Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $74,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $74,000 salary
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Our Cash Confessional series 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 hereIf you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email Kylie at

This week, I spoke with a 36-year-old male who makes $74,000 a year. Here’s how he spends his money. -Kylie

The Basics:

Industry: Real Estate/Mortgage
Occupation: Wholesale Underwriter
Salary: $74,000
Bank: SunTrust and AMEX. I was frustrated with the big banks’ policies, fees, etc. I received an offer in the mail to open an account at SunTrust and get $100 for doing so, so that’s what I did. I use my AMEX account primarily for an expense account for variable expenses. I have $200 from my paycheck deposited directly in that account every two weeks.
Age: 36
Gender: Male


Monthly Expenses:

Rent: $950
Neighborhood: South Charlotte/Ballantyne
Number of Roommates: 0
Utilities: $90 for things like electricity, water, etc. Instead of paying $200 for a traditional cable/internet bundle for channels I never watch with a slower internet speed, I decided to get all my services separately. It saves me $68/month but I have 5 bills instead of 1. Everything is auto-drafted, so: $70 for Uverse internet, cable/tv; streaming service through PS4 for $29.99; Netflix for $8.99; HBONow for $14.99 and Hulu for $7.99. $221.96 total.
Student Loans: $155
Car payments: $300
Car insurance: $74
Phone bill: $60
Panthers PSL payment: $83.33

I’m a spender. You can’t take it with you when you’re gone. I value using my money for the things/experiences I want now rather than waiting until I’m 65. I know saving is important, so it works best for me if the money is gone before I get it. The majority of my savings goes to my 401K. I contribute 7% of my salary to get the full 50% company match my employer offers. I’m thinking about increasing that to 10% in the very near future. I keep $1,000-$2,000 in a savings account for an emergency fund.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

$104.10 at Firebirds for a late dinner with my girlfriend and her mom on Saturday night, then drinks afterwards that carried over into Sunday morning. The tradeoff is my girlfriend’s mom is cooking a big Dominican lunch Sunday afternoon, so I’ll have food the rest of the week!

I spent $4.28 at Starbucks and $28.03 at Target – the kid and I need breakfast necessities.

Total: $136.41

Day two: Monday

The first of the month means expenses. The rent is due ($950), the Panthers want their money for season tickets – these payments are only for 6 months – ($219.08), and I top off my gas ($30). $1,199.08

Breakfast: cinnamon toast crunch, coffee at work. $0

Lunch: leftovers from Firebirds. $0

Dinner: leftovers from Sunday’s lunch. $0

Total: $1,199.08

Day three: Tuesday

I worked from home today, so my spending was minimal. 

Breakfast: cinnamon and raisin toast and bacon. $0

Lunch: This Dominican rice and beans meal that I cannot name (Moro de habichuelas), but it’s amazing and its free! Like I said before I have food for most of the week. $0

Dinner: I was still full from lunch, so I didn’t eat. $0

Auto draft for PS4 streaming TV service: $29.99

Total: $29.99

Day four: Wednesday

Breakfast is a blueberry muffin from Panera and a complimentary coffee. $2.70

Lunch is leftovers (the last of them) from Sunday$0

I worked late Wednesday night and skipped dinner. $0

Another Target run for Mother’s Day cards for my mom and other family members, and other miscellaneous items for $29.73.

I also paid a bill for a family member that’s in between jobs at the moment for $24.46. 

Total: $56.89

Day five: Thursday

I had a quarterly divisional meeting at work so breakfast and lunch was provided. $0

Dinner was at Monterrey Mexican Restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. $30

Total: $30

Day six: Friday

Breakfast was at Chick-fil-a for $4.93 and I didn’t eat lunch. $4.93

Haircut! $20

I ate the grilled octopus and white beans at Kid Cashew, but it was my girlfriend’s turn to pay. $0

Went out for hookah and drinks later that night. $74.05

I’m a member of Dollar Shave Club, so they aut0-drafted $6.

Total: $104.98

Day 7: Saturday

Started off strong for breakfast at Bojangles’. Girlfriend buys again. $0

I had BBQ with my family for lunch, so $0. While in Greensboro, I bought a gift for my niece at Target. $16

I also stopped at Starbucks ($6.93) and Wal-Mart ($10.71), and got gas on the way home ($33.01). $50.11

Dinner was pizza at home. $0

Total: $66.65

Total spent: $1,624.00
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $255.02
Transportation – $63.01
Bills – $1,229.53
Miscellaneous – $76.44
What I learned: Overall I gained a greater sense of awareness and gratefulness after a review of my spending this week. Writing down EVERYTHING I spend money on monthly and then tracking where every cent goes daily was overwhelming because it’s not something I really think about consciously every day (swiping that card is too easy) — but I’m grateful I’m able to work/earn to afford the things I need and/or  want.  My spending spikes on the weekend so maybe I should commit to 1-2 weekends a month where I don’t go out at all or if I do go out find something that’s free.


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