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

One young banker is on the road to financial independence but wants to know how she can do better.

PNC’s Point of View editors asked an early career banker how she is working to achieve her financial goals. Here’s what she told us, and what our expert says she can do to achieve her goals.



Industry: Financial services

City: Pittsburgh

Yearly salary: $55,000

Savings: At least $500 per paycheck (biweekly) goes into savings.

Age: 23

Monthly Bills

Housing: $0 (currently living with parents, saving to move out comfortably)

Utilities: $0

Student loans: minimum payment $310 (extra monthly payments vary)

Car payments (including insurance): $405

Commute: $97 bus pass

Phone bill: $70 

Recurring charges:

  • Streaming services: $30
  • Gym: $22
  • Make-up subscription: $10
  • Bedroom furniture: $58 financed 0% APR for three years 

Credit card payments: I use my credit card for daily spending. In the past sixth months it’s averaged between $200-$700. I pay it off monthly.

Retirement accounts or other investments: $250/pay period (12%) to my 401(k)

Sushi on a plate with chopsticks

Financial Goals

Short-term goals:

  • Move into an apartment by my 24th birthday (fall 2018)

    • Save money for rent, utilities, groceries, living expenses, etc.

  • Establish an emergency fund

    • Estimated need: $6,500

Medium-term goals

  • Pay off student loans early – three years from now (which will be four years since I graduated)

  • Travel to new places annually

    • Estimated budget:

      • Domestic $750

      • International $2,500

Long-term financial goal:

Own a home at age 30


Money Diary: 7 days of spending


  • Weekly groceries: $25 (I only buy the food I want to have for work lunches, then my parents buy the remainder)

  • Breakfast at home: $0

  • Got soup and salad for lunch: $8

  • Donated to the Penn State Dance MaraTHON to help children fight cancer

    • $75 (annual expense)

  • Dinner at home: $0

Total spent: $108



  • Made breakfast and coffee at home: $0

  • Packed my lunch: $0

  • Parents made dinner: $0

Total spent: $0



  • Made breakfast and coffee at home: $0

  • Packed my lunch: $0

  • Bought a small bag of trail mix from the convenience store as a snack: $1

  • Dinner at home: $0

Total spent: $1



  • Made breakfast and coffee at home: $0

  • Packed my lunch: $0

  • Almost bought dinner out, but decided to save money and eat at home: $0

Total spent: $0



  • Made breakfast and coffee at home: $0

  • Packed my lunch: $0

  • Monthly payment: I bought a queen bed, dresser, and bedside table in October and financed it for 0% APR for three years with employee discount.

    • $58 due on the 18th of every month

  • Dinner was provided at a networking event: $0

Total spent: $58



  • Made breakfast at home: $0

  • Usually buy coffee on Fridays as a treat: $2.50

  • Bought lunch: $12 (sushi and salad)

  • Payday: transferred $500 to savings and $300 to credit card bill, left remainder of paycheck in checking account for upcoming bills

Total spent: $314.50



  • Filled up my car’s gas tank: $28

  • Studied for the CFP exam at a book store

    • Got a latte and cashier talked me into buying fresh cookies: $6.50

  • Pizza for dinner: $9

  • Bought a 6-foot phone charger: $5

  • Family’s phone bill: $70 (I cover unlimited data and line access while my mom pays off the phone itself)

Total spent: $118.50



What I learned: I think I am on track to meet my financial and savings goals. I would love to lower my monthly credit card spending.

What PNC expert Kathleen Perko says: This person is well aware of her discretionary spending and keeps her goals in mind as she weighs whether to buy something. It’s fantastic that she pays off her credit card every month. Two things that may help her reach her goals on deadline: she should determine the specific dollar amount of what it will cost to do things like move into an apartment, then use online tools such as auto transfer to save money each paycheck for that particular goal. The second thing she could do is track her credit card spending for a few months to figure out her average monthly payment and set a budget for that payment so she’s not encountering such a wide fluctuation on how much she spends. But overall, she is definitely doing a great job of managing her money.



Want to know more about managing your money? »


Real Cash Chronicle

Kathleen Perko, PNC regional manager for the Charlotte, N.C. market, says the more strategic you can be about meeting your financial goals, the better. Using online tools such as auto transfer and wish lists can make it easier.

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