Lessons learned from our highest read Cash Confessionals in 2017

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This paid content was co-created in partnership with Bank of America.


Our Cash Confessional series takes an anonymous look into how people of all ages and incomes spend their money in the span of seven days. If you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email kylie@charlotteagenda.com.

Mia Ziring is a Financial Solutions Advisor with Bank of America. In her role, she works directly with customers to help them prioritize and reach their financial goals by leveraging both banking and investment products at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Below, she’s weighing in on individual Cash Confessionals to give tips for smarter saving and spending.

Mia Ziring

Financial advice for your peers? Increase your annual contribution into your 401(k) by a percent or two until you reach the maximum contribution. Also, ask your employer if they offer a Roth 401(k) and try to have some funds in both Traditional (pretax) and Roth “bucket.” That way at the time of retirement, you’ll have the flexibility to pick and choose how much to take out of each 401(k).

#1 financial goal right now? Saving for a down payment for a vacation property abroad.

#1 saving tip? Preferred rewards program at BofA offers four free checking accounts and four free savings accounts. Those accounts can be designated for either various future goals (like a honeymoon, car/home purchase, education) or for budgeting a certain expense that you are currently spending too much on. By having separate accounts (that you can nickname) and by automatically contributing into each account from every paycheck you can easily be disciplined and accomplish your financial goals.


Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $39,000 salary

Industry: FinTech
Position: Administrative Assistant
Salary: $39,000
Extra income: Does my friends paying me back on Venmo count?
Who you bank with: Bank of America
Savings: My family owns the property I live in, so my “rent” payments go into a savings account each month. Yeah, yeah, sound the spoiled alarm.
Age: 27

Mia’s feedback: Kudos for making paying off credit card debt a top priority and for being a client! With four different bills taken care of for her, it’s a great time to pay off debt. I’d also suggest saving for a car over a weeklong vacation (womp womp). Vacations are more fun, but she needs a car every day! If she does go on vacation, she should drive and stay with friends instead of pricey flights and hotels.

I’d also reconsider spending $2,580 annually on fitness and put that money toward her goals – especially when there are budget-friendly gyms and free outdoor recreational activities. Keep an eye on the more frivolous spending like dining out and big purchases at Nordstrom. Meals at home or switching to Nordstrom Rack might be better choices if she wants to check off her goals.


Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $105,000 salary

Industry: Financial Services
Position: Project Manager, Risk & Compliance / Financial Crimes (Contractor)
Salary: $50 per hour, which averages out to about $105,000; paid weekly.
Who do you bank with and why? Three banks:
Bank of America because I was a former associate for 12 years. I have accounts for myself and one daughter.
• Wells Fargo because they’ve held my mortgage for the last 9 years. They never sell the paper, so I’m loyal to them.
• USAA, because I’ve been an associate member for nearly 30 years as a daughter of a former Army Officer. I have another joint account for myself and my daughter at college because it’s an easy way to get money to her instantly.
Savings: 
$15 per paycheck auto-transfers into a savings account that’s linked to my checking account, which generally gets used for overdraft protection every few months or as unexpected source of emergency cash. Another $50 per paycheck is given to my Mom to hold for me (not so easy access) when saving for bigger expenditures such as the trip to NYC for my sister’s baby shower I took last week.
Age: 46
Gender: Female

Mia’s feedback: While it doesn’t seem like a $4-5 purchase here and there is a big deal, those purchases add up quickly and make it harder to save. The cost of dining out is double that of groceries, and while it’s nice to treat others to a meal out, a meal at home is just as meaningful – and better for her pocketbook. It looks like she does a lot for others – but maybe a little too much?

Paying off credit cards should be a top priority. It might also be time for her daughter in college to get a part-time job to help off-set some of her monthly expenses so any extra money can be put toward credit card debt. And while splurging on a nice hotel in NYC sounds wonderful, next time opt for a more budget-friendly hotel.  Speeding tickets are no fun – slow down on the road to avoid that healthy fine.


Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $100,000 salary and $68,000 worth of extra income

Industry: Banking & Finance
Position: Senior Financial Analyst
Yearly salary: $100,000
Extra income: $68,000, which stems from my four properties that I rent out on Airbnb.
Who do you bank with and why:  I have multiple banks and accounts across many institutions.
Savings: I am always putting away money for retirement and savings. I have dedicated saving as much as I could of each paycheck upwards of 20-25% after taxes into my Roth IRA (up to the yearly maximum and then to my brokerage account).  I also currently put 6% into my employer sponsored 401k to receive the 6% match.
Age: 28

Mia’s feedback: I’d like to give this guy a virtual high-five – first for his service to our country, second for being a client (thanks!) and third for his commitment to his financial goals. Having the foresight to invest while in college is something to be proud of and graduating with no student loan debt is also a plus. He clearly understands needs versus wants and saves money by driving an older, yet completely functional car, and using the library instead of Amazon – little things add up.

