Cash Confessional: A week of spending on an $85,000 IT security professional’s salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on an $85,000 IT security professional’s 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 Lauren at  Click here to complete the diary via Survey Monkey.

This week, I chatted with a man in his twenties who works in the IT security field. He’s focused on boosting his savings so he can retire at 65, and also wants to snag rental properties around Charlotte. Here’s how he spends his money.

The basics

Industry: IT Security

Position: Business System Consultant

Salary: $85,000, plus $12,600 annually from my roommate

Savings: $1,500 per month into Roth IRA, $300 per month into HSA, $800 per month into personal savings

Age: 28

Monthly expenses

Rent: Mortgage and HOA comes to $1,450 a month

Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: NoDa
Utilities:  Electric- depends on the month. In the summer it can get up to $275 (I like to keep the house cold.) Right now it’s $125 a month. Gas- depends on the month. This month it was $100.

Student loans: $0.
Car payments: $125 a month.

Car insurance: $100 a month.

Transportation costs: $25 a month for gas.

Phone bill: $0

Insurance: $120 a month.

Any extra costs not previously mentioned: Netflix: $10 monthly, Direct TV Now: $30 monthly, Spotify: $10 monthly

Three financial goals

  1. Save about $10,000 a year. I love to travel overseas, so my personal savings goes to at least one trip annually.
  2. Be able to retire at 65, so buildup my Roth IRA or mutual funds.
  3. Own three rental properties around the Charlotte area, plus one to live in.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week


I was returning from Thanksgiving with the family in good ole Lebanon, PA. After spending four days with the whole extended family, a beer was much needed, so I bought $14 worth at Food Lion. Also, my downstairs neighbors were having a party. Since I was flying from 5-7 this evening I needed some food, but didn’t want to figure out what to cook. Ended up spending $10 at Bojangles.

Total spent: $24


    I spent $23 at Billy Jack’s Shack. Love me some sticky nuggs. After living in NoDa there aren’t a lot of places that I crave. When a neighbor asks to go out I just go where I’m told. A burger did taste nice after turkey for the last four days. Then I spent $3.51 at Reigning Doughnuts for dessert. I love their specialty donuts that change daily. I mean who doesn’t want a peanut butter and banana chip donut, or a buffalo chicken skin-covered donut? Chicken skins > sprinkles.

    Total spent: $39.74


    I’ve worked from home for the past year. Usually I don’t have very much in the way of social interaction during the workday, but recently my downstairs neighbor in my condo complex started working from home, too. Since he cooks us breakfast each morning, I figured I should return the deed with a good lunch outside of the condo. I spent $30.76 on lunch at Yafo Kitchen. After lunch, my neighbor and I went to Harris Teeter and spent $14.51 on supplies to make a stir fry for dinner since both our girlfriends were busy.

    Later on, I walked down to the Renni Mart, which is a little market in front of the Renaissance Condos in NoDa. I’m a smoker and usually buy a pack a day there. Today I bought a pack of cigarettes ($6.20) and some animal cookies ($3.66) because you’re never too old for childhood nostalgia.

      Total spent: $55.13


        I spent $6.20 on cigarettes at the Renni Mart, plus another $1.19 for a bottle of water and $3.00 on snacks. No animal crackers this time 🙁 That’s all I ended up spending today, since I ate my stir fry leftovers from the night before for lunch. Dinner was a frozen lasagna that I bought before Thanksgiving.

        Total spent: $10.39


        Today my spending was focused on going down to my girlfriend’s place for the next three nights. I hadn’t seen her in a week and a half because of Thanksgiving and was so excited to see her! Since I work from home, it makes more sense for me to go down to her place. She works in South Carolina and I’m not going to make her drive 77 during rush hour. I already annoy her enough with my dad jokes. I don’t think she needs 77 traffic annoyance on top of that.

        I always stock up on cigs before heading to her place since I’m in meetings for all 8 hours of my workday. When I’m in these fun meetings where nothing gets accomplished, cigarettes are needed. ($20.44)

        After thinking long and hard after what romantic dinner to take my girlfriend to since I hadn’t seen her in so long, I landed on the best I could think of on a cold 44-degree night: Dominos. They were having a 50% off special, so we each got our favorite pizza. I’m a sucker for the chicken wings, too. I know, foodie credibility gone. Also, this served as lunch for the next day, so it was kind of like grocery shopping…? ($28.96)

        Total spent: $49.40


          After splurging on pizza, it was time for something lighter. I spent $24.56 at Cava for dinner for my girlfriend and myself. Cava and Yafo are some of my favorite places in Charlotte. They’re different than burgers and tacos, though I do love tacos, plus they’re pretty cheap and easy to take to-go. Then I spent $14.51 at Harris-Teeter. I wanted to pick up some pasta salad ($3.00) as a side for lunch tomorrow with my Cava leftovers. My girlfriend saw pieces of cake and wanted some, but couldn’t get a piece unless I did. That was the other $11.51 that went towards my total.

          Total spent: $39.o7


          I spent $185.00 on Amazon for some Cyber Monday deals that’ll serve as Christmas gifts. $115.00 of that was for a Pickleball set and bag for my dad. He’s doing some soul searching for retirement hobbies after working for 45 years. $25.00 was for a Pickleball paddle for myself, so I can remind my dad who the true champion is in the family. Then there were a couple of gifts for some friends who might read this article, so I’m going to have to leave that out. Sorry.

          Then I spent $14.00 at the Hot Tamale food truck that was parked at Divine Barrel. They’re there every Friday night in December. I got four tacos, even though I just hated on tacos the day before. I’m a huge food truck lover if the food is appropriately placed.

          Total spent: $199


          I spent $30 at JiffyLube for an auto inspection. Since I was a month late and finally had a Saturday night where I didn’t play disc golf in the morning, I figured it was time to actually be responsible. Then I spent $225 for my registration renewal. Always good to know that I don’t have to worry about that when my road rage hits on 77. I spent $34 at Bojangles. My girlfriend had a late night out with her friends and she gets hangry in the morning without breakfast. I was already out getting my inspection, so I took care of that.

          Total spent: $289

          Weekly total spent: $705.73

          What I learned:

          My girlfriend always says I’m too picky an eater. I didn’t really understand what she meant (that while I eat a lot, I’m picky about what I want each day) until reviewing my spending. If I cut down on how often I eat out and start eating leftovers that end up sitting in the fridge all week, I could cut my budgeted spending by about a third. Right now I budget around $300 a week (which I would have hit if I adulted and started paying my bills on time).

          I also eat out so much because I have different friend groups that all want to hang at different times. Not only is it is expensive to try and see everyone each week, I’m also tired all the time. If I could start cooking from home more, I might not always be so tired, plus I’ll save money.

          Lastly, we all know smoking is a bad habit. I’m working on quitting by slowly cutting back how much I allow myself to smoke in a day. While I’m no longer spending $12.40 a day on cigarettes, $6.20 still adds up. That is $43.40 of useless spending weekly (yearly that adds up to $2,256.80). That money could go to an extra vacation for my girlfriend and me yearly. Or, at the very least, finally being able to afford a bottle of wine at Ruth’s Chris!

          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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