Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a digital marketer’s $44,000 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 Lauren at lauren@charlotteagenda.com.


This week, I chatted with a woman in her twenties who works in digital marketing. She’s focused on contributing more to her retirement and savings accounts, as well as saving to buy a house. Here’s how she spends her money.

The basics

Industry: Marketing

Position: Digital Marketing Coordinator

Salary: $44,000

Savings: $100 a month into my 401(k)

Age: 28

Monthly expenses

Rent: $1010
Number of roommates: 0
Neighborhood: SouthPark
Utilities: roughly $60
Student loans: $0
Car payments: $300
Car insurance: $90
Transportation costs: About $30-$40 in gas, depending on if I have meetings off-site, weekend trips, etc.
Phone bill: Paid for by my company
Gym: $45

Three financial goals

1. Add more to my 401(k). I’m glad I have the account, but I know that what I’m contributing now isn’t enough.

2. Boost savings account.

3. Save up to buy a home/townhouse/condo. When I look at prices, I get depressed, but I really don’t want to live in an apartment forever, so…

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Monday

I skipped breakfast and packed lunch for work (a salad with some chicken) so no money spent there. I’m getting ready to head on a trip with friends from college, and realized that the crossbody bag I use for travel has seen better days. I hop on Amazon and grab a new one. ($24.99). I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon Prime. It makes life SO much easier, but also sometimes it literally feels like I’m spending Monopoly money, so I think I end up making purchases that I wouldn’t normally make otherwise. For dinner, I make some salmon and asparagus using ingredients I grabbed during my last grocery store run. $0.

Total spent: $24.99

Tuesday

I end up laying in bed a little too long today, so I shower quickly and shove some toast into my face on the way to work. We had a client lunch, so I spent $0 to eat, which was convenient because I would have had to go out and grab something due to my lateness during my morning routine. I see a friend for sushi for dinner after work ($21.40). I think about heading to Target after I’m done, but I’m tired and want to go to the gym the next morning, so I head home instead. My closet is mad, but my wallet thanks me.

Total spent: $21.40

Wednesday

I successfully go to the gym. Go, me. That alarm is brutal though. After I’m done, I make a smoothie and head to work. Fine, I’ll admit it. I also cave and end up buying a new top and a pair of shoes for my trip at Target on my lunch break. ($53.60). The siren song is impossible to resist sometimes. While I browse the store for a while, I don’t end up going TOO crazy with the impulse buying, so that’s good. I also grabbed a book on my Kindle for my upcoming trip ($12.86). I have a library card that I should use more, but when the book I want to read is a new release, a lot of times I don’t have the patience for the waiting list. Hey, just being honest. As for lunch, I packed it today, so no money spent. $0. When I get home, I make chicken and rice. Not exciting, but I was out to dinner last night and know I have more going out plans coming up, so I want to save some cash on food, and I’m also trying to eat a little better, knowing there’s beer and goodies in my future.

Total spent: $66.46

Thursday

I eat some oatmeal for breakfast and pack up another salad for lunch. It’s my friend’s boyfriend’s birthday, so we head to Queen Park Social for a bit after we’re all done with work. I spend $18.16 on drinks, since I had to treat the birthday boy. Then we head over to OMB, where I spend $9.64. I was going to grab an Uber there and back, but decided to be an adult and just drive both ways. I left my Thirsty Thursdays behind in college.

Total spent: $27.80

Friday

I ate another smoothie for breakfast and had a crazy day at work, so I accidentally ended up skipping lunch. I shovel a bunch of snacks as soon as I get home, though, don’t worry. I was HANGRY. My girlfriends and I do wine night at Corkbuzz to celebrate the weekend. My friend picks me up, so I don’t spend any money to get there. My portion of the wine and food we split is $23.45. We’re on the fence about going out after, but we all end up just going back to my place. I was out the night before and had a long day, so I didn’t mind laying low.

Total spent: $23.45

Saturday

I’ve got a birthday brunch to go to, and I realize I forgot to grab the birthday girl a gift. Oops. I spend $32.07 on presents I find at Marshall’s beforehand, then head over to brunch, where I pay $21.59. The gift is well-received, even though it was a little last-minute. My apartment looks like a bomb went off, so I come back and clean up a bit and end up napping. I always say I’m going to go to the gym or something on Saturdays, but I don’t go as much as I should. Later that night, my friends and I go to Essex for dinner. I spent $52.66 on dinner, plus $16.97 on a Lyft to get there. We head over to 204 North for a drink after, which my friend pays for. I don’t argue.

Total spent: $123.29

Sunday

I lay low and watch Netflix most of the day, before throwing together a boring “whatever’s in the fridge and pantry” dinner. $0.

Total spent: $0

Weekly total spent: $574.78

What I learned:

I’m pretty proud of myself that I really don’t eat breakfast or lunch out too much, even on days when work is hectic.

I probably spend too much money on dinners/brunch, but I feel like if I’m enjoying the experience with friends, then it’s worth it. Charlotte has a ton of great restaurants, and I love trying them.

As I said before, I definitely overuse my Amazon Prime privileges, and that’s something I need to work on. Before I hit the “purchase” button I need to make sure that this is something I really need, and I’m not just buying it because it’s easy. I guess this applies to all of my impulse spending. Did I actually need a new top from Target before my trip? Probably not. I have plenty of clothes in my closet. I need to remember that this money could be used for my savings account or to get me closer to my goal of buying a house.


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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Lauren Levine
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who's contributed to publications like American Way, Charlotte's Got a Lot, Thrillist, U.S. News & World Report, and more. She's also the co-host of The Margarita Confessionals podcast. Say hi on Twitter and Instagram, she's @lifewithlauren1.