Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a pair of best friends’ identical salaries

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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 kylie@charlotteagenda.com. This week, I spoke with two 24-year-old women that work for the same company and both make $35,000 a year. They’ll be referred to by their first initials, L and C. Here’s how they spend their money. 

The basics:

Industry: Finacial Services
Position: 

L – Client Services Specialist
C – Client Relationship Manager

Yearly salary: 

L – $35,000 + bonus ($4,000 minimum)
C – $35,000 + bonus ($5,000 – but since I just got hired in June, it’ll be $2,500 this year)

Savings: 

L – $200 per month to a Roth IRA, $25 per month into a savings account for my mom (for the future, if it’s ever needed), $75 per month into a high-yield savings account (I’m attempting to build an emergency fund).
C – Past me is not currently concerned with future me, so this section is embarrassingly absent.

Ages: 

L – 24
C – 25

Monthly expenses:

Rent: 

L – $1,230 split between my boyfriend and I. So, $615.
C – $1,600 split between myself and my roommate, so $800.

Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: We both live in Elizabeth, work in South Park.
Utilities:

L – Total of $220 per month (water, internet, electricity, streaming cable service)
C – It averages about $120 per month, so split, it’s $60.

Student loans:

L – $140 per month. I’m hoping to increase this to $200.
C – This will be a recurring theme, but my parents are super great… $0.

Car payments:

L – Eek. None. Luckily my parents bought and paid off my first (current) car.
C – Yay for parents that are way too good to me! $0

Car insurance:

L – Uh, same.
C – Did I mention how great my parents are? $0

Transportation costs:

L – Gas is $40 per month. My friend and I carpool to work, and work is only about 4 miles, so I don’t use much gas unless I take a road trip. Also, my mom pays for my Ubers.
C – $80 per month. L and I carpool to work, and work is only about 4 miles, however I often go home on the weekends, so this would be lower.

Phone bill:

L – None. I feel spoiled. I’ll be  making the payment on my new iPhone X soon, so $50 a month starting in December, I think.
C – Wow. Thanks, mom and dad. $0

Insurance:

L – I’m still on my mom’s medical insurance, so nothing there. Other coverage isn’t available through my employer, so I’d have to self-insure. Considering it for 2018.
C – I’m still on my mom’s for another year.

Credit cards:

C –

  • Discover: Most of the time it’s paid off, but lately some purchases have been piling up. I typically pay about $250 per month.
  • Nordstrom store card: $100
  • Belk store card: $100 (will be paid by next month!)
  • Personal loan from SoFi: $224

Three financial goals

L –

  • Build up an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses. 3 times 1 month’s income is around $10,000, so clearly a long-term goal, LOL.
  • Pay off debt and increase my credit score (hopefully getting a house one day!).
  • Build an accurate, effective budget that I can stick to.

C –

  • Start making past me care more about future me and contribute to savings. Ideally half of my monthly paycheck would go to a savings account that I don’t touch except for emergencies, like a flash sale at Nordstrom or Neiman. (JK, JK.)
  • Pay off credit card debt and increase my credit score. The latter has really been on the up-and-up lately!
  • Make a personal budget and stick to it. Limit discretionary spending.

Here’s how we spent our money last week.

Day one: Sunday

L – We’re traveling all day, so I didn’t spend any money!

Total spent: $0

C – You will find that I have a pretty strong desire for coffee, especially from the majestic green mermaid, Starbucks. This will be a recurring theme throughout the week, as L and I go every morning before work. Today, I put $25 down on my Starbucks card, but it probably won’t last long.

I went home for the weekend, so before I headed back to the QC, I filled up  my car for $30.

Total spent: $55

Total spent, combined: $55

Day two: Monday

L – I spent $2.85 at Starbucks. Just the coffee – I’m proud of myself for not buying breakfast, and I ate a Fiber One bar at my desk instead.

I ordered Chinese food for lunch. Since I was out of town all weekend, I haven’t made it to the grocery store. I paid for C’s, too. $24.76

Charlotte Agenda posted on Instagram about Eddie’s Place’s She Crab soup, so naturally, we had to try that for dinner (I still haven’t made it to the grocery store). C paid since I got lunch. $0

Went to Marshall’s to look for boots, and found a perfect pair of Frye boots for 45% off, but they were really worn in, so I didn’t buy them. I only ended up spending $10 on 2 coffee mugs for Christmas gifts.

Total spent: $37.61

C – Stopped my Starbucks on the way in to work. For anyone curious about my drink order: Venti iced coffee with sugar-free vanilla syrup and EXTRA cream, because I love myself.

My wonderful bestie (L) paid for lunch today, which was some yummy Chinese. She also said that she saw this awesome publication (hi, Charlotte Agenda) recommended Eddie’s Place, specifically the She Crab soup, and we headed there for dinner. I was hammering for some breakfast, though, because it’s the most important meal of the day, so I got a coffee, short stack of pancakes, parmesan grits and bacon. Yes, it was 7 p.m., and I loved every sip and bite.

L got lunch, so dinner was on me. $37

We went to Marshall’s. I was a first-timer, GASP, but I am now converted. It was everything. I saw a cool black puffer jacket by GUESS, so $45 later, I’m now stylish, on-trend and ready for winter.

Total spent: $82

Total spent, combined: $119.61

Day three: Tuesday

L – Stopped by Starbucks and got a muffin and a coffee. It’s an addiction, don’t judge me. $5.85

I had Viva Chicken for lunch for $12. I still haven’t gone to the grocery store… I clearly need to adjust my budget.

