Sep 28, 2016 - Money

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $37,000 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 27-year-old man who makes $37,000 a year. Here’s how he spends his money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Marketing
Position: Content Marketer
Yearly salary: $37,000
Extra income: I took in my little sister after she graduated college and she pays me $100 a month. Our family has always kind of struggled, so we try and help each other out.
Who do you bank with and why? NCSECU. I started banking with them when I was a teacher and just never switched. They’re friendly and their rates are low.
Savings: $50 a month whenever I can, but this needs to be more consistent.
Age: 27
Gender: Male

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $1,060
Number of roommates: 1, kind of. My sister doesn’t pay a clean half, but she does pay $100 a month and she contributes to groceries.
Neighborhood: Ballantyne. My mom always told me you sacrifice for what you care about, and after getting robbed at my last two living places, I’m willing to pay a little extra to live in a safe neighborhood.
Utilities: Cable, internet, water and power totals to about $200 a month.
Student loans: In forbearance.
Car payments: $399
Car insurance: $120. I’m excited for two speeding tickets to clear this November!
Transportation costs: Probably $120 a month for gas. I work across town from where I live.
Phone bill: $164. I pay for my dad’s phone and split the total bill with my brother.
Insurance: Paid for by my employer.

Three financial goals:

Pay off my two credit cards. The combined total is about $3,000.

Tithe at my church. This will create an additional $240 per month.

Take my student loans out of forbearance. This will create another additional $200 per month.

Monday Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I meal prep on Sundays because it helps me track calories and control spending. I bought pork chops from Walmart, which were on sale for $5.18.

My little sister taught me about Walmart meat sales. I used to think she was a hinderance on me financially (“I have to pay for an extra room and she can’t split the bill?”), but I’ve learned a few things about saving from her.

I cooked and froze four meals along with some broccoli I already had.


Total spent: $5.18

Day two: Monday

I ate a pastry at work for breakfast. $1.25

Indulged in one of my frozen meals for lunch, so $0.

My girlfriend bought pizza for dinner. Solid day.

Total spent: $1.25

Day three: Tuesday

Another pastry at work for breakfast. $1.25

When lunch rolls around, I realize I forgot mine. Frustrating! I do this like once a week. I went to Chipotle with some coworkers instead. $11.26

I bought gas for $15, which doesn’t fill up my tank, but it’s all I have patience for. Plus, my girlfriend lives near South Carolina, and I always feel like I’m wasting money if I don’t fill up near her place.

I also went thrifting and spent $12.83. I’ve been selling vintage clothes online for a few weeks now and will sell these items, too. Hopefully this thirteen bucks turns into fifty bucks in the future.

Total spent: $40.34

Day four: Wednesday

I need coffee, but know we’re out of cream and sugar at work. I felt like giving myself a treat, so I stopped by a gas station and grabbed coffee along with a pastry there instead of getting it at the office. $3

My plastic fork broke in my lunch and I couldn’t find the broken piece, so I threw it out and bought a bag of chips from the grill downstairs to compensate. $1.25

I went to church so late that I skipped dinner.

Total spent: $4.25

Day five: Thursday

Breakfast was a pastry, as always. $1.25

Finally, no lunch disasters! $0

$15 on gas. I normally wouldn’t have to get gas so soon, but church has me driving all over town this week. After, I grabbed some groceries: paper towels, cat food, cat litter, soap and garlic powder. I literally CAN’T cook without garlic powder, and we’re getting close to another meal prep day. $25.13

When I was checking out, I mentioned to the cashier that I was tracking my spending and she said needs to try and do it in the future.

Total spent: $41.38

Day six: Friday

I had a breakfast pastry again. $1.25

My coworker told me the grill downstairs had clam chowder and I haven’t had a good clam chowder in a while. I couldn’t resist. $3.25

I reheated some pizza for dinner. $0

Total spent: $4.50

Day seven: Saturday

My buddy bought me Starbucks for breakfast and then I grabbed a salad for lunch. $4.34

I grabbed a six pack for the weekend and cooked dinner that night with things I already had at home. $9.53


Total spent: $13.87

Total spent: $110.77
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $67.94
Transportation – $30
Shopping – $12.83

What I learned:

I learned that I could probably save more if I did some kind of meal prep on my breakfasts instead of just buying muffins from the grill at my job.

In the moment, I didn’t realize how much money I spent on Tuesday. Admittedly, the thrifting is just as much a hobby for me as it is a side gig, so maybe I could put them to the side on weeks when I have extra travel or on days when I go out for lunch.

One of my major goals for the year was to really limit how much money I spent eating out and this is the first time I’m noticing that I almost didn’t eat out at all. I used to view eating out as a treat, but now I’ve found less expensive ways to treat myself.

I really appreciate having friends that don’t always want to do stuff that costs money, because I did a lot of hopping around town this week and spending time with friends, but all it really seemed to cost me was gas.

Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. Visit the Bank of America Better Money Habits site today.

Need 1:1 guidance on getting your finances in order? Schedule an appointmentwith a Bank of America specialist today or stop in your local financial center.


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