Nov 23, 2016 - Money

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $45,000 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. This series is completely volunteer-based; 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 $45,000 per year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Media
Position: Traffic Specialist
Yearly salary: $45,000
Who you bank with and why: Bank of America. It was the first account I opened at 18, and I stayed because of convenience.
Savings: I try to put away $50 per paycheck, but I don’t always do it. I also contribute 4% of my monthly income (pre-tax) to a 401(k) at work, which is matched.
Age: 30
Gender: Female

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $500
Number of roommates: Two
Neighborhood: SouthPark
Utilities: Usually around $100 total a month
Student loans: I have $8,000 left to pay and pay $68 per month.
Car payment: It’s paid off.
Car insurance: I think my dad likes paying it…
Transportation: $90 per month, and it comes out of my check pre-tax.
Phone bill: $67 per month. I get a discount through my employer.
Insurance: Paid for by work
Sirius XM: $20 per month

Three financial goals:

More than anything, do what I love for a living. I know this sounds naïve, but it is what I’m working toward and I believe the money will come.

I want to live debt-free in the next 5 years, so I want to be done with my credit card and stop using credit altogether.

I’d also like to be able to get my savings up to $10,000. This is so I can feel comfortable if and when I decide to make a big purchase or life change  (i.e., want to buy a house, new car or move).

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

Woke up late-ish, so no breakfast to speak of… just coffee at home. $0

I ate brunch at 300 East for a friend’s birthday and was sad that the Eggs Benedict was underwhelming (because I usually love this place), but my two mimosas were on point. $25.92

I took my sister up on her offer for a Costco trip. I spent more than I would have normally on my weekly groceries but she was helping me to make healthier choices than usual (no sugar, GMO-free, etc.), and I got a lot that will last a while $105.43

Stopped by Aldi after for a couple of produce items and a frozen (GMO-filled) pizza for dinner. $8.64

Total spent: $139.99

Day two: Monday

Breakfast was oatmeal from Costco and a cup of coffee, and I had a salad with chicken for lunch with items also snagged from Costco. $0

Now, here is where it gets tricky. I was invited to the MNF game, so I bought the beers for the both of us ($52.50) and skipped dinner unless you count several Bud Lights (I’ll make up for this on Tuesday).

Shared an Uber home for $7.50.

Total spent: $60

Day three: Tuesday

I was struggling a little this morning (I blame the Panthers) and rushing to work, which means nothing was packed for food. Instead, I got a Showmars breakfast muffin. If you haven’t had this before, you NEED to get it – it’s what the Egg McMuffin wishes it could be. I also had a coffee. $4.10

So don’t judge me, but I had Showmars for lunch as well: Grilled cheese, fries and a Cheerwine. In total, it was $14.16, but I picked it up and brought it to a friend who graciously Venmo-ed me $10 for her share. So, in total, I spent $4.16.

The off-the-wagon day continued with a trip to a Chinese restaurant on the way home… I had fried dumplings and scallion chicken for $15.62 at Cherry House 2.

Total spent: $23.88

Day four: Wednesday

I’m back on the wagon! I had a smoothie with stuff from Costco (organic fruit, coconut water and spinach) at home for breakfast and a salad with chicken, also from Costco, for lunch. $0

So, I needed to pick up my prescription allergy medicine (this time of year is horrible for me), which, naturally, led to a $16 makeup setting spray along with mascara, makeup wipes, cat litter and litter deodorizer at Rite Aid for a whopping total of $50.03.

I stopped at Circle K on the way home to fill up my gas tank. $46

Dinner was leftover Chinese. $0

Total spent: $96.03

Day five: Thursday

I’m still on the wagon, and made a smoothie at home for breakfast and a salad with chicken for lunch again. $0

On another on-the-wagon note, I tried to eat a seaweed snack my sister convinced me to buy at Costco and almost got sick. I bought a 10 pack… FAIL.

And here comes the priciest day of my week… I got my hair done. I needed a cut, grays covered up and touchup of my 10 month old balayage for $252, but the nondescript glass of red wine at salon was FREE.

Go see Emily at Salon 1226 off Central, because she is awesome. I have since moved away from this neighborhood, but I try to stay relevant.

Since I didn’t get out of there until 8 and was starved by the time I left, I had Chick-fil-A for dinner. A spicy chicken meal with diet lemonade: $6.87.

Total spent: $258.87

Day six: Friday

I had coffee and oatmeal at work ($0) and lunch with my parents at Brixx.

I got the lunch special: Half of a Bronx Bomber and half of a Brixx Salad. My parents picked up the tab, so I paid $0, thanks guys. Honestly, I have a theory that the half pizzas are better because they use the same amount of ingredients, they’re just compressed to half the size.

Went to the new Kevin Hart movie and I got the tickets from Fandango for $25 (when did tickets become $11 bucks? And convenience fees? Sheesh). My friend picked up the dinner tab along with the candy and wine tab at Cinemark. Thanks, friend 🙂

Total spent: $25

Day seven: Saturday

Today was very low-key day for me. My brother and I stuck around the house and just worked most of the day.

I had another breakfast smoothie and coffee for $0, while lunch was a Panera Half-and-Half deal: Broccoli and cheese soup with half a Caesar salad. I love the Rapid Pick Up, but I didn’t have any  Panera rewards to redeem, which is unusual for me ($7.68).

We ordered Hawthorne’s from Postmates for dinner (and split the delivery and tip for a $14 total, yikes). I had the penne with sausage, pepper, and and onion for $13.95. With tip added in, it came to a total of $20.95.

I indulged in two glasses of boxed wine from home while watching “My Cat From Hell” – FREE!

Total spent: $28.63

Total spent: $632.40. Holy crap.
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $251.87
Transportation – $53.50
Shopping – $50.03
Miscellaneous – $277

What I learned: Drinking = Poor life choices, both financially and physically. I am lucky I had such a low key Saturday, otherwise the spending diary would have been very difficult to write, although it’s easy for me to rationalize because there is only one MNF game a year AND I hardly ever get my hair done (although maybe I should find a more inexpensive hair place).

I usually have a lot lower grocery bill, but shopping at Costco has saved me because I only spent $20 bucks at Trader Joe’s today for this week. Either way, this was a bit of a wake up call because there is always something that comes up that you want to spend money on.

I thought there would be a day where I spent $0, so I am going to work on that.

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 appointment with a Bank of America specialist today or stop in your local financial center.


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