Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $22,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $22,000 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. This series is completely volunteer-based; 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 36-year-old woman who makes $22,000 per year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Nonprofit
Position: Social Media Manager
Yearly salary: $22,000
Extra income: $76 in food stamps (food and nutrition benefits)
Who you bank with and why: Wells Fargo, but I never use it because they consistently charge for overdraft even for the smallest amounts. I also use Sharonview Federal Credit Union because they’re customer-friendly.
Savings: I’m trying to put money into savings, but it’s hard.
Age: 36
Gender: Female

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $658
Renters Insurance: $8
Number of roommates: Can I consider my 8-year-old a roommate? (Yes.)
Neighborhood: East Charlotte

Electric – $50
Gas – $60
Water – $35
Cable and internet – $134

Student loans: $33,000+, but they’re in deferment because of my income.
Car payment/insurance: I don’t have a car.
Transportation: My job pays for my bus pass, but I can no longer get away with saying my kid is five. Most bus drivers don’t make me pay, but I would say $25 a month.
Phone bill: $60
Insurance: Because I’m part-time, I’m not eligible for health insurance through my job, so I pay $3.60 per month (thanks, Obamacare). The kiddo receives Medicaid.
Afterschool care: $25

Three financial goals:

Build up 6 months worth of savings.

Put one check into my checking account that doesn’t get touched.

Eventually pay off my $33,000 worth of student loans.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

Breakfast was pancakes and eggs that we already had lying around.

I picked up some groceries for $75.19 in cash. The food stamps I receive only last for about a week between buying food for the house and snacks for school. I also bought a new binder ($16.08) and other school supplies ($12.99) after my kiddo lost his entire binder with all of his supplies. I took an Uber home for $5.65.

Made a payment on a business foundation course for $37.

Lunch was cereal and fruit we already had.

Kiddo wanted to order a movie, so we got Captain America: Civil War for $4.99.

We also did laundry at the laundromat ($15) and paid the Time Warner Cable bill ($135). I want to reduce my TWC bill but I can’t do that until I pay the late bill. My back was killing me because I carried the laundry from my house to the Laundromat and back about 4 blocks each way.

Total spent: $301.90

Day two: Monday

Breakfast was oatmeal for my kid ($0) and nothing for me. Sent him to school for $1.50.

I meditate and study reiki, so I like to pick up crystals and candles when I can, so I grabbed some crystals, candles and incense charcoal for $31.56. This was a little more than I normally spend.

For lunch, I had two pecan swirls, two granola bars and a bottle of water for $4.54. I got another bottle of water before the day was over for $1.

We had spaghetti for dinner and after, I got a headache, so picked up some medicine for $4.99.

Total spent: $43.59

Day three: Tuesday

I had oatmeal and strawberries for home from breakfast ($0) and an apple, cookie and coffee cake from work for a snack ($0).

Transportation was free today – my friend let me borrow his car to drop my kid off at school.

I had a meeting at kiddo’s school, so I had to grab Brixx pizza ($22.38 – I miss the days we could share an individual pizza!) and a bottle of water ($2) for dinner and eat it outside. My friend drove us home from the school meeting, too.

Total spent: $24.38

Day four: Wednesday

My kid had a bowl of cereal for breakfast while I skipped. $0

I took an Uber to work because I was running late ($11.95) and due to the police shooting, didn’t really have much of an appetite for lunch or a snack.

Dinner was Five Guys for $11.67.

Total spent: $23.62

Day five: Thursday

I worked from home today because school was closed due to the protests, so spending was minimal.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs and fruit and lunch was PB&J and fruit that we had lying around. For dinner, we snagged chicken and french fries from the corner store. $4.32

If I could work from home each day, I would love it. I save so much  money when I work from home.

Total spent: $4.32

Day six: Friday

Breakfast was cereal and fruit and we got lunch from Soho Bistro for $16.24. Dinner was leftovers from lunch. Again, no more sharing lunches. He’s a growing boy!

Total spent: $16.24

Day seven: Saturday

I spent $27.50 on groceries, $5.65 on an Uber home and then let family fun day begin. We took a trip to the library (where I paid $5 covering a late fee), ate lunch at Wild Wing Café ($30.87), played in the park and then hit Discovery Place. It only cost $2 because I take advantage of their program for those receiving food and nutrition benefits. This is my son’s favorite place.

I provide work to my kiddo to do at home to reinforce what he learns in school and paid $12.65 for this round of it.

Total spent: $83.67

Total spent: $497.72
The breakdown:
Bills – $135
Food – $195.71
Transportation – $24.75
Education – $41.72
Other – $100.54

What I learned: This amount of spending is not necessarily normal, but it kind of is. These little things that come up like lost school supplies, transportation home from grocery shopping, etc. add up. It is hard to plan meals when you don’t actually have a lot to start off with.

If you consider that I bring in around $800 twice a month and my basic necessities total more than that, money is a stretch. I owe a family member and friend money and I am late on my cell phone bill.

Many people may suggest getting another job or a second job but that is not as easy as one thinks. I have flexibility in my job which allows me to be there for my son’s events and activities while also volunteering at his school and supporting him emotionally, my top priority. My goal is to find a second source of income that will not take me away from him much. I don’t want him to be a “latch key kid.”

I am working with a financial planner to see where I have room to save a little at least to get a car because traveling by public transportation is hard. I am unable to sign him up for certain activities because they are too far from where we leave and we would get home too late. Plus carrying groceries is the worst!

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.

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