Mar 1, 2017

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $138,000 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 25- and 27-year-old couple that makes a combined $138,000 a year. Here’s how they spend their money. -Kylie

The basics:


Him – Energy
Her – Digital Marketing
Combined yearly salary: $138,000
Who you bank with and why:

Him – Chase Bank since high school, even though there are no branches in Charlotte.
Her – Bank of America. I opened an account when I was 16 and have stuck with them ever since. They’re all over Charlotte and I’ve never had any issues with them, so never felt the need to change.
Savings: He’s always been pretty good about saving, and she’s finally starting to get the hang of it. Between the wedding and paying off student loans/credit cards, we’re not saving as much as we’d like at the moment. However, we each put at least $200 in savings every month.

Him – 27
Her – 25

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,195
Roommates: One puppy and two cats
Neighborhood: Steele Creek
Utilities: On average, $175 for everything
Student loans: 

Him – $120/month
Her – $209/month

Car payments: She pays $169 per month for a lease
Car insurance: Covered by our parents
Transportation: We both have very fuel-efficient cars and work pretty close to home, so we each pay around $50 per month for gas.
Phone bill: She pays for both her and her mom’s phone on a Verizon plan for $145 per month. He’s still on his parents’ plan.
Insurance: We both have insurance through work. She pays $40 per month and he pays $50 per month.
Other costs not previously mentioned:

Netflix – $8
Audible – $16

Three financial goals:

We’re getting married in May and having a honeymoon in June. The majority of the wedding is paid for already, and we want to continue to pay for everything up front and have a good bit saved up to spend on our honeymoon.

Save $40,000. We both love to travel, and would love to take off a good bit of time (three to four months) to do so. We’d like to have as much as we can saved up so we can live comfortably while we’re not working.

Pay off our student loans and debts. We have about $50,000 combined.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

She’s always rushing in the morning and never have time to eat before she leaves the house, so to keep herself from constantly buying breakfast, she keeps a box of instant oatmeal at her desk. She makes some oatmeal and hot tea (she also keeps a ridiculous amount of tea at my desk). He eats cereal at home: $0 for us both.

It’s her coworker’s birthday, so her team heads to Zen Fusion to celebrate. She order the Fusion Noodles: $14.45. On the way back, they walk to Duck Donuts and she gets a coffee (it took serious willpower to stop herself from getting a donut). $2.59. He goes to Chick-fil-A for lunch: $6.92.

After work, she heads to a spin class (using her ClassPass membership). For now, she’s getting a hefty new-member discount ($25/month for any five fitness classes). It’s an awesome concept and she loves the variety of classes, but she’ll be cancelling it after the trial period because it’s too expensive. She’s already paid for this month, so the spin class is covered. $0

At home, she makes a meal replacement smoothie and has that for dinner: $0. He orders takeout from Monsoon – Pad Thai and a Thai Iced Tea: $15.37.

Total spent: $39.33 (Him – $22.29, Her – $17.04)

Day two: Tuesday

She had oatmeal and hot tea at her desk, again, and he had free breakfast from work. $0

Both of us came home for lunch. She eats the rest of her leftover noodles from yesterday and he eats some tikka masala, courtesy of a coworker. $0

He’s taking a course three times a week, and has class tonight, which means no exciting Valentine’s Day plans – they’ll have to be postponed until Friday. At home, she eats a bowl of Amy’s Tomato Bisque Soup she bought a while ago: $0. Before class, he goes to Blaze Pizza: $8.50.

Total spent: $8.50 (Him – $8.50, Her – $0)

Day three: Wednesday

She wanted a pick-me-up for this super gloomy morning, so she heads to her work’s market to get a coffee and banana to put in her oatmeal: $2.44. He had oatmeal at home: $0.

She was browsing upcoming events and found out that Sturgill Simpson was going to be in Charlotte the weekend after we get back from our honeymoon. She stumbled across it an hour before the pre-sale started – it felt like fate  and started the hunt for a pre-sale code. Two tickets: $110.64.

We both head home for lunch and he makes us burgers: $0.

