Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $48,000 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 27-year-old woman that makes $48,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Assets
Position: Shipping and Logistics Coordinator
Yearly salary: $48,000
Extra income: I help my mom out on the weekend sometimes at her restaurant, and make $100-$200 in tips. I call this my play money.
Savings: For the past 6 years, I’ve been putting my monthly bonuses in my savings account, which ranges from $600-$1,400. It just depends on the month.
Age: 27

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $550
Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Utilities: Included in rent
Student loans: None. FAFSA covered most of it and my mother paid what wasn’t covered.
Car payments: I lease my car and my payments are $290.
Car Insurance: $286
Transportation costs: I’m not big on Uber and tend to drive myself, so normally my only transportation cost is just getting gas, which normally runs about $80-95 a month. I always fill up in South Carolina as it’s much cheaper and I work a mile away from the border so it’s convenient, which is nice because my car takes premium and that gets expensive.
Phone bill: $107 for myself and my mother
Insurance: $190 comes out of my paycheck bi-weekly though I never use it.
Gym membership: $10

Three financial goals

Properly set up my IRA. And invest in it appropriately.

Purchase a condo or townhouse.

Cancel a few of the credit cards that I have but never use.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I went to Aldi and Trader Joe’s and spent $54.22. This will be my lunch and dinners for the week.

Total spent: $54.22

Day two: Monday

I made a berry kale smoothie for breakfast when I arrived to work. For lunch, I had black bean and butternut squash tacos that I made at home the night before and for dinner, I had a sofrita bowl from home.

My only expense today was $107 for my phone bill, which came out automatically.

Total spent: $107

Day three: Tuesday

I had a berry kale smoothie again (this is my staple breakfast) and leftover tacos from home for lunch.

I went to PetSmart during my lunch break to pickup a free bag of dog food for my mom’s dog, and also purchased a panther jersey for said dog for $18.13. It looked super cute and I’m somewhat of an impulsive shopper.

Afterward, I walked next door to Dollar Tree to pickup candy for my movie crew, which came out to $5.30.

After work, I went to a free screening of Thank You for Your Service. I go to free screenings 2-4 times a week, which means I very rarely pay to go to the movies!

For dinner I had the rest of my sofrita bowl from the night before while waiting in line for the movie.

Total spent: $23.43

Day four: Wednesday

Another smoothie for breakfast followed by a lunch of veggie stir fry that I made the night before.

I had another advance screening – this time it was for Suburbicon – and ate farro salad I had made at home for dinner.

My only expense today was my car insurance payment, which was $307.15. It went up $16 since my last payment, so I made a note to look at other insurance companies, as this seemed like a lot to pay.

Total spent: $307.15

Day five: Thursday

Smoothie for breakfast again.

During my lunch break, I went to the bank for a money order for my passport fees, which was $111

Stopped by Sabor, which was next door, for lunch for their $6 special of an arepa and empanda. I subbed barbacoa beef for chicken, so the price went up to $8.66.

I found a cheaper insurance rate of $132.18 with another company, so of course I switched.

For dinner I ate my empanada from lunch. 

Total spent: $119.66

Day six: Friday

Another smoothie for Breakfast.

During my lunch break I got gas at QT for $29.55. and ate leftover veggie stir fry for lunch followed by leftover farro salad for dinner.  

After work, I helped my mom out and made $50 in tips at her restaurant.

Total spent: $29.55

Day seven: Saturday

I worked at my mom’s again for a couple of hours and made $72 in tips.

At the last minute, my roommate and I decided to celebrate Halloween. I didn’t spent any money on my costume as I put it together last minute with stuff I already had.

We went to 8.2.0. I spent $22 on pizzas and fries, while she bought drinks, and afterward, we stopped by Tyber Creek to meet up with more friends. I had a couple of drinks but they were purchased by a friend. 

Total spent: $22

Total spent: $663.01
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $90.18
Bills – $414.15
Transportation – $29.55
Miscellaneous – $129.13

What I learned: Overall, my spending for the week was pretty normal, minus the passport fees.

In all honesty, I don’t know if I would have switched insurance companies if I hadn’t been keeping my diary this week. My insurance has been high for the past 5 years, and I never looked into other options partially because I was being lazy.

I’m pretty good at keeping within my budget but sometimes I do make impulse buys like the dog jersey or Sabor for lunch on Thursday. But overall, I think I’m doing a pretty good job.

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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.