Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $46,433 salary

Cash Confessional: A week of spending in Charlotte on a $46,433 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 29-year-old woman that makes $46,433 per year. Here’s how she spends her money. -Kylie

The basics:

Industry: Secondary Education
Position: High school freshman seminar instructor
Yearly salary: $46,433. After taxes, my 401(k) and a YMCA membership, it comes out to be $2,640.38 each month.
Extra income: I bartend on Montford 4-6 nights a month, which brings in around $1,375.
Who you bank with: Truliant Credit Union
Savings: I have $100 automatically transferred each month into my Synchrony account. I also transfer 50% of any remaining balance in my checking account to Synchrony on the day before payday. 6% of my salary goes in to my TIAA retirement fund, and 4% is matched by my employer. Oh, and I also put all of my $5 and $1 bills in a box after each night I work at the bar. I use this for splurge purchases. 🙂
Your age: 29

The monthly expenses:

Rent: $800
Number of roommates: One extra special, but lovable, 5-year-old rescue dog.
Neighborhood: Sedgefield
Utilities: I pay electric and internet, my landlord covers water and I choose not to have cable. Electric is typically around $75 a month (which I know I could get lower if I tried, but I choose to use heat and air conditioning as much as I want) and internet is $55 a month.
Student loans: I’m currently getting my Masters in Counseling, so most of my loans are in deferment. I pay $250 a month toward a private loan that doesn’t go into in-school deferment. My parents also help pay this down when they’re able.
Car payments: $350 a month. This is way too high due to poor credit when I bought the car, but I’m hoping to be able to refinance this soon.
Car insurance: $80 a month as of this week! It was $180 for a while because of a speeding ticket.
Transportation costs: Typically around $60 a month in gas
Phone bill: $60
Insurance: My employer covers my health and dental insurance at 100%
YMCA: $40 take out, pre-tax, of my paycheck each month.
Arrichion: $60 a month (yay, student discount!)
Spotify: $14 for the family plan. I pay for this and my brother pays for Netflix.

Three financial goals:

Save enough to cover three months’ expenses in case of emergency. 

After I have that covered, start saving to be able to buy a house in the next three years.

Be able to pay off all of my private student loans within the next five years.

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day one: Sunday

I have a big paper to work on for graduate school so after I walk my dog I head to Starbucks to get that done. I have a hard time getting school work done at home because I get distracted and start cleaning or playing with my dog. I reload my Starbucks app for the week ($25) and get a latte and sandwich ($10.79) but pay with my Starbucks card that I just reloaded.

After three hours at Starbucks I head to food shop for the week. I decide I’m too hungry to go into Trader Joe’s without buying everything in sight so I get a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie ($5.14). I try the Blimey Limey and it is delicious and refreshing!
Now that I’ve curbed my hunger, I pick up some essentials for the week. Raspberries, pomegranate seeds, frozen pizza and potatoes, Italian chicken sausages and, of course, wine ($45.76).

I get home and take the dog on a loooong walk around the neighborhood. When I get home I make dinner using some of the ingredients I picked up at Trader Joe’s ($0).

Before going to bed I prep overnight oats for the next two mornings for breakfast.

Total spent: $75.90

Day two: Monday

Wake up and walk my dog. Make an iced coffee and put the toppings on my overnight oats. Take both with me on the road. I always try and wake up early enough to eat breakfast and have coffee at home, but it never seems to happen.

I am fortunate enough that my school gives all faculty an amount to spend in the cafeteria each year. I have been at the school for six years, first as an Athletic Trainer and now as a teacher, and have never run out. Lunch was grilled chicken and a salad from the cafe ($0).

I have a bad habit of drinking a Diet Coke every day. After eating in my office, I walk across campus to get one from the vending machine in the teachers mailroom. I see it as an excuse to stop working for a little and take a walk, but know it is not the best for my health ($0.75).

Stop at Harris Teeter on the way home for pasta sauce that I forgot to get at Trader Joe’s yesterday and end up getting some hydrangeas as well because I love having them in the house. ($16.79).

Make dinner, walk the dog and spend the night painting for my final in one of my graduate classes. I end up Facetiming my best friend who lives in D.C to help me conceptualize what I am trying to do.

Every Monday I get charged for my dog walker and my produce from The Produce Box ($40 to The Waggle Company, $25 to The Produce Box). These are expenses that I could cut, but feel better knowing my dog gets walked on my long days and that my produce is coming from local North Carolina farms!

Eat a little bit of ice cream with a glass of wine before going to sleep.

Total spent: $82.54

Day three: Tuesday

Wake up, walk the dog, make a coffee and head out a little early so I can stop at RiteAid to pick up water balloons for an activity for my classes today.