To save even more, consider eating at home versus dining out. Additionally, earning extra income with your rental properties is a great way to stay on top. It might also be a good idea to connect with a financial advisor to ensure they make the most of their long-term investing. Keep up the good work!


Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $240,000 salary

Industry:
Him – Healthcare
Her – Finance Consulting
Position:
Him – Medical Physicist
Her – Risk Management Consultant
Yearly salary: A combined 240,000, excluding bonuses, which would take us to $246,500.
Extra income: We have four investment houses in Atlanta that we collect rent on. It brings in around $40,000 of profit after all expenses.
Who you bank with and why: Bank of America. Not because they are good for any particular reason, but because we live in Charlotte and it is just the most convenient Bank since the city is dominated by BoA. We also have a stock account with TD Ameritrade.
Savings: He maxes out his 401(k) and I put 9% of my paycheck into one. We also have a Roth IRA account, but can’t contribute any more due to our income restrictions.
Age:
Him – 30
Her – 26

Mia’s feedback: This couple’s financial goals are great and complement each other well. Also, thanks for banking with us! I’d recommend checking out all of the resources available to Bank of America clients – if they are interested in consolidating their retirement accounts, they might be eligible for perks like free trades or discounted rates. Who doesn’t love more savings, right?

Looks like plans to build a home are coming along nicely, but I’m wondering why they are renting. Since rental properties are a priority for them, consider purchasing a property to live in now and rent out once the construction of their house is complete. BUT, a word of caution – a lot of funds are going toward additional rental properties, so I’d like to see them diversify their assets so they’re less dependent on the real estate market – ahem 2008. Maybe consider dividend paying stocks? Also, since they can’t contribute to their Roth IRA, they should ask their employers about a Roth 401(K). Outside of that, meals out always seem to sneak up so plan ahead and pack a lunch. They’ll be happy they did when they are checking their goals off one by one!


Industry:
Him – Automotive
Her – IT
Position:
Him – Manager
Her – Outside Sales
Yearly salary: $275,000
Who do you bank with and why: We moved to Charlotte from out of state about eight months ago for a job opportunity and have stuck with our out-of-state hometown bank because we haven’t ever found a reason to change. Mobile and direct deposits make it so easy – we never went to the bank anyway.

Mia’s feedback: The top priority here should be to pay off credit card and tax debt. They are spending $1,740 annually at the YMCA which could really help out – maybe take a short hiatus over the summer since it is so nice outside. Additionally, $800 seems high for a car payment. That is three times the monthly amount they pay on their tax debt. It might be worth swapping the hefty payment for a smaller car with a lower payment and applying that savings toward debt.

There also seems to be a lot of unnecessary spending ($600 this week) on things like fish, the Tumi bag, eyelashes and souvenirs for the kids. It might be a good idea to buckle down, pay off a few things and then revaluate where money is going to make sure needs are being met before wants. And while a vacation sounds great, maybe hold off for a year or consider a staycation and put that money toward their goals.  

Industry:
Him – Finance
Her – Legal
Position:
Him – Manager
Her – Attorney
Yearly salary:
Him – $800,000
Her – $50,000, plus a monthly bonus, which varies.
Extra income:
Rental properties – We own a few that bring in a total of $36,000 per year.
Flipping houses – We flip a few houses each year, bringing in around $60,000 per year.
Savings: We’re putting away $15,000-$20,000 per month.
Ages:
Him – 29
Her – 30

Mia’s feedback: If Starbucks and smoothies are the only things they are overspending on, they’re probably doing pretty well. However, keep in mind that’s more than $2,600 annually if they each have a drink during the week ($10 per day) and that doesn’t include any other meals. Eating out will always be more expensive than at home so be sure to keep that in check so they can easily increase contributions to charities and causes they’d like to.

In addition, people who are busy with work, managing rentals and flipping houses likely have a hard time finding time to manage their investments. I’d recommend having a financial advisor review their accounts to see if is there is more they could be doing or if they should have their finances actively managed. Work and projects can take over and it’s easy to forget about long-term investments for the future when there is so much happening right now.

Can’t get enough saving? Up your financial savvy with Better Money Habits.

This paid content was co-created in partnership with Bank of America.

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