Jul 7, 2016 - Money

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $42,000 salary

km skyline romare bearden cash confessional

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 [email protected].

This week, I spoke with a 30-year-old woman who makes $42,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Healthcare in a smaller hospital with about 20 locations in Charlotte and the surrounding area.
Position: Optician
Yearly salary: $42,000
Extra income: I refinish furniture as a hobby and resell it for a profit.
Who do you bank with and why? Bank of America. I’ve had an account there for 14 years now.
Savings: $30 per month goes into my 401(k).
Age: 30

Monthly expenses:

Rent: My third is $625.
Roommates: 2
Neighborhood: Cotswold
Utilities: Around $80-90 per month for electric, gas, water and internet. No cable here!
Student loans: None.
Credit card payments: I have four credit cards, each with a $120 minimum payment.
Car payment: $238 per month
Car insurance: $128 per month
Phone: I’m still on a plan with my family, but I transfer my mom $67 per month to cover my share.
Insurance: I get it through work at a pretty good deal for about $90 per month.
Extras: Hulu for $11.99 a month. It’s so worth the extra cost to have no commercials!

Note: I got paid the day before starting this diary and my paycheck included my quarterly incentive. I was able to pay all of my bills before starting this, and I have extra spending money this month. Gotta love working on commission!

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Thursday

7:20 a.m. Coffee from home. $0

12:30 p.m. I went to Target on my lunch break for “essentials” and got some almonds and trail mix that should hold me over for lunch for the next week. $94.86

1:30 p.m. I got to work and realized Target forgot to give me the bag that contained the trail mix/almonds… no lunch for me. I spent $1.25 on a soda from the vending machine instead.

5:30 p.m. Walmart after work to pick up some paint, stain and supplies for furniture I am refinishing. $24.11

6:30 p.m. Leftovers for dinner. $0

Total spent: $120.22

Day two: Friday

7:15 a.m. Coffee from home. $0

12:30 p.m. Went back to Target to get a refund on the trail mix/almonds they forgot to give me the day before. I also returned a hairbrush that contained someone else’s hair. Ew. +$16.78

1 p.m. Uncle Maddio’s BBQ chicken pizza for lunch, YUM. $9.19

Uncle Maddio's Pizza

3:15 p.m. Transferred my roommate $22 to cover my share of gas and internet. I also bought a new scoreboard from Amazon for my dart board. $30.43

4:45 p.m. Stopped at the gas station for gas and beer. $47.43

5:15 p.m. Stopped by Home Depot for a sample of paint and found a great color on clearance. $5.34

Lowe's Paint

5:30 p.m. Went across the street to Habitat for Humanity ReStore and got a nice, cheap coffee table. $26.81

Total spent: $119.20

Day three: Saturday

10 a.m. Up and cleaning the house before we have people over to cook out, then heading to the 90’s Bar Crawl in Uptown! I transferred my roommate $15 for food and beer.

3 p.m. Friends are here! Burgers are on the grill, beers are in hand and we’re playing some yard games. $0

5:45 p.m. Leaving in an Uber to head Uptown. A friend who has Uber credit pays for the ride, so I spend $0.

6 p.m. until about 12:30 a.m.(?) Lots of bars, lots of drinks. Spent $60.88, and probably another $20 once the tips process. Fun time!

12:30 a.m. We’re finally heading home. My friend called the Uber again, so I spend nothing. For a late night snack, I munch on leftover guacamole. $0

Total spent: $95.88

Day three: Sunday

Today is for recovering.

4:15 p.m. Picked up my roommate from work. He got me food from the restaurant he works at for free, so I picked up ice cream, slushies and pork rinds at the gas station for us and our third roommate. $7.52

Total spent: $7.52

Day four: Monday

7:20 a.m. Coffee from home. $0

12:30 p.m. I was headed to the bank when I realized I left my debit card at the Roxbury on Saturday night. And that they don’t reopen again until Friday. I’ll be getting a new card in the meantime. Luckily, there’s no charge since I haven’t had to replace a card in a while! $0

12:50 p.m. Lunch at Chili’s, free with a gift card I had. $0


2:30 p.m. Transferred $66.51 to my roommate for our water bill. They hadn’t been sending us a bill so this one was almost triple what it normally is.

6 p.m. Went to Harris Teeter for a salad from the salad bar and a sushi roll. $11.88

Total spent: $78.39

Day five: Tuesday

7:20 a.m. Coffee from home. $0

10:15 a.m. Got an email that a book I have been waiting for came out today – it’s The Fireman by Joe Hill (he’s Stephen King’s son and a great writer.) I bought the hardcover on Amazon. $18.65

12 p.m. Staff meeting during lunch today, catered by Panera. Free!

6 p.m. Painted some furniture with a friend, ate leftover Chili’s from yesterday for dinner. $0 

Total spent: $18.65

Day six: Wednesday

8:10 a.m. Coffee from home. $0

1 p.m. Leftovers for lunch today! $0

6:15 p.m. Treated myself to a mani/pedi (and some free wine) at Polished with my bestie because I got some great news at work today! $43 (including tip) I also bought a new Essie polish color at the salon for $8.


Total spent: $51

Total spent: $512.86
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $125.72
Bills – $88.51
Furniture and supplies – $56.26
Miscellaneous – $242.37

What I learned: 

This week I spent a LOT of money! But I don’t think I went overboard with anything, just a little extra spending with the extra money I got on my paycheck. I do want to spend less on food by bringing my lunch to work more often. My bills are ridiculous and I am consistently working on getting them down.
Need personal finance education? Visit Better Money Habits. Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. It’s a simple way of getting real, practical knowledge, brought to you by Bank of America in partnership with Khan Academy.


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