A Week In Halifax, NS, On A $52,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Attention, Canadians! We're featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.
Today: a behavioural therapist working in healthcare who makes $52,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a pumpkin.
Warning: The following diary describes the death of a cat.
Occupation: Behavioural Therapist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 30
Location: Halifax, NS
Salary: $52,000
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,275
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $400 (This is for my half. My partner pays $600, because he earns more.)
Electricity: $37.50 (for my half)
Water: $25 (for my half)
Oil: $37.50 (for my half. The oil bill can range from $20 in the summer — no AC, holla — to $200 in the winter. I'm saving up for a heat pump.)
Car Insurance: $89
Long-Term Disability Insurance: $64.68
Life Insurance: $9.10
Union Dues: $48.40
Pension: $302.84 (My work matches this. I currently have $17,000 in my pension.)
Phone: $75
Apple Music Family Plan: $17 (My partner, my dad, and my best friend use the account, too.)
Apple iCloud Storage: $1.48
Netflix: $0 (I mooch off my parents.)
Crave: $0 (I use a friend's login.)
Savings: $500 (I recently maxed out my RRSP for this year. I now have $21,803 in there and another $2,500 in cash savings.)

Day One

6 a.m. — Ugh. It's Saturday, and I'm wide awake. Our two cats are singing the songs of their people, so I go downstairs to feed them and make coffee. I read in bed and caffeinate until my partner, T., wakes up.
9:30 a.m. — I make fried eggs, bacon, and sourdough toast from a bakery in our neighbourhood. I top it all off with sriracha and Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I bought a few bottles when I was in Maine this past summer and have figured out how to replicate it once I run out, since we don't have Trader Joe's in Canada.
10:45 a.m. — I go to pilates with my friend, D. I do an energy exchange at this studio, which means light cleaning, signing in clients, etc. in return for a free membership. I was previously paying $140 a month for my membership, but it was too steep for my budget, and I wasn't ready to let it go. It was D.'s birthday this week, and her boyfriend is throwing her a surprise party tonight. I'm awful at keeping secrets, but I manage to hold it together through class.
11:45 a.m. — I pop into a boutique to grab D. a birthday present. I get a mermaid tears (???) scented candle and flower-petal bath salts. I already got her an Ariana Grande notebook that I think she'll love. No shame here — "NASA" is a bop. $27.60
12:30 p.m. — T. and I go to the grocery store. Shops will be closed on Monday for Thanksgiving, so we stock up now. We get blue tortilla chips, sweet potato veggie straws, broccoli, cauliflower, barley, jalapeños, Macintosh apples (for a cake I plan to make), tonic water, soda water, a giant hunk of beef to roast, hazelnut-soy creamer, Kashi GoLean protein cereal, oat milk, eggs, bananas, one-year-old cheddar, whole-wheat flour, white flour, and baking soda. The total comes to $100.48, and we split it. $50.24
1:30 p.m. — At home, I eat sweet potato straws, an orange, and leftover panang curry from last night. I browse through a bridal magazine (T. and I are getting married next year), and I'm simultaneously turned off by the wedding industrial complex and thirsty for $500 cakes.
6 p.m. — T. makes us fried rice and broccoli with leftover turkey meatballs. Then I get ready for the party: I put on a long-sleeved, black wrap dress, sheer black tights, and black patent oxfords (fall goth SZN is upon us). I curl my hair and do my makeup: Smashbox primer, L'Oréal True Match foundation and concealer, MAC brow pencil, Glossier Boy Brow, MAC lip primer, MAC lipstick in Mehr (my fav), Smashbox eyeshadow, NYX liquid liner, Milk Makeup Kush mascara, and Smashbox highlight and contour. T. and I play cards and share a beer while we wait for my friend, who is home from Toronto and coming over before the surprise party.
7:30 p.m. — We leave for the party, which is at a cocktail bar in my neighbourhood. D. is thoroughly surprised! I have two tequila cocktails, a glass of rosé, and a glass of Brut ($41.34, plus $7 tip). Friends of friends own this bar and are pouring heavily all night. I also smoke a bit of a joint with D.'s dad and get pretty buzzed. T. goes home around 9 p.m., because he's on call and not drinking. $48.34
12:15 a.m. — A couple of us go back to a friend's house. I play with her bunny and have a glass of red wine. All parties should have bunnies.
1 a.m. — We go to a different bar to meet my brother and his girlfriend, who are in town from Calgary this week. I pay cover ($10), get a shitty pint ($4.25 + $0.75 tip), and dance to a few songs. I call it a night and grab a cab home ($9.98). While I'm waiting, a very flirty stranger hands me a single long-stemmed rose. $24.98
2 a.m. — Home. T. is still awake and makes me a grilled cheese. He is truly husband material.
Daily Total: $151.16

