Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $76,500 salary

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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 This week, I spoke with a 27-year-old woman that makes $76,500 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Finance
Position: Senior Financial Analyst
Salary: $76,500
Extra income: My annual bonus, which is paid out February 15th and is TBD.
Who you bank with: Bank of America
Savings: I automatically put 7% of my salary into my 401(k) since my company matches up to 5%. I also put a minimum of $100 per pay check (paid semi-monthly) into my savings account. However, I try to save as much as I can after bills.
Age: 27

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $933
Number of roommates: One, my sister
Neighborhood: South End
Utilities: $56/month for my half. Cable and internet are included in rent.
Student loans: $375
Car payment: $388
Car insurance: $101
Renters: $8 for my half
Parking: $115 pre-tax, which comes out to about $85 after tax
Transportation: $180 for gas and Uber. I tend to spend a lot (around $130) every month on Uber. My car typically doesn’t leave my apartment complex all weekend – even if I only plan to have one or two drinks, I’d rather Uber and not take the risk of getting pulled over.
Phone bill: $112. I’m on a family plan but my sisters and I use a lot of data. Mo data = mo money.
Insurance: $68 pre-tax for health, dental and vision. I also contribute $50 per paycheck to my HSA account.
Credit cards: $500 minimum (but usually more). I have two cards I’m trying to pay off, so I put as much as I can on these each month. I also pay off anything additional I spend on these at the end of the month.
Dog: $22 for a large bag of dog food. My sister has a big dog as well, and hers eats three times more than mine since she’s about three timex bigger, so I buy every third bag, which is maybe one bag per month.
Amazon Prime: $110 per year
Spotify: $10.71
Netflix: $10.71
HBO Now: $14.99

Three financial goals:

Pay off my student loans and credit cards.

Keep 3-6 months’ worth of expenses in my savings account.

Save up for a down payment on a house. Eventually.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I slept in on Sunday, so I skipped breakfast. For lunch, I ate some leftovers from the night before.

I was feeling lazy, so I hung out on the couch most of the day with the dogs, flipping back and forth between my DVR and the final round of the PGA Championship.

I decided to make chicken caprese-stuffed eggplant for dinner and for lunch on Monday at work (I made this recipe up, I’m basically a badass in the kitchen), so I walked over to Publix to pick up some groceries for $39.30.

After dinner, I decided I needed dessert (which usually means wine or ice cream), so I walked back over to Publix (which is literally across the parking lot from my apartment) and grabbed a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked ($5.09). Wow, B&J’s is expensive these days… looking back, I definitely didn’t need this.

Anyway, while enjoying my ice cream, I hung out on the couch and watched Game of Thrones (because what else do you do on a Sunday night?). After GoT, I did a little online shopping and ordered an extra set of sheets for my bed from Amazon ($26.80).

Total spent: $71.19

Day two: Monday

I was running late for work this morning, as per usual, so I skipped breakfast and just opted for a coffee from home. Since I was in a rush, I forgot to bring my leftovers for lunch, so I ran over to Chick-Fil-A to get my Monday go-to, the spicy southwest chicken salad. Unfortunately, I got to the front of the line to find out they are no longer serving it at the uptown location (really, CFA? I’m disappointed). So, I opted for a bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a side garden salad at McAlister’s Deli instead ($9.94).

I planned to go to the gym after work, but the power went out in South End right after I got home. I took my dog out only to realize I couldn’t get back in the building (note to self: key fobs don’t work without electricity). So, I stood outside for about 15 minutes until someone walked out of the door and I could get in the door, which led to a loss of gym motivation.

After a few hours, my sister and I were tired of sitting in the living room with no TV, so we opted to go to Duckworth’s on Park Road for dinner. We ordered mozzarella sticks and boneless wings to share, and my sister was feeling generous and picked up the tab, so I didn’t spend anything the rest of the night.

Total spent: $9.94

Day three: Tuesday

Breakfast was pretty typical this morning, consisting of coffee and a greek yogurt from home that I ate with some almonds once I got to work.

I actually remembered to bring my leftover stuffed eggplant and veggies, so I ate that for.

Around 2pm, one of my friends/coworkers wanted a snack, so we walked down to the Sundries store in our building. I picked up a pack of icebreakers (gotta keep it fresh) and added it to her snacks, since the store credit card minimum is $5. I didn’t see him ring it up, so I guessed and sent her a Venmo for $3 (insert candy emoji here).

We aren’t very busy at work right now, so I spent a good portion of the afternoon surfing the internet and trying to find an idea of what to make for dinner. I decided that I needed to subscribe to Bon Appétit magazine, and they were running a two year subscription deal, which included some recipe books and a free bag, so obviously I had to get that ($24).

