Apr 4, 2018

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $120,000 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 couple in their late twenties that makes a combined $120,000 per year. Here’s how they spend their money.

The basics:

Industry: Consulting

Her – Marketing Content Manager
Him – Project Controller

Yearly salary:

Her – $50,000
Him – $70,000


Her – None. My company doesn’t currently offer a 401(k), but it’s my goal to independently get something set up ASAP.
Him – 11% of his salary is contributed to a 401(k) and an additional $200/month is transferred to a joint savings account.

Ages: 29

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $1,675
Roommates: Just us
Neighborhood: Plaza Shamrock
Utilities: Typically around $300
Student loans: $491
Car payment:

Her – $249
Him – $315

Car insurance: $110
Transportation costs: 
Phone bill: $180
Insurance: We’re both covered through his employer. Medical, dental and vision for both of us comes to $325.
Spotify: $9
Terminex Protection Plan: $70. The joy of home ownership: We literally pay money to prevent bugs from eating our house.
Netflix: $10
ChangEd: We use this app to get ahead on her student loans. It rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar (same concept as “Keep the Change”), then transfers the difference to your student loan account. We’re typically able to transfer over about $100 each month. We’ve used it since September and have already shaved a year and $1,130 in interest off of the loan.

Three financial goals

Get some type of retirement account set up for her to start contributing to.

Get more aggressive with paying off student loans.

Pay off the medical bills and tax bill that she racked up this year.

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Day one: Monday

Her: I had today off, so I slept in and skipped breakfast and made some coffee and whipped up a grilled cheese for lunch. Pro tip – use Duke’s mayo on the bread instead of butter. You’ll thank me.

Him: Ate a yogurt parfait from the fridge before heading to the office, then grabbed Chicken Salad Chick for lunch ($10.81).

For dinner, we made a creation of pasta with veggies, quinoa and other random leftover ingredients that we had in the kitchen.

Total spent: $10.81

Day two: Tuesday

We both had yogurt parfaits from home for breakfast and both ate the leftover pasta meal for lunch. For dinner, she made another grilled cheese (with Duke’s, duh) and he made a peanut butter sandwich.

The fridge alerted us that it was time to change the air filter, so we hopped on Amazon and ordered a new one ($22.45). We also needed heartworm and flea medicine for our mini-zoo, and decided to rip the bandaid and sprang for the 6-month supply ($200).

Total spent: $222.45

Day three: Wednesday

Her: I skipped breakfast and just had an iced black coffee from Starbucks. I already had money on my account, so technically I spent $0.

I had an appointment, but when I got in my car to leave, it was making a weird scraping sound and the brakes were being wonky. I didn’t feel like being stranded on the side of the road today, so I turned around and got an Uber instead ($20.38 round trip).

After my appointment, I made myself another delicious grilled cheese for lunch. Thank god for that pack of cheese and loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread that I bought last week. I thought about taking another Uber to the store to buy a Valentine’s Day card for him, but ultimately decided against it – all in the name of saving money. 🙂

Him – Skipped breakfast then had a croissant, soup and latte from Amelie’s for lunch ($14.24). It’s Valentine’s Day, so I went back to Amelie’s after work and picked up two chocolate-covered strawberries and two salted caramel brownies ($11.34).

On the way home, I stopped at Harris Teeter and bought a bouquet of roses, a bottle of wine and stuff to make ground beef quesadillas – a very romantic meal ($65).

We also paid our water bill today ($62). Is that high?

Total spent: $172.96

Day four: Thursday

Her – I made myself a smoothie with some frozen fruit we had in the freezer for breakfast before heading to the office.

I was swamped at work, but eventually ran to Rite Aid and grabbed some beef jerky and string cheese for lunch ($9.56). Please don’t judge me.

For dinner, I decided to step up my grilled cheese game and added a fried egg and some pesto that I found in the back of the fridge (I checked the expiration date first). It was actually pretty good.

Him – I skipped breakfast (again) and then made myself a quesadilla from last night’s leftovers. For dinner, I made myself another peanut butter sandwich.

Student loans were also due today ($491). Ugh, that hurts.

Total spent: $500.56

Day five: Friday

Her – I worked from home again today and whipped myself up some scrambled eggs for breakfast and again for for lunch since I was unfortunately finally out of bread.

We’re hanging out with friends tonight, so I ran to Tip Top for some prosecco and chips and salsa ($31.93). I’m so glad we live right by this place – they have the BEST selection of beer, wine and snacks.

Him – Skipped breakfast as usual. I headed to Chicken Salad Chick for lunch, but made a last-minute decision and had Chick-Fil-A instead ($7.20). Just couldn’t resist.

We went to a party at our neighbor’s for a bit before going to Cabo Fish Taco for a late dinner before calling it a night. $36

His car payment also went through today ($315).

Total spent: $390.13

Day six: Saturday

Her – I’ve had a busy week at work and haven’t felt well, so I plan on using the day to be absolutely worthless. #ZeroShame.

Before dinner, I ran to Tip Top for more prosecco ($19.31), then Postmate-d an absurd amount of sushi from Akahana after I was a few glasses deep ($43 with tip).

I stayed in my pajamas, did hair and face masks, and watched 14 episodes of Schitt’s Creek. I got hungry again around 10 p.m., so I made myself some pasta with butter. I can’t even lie, it was a pretty amazing day.

Him – I headed down to Columbia for the Gamecock basketball game with a group of friends. The ticket was $22, but I paid for it a couple of weeks ago, so it doesn’t count.

We had lunch and a couple of pitchers of beer at The Thirsty Fellow before the game ($35), and I had to stop for gas on the way home ($24). I got home around 9, skipped dinner and went to bed.

Total spent: $121.31

Day seven: Sunday

We went to Harris Teeter to get groceries for the week ($97) and then grilled some steaks and drank a couple of beers on the deck. This 65 degree, sunny weather in February is amazing.

We went to see Black Panther and then called it a night. $30

Total spent: $127

Total spent: $1,545.22
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $380.39
Transportation – $44.38
Bills – $868
Miscellaneous – $252.45

What we learned: It seems like we spent way too money much this week, but we had some big bills due (ugh, student loans, kill us), so it makes sense.

We’re actually really proud of the amount we spent on food. We used to be horrible about going out for dinner nightly and have made a huge effort to cut back and eat more dinners at home. It’s good to see we’re saving money, but we clearly could be making healthier choices. Eating pasta, bread, cheese and mayo several times a week is not the way to get a #SummerBod.

We’ve also tried really hard to cut back on mindless shopping (aka Target) so we’re pumped to see that we didn’t buy a single non-necessary thing this week.

We’ve made huge changes to our spending habits since getting married in 2016 (thanks, Dave Ramsey!) and it’s nice to see to see it paying off. Hopefully we can keep it up and get our debt under control!

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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