Riteaid has all summer toys 50% off, so I pick up 3 packages of water balloons and a pack of gum. Total comes to $13.56 but for some reason whenever I shop at RiteAid my total is rounded up to the nearest dollar. I keep forgetting to look into this ($14) I will get reimbursed for this when I submit to my department head.

Have water balloon toss competitions in my classes all day. They were blindfolded, couldn’t speak, and then one armed in order to teach different communication styles and have them think about disabilities a little differently.

I have a student in my office during lunch, so I miss lunch in the cafeteria. I keep a loaf of bread and peanut butter in my office for situations like these so eat one of those. Time for a diet coke ($0.75).

After work I head to UNCC for my last class of the semester. I pick up a salad at the convenience store ($5.14) and a coffee at the Starbucks in the union ($5.40) but use the money on my Starbucks card.

Class goes a few minutes late and I am starving. I know everything at home would take time to cook, so I stop at Ishi for Hibachi Steak to go ($8.50, plus $1.50 tip, $10).

Walk the dog, eat my dinner and go to sleep.

Total spent: $29.89

Day four: Wednesday

I forgot to make overnight oats last night and I woke up late, so I decide to stop at the gas station for a pack of mini donuts and a Redbull ($4.47).

Lunch is in the cafeteria again. ($0)

Another diet coke ($0.75).

I am working with a group of teachers on a proposal for next year. Something has come up and we have an impromptu meeting after school. I end up not leaving until after 5pm and stop by the vending machine for another diet coke ($0.75) before heading home for dinner.

Make dinner at home with things that I have already ($0) and decide to meet friends at Lenny Boy brewing for a workout and beer. It is $5 for the class and includes a beer after. It was a great workout and I will definitely be back!

I have an ice cream craving, so I stop at Publix to pick up a carton. $5.65

Head home, walk the dog, eat ice cream and drink wine while I watch my new favorite show Shots Fired.

Total spent: $16.62

Day five: Thursday

Make some toast and peanut butter and a coffee for the road.

Lunch is in the cafeteria again today. Grilled cheese bar, which is my favorite!

Get a text from my brother reminding me that I still owe him for our parents anniversary present. We are sending them on a week long cruise in September. My brother is younger, but works in Biotech in Boston and makes significantly more than I do, so he booked it and I am slowly paying him back. $350

I am babysitting for a coworker tonight so I head home right after school and walk my dog. I know I should make something to eat at home, but decide I don’t have time so I head out.

See Chick-fil-A and know I could get hangry if I don’t eat before spending time with the girls, decide to hit the drive thru and get a nugget meal. $6.19

Stay later than expected with the girls, but don’t mind because they are SO cute. Head home, eat a little ice cream and head to bed.

Total spent: $356.19

Day six: Friday

Wake up and make coffee. I am feeling extra sluggish this morning. Grab a banana for the road because I know we have advisory today, which always means food.

My advisee went alllll out this week and brought in a waffle maker! We make waffles that include fresh fruit, chocolate chips and powdered sugar. Advisory is one of my favorite parts of my job, not just because of the food, but because I love getting to know the students in a different way!

I wasn’t that hungry after waffles, and was meeting with a student during lunch. Make half of a peanut butter sandwich so I don’t get grouchy later.

I go to the boys’ lacrosse game after work because it is Senior Night. These kids are special to me because they were in 7th grade when I started, which means I have been with them for their whole school athletic career. I get a soda and a bag of chips at the concession stand ($3).

Head home and make dinner with things I already have. I also make a coffee to drink while I get ready for work. I go to work at the bar at 9:30pm on Fridays, so it makes for a really long day, but the money is always worth it.

Get to work and set up everything. My coworker and I decide we need snacks to make it through the night so I head to the gas station for Sour Patch Kids, chocolate covered pretzels and gum ($7.85).

We get really busy earlier than normal and stay busy for the majority of the night. Thankfully I had my snacks! We make $360 each. YAY!

Get home and walk my dog. It is already 4:15 a.m. Sleeeeep.

Total spent: $10.85

Day seven: Saturday

I sleep waaaay later than I planned on. I quickly walk my dog and head out to go watch some of the track meet at my school.

Stop at Harris Teeter and grab a kombucha, Red Bull and a donut ($8.11).

Stay longer than I should at the track meet because I was talking to a parent. I need an oil change and they just opened up a Take Five near my house not that long ago, so I head there ($59).

Make dinner at home and settle in to watch Everything Must Go for an assignment for graduate school.

Total spent: $67.11

Total spent: $639.10
The breakdown:

Food and drink – $146.10
Transportation – $59
Bills – $65
Miscellaneous – $369

What I learned: 

I spend a lot more on food and coffee because I don’t always plan as well as I should.

This was a fairly good week for me honestly, often I have more charges from ordering things off amazon or other (probably unnecessary) purchases.

I really need to work on forming a budget and sticking to it. Working at the bar makes this more difficult because it is less consistent and straight cash. I need to do a better job of saving this money.

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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