Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a combined $123,000 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. 

To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here. If you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email Kylie at kylie@charlotteagenda.com.

This week, I spoke with a couple in their early 30s who make a combined $123,000 a year. Here’s how they spend their money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry:
Him – Energy and Utilities
Her – Higher Education
Position:
Him – Mechanical Engineer
Her – Administrator
Salary: 
$123,000 combined
Who do you bank with and why?
Him – Bank of America (checking and savings), American Express Personal Savings. When I moved to Charlotte, Bank of America was easy to sign up for. For additional savings and my emergency fund, I use American Express, which has a much higher interest rate than my Bank of America account.
Her – USAA and Charlotte Metro. I’ve had USAA for years. I signed up with Charlotte Metro to have the convenience of a local brick-and-mortar bank.
Savings:
Him – I contribute 6% to my 401k to maximize my company’s match, I max out my Roth IRA and I put about $360 per month into a cash savings as a general emergency fund/new car fund. When I am lucky enough to have a significant surplus in my savings, I contribute to a couple of index funds. I am fortunate enough to be totally debt free.
Her – I have a mandatory ~5% pension contribution. I have a fully stocked three-month emergency fund, so I have stopped putting money into savings and instead I throw about 50% of my take home pay towards debt. I have $23,000 in federal student loans and $7,000 in a car loan.
Ages: 30 and 31

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $995
Roommates: 0 (each other?)
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Utilities (Electric and Internet): $120 – $140
Student loans: $261.86
Car payment: $1,000 (The minimum payment is only $199, but she’s trying to pay down her debt)
Car insurance: $171
Transportation costs: $160
Netflix/Hulu/Amazon: $24.89
Cell phone: $80/month
Gym: $38
Health Insurance: $450
Renter’s Insurance: $13.33

Money Diary: How we spent our money last week

Day one: Sunday

10 a.m. Weekly grocery run. We buy for pretty much all of our meals that we plan on making that week. Harris Teeter was having some big discounts on meat so we stock up to save money on future grocery runs ($118.87). We pick up a prescription at the pharmacy while we’re here. $15

2 p.m. After a brunch at home, we hop on our bikes to check out Open Streets 704 and come across Wich Cream Charlotte, a new ice cream sandwich cart. $6

Open Streets

3 p.m. Staying on the bikes, we run a couple errands. We hit Trader Joe’s for coffee ($13.25) and Savory Spice Shop ($12.90), ending at Lenny Boy. Using Bike Benefits gets us each three 3oz pours of kombucha free (excellent Bike Benefits!) and also grab a short pour of a new IPA. $5.71

8 p.m. Game of Thrones viewing party at a friend’s house. We contribute a few ingredients for dinner, purchased during the grocery run this morning.

Total: $171.73

Day two: Monday

8 a.m. Every morning he makes coffee for both of us. We both eat breakfast at work. Him: oatmeal and yogurt. Her: yogurt with protein powder and fruit.

12 p.m. We both brown bag it on the regular. Deli meat and cheese, carrots, hummus… Snacks of fruit, cheese sticks and trail mix throughout the day.

6:30 p.m.  A Saturday movie night was postponed until today. Our movie friend is moving soon, so we try to see him as much as possible. Dinner at Jasmine Grill ($28.78) and two tickets for Keanu at Regal Phillips Place ($21.22).

Total: $50

Day three: Tuesday

8 a.m.  She’s working from home (which means an ungodly amount of coffee will be consumed). Breakfasts are the same as yesterday.

11 a.m. He’s almost out of hair product, so he makes a quick Amazon purchase. Pro-tip: if you don’t need it right away, Amazon’s delayed shipping will give you a digital purchase credit. $11.49

12 p.m. His lunch is a repeat of yesterday. She puts away some leftover chicken curry from this weekend.

7 p.m. We’re pretty much out of paper towels so he make a Target run on the way home from work. He also grab some face wash and a Coke Zero. $19.04

8 p.m. Dinner is leftover biryani (him) and a DIY burrito bowl (her). He finds a Groupon for the Diamond! The Diamond is great and in the neighborhood so these will come in handy. Plus the fine print seems to indicate alcohol is allowed… $25.00

8:30 p.m. – He does two loads of laundry in our apartment complex’s facilities. $7.00

Total: $62.53

Day four: Wednesday

8 a.m. Repeat breakfast. Nothing to see here.

