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 22-year-old who is fresh out of college with a degree in computer engineering. I’m engaged.
Industry and income?
I work on the technology side of banking, making $84,000.
For being right out of college, this feels pretty comfortable. If I had more experience in my area, I’d argue I should be making $90,000.
Putting anything into savings?
20 percent post-tax to savings, 5 percent post-tax to 401k.
Saving for anything specific?
The wedding is July 11, 2020, so a honeymoon will be shortly thereafter. We want to go to New Zealand or Australia, and those flights aren’t cheap.
Do your parents support you?
They currently pay for my phone bill, but I’ll be switching to my fiancé’s soon. They supported me through college (rent, food allowance, most tuition) and their largest gift was paying off $50,000 in student loans as my graduation present, but I made many payments on the loans while I was in school.
Most expensive night out recently?
We attended Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest celebration, and of course spent a whole day exploring Asheville, so that ended up being pretty expensive.
We spent $80 on breakfast. I think the Airbnb was $110 ($220 for the whole weekend). Then we bought beer in various places around Asheville; it probably amounted to $45. At Oktoberfest I drunkenly bought some limited edition socks ($12 and TOTALLY worth it), and of course a bunch of beer tickets for $50. Not to mention the Uber ride home was RIDICULOUS at $35 for a 4-mile drive, which only cost $8 on the way there. In total, we both spent probably $350 that day alone.
Most stressful thing about your financial situation?
My dad retired at 55, and I also want to retire early. I want to be able to enjoy the second half of my life without being stressed about bills, and I want to travel the world. I’m also always stressed about paying for college for my future children.
Top 3 financial goals?
1) Buy a home in five years.
2) Take an international vacation every year.
3) Purchase a sprinter van (or something similar) and trick it out so we can live in it for vacations. We lived out of my fiancé’s Chevy Colorado for five weeks in eastern Canada before moving to Charlotte, and we both want an upgrade.
I just try not to touch my savings account and think about “impulse” purchases for 24 hours before committing. I do track my spending through Mint, but I don’t adhere to my budget that well.
Once I have a bit more in my savings account, I’ll split my current savings allocation to 10 percent in a high-interest savings account and 10 percent in mutual funds or something similar.
Credit card strategy?
I use the Cash Rewards credit card from BofA and make sure my 3 percent category is strategic. Usually, it’s set to online shopping.
One thing you’d like to purchase that you can’t currently afford?
I’d really love a larger apartment. We could hypothetically afford it, but we would have to give up some of the things we really enjoy, like the Barkbox we get for our pupper.
Best purchase you made this month?
We spent $275 to become members of The Fitness Factory up in NoDa. We vowed to ourselves to drive up there every morning before work, and we have for four weeks straight! Definitely a good purchase.
Best and worst financial decisions?
Best: I spent $950 two years ago while I was in school to go to Spain for spring break to visit two friends who were studying abroad.
Worst: I continually tell myself when I have small grocery lists that I can go to Publix or Harris Teeter and not spend a bunch, instead of hitting up Aldi or Trader Joe’s. My bill at Publix or HT is always more than $100, regardless of what I go in looking for.
Where did you learn to manage your money?
My dad has always been good with money and growing up we never lived above our means. You wouldn’t know looking at our house or how aggressively my mom cuts coupons that they’ve got millions in the bank.
What do you consider “rich” in Charlotte?
Probably on the upwards of $125,000 pre-tax income. If I’m thriving on an income of $84,050 just fine then someone with more than that is probably pocketing and saving a whole bunch, or just living an incredibly lavish lifestyle.
Motivated by money?
Yes, but not really. I’m currently in a job I don’t entirely love — but the money motivates me to come to work every day. I’m also motivated by the fact that if I stay with this job for a couple of years, it’ll make it easy for us to move to Ireland for a few years due to the easy relocation process.
Ideal retirement age?
Ideally 50. I think based on my starting salary and the amount I’m saving, I should be on track to retire by 50 if I don’t have children. Since we want to have kids though, more realistically 55 if I hone in on my savings and make use of 529 accounts for future college expenses.
No. 1 piece of financial advice?
Meal prep lunch and dinner. You save so much money, and it’s generally healthier!
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.
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.