Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $134,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $134,000 salary
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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, ages 31 and 28, that makes a combined $134,000 a year. Here’s how they spend their money. -Kylie

The basics:


Him – IT
Her – Higher Education


Him – Project Manager
Her – Communications


Him – $92,000
Her – $42,000

Savings: Since she works for the state, she’s mandated to put 8.66% of my gross pay into a retirement account. The state agency matches 5% of this, so monthly, it’s about $325.24 from her check. For him, it’s $303.34 and his is fully matched by his company. She also auto-drafts $25 into a savings account each month.
Who you bank with: Bank of America

Him – 31
Her – 28

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $1,405.96. Gotta pay that PMI off and it’ll drop.
Number of roommates: 3 furry ones
Neighborhood: Fort Mill
Utilities: Approximately $290/month
Student loans:

Him – $160.69
Her – $359.24

Car payments: None, even though his car is falling apart. Working from home, he doesn’t drive often.
Car insurance: $126
Transportation costs: We budget $30 per week on gas and don’t use Uber or Lyft, so monthly, it would be about $120.
Phone bill: $114.02 for our Verizon Plan (she gets a discount through work)

Him – $212.38
Her – $130.64

Ashley Furniture credit card: $115
MoviePass: $19.90
Hulu: $12.74 (no commercials plan)
Netflix: $19.24 (streaming, plus one DVD)
Cable/internet: $210.69. We have all premium channels because we enjoy watching movies as our main hobby.
OrangeTheory Fitness: $99

Three financial goals

Have our savings account built up that we could survive for six months if one of us lost our job.

Pay off all debt (approximately $25,000, excluding our home) by April of next year.

All “extra” spending (going out to eat, Target trips, fun stuff) should be less than $500 each month.

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Day one: Sunday

Last night we stayed out at a friend’s house longer than we have in a long time, so we take our time getting up. She makes pancakes and bacon at home with groceries we bought from Aldi yesterday.

After breakfast, she goes to work out at Orange Theory Fitness – it’s addicting. Her class is included in the monthly payment, so she pays $0 today.

She sold some clothes last week to Clothes Mentor, so she deposits $28 in cash to the ATM on the way home from my workout.

For some reason, she always wants to make bad food choices after she works out, and plus it’s Panthers football time, so we order a pizza from Papa John’s. To save money, I find a 25% off coupon code online and opt for carry-out instead of delivery. One large veggie with pepperoni runs us $14.84.

We are going to a wedding next weekend, and the couple is registered on Amazon. She picks a cutting board and ice cream scoop from their registry and order it with Prime shipping. Should be here on Tuesday ($37.70).

We go see It this evening and it’s $0 because of our MoviePass subscriptions. Dinner is at Applebee’s, which isn’t typically our jam, but we have a gift card we haven’t used since we got it in December for Christmas. Total is only $2.70 with the gift card.

We stop and get gas on the way home from the Circle K. Thankfully gas has started to come down, so it’s only $2.39 per gallon. Filling up her SUV takes $39.70.

Total spent: $94.94 

Day two: Monday

Running behind this morning, so she makes a Toaster Strudel on the way out the door and eats it in the car. Husband has cereal at home.

It was a rough morning at work, so she stopped by Taco Bell and got us lunch for $12.82. At work, I sold two shirts to a friend and got $20 through Venmo.

Dinner was a fancy salad at home based on a HelloFresh recipe we made a long time ago.

Our MoviePass subscription hit the account today ($19.90).

Total spent: $32.72

Day three: Tuesday

She toasted a croissant for breakfast and he had cereal again ($0).

Lunch was leftover pizza from Sunday that she brought to work while he made a sandwich at home.

I sold two shirts to a friend and she paid me $15.

After work, I ran to Target to pick up a new bra and some meat for dinners this week. Using my Cartwheel app, I was able to save $0.72 and my total was $41.03.

Dinner was meatloaf with roasted green beans and mashed potatoes with groceries from this weekend.

Verizon payment hit the account today ($114.02).

Total spent: $155.05

Day four: Wednesday

She has a recurring subscription to Lola, an organic tampon company, that ends up being cheaper than buying them at the grocery store. She buys two boxes every 3 months or so, and her subscription hit today ($18).

Breakfast was another croissant before heading off the work. She really needs to start eating more filling breakfast foods.

He had a meeting on her side of town, so we met up for lunch at Legal Remedy Brewing. She’s annoyed that they took the adult chicken tenders off the menu, so she orders the kids’. He gets a grilled cheese with fries. We split a tea and a water, and the meal is $25.80 with tip.

He has to take our younger dog to the vet for shots and to check on a potential allergy, where the total comes to $133.50, which is honestly cheaper than she thought it would be.

She makes some excuse about not being able to make dinner because the utensils are in the currently running dishwasher, so we end up going out to a local seafood place for $36.45.

We rented a movie through Amazon for $3.99.

He forgot to cancel a monthly video game subscription so it hit the account today ($14.99) in addition to the mortgage ($1,405.96) and a student loan payment ($550).

Total spent: $2,188.69

Day five: Thursday

She woke up super early this morning for work, so Starbucks was necessary for some caffeine. She got a tall Chai tea latte for $3.76 (which feels like highway robbery).

Work was crazy, so a co-worker bought her lunch from Subway. I’ll pay her next week.

Dinner was pork chops, Brussels sprouts and potato wedges at home for.

Netflix monthly subscription hit the account ($19.24) as well as the cable/internet payment ($210.42).

Total spent: $233.42

Day six: Friday

It’s a long day and we’re out of breakfast items at home, so she swings through Bojangles’ and gets a cajun filet biscuit and a water for $3.70.

Since she has class tonight, and we have a recurring Friday lunch date, we go to Moe’s. She gets a quesadilla, he gets a burrito. We share a drink and queso ($19.70).

Getting prepared for the wedding weekend, he gets a haircut at Shear Excellence in Ballantyne ($49).

She has class this evening, so dinner is provided by the assigned group that night. I eat way too many cookies. He eats leftovers at home (bless him, I know he hates it).

Ashley Furniture payment hits the account ($115).

Total spent: $187.40

Day seven: Saturday

We head down to Greenville, South Carolina for the wedding and grab Chick-Fil-A for lunch on the way down in Gaffney. They say that the proceeds from all cookies sold go to a charity, so of course we get two ($19.81).

In between the ceremony and the reception (it’s a Catholic wedding), we go and get some drinks with friends at new place downtown ($36.80).

Before heading to the reception, we stop by Walgreens and get a card, Skittles, gum and $30 as a gift ($35.71).

Total spent: $92.32

Total spent: $2,984.54
The breakdown:

Bills: $2,467.53
Food and drink: $176.38
Transportation: $39.70
Shopping: $114.44
Miscellaneous: $186.49

What we learned:

We already keep a pretty detailed log of everything that we spend, so nothing was particularly new information to us. This week was a little strange because we had to purchase gifts and other things that weren’t typical for us. The week before we tracked, it was the best week we’d had since we began tracking our spending in 2013. Because of all of these extra expenses, the rest of the month will have to be extremely tight. Our goals are achievable if we communicate about upcoming expenses, meal plan, plan ahead, and don’t give into impulse purchases. This is an exercise that everyone should do.

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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