get promotional rates, but Google Fiber service should be connected within a month or so at $49.99/month. Holla!

Student loans: $300. We’ve been chipping away at them for 10 years now. Mine were $53,000 while my husband’s were $6,000. His are paid off, mine are down to $30,000.
Car payment: $275
Car insurance: $89
Transportation: Around $220 for gas and my husband’s parking Uptown
Phone bill: $140
Insurance: Employee and family medical, dental, vision and life are included in my husband’s payroll deductions. We don’t include this in budgeting.
Medical bills: $100 interest-free financing (deductibles from birth and my big kid’s tonsillectomy)
Apple: $120 interest-free financing
Netflix and Hulu: $20
Ballet: $65
Yard guy: $35
Tithe: Minimum $850 (11% of my husband’s gross income) plus 10% of whatever I bring in.

Three financial goals

Continue to pay off our debt. We’d like to pay off those with the highest interest rates first.

Establish a healthy “rainy day” fund.

Get the household revenue and expenses to the point where any cash I bring in isn’t necessary. This would allow me to focus more on the kids, home and community activities.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

We ate breakfast at home ($0) before going to a cousin’s birthday party in Concord. For a gift, we got a card from Dollar Tree and Hello Kitty sparkly whatevers from Target ($13.95).

The gas light comes on on the way home, so we stopped for gas ($21.98).

I scrounge up some Halloween party leftovers for lunch ($0) and I have the kids split a Subway sandwich when we go to Wal-Mart later ($4.55). While there, I pick up tortilla chips, eggs, creamer, milk and a drink ($8.53).

We pick up the pup from Camp Bow Wow (I prepaid when I scheduled it a few months ago) and head home. I throw together a nacho salad for myself and my husband with leftovers and chips from the store ($0).

Total spent: $49.01

Day two: Monday

Breakfast is at home again ($0).

I have to pay the TWC ($49.99), natural gas ($16.38), Apple ($120), mortgage ($1,179.36) and water bills ($56.18). My husband got paid Friday, so also I submit tithe to our church online ($376), then submit the second tithe for a few checks that cleared for me ($82).

I call the PortaJon folks to schedule the delivery for a neighborhood event this weekend ($123.34, to be reimbursed by HOA). I also email out invoices to a few clients, then work on a project until baby wakes up, which ends up being about 30 billable minutes (ugh, so much to do).

There’s a trick-or-treat activity happening Uptown and parking is $5.

Leftovers for dinner ($0).

Total spent: $2,008.25

Day three: Tuesday

My big kid is going back to school (with a packed lunch, $0) and I let her sleep late since she was up so late trick-or-treating. We go to Chick-fil-A for breakfast, and the kids split a meal while I get a biscuit ($11.05).

I have to walk my daughter into school for her tardy slip, and while visiting with the office ladies, one of the school volunteers buys the baby a book at the book fair (so much love at this school). Once home, I knock out a video conference call and work on projects for almost 2 hours while the baby naps.

One of our medical bills autodrafts today ($100), and so does the ballet bill ($65). I have to buy supplies for our neighborhood event, so once the baby wakes up we head to Party City to grab everything ($100.87, to be reimbursed by our HOA). After, we walk down to Panera for lunch ($8.57) before hopping over to Target for both a thank-you gift for this morning’s book and also to scope out the Halloween clearance for next year’s party ($43.08 – dang you, Target).

My sister-in-law left her sunglasses at our house and we have no plans anytime soon soon to go visit, so I swing by the post office to mail them to her ($2.35).

Dinner of baked tilapia, rice and salad made from stuff at home ($0).

Total spent: $330.92

Day four: Wednesday

My husband is off work today, so he takes our big kid to school.

I get a lot of billable hours in during the baby’s nap, then enlist my husband to help me out with things around the house. He runs an errand for me and stops by Harris Teeter on the way home and winds up hauling back bread, BOGO soda and frozen pizza ($35.01 – for the record, we just needed bread).

Soccer practice is at 5:30 and while we’re out, we swing by Due Amici for dinner, because it is amazing ($18.55 for a slice and two strombolis).

Total spent: $53.56

Day five: Thursday

I take a look at the calendar and plan out next week’s dinners so I can flesh out our grocery list. We’re running low on toilet paper, cat food and paper towels, which means less snack foods in this next grocery trip. We still have plenty of candy and apples from Halloween though, so I’m sure everyone will survive. I budget $150/week for groceries, so we’ve got around $100 left after the trips earlier in the week.

I grab Taco Bell on the way to Target ($3.66) and the Target grocery trip totals $86.26 (this includes $20 cash for random expenses in the next week).

An e-mail rolls in from the soccer league about registering for the spring season at a discounted price, and so does an e-mail from Carowinds about special deals for 2017 season passes. I decide to ignore both until spring.

Total spent: $89.92

Day six: Friday

Got the big kid to school and baby down for a nap and I get in about one billable hour.

The dog smells atrocious, so I make appointment at Petco for a bath (ever tried to wash a hound? Talk about drama. $22).

I poke over to Concord Mills for lunch and Bass Pro Shop has a deli that hits the spot – and it’s cheap. Sandwich, pasta salad and tea for me with mac and cheese for the baby ($10.45). This place is my little secret – always quiet, sometimes a fire in the fireplace, great people watching.

We head Uptown to pick up street cleanup supplies from the old city hall, where parking is $1.25.

Get the call that the dog is ready, so I get in and out of Uptown like a ninja with both kids in tow. Dinner at home ($0).

Total spent: $33.70

Day seven: Saturday

We spend the morning at a soccer game and season-end celebration. I pack my own coffee rather than hitting up the concession stand for hot chocolate.

It’s back to street cleanup and lunch is at home ($0).

We pull out the hand-crank pasta machine and play with making homemade ravioli for dinner ($0).

Total spent: $0

Total spent: $2,565.36
The breakdown:

Bills – $2,044.91
Food and drink – $186.63
Transportation – $28.23
Shopping – $57.03
Neighborhood activities – $224.21
Miscellaneous – $24.35

What I learned: The first week of every month is like a cash hemorrhage because all our bills are due at the same time.  I got almost 6 billable hours this week, so that is right on track for a normal week of 5-10 hours. We’ve talked about scaling back on my work hours so I can focus more on home stuff, but it gives me such a nice break from the monotony of home life. Plus, the extra spending cash comes in handy for those off-script trips to Target (oops). I definitely need to start keeping better track of eating out, though. I go carb crazy when I eat out, which became painfully obvious when I kept track of it this week.

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