Day Two

7 a.m. — That was my first time going out in a month, and I'm feeling it. I take a few Advil, CBD, and chug water. I feed the cats and then set myself up with Parks and Recreation in the guest room, so I don't wake up T.
9 a.m. — T. wakes up. We snuggle and eat tortilla chips in bed like the trash people we are. I'm going to brunch shortly with my friend, so I apply toned-down makeup and get dressed in high-waisted vintage jeans, a leopard-print Free People T-shirt, and a green military jacket from Aritzia.
11 a.m. — My friend arrives looking real fuzzy, so I lint roll her coat, and we walk to brunch. We share pork belly empanadas and an artichoke and mushroom benny. We also get a turmeric latte each, but I forget to ask for non-dairy milk, and there will be consequences ($23.12, plus $4 tip). $27.12
1 p.m. — I drive downtown to exchange a dress that wasn't working for me. I swap it out for a mock-neck sweater dress. It's body-con adjacent, which is generally not my thing, but I've been exercising and eating reasonably and want to show off. I end up with $11.45 on a gift card for next time.
2:30 p.m. — I go to my energy exchange shift at the studio. I do some cleaning and make an executive decision to skip the cardio pilates class in favour of an hour of Yin yoga. Exercise is an integral part of my self-care routine and helps immensely with my mental health.
6 p.m. — T. and I go over to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey coma ensues.
9 p.m. — I was planning on watching Hereditary in an effort to lean into the spooky October vibes, but it terrified me the first time I watched it, and I chicken out. We watch Beautiful Boy instead. I'm thrown off by Michael Scott not being Michael Scott. We fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $27.12

Day Three

9:45 a.m. — Mmmm, that was a nice sleep in. T. makes us bacon and eggs, and I get ready to take a day trip to the Annapolis Valley with my parents, brother, and brothers' girlfriend. The fall leaves are in their prime right now, and I'm looking forward to the drive. I get dressed in a black French Connection blouse, J. Crew skinnies, a vintage Levi's jacket, and my favourite Sam Edelman Loraine loafers.
12 p.m. — We stop for lunch at a winery overlooking the Bay of Fundy. I get a mini chicken pot pie with a side kale Caesar. We share a bottle of sparkling wine. My dad pays.
2 p.m. — We pop into another winery, and I buy a bottle of white wine. $20
3:30 p.m. — We stop at a farmers' market outside Wolfville, where I buy a pumpkin and a bag of Honeycrisp apples. After that, we drive to Kentville to take pictures with the pumpkin people. Every October, the residents of Kentville set up themed scarecrows with pumpkin heads. This year's theme is cartoon characters: I see Spiderman, the Jetsons, and Winnie the Pooh. Small-town Nova Scotia rules. $9
6 p.m. — Home! I eat a very light dinner of roast beef and potatoes, with a mini can of Diet Coke.
6:30 p.m. — I bake an apple cake based on a Smitten Kitchen recipe. I get most of the ingredients together and realize that I need orange juice. I walk several blocks to the corner store and grab a small bottle. $2.56
7 p.m. — This is not my best work. I end up with way too many apples and don't have a cake tin that's nearly big enough. I add oats and ground flax seed to the leftover apples in the hopes they can be transformed into some sort of healthy muffins.
7:15 p.m. — I'm hit with the Monday edition of the Sunday Scaries. I check on the cake, which is smelling funky, and I realize that the batter has overflowed and caught on fire in the bottom of the oven. T. throws baking soda on the flames (I didn't know this was a thing?), and the crisis is averted. I'm a domestic goddess. (Note: the muffins actually turned out well, and the cake was salvageable but looked a bit fucked up.)
8 p.m. — That's enough excitement for the day. I take a shower and go to bed. T. joins me, and we watch an episode of The Righteous Gemstones before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $31.56

