Cash Confessional: What are they doing right – and wrong?

Cash Confessional: What are they doing right – and wrong?
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Our Cash Confessional series takes an anonymous look into how people of all ages and incomes spend their money in the span of seven days. If you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email

Lauren A. Woodruff is the Charlotte Market Manager at Bank of America, where she and her team are responsible for community relations, business development and employee engagement in Charlotte. Below, she’s weighing in on individual Cash Confessionals to give tips for smarter saving and spending.

Lauren Woodruff

Lauren Woodruff

Financial advice for your peers? Pay attention to how you are spending money on the weekends – it can really add up and you won’t have much to show for it.

#1 financial goal right now? I have a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old, so we are writing huge checks to daycare and saving for retirement and college.

#1 saving tip? I need everything automated in my life. Automatic drafts, e-bills and online saving tools are crucial to save for college and pay bills on time.

Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $48,000 salary

I’m a 28-year-old male and work as a junior web developer focusing on mobile app development. I just started this new path and previously worked in media production as a video editor. My current work is contract/project-based. Before taxes I make roughly $3,000 to $4,000 a month. Extra income includes my Airbnb, occasional photo editing, and assistant photographer work for weddings. Occasionally, my dad calls and needs some manual labor for his heating and cooling business, so I’ll take a day off from web development to get outside and make a couple hundred bucks.

Two weeks ago I decided to pay off all debt by 30, so I’ve been motivated to take measures to get there. Basically, that means no unnecessary purchases until my debt is paid off.

Lauren’s feedback: Overall, his spending habits are on-point and balanced. I love that he uses Airbnb and other projects for extra income. This can really add up, especially if you consider opportunities online like Shuttershock to sell photos, and not just edit them. The goal to pay off all debt by 30 also deserves a round of applause, but it is good to consider the pros and cons of paying down debt or saving for the future – this is a good Debt vs. Savings guide that will take 5 minutes to read.

Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $36,388 salary

Industry: Mental health
Occupation: Emergency service/human service clinician
Salary: $36,388
Bank: Bank of America, because my parents bank there.
Age: 27
Gender: Female

Lauren’s feedback: First, thank you for being a customer! And kudos to the fiancés, hairdressers and brides in your life that cover so many expenses… even buying you a dog. But, you know where I am going next. Paying your bill on time is super important to avoid the late fees and negative marks on your credit report. Credit can seem confusing, but there are really only 4 things you should know about credit in your 20s.


Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $64,000 salary

Industry: Currently working for a large plumbing supply retailer
Occupation: Compensation Analyst
Salary: $64,000
Bank: I actually still bank with my hometown bank, Union First. There are no local branches in Charlotte. I should probably open an account with Bank of America… maybe.
Age: 27
Gender: Female

Lauren’s feedback: Yes, you SHOULD open an account at Bank of America. Give me a call when you are ready. In terms of monthly expenses, it’s great that you don’t have student loans or a car payment. For most people in their 20s this is not the case, and paying for school and buying a car are hot topics. When you donated to a nonprofit on Tuesday, did you consider a matching gift from your employer or making a list of charitable contributions throughout the year? This can really add up and can be important at tax time.

Story: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $33,000 salary

What I learned: I already knew that majority of my money goes to drinks or food, so that wasn’t really a surprise. I also noticed I usually start off well towards the beginning of the week but once the weekend comes I feel like I’m just throwing money around. I love spending time with my friends and experiencing all Charlotte has to offer, but I think with my limited income it would be beneficial to start looking into free (or at least cheaper) activities. That, or try to find someone to start buying me drinks!

Lauren’s feedback: Great use of coupons and rewards and there were two days during the week where she spent less than $10. Even with those discounts, you can end up spending more on food and drinks than you planned. Good news is that you are not alone – Millennials spend an average of 43% of their food budgets dining out, so choosing the restaurant and menu items carefully can make a big difference. See you how compare to other age brackets.

Can’t get enough saving? Up your financial savvy with Better Money Habits.

(Note: This content was co-created with Bank of America.)

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