Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $165,000 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 in their late twenties making a combined $165,000. Here’s how they spent their money.

The basics:

Industry: 

Him – Finance
Her – Non-profit

Position: 

Him – Manager
Her – Director

Salary: 

Him – $125,000
Her – $40,000

Monthly savings:

Him – $2,200
Her – On average, between $100-$200, depending on what’s left after bills

Age:

Him – 28
Her – 27

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,600
Number of roommates: Each other
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Utilities: $80-$90
Cable/Internet: $100
Student loans: He has none. She’s paying $250-$400 per month toward her loans, depending on how the month’s spending looks.
Car payments: None. We both have older cars that are paid off.
Car insurance:

Him – $100
Her – $70

Transportation costs:

Him – $30 for gas. He drives maybe 4 miles a day.
Her – $90. She commutes a further distance to work.
Uber – $100

Phone bill: $160 total for both of us. He pays about $80 per month since his work kicks in for about half of the bill.
Gym (her): $80
Netflix (him): $15
Amazon (him): $13
Credit card (her): $150

Three financial goals

Pay off her student loans.

Save for a house in our neighborhood.

Save enough to take a least two big trips per year.

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Day one: Sunday

We had talked about getting up early to go get coffee and breakfast, but didn’t get motivated enough to make it out. We rarely get a relaxing weekend, so we enjoyed a slow morning and I made breakfast for us with groceries we purchased last week.

We ended up meeting some friends for brunch at Bistro La Bon. He’s been dying to go for their buffet and convinced a few of our friends to join. It was well worth the hype. $22 all-you-can-eat buffet and $3 mimosas? Yes. He paid and spent $99.52 (we also ordered a round of bloody marys).

I was tempted to go shopping for a few things we need for our apartment as well as a perfect dress for a wedding next month, but enjoyed the slow pace of today and took an afternoon nap.

I meal prepped for the week and was so full from our late brunch that I skipped dinner. He had leftovers from our dinner out on Saturday.

He needed to work a little and typically heads to a coffee shop to work and enjoy a cup of coffee, but he headed to the apartment complex office space and had a free one instead. He needed a new license and order it online for $13.

Total spent: $112.52

Day two: Monday

We both had breakfast at home this morning, which is something I normally do but he normally skips out on. I packed both lunch and dinner from the food we cooked yesterday since I knew I’d be at work late and not home until after 10 p.m.

He surprised me with flowers, wine and Chick-Fil-A nuggets when I got home. He’s too sweet! He spent $82.55 at Harris Teeter for the flowers and to stock up on wine, and $5.19 for the nuggets.

Total spent: $87.74

Day three: Tuesday

Rent ($1,600) and the power bill ($64.44) hit today.

She had breakfast at home, a chocolate waffle, and brought lunch to work. He skipped breakfast as usual and had lunch at the office.

I stopped at Harris Teeter on my way home to get things to make dinner ($26.48). He filled his car up with gas ($30) and got his hair cut after work for $35.

Total spent: $1,755.92

Day four: Wednesday

Wednesday was going to be a long day for both of us at work.

I had a waffle for breakfast and packed lunch and dinner again. I was starting to get tired of the food I meal prepped earlier in the week, but stayed strong and brought food so I didn’t need to order or go buy lunch or dinner. He had a dinner meeting and usually eats lunch at work, so he was covered on the food costs.

Total spent: $0

Day five: Thursday

I went in to work later on Thursday, so I cooked myself breakfast and ran a few errands with my sister. I returned a few items to Marshalls that I decided I didn’t need, so I pocketed an extra $50, and with the help of my sister, walked out of the store without purchasing anything else. This can be a bad habit. She ended up getting two items, so I think it helped that we were walking away with something instead of nothing.

I had lunch at home before heading to work.

We had planned tonight to be our date night and went out to dinner for some sushi. If it was up to either one of us, we would probably eat sushi at least once a week. He paid ($99.36).

Our phone bill was paid today ($103.75).

Total spent: $203.11

Day six: Friday

My Apple cloud storage ($.99) and our monthly Netflix subscription ($15) both came out today.

Again, I had breakfast at home before work and lunch was the LAST of the meal prep. I could’ve skipped eating lunch today – I was so sick of eating the same thing.

We had originally planned to grill out and cook from home since we went out to dinner last night, but neither one of us felt like cooking, so we went out for dinner, again. He paid ($115.83).

Total spent: $131.82

Day seven: Saturday

We went for a morning bike ride to coffee and breakfast at Undercurrent Coffee. We have been wanting to try them since they opened. He paid and spent $24.57.

I was feeling extremely productive today and cleaned and organized in the morning which made me realize we needed a few things for our apartment. I headed to Walmart and found way more than I needed but felt good about my purchases. I finally got the bar stools we needed for our counter, picture frames, cleaning supplies and a few things to organize the bathroom for $93.59.

We made dinner at home before going out for drinks with friends. He went to the store for dinner supplies and spent $23.35. He made a pit stop at the liquor store for some supplies to make margaritas and stock up ($126.10). We met up with friends and I paid for our first round of drinks ($20.88) while he paid for the rest ($29.59). We stopped for pizza at Fuel and he picked up the tab again ($7.99).

Total spent: $326.07

Total spent: $2,617.18
The breakdown:

Bills – $1,784.18
Transportation – $30
Food and drink – $661.41
Shopping – $93.59
Miscellaneous – $48

What we learned: He says he’s not surprised by how much we are spending and he claims he learned nothing (lol).

This week contained a lot of our bills, so for me, I try to keep my spending in check during the bill weeks. I’ve been trying to ensure that I eat every meal throughout the day so I’ve started meal prepping. I’m honestly surprised that I made it all week without either skipping lunch or caving and buying something instead of what I had packed. In the past few weeks, I’ve really tried to curb my extra spending to put more money into my savings account and to pay off my student loans faster.

We don’t typically stock up on liquor, so that’s a purchase that will last for a long time. I do have a tendency to go shopping out of boredom for things I don’t really need but we’ve been trying to get settled into our apartment so there are purchases that need to be made that have curbed this appetite.

Moving forward, I think we will try to only eat out twice a week. This would help us with some of our big spending at restaurants. I’m not going to lie though, this will be challenging since we are both big food people and love to try new restaurants and eat out.

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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.