12 p.m. She has the same lunch as Monday. He forgot his lunch and heads to Harris Teeter to grab a few things to eat. He also grabs pretzel rolls for dinner. $7.71

7:30 p.m. He gets a beer with friends after the NoDa Brewing Run. Went with the Mother Shucker, one of his favorites. $7.00

8 p.m. Dinner time! Sausages and sauerkraut have been slow cooking all day and it smells delicious. We eat it with the pretzel rolls while watching Hap and Leonard.

Total: $14.71

Day five: Thursday

8 a.m. Breakfast as usual.

12 a.m. Lunch as usual. Gosh, we’re so exciting!

8 a.m. He uses a Chipotle coupon for a free burrito bowl. She has another DIY burrito bowl and isn’t jealous, nope. Not at all. $0

Chipotle

Total: $0

Day six: Friday

8:30 a.m. His Friday morning ritual is picking up pastries before work. He grabs a buñuelo and a pandebono from Mi Tierra, a Colombian restaurant and bakery close to his office ($2.82). She has no such rituals. Yogurt and fruit again.

Pastries

12 p.m. Lunch as per usual.

1 p.m.  His watch died earlier this week, so he stops in a Batteries Plus to pick up a new battery.  $4.28. Since he’s in the area he stops in at Total Wine and picks up a mix 12 pack of beer. $21.44

2 p.m. He scheduled a haircut for today. Used bike benefits to get 10% off from Salon 1226. $36.50

6 PM – Tire pressure light came on in his car. Pulled into 7-11 to get some air.  $1.00

9 PM – He’s had a gift card for Village Tavern sitting around forever, so we treat ourselves to a nice dinner. Two entrees, dessert and plenty of wine (without the gift card this is well outside our budget). $21.46

Village Tavern

Total: $87.50

Day seven: Saturday

8 a.m. He gets out of bed early for a 10 mile run. She walks to the NoDa Farmer’s Market to poke around. She was told they have goats, but has yet to see one. 🙁 We meet back up and drive to Las Delicias. A groupon deal means we leave with an excess of baked goods. Perfect for after a long morning run.  $0.83

2:30 p.m. After a brunch of pan de queso and coffee, we head out on our bikes. We grab two beers from Birdsong and use our Bike Benefits sticker (1 free 12oz pour per sticker) $0, but we leave a $2.00 tip.

Birdsong

3 p.m. He’s realized just how much he underestimated his food intake this morning and is getting hangry really fast. He grabs some food from Tiger Yakitori, the food truck at Birdsong today. The fries are pretty incredible. $7.75

4 p.m. Finally use an old, expired Groupon to Pure Pizza at the 7th Street Market. We split a Deconstructed BBQ pizza. $2.94

5 p.m. We had tickets to the Charlotte Roller Girls bout, so we head to Grady Cole. $0

8 p.m. We head to VBGB for a friend’s birthday party. We both grab a beer. $15.00

Total: $28.52

Total spent: $414.99
Breakdown:
Food and drink – $301.37
Entertainment – $21.22
Health/Personal Care – $69.41
Home – $17.71
Other – $5.28
What we learned:
Him
: A couple of months ago I began budgeting my spending (I use Mint) and it has made a huge impact in my impulse buys. This time last year, the money spent on stuff like takeout, beer and clothes would’ve been much higher. Doing this diary also made me think about why I bank with Bank of America. I don’t really have a reason, pro or con, I just always have. That’s something I’m going to have to think about further. And every time I buy paper towels (we go through them quickly) I think about how I need to cut back on that waste.
Her: I really enjoyed doing this diary with my boyfriend because it made us look at our spending habits together. I’ve been keeping a budget for about five years, so there were no startling revelations for me. The bulk of our money goes to food and drinks. That’s not surprising. Looking at this past week makes me realize just how much we utilize Groupons and Bike Benefits. (But if anyone knows where I can hug a baby goat, please let me know!)

___

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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.