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A Week In New Brunswick On A $42,676 Salary

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Today: an administrative assistant working in higher education who makes $42,676 per year and spends some of her money this week on diapers.
Occupation: Admin Assistant
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 35
Location: New Brunswick
Salary: $42,676
Net Worth: $69,541 (I have $25,659 in various savings. We tend to save for everything first, so money is allotted for different things like vacation, home repairs, etc. I also have $9,604 in a tax-free savings account and $900 in RRSP. My RRSP had more in it, but I used it for the first-time homebuyer benefit. The rest of my net worth is equity in our home, which we bought for $140,000.)
Debt: $106,622 (mortgage)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,076.82
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $265.81 (I split this expense with my husband, L., so this is my half.)
House Insurance: $37 (my half)
Property Taxes: $125 (my half)
Townhouse Fees: $35 (my half)
Water: $58 (my half)
Heat & Lights: $150 (my half)
Internet: $28.75 (my half)
Phone: $90
Car Insurance: $92
Babysitter: $200 (The total amount is $600, which is on the cheaper side. L. pays the rest.)
Parking Pass: $30
Netflix: $0 (L. pays)
Spotify: $0 (L. pays)
Disney+: $0 (L. pays)
Peloton App: $13.95
Banking Fee: $5
RRSP: $50
Our Son's RESP: $304 (I currently put my child tax benefit into my son's RESP.)
Savings: $125
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Note: My husband makes around the same amount I make, and our accounts are completely separate. I pay the bills, and he sends me his half every month. I also pay for all the random stuff, like gifts for occasions, and we trade off paying for take-out because we each have our own budget for extras like that. I keep all the savings accounts, and he gives me his portion for those. He's a spender, and I’m a saver, so we agree that it’s better if he doesn’t see how much we have saved for certain things (haha).

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
My parents expected my brother and me to attend university or college, and if we went to local schools and lived at home for free, they would pay for our tuition. If we opted out of school, we had to start paying board if we lived at home. I did a four-year degree in psychology that my parents paid for. I then took an office admin diploma to help in my job search and prove to everyone I knew how to use a computer. I paid for that using my own savings. I also have a human resources management diploma that I got through our tuition benefit program at work. I'm very overqualified for my current position.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I don't remember conversations about money. I was given an allowance for candy, food, etc., and I always saved my birthday and Christmas money in my bank account. My parents made me pay half for expensive items that I wanted, so I learned about saving. My dad worked, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom, so we had everything we needed but certainly weren't well- off.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job at 16, as an usher at the local arena. I worked events, concerts, and hockey games because we had an AHL team at the time. I also worked as a cashier during the summers. I could do what I wanted with my money from these part-time jobs.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I never worried about money growing up. My mom and I frequently joke that my parents raised me in a bubble. As a child, I was blissfully unaware of a lot of things. I was a good money saver, but it was never out of fear of not having any, and I had ZERO concept of how much our extracurriculars cost. Our parents never said no to any sport or activity we wanted to do. Sometimes, I would wonder why we didn't take fancy vacations, but my mom always said things like "Well, it's either a trip to Florida every year or university tuition."

Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now, because despite living simply, everything around me is way more expensive than it was in my childhood. I love spending money but also hate spending money. Even though I save for specific reasons, I still have a hard time parting with it out of fear of not having enough in the future.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I didn't move out until I was 25. I got my own apartment so I could experience living and taking care of myself completely on my own before living with a future partner. It made me so much better at budgeting, which I wasn't doing while living at home. L. and I know that our parents would help us in any way possible if we ran into trouble. They already help us in a lot of ways.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
We both received money from our families to go towards buying our house. My parents gave $5,000 specifically for closing costs, and my husband received $10,000 as an inheritance from his grandfather. I received $2,000 from my grandmother after she cashed out her husband's stocks when he passed away. I told her I'd use it for a new couch and I still have it in savings for that purpose.
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You bought your house for just $140,000. Can you say more about that?
We bought our townhouse in 2019, before the real estate boom that COVID brought to the East Coast. Going into homeownership, we detailed out all the other bills that no one really thinks about when buying a home, so even though we were approved for much more, we decided on a $140,000 budget, which gave us wiggle room for life and unexpected things. A lot of people are house-poor, and we didn't want that. We realize our place is insanely cheap compared to homes in most of Canada; that's why so many people have been moving to the Maritimes during COVID — they can get so much more for their money.

