Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a $56,500 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a $56,500 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. If you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email Kylie at

This week, I spoke with a 22-year-old woman who makes $56,500 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Environmental Engineering
Position: Assistant Engineer
Yearly salary: $56,500
Who do you bank with and why? Bank of America. I’ve been with them since I was 16 and they’ve always been good to me. Plus I love having it linked up to Merrill Edge for my investments.
Savings: I try to save between $800-$1,000 a month for my general savings fund. I also put 7% of my salary in my 401k and put the maximum ($5,500) in my Roth IRA each year.
Age: 22
Gender: Female

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $775 (my half)
Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: Uptown
Utilities (electric, gas, cable, water, internet, etc.): Around $200
Student loans (if applicable): None (thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom and Dad)
Car payments: None
Car insurance: $55
Transportation costs: About $80 in gas a month. I wish I could walk to work.
Phone bill: I’m still on my family plan, but I pay my mom $40 a month for my share.
Insurance: Renters is $15. When it comes to health insurance, I’m still on my parents (again, thanks, big time).

Three financial goals:

Be contributing 15% to my 401(k) by the age of 25.

Be a homeowner by 30.

Figure out how to make a significant amount of extra income.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I’m at the beach for a long weekend staying with my friend and her family. Luckily I was a guest so it wasn’t a big spending weekend for me. However, I threw them $20 for groceries.

8 a.m. Bagel with cream cheese. Healthy! But it’s vacation, so it doesn’t count. $0.

1 p.m. Salad! Cancels out breakfast right? $0.

6 p.m. It’s our night to cook dinner so we make Mexican tacos for all 15 people. All the food we used was from groceries that had already been bought. $0.

Total spent: $20

Day two: Monday

8 a.m. It’s my best friend’s birthday, so her mom cooks us Monkey Bread for breakfast. (Here’s the recipe… this stuff is amazing, very healthy too.) $0

1 p.m. I’m packing up and grab a cheese sandwich and a Sprite from the house for my longggg drive back to Charlotte. $0

2 p.m. Stop to fill up on gas. $24.90

8 p.m. Made it all the way home without stopping for a snack. Bojangles’ billboards didn’t win this time. Cooked a quick Trader Joe’s frozen Indian meal for dinner. $0.

 Total spent: $24.90

Day three: Tuesday

7 a.m. Trader Joe’s fiber cereal and almond milk for breakfast. Mmmmm. $0

12 p.m. My boss and I went to lunch at a Mexican buffet after a meeting. Surprisingly good. My boss paid because he is a saint. $0

3 p.m. Remembered I’m going to the Swansea vs. Charlotte Independence soccer game tomorrow and need to figure out transportation. Friends suggest Bus-n-Brew, which includes round trip transportation and three beers. SOLD. $21.99

8 p.m. I cooked a quinoa pesto pasta dish with ingredients I had and ingredients that my boyfriend kindly brought over. Lots of leftovers! $0.


Total spent: $21.99

Day four: Wednesday

7 a.m. TJ’s cereal again. You’ll notice a trend. $0.

12 p.m. Go out for lunch with all the ladies in the office (huge party of 4) at Chopt. So. Good. $9.49

5 p.m. Eat leftover pasta and head to the soccer game. $0

Charlotte Independence

7 p.m. Grab the three beers my ticket for the Bus-n-Brew gets me. $0

8 p.m. I’m dying of heat, thirst and dehydration. Give in and buy a water. $3

Total spent: $12.49

Day five: Thursday

7 a.m. The usual. $0

12 p.m. Today is our Lunch and Learn day! The company brings in Panera. $0

5 p.m. Pick up some yummies from Publix for a friend’s BBQ. Judge me for my veggie dogs, but they’re great. $12.32


Total spent: $12.32

Day six: Friday

6 a.m. Again, the usual. $0

8 a.m. Stop for gas and coffee on my way to Winston-Salem for work. I’m going to be up there all weekend, so another tank to come. $30.53

12 p.m. Granola bar I brought from home for lunch. Yes, I was still hungry. $0

3 p.m. Get home early from work at pick up some more yummies from the King Street farmer’s market! The corn always gets me. $10.07

Farmer's Market

7 p.m. Finally go to see “Me Before You” with a pal and pick up some candy beforehand at Rite Aid. $3.75

7:30 p.m. Buy my ticket. Was kinda disappointed in the movie… $10.61

9:30 p.m. Some leftover pasta before bed. Early work tomorrow. $0

Total spent: $54.96 

Day seven: Saturday

8 a.m. Breakfast of champions: Trader Joe’s cereal. $0

12 p.m. I’m in Winston-Salem on-site (this is my first time working on the weekend) and those Bojangles’ billboards finally won. I got a Cheddar Bo and seasoned fries. Mmmmm. $3.83

7 p.m. Back home. Leftover pasta again! Still good. I convinced my boyfriend to bring over raspberries and ginger for some homemade kombucha that is ready to be flavored. $3.21

Total spent: $7.04

Total spent: $153.70
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $65.67
Transportation – $77.42
Miscellaneous – $10.61

What I learned:

I learned that when I’m tracking what I’m spending, I spend less, which is really great. This wasn’t the most usual week for me. I usually bring lunch to work every single day but this week wasn’t the case. Also, I have never worked a weekend before, and if I had been home, I think I would have spent a lot more on food and alcohol, but it was a nice weekend of spending less. Overall, I think I am doing alright in the spending/saving department but am so happy I participated in this! Being aware and conscious of what I’m buying is something I needed to work on and this has been very helpful.

Need personal finance education? Visit Better Money Habits. Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. It’s a simple way of getting real, practical knowledge, brought to you by Bank of America in partnership with Khan Academy.

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