Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a $44,000 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 kylie@charlotteagenda.com. This week, I spoke with a 23-year-old woman that makes $44,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Marketing
Position: Digital Marketing Specialist
Salary: $44,000
Extra income: I have the option of making an additional bonus each month if I hit certain metrics. The amount varies.
Who you bank with: Wells Fargo
Savings: I try to put anywhere from $100-$500 per month into my savings/emergency fund.
Age: 23

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $818.50, which includes cable and internet
Number of roommates: 1, my boyfriend
Neighborhood: Uptown
Utilities: $75 on average
Student loans: N/A
Car payment: N/A
Cary insurance: $139.60
Transportation costs: $40, if that. I walk to work.
Phone bill: $30. I’m on my mom’s plan and she gets a discount through her employer.
Insurance: $79.69 for vision, medical and dental.
Apple Music: $9.99

Three financial goals

Donate 5% of my taxed income to causes I care about.

Save for a down payment on a home in the near future.

Put enough of my monthly income toward retirement so that I’ll (ideally) have the option of retiring by 55.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

I made a smoothie at home for breakfast and packed a salad for lunch and resisted the urge to buy a coffee from Starbucks on the walk into work, but told myself I’d get one on Friday.

My reusable water bottle broke on Saturday, so I ran into Dean & Deluca before work to buy one of their giant bottles of water ($3.22).

Ate my packed lunch while my co-worker got a wrap from Rhino Market & Deli… I thought about buying a cup of soup to try it out, but decided against it.

After work, I went home, went for a run, made burgers for dinner and bought a water bottle off of Amazon for $13.89.

Total spent: $17.11

Day two: Tuesday

I made a smoothie for breakfast and packed a salad again for lunch, even! But I wasn’t feeling well, so I ended up powering through the workday and then crashing in front of the TV once I got home.

Whipped up some rice and veggies for dinner, passed out early.

Total spent: $0

Day three: Wednesday

My boyfriend and I woke up early to hit the DMV. We just moved here a few months ago, so I had to register my car and get my NC plates. That property tax is no joke: $626.58 (ugh).

Still not feeling well and I’m grumpy from the DMV, so I treat myself to a coffee before going into work, plus soup and a sandwich from Panera for lunch. $15.29

After work, my boyfriend and I went out for dinner before heading to trivia with his coworkers. We split dinner, and he got our drinks at the bar. $20

Total spent: $661.87

Day four: Thursday

I ate breakfast at home, but grabbed Chick-fil-A for lunch for $7.20.

Thought about getting a mid-afternoon snack from the vending machines at work, but shared some of my co-worker’s snacks instead.

I STILL wasn’t feeling well, so I picked up some soup from Panera on the way home from work. Got $1 off with the My Panera rewards I had earned (woo!) and paid $4.86.

Spent the whole night cleaning and doing laundry because my best friend was flying in Friday night for a weekend visit.

Total spent: $12.06

Day five: Friday

Got a Chick-fil-A for breakfast on the way into work because I had a free treat for using the app! $0

I worked the whole morning and went for lunch with my co-workers at Mortimer’s. I got a cup of chili and a coke ($8.50), but said no to Insomnia cookies after. I was starting to feel a little guilty about how much I had been spending at lunch every day.

Finished up the workday and then grabbed my friend from the airport. We hit up Food Truck Friday at Sycamore, where each of us got a grilled cheese at Papi Queso and I got our first round of beers. $22.10

We spent the rest of the night catching up, and my boyfriend picked up the next round of beers. I covered the Lyft home. $8.60

Total spent: $39.20

Day six: Saturday

We woke up and went to Amélie’s for a quick bite to eat and coffee ($12.36), followed by a trip to Marshall’s. I had a gift card, so I was convinced I had to use it at some point! I got yet ANOTHER fall candle that I didn’t need, some face wipes and some new pajamas ($43.93).

We hung around the Midtown shopping center for a bit and decided to take advantage of Pisces’ all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special. $15.50

Per a friend’s recommendation, we decided to go to the Divine Llama Vineyards for the afternoon. This. Place. Is. Awesome.

We did the group wine tasting and then ended up buying a bottle to take with us as we walked around the vineyard. We took a ton of pictures with the llamas – definitely worth the drive up there. I covered my tasting fee and the bottle. $27.37

We got dinner at Babalu that night and split a bunch of tapas. We decided to have a low-key night and ended up drinking wine back at the apartment while watching a movie. $78.30

Total spent: $177.46

Day seven: Sunday

My friend left later in the afternoon, so we decided to spend the morning shopping before I dropped her back off at the airport.

We hit the Bojangles’ drive thru for some biscuits and sweet tea (which my friend covered) before doing some shopping at Ulta. I got a new hairbrush, makeup sponges and an eyebrow pencil ($49.32).

The rest of the day passed with me getting ready for the week and just hanging in before I made dinner at home to make up for my ridiculous spending all weekend.

Total spent: $49.32

Total spent: $957.02
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $214.70
Bills – $626.58
Transportation – $8.60
Shopping – $107.14

What I learned: 

I spend a TON of money on food, which is so ridiculous because I really like cooking and trying new recipes.  I found it was easier not to spend money on food during the week when I had meal prepped some easy lunches or snacks ahead of time, so I need to do that more for sure.

Obviously there were a few outliers here, I am not paying property tax on my car every week, and I don’t have someone from out of town here all the time, but overall I need to spend less money on eating/drinking out if I want to meet my savings/giving goals.  This was an awesome and eye opening experience.  Overall, I’m glad I did it!

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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.