Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a 26-year-old assistant vice president’s $115k salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a 26-year-old assistant vice president’s $115k 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.

NEW! Want to be featured? Go take this new 28 question, anonymous survey. We’ve recently redone the survey to give participants more freedom to showcase their financial decisions and personality — without having to track weekly expenses. To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here


The basics

Gender: Male

Age: 26

Job: Assistant vice president at a financial company. I’ve also started a drone company and a digital agency (both side businesses for now).

Income: $115,000 base salary and a $10,000 bonus. Plus a projected $15,000-$20,000 from passive side businesses.

Living situation: I live with one other person in a South End townhouse.

Credit card: $0. I have 12 credit cards, all paid off. I mainly opened them for points when working in consulting. Still have a 786 credit score.

Student loans: $12,000. Paid my way completely through college so parents didn’t have to support me.

Car payment: $310, only four more to go before it’s paid off

The best thing I’ve ever spent money on: Virtual assistants to start outsourcing mundane tasks for my side hustles and various aspects of life

The most frivolous thing I’ve ever spent money on is: Going out three times a week when I first moved to Charlotte

One thing I’d love to buy that I haven’t been able to afford yet is: 2019 Aston Martin Vantage

If I won the lottery the first thing I’d do is: Pay off my parents’ houses and get them each a new car, buy a house on Lake Norman, and invest the rest in a variety of mixed assets.

If I had to show a friend the amount of money currently in my checking account I’d feel: Like I had to explain I don’t keep any money in checking because it all sits in mutual funds and high-yield checking accounts.

If money was no object, what would you buy? Paid off houses for each of my parents, my mom’s dream car (Cadillac XLR), a log cabin in the NC mountains for myself, and whatever it took to start my own endangered animal rescue. Also, given my love for exotic cars and having never been able to afford one, I’d probably throw a Lamborghini Huracan in there for good measure.

What’s the most expensive night out you’ve had lately? New Year’s Eve in Miami Beach last year. We bought a table at a club for $300 a person, plus tip and other expenses.

Who taught you about money management? My mom. She’s been a bookkeeper for various small blue-collar businesses my entire life.

Even to this day, she still goes to the bank each week to take out cash in very specific denominations so she can put them into different envelopes for different purposes. She also balances her checkbook weekly and is on top of her finances more than anyone I know!

What tools do you use for budgeting/tracking your spending? In college, I built a spreadsheet for estimating my expenses (including drinking) vs. student loan and grant “revenue” for the semester, calculating an estimated “end of semester savings” down to the dollar.

To this day, I still use that same spreadsheet as a way to track my personal balance sheet every month, as well as estimate monthly expenses and savings on a separate tab.

What’s your favorite purchase you’ve made under $500? Spending $400 on a specific Facebook ad campaign for my online courses, returning $2,000 in profit (on average) for every $400 we spent.

Granted, we had no idea we were going to return 5x on the ad spend, but you’ve got to spend money for the chance to make money. Learning the value of opportunity cost at an early age was one of the best pieces of knowledge I’ve ever gained.

The biggest expense in my life right now is _____? Eating out, without a doubt.

What’s one thing that the average American probably spends too much money on? Luxury, material goods they can’t really afford. Buying expensive cars (unless they’re a business write-off), designer clothes and bags, the latest greatest electronics (unless for work), or other material goods that rapidly depreciate.


Three financial goals

  1. Hit $250,000 net worth by 30
  2. Own three (one living, two rental) properties by 30
  3. Generate $3,000 a month in passive income by next year

How I spent my money this week

Monday

It was a typical Monday morning, walking to work and getting back to the grind. I spent $400 to pay for my personal trainer for the month. It’s not something I plan to do forever, but I’m using it to force myself to get in the mindset of consistent training.

I got coffee for free at my office and apartment, so $0 there. I spent $5 on a Rhino Market breakfast burrito, and then $8 for two Spicy Chicken sandwiches for lunch at Chick-fil-A.

