Sep 27, 2017 - Things to Do

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $110,000 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 48-year-old woman that makes $110,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Banking
Position: Governance and Risk Consultant
Salary: $110,000 plus my bonus, which is always TBD.
Extra income: No extra income, but I’m researching options to increase my cash flow.
Who you bank with: Ally and Wells Fargo
Savings: 6% of my salary goes into a 401(k), which my company matches 1:1, as well as $190 per week that auto-transfers into savings. A few years ago, I started taking the amount of my raise and moving it into savings, as I was accustomed to living off the old amount, which I really should start doing again.
Age: 48

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,529
Roommates: One kid (C), according to the schedule, and another, older kid (M), who visits when she wants.
Neighborhood: Dilworth or South End. I’m not actually sure where the border is.

Electric – $60-$70
Water – $25
Cable/Internet – $100

Student loans: I no longer have student loans, but my ex still has $16,000 in student loans, for which I’m the co-signer. Per the divorce agreement, he’s fully responsible for the loan, but we made the grad school decision together years ago. Even though I no longer reap the benefit of his education, I still want to help pay it down, since it helps both of us.
Car payment: $275, but I auto-pay $300.
Car insurance: $700 annually
Transportation: I work from home three days per week, which helps to limit the gas consumption. I’d estimate $80 per month in gas.
Phone bill: $90. We still have the family plan, so my ex pays half.
Insurance: $400 per paycheck.
YMCA: $68. My apartment does have a gym, but I like the classes at the Y.
Boat Club: $100 monthly, plus gas. My ex and I share custody of the membership. I pay a portion of the fee according to what I use, plus gas, but I’ve been too busy with work to take advantage of it on my own.

Three financial goals

Travel abroad as often as possible! It may not seem like a financial goal, but in order to start traveling, I need to feel safe enough financial to feel comfortable taking a random trip abroad. Without the extra income of a spouse, I need to be extra careful.

Pay off the 50%-off sale debt, otherwise known as the splitting of the marital debt.

Help my ex-husband pay off his grad school loans. I’m a co-signer, so helping him helps me!

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

Breakfast is at home. A while ago I, bought one of those refillable K-Cups for the Keurig. Love that thing! The regular K-Cups can be pricey, but now I can have the coffee I like at a fraction of the cost.

The Kid (C) needs an additional gift for a friend’s birthday party – candy it is! I checked the various discount apps like Groupon for Rocket Fizz certificates but found nothing. C and I wandered over to Rocket Fizz with a $10 limit for candy. While there, I noticed a coffee cup with Princess Leia on it and decided to purchase it for my ex. Now his lips can be close to his childhood crush every day! $23.84

Side note: Why are there three lines for tax? The total tax amount is correct, but I can’t figure out why they need three lines for it. I did not purchase the pickle or barf soda.

I lost my sunglasses, so I need to go to Target for a pair and then swing by Trader Joe’s for a couple of items. Midtown is only a mile from my place, so when I need something, I walk, because I can only buy what I am capable of carrying in my bag, which helps limit what I purchase.

First stop: Target. Where are the blankety blank sunglasses? Target seriously needs to finish whatever rearranging they are doing on this store. Finally found them and checked Target’s app for discounts and the website for a price difference, but there’s nothing for either. But I do have a couple of those $5 target cards to use. $8.22

Next stop: Trader Joe’s, since we’re having family dinner at my ex’s house and I need to get a couple of things to supplement the meal.

OMG! I swear every time I go to TJ’s I have to put on the mental blinders so I don’t purchase too much. I figure if I can’t see the yummy items, those things can’t see me and won’t jump in my bag. Blinders, blinders, blinders. Let’s see how successful I am.

I went for pita bread and tzatziki sauce, but left with 15 additional items because they fit in the bag. I did discover that TJ’s has smoked salmon ends and pieces for $6 less than the regular, pretty smoked salmon. It’s just going in my belly, so no need for pretty salmon! I left behind the prosecco and 5 pounds of clementines – they’re too much to carry in this heat!

