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Where\'d My Money Go Mia McManus
Where\'d My Money Go Mia McManus
Photo by Mia McManus
Career > Money

What I Spent In A Week After Graduation In Charlotte, NC

In Her Campus’ series Where’d My Money Go?, we’re taking a look at what one college student spends in a week on campus. In this piece, Mia, a recent University of South Carolina grad, shares her weekly spending habits.

Budgeting and managing money is something I have never mastered. I wish I could say I am an expert, but I’m not. This summer especially, it feels like my motto has been, “Money comes and goes, but memories last forever.” From the last months of college to making new friends in a new city to decorating an entire apartment, I have had so many amazing (yet expensive) opportunities to take part in. 

In May, I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. Graduating without a job was a stressful and disheartening experience for me. While it is entirely normal and absolutely fine to take a little more time to start your career, I have never been good with uncertainty, so the job search was a rollercoaster of emotions. 

However, a few weeks later, I got an exciting call. Two weeks after that, I packed everything up in my hometown of St. Louis and moved back to the Carolinas to work as a merchandise planner for a Southern-based department store. I have been working full-time here for about a month now, and am finally settling into my new apartment

In this role, I am currently paid hourly, but will be salaried upon my graduation from the developmental training program in September. On top of that, I have just launched my freelance career with different trend forecasting agencies and fashion publications as a side hobby and creative outlet. Due to the newness of this venture and the inconsistency of freelance work, I am unsure how much money this will generate, but I am looking forward to a little bit of extra shopping money each month. I have always been the kind of girl to treat herself. 

Post-grad life and adulthood mean bills each month. Rent, internet, electricity, and gas for my car are the main monthly expenses I have. As I mentioned above, I currently don’t have a budgeting system, but am in search of one. (Message me your tips!) For my full-time job, I spend a lot of time in Excel, so I am thinking of building my own budgeting spreadsheet with some of my newly-formed skills.


11 a.m.: One of my fatal flaws is that I cannot go to the gym without someone telling me exactly what to do. Cycle classes, pilates classes, barre classes — those are all my favorites, but a membership to one of those studios in a big city is a little out of my budget, so I found an alternative. I have been going to Hotworx for about a month now, and I like it so far. Hotworx has virtually-instructed workout classes that you take in personal infrared saunas. The membership is $59 a month, and access is 24/7, which has been great as I am trying to adjust into the 9-to-5 lifestyle. I walk to and from the studio, so I save money on gas and get my steps in. 

1 p.m.: After coming home and showering off the sauna sweat, I headed to Trader Joe’s. While I will never shop there on a Sunday again, I absolutely love that grocery store. Here, I spent $83 on some of my favorite items including the vegan pesto, chili lime tortilla roll chips, and a eucalyptus branch for my shower.

Total: $142


8:30 a.m.: Monday means back to work. Today, my day was packed with meetings, so I wanted to grab a coffee before the long day ahead of me. Fortunately, my college apartment complex had given me a $5 Starbucks gift card as part of their rewards system, so this coffee was on them! I got a Grande Pike Place roast with oat milk — a classic, reliable staple. 

5 p.m.: Five o’clock means time to go home. I drive to work every day, which is about a 12-minute drive for me. However, work is pretty much the only place I drive to, so I can go a few weeks without filling up my tank. This is one of the best perks of living in a walkable city. 

Total: $0


6:30 p.m.: Getting my nails done is one small task that makes me feel wildly better about myself, so here we are. This was my first time getting my nails done in Charlotte, and I was pleasantly surprised with the salon I chose. I needed to get my acrylic tips off and a gel coat put on my real nails. This came out to $70 with tip. 

Total: $70


12 p.m.: I forgot to pack a lunch for work today, so I decided to head to the Panera down the street. I got a whole Green Goddess Cobb Salad, which came out to $14. I ate half for lunch and brought the other half home for dinner. I try to pack my lunch as much as possible, but sometimes, it’s nice to spice it up and eat out, especially if it can cover two meals. In college, I was on my sorority’s meal plan, so I have never had to cook for myself before. There has definitely been a learning curve there. Thank goodness for easy TikTok recipes! 

9 p.m.: When it came to unwind for bed, I was doing some of my nightly online browsing when I discovered the red Coach Shoulder Luna Bag that I had been eyeing forEVER was 50% off. I decided to treat myself and bought the purse for $147. P.S. if you are eyeing this bag too, buy it! The quality is amazing, and the red is such a staple color. 

Total: $161


7 p.m.: PRIME DAY! You love to see it — especially when you moved into a new apartment. Originally, I was not planning on getting a desk, but then my company gave me a desktop monitor for our work-from-home days. It has been sitting on my kitchen island for a few weeks, so I decided Prime Day was the perfect time to buy a desk. To help get a little more movement in my sedentary 9-to-5 lifestyle, I decided to get a standing desk (maybe a walking pad down the road). It has buttons so I am able to easily change the height of it throughout my work day. It came out to $172.

Total: $172


12 p.m.: During my lunch break, my coworkers and I decided to get tickets to the Charlotte FC game this Saturday. The ticket was $60 for the GA supporter section. This is always a great experience, and the people here have so much pride for, and excitement around, their soccer team. I’m excited to be in the midst of the chaos. 

8 p.m.: After a long work week, I decided my perfect Friday night involved staying in and catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I went over to her apartment and brought a bottle of wine for us, which cost $18.

Total: $78


11 a.m.: I woke up and hit some of the local farmer’s markets in my area with a friend, where I bought some bamboo tea from a local vendor. I had never heard of this, but the benefits and samples were great, so I decided to get three bottles for $15. 

6 p.m.: Time for the FC game! I met up with my coworkers at the cutest little restaurant beforehand, where they were doing $3 mimosas. I got one before heading to the game, where I also grabbed a drink for $14. 

9 p.m.: After the game, we headed to a local brewery, where we stayed for the rest of the night. Here, we grabbed some food and drinks totaling, $22. We walked or used public transportation to get everywhere today, which was free. 

Total: $54

Weekly Total: $677

Overall, after compiling all of these purchases, I definitely spent more than expected this week. However, I know this is partly due to the fact that I am settling into a new apartment and new city. I am buying different necessities, like a desk, while also trying to make friends and explore my new home. I feel like saying yes as much as possible in the beginning is super important. Additionally, buying a bag or getting my nails done is not a weekly endeavor. As the summer goes on, I know this weekly number will decrease.

Mia McManus

South Carolina '23

Mia McManus is a National Writer for Her Campus Media under the style section of the site. She started with HCM in July 2022 as a Contributing Writer for College Fashionista before entering the writer’s program at Her Campus in May 2023. Beyond her work here, Mia is a Merchandise Planner for a Southern-based department store. She, also, recently launched her freelance career where she writes for different fashion publications and aids with different projects at various trend forecasting agencies. In May 2023, she graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising and Digital Innovation. If you are looking for her, she can be found out shopping, at an airport, drinking way too much coffee, or @miamcmanus on Instagram. Follow along with her as she navigates post-grad life and the world of being a fashion writer.