For dinner, my girlfriend and I went to Hasaki Grill ($23). I typically eat dinner out on the nights I work out, since time is limited after work. I also have about two to three hours of side hustle work to do each night.

Total spent: $436

Tuesday

Another typical Tuesday at work, with a few extra expenses for gifts and my side companies mixed in. I spent $105 on a birthday present for my stepdad.

I spent $80 via Upwork for my offshore video editor in Pakistan to work on a client video (this is tax-deductible) and then $35 on Amazon for a new portable video light, which is also tax-deductible.

Again, got free coffee from work. My girlfriend cooked an egg scramble using her groceries, so that was free. Lunch was $8 for sushi.

For dinner, I spent $19 to grill two steaks and sides for dinner for two, then spent $300 on Facebook ads for a drone course that I teach (another tax-deductible expense).

Total spent: $547

Wednesday

This was a normal Wednesday in the office, but it ended up being a cheap day for food.

I spent $98 on my monthly cell phone bill.

For breakfast, I ate my remaining breakfast muffins from the previous day and spent $3 on groceries for lunch so I could make a burrito bowl at home.

I went to a work dinner at Let’s Meat (free)  and spent $130 for a new Patagonia work backpack (this is tax-deductible). Then I spent $495 on a new camera monitor for my video production business (also tax-deductible).

Total spent: $726

Thursday

Typically I walk home and cook lunch, but due to a busy day at work, I decided to treat myself to lunch and breakfast out today.

I spent $5 on a breakfast burrito from Rhino Market, but got free coffee at work. Lunch was a $13 poke bowl.

I booked two plane tickets to Europe for a trip in November using points gained from when I was a strategy consultant on the road. This cost me 110,000 Delta points ($1,100 equivalent) and then spent $495 to book an Airbnb in Paris for three nights.

Dinner was salmon, rice, and veggies for two at home ($12). 

Total spent: $512

Friday

I worked from home today, so that made my expenses a bit cheaper than other days of the week. I spent $2 cooking a scramble at home and got free coffee from my apartment. Lunch was a $4 sandwich I made, and then I spent $35 on dinner and beers for two at Seoul BBQ.

I spent $7 on Bird scooters to get to and from a four-hour side hustle working session at Coco and the Director after work.

Also, today’s payday! Of my bi-weekly paycheck $450 ($900 a month) goes into my Roth 401k, post-tax and $75 ($150 a month) goes into my HSA, pre-tax. First paycheck of the month goes into checking to cover any credit card spending, and the second one I move into a high-yield savings account immediately after it drops.

Total spent: $41

Saturday

I spent $3 cooking two scrambles at my house for breakfast.

Following this, I went to Not Just Coffee in South End for my usual “Saturday morning grind session” with one of my close friends who’s also building a new company in Charlotte.

We work from around 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. before going to enjoy our Saturdays. I spent $5 on oak milk latte at NJC.

I went to Sycamore Brewing with friends, where I spent $25. Then I paid $22 for two Publix subs eaten for lunch and dinner.

I also spent $400 on booking two nights in Brussels on my upcoming Europe trip and $35 for drinks for two at Merchant and Trade.

Total spent:$490

Sunday

I decided to have a lazy Sunday due to being so productive on Saturday.

I grabbed coffee in the morning, responded to some work emails, cleaned the house, and then headed off to Slate to enjoy the Panthers game.

I spent $8 on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and breakfast sandwiches and $42 at Slate for the Panthers game festivities and food at All American .

Then I spent $13 grilling wings at my apartment for dinner, with leftovers for lunch the next week.

Total spent: $63

Weekly total spent: $2,815


What I learned about my spending

Even with cooking half my meals at home, I still tend to spend more than I’d like to on food.

Having free coffee at my apartment and at work is also a major savings over time, compared to when I was spending nearly $100 a month on coffee.

Also, no longer needing to take Bird scooters to work (can walk now) saves me around $120 a month as well.


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.

NEW! Want to be featured? Go take this new 28 question, anonymous survey. We’ve recently redone the survey to give participants more freedom to showcase their financial decisions and personality — without having to track weekly expenses. To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here

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