Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $150,000 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 31-year-old woman that makes $150,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Finance
Position: Associate
Salary: $150,000 (about $6,700 per month after taxes and deductions)
Extra income: I get a yearly bonus, but it immediately goes to paying down my student loans.
Savings: I put 11% pre-tax into my 401(k) and $200 into my HSA each month. I save $200 per month through an auto-debit on my checking account, so I don’t have to think about or see it.
Age: 31

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,300
Number of roommates: 0
Neighborhood: Uptown
Utilities: $70
Student loans: $2,105
Car payments: None
Car insurance: I pay around $300 every 6 months
Phone bill: $75
Insurance: $70 for life, health, dental and vision
Spotify, Netflix, Apple storage, YogaGlo: $42

Three financial goals

My number one goal is paying off all of my student loan debt as fast as possible. I got my MBA last year and it was expensive!

My second goal is being able to buy an annoyingly expensive plane ticket about once a month to visit my fiancé, who lives abroad.

My last goal is to be able to have enough cash flow to do things that are important to me – help my family financially, pay for my wedding in April, and buy glasses and bottles of wine when life gets hard.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

7:30 a.m. – Went to physical therapy because I’ve been having SI joint pain (I think I went too hard with my wedding workout plan). I’m privileged enough to have health insurance through work that covers this, so I don’t have to pay anything. $0

9:00 a.m. – Running late to work, but made breakfast anyway, a quick egg and cheese sandwich that I toss in a ziplock bag to eat at the office. $0

12:15 p.m. – Ran out to pick up some high heels I’d left with the shoe repair person near my building. The heels were worn down to the nail, so they put a new rubber thing on them. Luckily, I paid when I dropped them off, so zero cash outflow when I picked them up. $0

12:20 p.m. – Feeling so great about spending no money so far today that I stopped by Nectar’s Uptown stand and bought myself a plant for my desk. I’d been eyeing them for the past week and it seemed like something that would improve my life at work and bring me joy, so I just bought it. $23.60

1:30 p.m. – Brought a delicious salad from home today with spinach, avocado, almonds, sprouts, feta, roasted asparagus and salmon. All with a green goddess dressing. Super yum and super free. $0

3:30 p.m. – Left work to head to a bank recruiting event at Duke University. Caught a ride with a colleague who was also going.

6:00 p.m. – Stopped at my favorite wing stand in Durham to grab dinner pre-recruiting event. They have vegan wings that are incredible, and since I was traveling for work, I got to charge this one to my company. $0

9:00 p.m. – Recruiting event ends and I stay overnight in a hotel in Durham.

Total spent: $23.60

Day two: Tuesday

5:30 a.m. – Wake up early to get in a yoga class before I head back to Charlotte. I turn on my YogaGlo app to a class, get 12 minutes in and then give up because my back pain gets too bad. Do my PT stretches instead but feel frustrated. Make coffee in my room as a consolation. $0

7:00 a.m. – Call an Uber to my hotel to take me to the train station. Company pays since I’m on work travel. $0

7:30 a.m. – Still sitting in the Amtrak station. My train that was supposed to arrive at 7:19am is now expected at 7:55am because it was delayed leaving Raleigh. Getting hungry, but figured I can grab something from the snack car on the train.

8:00 a.m. – Board the train. There is no snack car. A kind woman sitting near me gives me two little snack squares to hold me over until we arrive in Charlotte. I’m able to log into wifi, though, and start my work day from here. Really excited to be taking the train and feel very productive!

10:30 a.m. – Arrive to my office building and I’m so hungry, so I go to the little shop in the lobby and buy a pack of cashews and a coconut water to get me through until lunch. $5.66

12:30 p.m. – Fantastic lunch – same salad as yesterday that I brought from home. $0

7:00 p.m. – Had an unexpected night off work! Want to work out, but remember I’m trying to heal so mope around and look at Instagram instead.

Throw together one of my favorite weeknight dinners – spaghetti with tomato sauce and lots of spinach wilted in. I usually poach an egg to put on top but just wasn’t feeling that tonight. I had all of the ingredients on-hand, so no cash outflow. $0

Total spent: $5.66

Day three: Wednesday

7:00 a.m. – Go to yoga and try to take it easy, but leave frustrated again with my injury. My apartment building offers free yoga on Wednesdays and Fridays, so at least it didn’t cost me anything. $0

8:30 a.m. – Make my favorite green smoothie despite the freezing cold weather. I throw in a banana, a half cup of berries, some flax seeds, some peanut butter, some almond milk and then fill the blender to the top with spinach. It really tastes like a peanut butter and banana milkshake when it’s all blended together. So good for the body and the soul! $0

10:00 a.m. – Went to coffee with a dear colleague to catch up. Got a hot tea because no calories and less caffeine. $2.44

12:00 p.m. – Met up with a good friend from college for lunch. I have to take advantage of these slow times at work when I can. We went to Rhino Market’s Uptown location and I had a grilled cheese with sliced tomato and caramelized onions for $.49 each. $8.06

2:00 p.m. – Last night when I was making tomato sauce, I almost lost it on my can opener. I’ve had it forever and it’s bent in weird places, so doesn’t really work. I vowed to buy a new one, so I ordered one on Amazon for $9.99.

