Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a combined $123,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a combined $123,000 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 Lauren at or fill out our Survey Monkey.

The basics

Age: Her, 25. Husband, 28.


Industry: She works in manufacturing finance, he’s an attorney.

Salary: She makes $71,000 with the potential for a bonus. He makes $52,000.

Additional income: They rent their basement out for $750/month.

Living situation: The couple, their daughter, and a roommate, living in Ballantyne.

Mortgage: $2,000

Car payment: $690

Student loan debt: Mine is currently $43,629 and my husband’s is $197,383, however $170k of his is eligible for PSLF forgiveness if he continues to work for the government for 8 more years.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever spent money on? We both agree our educations. We both have graduate degrees and my husband has a JD. We would not have our careers if we didn’t pay for our education. Also, I have no regrets paying for my epidural. Having a baby hurts like crap.

What’s the most frivolous thing you’ve ever spent money on? A leather Kate Spade moto jacket. Gorgeous, but totally unnecessary. I wear it all the time though.

If you had to show a friend your checking account you would feel: Hesitant. We do very well for our age, I often feel like we are the “rich” friends, even though we save a lot of money, cook most of our meals, and spend a lot of time at home. I don’t like for people to know how well I’m doing, especially since we pay a ton in student loans.

Would you rather show a friend your checking account or your Google search history? Checking account.

If money was no object, what’s one thing you would spend it on? Pay off our loans, mortgage, etc. Make sure my daughter can go to college or follow her dream, and then I would buy a farm and fill it with rescue dogs.

One thing I’d love to buy but haven’t been able to afford yet is: A Tesla. I’m sure this is a pipe dream for when our student loans are paid off, but that’s how I’ll know I’ve made it. My husband says a giraffe. Which could be fine if our HOA allowed it.

Three financial goals:

  1. Pay off all non-PSLF eligible student loans
  2. Live off one salary
  3. Save for my daughter’s future

The expenses


I usually grab breakfast and coffee at home and eat in the car, but I was running late for work because my kid had an… accident as I was trying to get her dressed for the day. After daycare drop off I drove to work and bought lunch in our cafeteria. I got fruit, a hardboiled egg, plain Greek yogurt and a coffee. $3.27. I’m very lucky my work cafeteria is inexpensive and has some decent options.

I took my lunch. Not very exciting, but we meal prep like 40 meals at a time and stick them in the freezer. Quick and easy. I ate at my desk and started ordering things for my daughter’s Easter basket from Amazon. A Little Tikes swing, baby sunscreen and some teething toys. She won’t care about them and I swore I wouldn’t be this extra, but here I am. The total was $42.39.

I browse through reviews for sundresses and bathing suits to fit my new mom bod on our upcoming vacation, but don’t buy anything just yet. I need to get gas on my way home. That ran me $31.94 even with my Harris Teeter fuel points of 10 cents off a gallon. Gas prices are creeping up quickly. Dinner is with my husband after we get the baby down to sleep. We heat up frozen prepped meals, mine was chicken, green beans and sweet potatoes.


I grabbed breakfast and coffee and had it in the car between daycare drop off and work. I was very tempted to stop at Starbucks since there’s one in Stonecrest and the Promenade, which are both on my way, but I resisted. I usually only let myself have Starbucks twice a month, and have been saving it for a morning I can actually savor it. Weekly daycare charge auto-drafts today. It’s $250, which is a steal for a 5-star facility in Ballantyne. The normal rate is $320 a week but we fell into a very fortunate “right place right time” situation.

I take my lunch again today and eat at my desk. My federal student loans auto-draft today, that’s $92.84. My husband’s federal student loans draft today, that’s $469.33. I try not to think about these because there’s not much I can do about them, just gotta keep paying them. We eat a frozen meal and workout in the garage gym after bath time, book and bed.

We go through our closet to start our semi-annual purge. We make piles to list certain things on Poshmark and eBay. This helps us keep things fresh and recoup costs of buying new things. We generally make a few hundred dollars when we do this once or twice a year.


