Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $206,000 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 kylie@charlotteagenda.com. This week, I spoke with a couple making a combined $206,000 salary. Here’s how they spend their money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry:

Him – Real Estate
Her – Healthcare

Position: 

Him – Agent
Her – Registered Nurse

Salary: 

Him – An estimated $175,000 (commission-based)
Her – $31,000 (part-time)

Extra income: 

Her – Approximately $100/month in travel compensation

Savings: 

Her 401(k) is 3% of her paycheck with a 3% company match, and she will work on increasing this once she’s making her Nurse Practitioner salary. He keeps his money savings in a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA and stock accounts. Any time our checking account is over $5,000, we transfer that money into our joint savings account.

We put $100 per month into baby’s college fund, plus another $100 per month into baby’s future stock fund (available for her when she turns 18).

Age:

Him – 31
Her – 29

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $1,411. We pay $2,000 per month for extra principle toward the loan, and a $135 per month HOA fee not included in escrow and paid separately.
Number of roommates: Each other, plus our 14-month old daughter and 2 dogs
Neighborhood: FreeMoreWest
Utilities: 

Security system – $44.95
Netflix – $11.79
DirecTV – $120.80
Internet – $79.27
Water – $55-$60
Electric – $80-$120
Gas – $30-$40

Student loans: Our undergrad student loans are all paid off (our last payment was in 2016). Currently, she has $53,000 for grad school loans in deferment until she graduates next summer.
Car payments: 

Him – None. His car is a 2010 model and was paid off in 2014.
Her – $369.89 (this is the leased family car that she primarily drives)

Car insurance: $134.51 for both
Transportation:

Him – He works from home and fills up once a month for $40
Her – She fills up her tank twice a month for $80

Phone: $187.70 for two new phones included in that price, plus $21.42 for Apple Care
Childcare: $1,135
Swim lessons for the baby: $78
Baby headband subscription: $12 (priorities)
Food subscription: $106 for protein powder and supplements
YMCA: $106
Audible: $16 (for her drive to work)
Pandora: $12
Spotify: $10.70

Business expenses:

Quickbooks: $11
Admin salary: $3,459 (yes, he has an assistant)
Advertising: $2,500
Taxes:
$2,000
Payroll tax: $918
Business credit card: $1,500 on average

Three financial goals

Pay off student loans. Our plan is to pay off her student loans before she graduates next summer. Each semester, we are paying half of her tuition in cash and taking half out in student loans. She has three more semesters left after this current one

Pay off current house mortgage. Currently, we are paying $2,000 per month towards our mortgage (so additional $600). We are planning on moving to a bigger house in the suburbs after she graduates and would love to have this house paid off in two years.

Buy rental property. This is the ultimate goal. We might use our current house as a rental when the time comes but he wants to get his first rental property within the next five years

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Note from the participants: We generally do one big grocery haul every 2-3 weeks with a mini trip in between to replenish fresh fruits and veggies. We also meal prep for our daughter since she is lactose intolerant and unable to eat a lot of processed foods. She still drinks 2-3 bottles of her special formula per day (her formula is $40 a can that lasts her about 1 week so we cannot wait to drop this expense when the doctors give us the green light).

Day one: Monday

She woke up with the baby and had coffee while her daughter played. After he woke up, they all had breakfast together: eggs and an English muffin for her, breakfast sandwich for him and eggs, toast, cheese and grapes for the baby (all made from stuff they already had at home).

After breakfast, she went to run some errands with the baby.

She picked up a Wooden Activity Cube for their daughter that she purchased through an online garage sale ($5) as well as a pair of shoes for her ($4). Next, she went to the SouthPark mall to pick up a clothing order from Hanna Andersson ($0, since she paid for this last week). She went into Sephora to grab her mascara and replace her highlighter that she just finished ($65.42).

Afterward, they went to Target for baby formula and mom essentials like dry shampoo and face wash ($159.52 – $120 was for the formula but she did get a $20 gift card back).

The last errand was the big grocery haul at Publix. They had been out of town and needed to stock up on everything, including alcohol ($170.40).

She got home from all the errands and they both ate leftovers from Copper Indian takeout that we ordered last night.

While the baby napped, she did school work and meal prepped for the week. She also made pasta salad for the party later using food she bought at the store earlier. He cleaned and organized the garage.

She checked her bank account, and her monthly Spotify charge came through ($10.70). We gave our dogs the last flea treatment from the box, so we ordered more ($112.95). He also got gas for his car ($40.65) and paid for his portion of an upcoming bachelor party in Nashville ($553). He did get his previous week’s commission check, though, so that added $7,669 to their account.

They all went to a neighbor’s Memorial Day party and brought the beer that she purchased earlier along with the pasta salad that she made. After the party, they put the baby to bed and relaxed on the couch until it was time for bed.