3:00 p.m. – Got an email from a friend’s nonprofit, Lórien Academy, that provides arts education and experiences to youth in West Charlotte. They’ve enrolled students for their summer program and are looking for financial sponsors for each child. This is the third email I’ve gotten, so feel like it’s time to move. I wish I could do the $100/month for a full scholarship, but, you know, student loans, so I commit to a quarter scholarship at $25/month. I got a free subscription to 1000 Creatives as a thank you. How lovely! $25

7:00 p.m. – Off work early again tonight. This is so rare. I ran into a colleague in the bathroom before I left and she was selling some clothing items for $10. I found a pair of bright tights for yoga and a hot pink pencil skirt for spring. $20

7:15 p.m. – Home. I had leftover sauce from last night, so I made some spaghetti and reheated the sauce. This time I threw an egg on top. $0

Total spent: $65.49

Day four: Thursday

7:45 a.m. – Made an egg sandwich to bring to work, threw it in my bag and dashed out the door. $0

8:15 a.m. – Jumped on the CATS bus from Uptown to go to my physical therapy appointment. I’d already bought a 10 ride pass for $22 last week, so I just scanned my pass and I was on my way. $0

9:30 a.m. – Took the bus right back Uptown for work and scanned my pass again. $0

11:30 a.m. – I have a training at work today and tomorrow. As part of that, I get lunch for free! $0

5:30 p.m. – We have a networking dinner at Chima as part of our training. Free dinner and wine! I’m not a meat eater, but it was still a super fun experience to catch up with people, and there are plenty of non-meat options! $0

8:30 p.m. – Some people go out afterwards, but it’s cold and I’m wearing uncomfortable shoes, so I opt to go home instead. $0

Total spent: $0

Day five: Friday

8:00 a.m. – I wanted a smoothie this morning, but was out of spinach, so I made an egg sandwich instead. Arrive at my training to see that breakfast was provided, but it’s bagels and pastries, so I’m glad I brought my sandwich instead. $0

10:00 a.m. – E-mail popped up that my yoga school has approved my 200-hour training certification, so even though I finished the training almost two years ago, I’m finally finishing the process of officially getting certified through Yoga Alliance. Long story, but the point is, I pay my registration fee and voilà – I’m officially certified to teach yoga! $115

11:30 a.m. – Free lunch during training. $0

11:45 a.m. – Get an e-mail from work saying that I’m staffed on a project due next week, so my early nights are about to turn into late nights. Well, it was nice while it lasted.

7 p.m. – Leave work and pick up a bottle of wine and pimento cheese with crackers from Rhino Market. I’m heading over to one of my bridesmaid’s houses to catch up and can’t show up empty handed! $31.39

9 p.m. – I’m in the process of sending thank you cards from my latest bridal shower, so I buy some vintage stamps from a friend’s Etsy shop, Enfield Post. I will never, never go back to using regular stamps. $36.25

Total spent: $182.64

Day six: Saturday

9:40 a.m. – Wake up and realize my alarm never went off, meaning I missed an auction from Leland Little that I’d been counting down to. Darn it. Don’t have time to worry about it because I’m supposed to have a spa appointment at 10. Brush my teeth and throw on some clothes. $0

10:00 a.m. – Arrive to Palestra Boutique Spa for my facial. I’ve been splurging on these every six weeks or so leading up to my wedding. My esthetician, Shannin Washburn, is incredible and I could not recommend her more highly. I’m running low on one of the products I’m using, so I enjoy my heavenly facial and go ahead and buy the Sothys moisturizer. $157.97

11:00 a.m. – Super hungry at this point, so while I’m tempted to stop by a bakery on my way home, I decide to just head home and make avocado toast with a poached egg on top. $0

12:00 p.m. – Had a Skype call with some friends from business school. The love Skype because it’s free and can connect people from all over the world! $0

3:00 p.m. – Met a friend for a wine tasting at my favorite wine shop, Petit Philippe. They were featuring Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley today, and we tasted three delicious bottles for $16.24.

7:00 p.m. – I really wanted to make a nice dinner at home, so I headed to Harris Teeter to pick up some scallops as a treat, but then lobster tails were on sale for $2.99 each so obviously I bought two. With the rest of my groceries for the week, I end up spending $28.46.

Total spent: $202.67

Day seven: Sunday

10:00 a.m. – Wake up and work from home for a few hours. Make a lovely avocado toast with scrambled eggs and then work on wedding stuff for a bit. $0

3:00 p.m. – Finally get the motivation to work out. There is a gym in my building, so it’s nice and free. Come back downstairs and eat the rest of my spaghetti sauce with spinach. $0

5:30 p.m. – Meet a couple of friends from business school to watch the Duke game. We go to Duckworth’s in Uptown and I get three stouts mixed with cider. They are weirdly delicious! $16.24

11:00 p.m. – I’ve put off making my meals for week, but I’m not feeling tired. Go ahead and start making achari paneer, an Indian dish, to bring to work this week. There was no paneer at Harris Teeter yesterday, so I’m using tofu instead. $0

Total spent: $16.24

Total spent: $496.30
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $108.49
Health – $272.97
Shopping – $89.84
Charity – $25

What I learned: It was nice just to add up my monthly expenses to see how much spending money I have after bills. It was more than I thought (though this was the first paycheck my raise kicked in), so I’m going to up my student loan payment to $2,500 per month starting in April.

Also, one thing I already knew, but this confirmed it, is that I typically don’t spend much throughout the week but then binge spend on the weekend. I had a weirdly slow week at work, and clearly filled my time with online spending, which is not good.

I do think I spent my money on things that truly brought me happiness. I need to consider whether I want to spend my money that way or focus more on saving for the future.

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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.