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 firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, I chatted with a man in his late twenties who’s about to get married. He’s focused on saving for his upcoming nuptials, and is also preparing to build a house and start a family. Here’s how he spends his money:
Position: Financial Accounting Consultant
Salary: $86,700 base with annual bonus (10% of salary)
Savings: Attempting to put $1,700 (roughly 40% of monthly income after taxes and deductions) a month into savings for wedding and other financial goals. In addition, I auto contribute 10% of every paycheck to 401K.
Three financial goals:
- Save for our wedding
- Save for our future kids
- Save for land to build our own house (in Union County)
What’s the best thing you’ve ever spent money on?
My Master’s of Science in Accountancy program because it satisfied the requirements for me to get my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license. My job opportunities have opened up tremendously after getting my CPA license.
What’s the most frivolous thing you’ve ever spent money on?
A couple of years ago I spent $700 to go skiing for a weekend. I’m terrible at skiing so I spent most of the time falling down and getting passed by a skiing class of five-year-olds. Waste of time and money.
If you had to show a friend your checking account you would feel _____?
Embarrassed by all of the Mexican food expenses. I eat Mexican food at least once a week.
Would you rather show a friend your savings account or your Google search history?
I would prefer to show my friend my savings account rather than endure their mockery of my Google searches of how to get to places I frequent often…I’m directionally challenged.
The biggest expense in my life right now is ____?
Mortgage: $1,067, but my fiancée pitches in $400 every month toward the mortgage. Plus $200 HOA dues monthly. My HOA covered all the damage to my townhouse a few years ago from a tornado and all yard maintenance is done by them, so I guess the dues are kind of worth it?
Number of roommates: 1 fiancée and 2 cats
Student loans: $0. My parents paid for my undergraduate degree, but I took out a $20,000 loan for my Master’s in Accountancy program. I lived frugally for a year and a half (cooked most of my meals at home and had little to no social life) after I graduated in 2014 to pay off all my student debt.
Car payment: $0. I bought a new car after I graduated in 2014 and paid off my car loan in two and a half years. I would have paid it off sooner if I didn’t have the student loan at the same time.
These expenses are based on monthly averages. I split the expenses equally with my fiancée, so the amounts are my half of the expenses, except for the phone bill.
Water bill: $26.61
Natural Gas bill: $30.13
Duke Energy bill: $38.17
Internet bill: $30.36
Car insurance bill: $46.67
Phone bill: $59.28
Money Diary: How I spent my money last week
My fiancée and I spent the weekend in Northern Virginia for my grandfather’s birthday. For a 92-year-old’s birthday party, it was fun with lots of beer and good food. Didn’t have to pay for beer or food. Thanks, fam! We carpooled with my mom, who lives in Raleigh, which saved us some gas money.
When we got back to my mom’s house on Sunday afternoon, I filed my federal and state returns. After filing my returns, my fiancée and I drove back to Charlotte and got gas ($17.36).
We stopped at Chipotle for a quick dinner since we were getting back to Charlotte late and didn’t have time to cook dinner at home ($16.37).
Total spent: $33.73
I had already bought all my groceries for this week last Friday, so I ate a quick breakfast of a toasted bagel with cream cheese (I love carbs) at home.
I try to refrain from eating out for lunch so I normally bring a sandwich, an apple, and homemade popcorn that my fiancée makes. It’s cheaper than buying a bag of popcorn from the grocery store and it’s better for you.
I had chicken breast, a quinoa and brown rice packet, and a salad for dinner.
It was time to pay my Verizon bill too ($59.28).
Total spent: $59.28.
Breakfast and lunch were the same as Monday.
My fiancée and I attend a church group in uptown on Tuesday nights so we usually grab dinner somewhere after work. Lately we’ve been getting hibachi at Hasaki Grill ($30.38) before walking to the church.
Total spent: $30.38
As a Catholic, I observe the Ash Wednesday obligations of fasting and refraining from eating meat. I can only eat one full meal, so I skip breakfast and lunch and only drink coffee and water during the day provided by my office.
I love Lent because it’s an excuse to have PB&Js as an adult. I ate two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, leftover quinoa and brown rice, and an apple.
My fiancée and I booked our honeymoon and flights a couple of weeks ago on my credit card. My credit utilization is getting high, which negatively impacts my credit score, so I pay off my credit card ($4,084). Wedding planning is Jamaican’ us crazy (guess where we are going on our honeymoon)!
$3,300 of my credit card debt is from the honeymoon and flights so only about $700 is from eating out, grocery shopping, and other miscellaneous items, which is normal for me.
Total spent: $4,084.
Breakfast was the same boring toasted bagel with cream cheese, but I switched things up for lunch and went to Tijuana Flats with a coworker. They have a great deal on Thursdays where you can order a burrito bowl, chips, and a drink for $7.48.
I paid my HOA dues since it’s the first week of the month and tomorrow is pay day ($200).
I went to dinner at Chuy’s (Mexican again, but I love Mexican food so I didn’t mind) with my fiancée and the future in-laws. She and I shared fajitas for two and had a couple of drinks ($52).
Total spent: $259.48.
Pay day! I received my annual bonus in addition to my normal paycheck!
I didn’t eat breakfast today as I wasn’t hungry after eating a lot at Chuy’s the night before. Since it’s a Friday and it’s Lent, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, and homemade popcorn for lunch.
I heard Chick-Fil-A was bringing back their fish sandwich at select locations, so my fiancée and I tried to find a one close to our house that had fish sandwiches, but we were unable to find one. We settled for fish sandwiches at Bojangles ($11.53) which were okay, but it was no Chick-Fil-A fish sandwich.
I also filled up my car’s tank while we were out driving ($22.32).
Total spent: $33.85
I slept in on Saturday so I had a late breakfast of…you guessed it…toasted bagel and cream cheese. I finished the leftovers from Chuy’s for lunch. I ran errands today; dry cleaning ($15.02) and Sam’s Club ($43).
Total spent: $58.02
Weekly Total: $4,558.74
What I learned
I learned that I like Mexican food a little too much and I need to cut back on eating out so much. I also learned that wedding expenses will be the death of me! Just kidding…but not really. I had no idea how expensive weddings are! Based on average monthly spending and my current income, I estimate that I’ll be able to save more than my monthly savings goal in 2019. I feel really good about my finances and maybe I’ll make it in one piece to our wedding.
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