Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $39,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $39,000 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 This week, I spoke with a 27-year-old woman that makes $39,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: FinTech
Position: Administrative Assistant
Salary: $39,000
Extra income: Does my friends paying me back on Venmo count?
Who you bank with: Bank of America
Savings: My family owns the property I live in, so my “rent” payments go into a savings account each month. Yeah, yeah, sound the spoiled alarm.
Age: 27

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $400
Number of roommates: 2
Neighborhood: West Charlotte
Utilities: About $110 total, give or take, depending on the season and if it’s hot AF outside.
Student loans: None. Yes, I know, I’m lucky. My favorite human, my Poppy, was very passionate about education and was gracious enough to pay for mine.
Car payments: None. I’m still driving the old girl from when I was 18.
Car insurance: None. Okay, yeah, this all sounds bad. My dad still foots this one.
Transportation costs: Between gas and Uber, I’d say about $150 monthly.
Phone bill: This is embarrassing. See “car insurance.”
Insurance: $100 taken out of my paycheck monthly. The insurance and benefits through my company RULE. Cannot beat it.
Gym membership: $215 for an unlimited barre membership at FlyWheel. Can I justify it? No. Is it 100% worth it? Outweighs all the tacos I eat, so yes.
Netflix: $8

Three financial goals:

Pay off my credit card in full. And get better at making monthly payments and keeping the balance down.

Save enough on my own to pay for a weeklong vacation not charged on my credit card.

Start saving (seriously) for a new car. Old girl is officially headed downhill.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Saturday

I had breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts for $7.72 and stopped at Paper Skyscraper because I needed some birthday gifts and paper goods. If you’ve never been here you’re seriously missing out. Just be careful not to step on Patsy Cline the golden doodle while you’re shopping. $43.28

At Sycamore, I got two drink tickets at Pumpkin Fest to hang out with the rest of the Charlotte 23-35 age group. $10

Then came Mac’s, where I spent $9.66 (but their grill was broken so I couldn’t get a BLT? What is life?).

I got a case of beer to split pre-concert with my already too drunk friends I’ve been sober driving around all day! $24.72

$47 of cash money spent to drink with my boyfriend Chase Rice at Coyote Joe’s. I’m so far back from the stage in this photo because I didn’t want other girls to witness our love and be jealous of us.

Total spent: $142.38

Day two: Sunday

I had far too many double mimosas and not enough food to counteract the booze at All American. Sunday Fundays are not my strong suit. Some guy was wearing this weird shirt, though. Still don’t get it. $40

Ubered home for $6.17, where I ate boxed mac and cheese for dinner. Saving money today for sure.

Total spent: $46.17

Day three: Monday

I had to get Dunkies (Dunkin’ Donuts) for me and a coworker because, Sunday Funday. $9.58

Lunch was Firehouse Subs via DoorDash because I forgot to grocery shop yesterday (#doublemimosas). $14.32

I ate Elio’s pizza at home for dinner because I’m a child. $0

Total spent: $23.90

Day four: Tuesday

Breakfast was a rice cake and almond butter from home and it was free AF.

I tried out Two Chicks and a Truck for lunch. My Philly Cheesesteak review: 6/10. $9.63

I stopped by Target because I needed work birthday party supplies. Yay for cheap balloons! $11.29

Starbucks: It’s like Pavlov’s Dog. I see those green letters and I can’t resist. $4.29

I went on a Bumble date and although I said those six magical words – “Do you want to split it?” – he picked up the check. Side note: Not to jinx it, but this date was surprisingly successful. Take that, Charlotte Agenda dating series that I wasn’t selected for! $0.

[Editor’s note: Wasn’t selected for… yet. The key word is ‘yet.’ Applications for Chem 101 are always open. Apply here.]

Total spent: $25.21

Day five: Wednesday

Breakfast and lunch were both at home (rice cake and almond butter, and a Trader Joe’s burrito bowl) and FREE!

I just can’t resist triple reward points days at Nordy’s (Nordstrom). Plus, I’ve been waiting for it to purchase new denim. $249.35. Ugh.

I had to get a baby shower gift and since personalization lends itself to a long ass turnover time, against my better judgement I purchased it while doing Cash Confessional to have it on time for the shower. $103

We’ll be having a lot of mimosas this weekend, so I grabbed $42.75 worth of drinks from the beer side of Frugal MacDoogal. But we had to stock up on SkinnyGirl tequila, too, you know? $21.38 from the liquor side.

Dixie Pig. This place was the bomb. Cheap AF and delish. Make sure to try allllll the sauces. Highly recommend. $21.35

I had to fill up my gas tank while in SC because when will these gas prices ever go back to $2? Ugh. $27.33

Total spent: $465.16

Day six: Thursday

I was way too busy to eat breakfast this morning. Thank god for free coffee at work.

I got to snag some extra Zoë’s catering for lunch! Being an admin is the $#!T!

Grabbed a fountain Diet Coke from a local gas station near Kings Mountain en route to Tennessee. Redneck AF. $2.19

On the way, I stopped at Burger King for road trip food ($5.77) and picked up food for the cabin at the grocery store in Pigeon Forge. It ended up being $200 for the whole weekend, but split ten ways. $20

Total spent: $27.96

Day seven: Friday

Breakfast was a bagel at the house. We had to carb load for the Moonshine ‘n Wine tour we were going on!

We rented a car service to drive us to and from the tour because driving (especially on windy mountain roads) after drinking moonshine all day would not be smart. $25 per person.

At our first stop (Tennessee Triple X Distillery), Marissa, the moonshine lady, sold me on the housemade Bloody Mary mix. I’m so easily swayed, it’s no joke. $9.19

Food and drinks for the rest of day were the things we purchased at the store – including Lay’s barbecue chip nachos with Kraft singles melted on top in the oven. Surprisingly delicious, but #drunkpeople. $0

Total spent: $34.19

Total spent: $764.97
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $252.55
Transportation – $58.50
Shopping – $406.92
Miscellaneous – $47

What I learned: 

Now what did I learn?

Quit online shopping and I will no longer be a real-life version of Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic (at least I’m not delusional enough to think I can afford Hermès!).

Stop impulse buying lunches and dinners when I already have the same kind of stuff at home. This week was a bit different because I didn’t grocery shop for work and I was out of town so it’s hard to eat what you already have.

I ended up buying a LOT more alcohol than I usually do on a weekly basis. I also had a friend in town the weekend I started the diary, and he wanted to go out all weekend, so I did more drinking/restaurant eating than I usually do.

I’ve also never put a number on my weekly spending, so now I see why I don’t have enough in savings for a new car.

I’d like to say this was a life-changing, routine-altering, eye-opening experience, but I am fully and 100% aware I am irresponsible with my money. I know I spend too much on things outside of what my budget should be. And yes, before everyone starts to comment, I also know I am spoiled, my parents baby me, I have no real expenses, etc. etc. I haven’t really tried super hard to change any of these things. I don’t know anything different, but financial irresponsibility is a seriously tough, bad habit to break. Just ask my parents, they’ve been trying to change me for years (like hello mom and dad, you created this monster!).

But hey, maybe by the time I’m 30 I’ll have my shit together? Wish me luck, CLT!

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