Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $48,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $48,000 salary
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This is part of our Cash Confessional series that takes a deeply 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.

If you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, e-mail Kylie at

This week I spoke with a 28-year-old who makes just under $50,000 per year. Here’s how he spends his money. —Kylie

The basics

I’m a 28-year-old male and work as a junior web developer focusing on mobile app development. I just started this new path and previously worked in media production as a video editor. My current work is contract/project-based. Before taxes I make roughly $3,000 to $4,000 a month. Extra income includes my Airbnb, occasional photo editing, and assistant photographer work for weddings. Occasionally, my dad calls and needs some manual labor for his heating and cooling business, so I’ll take a day off from web development to get outside and make a couple hundred bucks.


Two weeks ago I decided to pay off all debt by 30, so I’ve been motivated to take measures to get there. Basically, that means no unnecessary purchases until my debt is paid off.

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $895
Neighborhood: Uptown
Roommates: 0
Utilities: $100
Student loans: $130
Car payment: $260
Adobe Creative Cloud membership (for photo editing): $25
Credit cards: $75

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day 1: Monday
$10 for gas on the drive in to where I’m working on a mobile app project, $300 for my car payment and $85 for my credit card payment.

I ate a bagel for breakfast, leftover spaghetti for lunch and leftover spaghetti for dinner.

Total spent = $395

Day 2: Tuesday
I skipped breakfast and had fried chicken for lunch, courtesy of a co-worker. I made rice and beans for dinner.

The only money I spent on Tuesday was an automatic payment I have linked to my account of $5.35. It’s through an app called Acorns that rounds up every debit card purchase and deposits that into an investment portfolio. I need to disable it.

I also got paid $150 for three hours of photo work.

Total spent = $5.35

Day 3: Wednesday
I worked about 6 hours with my dad. He bought lunch and I made rice and beans for dinner. Also, I made $400 for the work.

Rice and Beans

Total spent = $0

Day 4: Thursday
I go into the office again to work on the app. This company doesn’t work on Fridays, so on Thursday we all go out for lunch and the company buys. We had BBQ. I also received a partial payment for the project for $1,250.

Dinner was at my girlfriend’s – we order a half cheese/half Hawaiian and a buffalo chicken pizza. She had a buy one get one free coupon, but it wasn’t as good of a deal as it sounds. That meal was $17.19 for 2 medium pizzas and a 2-liter. This hurt my debt-free goal.

Total spent = $17.19

Day 5: Friday
I worked from home all day. I had cereal and fruit for breakfast; rice and beans for lunch.

That night I drank a bunch with friends from my apartment complex, but didn’t spend any money. I had left over beer from the previous week and the generosity of my friends – the leftover beer was given to me.

Total spent = $0

Day 6: Saturday
I woke up hungover and because of that I spent money that I shouldn’t have on things in an attempt to comfort myself. I bought a Gatorade for, like, $2.50, $8.63 for a ride with Lyft and lunch at Flying Biscuit with my girlfriend for $34.62. Afterward, I needed gum, but don’t have it, so I drop $3.80 for terrible mints and candy. Later, I realize I haven’t bought a house-warming gift for my girlfriend – $26.80. And in a final reach for comfort, Wendy’s for $12.41.

Flying Biscuit

Total spent = $88.76

Day 7: Sunday
I go to Whiskey Warehouse for brunch, but it’s my girlfriend’s turn to buy, so I spend $0. Afterward, I want Starbucks, so I spend $6.01 on two drinks.


Total spent = $6.01

Total spent this week: $512.31
The breakdown:
Bills – $385
Food and drink – $76.53
Transportation – $18.63
Other – $32.15
What I learned: It’s not hard to spend less money, but as soon as you make one careless purchase, it’s easy to keep doing it.

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