Jul 26, 2017 - Things to Do

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $70,000 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 26-year-old woman that makes $70,000 per year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Mortgage
Position: Loan Closer
Salary: $70,000 base
Extra income: I receive commission and overtime income that strongly depend on how busy we are. This year it looks like it’ll be about $2,000 but last year it was up to $8,000.
Who you bank with: Fifth Third Bank.
Savings: $211 goes into my Roth IRA each month in order to max it out every year, and another $200 goes into my brokerage each month.
Age: 26

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,150
Number of roommates: 0
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood

Electric – $41
Cable/internet – $60
Water – $9

Student loans: None, thanks to my very generous parents who fully covered my college education.
Car payments: None, I bought my car with cash years ago.
Car insurance: $69.29
Transportation costs:

Gas – $27
Lyft and Uber – $104. Yikes. This is an average spanning several months of use, although I know this isn’t completely accurate. Often, my friends will Venmo me or buy me a drink to compensate for their portion of the ride. Still cheaper than a DUI!

Phone bill: $90.38 for my phone and iPad
Insurance: All, except for renters insurance, is covered through my employer.

Renters – $7.66
Health insurance – $164
Dental insurance – $11
Long-term disability insurance – $5
FSA account – $25

Spotify: $10.71
Hulu: $5 – I share an account with a friend.
Compassion International: $47
Amazon Prime: $99/year, so about $8.25 per month
Chase Sapphire Preferred: $95/year, so about $7.92 per month
American Airlines credit card: $95/year, so about $7.92 per month. I want to cancel this card, though, since Chase offers MUCH better rewards.

Three financial goals:

Cut back on eating out. I feel like this is crucial in curbing my spending habits. I don’t like to cook and tend to be lazy about meal prepping beforehand, so I will often go out for both breakfast and lunch during the work week.

Have one day per week where I don’t spend anything. I have a very active social calendar, which makes this goal hard, but I want to be able to still have a good time without spending so much.

Continue to save up a nest egg. A new car, a down payment on a home, a fun vacation – I want to have the ability to spend it as I see fit down the road. I don’t have any specific goals at the moment but all three of those items listed are ones that I want within the next 10 years.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

Slept in and awoke to the boyfriend bringing me a delicious Laurel Market breakfast sandwich ($0).

I spent the day at the pool, with a cooler packed with previously purchased alcoholic beverages. We had a bunch of friends join us for a cookout of hot dogs, corn on the cob, watermelon, etc. Everyone chipped in, so my share was only $4.50.

After the pool, I went back to shower and relax. I ate leftovers for dinner ($0) and went online to buy a concert ticket for later this year to see War on Drugs ($46.41).

Total spent: $50.91

Day two: Monday

Back to work! I got hungry around 10:30am so I grabbed a breakfast sandwich from The Sandwich Club for $3.82.

Went and looked at an apartment with my boyfriend on my lunch break and grabbed Viva Chicken on my way back Uptown ($9.47).

We went to view another apartment after work, then ran to the grocery store to stock up on food and booze ($80.47), and had to buy gas ($21.50).

I joined my girlfriends to watch The Bachelorette, our Monday night tradition, and drank wine I just purchased from Harris Teeter.

Total spent: $115.26

Day three: Tuesday

This morning I ate leftover Viva Chicken for breakfast ($0) and purchased my lunch from Chicken Salad Chick for $8.65.

After work, I went to the Sephora with my sister and my friend to stock up on makeup. I recently took a SkillPop class on how to perfect my makeup routine and wanted to get a few new products. I had also run out of several staples, so I dropped $181.25 for the whole lot… ouch. Boys, take note – it costs a lot to look this good.

For dinner, I ate one of my delicious Trader Joe’s frozen meals ($0).

Total spent: $189.90

Day four: Wednesday

I’m going to Panorama Music Festival in a couple of weeks in New York City, so I bought a $50 ferry pass for the ride to and from Randall’s Island, where the festival will be taking place.

