Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $61,000 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $61,000 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 kylie@charlotteagenda.comThis week, I spoke with a 22-year-old woman that makes $61,000 per year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Banking
Position: Business Analyst
Yearly salary: $61,000
Who you bank with and why: Bank of America. My parents had their main accounts with them when I opened my first checking and savings accounts with them when I was 16. Since then, I’ve also opened a cash-back credit card. It is convenient to have all of these in one place.
Savings: I put 5% of my gross pay into my 401(k) (with an additional 5% match by my employer). I also put anywhere from $1,300-$1,500 in my savings account each month, which I don’t otherwise touch or spend.
Age: 22
Gender: Female

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,200
Number of roommates: None, unless my cat counts
Neighborhood: South End
Utilities: Electric, water, internet and trash are approximately $135 per month.
Student loans: None – thanks, mom and dad!
Car payments: None
Car insurance: My parents pay this
Transportation: Usually $40 for light rail tickets and $25 to fill my tank up once a month, so $65.
Phone bill: I’m still on the family plan, so my parents pay for this.
Insurance: I’m still on my parents’ health, dental and vision plans and hope to remain there until I’m 26.


Three financial goals:

Remain debt free. The only exception to this is a mortgage in the future.

Buy a house or condo in the next 1-3 years with a minimum of a 20% down payment.

Always maintain a minimum cash cushion of $10,000 for rainy days. I’d like to eventually grow this to $100,000 by the time I’m 30.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Monday

I have two eggs and a cup of coffee for breakfast, made at home with groceries previously bought ($0) and survive Monday morning at work with a couple of cups of coffee from the break room. It’s not the best, but its free.

I packed my lunch today: Sliced ham and cheese with raw carrots, cucumber and grape tomatoes on the side. $0

Dinner is at home with stuff I already have: A steak with mac ‘n cheese and broccoli on the side. Delicious! $0

I picked up some groceries at Publix to meal-prep lunches for the rest of the week and some things to cook dinner at home. I didn’t need any meat and I figured I will have to go back toward the end of the week anyway because I have a friend visiting this weekend, so this is a lot cheaper than it usually is – $44.05. I usually spend twice this amount, 2 times a month.

Total spent: $44.05

Day two: Tuesday

I make an omelet and a cup of coffee for breakfast before I leave ($0) and packed my lunch again, which is vegetable stir-fry that I made last night with the groceries I bought. I also threw a Kind bar in my lunch box. $0

Stir Fry

To avoid falling asleep at my desk, I head to Starbucks for a pick-me-up in the form of a venti cold brew. It’s $3.95, but I have a gift card so it costs me nothing.

For dinner I eat leftover stir-fry and cookie dough for dessert, yum! $0

Total spent: $0

Day three: Wednesday

I didn’t have time to make breakfast this morning, so I head to 7th Street Market to grab an acai bowl at Rico’s instead. I’d eat one every day if they weren’t so expensive. $13.63


I packed my lunch again and munch on a caprese salad with chicken that I prepared the night before. Cucumbers and apple sauce are my sides. $0

Dinner is made at home again with the groceries I bought. $0

Its one of my friends’ birthdays, so we head to Foxcroft Wine Co. for some girl time and wine! I get a glass of red for $12, including tip.

Total spent: $25.63

Day four: Thursday

I made an omelet at home for breakfast and, as usual, pack a caprese salad with mac ‘n cheese for lunch. $0

There’s a free reward on my Starbucks card, so I get a venti PSL for $0.

For dinner, I stop and get takeout on the way  home because I’m tired and have to clean the apartment for the friend that’s coming into town tomorrow. I just don’t want to deal with cooking. $10.81

Total spent: $10.81

Day five: Friday

I ate breakfast at home, but I didn’t pack my lunch because I like to treat myself to something once a week. This week, it’s Qdoba for $8.44.

My friend’s birthday celebrations continue and we head to RuSan’s for sushi and  drinks, where I get two rolls and a hard cider for $15.

Daily total: $23.44

Day six: Saturday

My friend is in town and staying with me! We need groceries to make breakfast at home, so we head to Publix and spend $11.60 on pancakes, eggs, turkey sausage and fruit.

During the day, we decide to go brewery hopping. My friend buys the first round at Wooden Robot, so I grab the next at Craft. Two beers, with tip, are $15.

Wooden Robot

We’re craving Mexican food after a day of drinking craft beer, so we go to Azteca, which is a hidden gem with GREAT good! I get a smothered burrito with rice and beans. With tip, $13.

Next is Fahrenheit for cocktails. The Uber there is $6.93 and the one back is $8.05. I sip on a Moscow mule for $16 with tip.

Daily total: $70.58

Day seven: Sunday

I love trying all of Charlotte’s different brunch spots, so I head to Mimosa Grill for the brunch buffet. $35

I cooked dinner at home. $0

Total spent: $35

Total spent: $209.51
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $194.53
Transportation – $14.98

What I learned: Overall, I don’t think I did that badly. I have a spreadsheet where I already track monthly expenses and have target budgets for different categories of spending. I try really hard to cook meals at home, mostly to eat healthier but also to save money. I try to go out to eat as a social aspect with friends, rather than my inability to meal-prep.

This week was also a heavy-spending week for me because I had a friend from out of town visit me. I had to show her all the good food and drinks in Charlotte, so I spent significantly more on dining out.

Also – huge shout out to my parents! I’m so grateful for all my parents still do for me. I just graduated college in May of this year and they still pay for a large portion of my monthly bills, though this could change at the start of the New Year.

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