Day One

5:45 a.m. — I get up for the day, put on my Cetaphil moisturizer with SPF 50, and go downstairs to get milk ready for my 18-month-old son, M. Then I wake up M., get him ready for the day, and sit in the rocking chair while he drinks his milk, and I soak up the cuddles.
6:30 a.m. — I make breakfast for M. and me. I have vanilla Greek yogurt with sliced almonds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, and cantaloupe. L. grabs his stuff and is off to work for 7 a.m. He's not a morning person, whereas M. and I are, so we do our weekday morning routine solo.
7 a.m. — M. is in his playroom while I get dressed for the day. (Hot tip: When you have a toddler, don't change into the clothes you really want to wear until the last possible minute. They will snot or drool on you.) It's a work-from-home day, so I put on an Old Navy swing dress with my white Converse sneakers. I brush my teeth, throw my hair in a dirty bun, and go downstairs to read a couple of books with M. before I take him to his sitter's house nearby.
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8:15 a.m. — I'm back from dropping off M. and ready to start my workday. I sip Cream of Earl Grey tea with honey until my morning break.
10 a.m. — I'm part of a union, and we're always encouraged to take our scheduled breaks. During this one, I sit on the couch in silence and eat a gala apple and have Cape Breton oat squares that we got at the farmers market on the weekend.
12 p.m. — When I'm in the office, I always use my lunch break to work out, and I try to keep that going on the days I'm working from home. I do a 10-minute arms and shoulder workout on the Peloton app and a 15-minute legs and glutes workout. I got the Peloton app when the pandemic first hit and I LOVE IT. It's cheap for the amount of access you have to classes, and I like that I can do it by myself whenever I want. I don't enjoy working out in most group environments, because they're so encouraging and positive, and I just want to begrudgingly do my workout and complain about how hard it is in peace.
12:45 p.m. — Lunch is leftover pad thai I got from the farmers market and an iced Rainbow tea with a splash of lemonade.
3 p.m. — I take my afternoon break and throw in a load of laundry. I'll miss this perk when I'm back in the office.
4:15 p.m. — I stop work to get M. from the sitter. He gets a snack while he burns energy outside before we start supper. I toss chicken in Shake 'N Bake and pop it in the oven. While we wait for it to cook, my in-laws stop by with a barbecue we ordered on the weekend from Canadian Tire. Our place gets so warm in the summertime, so we want to avoid using the oven as much as possible.
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5:30 p.m. — L. gets home from work, the in-laws leave, and we eat supper. I have a kale caesar salad on the side with our chicken. M. gets what we eat for the most part. He hasn't developed a taste for meat yet, but I read that exposure is everything, so I'll keep serving it in hopes that one day he'll try it.
6:30 p.m. — I bathe M. while L. gets all his nighttime stuff ready: PJs, diaper, sleep sack, and his milk for storytime. After the bath, I kiss him goodnight, and L. does the bedtime routine, while I shower. It's hair-washing day! During mat leave, I vowed to train my hair so it only needs washing a couple of times a week. I also don't have time in the mornings to shower like I used to before the baby. I can't believe how inefficient I was with my time pre-baby!
7:30 p.m. — I'm clean. I eat Frosted Flakes and almond milk and get my lunch and work bags ready for tomorrow because I'm going into the office. I fold laundry with L. on the couch. By 9 p.m., I go upstairs for bed, brush my teeth, put in my retainer, and read The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan. (It's a really good thriller that has me totally confused about who might be the murderer). I pass out by 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — I get up, put on moisturizer and makeup because, and curl my hair with my straightener. I care more about my appearance when going into the office but not nearly as much as I did pre-baby. I do just enough to look alive while around other humans.
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6:30 a.m. — Breakfast today is a fried egg and bacon sandwich on an everything bagel bun. I put on jeans, a black T-shirt, a green cardigan, and white Converse sneakers. I'm still getting used to my postpartum body. Having a kid at 33, I definitely did not "bounce back," nor do I feel like I need to. I've never felt more confident wearing something that might highlight my "mom tummy" or going without makeup for a day. I literally do not give an eff anymore — and I can't believe I used to give an eff before. Still, dressing a differently shaped body does take getting used to. Also, new clothes are expensive.
7: 30 a.m. — M. wants to watch TV before the sitter instead of reading books, and when I say no, he throws a fit, but I stick to my guns.
8:15 a.m. — At the office, I drink the vanilla chai tea I made at home and chat with colleagues face-to-face (with our masks on, of course).
10:15 a.m. — Break time snacks are watermelon and a Larabar.
12 p.m. — Gym time! As staff, we have free access to the gym on campus. However, due to the pandemic, we now have to book a time for a cardio machine. I previously booked a treadmill for today at 12 p.m. and I do a 30-minute Tread Bootcamp from Peloton.
1 p.m. — Back in the office, I change out of my gym clothes and heat up my lunch: homemade chili that was in our freezer. I eat at my desk while working.
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4:15 p.m. — I leave work to get M. from the sitter's place. Nothing compares to the excitement he shows me when I pick him up from the sitter. He gives me a big hug and pats me on the back. He picks out a snack while we roam our street. We go inside and — surprise — L. got off work early to put the barbecue together. Supper is leftover chicken, steamed carrots, and baby corn. After supper, all three of us cuddle on the couch.
6:45 p.m. — It's my turn to put M. to bed. Afterward, I wash my face, load the dishwasher, and get stuff ready for another day in the office tomorrow.
7:30 p.m. — I settle down with a spearmint tea and snack on Corn Pops while obsessively looking up YouTube videos of Selena. I finished the Netflix series, and I'm just as obsessed with it as I was with the movie in the '90s. I'm in bed and asleep by 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I wake up, do my makeup, and curl my hair. Our Amazon order has arrived at the door; it's a barbecue cover and Sour Cherry Blasters candy I got for L. ($45 but I paid previously when I ordered). Breakfast today is a piece of toast, half a grapefruit, and vanilla Greek yogurt with almonds and hemp hearts. L. leaves for work and promises to bring home something to barbecue tonight.
7 a.m. — M. goes to his playroom, and I get dressed in a long-sleeved black dress with bike shorts underneath, new black loafers, and fancy Merry Mae earrings I got as a gift. I love Canadian artisans.
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8:15 a.m. — I get to work and drink my cream of Earl Grey tea with honey in peace, then group chat with friends about how excited we are about our upcoming vaccination appointments! I call my mom to see if she can watch M. later in the week while I go to Costco. M. is a pandemic baby, so he doesn't go out in public much if I can help it. Currently, we're allowed to have 15 people in our bubble, so my parents and my in-laws are in that bubble. We have friends in there, too, but the grandparents are who we see the most.
12 p.m. — It's gym time, and I do a 10-minute walk on the treadmill and a 20-minute Peloton cardio class.
1 p.m. — I heat up my freezer chili again and eat at my desk.
3 p.m. — I chat with a coworker about an issue they're having. I consider being a sounding board for the people in my department to be part of my job. Sometimes they just need to talk things through out loud.
4:15 p.m. — I leave to get M. from the sitter. We get home and stroll through our neighbours' yards. We live in a townhouse, and M. seems to think we own the whole strip of houses. Lucky for us, we have neighbours that all love M. and don't mind his roaming. One of them comes out and gives him a cookie.
6 p.m. — L. brings home steaks for supper, so he barbecues those, and I have a kale caesar salad and a grapefruit Bubly with mine. After supper, we take M. for his bath, and L. puts him to bed. I throw in a load of towels, start the dishwasher, and have a quick body shower.
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7:45 p.m. — I settle down to watch the latest The Hills reaction video that Whitney Port is doing on YouTube. It brings me back to my university days. I realize it's my SIL's birthday tomorrow. She lives in Vancouver, so I quickly email her a Nordstrom gift card. L. goes to his friend's house, and I eventually go upstairs to read before bed. $50
Daily Total: $50

