Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $42,000 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 30-year-old man that makes $42,000 a year. Here’s how he spends his money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Higher Education
Position: Financial Aid Counselor
Yearly salary: $42,000
Extra income: $300/month interest income from an inheritance
Savings: I’m not putting anything into savings.
Age: 30

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,130
Number of roommates: 0
Neighborhood: South End
Utilities: $40 for electric, $67 for cable and internet and water is included in rent
Student loans: None, thanks to my parents
Car payments: None, also thanks to my parents
Car Insurance: $390 every 6 months
Transportation costs: $120 in gas and Ubers
Phone bill: $48
Insurance: $45 taken out of my check each month
Child sponsorship: $20
Spotify: $9.99

Three financial goals

Not spend more than I take home each  month so I don’t have to keep tapping into my savings.

Take my lunch to work to free up money to travel.

Buy a condo.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

After a night out, I forced myself to get out of bed before noon and met a friend at Amelie’s for a latte and breakfast sandwich ($11.37).

Following breakfast, I made a trip to Publix to have some breakfast and lunch items on hand for the week. This trip set me back $36.12.

I like to go to Workman’s Friend on Sunday evenings for the live music, and I got a couple of Jamo-gingers and mussels ($34.99).

On my way home, I filled up the car with gas and got a scratch off ($18).

Total spent: $100.48

Day two: Monday

I ate some Skyr and a banana at home before I left for the office, and I packed a sandwich and some Goldfish for lunch. I wanted to stop for a Dunkin iced coffee before work, but apparently the rest of South End did too, so I decided to pass because my boss gives me this annoying look whenever I walk in late with Dunkin in hand.

Eating the food I packed at my desk meant I had an hour to kill at lunch, so I wandered over to Best Buy to check out some headphones. No dice on the headphones, but a Girl Scout was selling cookies at the shopping center, so I got a box of Samoas ($4). After work, the Samoas came in handy as I was sitting in standstill traffic on 77, so I don’t regret that purchase at all.

I met a friend at Suffolk Punch after work for a beer, and they do a $9 burger special on Mondays so I took advantage. This meal set me back $16.65.

Total spent: $20.65

Day three: Tuesday

Once again, I packed breakfast and lunch at home. Like yesterday, my boredom during my lunch hour led to me browsing around stores and I picked up a couple of dress shirts at TJ Maxx ($21.76).

I got chicken pad thai from Thai Taste for dinner ($11.86) and later ended up meeting some friends at Amelie’s and got an éclair ($3.77).

Total spent: $37.39

Day four: Wednesday

I woke up late, so I didn’t have time to make my lunch today, but I grabbed the Samoas as I was heading out for a hearty breakfast on the go. I got a Naked juice after getting to the office ($2.50).

When I got to work, my co-worker asked me for $5 to go toward a gift card for another co-worker’s baby shower.

I made dinner at home with some groceries I had, and then I headed out to music trivia at Ed’s Tavern, where I had three beers ($16.88).

After I got home, I sent my mom $48 for the phone bill.

Total spent: $72.38

Day five: Thursday

I had some Skyr and a banana at home before I left for the office, and I grabbed morning coffee from my apartment’s leasing office.

For lunch, I met a friend for Mexican food ($8.70) and nearly had to lay down in my office when I got back to work because I went HAM on the chips & salsa.

Once the clock hit 5:30, I raced up 77 to try and make it to Piedmont Social House so I could take advantage of half price appetizers before 6:00. I made it with two minutes to spare and got the hummus and a couple of Coronas while having some intelligent conversation with friends about Siesta Key, The Challenge – Vendettas, and The Women Tell All episode of The Bachelor ($17.78).

I paid rent when I got home, and my child sponsorship payment auto-drafted ($1,150).

Total spent: $1,176.48

Day six: Friday

I had a free offer on my Chick-Fil-A app for a chicken biscuit, so I stopped by on my way into work to redeem it.

I left the office at noon today to go to Asheville for the night. I ate a sandwich in the car that I had packed before I left, but it didn’t quite hit the spot, so I stopped at Taco Bell for some nacho fries ($1.09).

I went to a basketball game ($15), and my dad treated me to dinner and drinks for my upcoming birthday.

Total spent: $16.09

Day seven: Saturday

I stopped by Double D’s coffee, this coffee shop in Asheville inside of a double deck bus, and got a dirty chai ($5.50). This place is litville.

My Dad treated me breakfast, and then we headed back to Charlotte. He covered the gas, and I got the hotel with reward points.

After getting back to Charlotte, I took a nap and did some laundry. I have a difficult time staying in for more than a few hours, so I asked a girl on Hinge if she wanted to hang. After she beat around the bush and talked about how she was tired and not sure if she wanted to hang out or not, I took a hint and asked a friend if she wanted to hang out. We ended up meeting at GoodRoad CiderWorks where I got a flight and some Chex Mix ($12.75).

All that cider left us needing something salty, so we went over to Yamazaru. I got the Jawbreaker roll and some crab rangoon ($26.22)

When I got home, I finished off the Samoas and had a couple glasses of wine while watching Duke take down UNC. The spinning selfie videos of my friends raging at Connolly’s almost tempted me to rally and meet up with them, but I opted to stay in and catch up on The Amazing Race.

Total spent: $44.47

Total spent: $1,467.94
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $210.18
Bills – $1,198
Transportation – $18
Shopping – $21.76
Miscellaneous – $20

What I learned: I should look into getting a roommate or moving out of South End because way too much of my income is going towards living expenses. I moved to Charlotte about a year ago from a small town and wanted to be able to take advantage of living in a neighborhood where I could walk to a lot of things and be right in the center of the action, but that certainly comes with a cost. I’d eventually like to buy a condo within close proximity to uptown, but that may not be possible if I keep blowing through my savings and have no money for a down payment.

I know I spend a lot going out for dinner and drinks, but I’m okay with that for now. I want to enjoy this stage of life before I become a soccer dad. I know I can save money by not eating out during the week for breakfast and lunch. When I do take my lunch to work, I need to go to the gym or something during my lunch hour so I don’t waste money on stuff I don’t need.

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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.