Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $40,000 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 26-year-old woman that makes $40,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Medical
Position: Marketing Coordinator
Yearly salary: $40,000
Extra income: $400 monthly for helping a buddy market his new bar, and $300 monthly for assisting with a fall soccer league.
Savings: $75/week is automatically transferred
Age: 26

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $727
Number of roommates: 1, boyfriend
Neighborhood: South End
Utilities: Around $100
Student loans: $385
Car payments: $219
Car Insurance: $66
Transportation costs: It fluctuates monthly, but roughly $35-$40/month for gas and $15 or so for Ubers
Phone bill: $82, but work pays for 2/3 of it. I only have to pay roughly $30.
Insurance: $108.88 for health insurance and $27.50 for dental and vision.
Gym  membership: $175. It’s a lot, and I am aware of it, but it’s the one thing I really splurge on for myself each month. I really enjoy it and go 5-6 times a week, so I feel like it’s worth it.

Three financial goals

Pay off my student loans in less than the expected 15 years… because if paying back student loans weren’t bad enough on their own, those interest rates suck even more.

Save to buy my first condo. I was in a different industry prior to the one I am currently in, which allowed me to save more. I took a bit of a pay cut to get into another industry as I have a lot more opportunity to move up here. Luckily, I have some money in savings thanks to my last job and continue to add whatever I can to it.

Save for travel. When the two goals above are taken care of, I would like to start saving to be able to travel (abroad) more. Sometimes I find myself day dreaming of all the things I could do with and extra $385 a month when those loans are finally paid off!

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I woke up early to make sure I could get to the grocery store before I was starving as I realized I didn’t have anything to make breakfast. I shop at Food Lion when I have a lot to buy so that I am able to stretch my dollar a little further. My groceries came to $62.

This is more than I usually spend on my weekly Sunday shops, (especially because I spent $13 yesterday on a bunch of veggies at the farmers market) but I was running low on, or was out of, a lot of basic toiletries, so it added up quick.

I made eggs and had coffee at home with the groceries I had just purchased.

I spent the next few hours down in Rock Hill at my girls’ soccer tournament. On my way home, I stopped at FedEx to grab a few prints I had made for my mom’s birthday coming up. The prints added up to $26.

I spent the rest of the night prepping food for the week.

Total spent: $88

Day two: Monday

After the gym, I made scrambled eggs and spinach and ate a few almond breakfast cookies I made the night before while meal prepping. I also made coffee at home.

For lunch I had another meal that I prepped the night before which was just veggies, quinoa and ground turkey.

On the way home from work, I had to mail a package. My 2 girlfriends from high school and I all moved away from home and across the country, so throughout the year we send packages of little things from our new town as a way to stay in touch. I currently have the package (where I take out the two gifts for me, and replace it with two for them) and had to ship my gift, which was homemade apple butter (purchased last week) and some Louisiana hot sauce (from the last package) to NYC. The package was pretty heavy and cost $13.35 to ship.

For dinner, my boyfriend came over and I made us a coconut chicken and quinoa dish with groceries I had purchased on Sunday.

Total spent: $13.35

Day three: Tuesday

After the gym, I made the same breakfast I ate on Monday and, sadly enough, I ate the same lunch as Monday as well.

For dinner I ate the last of the coconut chicken and quinoa dish I had the night before.

I went out to Joann Fabrics to pick up a few pieces of my Halloween costume, and was able to snag all the fabric I needed for only $9.28. I then had to purchase one final piece on amazon that cost $5.99.

Total spent: $15.27

Day four: Wednesday

After the gym, I ate… you guessed it… the same breakfast as Monday & Tuesday. You could say I am a creature of habit, but it’s cheap and easy to just buy in bulk for the week, so that’s what I do.

Lunch was the same again.

On my lunch break, I had to book a hotel room for an upcoming wedding I’m going to in Asheville. The room cost $155.33 under the wedding room block. I’m sharing it with a girlfriend going, so she Venmoed me $77 for her half. $78.33

On my way to soccer practice tonight, I stopped at Smoothie King. It’s my mid-week treat I try to always leave time for because if I don’t get a snack in before practice, I don’t get to eat dinner until about 8:30pm. My pumpkin smoothie cost $5.19.

I know. Basic.

Total spent: $83.52

Day five: Thursday

I skipped the gym today because… sore. Still ate the same breakfast, though.

And lunch. It always sounds like a great idea on Sunday night to prep the same meal for lunch for the week until about Thursday and you start to get sick of it. But I ate it anyway.

For dinner, my mom, brother and boyfriend came over to hang out and we had a few beers (that I already had in the fridge).

While they were here, my mom helped me put together my costume. It’s something I probably could have done myself, as it was pretty simple, but mom loves to be involved with these kinds of things so we worked on it together. (I’d share it with you, but it might be too obvious for my friends to guess whose diary this is.)

Total spent: $0

Day six: Friday

After the gym, I made my eggs and spinach, but I also whipped up some healthy coconut flour pumpkin pancakes because I had the ingredients and was still hungry.

Because by Friday I am about out of food and, to be honest, sick of the same thing, two coworkers and I decided to go out for lunch.

We ended up at Pike’s in South End. I had a Greek Salad with Chicken, which was $13, but when I went to pay the tab, our coworker unexpectedly (and very generously) picked it up for us! It was a thank you for our hard work, but I’ll be sure to repay the favor in the future.

On my way home from work, I run to Walmart to grab a few basic party supplies and snacks for my moms birthday get-together next week. I also pick up more eggs, hairspray and a few other things I need and end up spending $75.

For dinner, my boyfriend and I met two of our friends at dinner before heading to Scarrigan Farms. We had a delicious Italian dinner where my boyfriend wouldn’t let me help with the tab. I offered to pay, but he wouldn’t let me help this time.

Same thing happened at Scarrigan’s and he wouldn’t let me buy my ticket. He really is very generous, but because he just paid for dinner, I Venmoed him $25 for my ticket.

Scarrigan’s was well worth the $25.

Total spent: $100

Day seven: Saturday

I got to the gym early so that I could be back home to get some things done today. After the gym (and I am sure at this point it is no surprise), I whip up my eggs and spinach and eat left over pumpkin pancakes with my coffee.

I spend the early morning cleaning out my closet and bringing out my winter clothes. Wild Saturday.

I have to run back to the grocery store to get a few things to make for the Halloween party my boyfriend and I are going to. The groceries cost $35… which was a lot more than I had planned on spending on a dessert, but it was too late to change my mind, so I pay for the groceries and head home.

I whip up some treats, and we head to the Halloween party.

Total spent: $35

Total spent: $335.14
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $102.19
Shopping – $90.27
Travel – $78.33
Miscellaneous – $64.35

What I learned: That I am 26 going on 62. I also spend a lot of time and most of my money at a grocery store.

On the other hand, I have been trying to cut down where I can and eat healthier, so I am not too surprised by the spending I’ve done this week.

This was actually a better week than I’ve had lately with no birthday dinners or major events to attend, or big bills owed. The extra money spent this week was for my mom’s birthday next week, which is a special occasion.

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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.