Day Four

4:30 a.m. — I'm having a horrendous night's sleep and finally give up and start my day. I do a load of laundry and prep a batch of jalapeño-and-cheddar egg cups. I don't light anything on fire.
7 a.m. — I go to a TRX/Kettlebell class at my gym. My playlist shuffles to Kanye's "The New Workout Plan" in the car, and I take it as a good omen.
8 a.m. — Sweaty! I get dressed for work in a cream BDG sweater, black Levi's, black loafers, and a black BCBG toggle coat I got at a consignment shop a few weeks ago. I drive to see my first client at school and listen to a My Favourite Murder minisode on the way.
11:30 a.m. — I drive home for lunch (leftover roast beef, potatoes, and an apple muffin), then go into the office for team meetings.
12:30 p.m. — I stop at Sephora on the way to the office to pick up a replacement Clinique liquid eyeliner. I've tried the Kat Von D and Stila liners, but I like Clinique the best, even though it reminds me of my mum. $33.25
4:30 p.m. — Quitting time! I'm lucky that my work prioritizes work-life balance, and I get to leave at the same very reasonable time very day. Thank you, union!
5 p.m. — I'm home and feeling a bit demented from not sleeping last night. I'm seeing my family for dinner tonight again, because my brother's girlfriend is going back to Calgary tomorrow. We're having pizza at my favourite local shop, then they're coming over for dessert (hence the apple cake). I don't normally spend this much time with my family, and I'm feeling a bit burnt out. T. and I walk to the restaurant and have two slices of smoked mozzarella with mushrooms, onions, and roasted garlic (sounds stinky, and it is.) My dad pays.
8 p.m. — The group comes over for cake and tea. My little cat P. got out when we were leaving for dinner and is nowhere to be seen. T. and I do multiple laps of the neighbourhood, shaking treats and calling for him, to no avail.
11:30 p.m. — I go to sleep. T. stays up to keep an eye out for P.
Daily Total: $33.25

Day Five

4:30 a.m. — I wake up and go downstairs hoping to see that P. has returned. No dice. I feel anxious and can't fall back asleep.
7:30 a.m. — I meet D. for barre class.
8:30 a.m — I head to the school I'm working at this morning. I arrive early and call 311 and several vets to see if somebody turned in P. overnight, but I don't hear anything. T. is working from home today, so he'll be there if P. comes home.
12 p.m. — I go to the office to print lost cat posters. If this isn't a good use of taxpayer dollars, I don't know what is.
12:20 p.m. — I hit the grocery store and pick up a disposable litter box (the other one is outside in an attempt to lure P. back), two boxes of wet cat food, and a brown rice California roll. $33.88
12:45 p.m. — I call around to more vets. A nearby clinic had an orange cat turned in dead on arrival last night after being hit by a car. T. and I head over, and T. positively identifies him. I cancel my afternoon client and have a good cry on the couch.
4:30 p.m. — I go over to my parents' place to walk their dog with them. I eat a pork-and-bean tortilla thing, then mum and I go see the Downton Abbey movie as a distraction. Mum treats.
8 p.m. — I'm home, and my friend dropped off flowers and candy, and I call her to say thank you. T. and I look at kitten photos of P., and my heart breaks a little. I take an Ativan and eventually fall asleep.
Daily Total: $33.88

