Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $77,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $77,000 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. If you’re interested in keeping track of your own spending and having it featured, email Kylie at [email protected].

This week, I spoke with a 26-year-old man who makes $77,000 a year. Here’s how he spends his money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Industrial Automation Engineering
Position: Electrical Controls Engineer II
Yearly salary: $77,000
Extra income: Overtime – roughly $6,000 to $8,000 a year.
Who do you bank with and why? Charles Schwab for their strong online presence, great customer service, links to brokerage account and all ATM fees being reimbursable.
Savings: $750 per month goes into my company 401(k) (12%, match is 50% of 6%). I also have emergency fund of $8,000.
Age: 26
Gender: Male

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $715 + $20 pet fee, so $735.
Roommates: 1
Neighborhood: Third Ward
Utilities: $60
Student loans: $1,200 per month. The minimum is $800 on the aggressive 5-year repayment plan.
Car payment: $250
Car insurance: $60
Transportation: $150
Phone: $70
Insurance: $100
Gym: $45
Dog: $80
Spotify, Netflix, travel savings, etc.: $400

Three financial goals:

Pay off all of my federal student loans. I graduated in May 2013 with $60,000 in student debt. I’m on track to have them paid off by December 2017.

After my loans are paid off, max out my 401(k) and a traditional IRA.

Be financially independent by my 40s.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

9 a.m. Coffee in the morning at the office. $0

12 p.m. Worked out at the nearby gym over my lunch break and had a post-workout lunch consisting of a protein shake, chicken and veggies that I bought last week and stored in the office freezer. $0

5 p.m. Filled up my gas tank on the way home from work since I was running low and headed up to Nevin Park that evening. $35

6 p.m. I picked my friend and dog and ate a gyro my friend brought on the way to our round of disc golf. Rained the entire round… $0

Total spent: $35

Day two: Tuesday

9 a.m. Coffee in the morning at the office. $0

12 p.m. Similar lunch break workout followed by the same lunch. I usually try to either make a few meals in the slow cooker for the week or double up on my dinner so I have leftovers… but I have yet to do either. $0

5 p.m. Walked to the Uptown Harris Teeter for veggies, fruit and ingredients for a Guinness chicken stew that I plan to throw in the slow cooker tomorrow. $41

7 p.m. Dinner and a drink at Tupelo Honey during happy hour. Date insisted it was her turn to pay. $0

Total spent: $41

Day three: Wednesday

9 a.m. Coffee in the morning at the office. $0

12 p.m. No lunch workout (evening instead), but same lunch in office. $0

6 p.m. Started Guinness chicken stew in slow cooker for future lunch/dinners. $0

9 p.m. Dinner tonight was at Fitzgerald’s during their trivia, plus two beers. $22

Total spent: $22

Day four: Thursday

9 a.m. Coffee in the morning at the office. $0

12 p.m. We go out as an office for lunch once or twice a week and today it was to Qdoba. $10

5 p.m. I had a quick snack at Taco Bell on the way to Sugaw Amateur Disc Golf League. $2

6 p.m. I had to pay an entry fee for the league night, but I placed and walked away with a $15 disc. $6

9 p.m. Dinner was some of my Guinness chicken stew at home afterwards. $0

Total spent: $18

Day five: Friday

9 a.m. Coffee in the morning at the office. $0

12 p.m. Lunch was another helping of my Guinness chicken stew. I left work after lunch since it was slow and went to go play disc golf up in Huntersville with my dog. $0

7 p.m. Went to Taste of Charlotte for dinner and had some Indian (the samosa was great!) and a beer. Afterwards, I just had a chill night in. $12

Total spent: $12

Day six: Saturday

7 a.m. I’m up early for the Charlotte Amateur Championship two-day disc golf tournament. I have a pre-tournament ritual of Chick-fil-a Chicken Minis and coffee for breakfast. The first round of the tournament is at Robbins Park in Cornelius. $9

1 p.m. Filled up gas tank between rounds and grabbed a snack for the second round. $30

2 p.m. I had a Moe’s burrito for lunch and then played the second round at Bradford Park in Huntersville. $10

8 p.m. After the tournament’s first day was finished, I went to Publix to grab Conecuh sausage and beer to go grill out with my old neighbor in Steele Creek. Ate way too much, but it was deserved after walking almost 10 miles today! $21

Total spent: $70

Day seven: Sunday

7 a.m. I’m up early again for day two of the tournament. Today’s round – the third round – is at Nevin Park. No breakfast except coffee. Thanks, Chick-fil-a! $0

1 p.m. Grabbed Taco Bell between rounds. Probably not the best decision… Today’s the fourth and final round at Sugaw Park. $8

7 p.m. Post-tournament, I somehow had some energy left so I went to Target to get some groceries. I also bought some dog food, random supplies from the pharmacy and groceries for the week including the next slow cooker meal: chicken taco soup. $94

Total spent: $102

Total spent: $300
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $133
Transportation  $65
Disc Golf – $8
Miscellaneous – $94

What we learned: I definitely spend most on food and drinks, whether that be out and about or in groceries. At this rate I easily bust my food budget of $450 per month, which is honestly a lot for just one person. I try to offset this by using my slow cooker more, eating less while out and generally just being aware of it.

Thankfully I don’t have to be extremely thrifty with the food spending since I’m living well below my means thanks to being frugal with the bigger decisions. Also, once my student loans are paid off at the end of next year that will free up $1,200 per month in my budget, although most of that will immediately go to savings and retirement.

I also realized just how much of my week is spent disc golfing… granted, this was a slow week for other things compared to most others.

Need personal finance education? Visit Better Money Habits. Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. It’s a simple way of getting real, practical knowledge, brought to you by Bank of America in partnership with Khan Academy.

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