Bought my brother’s Christmas present (a pair of Ray Bans from Groupon), justified by the fact that it’s all he’s getting and they’re much more expensive at department stores…? ($100) It’s also his birthday this weekend, so I have family coming in town and bought an escape room Groupon for the 6 of us to do this coming weekend. $130

Stopped by Target for a  gift card for a friend’s baby shower as well as a card, wrapping paper and an ornament. $43. I’m very proud for nothing going into the clothes or home sections at all.

I forgot I was supposed to get wine for dinner at home, so I stopped for 2 bottles ($24).

My boyfriend went to Costco and spent $65 on my Visa, but reimbursed me, and we ate dinner at home.

Total spent: $314.85

C – Hit Starbucks for my usual order. I’d been to Starbucks multiple times since Sunday, so I had to reload another $25. It’s okay to judge me.

L and I got Viva Chicken for lunch, and she paid.

We both went to Target, and I bought a onesie set for a friend’s baby shower, plus a little gift bag.

And I’m a jolly individual that loves everything Christmas, so I bought a little tree and LED lights for my cube at work. The fact that I only bought what I came for at Target is really something magical. $27.76

I got to third wheel with L and her BF, who cooked us some killer lobster pasta. I had to make some sort of contribution, however, so I got some mini bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes for dessert (if you haven’t samples this delicacy, what are you waiting for?!). $8.22

Total spent: $60.98

Total spent, combined: $375.83

Day four: Wednesday

L – Breakfast at, you guessed it, Starbucks. $5.85

C brought me Chick-fil-A for lunch, but I paid her back the $10.

After work, I went to a baby shower happy hour at Firebirds, where I spent $30 on food and drinks.

When I got home, I cleaned out my closet to sell some clothes and bring in some income. Stay tuned to see if I get to it this week.

Total spent: $45.85

C – You guessed it… Starbucks.

I picked up Chick-fil-A for me and L, which came to $16.56, but she gave me $10, so really, $6.56.

I also realized I didn’t get a card for the baby shower, and stopped by Papyrus and spent $8.53. I find it amusing that the card was nearly the same price as the actual gift.

The baby shower was a happy hour at Firebirds, and I dropped $30 on food and drinks.

I also looked in to my closet to sell some clothes and bring in some income. Stay tuned.

Total spent: $45.09

Total spent, combined: $90.94

Day five: Thursday

L – I’m not ashamed anymore. I went to Starbucks for breakfast. $5.85

My boss bought lunch from Jimmy John’s, which cost me nothing.

My boyfriend pulled his back muscle, so I picked up Mezzanotte for dinner for $50.

Total spent: $55.85

C – Starbucks. Moving on…

L’s boss bought lunch from Jimmy Jon’s, but I’m still not really sure how I scored this deal.

I went out on a Match.com date at Abari in NoDa. It went well, so we’ll see! The nice gentleman paid.

Total spent: $0 (YAY)

Total spent, combined: $55.85

Day six: Friday

L – I got the usual at Starbucks ($5.85), and lunch was catered at work for Thanksgiving.

Later that afternoon, my sister came into town and we went out for burgers for dinner. I treated. $30

Total spent: $35.85

C – My ushzzz (Editor’s note: Short for ‘usual’), Starbucks, followed by a Thanksgiving lunch catered at work.

I went home and ate Chili’s with my family.

Total spent: $0

Total spent, combined: $35.85

Day seven: Saturday

L – I had family in town, so we ate out a lot.

We went to Seoul Food, where my boyfriend paid, and then to Paco’s Tacos for dinner. I paid for this one – 5 meals, queso and margaritas added up to $130.

Total spent: $130

C – It was a lazy day, so I actually didn’t even leave the house. There’s no need to when the internet exists and you can shop in your jams with a messy, freshly showered bun! I’ve been on the hunt for some comfy sweatpants and Dick’s had some Adidas joggers on sale. $42.50

Total spent: $42.50

Total spent, combined: $172.50


 

Total spent, L: $620.01

Food and drink – $337.01
Transportation – $0
Shopping -$283

Total spent, C: $285.57

Food and drink – $131.78
Transportation – $30
Shopping – $123.79

Total spent, combined: $905.58

Food and drink – $468.79
Transportation – $30
Shopping – $406.79

What we learned:

L – Taking a deeper look into my finances this week has definitely been an eye opener. It was a little weird since I had family in town and we were going out to eat a lot, and I didn’t really budget any groceries or anything like that since I was running around all week.

One of the biggest things I noticed was how quickly the little things add up, and it seems that there is always something going on. A lot of times I find myself saying, “Well this is a one-time thing,” whether it be an opportunity to go out with the girls for drinks, or a party for a friend, or a special dinner for me and my boyfriend – these are “one time things” that happen all the time, so I really need to work on building it in to my budget.

One of the things I was proud to realize, is that even with my spending, I’m still able to save a bit, which for me seems like a good start. As I mentioned in my financial goals, I really want to build a good workable budget, so that I can have a more systematic approach to spending/savings. Working in financial services, I see both sides of the spectrum, people who started making really good financial decisions early, and then people who wait until their older and really don’t have it together.

One of the most important things about savings, is that right now, time is on our side. If I can work on getting my spending down, and my savings up, I’ll be in good shape. Hopefully 2018 will bring an increase in income, which will be helpful, but I want to make sure I make smart decisions as things come along.

A big part of what I learned is that I need to take some of my discretionary “fun money” and redirect it into building up a nest egg/emergency fund. This is huge considering I see some changes in my near future! I really enjoyed doing this project, and I think other people should as well! 

C – Not that I didn’t already know this, but I really need to start being more smart with how I’m spending my money. I don’t know how much longer my parents are going to shower me with their good graces. Not too much longer, I’d bet. I need to eat out less and I need to go a Starbucks addicts anonymous support group. And, finally, begin putting money in savings so I can have a more stable future to look forward to.

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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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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.