Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $46,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $46,000 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 woman that makes $46,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Nonprofit
Position: Marketing and Events Coordinator
Salary: $46,000
Savings: I’m putting things into savings… slowly. $100 per month and whatever is left over after my bills are paid and my next paycheck hits my account. I’m also enrolled in a round-up program with my bank, so with any purchases I make, they round up to the nearest dollar and put that change in my savings. I also put 8% of my paycheck into my 401(k) and my company matches 3% of that (the maximum match available), making the total 11% per paycheck.
Age: 30

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $852
Number of roommates: 0
Neighborhood: East Charlotte
Utilities: 

Duke – $101.41
Spectrum – $69.99
Water – $53.09
Home alarm system – $52.99

Student loans: None. Any student loans have been paid off.
Car payments: $259
Car insurance: $160.15
Transportation costs: $80 per month in gas
Phone bill: $60
Insurance: I have health insurance through my employer, and my homeowner’s insurance is included in my mortgage payments.
Hulu: $7.99
Rooms To Go store card: $41. I put a living room set on this card when I first bought my house.
Charity: I donate a total of $700 annually to local nonprofits, which works out to be $20 per paycheck and an extra $15 once a month.

Three financial goals

Pay off the little debt I have. I have less than $4,000 in credit card debt, and I’d like to get that taken care of, as it’s really my only debt. This would allow me to save more monthly.

Build a stronger savings account.

Increase my 401(k). I’d like to get to 15% total without putting too much stress on myself financially.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

Sunday is typically a higher spending day for me because I try to get what I’ll need for the week.

I went to brunch with my mom to celebrate her last day of summer before going back to school, and she paid for both of us.

We also went to a couple thrift stores after. When I bought my house, I didn’t put much pressure on myself to furnish it immediately, and I do a lot of thrifting to save money. Honestly, I’ve found some of my favorite pieces this way. Today I scored a 1960’s Dixie Furniture campaign chest for $13.40.

I went grocery shopping in the afternoon. I spend about $150 a month in groceries. I eat a mostly plant-based diet, so I try to shop weekly to prevent from the produce going bad (I once added up how much money I spent on produce I threw away without touching, and it was kind of scary). My total at Food Lion was $35.67.

I also filled my car up with gas. I usually fill up once every two weeks. $40.30

Total spent: $89.37

Day two: Monday

Because I know I need to make money stretch, I try my best to pack food for work. Using the groceries I bought yesterday, I had a hard-boiled egg and almonds for breakfast with a salad for lunch and then cooked a black bean burger with a sweet potato and veggies for dinner.

I did buy coffee for a couple co-workers at Amélie’s in the afternoon. It was a Monday, and working for a nonprofit sometimes mean you need a pick-me-up. $9.37

Total spent: $9.37

Day three: Tuesday

I packed food again today using the groceries I have. I did coffee with a hard-boiled egg and almonds for breakfast – you’ll notice a pattern here. I brought a salad and fruit for lunch and cooked dinner at home again.

$15.60 came out of my account for one of the nonprofits I support. This payment is deducted once a month and supports a great cause. I wish I could give more to both organizations I donate to, but I know every little bit helps them out!

After work, I went to a co-workers house to hang out and have a glass of wine. She already had a bottle for us to share, so there was no cost for me.

Total spent: $15.60

Day four: Wednesday

Today I was at an all-day workshop put on by my company. I made coffee at home and the workshop provided both breakfast and lunch, score!

On my way home, I stopped by Marshall’s for some serum and face wash. $23.55

Total spent: $23.55

Day five: Thursday

As always, I had a hardboiled egg and almonds for breakfast and a salad with soup for lunch with the groceries I bought on Sunday. Committing to bringing those two meals really helps me save money in the long run – otherwise, that can add up so quickly.

I had a coffee meeting midday at Terrace Café and I opted for a mocha with almond milk. $6.50

Total spent: $6.50

Day six: Friday

I took a half-day today and worked from home in the morning. I made coffee and had breakfast while answering emails.

I got my nails done using a gift certificate I’ve been holding onto, then stopped by The Diamond in Plaza Midwood for lunch afterward. $20.73 with tip.

Friday night, I met up with a couple of friends at Hoppin’, but didn’t stay too long, which really helped my spending! $10.34

Total spent: $31.07

Day seven: Saturday

I made breakfast at home this morning and then went to an estate sale that I’d seen listed online. I found an awesome mirror for my house and a piece of art for a total of $20.

After that, I met up with a friend for lunch at Mama’s Caribbean Grill — if you haven’t been, the food is awesome. My friend picked up the tab for both of us.

Saturday night, I went to a backyard party where dinner was served and then finished out the night at NoDa 101 watching karaoke with some friends. $47 after tip.

Total spent: $67

Total spent: $242.46
The breakdown:

Bills – $15.60
Food and drink – $129.61
Transportation – $40.30
Shopping – $56.95

What I learned:  Keeping this diary makes you not want to spend money—because you’ll be held accountable for it.

I think I do a great job of packing my breakfast/lunch during the week and that helps save money, because those costs add up quickly.

I think there is a balance that I try to find between saving money and being financially responsible and allowing myself to indulge a little sometimes. Sometimes the pressure to have a thriving social life in Charlotte is hard to ignore, so I think it’s just being mindful. Tracking my spending has also made me think about possibly getting a part-time job to bring in some additional income to take some of the stress off, it wouldn’t hurt!

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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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