Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a combined $215K salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a combined $215K 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

This week, I chatted with a Ballantyne-based couple. They’ve got five kids and are focused on paying off all of their debt, bumping up their 401(k) contributions, and putting 50 percent cash down on a home. Here’s how they spend their money:

The basics

Industry: IT for him and healthcare for her

Salary: He brings in $160,000 and she brings in $55,000

Savings: $2,000/month into savings, 4 percent of salary into a 401(k), and $400/month into an HSA

Age: He’s 41 and she’s 34

Monthly expenses

Rent: $1,625

Number of roommates: Their five kids, a cat, and a rabbit

Neighborhood: Ballantyne

Credit card debt: $1,500/month

Student loans: $725/month

Car payment: $0

Childcare: $1,800/month

Utilities: $200/month

Netflix/Internet: $104/month

Various extracurricular activities (band, dance, swimming, etc.): $500/month

Groceries/eating out: $1,000/month

Cell phones: $162/month

If I had to show my friends my checking account I’d feel: Awkward. Don’t make me explain those five Target purchases in one week.

Would you rather show a friend your savings account or your Google search history? Google search history because I think that’s way more interesting.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever spent money on? A trip just him and I to California a few months after our fifth child was born. Visiting California was on my bucket list and it was really nice to spend some extended time alone enjoying each other’s company.

What’s the most frivolous thing you’ve ever spent money on? Our huge TV. It was in a similar price bracket as an older used car if that gives you any clues.

The biggest expense in my life right now is _______. Rent, credit card bills, and school loans. We were not so smart with our money a few years ago and have been paying for it (literally) since.

Three financial goals

  1. Pay off all debt in two years.
  2. Increase 401(k) contributions to 10% of salary by the end of 2019.
  3. Pay 50% cash down on a home.

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week


This week I am in Denver Monday–Thursday, so expenses will be a bit higher than usual, but most will be paid back. I had the breakfast of champions (aka carbing up to prepare for the airport) via Panera Bread for $5.29.  I also had to fill up ole faithful (our ’94 Honda Civic!) for $18.05. 

I had quite a bit of work that I had to do on the plane, so I begrudgingly paid $12 for the terrible airplane WiFi.  It will be reimbursed by work though. What will not get reimbursed by work is the $13.88 I spent for a French 75 as a most delicious close to my night.

Total spent: $49.22


I found a yummy local diner within walking distance of my hotel.  I had the steak and eggs special. $13.79 with tip.

Total spent: $13.79 (will be reimbursed)


The Day of the Uber. In a true first world problem scenario, the valet for the car was unavailable (?) and we had to Uber to all of our meetings. $59.33 including tips.

I actually had time for lunch today. Found a great local restaurant. $28.19

Total spent: $87.52 (will be reimbursed)


I had the world’s most expensive and mediocre muffin and water for breakfast at the Denver airport for breakfast. I know you’re jelly. $6.28 Every time I go out of town I get the kids t-shirts. I usually try to find them somewhere other than the airport, but this trip was so busy I didn’t have a choice. $32.47. I paid $37.00 to park at the airport.

Ingredients for a most-needed meal at home, plus other food needs: $27.91

Daycare partial monthly payment: $802.00

I was a responsible adult and paid a medical bill balance: $25

School loan payment: $216

Hubs had Bojangles, I think as a celebratory lunch that I would be home today: $7

 Total Spent: $1,153.66 ($75.75 will be reimbursed)


Today he had to go to the oral surgeon to get a tooth extracted and bone graft put in, with a bargain basement price of $1,078.60

Netflix: $11.87

Gym membership annual fee: $40

Dry cleaning for my husband’s work shirts, because homeslice doesn’t trust me with an iron. $29.71

Total spent: $1,160.18


Every Saturday after our daughter’s ice skating lessons we go to eat at a Chinese buffet.  $43.76

I wanted to update our living room décor a little bit, so we went to Burlington Coat Factory in two different towns and three different trips (I seriously do not recommend this, at all. Especially with children.) $97.55

Total spent: $141.31


This the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and go to Target. $86.45

Weekly total spent: $2,692.13

What I learned:

At first I was very surprised about how much we spent, thinking it was an “unusual” week, but really, it’s not. I’m very much in denial. If it wasn’t oral surgery, it would have been a mechanic’s bill, or something else. We also eat out way too much!

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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