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. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
PARTICIPATE: 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.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a 29-year-old, married college graduate. My husband and I rent and the cost is $1,414 per month.
We’d love to move into a townhouse next. We have a big dog and would love more square footage for him to shed on.
Industry and income?
I work at a marketing agency. I’m in sales so it’s variable. Last year, I made $87,000.
I’m paid pretty on-par with industry standard. I would love either a higher base pay or a higher percentage of commission, but to be honest, my company is amazing and the quality of life I can maintain with them is worth a percentage differential from my peers.
I go to work happy, and I’m able to leave and be done with it.
Putting anything into savings?
Yup. We aim to keep our joint account at a certain balance. Anything in excess at the end of the month goes into savings.
Previously I put $500 each month into savings automatically, but we have a new system because marriage and compromise or whatever. I also have a Roth IRA.
Saving for anything specific?
We do micro-savings! We have several categories (truck modifications, new tattoos, travel, misc.) that we dedicate a chunk of cash to each month until we reach the specific goal and can pay for that thing in cash.
We’re saving for a new vehicle for my husband now.
Do your parents support you?
My parents paid for college, which was a #blessing. I’m also still on their car insurance.
Don’t @ me Boomers, I’ve offered to pay them. They can’t figure out Venmo.
Most expensive night out this month?
Let me set the scene: Me, a newlywed who has moved to a new apartment and has a low-stress job and time to kill walks into an Ikea armed with a $500 gift card and a spreadsheet of the items I want for my apartment.
My husband is blissfully unaware at work. The world is my Swedish oyster.
I used the entire gift card plus $150 of my own monies. I have zero regrets and very little shame. And lots of new throw pillows.
Most stressful thing about your financial situation?
While I don’t have any debt, my husband is a healthcare practitioner, and it turns out education ain’t cheap. We overpay on his student loans, so the monthly payments we make range from $2,025-$4,000 each month.
We’ve dedicated his entire salary to paying off his loans, so we live off of my salary. Because we budget and are proactive, this isn’t necessarily stressful, but it does mean putting some other financial goals on hold.
Top 3 financial goals?
- Pay off my husband’s student loans
- Pay off my vehicle
- Start saving for a home
We have a spreadsheet we work off of. We do monthly and weekly forecasting and talk through purchases over $50.
We tithe at church. The amount is variable depending on our paychecks, but it’s 10 percent of our collective monthly take-home.
My husband and I meal prep weekly. At most we eat out a maximum of one to two times per week. We have a pretty detailed system down for grocery shopping/meal prep. We save hundreds this way.
Lol investing, that’s cute.
Credit card strategy?
I have a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card that my husband and I use as our primary because of the rewards.
Travel experiences are our favorite things to invest in, so the flight points are conducive to our financial goals.
One thing you’d like to purchase that you can’t currently afford?
I’d love to make some modifications to my truck. In a dream world, I’d add a new grill, steel bumpers, get it lifted, add running boards…
Best purchase you made this month?
$15 gloves from Amazon that I use in CrossFit.
My hands were ripping and bleeding all the time from bar work and I was over it.
Best and worst financial decisions?
Worst: It’s not a single decision. I just spent most of my early 20s living right at what I made rather than below my means, so I wasn’t proactively saving, investing, or learning about my finances. I’m lucky not to have out-spent myself and gotten into debt, but I wish I had educated myself sooner and set up healthy habits years ago.
Where did you learn to manage your money?
Myriad of places. My parents, some self-education, some hard-earned lessons, and my bruh Dave Ramsey.
What do you consider rich in Charlotte?
LAWD I don’t know. That’s a loaded question.
In a lot of ways, I feel “rich” because I can afford an apartment, car, groceries, food, and experiences. In most places that would put me in a higher bracket than I might socially consider myself.
I have never once had to debate between getting groceries or putting gas in my car to go to work. That feels like wealth, no?
Motivated by money?
No. Even though I’m in a sales role, and yes I love to hit goals and am excited when I pass certain benchmarks, it doesn’t keep me going.
I don’t even track my commission or meticulously measure how much each deal is worth or anything like that. I’m not totally immune to it, of course. I like making money! I just don’t want to idolize it.
I’m motivated by an innate desire to do a job with excellence. To contribute to the partnership of my marriage and to be able to afford to see and do things with my husband, friends, and family.
Plus, someone has to afford my dog’s bougie Trader Joe’s treats.
Ideal retirement age?
Retirement sounds dreadfully boring. I hope I’m always up to something.
#1 piece of financial advice?
Live. Below. Your means.
It’s easy to overspend to hit some proverbial benchmark you think is being set around you, but the reality is you have no idea what saving — or unhealthy spending — habits your peers are practicing.
You’ll know quickly who is going to be vulnerable and honest and support you in your financial goals versus who is going to call you lame for not grabbing drinks all the time or going on that big trip you can’t actually afford.
That being said, build in room to invest in your friendships.
Your life WILL look different than those with different goals or habits around you. Learn to be okay with that and when people social shame you because you’re passing on a night out, have them over for dinner instead to show them you are invested in the friendship.
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.
PARTICIPATE: 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.