Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $38,500 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $38,500 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. 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 25-year-old woman that makes $38,500 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Window/Door Sales
Position: Inside Sales
Yearly salary: $38,500
Savings: I try to do $400/month to savings. Sometimes it’s a little less, depending on whether or not something urgent came up that month.
Age: 25

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $535
Renters Insurance: $8
Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: SouthPark

Electric – $55ish
Water – Included in rent
Internet – $20

Student loans: $300
Car payments: $140
Car Insurance: I pay $370 every 6 months. I just paid this last month, so I’m caught up ’til April! Part of my savings goes toward this when the time comes.
Transportation: $100 for gas and Uber money
Phone bill: $77
Insurance: $10/month for eye and dental. I won’t be paying for my own health insurance ’til January, but I am budgeting for $125/month.
Pet care: $75. This includes vet bills, medication, food and Bark Box.
Rotary Club dues: $25

Three financial goals

Switch my IRA to a 401(k) through work and start contributing again.

Have $5,000 in savings by MayI’m trying to save up for a downpayment on a house.

Continue to not have credit card debt and start putting more into my student loans.

Here’s how I spent my money last week.

Day one: Wednesday

Woke up this morning craving Bojangles’, so before work I went through the drive-thru and got a smoked sausage biscuit, fries and unsweet tea. Yes, I am from the North and hate sweet tea. This meal set me back $3.77.

I brought my lunch to work today, which consisted of a cilantro chopped salad and fajita chicken strips that I got from HT this weekend, and some Triscuits for a snack later in the day.

I had a meeting for Guys and Dolls in South End after work, so my friend and I grabbed Mac’s for dinner beforehand. I had a buffalo chicken taco, a side of mac and cheese and a vodka soda with lime ($15). The meeting was at Tyber Creek, and I had a glass of Pinot Grigio to top off the night. $7

Today I paid my student loans, internet and electric – I got paid as well (Thank God). $362

Total spent: $387.77

Day two: Thursday

For breakfast I had a piece of toast, a banana and an iced coffee with my store-bought Starbucks. I think it is so much cheaper than making a trip 2-3 times a week to the real thing! I made some jambalaya with turkey kielbasa on Monday and had some of the leftovers for lunch.

My sister came over to hang out with my dog and me tonight. We gave her a bath and ordered Donatos for dinner with a coupon I had for a free large pizza (killing it with coupons lately), so I only had to pay for tip. $2

My credit card payment for last month came out of my account, which is always a sad day. I put pretty much everything on my credit card to earn airline miles and then pay it off in full the following month ($678). My renters insurance ($9) and car payment also came out today ($140).

Total spent: $829

Day three: Friday

I had an English muffin and banana for breakfast and my usual iced coffee.

It was an uneventful day at work – I had more of the cilantro chopped salad with fajita chicken strips for lunch and some triscuits in the afternoon.

Friendsgiving was amazing. My friend who hosted ordered a deep fried turkey from Bojangles’, and that was my first time ever having fried turkey! There was so much delicious food and it was great to hang out with friends and play games all night. I brought chorizo mac and cheese and a bottle of wine that a friend gave me a couple weeks ago.

Total spent: $0

Day four: Saturday

Woke up VERY excited because a few weeks back, I pre-ordered 2 Suárez Bakery maple bacon bars (YUMMM)!!! I am getting new tires put on my car today and I wanted to give whoever helped me out with rides a donut, it was the least I could do!

Got my car to the dealership at 10:30 a.m. and my friend picked me up and we headed to Concord.

We ate our amazing donuts on the way, picked up her mom and headed to Cabarrus Brewery for the afternoon. I had never been to this brewery, so I tried their Blonde Coffee Ale (delicious and $6.50). For lunch, we tried the Masterbacon food truck that was there. We each had a grilled cheese and split tater tots with beer cheese. $11

My friend is buying a house, so we went to an open house after then she took me back to the dealership. Because I had new tires put on, an oil change and got new wipers, I spent $689.15. I put $489.15 on my credit card and will pay that off next month.

For dinner, I had leftovers from Friendsgiving. I Venmoed my friend’s mom for a Christmas present she ordered for me to give to my aunt ($27 – my sister is giving me $13 to cover half).

Total spent: $733.65

Day five: Sunday

My dog woke me up very early today, which is a bummer because I don’t have anything exciting happening. I took her for a walk and we drove over to McDonald’s to get breakfast.

I had a coupon for BOGO breakfast sandwiches, so I had the chicken biscuit and an iced coffee today and am saving the Sausage McGriddle for tomorrow ($4.32). I have eaten worse than usual this week because I’m trying to not do a lot of grocery shopping before Thanksgiving.

I did a lot of cleaning today and went to Harris Teeter to stock up for my trip back to Ohio so we don’t have to stop for food. The trip was a success because I only spent $46.38 and got my favorite shampoo and conditioner because it was on sale!

For lunch, I had leftovers from Friendsgiving.

My friend came over to watch a movie and play games with me and my roommate. I had sushi that I bought from HT earlier today for dinner.

Total spent: $50.70

Day six: Monday

For breakfast I had my Sausage McGriddle from yesterday and skipped the coffee. Lunch was more leftover jambalaya (I tend to make my meals last a really long time).

I was pretty sure I had a Rotary meeting in Uptown tonight, so my friend and I parked and got to Duckworth’s to find out it was cancelled because of Thanksgiving. We then decided to make an impromptu trip to Rock Bottom Brewery for a drink and shared some pretzel sticks ($14).

Total spent: $14

Day seven: Tuesday

Woke up excited that I get to leave for Ohio tomorrow! I had an English muffin and iced coffee for breakfast, and lunch was more leftover mac and cheese from Friendsgiving (getting slightly sick of it at this point).

My sister and her boyfriend are coming over for dinner tonight to make chicken quesadillas and fruit, and I grabbed some Sabor chips, queso and salsa on my way home. $4.50

Packing and getting a good night’s sleep before my drive to Ohio tomorrow.

Total spent: $4.50

Total spent: $2,019.62
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $114.47
Bills – $1,189
Transportation – $689.15
Miscellaneous – $27

What I learned: This was a weird week for me in some ways. I typically spend more at the grocery store and a lot less in fast food, but I was trying to use up what was in my fridge and clean it out before I was gone for a week. The tires and car service was also not a typical investment, but it needed to be done.

I picked this week to record because this is the week where all of my bills except my rent come out, so I thought it would be a good depiction of my financial situation. I know I have a lot of work to do because I do not really have much of a savings account built up because random things are always coming up with my car, dog or trips, but I feel like I could be doing a lot worse but this really made me re-evaluate and think before I spend.

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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