Cash Confessional: 23-year-old making $37,000 has an ‘accountability partner’ for paying off debt

Cash Confessional: 23-year-old making $37,000 has an ‘accountability partner’ for paying off debt
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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. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity. 

PARTICIPATE: Want to be featured? Go take this new 28 question, anonymous survey. We’ve recently redone the survey to give participants more freedom to showcase their financial decisions and personality — without having to track weekly expenses. To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here

Age, education, relationship status, and living situation?

I’m a single, 23-year-old college graduate. I currently pay $974 in rent.

I’m in the process of looking to buy a home. The rental market in Charlotte is much higher and more expensive than the housing. Therefore, by getting into a home with spare beds for roommates, I can cancel out my rent payment.


I make $37,050 doing video production.

I also drive for Postmates in the evening after work. I try to make at minimum an extra $100 a month, but preferably that number is closer to $250.

Are you fairly compensated?

I feel that I am currently compensated fairly for my own experience level. I believe that being young I haven’t built the pedigree or skills yet to deserve to be paid the average rate for my industry.

I’m happy where I’m at, making good enough money, and I’m growing professionally.

At what age do you hope to retire?

Not really sure, I’m young so I haven’t thought about it much. I enjoy working and I enjoy doing what I love (which is my work at the moment). So currently, I have no idea.

Most expensive night out this month?

For whatever reason in the morning, maybe I was tired or just lazy, I decided not to pack a lunch (always an inadvertent way of forcing myself to eat out for lunch at work – not a financially healthy habit).

Since I did not pack a lunch, I ended up buying food from a food truck by my office for $7.57.

Following that, I left work a bit early that day to go get my license and registration for North Carolina (as I am a new resident).

My new license registration cost me $40, and I ended up not being able to get my vehicle registration due to how my title was formatted from my last state (typical DMV experience).

On my way home I made the decision to go get my oil changed at Jiffy Lube. That put me down $54.10.

That was the final expense of the day and most likely my most expensive day of the month of spending not related to bills. (Totaling: $101.67)

I really don’t go out too much at the moment, as my main focus is finishing off the last bit of my debt.

Best purchase you made this month?

There is a new apartment complex being built next to mine so there is *always* dirt on my car. I spent the money to go get my car washed and it was so gratifying to see how clean it was.

What were your best and worst financial decisions?

My worst financial decision this month was how often I ate out. I budgeted $25 in October towards restaurants and currently I am looking at $92.75. That is a detrimental amount of money, and the goal is to get strict on this coming month.

My electric bill was $75.02, and I felt that was ridiculously high for myself. So in October I made it a goal to leave as many electronics I could unplugged throughout the month.

This resulted in my electric bill in the next month going down to $50.48! That’s down a whole $24.54 for the month.

Super pumped about that and will now continue to do it moving forward and see if I can even get it a bit lower.

How much debt do you have?

I have a little under $4,000 in credit card debt, and my credit score is about 762.

Number one most stressful thing about your financial situation?

I wouldn’t say I’m too stressed about my current financial situation. I have a pretty strict budget (even if I don’t always follow it and that’s a learning process) so that takes a lot of stress away.

That being said, I would say once my debt is paid off the financial freedom of not having to worry about that payment each month will be lovely.

One thing you’d like to purchase that you can’t currently afford?

I’m going to need new tires and brakes soon. That’s a purchase I can hopefully hold out for to save up the cash to purchase.

Reoccurring monthly expenses?

  • Rent – $972
  • Internet – $68
  • Electric – $50.48 (woot woot!)
  • Groceries – $50-$75 (depending whether I run out of something that month or not)
  • Phone bill – $132.63
  • Subscriptions (Spotify/Amazon/Netflix) – $41.07
  • Auto insurance – $264.30
  • Renter’s insurance – $16.40
  • Credit card (minimum payment) – $137.99

Do you budget or track your spending?

I do budget and track my spending pretty strictly.

I have only really started getting into it in September. I use the EveryDollar app to track and budget every dollar I make every month.

Once I get to the point of actually following this super strictly, I believe it’s the most strategically sound way to save money.

The biggest strategy I have that helps me stay on track is actually an accountability partner.

One of my coworkers and I actually talk frequently about our spending habits and saving habits. Holding each other accountable to staying in line with our goals with finances.

Debt and savings aren’t a money problem, but they’re a people problem.

I have the money to live comfortably. The issue comes in when I start living beyond my means and not holding myself accountable to what I should actually be spending.

Having someone (or more than one person) walking with you through the journey of getting debt free or being financially responsible is the biggest advice I’ll give to someone trying to get their finances on track.

Where did you learn to manage your money?

Dave Ramsey.

You want to learn how to be financially stable? Listen to his podcast and read his books. You won’t regret it.

Top 3 financial goals?

  • Pay off my debt
  • Pay cash for new tires/brakes
  • Start saving again

What do you consider rich in Charlotte?

What I consider rich isn’t defined by area in my opinion.

I personally believe that anyone with consistent income and no debt (outside of a home mortgage) is financially rich.

If you are making money and don’t have any debt then you have complete financial freedom to live without the bounds of payments over your head every month.

Your $100,000 BMW does not make you rich if it is not paid off. That makes you in debt.

That’s my view on wealth. Society definitely wouldn’t agree, but that wasn’t the question.

You got debt? You ain’t rich yet. You debt free and got money coming in? Well, you’re doing great, and I’d consider yourself rich.

Are you motivated primarily by money?

I’m motivated by what I love to do. I’ve never been one that wants/needs to make millions of dollars. I just want to be happy in what I’m doing.

If I was debt-free I could easily live the rest of my life on my current salary and never blink an eye (this is assuming I stay single… which is not the goal. BUT, that’s a different conversation).

If money is your motivator, you will always be left feeling unfulfilled. Find what you love and go into it with an intensity that puts you in the position to be paid for the quality of work you bring in.

Number one piece of financial advice?

Don’t go into this journey alone.

Find someone that has like-minded goals  (paying off debt, paying for things with cash, no credit cards, etc.) and hold each other accountable to be financially responsible

Editor’s note: These responses have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

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.

PARTICIPATE: Want to be featured? Go take this new 28 question, anonymous survey. We’ve recently redone the survey to give participants more freedom to showcase their financial decisions and personality — without having to track weekly expenses. To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here

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