Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $147,000 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 $147,000 per year. Here’s how they spend their money.

The basics:

Position:

Him – Animator (working from home)
Her – Risk Consultant (currently on leave)

Salary: 

Him – $65,000
Her – $82,000

Savings: $200 every two weeks into an emergency savings account, plus $200 per month into a NC 529 account.

Him – $400 per month into a Roth IRA
Her – 6% per month into a 401(k) with full company match and $5,000 per year into a daycare FSA. This all comes out of her paycheck automatically, so it’s not considered in monthly budget planning.

Ages:

Him – 29
Her – 28

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $959. We pay about $85 extra per month so that there’s an “extra” 13th payment each year.
Neighborhood: Gastonia
Roommates: Two kids – toddler (2) and baby (2 months)
Utilities: $250
Subscriptions: $70 for Hulu, Spotify, YouTube TV, Birchbox and Ipsy (got to keep her feeling pretty)
Phone: $130
Internet: $66
Student loans: 

Him – $500
Her – Paid off in March, and used the money normally spent on her loan to double up his payment in order to get rid of those by next year.

Car loans: 

Him – Finished paying his car off last November
Her – $353

Car insurance: $95 for both cars
Health insurance: $110. We have family insurance through her job.
Transportation: $150-$200 for gas, plus $147 for her parking
Gym membership: $110 for him, plus $68 for the toddler
Daycare: $170.10 per week. The baby’s not in daycare at the moment, but will be in a few weeks, which will more than double this payment.
Credit card: $70

Three financial goals

Get completely out of debt in the next two years with the exception of the house.

Save for a down payment on a larger home.

Increase his retirement contribution amount.

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Day one: Sunday

We spent the morning being lazy, watching TV with the kids and making brunch – ricotta pancakes, scrambled eggs and fruit. She bought groceries earlier in the week, so this didn’t cost anything.

After, we all headed to the Greenway and walked about a mile. This completely wore out the kids and we went home to take a 3-hour nap! She did some work on the house and she continued her lazy streak with baby.

For dinner, she made creamy chicken and mushroom gnocchi with things left over in the pantry from the week before.

Total spent: $0

Day two: Monday

She had breakfast (coffee and a muffin) with the oldest before he went to daycare while he had some yogurt and fruit (there will be a theme here all week).

He took care of the baby for the morning, then brought the toddler to daycare. When he came home, we watched some TV while he had his coffee, then upstairs he went for the rest of the day to work. The rest of her day was spent taking care of baby and trying to get some housework done since we had a lazy weekend and chores were neglected. She made sandwiches for lunch with stuff she bought at the grocery store the week before.

We picked up the toddler from daycare right before dinner time, and we’ve both been craving sushi for about a week, so we finally gave in and had dinner at Wasabi ($54).

Monday is also the auto-draft day for the daycare payment ($170.10).

Total spent: $224.10

Day three: Tuesday

Baby woke up super early, so she couldn’t go back to sleep and did a little Amazon browsing and bought a dress on sale ($9.99).

Our morning was pretty much identical to Monday. She had breakfast with the toddler (yogurt/fruit for him, coffee and a muffin for her). He took care of baby while she brought the toddler to daycare and went to get her hair cut ($30). She stopped by the store on the way home to pick up some fruit and milk since the toddler has already eaten all of it from the previous week’s grocery trip ($14.96). Lunch was sandwiches again.

Tuesday evenings, the toddler goes to gymnastics. While there, we unexpectedly had to pay to re-register him for the year ($53). Normally we would then go out to eat, but since we had gone out the night before and we had the unexpected bill, we opted to go home and eat chicken nuggets and broccoli fries and spent the evening watching American Ninja Warrior until it was time for bed.

Total spent: $107.95

Day four: Wednesday

This is the first day of the month and we have auto-draft set up for a lot of our savings and monthly payments. Husband’s retirement ($400), college savings ($200), mortgage ($958.88) and parking ($147) all came out today. Ipsy and Birchbox also both drafted ($20.68).

My sister came into town so she and the kids went to see her for the day. They ate lunch at home before going (scrambled eggs, pancakes, tomatoes and fruit at the toddler’s request). For dinner that evening, the toddler “helped” her to make tacos.

Total spent: $1,726.56

Day five: Thursday

Baby (and mom) had a really rough night and really rough day.

He ate breakfast with the toddler (coffee, fruit and yogurt) and brought him to school while she stayed with baby and attempted to have some breakfast herself. For lunch, she had some ramen noodles and he had some cereal. Since it wasn’t such a good day for getting stuff done, we got a pizza as a treat ($8.53).

Some more of our beginning-of-the-month bills were also drafted today: gym ($109) and student loans ($500).

Total spent: $617.53

Day six: Friday

Baby’s night went a LOT better last night, so today was a bit more productive.

After breakfast with the toddler (pancakes/fruit and coffee/muffin) and he returned home from daycare drop-off, she tended to our garden and picked a ton of jalapeños and squash, then spent lunchtime pickling them and prepping squash noodles for dinner.

Lunch was sandwiches again. For dinner, she made garlic turkey meatballs with spaghetti and squash noodles.

More beginning-of-the-month bills drafted: car payment ($353.76) and our bi-weekly contribution to our emergency savings ($200).

Total spent: $553.76

Day seven: Saturday

Early wakeup call from the boys, but he got up with them and let her sleep in until 9 before we all had coffee and cereal for breakfast.

She normally does grocery shopping during the weekend, but this time happened to be on a Saturday and she brought both the boys. First, we stopped for gas ($25, this will last me for the next 2 weeks) then we stopped by Starbucks and got a coffee for me and a strawberry white tea for the toddler. I fill up my Starbucks card with $25 once a month to get me through these trips to the store with two small kids.

This week, there was some meat and paper products on sale, so she stocked up. Grocery shopping is normally not this expensive, and she expects to make up for it later in the month ($176.25).

They both skipped lunch and the toddler snacked on free samples from the grocery store before crashing for his nap. He did some home repairs with materials we bought months ago while she did some more housekeeping and took care of baby.

She made dinner at home and we took a walk to settle the kids down for an early night. After the kids were in bed, we stayed up and rented A Quiet Place ($4.99) and ate candy. Parenting goals.

Total spent: $231.24

Total spent: $3,461.14
The breakdown:

Bills – $3,112.42
Food and drink – $278.74
Transportation – $25
Miscellaneous – $44.98

What we learned:  We spent money almost every single day. While I know that the bulk of the expenditures were bills and savings, we still spent a LOT on food. My husband also didn’t go to the gym this week due to his workload plus wanting to spend time with the baby. This may also be an opportunity for cost savings if the trend continues.

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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.