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 or fill out our Survey Monkey.
Industry: I work in healthcare and my husband owns an cyber security firm. I also started my own healthcare consulting company that I do on the side.
Income: My 9 to 5 is $65,000 annually and my consulting income is $50,000 annually. My husband makes $120,000 a year. We have a rental property but all income made from it is saved in an account in case we need anything for the house. It’s there, but we don’t count it in our income.
Are you putting anything into savings? $500 into our savings account per month, $200 to IRA
Living situation: Two adults and two kids, ages 3 and 11
Neighborhood: Charlotte, but outside of uptown, closer to Belmont
Mortgage: $1,811 a month with a $200 a month extra premium payment. The rental property mortgage is $930 a month with an extra $200 a month premium payment.
Credit card debt: $0, we put everything we can on our cards and pay it off every month so we never are charged interest and get the cash back or miles.
Car payment: One car paid off, $700 for my SUV. Payment is in the $600s, but we round up to pay extra
Student loan debt: $0, we both had academic scholarships that covered at least 75 percent of our tuition for undergrad, the rest we paid for as we went. My husband is finishing his Master’s this fall, but we have paid cash for each of his classes as he started them. It’s $2,500 every eight weeks (two-year program ending in December 2019). I plan on going back to school but I have to wait my turn. It would be too costly for us to go to school at the same time.
Extra costs: With two kids there are always extra costs — food, gas, driving them places, eating out is more, entertainment (movies, etc.) costs more. Everything is just more.
Extra money spent: Since we are self-employed for part of our income, we have to save 30 percent of anything coming in to pay quarterly taxes. We hold that in a separate savings account so we have the money ready when it’s time to send that check to the IRS.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever spent money on?
House cleaner. Time is valuable and having the extra help is incredible ($80 bi-weekly). This would be excessive to many people, but we will gladly skip eating out a few times a month to cover this expense.
What’s the most frivolous thing you spend money on?
Kid stuff, especially holiday outfits for them. I buy them shirts for each holiday and jammies for Halloween and Christmas that are monogrammed (my husband answered this question, I stand by my holiday purchases!)
What’s the biggest expense in your life right now?
Daycare! It’s not our highest bill when compared to our mortgage, but a month of daycare costs the equivalent of a mortgage payment, $274 a week = $1,096 month.
How would you feel if you had to show a friend your checking account?
Fine. It’s not crazy-high, but enough to cover our expenses and have some wiggle room. Any surplus goes in savings for the better interest rate.
If money was no object, what would you buy?
We would take our kids to different countries to experience different cultures.
What’s one thing you’d like to buy that you haven’t been able to afford yet?
We want to add a large deck on the back of our house, but we don’t want to finance the project and end up paying more because of interest. We are waiting until paying cash is an easy option. It could be this year or it could be a few years, depends on what else we might want to do.
Would you rather show a friend your savings account or your Google search history?
Google search history. Talking about money can be awkward with friends and our search history is extremely boring (recipes, kid stuff, work…)
In general, Americans spend too much on:
Various subscriptions like premium TV channels, music, food prep boxes, etc. Basically anything in life has a subscription or recurring product you can have delivered. We have tried a few things over the years and it adds up so fast each month!
Three financial goals:
- Pay off mortgages
- Retirement planning
- Home improvement projects
How we spent our money this week
We drove back from a weekend work event/conference for my job and stopped for breakfast along the way. We paid $25.32 in gas and $1.25 for the toll. Breakfast was $35.88.
Total spend: $62.45
I picked up groceries that should cover us until Friday. For many of our meals this week I had some of the ingredients already, so this was my lowest grocery purchase in months. A typical grocery pick-up is $150-$200 per week. I do use home shop from Harris Teeter, which I pay my yearly $100 fee for in January. We spent $113.75 on groceries (I scanned the receipt into Ibotta and got a $1 credit), plus $274 on daycare for the week.
Total spend: $387.75
I had to work in another city where my company is based ($38.89), so I needed gas. Husband was on kid duty and had to take the youngest to tee-ball. He got him Chick-fil-A ($12.36) for dinner. We were out of pull-ups for overnight and the store was out of the correct size so we got a small pack ($8.26 at Target, and used the Cartwheel app and saved $1.) We also spent $4.00 on coffee and $27.47 on gas for my husband’s car.
Total spend: $90.98
We ran out of milk and needed some other odds and ends from the store. We grabbed milk, a bigger box of pull-ups, sheets for our guest bed and some home decor ($120.49). It was Target and I actually had some time to be in there and look around, so I spent more than I should. I had a break in calls for work so my husband and I went to lunch and finished work at People’s Market ($38.00) before getting the youngest from daycare. We had coffee while we were there ($14.00).
Total spend: $172.49
This could’ve been a no-spend day, but daycare called and our son was sick. We were out of children’s liquid Tylenol. Usually he will take the chewables, but not today. I had to run to the pharmacy and also grabbed some ice cream while I was there. Long day! Spent $14.52.
I had to take my son to the ER Thursday night. Spending wise I didn’t pay anything at that moment, but when that bill comes in I’m sure it will be a few hundred dollars or more. We have a $5,000 deductible and are healthy, so it’s barely been touched. Luckily we have an HSA account, but with putting braces on my older child earlier this year there’s not much left in that account.
Total spend: $14.52
I had to drive to another city for work. I spent $8.68 at Starbucks for breakfast. Then I went to lunch with a coworker ($15.38). I got back to Charlotte late, so I picked up dinner from Johnnie B’s in Belmont ($25.00).
Total spend: $49.06
Got an email that my rewards points from Carter’s were expiring, so I ordered one set of pajamas in a size for next year for my son and cashed out the rewards ($.20). We stayed home all day relaxing after a busy week.
Total spend: $.20
Weekly total spend: $686.47
What we learned
It’s so easy to spend $100 in a day! Through doing this, we spoke daily about our purchases and it’s eye-opening how I’m the designated “spender” (groceries, essentials, etc.) for the family and how easy it would be for both of us to put ourselves in financial trouble if we didn’t communicate and both thought we had that role. We probably won’t continue talking daily about our purchases, but definitely more often during the week so we don’t overspend or duplicate the other’s work/purchases.
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