I ate leftovers from Chicken Salad Chick for breakfast ($0) and got Subway’s 6-inch meal deal for $6.39 for lunch, since Wednesday is turkey sub day.

After work I headed to Salud’s new Cervecería for their weekly Wine Down Wednesday. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s only $7 for the wine tasting and you get half off the bottles of the wine you just sampled. I bought four cases of delicious wine spritzers for $49 and spent $7.02 on some potato salad and banana pudding (my dinner).

I went to see STRFKR at Neighborhood Theater, where I only had one drink, but boyfriend bought it for me ($0). On the way home, my hunger kicked in again so we swung by McDonalds ($7.11). I also paid $4.07 for the split Lyft ride on the way home from the show.

Total spent: $130.59

Day five: Thursday

I started my day off with a bagel and strawberries from home for breakfast ($0). For lunch, I grabbed a chicken and rice dish from Halal Food Truck for $6 cash.

Took a night off from the social calendar and stayed in, while my boyfriend cooked us a delicious fish curry for dinner ($0). This is the closest day I had to spending nothing.

Total spent: $6

Day six: Friday

Once again, I dove into leftovers from the previous day’s lunch for breakfast: Halal and strawberries ($0).

I grabbed Chick-fil-A for lunch for $6.83, and was able to escape the office at 2pm to head down to Lake Wylie with some friends. One of these friends owns a boat and drove us around the lake for the rest of the afternoon. I gave him $10 for gas before heading back to the city to shower and get ready for my night.

One of my good friends is in town visiting, so I scarfed some food I had at home ($0) and took a Lyft Uptown ($10.15) to meet up with him to pregame. After one too many rounds of hockey, we went to Local to dance and drink ($11), and I grabbed another Lyft home around 1 a.m. for $8.59.

Total spent: $46.57

Day seven: Saturday

Phew – I’m feeling a bit rough this morning. I slept in as late as I could, and don’t have an appetite when I’m hungover so I didn’t eat anything for breakfast. I packed up some drinks and was picked up by my coworker to head to Indian Trail for a backyard work party.

On the way, we stopped to get 80 pounds of ice to fill the kiddy pool for $19.99. The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking, playing cornhole, singing karaoke and eating lots of tacos. The host also owns a Margaritaville drink machine, which was a dangerous addition to my day. By the end of it, I was exhausted, but it’s my visiting friend’s last night in town so I have to join up with him again to hang out one last time before he leaves. There’s no way I can drive, so I split a Lyft back to the city with my boyfriend for $15.70.

Tonight was a rinse and repeat of last night with another pregame and trip to Local, where I paid $15 in cash to cover several people’s cover charge and another $11.70 to buy my boyfriend and me a round of drinks. I’m exhausted by 12:30, so I took another Lyft home for $7.55.

Total spent: $69.94

Total spent: $609.17
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $218.96
Transportation – $127.56
Miscellaneous – $262.65

What I learned: 

Wow… I spend a lot of money on alcohol. Granted, this week was definitely heavier in that category than normal due to me stocking up twice so that I didn’t have to buy more for the rest of this month. I also don’t normally go out to bars two nights in a row, as it’s really not worth the all day Sunday hangover. I have more fun drinking my better and cheaper drinks at home, anyway. But for my health and my wallet, I should probably look to cut back on the drinking in general.

Surprisingly I thought I spend a lot more money on eating out, but after looking at it over the course of the week, I tend to do pretty well with stretching out my meals. I’m very good about saving (and eating) my leftovers, so that helps me save money.

The ferry ticket and the makeup were also very abnormal purchases for me, as I probably only buy makeup like that once a year.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the week. Even though I spent more than I normally would on an average week, all of the purchases I made were either necessary or contributed to me having a good time. I’m very much of the mindset that you make money to spend money, and I spend my money in ways where I really enjoy my life. I have a significant amount of savings stored up from years of working through high school and college, and I’ve continued to contribute to that fund each month. As long as I’m always saving at least a little money each month, I don’t feel too guilty spending the rest.

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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