Total spent: $1,121.64

Day two: 

Him: On Tuesdays, he has the baby with him at home all day. They have swim lessons in the morning, and he grabbed a coffee from Cuplux on his way home ($4.51). He is horrible at eating breakfast but did make a sandwich for lunch.

The car payment got autodrafted from their account ($369.89).

Her: She got up for a cycle class at the Y. Afterward, she was starving and made an English muffin with almond butter.

She drank a protein shake on the way to work, had Greek yogurt, granola and fruit as a snack and Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi with chicken sausage for lunch. This was her first time eating the gnocchi and she would definitely get it again.

Dinner was made at home before he went to class. They made Szechuan Beef stir fry with items from their fridge. She then spent the night working on schoolwork while sipping wine and watching The Bachelorette. Solid alone time!

He got a Coke ($0.75) while at his real estate class.

Total spent: $375.15

Day three: Wednesday

Him: He made himself eggs for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch.

Baby’s stock plan got autodrafted from the account ($100).

Her: Another work day for her. Protein shake on the way to work, more cauliflower gnocchi with chicken sausage and grapes for lunch and coffee from home. She wanted a caffeine boost, and grabbed a Diet Coke from the fridge at work.

Since she got off early, she got some cleaning done before book club. It is her turn to host this month, so she made a salad and pulled pork sliders from stuff she bought at the store on Monday. She also had a bottle of wine for everyone. He ate the pulled pork for dinner before she took the Crockpot away.

She saw that her face care product line was on lightning deal on Amazon for over 60% off, so she bought the retinol cream for $14.20.

Total spent: $114.20

Day four: Thursday

Him: He had his morning coffee and made a sandwich for lunch.

Bills today include Applecare ($21.42) and Audible ($16.03). Our mortgage payment also came out for $2,000.

Her: Last day of work for her. Protein shake for breakfast and leftover salad and Szechuan Beef stir fry for lunch.

After work, she came home to find he had made lemon chicken with asparagus for dinner. After getting the baby ready for bed, she watched some Netflix and did a little bit of schoolwork before heading to bed early. He had his real estate class again.

Total spent: $2,037.45

Day five: Friday

Him: Coffee for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch. Since she was going out with a friend, he boycotted the planned dinner and made chicken wings in the air fryer. Later on, after the baby was asleep, a friend brought over pizza and beer.

Swim class payment came out ($78).

Her: Payday! Added $536.84.

She got up early and went to barre class with a friend. Afterward, she made a protein shake at home and had some coffee. She spent the morning catching up on e-mails and school work.

Since it is the 1st of the month, she browsed the monthly selection of Fabletics but wasn’t impressed with the patterns, so she skipped her month. She also checked her credit card balance on her personal credit card but the balance due was $0 (since she had paid her total balance last month). Score!

She made herself scrambled eggs for dinner since he changed the meal plan on her. Then she met up with a friend for wine and dessert at Bonterra Wine Bar ($59.80 after tip).

Total spent: $137.80

Day six: Saturday

Him: He had coffee for breakfast and leftover pizza for lunch, and took the baby out on a bike ride to the park in the morning.

Her: She had an English muffin with almond butter before going to a weightlifting class at the Y with her friend.

Afterward, she ran home to grab the baby and make a protein shake before taking the baby to the farmers market with her friend. Since she had all the groceries from earlier this week, she grabbed peaches for her husband ($6) and the biggest bouquet of fresh flowers ($20.80).

They spent baby’s nap time cleaning and doing schoolwork (her) and actual work (him).

They reserved a babysitter for a rare night out just the two of them and paid the babysitter ($70) after having an amazing dinner at Zeppelin ($140.83 for dinner, drinks and tip) and grabbing a few beers at Hoppin’ ($31.26).

Total spent: $268.89

Day seven: Sunday

We had a pretty uneventful day at home today. She did schoolwork all day and he got some work done in between relaxing and hanging out with the baby, who took two naps.

She had avocado toast with coffee for breakfast and a veggie burger with carrots for lunch. He had more leftover pizza for lunch. Dinner was the fish tacos that he didn’t want to make Friday night. Finally a bill-free, no spending day!

Total spent: $0

Total spent: $4,055.13 (ouch!)
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $413.55
Transportation – $40.65
Bills – $2,596.04
Shopping – $268.94
Miscellaneous – $735.95

What we learned:

With putting extra money into our mortgage and tracking during our high bill time, you can see why we constantly try to keep $5,000 in our checking account. Also, kids are expensive and make things (like date night) even more pricey. Since we rarely eat out, when we do get the chance, we love to splurge (obviously). We’ve probably had 6 dates like this since she was born, so this is not an every week occurrence.

She knows that she is very fortunate that he is able to support their family so well while she is in grad school. In her defense, she worked overtime shifts during her pregnancy when he got laid off and made a career change, so they are even.

He manages all their finances, so he was already aware of their spending habits but this was good for her to see everything spelled out for the week, although this diary did include a few outlier expenses (like his upcoming bachelor party) that normally are not there.

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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.