I also had to pay my dues to a friend for a NFL survivor league, so I sent another Venmo for the entry free ($20).

After work, I came home to let my dog out and went to the gym in my apartment complex before walking over to Publix to pick up a few things. I got some salmon, shrimp skewers and mashed cauliflower for dinner, and then some frozen veggies and a few other items to stock up the freezer ($29.98). After that I made dinner and hung out with my sister and the dogs for the rest of the night.

Total spent: $76.98

Day four: Wednesday

Breakfast was the same as usual, with a coffee and greek yogurt from home, and some almonds from my stash at work.

I once again forgot to bring my lunch, (I need to be better about this) so I walked down to 7th Street Market and ordered a spicy tuna roll and a salmon avocado roll from Bonsai Fusion ($11.82 with tip).

After work, I went home to meet my sister and we headed over to OMB. We are going to Italy in September and were meeting a potential dog sitter to watch our babies while we are gone. We each had one beer, but my sister generously picked up the tab.

While we were there, my brother and his girlfriend messaged us, seeing if we wanted to meet them for dinner. We said yes and met them at Luciano’s, where I ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavlo and a side salad, and shared a bottle of wine with my brother’s girlfriend (Wednesday is half off bottles of wine.. yes please!). The wine was on my tab, so my total with tip was $67.84, but his girlfriend gave me $20 for her part of the wine (more than her half, but she insisted). $47.84

After that, we walked home and watched TV.

Total spent: $59.66

Day five: Thursday

I skipped breakfast today and just had a coffee from home. Surprise, surprise, I was in a hurry and forgot to grab my leftovers. I walked down to Panera with a friend for lunch and ordered a You Pick Two with the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Broccoli Cheese Soup with an apple ($9.94).

After work, I went to the gym at my apartment complex and then went to the nail salon with one of my friends. I got my nails filled and an eyebrow wax, which I do every 3 weeks ($45 with tip). After, I went home and cleaned up my apartment because my mom and stepdad are coming in for the weekend and would be arriving within the hour.

I had my leftover pasta for dinner and hung out with my them for the rest of the evening.

Total spent: $54.94

Day six: Friday

I worked from home today so that I could spend some time with my mom.

I made us breakfast from stuff I already had around the house and after we ate, we went over to Publix to pick up some things for dinner tonight at my brother’s house, but mom picked up the tab for that. I grabbed a few things so that I could make breakfast again tomorrow morning ($17.22).

Whenever my mom comes into town, we always get pedicures together, so we headed over to the nail salon with my sister and my brother’s girlfriend around lunchtime ($33 with tip). Then we went over to Pinky’s Westside Grill for lunch and met my brother. My mom picked up the check, so I didn’t spend anything on lunch.

I worked the rest of the afternoon, and then we headed to my brother’s for dinner and some family time.

Total spent: $50.22

Day seven: Saturday

I made a breakfast casserole for everyone this morning with the things I got at Publix yesterday.

Afterwards, my mom wanted to do a little shopping, so we went to Marshalls. I need to start picking up some things for our upcoming Italy trip, so I grabbed a few new shirts and two dresses, plus new pillows for my couch. I also saw that all of pumpkin candles are in store, and being the basic white girl that I am, I had to stock up ($116.27).

I had a “Stock the Tailgate” engagement party for two of my friends at 4pm, so I picked up a card and a ribbon at Publix ($6.48) and a handle of Titos (the bride’s favorite liquor) from the ABC Store ($42.75).

There was no parking at the party, so I took an uber there ($3.48) and then took another uber out to Topgolf to meet my family ($7.89). We had dinner and drinks there while we were waiting for a bay, and then played for two hours. My brother and stepdad picked up the tab for this, so I didn’t spend any additional money that night.

Total spent: $176.87

Total spent: $499.80
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $223.36
Transportation – $11.37
Shopping – $143.07
Miscellaneous – $122

What I learned:

Wow, I spend a lot of money going out to eat. However, I know that this is where I spend the majority of my money. I need to make more of an effort to bring my lunch to work, and cut down on this extra spending. If I’m being honest, I probably would’ve spent a lot more if my mom and stepdad weren’t here this weekend, because I would’ve gone out at least one night, but probably both, and have spent more on food, alcohol, and Ubers to and from my house. Thankfully, they came and paid for a lot of things that we did this weekend.

The shopping and miscellaneous items are pretty high this week as well, but those are more one off costs that don’t occur too often. The costs for my nails and pedicure are recurring, but this is something that makes me feel good and I don’t mind spending money on these every few weeks.

Overall, I know that I need to cut back on my spending for entertainment, but hey, you’re only young once! What’s the point of working hard for your money if you aren’t going to have a little fun too right?

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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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.