Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a $32,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending on a $32,000 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

This week, I spoke with a 29-year-old man who makes $32,000 per year. Here’s how he spends his money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Industrial
Position: Industrial Designer
Salary: Before taxes, I make roughly $2,600 a month, which turns out to be about $1,000 after taxes every two weeks.
Extra income: I don’t have any extra income now, but have considered a reasonable night or weekend job.
Who do you bank with and why? For the last 10 years I have banked with Bank of America because they are easily accessible in lots of locations across the country and have a great online banking platform.
Age: 29
Gender: Male

Monthly expenses:

Rent + renter’s insurance: $712
Neighborhood: Northlake
Roommates: 1

Electric – $73
Gas – $16
Cable and internet – $28
Water – $55
Trash and recycling – $10
Washer and dryer rental – $25

Car payment + insurance: $342
Transportation: $140
Health + dental insurance: $130
Phone bill: $40
Pet costs:

Dog food – $54
Tick and flea prevention – $25
PetSmart plan (check-up, shots, etc.) – $36

Three financial goals:

Be able to earn enough income to start a nest egg savings. This is for a house, the future, emergencies, etc., but as of right now, I’m living paycheck to paycheck.

Start a 401(k). The company I work for doesn’t offer one.

Pay off my car loan. I recently bought a used car to replace my old car, which was about to fall apart. My intent was to pay off the new car loan in a year, but it’s looking like it’s going to take longer than anticipated.

Money Diary:  How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

$35 to fill the car up with gas on my way to work, $282 for my car payment, and $73 for my electric bill. I also purchased a 36 pack of Keurig pods for $21.42 (they’re cheaper to buy in bulk).

I skipped breakfast but had coffee when I got to work so that kind of counts and lunch included leftover chicken and rice. For dinner I ate chicken and rice stir-fry.

Total spent: $411.42

Day two: Tuesday

I woke up later than planned, so I opted to get breakfast on the way to work.  I paid $6.45 for a banana and chai latte in the morning and another $54.78 for dog food on the way home. Also, I spent $11.17 for the Whole Foods Tuesday pizza special for dinner… their pizza is really good!

Total spent: $72.40

Day three: Wednesday

Busy day at work today… I skipped breakfast again (I know, not a good habit) and made coffee instead.  The Keurig pods end up to be less than $1 a piece when you buy them in bulk, which seems cost effective.

We visited a client to present some designs and it ran longer than expected, so my co-worker and I got Zaxby’s for lunch on the way back to the office. I ordered the chicken tender plate for $7.83.


Zaxby’s was the only money I spent that day, because dinner was cold pizza.

Total spent: $7.83

Day four: Thursday

Even though fast food is cost effective and convenient, it’s not the healthiest and I felt guilty from yesterday’s lunch, so I woke up early to go for a run with my dog.

I ate cereal for breakfast and then went into work early, where I had a pretty productive day. I wound up having 2 coffees and no lunch, but lots of stuff got done.

After work I went home to pick up my dog and then met some friends at the Whitewater Center to relax at the River Jam concert. $5 for parking and I got 2 beers which amounted to $13.09.

Total spent: $18.09

Day five: Friday

I have another busy day of work ahead of me today… I’m not going to be able to make it home to take my dog out at lunch time, so I go to Pet Paradise by the airport for doggie daycare. Normally its costs $30 for the day, but I downloaded their app (Loyal Blocks) and got 15% off for checking-in, which brought the total to $25.53. It’s not terribly expensive and totally worth it, but on a budget it is not cheap. However, I know my dog loves this place and the people are really friendly so I can rationalize it.

After a long day of work I pick up my dog and head home.  Dinner is shredded chicken, avocado, salsa and chips from the fridge. I turn on Netflix and go to sleep at a decent hour so I can wake up early tomorrow.

Total spent: $25.53

Day six: Saturday

My car is ready for an oil change so I headed to AutoZone bright and early and drop $44.98 for 6 quarts of oil and $11.24 for a new oil filter. After I changed the oil and rotated my tires, I cut the grass and cleaned up the yard a bit.

In the afternoon I went on a hike with my girlfriend to find a waterfall in Linville Gorge… it was pretty amazing.  On the way home, we stopped in Asheville at our favorite little place called Foggy Mountain Brew Pub. Their food is good, people are nice, beer is cold and they are dog friendly. The outdoor back patio looked inviting so we sat there with our dogs and enjoyed a beer with dinner. We split the check and my total was $20 with tip.  

Total spent: $76.22

Day seven: Sunday

I’m taking it pretty easy today, just need to go food shopping for the week. I stop by my favorite juice bar in Birkdale Village on the way, Clean Juice. They offer a variety of healthy options on-the-go, including juices, smoothies, snack bowls and even wellness plans using only organic produce. I get a green juice smoothie for $9.06… sooo good!

Clean Juice

Now I’m on my way to Whole Foods.  Eating healthy on a budget is tough but it is possible once you do your homework. I also like that Whole Foods (and Clean Juice) support the local community.  My total comes to $82.70, which will get me by until next weekend.

Total spent: $91.76

Total spent: $703.25
The breakdown:
Bills – $355
Food – $147.63
Transportation – $35
Other – $165.62

What I learned: I learned a lot from tracking my spending over the last week – mainly that 90% of my earnings go to food and basic living expenses. It can be challenging living on a budget and sometimes frustrating, but over the years I’ve taught myself how to get creative with my spending. I really got a feel for what is a need and what is a desire – planning out a budget and prioritizing purchases helps significantly in this situation. Ultimately, it’s a balancing game of trying to do what makes you happy at the end of the day within your boundaries.

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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