Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $55,400 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 24-year-old woman that makes $55,400 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Government
Position: Compliance Specialist
Yearly salary: $55,400
Extra income: $370 incentive check, a possible bonus after yearly review and around $100 when I have to be on call for work (around 4 times per year, and this just so happens to be the week I’m on call)
Who you bank with: Wells Fargo
Savings: $100/week into Wells Fargo savings account and $15/week into a savings account which goes towards a trip to Disney in February.
Age: 24

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $725 (my half)
Number of roommates: 1, boyfriend
Neighborhood: Cotswold
Utilities: Probably around $200… cable and internet is by far the most expensive bill.
Student loans: None, thanks to an amazing pair of parents
Car payments: No payments once again, thanks to my parents who gave me my car as a high school graduation gift
Car Insurance: Around $850/year
Transportation costs: I’m sure it fluctuates each month, but probably around $100.
Phone bill: I haven’t picked this up from my parents yet. Bless them.
Insurance: $18/week (I get paid weekly)
Grad school: $1400/semester, but if I get a B or above, I get reimbursed by my job.
Spotify: $9.99/month
Hulu: $7.99/month

Three financial goals

Start saving to buy a house. Eventually.

Cut down on spending to eat outBad habit.

Open a savings account which goes toward traveling abroad.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

Woke up early to get a head start on the day and ate a bowl of cereal and drank some coffee at home before heading to church. After church, I was super tempted to pick up some lunch, but decided to make a PB&J at home with stuff I already had. This is a good way to start out my money diary, because I typically grocery shop on Sundays, but did it on Friday instead.

I spent the rest of my day watching football and meal prepping for the week.

For dinner, my boyfriend, his brother and I picked up some Viva Chicken for $10 a piece.

Total spent: $10

Day two: Monday

Running late, as per usual, this morning, but still managed to make some eggs, toast and coffee to take with me to eat and drink at work.

We are in the middle of a United Way campaign at work and I was volunteered to help out. Today, we had a chili cook-off and it’s hard for me to say no to charity, so I paid $5 to taste the chili, $5 for 6 raffle tickets (there are some awesome prizes) and $20 for a cool CLT t-shirt.

P.S. Everyone should donate to United Way, it’s a great organization.

After barely making it through work because I was so tired from eating LITERALLY 6 different kinds of chili, I convinced myself to go to the gym at my apartment. I then cooked up some tacos, rice and beans for dinner.

Total spent: $30

Day three: Tuesday

Today I decided to start a new goal for the week: Look presentable everyday. Trust me… I realize how sad this goal is but hey, whatever motivates you, right?

This morning was a success, as I gave myself a full hour to get ready – which means I finally ate my eggs, toast, and a cup of coffee at home. I know what you’re thinking: “This is pathetic that you are so excited about this.” Trust me, I’m thinking the same thing.

Since there’s no chili cook-off today, I brought a meal prepped lunch to eat. A salad and yogurt isn’t exciting, but it’s been my mission to bring my lunch everyday since I started this job. But, occasionally I splurge.

Mid-afternoon, I drink some tea that I brought from home to help me power through the day.

I stayed at work until 6:30 working on my midterm for grad school. Whoever said that having a full time job and doing grad school at the same time was a good idea was a liar.

By the time I got home I was starving. My boyfriend had already cooked pork chops, potatoes and veggies because he’s amazing.

After some more reading for school, I go to bed decently early.

Total spent: $0

Day four: Wednesday

I’m keeping my goal going strong this morning by giving myself an hour to get ready and scarf down some Cheerios and coffee before heading to work.

Once I get in my car, I realize that my gas light had come on on my way home from work the day before. Considering it’s raining and I’m just feeling lazy, I decide that my car can make it to work and I’ll just get gas on the way home.

For lunch, I eat my same boring meal prepped salad and yogurt and TBH, I really need to start thinking of better lunches because I don’t even really like salad. I have my typical tea pick-me-up mid afternoon to help me stay awake.

That trip to the gas station after work was actually terrifying, but I made it without running out of gas! $24.74

My boyfriend made us some nachos from the leftover taco meat and beans from Monday and they were amazinggggg. He is the best at making nachos, it’s ridiculous. He had also stopped by the grocery store to pick up some things for our Panthers tailgate tomorrow. We always split our bills down the middle, so I Venmo him $23.

I finish the night by making homemade Rice Krispie treats for Thursday (so good) and watching Riverdale with one of my friends (LOL).

Total spent: $47.74

Day five: Thursday

It’s THERRRS-DAY, y’all! I’m so excited for the game I wake up at 5:45 a.m. for fun! Just kidding, I wake up early because I am getting to work at 7 so that I can leave early to go tailgate. Of course I’m moving pretty slow this morning, but I still manage to cook up some eggs, toast and coffee to take with me to the office. Also, I think I look presentable today, so keeping the goal going strong.

I know that I said it was my goal to not eat out at lunch, but here I am picking up Panera for lunch ($9.02). I don’t really have an excuse other than I can’t bear to eat that nasty salad today, LOL.

I get off early and run by Walgreens to pick up a couple of toiletries I had run out of ($14.24) and then head home to make some sausage dip for the tailgate with the stuff my boyfriend bought yesterday.

We head to the tailgate and have the best time!! So much food, drinks, cornhole and beer pong. After the tailgate, we head into the game and have a great time until the Panthers lose and then it’s not as fun anymore.

At this point, it’s midnight and I’ve been up since 5:45 so I’m feeling a little sleepy. Once we get home I pass out and try not to think about the fact that I have to wake up in 5 hours.

Total spent: $23.26

Day six: Friday

This is the worst morning ever. I’m not even hungover because I’m still on call for work and wasn’t able to drink, but my whole body hurts just from standing for so long… help! I decide to treat myself this morning to some Starbucks on the way to work ($5.79).

I’m exhausted, but nevertheless happy because I am no longer on call! I go to Zaxby’s for lunch because I suck and it costs me $6.34. I am now realizing how ridiculous it is that my drink at Starbucks was less than a dollar cheaper than my full meal at Zaxby’s. Wow.

I power through work and once I’m off, we head to dinner with my boyfriend’s family for his birthday. Being the kind people they are, they pay for our meals.

We hit up SCarowinds with our friends afterward and stay until it closes. Before we get back on the interstate, we decide we have to get a snack for the road so we go by the QT ($5.52). Once we get home, we pass out because it’s been a long couple of days!

Total spent: $17.65

Day seven: Saturday

It’s finally my boyfriend’s actual birthday! We sleep in and once we are up, I treat him to some Chick-Fil-A for breakfast ($9.94).

After we get ready for the day, we meet up with some friends for lunch and watch some football. I decide he doesn’t need to pay for anything on his birthday and pick up both of our meals/drinks ($31.52).

We continue our day by getting drinks in Uptown ($10) and going to a brewery ($5.79). We end our day with more football and more food and drinks, where I pick up the tab ($32.48).

Everyone is pretty exhausted from being out all day, so we call it an early-ish night around midnight.

Total spent: $89.73

Total spent: $218.38
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $154.40
Transportation – $24.74
Miscellaneous – $39.24

What I learned:

I’m actually pretty happy with myself for my spending this week. I’ve recently started to be more aware of what I’m spending my money on and am trying to get better about it. Although there was some extra food costs this week (especially Saturday), I know it was a special occasion and doesn’t happen often. This has definitely been beneficial for me and I plan on continuing tracking my spending! I know I’m young and new to the workforce, but my future self will thank me if I start being smart with my money now.

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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.