We were out of town all of last weekend, so we didn’t do any of our weekly grocery shopping and our fridge is looking very bleak right now. She throws together a smoothie ($0) and he gets Arby’s on the way to the Petco: $8.76.

After our pup takes a #2 on Petco’s floor, we stock up on puppy food, cat food, and treats: $83.71 (split 50/50).

Other expenses: I paid my Nordstrom Card bill ($110), dealt with Duke Energy (Duke Energy: is it a Charlotte ritual to have a problem with Duke every time you move? Because it happens to us every time. After they finally sorted out a huge error, we paid for three months’ worth of usage: $220.19 (split 50/50). Ugh.), was auto-drafted for my Amazon Subscribe and Save items ($74.08) and he paid the internet bill ($65.72).

Total spent: $675.56 (Him – $226.44, Her – $449.12)

Day four: Thursday

She’s going to a work event for the majority of the day, and they’re serving breakfast and lunch so she takes full advantage of the free food, but she’s starving by the time she gets back to the office. A Lunchable from the workplace market it is, then: $2.41.

He gets lunch from Noodles and Company: $11.33

After work, she heads to Harris Teeter to stock up on some groceries: $83.69. When she gets home, she goes for a long walk with our puppy, works out at home and makes dinner with the groceries she just bought: $0. Before class, he’s at Einstein Bagels: $5.07.

Total spent: $102.50 (Him – $16.40, Her – $86.10)

Day five: Friday

TGIF! She makes a breakfast smoothie and runs out the door; he eats a bagel with cream cheese and some fruit on the side: $0. So glad we have food in the fridge again!

He gets gas on the way to work: $30.

We meet at Rhino Market for lunch today where she orders a spinach salad and he gets a gyro. He also finds one of our favorite beers in the case: Elysian’s Space Dust IPA. We haven’t seen it anywhere else in Charlotte, so we get a six-pack for the weekend. He pays for everything: $36.77.

It’s date night tonight! We get Sabor and then head over to Studio Cellar to drink and paint. Neither of us are any good, but we have fun pretending. He prepaid for the night at Studio Cellar last week, but she gets a wine and he gets a beer while we’re there. Sabor + drinks: $25.36.

After Studio Cellar, we meet some friends at the Silent Disco at Rooftop 210. It’s free entry, but we order more drinks. Throughout the night, she gets two more drinks and he has three. He also orders a round of trips for our friends and pays $40 for all the drinks. After my second drink, she finds a $10 bill in my jacket pocket and gives it to the bathroom attendant.

Total spent: $142.13 (Him – $106.77, Her – $35.36)

Day six: Saturday

We make breakfast at home: $0 before she goes to yoga (through my membership) and he goes to class. He isn’t able to find free parking, and ends up paying $5.35.

After yoga, she head over to Target to get a few things for $103.66.

We have puppy training later in the day and meet our trainer at Freedom Park. We paid upfront for the classes a few months ago, so we don’t pay for anything today. After training, we both get Starbucks on him: $9.31

Total spent: $118.32 (Him – $14.66, Her – $103.66)

Day seven: Sunday

We make breakfast at home ($0) and go to SouthPark Mall in the afternoon. He buys swim trunks from J. Crew ($48.80), chocolate form Godiva ($11.78) and Chipotle for lunch ($17.59).

Thankfully, the rest of the day didn’t cost us anything: she goes to yoga (paid by her membership), and he takes our dog to the dog park. We make dinner at home. $0

Total spent: $78.17 (Him – $78.17, Her – $0)

Total spent: $1,164.51 (Him – $473.23, Her – $691.28)
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $290.56
Bills – $469.99
Transportation – $35.35
Shopping –  $247.95
Miscellaneous – $120.64

What we learned: 

Him – I need to eat at home more often, as it’s a large portion of my expenses.

Her – If you can’t work remotely, working close to home is the next best thing. I went out for lunch twice this week, which I usually never do. I eat lunch at home every day and it’s a huge money saver, especially compared to last year, when I worked in Uptown and bought lunch and fancy coffee almost every day.

Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. Visit the Bank of America Better Money Habits site today.

Need 1:1 guidance on getting your finances in order? Schedule an appointment with a Bank of America specialist today or stop in your local financial center.


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