Day Four

5:45 a.m. — I do the usual morning routine minus the makeup today. I have a breakfast sandwich and half a grapefruit, then L. and I discuss having breakfast for supper tonight, which is our go-to when we don't want to put in much effort.
7 a.m. — I set up M. to colour while I change into my jeans, a Scranton T-shirt, a sweatshirt, and my Converse sneakers. We're off to the sitter's place.
8:15 a.m. — I boot up my computer at home and drink my cream of Earl Grey tea with honey. I have a training session to learn Microsoft Teams at 9 a.m. They're changing all of our systems at work and none of the new ones are as easy and convenient as the current one. Cool, cool, cool.
10 a.m. — Break time with a Kirkland protein bar. L. messages me to order a brush for the barbecue on Amazon, so I do and add probiotics as well because I ran out. A healthy gut is important! $41.08
11 a.m. — My mom calls to ask me if I want Pita Pit for lunch. Heck yeah! Ever since I started working from home three days a week, my mom and sometimes my dad will come over for lunch. It's something I'm going to miss so much when I'm back in the office full-time. I order and pay for Pita Pit, and they pick it up on the way over. $35.85
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12:15 p.m. — I open up a bag of sour cream and onion Veggie Straws for everyone to share with the pitas. I got the chicken caesar pita (are we surprised?) and drink a can of Coke for a pick-me-up. After my parents leave, our vet calls. Our cat's ashes are ready to be delivered. We made the heartbreaking decision to put our 18-year-old cat down two weeks ago. Thankfully, we have a vet that does house calls, and they did it at our home, so I didn't have to upset our cat any further by bringing him to a clinic.
3:30 p.m. — I get my first vaccination shot! I got Pfizer, and it was so quick and painless at my local pharmacy. I get M. afterward, and we stroll around outside as per usual. L. makes breakfast for supper as planned, but I realize I have smoked salmon left in the fridge and have that with crackers, cheese, and grapes.
6:30 p.m. — I put M. to bed and paint my nails while watching the latest episode of Younger. My friend messages me that she's going to stop outside our house with her new puppy. It's so difficult to not hug my friend, but we keep it safe because we aren't in each other's bubble.
9 p.m. — Reading before bed!
Daily Total: $76.93

