Mar 5, 2019 - Money

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a single mom’s $37,500 salary



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 Lauren at [email protected]

This week, I chatted with a single mom of two kids. She’s focused on paying down debt, buying a house, and adding some stamps to her passport. Here’s how she spends her money:

The basics

Age: 38

Industry: Non-profit

Position: On-boarding

Salary: $37,500

Extra income: I work part-time at a box office for $13.56/hour. I’m there 6-12 hours a week.

Are you putting anything into savings? 

Yes, sporadically. I have three savings accounts in addition to my 403(b) plan (retirement vehicle similar to a 401k but specific to employees of public schools and non-profits).

One has my baby emergency fund, one for car maintenance, and one for future house savings.


Rent: $788

Roommates: Two kids, one cat, and one dog

Neighborhood: We aren’t fancy enough to have a named neighborhood. We are near Coventry Woods in East Charlotte.

Credit card debt: $448 total. I have been working to pay off my last card, so right now I put $50-60 towards it each check.

Student loans: $50,336 in total, but in forbearance now because I’m poor (all because I ignored my mom’s advice and went to a private college.)

Car payment: $426

Phone: $65/month

Utilities: $175/month

Gym: $61/month

Three financial goals:

  1. Pay off debt
  2. Buy a house
  3. Travel internationally each year

What’s the best thing you’ve ever spent money on?

Two years ago I saved and was able to take my two sons to Disney World. We got to stay on the property. That was the first time I was able to take my kids on a vacation that wasn’t funded by my mom.

What’s the most frivolous thing you’ve ever spent money on?

Honestly, not one thing. I tend to buy random stuff on sale just because it is on sale and I don’t need it.

If I had to show a friend my checking account I would feel ________:


The biggest expense in my life right now is _____:

Raising two kids with no support or assistance.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week


I missed a friend’s baby shower a couple of months ago, so I made up for it with a lunch date. Spent $13.85. I needed a sweet tea fix and stopped at Cookout on the way home for a drink $1.07.

Total Spent:  $14.92


I managed a no-spend day. I used my rewards at Chick-fil-A to buy a side and a drink to go with my home-cooked meal.

Total spent: $0


I saw a professional development class with limited seats open at ASC, so I nabbed a spot ASAP. $45

I ran to Harris Teeter to grab snacks and drinks to keep at my desk to keep me away from the vending machine at work. $11.85

I forgot a few items to go with with dinner. Sent my son to the Dollar Tree. $3.18

Total Spent: $60.03


Bill, bills, bills. Today was payday, and all the money came in and flowed right back out.

$80 to credit card. $430 to car. $180 to old debt. $161.53 for utilities.

I saw another professional development opportunity, this time at Harvey Gantt. It was $10.

Then I spent my lunch accompanying a friend to Old Navy and spent $33.76 to add to my work wardrobe.

Total Spent: $851.53


I worked both jobs and didn’t have a moment to eat between the two, so I made a trip to Cookout on the way home to grab dinner.

Total Spent: $5.68


I spent 8 hours at my part-time job and didn’t prepare enough to bring lunch. Spent $8.66

I spent some time online grocery shopping for a Walmart pick-up (a busy single mom’s best friend.) $57.74

Total Spent: $66.40


I ran to the Dollar Tree to take snacks to work with me during my part-time shift and also grabbed craft supplies. $7.40

Total spent: $7.40

Weekly Total: 1,005.96

What I learned

My biggest lesson is that lack of preparation is the devil. When I don’t prep, I end up doing too many small snack runs. Those small leaks add up, and that little bit could have gone to my savings or towards paying off my last credit card.

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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