Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $37,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $37,000 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 woman who makes $37,000 per year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Nonprofit
Position: Case Worker
Yearly salary: $37,000
Who you bank with and why: Bank of America, because that’s who my parents were banking with when we set up my account to save my babysitting money.
Savings: 3% of my paycheck goes into a retirement account and $50 every two weeks into an “adventure fund.”
Age: 29
Gender: Female

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $525 (my half)
Number of roommates: One
Neighborhood: Elizabeth
Utilities: Usually around $75
Student loans: None – I went to school on a scholarship.
Car payment: None. I bought my car with cash, but it’s getting old.
Transportation: Usually $60, but it depends on weekend travel.
Phone bill: Paid for by work
Insurance: $10 for renters insurance, $25 for health insurance and $35 for dental
Gym membership and yoga: $107
Tithes: $106
Spotify Premium: $11. It gets me through my runs and writing contracts at work.

Three financial goals:

Save for a new car.

Prioritize travel and adventures.

Never carry a balance on my credit card.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

Woke up and got ready for work, made coffee and a smoothie at home from groceries I bought over the weekend and took them to work with me. $0

Lunch was a salad I brought from home. $0

Snacked on a cliff bar I brought from home while taking a walk. $0

I went for a run after work and then to a yoga class, getting me home a little later than usual, so I just had oatmeal for dinner. $0

$50 automatically transferred into my “adventure” fund for traveling or other fun activities.

Total spent: $50

Day two: Tuesday

Wake up and get ready for early meeting day at work.  I made a smoothie to bring with me, but I am out of coffee at home. $0

Unfortunately the kitchen at work was also out of coffee, so I had to run to the coffee shop next door and buy a cup for $1.96.

Lunch was yogurt and strawberries that I brought from home ($0), but that didn’t hold me over very long, so I ate another Cliff bar from home. $0

It was too beautiful outside so I skipped yoga and met some friends at Birdsong. I had a couple of beers for $12 and got some pizza at Benny Pennello’s for dinner ($7). By some pizza, I mean one, ginormous slice… so good!

I stopped by the grocery store on my way home, mainly to buy coffee, but grabbed a few other things as well for $31.77.

$46 was automatically withdrawn from my account as a recurring donation to a non-profit organization and another $90 went to my gym membership.

Total spent: $188.73

Day three: Wednesday

I got ready for work and made a smoothie and coffee again. $0

Lunch was a salad at my desk that I brought from home. $0

I went for a run after work and then met some friends for dinner at Sandwich Max, where I spent $7.04. We wound up at Two Scoops for desert ($4.55).

Total spent: $11.59

Day four: Thursday

I couldn’t find the French press this morning (I think my roommate hid it from me) so I made my smoothie and took it with me to work. $0

While waiting in line at the coffee shop, a friend came in behind me and bought my coffee. I watch his kids so that he and his wife can go on date nights and in return, he buys me coffee and helps me fix my car… it’s a nice trade off, especially since his kids are really awesome! $0

Lunch was yogurt and berries again. $0

I went to Crowder’s Mountain after work to hike with a friend and grabbed Chipotle on the way home for $7.04 (same exact price as dinner at Sandwich Max, actually).

Total spent: $7.04

Day six: Friday

Made a smoothie again for breakfast, but my boss brought donuts so I had one of those instead!  I still couldn’t find the French press (I didn’t actually look), so I bought coffee at the shop next to my office for $3.97.

For the record, I saved my smoothie from breakfast so as not to waste it!

Went to yoga after work and had plans to go to a concert, but it was postponed until a later date. My friend and I went to dinner at Comida instead and called it an early night. $19.99

Total spent: $23.96

Day six: Saturday

I got up early for a run, and then made a smoothie and finally found the French press (it was just actually put away rather than sitting on the counter where I always leave it) so I made coffee at home! $0

Went to the grocery store to grab a few things for tailgating and food (namely smoothies) for next week: $57.08.

I also bought a wedding gift for a wedding shower in a few weeks for $51.95.

A friend had an extra ticket to the matinee of Dirty Dancing and I only had to pay for parking ($8). Great show!

After that, I went to watch football with some friends.  Pizza and beer was on my friends this week (they recently moved just outside of Charlotte so to entice us to drive all that way to hang out, they provide food and drinks). $0

Total spent: $117.03

Day seven: Sunday

You probably guessed that I had coffee and a smoothie at home before heading down to the game. Free ticket today too… and I walked to the trolley, took it Uptown and walked to the stadium.

I spent $12 on beer and good times.

$60 was automatically withdrawn from my account for another non-profit that I donate to every month.

Total spent: $72

Total spent: $470.35
The breakdown:
Bills – $90
Savings – $50
Food and drink – $157.36
Transportation – $8
Miscellaneous – $164.99

What I learned: I went out to dinner almost every night this week.  I usually cook and don’t eat as much “fast” food, but did well with packing my lunch for work.  But I also drank less and went home earlier.  Overall it is not usual that I would get free tickets to two big events, but I am lucky to have great friends.  I only went to the gym twice this week, so I may be paying too much for my membership.  I track the money I spend carefully, but don’t always do a great job of sticking to my budget.

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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