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Hallie Bonds was scrolling through her BuzzFeed app when she saw a call for applicants for Bank Of America’s 50 under $50k, a community of young professionals who are practicing smart financial habits on salaries of $50,000 or less, that culminates in a summer camp. (Yes, there really is a summer camp, in which participants enjoyed outdoor activities and live music, learning from entrepreneurs and working through sessions like “Adulting 101” and “Ballin’ on a Budget.”)
Hallie was the only person selected from Charlotte, but all 50 honorees stay in touch. Hallie says, “Lifelong connections were formed at the camp with people from all over the country. We are constantly encouraging each other and sharing financial/life hacks.”
Hallie is a huge fan of the no-frills money management tool known as the envelope method – seeing your cash disappear and the envelope empty creates conscious spending versus the disconnectedness of swiping a card.
Being realistic about where your money is going is one of the techniques that has stayed with Hallie, and since the summer camp, she has also started using the EveryDollar app for the convenience of budgeting from her phone.
“I do see myself continuing to use the methods I learned when I’m making another $50k,” says Hallie. “I think that regardless of how much you make, you need to be financially aware of what you are spending and always strive to be better. … I feel like when I make more there just will be more bills to go along with it, and that is even more reason to be aware of where my money is going.”
We asked Hallie to track her spending for a week to see how she’s puts what she learned into action.
The Basics – Meet Hallie
Industry: Customer Service
Position: eSupport Specialist
Annual salary: Under $50k
Extra income: None
3% to my 401k, $15 auto-drafted weekly into savings, and a couple dollars here and there with Bank of America’s Keep the Change Program.
Rent: <$1,000 per month
Neighborhood: South Charlotte (Steele Creek)
Valet Trash: $25 (required by complex)
Netflix and Spotify: $20
Eating out: $60-$80
3 Financial Goals
- To pay off all my student loans sooner than what is projected.
- To maintain good credit.
- To be able to buy a house in the future.
How Hallie spends her money:
I ran out of bread and needed a loaf to make sandwiches for lunch for the week.
I also ran out of setting spray and lashes. I headed to Super Target after work since they have groceries, and everything else in the world. I ended up grabbing a face mask too. That is usually my self-care treat item each week.
I cooked dinner so I didn’t spend anymore today.
I woke up, and my eyebrow pencil ran out so I went to Ulta after work and grabbed a new one. Ulta is very hard for me; I love new palette’s, brushes, and lipsticks. However, I only walked out with one thing much to my surprise.
Went home and cooked dinner. No more spent for today.
I forgot to grab a granola bar from home for breakfast, so I bought a pop tart from the canteen at work and toasted it for breakfast.
No money spent at all.
I was craving a soda all week. So I grabbed a Coke at work, which was $1.15.
I also spent $80 on Christmas gifts on Amazon.com, half way done with my Christmas shopping. Yay!
I also made a $25 payment toward my credit card.
It was rainy and cold all day so I stayed in the house for a majority of it.
I did go and eat with one of my friends at an Asian restaurant. I run a Charlotte food Instagram called Queen City Cuisine, so I make eating out at a new restaurant once a week priority. I had an appetizer, main dish, and 2 glasses of wine.
My friend and I went to eat at Waffle House for breakfast. I had an All-Star Breakfast and a side of grits.
Total weekly spending: $167.42
What I learned:
I have a pretty good routine of going to work and staying home, and only spending money whenever I run out of something or treat myself out to eat once or twice a week.
I definitely wait until payday each Friday to get a majority of my bills out of the way and then lay pretty low until the next payday.
I could potentially do a better job of making sure I take a weekly inquiry of what groceries I have and cosmetics/hygienic products that are about to run out, so I don’t have to make little trips to get stuff as much through the week.
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.