I did not succumb to the yummy samples of cheese blintz with raspberries and lemon curd, nor was I tempted by all the dark chocolate goodness in the checkout line. I beat TJ’s! Sort of. $42.45

I’m heading with friends and kids to Columbia tomorrow to see the eclipse. I withdrew $200 because I have no idea if we’re going to encounter a situation where I’ll need cash. Even though I rarely carry that green paper stuff, I feel this is a situation where I may need it. I’m not counting it as money spent because I’ll redeposit if it’s not used.

Paid my electric bill, which is probably higher than it should be, but I work from home half the time and I like the place COLD when I sleep. $72.01

I misplaced my debit card a few weeks ago and have been using my credit card for normal stuff while I wait for the new card to come in. I went ahead and paid off the current balance. $443.48

Total spent: $590

Day two: Monday

Eclipse day!!

We have no idea what traffic will be like on the way to Columbia, so we decided to leave at 5:30. I packed deli meat, cucumbers, strawberries, multiple bottles of frozen water and goldfish for the trip, but on the way, we stopped at Chick-Fil-A for breakfast. I forgot how good chicken minis are!

Because the other family was driving, I purchased breakfast for all of us. Coffee, minis, hash browns and fruit for $39.61.

On the way back home, we stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and ice cream from Dairy Queen. Dumb, dumb, dumb. DQ was out of ice cream and the line for the ladies’ room was 75 people deep. I really don’t think I’m exaggerating here.

Since the Kid couldn’t have ice cream, we opted for a Kit-Kat, and while I was there, I went ahead and purchased a Powerball ticket. Got to dream big! $4.01

Traffic, traffic, traffic. And my foot is on fire! While at the campground, I accidentally stepped into a fire ant bed and didn’t notice until they had started their attack on my foot. It now itches and burns like you know what.

We finally arrive in Charlotte 3.5 hours later and make a stop at Teeter. The pharmacist takes one look at my foot and says, “that looks painful.” I purchase the Benadryl spray and the HT brand antihistamine. $12.31

My friend reserved spots at the campground for our eclipse viewing. The cost was $15 per person. I give her cash from the $200 I withdrew. $30

Total spent: $85.93

Day three: Tuesday

My toes and foot have enough bumps from the ant bites that it’s sure to give a toad a bit of confusion and some naughty thoughts, so I decide to work from home because no one but a toad would find this foot attractive.

I make coffee, but the Keurig started making a weird water noise. I get enough out for half a cup and ponder purchasing a new Keurig. I’ll think about it tomorrow.

C makes ramen and strawberries for breakfast, while I went with the smoked salmon, cream cheese and TJ’s Everything But the Bagel spice mix.

Meet the teacher day, but C decides boredom is ruling and decided it would be more fun to go back to my ex’s house. I made pasta for the C before he swung by. Lunch at home for me.

I go to my ex’s house for dinner.

Total spent: $0

Day four: Wednesday

The toad-loving foot has me working from home again.

Before a visit to my therapist, I stopped by Starbucks for coffee and egg bite. I have preloaded money on my Starbucks card, which makes today’s cost $0.

For some reason, my flex account card was declined at the therapist’s office. I paid out of pocket but will submit for reimbursement – $58.95 for 3 weeks of co-pay.

I make lunch and dinner with what I have at home.

C asked for ice cream, so off we go! Kid paid for the ice cream (not sure how that happened), so $0 for me.

After, we decided to walk to Target for school supplies. Why on earth the school asks for specific brands is beyond me, but we get 90% of what is on the lists. I check Target’s shopping app and find 20% off lunch bags and check the website, where I notice the book bag is listed at $10 less than what is shown in the store. Price match! Total Spent: $93.30

My ex was in the neighborhood, so we decided to go to Amélie’s for tea and snack with C. We found out that if Amélie’s has a lot of baked goods later in the day, they sometimes do buy 1 get 1. We bought 3 and got 3, and my ex paid. $0 for me.

Total spent: $152.25

Day five: Thursday

I’m still rocking the toad foot, so I opted to work from home again.

My Keurig seems to have resolved its issue, but I’m out of almond milk and drink hot tea instead.

I have conference calls galore today. By the time I realize I’m famished, it’s lunch time, but I’m not feeling like cooking and do a to-go order from Mayobird. I’m in the car when I call and accidentally order the one with two scoops of dill chicken salad, so my lunch was a tad more expensive than I normally spend. I round up and add $2 tip. $15

I realize I’m almost out of my favorite daily sunscreen. Last year I found out sunscreen with SPFs higher than a certain number can be purchased using flexible spending dollars, so I go to the FSA Store’s website and buy the sunscreen. Win win for me!

