Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a young teacher’s $40,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a young teacher’s $40,000 salary
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email

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 23-year-old woman that makes $40,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money.

The basics:

Industry: Education
Position: First Grade Teacher
Salary: $40,000
Extra income: $70-$100 a month from babysitting, summer tutoring and nannying positions.
Savings: 10% of each paycheck gets automatically transferred to savings on the first of each month ($144). I also have a 401(k) account that I contribute 7% of my salary to.
Age: 23

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,154.62
Number of roommates: 0
Neighborhood: Ballantyne. I could have a lower rent somewhere else in Charlotte, but the commute is short to work, so over half of my paycheck goes to rent here. I really hate driving.
Utilities (electric, gas, cable, water, internet, etc.): $98. I don’t have cable and use HBO, Hulu and Netflix instead.
Student loans: My parents paid for my undergrad. Any further education is on my dime.
Car payments: $0. I’m driving the car that was given to my twin and me in high school. She moved to New York City and no longer needs to drive, so I use it. It’s 12 years old, so I treat it nicely.
Car insurance: My parents pay it until I can save enough to purchase my own car.
Transportation costs: $50 in gas a week to fill up. My next car will not be an SUV and will get good mileage. Gas is still cheaper than a car payment though!
Phone bill: $108
Insurance: $13 for renters insurance. I’m able to be on my parents’ health plan until I’m 26.
Netflix: $11.79
Spotify: $10.66
HBO and Hulu: $10. I use my twin sister’s login and Venmo her $10 a month for both. Sorry not sorry!
9Round membership: $325 every 6 months


Three financial goals

I would like to buy a car within the next year.

I would like to open a Roth IRA and have an input of $100 a month.

Pay off my credit card and stick to using it only for gas and groceries.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

I woke up early at 4:45 to go to 9Round. Starting my day with a workout makes me such a better teacher.

I got to school at 6:45 a.m. to prep for the day ahead. For breakfast, I ate egg muffins with some cherry tomatoes I prepped over the weekend. A taco salad that I also meal prepped over the weekend was for lunch, and I had a stuffed bell pepper for dinner. I don’t have time during the week to cook meals, so I prep meals ahead of time and eat them all week.

Filled up my gas tank on my way home from school for $50.63.

Total spent: $50.63

Day two: Tuesday

I had egg muffins and cherry tomatoes for breakfast and a taco salad for lunch at school.

I hit the gym after work and had an incredible workout. Later, I went on a date with a guy I met through some friends and he treated me to drinks, tacos and some amazing chips and queso for dinner.

Total spent: $0

Day three: Wednesday

I had today off for the NC Teacher’s Rally in Raleigh, but I was unable to attend as my ride bailed last minute. It costs a lot to fill up my car and the mileage isn’t great, so I slept late and ate – you guessed it – egg muffins and cherry tomatoes for breakfast.

I spent the day prepping some centers for my classroom and graded my students’ most recent assessment. I also bought some gifts for my classroom mom and parent volunteer, which were $20.

I had my taco salad for lunch and a stuffed bell pepper for dinner.

Total spent: $20

Day four: Thursday

I had egg muffins for breakfast and taco salad for lunch. One of my students had just a banana in their lunch box and was hungry after lunch and I had some cash in my wallet, so I bought them some yogurt and granola from the school cafeteria to hold them over. $1.20

After school, I stopped by Harris Teeter to buy some popsicles for my students ($2.13). My classroom management system is a points system: I get points if my students are off task, noisy, etc., and they get points if they follow directions, get compliments from other teachers, etc. Whoever has the most points at the end of the week wins. If they win, they get to vote on a class reward. They won last week and voted on a popsicle party!

I had dinner with my mom, who still lives in Charlotte. She made salmon and veggies for dinner at her house and I left with some leftovers for lunch the next day. Taco salad is getting old after 4 straight days of eating it!

Total spent: $3.33

Day five: Friday

Egg muffins for breakfast, leftover salmon for lunch.

My co-worker and I celebrated making it another week by going to Cantina 1511 for appetizers after work, where we ordered the queso and chicken empanadas. We split the bill, and my portion came to $20.46.

Afterward, I went to Ulta to get more shampoo. I, of course, got distracted and ending up purchasing some sunscreen that was 40% off, new eyeliner, mascara and some nail polish. I spent $62.12. That was a lot, but the shampoo will last a while and I was down to my last bit of eyeliner anyway.

My weekly $20 also got transferred automatically from my checking account to a savings account I opened for a down payment on a car.

Total spent: $102.58

Day six: Saturday

I woke up early and got in a workout at 9Round. Once I came home, I made a breakfast of fried eggs with some leftover bell pepper filling, which I enjoyed with a cup of coffee while I watched a replay of the royal wedding.

A friend and I went to my apartment’s pool to enjoy the sun, and I ordered Postmates for dinner. $15.90

Total spent: $15.90

Day seven: Sunday

I finished off the bell pepper stuffing with some more eggs for breakfast.

I did some volunteer training in the afternoon near uptown and then skipped lunch and stopped at Trader Joe’s for some groceries to meal prep for the week ahead. That set me back $41.19.

I had dinner at my dad’s house since he has been out of town with his family and was in bed by 10:30, a.k.a. teacher midnight!

Total spent: $41.19

Total spent: $233.63
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $78.75
Classroom – $22.13
Transportation – $50.63
Shopping – $62.12
Savings – $20

What I learned: I learned that I spend a lot on housing and therefore work to make my other expenses stretch around that high cost of living. My one bedroom is almost 900-square-feet and it’s updated with great amenities. It’s nice to come home to a beautiful space after long day of teaching small humans. I serve others all day long, I enjoy having my own space to decompress.

This week also confirmed what I’ve always suspected: That I am a conscious spender. I do not spend money unless I absolutely need to. I’m grateful that my parents were good examples of living within one’s means. I enjoy traveling whenever I can and want to keep that hobby up in retirement. I want to start investing towards that early, so I’ll enjoy those benefits to their full extent. My 401K contribution is taken directly from my paycheck so, I don’t have time to miss it.

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.

Story Views:
Join the 107,061 smart Charlotteans that receive our daily newsletter.
"It's good. I promise." - Emma   Emma Way