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — M. and I get to "sleep in" this morning. I'm off today because M.'s sitter took the day off. We eat breakfast, and I change into jeans, my T-shirt that says Indoorsy, and my white Converse.
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8:30 a.m. — My parents pick up M. to take him to their house for the morning while I go to Costco. On the way, I stop at a coffee truck in my neighborhood and get a London fog (I pay with a gift card I was given for Admin Day). At Costco, I stock up on meats, diapers, wipes, fresh fruit and veggies, and snacks for M. $425
10:45 a.m. — I get home, put away the groceries, and sip my tea in silence before M. comes home.
11:30 a.m. — I put M. down for a nap and eat more smoked salmon for lunch, then do laundry, fill the dishwasher, and tidy up.
2:30 p.m. — M. wakes up, and I give him a snack. Our vet drops off our cat's ashes. The package includes an imprint of his little paw and a poem. I tear up at the thoughtful gesture.
3 p.m. — I take M. for a walk around the neighborhood in his wagon. When we get back, we go to the backyard and our sweet neighbour kid has her bouncy castle set up for her and her friend. They ask if M. wants to join them for a bit, and I think M.'s brain may explode from excitement. I feel like crying because those girls don't have to be so sweet to M. I know I wasn't a fan of toddlers when I was 11.
4:30 p.m. — M. colours while I make homemade pizza for supper. Then it's bath and bedtime, which L. does while I have a shower.
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9 p.m. — I go to bed and read my book and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $425

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — It's my weekend morning to get up with M. We have a breakfast of peanut butter toast, half a grapefruit, and yogurt.
8:30 a.m. — I look at my email and one of my friends sent Starbucks gift cards to everyone in the group chat as a pick-me-up. I go to my parents' place with M. for a visit and stop at a Starbucks on the way to use the gift card on a London Fog.
11:30 a.m. — I bring M. home and put him down for a nap. L. and I eat leftover pizza for lunch with Cokes. We clean up the kitchen while M. snoozes.
3 p.m. — I have a virtual wedding shower. My friend, P., comes over for it because we're bubbled up, and she lives close by. I put out snacks for us, and we make mimosas. L. takes M. to his parents' house to get out of our hair. Because it's a virtual shower, I send an e-transfer as my gift. It feels weird just sending money, but if the shower was in person, I would have given her cash in a card. $30
5 p.m. — L. brings home M. and barbecues pork chops for supper, and I make a spinach salad, which I have with a lime Bubly.
6:30 p.m. — I put M. to bed. L. and I cuddle on the couch and eat Veggie Straws before he goes to a friend's house. I eventually go upstairs to read and fall asleep.
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Daily Total: $30

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — It's L.'s turn to get up with M., so I sleep in while they visit L.'s parents. He also fills up my car with gas using my card. $40
11:30 a.m. — I put M. down for his nap, then meal prep egg muffins for the week, along with bacon and protein balls. I finish reading my current book, and I'm blown away by the ending. I love books that are super unpredictable.
2 p.m. — When M. wakes up from his nap, we eat a late lunch and go to my brother's house to visit with him, my SIL, and my nephew. We stop at Tims on the way over and get L. a coffee, me a London fog, and Timbits for the kids. M. has a ball trying to play video games with his cousin who is nine years older than him. $7.50
5:30 p.m. — We have leftover pork chops for supper and a salad. L. puts M. to bed, and we chat about what we'll do tomorrow. We decide to take M. to the beach for the first time. I can't wait for him to see the waves and touch the sand. We also make plans to have my in-laws over for a barbecue to thank them for delivering the barbecue. Seriously, it's one of our best purchases to date. For the rest of the night, we chill on the couch. Parenting is exhausting, y'all!
Daily Total: $47.50
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