I sit on an advisory committee for a couple of organizations. At tonight’s meeting, they feed us light stuff like they always do, and it becomes my dinner.

I thought it might be nice to check out Suffolk Punch for dessert and a drink with someone. I texted the only two single acquaintances I have, but they were busy. Being newly divorced means my social circle is quite limited, and I need to fix that.

I probably saved myself $30 in dessert and drinks. Instead, I stayed in and researched a trip to Montreal.

An email from my absolute favorite shoe place in the world, Shoes of Prey, came in tempting me to design a pair of heels!! I spent some time designing a new pair of boots and heels. They often have certificate sales for 10-15% off. I purchase certificates so I don’t feel guilty for the new heels. I decided not to buy any today because I can’t decide which pair I like.

Total spent: $15

Day six: Friday

C is with me this morning, so I worked from home and had both coffee and breakfast here.

By lunch, C was bored (again), so I took C to my ex’s house and went to the second meet the teacher event. I still have more stuff to purchase before the start of school, which I will do next week.

The older one (M) decided to come back to my place. We stopped by Joe and Nosh for lunch, where I was really happy to see fruit cups that don’t include cantaloupe, grapes or pineapple. I also picked up a couple of sandwiches. $21

Something on M’s car decided to kill itself, but M is aggressively paying me back for money I loaned for the car and has no savings at the moment. I agree to loan the money for the repairs with the understanding it gets paid back to me. I use my Discover card because I have some cash back rewards that I will use towards the payment. $360, but will use 170 discover cash back when I pay the card.

Dinner at home with C. $0, plus a bit of grumbling that I have no food that C likes there.

I realize I need to order C’s medication. This one scares me just a bit – the kid has a rare condition, which requires medicine for life. With my insurance, it costs $14 every 90 days. Without it, we’re looking at almost $24,000 per year for just the medicine. And that’s generic pills. Politics aside, I’m really happy to have good insurance.

I register C for one of the after-school activities. $400 – and it better be worth it!

Total spent: $795

Day seven: Saturday

My ex and I decided to do a family and friends day on the boat. When we boat as a family, I pay nothing towards gas. I brought peanuts, coffee, and cookies I already had on hand. $0

I took a bad spill on a tubing curve and have injured my arm. I’m out of painkiller and stop by the store for Aleve. $4.29

C and a couple of friends come back with me for Shiny Diner food, but the place is packed! We decide to go to Vapiano instead. Pasta alfredo, orange shrimp and fennel salad and caesar salad! I meant to take a picture but forgot. Instead I give you a picture of the FREE gummy bears. $35.34

I make a stop at Trader Joe’s for weekly staples, and my arm hurts enough that I don’t need the mental blinders. I still thank my lucky bag – I can only purchase what fits in it!

I mentioned to the cashier how I was surprised how quickly the cauliflower rice can go bad once it’s opened. She decides not to charge me for the new bag of cauliflower rice. One reason why I love my TJ’s. $43.79

I decide to stay in and nurse my arm for the evening. Dinner is eggs and salmon and broccoli slaw. $0

Total spent: $83.42

Total spent: $1,721.60
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $225.04
Bills – $934.44
Education – $493.30
Medicine – $30.60
Miscellaneous – $38.22

What I learned: I knew this was going to be an off week, with it being the last week before school starts. I’ll be happy to be back to a normal schedule.

I also learned, well I already knew, that kids are expensive! Medicine, after-school activities, food, issues when they get older. It all adds up. I’m just grateful for no more daycare. I’m always going to be concerned about insurance as C will fall into that pre-existing bucket and will need medication and possibly more if the cancer ever comes back.

I’m pretty good about trying to find discounts in my day-to-day spending. I don’t design and buy my heels unless I already have 10-15% off, I always check Target’s website and app for discounts. TJ’s is my weak spot. Always has been, always will be! It’s why I never bring in a cart.

Financially, I’m okay. While my social circle is limited for now, I may want to take the money I’m not spending on being social into savings or paying off the 50%-off sale.

I’m lucky to have a good job and a great relationship with my ex. Both make life so much easier.

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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