Day Six

7 a.m. — I'm not up to doing any therapy today. I need to be very happy and "on" for my sessions. I call my supervisor to ask if I can do admin work in the office today. Thankfully, she's understanding.
8:30 a.m. — I stop at the vet's office on the way to work to pay P.'s cremation fees. I opt for private cremation, so I can get his ashes back. The fee is outrageous and obviously predatory, but I pay it anyway. $280.03
8:45 a.m. — I get to work and hide out in a private office away from my co-workers. I drink coffee I brought from home and try to focus. By noon, I throw in the towel. I'm having a hard time keeping it together, and our office walls are made of glass, affording little privacy.
12:30 p.m. — At home, I take a long shower. My friend pops over with a bag of apples (she tried to bake cookies but burned them; there's a reason we're friends). T. and I eat low-rent chicken fingers with sriracha and honey, and I retire to bed to flop around with my laptop.
2:30 p.m. — T.'s parents are coming for the weekend tomorrow, since they missed us for Thanksgiving. Oh dear. We drive to Ikea to buy a few things for our guest room. We get most of the items on our list and, inevitably, a few others: two hand towels, a cream sherpa pillow and insert, a drying rack, a bamboo cutting board, a paper towel holder, a terracotta plant pot and base, two queen-sized pillows, a pale grey dish set, and a box of tea lights. The total comes to $225.74, and we split it. $112.87
6:30 p.m. — I cook dinner: barley with sautéed mushrooms and the end of the roast beef. Another friend comes over with flowers and a joint. Weed makes me super-paranoid (I regret smoking it the other night), so I initially refuse it, but T. suggests we save it for a rainy day and puts it in a container in the freezer. Times have changed.
11 p.m. — I take another Ativan and fall asleep watching old episodes of Bob's Burgers with T.
Daily Total: $392.90

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm. I slept really well. I eat the two remaining egg cups and have coffee with oat milk.
8 a.m. — I see my client at school, and a little boy in the class offers me a Halloween-size Kit Kat bar from his lunch, which I can't accept, but it warms my heart.
12 p.m. — I go to barre class, which is great, until I find a long piece of orange fur on my leggings and struggle not to cry.
1:15 p.m. — I see my second client of the day, then eat leftovers and an apple in my car. Being silly with my client is a pleasant distraction and helps lift my mood. My friend also got us free Ashanti tickets for tomorrow night, which will be nostalgic and fun. Ashanti has certainly fallen on hard times since 2003, if she's playing free shows in the Maritimes.
4:30 p.m. — T.'s parents are already at our place by the time I get home.
7 p.m. — We go out to dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, where we share mozza sticks as an appetizer and a bottle of red wine. I get shrimp scampi for my main, and we all share a cannoli for dessert (heavenly). T. pays as it's his mom's birthday next week.
8:30 p.m. — After dinner, I leave the group to drop a birthday present at my friend's house. I got her Office stickers (she's a big fan), a lavender-scented candle, and a buoy Christmas tree ornament. This is a weird and incongruent assortment, but I think she'll like it. I walk over to her place. On the way, I buy Sour Patch Kids Linkz ($3.19), which are her favourites, and a pack of Belmonts ($20.61). This week has been a lot, and I deserve a secret, dirty cig. $23.80
10 p.m. — My friend pours me a glass of wine. Some of our other pals come over, and we chat and play with my friend's dogs. She loans me a copy of Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, and I'm looking forward to curling up in bed and reading. I get a ride home.

11:15 p.m. — I drink a cup of ginger tea and hang out with T.'s parents for a bit. I eventually excuse myself from a riveting discussion on all the uses of microwaves. God help me. His parents are lovely, but I'm just not up for it. I read a bit of Priestdaddy and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $23.80
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend. Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.
For more money diaries, click here. Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money