Breakfast and coffee at home. I dropped my ceramic coffee thermos in the driveway and it shatters, so I drink the free stuff in my office. I order a new ceramic mug on Amazon. I want to personalize one with a picture of my three dogs, but decide to buy a cheap one since I’ll likely drop it or leave it some place. I spent $7.86 on Amazon.

Lunch catered at the office for a meeting. I ate a grilled chicken salad.

I stop at Trader Joe’s before daycare pickup to grab something nice for dinner. On Wednesdays we like to spend time together and have a nicer dinner. It’s something we started a while ago. I pick up steak, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, an onion, bottle of wine, a toothbrush, some cool face scrub that smells like fruit, baby applesauce pouch things, bananas and some frozen Indian food. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be at $41.58. I considered going back for more wine…lol.


Breakfast at home. Purchased coffee at work because my new mug wasn’t here yet, and I couldn’t deal with the free, burnt break room coffee. It was $.85. Brought my lunch from home. I’m bored with it, but ate at my desk.

I went to Target on my lunch hour because we needed an ironing board. I got the cheapest standard-sized one, an individual serving of mini Cadbury eggs, Clorox wipes, Native deodorant, some bunny ears so I can continue to be extra with my spawn since Easter is coming up, large plastic Easter eggs, dog treats, cat litter, a men’s pack of underwear for my husband, and I tried on some bras. I spent $57.84. I had some discounts on the Target circle app and used my Red Card that’s attached to my debit card for a 5 percent discount.

We eat the second steak for dinner from last night and cook more Brussels sprouts. We make rice since we finished the sweet potato last night. We talk about ordering a rowing machine for the garage, but I’m just not ready to spend $900-plus on the one we really want. We decide to wait and see where we are after we get the credit cards paid off.


I’ve worked a ton this week already, so I decide to sit in Starbucks a while after daycare drop-off. I savor my ridiculous drink, a venti iced vanilla bean coconut latte (try it) and people watch for a bit while checking emails from my laptop. My drink total with tip was $6. I used the app where we put all the gift cards from Christmas, so I didn’t really spend money. I spend some time reimbursing myself from my dependent care FSA I have at work, I submit my daycare receipt from this week and request $250 back from my account.

I start looking into flights for an upcoming work trip and head into the office around 9 a.m. I brought lunch, but am not really feeling it today. I stick my lunch in the freezer at the office for Monday and go get Mexican with my counterpart. It’s so satisfying. $11.93. Autopay to Atrium hit today from Labor and Delivery. $258. Thank goodness for payment plans and HSAs, but the total bill was around $5,500 after insurance kicked in. Kids are expensive. For dinner, we DoorDash PeiWei. I try to be healthy and get the cauliflower rice. I had regrets. $29.67.


I got up early to run before everyone was awake and then we made breakfast at home. We paid the gas and water bills this morning. That was $208.63. Our water bill is RIDICULOUS from Carolina Water Service. It’s way more than we ever spent when we lived in SouthPark, which is on city water.

We make a grocery list and head to Sprouts around 11 am. We get our small item groceries for the week and a bunch of baby pouches. $74.12.

We go home and veg for the rest of the day. Rent “Hulk” on Fandango Now for $2.99 since we are watching all the Marvel movies in sequential order. We invite some friends over and I run out to get a couple bottles of wine. They had a sale on two for $9, so I figured I’d give it a try and then bought another random bottle that was a bit more expensive. $22.83.


We did our monthly Sam’s club trip. These are always huge. Once we are there we buy two rotisserie chickens, two containers of formula (deciding to stop breastfeeding for my mental health was an expensive choice, unfortunately), two bags of dog food, one bag of cat food, diapers and a random assortment of other things so we can prep meals. We noticed a Honda lawn mower for $299 and ours has kicked the bucket so we thought about it this trip, but decided to wait until next week when he gets paid again. Trip total was $278.57.

We went for a run later and I stopped into CVS to buy a water bottle. $1.04 I ordered some things off Amazon for vacation. If I hate them I can always return them. $59.40

Total spent: $1,960.08

What we learned

I learned that I’m a little free with money with it comes to purchases under $50. Also, that I’m a sucker for buying baby stuff.

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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