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Real Cash Chronicle: Here’s How I Spend, Save and Invest

One couple at the beginning of their careers have defined short- and long-term goals.

PNC’s Point of View editors asked an early careerist how she and her husband spend, save and invest their money. They shared their goals with us and kept a spending diary for one week. Here’s what they discovered. And here’s what our expert says they can do to help achieve their goals.



Industry: Risk management

City: Pittsburgh

Yearly salary: $60,000, combined $125,000

Savings: $20,000

Age: 23

Monthly Bills (total for couple)

Housing: $2,000

Utilities: $200

Student loans: None

Car payments (including insurance): $550

Parking: $220

Phone bill: $40

Recurring charges (Streaming services, newspapers, gym membership, etc.): $125

Credit card payments: None – we use cash

Retirement accounts or other investments: $15K in savings and approximately $15K in a retirement account

Financial goal(s): Pay off the remainder of my car loan by the end of 2018 (currently owe $12,000) 


Money Diary: 7 Days of Spending


Today we went to church (tithe $100) with friends then went out to lunch ($30). We spent the rest of the day running errands. We went to Home Depot ($60). Then we went to Target to get groceries ($97) and gas ($60).

Total spent: $347

Grocery basket full of plants

We went to work then came home and made dinner. During the day, picked up coffee ($1).

Total spent: $1

We went to work then came home and made dinner with the groceries from Sunday’s shopping trip.

Total spent: $0

We went to work. I went out to lunch ($17) and then made dinner at home.

Total spent: $17

We went to work then made dinner at home.

Total spent: $0

We went to work then went to visit family. We bought a plant for relatives ($30) and picked up coffee on the way ($3).

Total spent: $33

We spent the day with family. After that, I went to the store and bought a shirt ($16).

Total spent: $16



What I learned:

Through this activity, I learned that we spend the majority of our money on the weekend. The biggest expense, outside of our monthly bills, is our grocery bill. I didn’t realize how little we spend during the week – which was very nice to see. I did feel more cautious about spending money knowing that I was keeping a diary of our expenses.

What PNC expert Kathleen Perko says:

I love how this couple is aware of how much they are spending during the week. Making dinner and avoiding buying expensive lunches every day is a good start. One suggestion for making wise use of a grocery budget is to track food expenses for at least four weeks, then figure out the average so the amount is known on an ongoig basis. Finally, I think it’s great they have a specific time frame for paying off the car loan. It is important to make sure the monthly payment will add up to the remaining balance so  the goal can be met by their deadline.


Learn more about managing your money »

Real Cash Chronicle

Kathleen Perko, PNC regional manager for the Charlotte, N.C. Market, says if you want to use a credit card wisely, charge everyday purchases and pay off the full balance each month. That way, you get the rewards, including cash back, depending on your card, without paying interest. 

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