Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $35,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $35,000 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 30-year-old woman who makes $35,000 a year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Education
Position: Teacher
Yearly salary: $35,000
Extra income: Between $100-$300 a month. It’s contract work, so it varies.
Who do you bank with and why? State Employees Credit Union. I’ve been with them since I started teaching. They offer free online banking, minimal annual fees, awesome interest rates on loans and free savings assistance for 10-month employees.
Savings: Everything I receive from my second job, I try to put into savings. I also contribute 2% of my monthly income (pre-tax) to a 401(k) at work, which is matched by my school.
Age: 30
Gender: Female

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $400
Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: Ballantyne
Utilities: I don’t pay utilities because I pay for all of our groceries and our storage unit, so $0.
Student loans: None, thanks to my parents and a research assistantship!
Car payments: $287 a month
Car insurance: $75 a month
Transportation costs: About $60 a month
Phone bill: $0. I’m still on the family plan, thanks to my parents. Us poor teachers need all the help we can get!
Renters insurance: $11
Any extra costs not previously mentioned: $97 a month for the storage unit, about $250-$200 for groceries for two and $25 a month (pre-tax) on a benefits card for my health insurance.

Three financial goals:

Save up enough money to contribute to a down payment on a house. My boyfriend and I are buying in 1-2 years.

Build my savings account back up. I unfortunately had to drain it last year due to medical expenses.

Pay off my car early.

Monday Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I ate breakfast at home (scrambled eggs and coffee) before church, where I donated $11 to the collection. 

$46.77 on meat at Whole Foods. I almost broke the bank with this one – I definitely don’t splurge like this often.

I ate leftovers for lunch at dinner, but spent $9 on wine at Newsies.

Total spent: $66.77

Day two: Monday

The only thing I spent money on today was a package of eggs for breakfast at Providence Produce ($12.66). I ate breakfast at home, had leftovers for lunch and went to a work dinner. $0

Total spent: $12.66

Day three: Tuesday

I ate breakfast at home (toast and coffee, $0), lunch at the Harris Teeter buffet ($6.47) and made dinner at home.

Total spent: $6.47

Day four: Wednesday

I ate scrambled eggs and coffee at home for breakfast ($0) and had leftover dinner for lunch (also $0). For dinner, I treated myself to a Mellow Mushroom salad for $10.46.

While in South Carolina, I topped off on gas – $21.93.

Total spent: $32.39

Day five: Thursday

Got a little fancier with breakfast this morning (still at home!) and had pancakes and coffee. $0

I stopped by Harris Teeter for both lunch and food for tonight’s dinner and spent $31.87.

Total spent: $31.87

Day six: Friday

I ate every meal at home today. Scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast, leftovers for lunch and made some dinner with the groceries I bought this week.

Total spent: $0

Day seven: Saturday

Scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast again and leftovers from dinner for lunch. I did go out with a friend for a birthday at Moo & Brew, though. $14.53

Total spent: $14.53

Total spent: $164.69
The breakdown:
Food and drink – $131.76
Transportation – $21.93
Miscellaneous – $11

What I learned:

I learned that I was extra cautious of what I was spending when I was actually paying attention and writing everything down. I also learned that I spend way too much money going out to eat for lunch so I tried not to do that while I was tracking my spending – kind of challenging myself. Finally, I reaffirmed for myself that I am VERY lucky to be in the position I am in because it is almost impossible to live independently in Charlotte on my salary.

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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