A Week In Halifax, NS, On A $60,000 Salary

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Today: a behavioural therapist working in healthcare who makes $60,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bridal mask.

Occupation: Behavioural Therapist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 31
Location: Halifax, NS
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $47,125 (I have $13,00 in savings, $22,000 in my pension, and I own my car, which is worth $3,000. My partner and I just bought a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home for $365,000 in a lovely neighbourhood. I've contributed $9,125 to the mortgage so far. We only put down 5% because the interest was so low: 2.19% on a five-year fixed mortgage.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,550
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $850 (My partner, P., pays $1,150 because he earns more than me.)
Electricity, Water & Oil: Not sure what these totals will be because we just moved in. Sorry, guys!
Car & Home Insurance: $130 (I got this total down by switching providers and bundling our home and car plans. I pay for this, because P. pays for our health and dental benefits, which are around the same price.)
Long-Term Disability Insurance: $64.68
Life Insurance: $9.10
Union Dues: $53.54 (Work deducts this from my paycheque.)
Pension: $360 (Work deducts this from my paycheque, too, and matches it 105%.)
Phone: $65
Apple Music Family Subscription: $17 (My partner, dad, and a few friends are on my membership in exchange for their streaming passwords.)
Gym Membership: $137
Apple iCloud Storage: $1.48
Netflix: $0 (I mooch off my parents.)
Crave: $0 (I use a friend's login.)
Savings: $800 (I bumped up this amount when I got a big raise in February. I will probably have to adjust it once I start paying my mortgage in September.)

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?
Yes, there was absolutely an expectation. Both my parents are retired physicians and put a lot of pressure on my brother and I to reach similar levels of conventional success. Spoiler alert: We did not. I completed a double major in psychology and sociology, then a master's in education. I plan on going back to school in the next five years to get a second master's in school psychology, because where I live I can practice as a psychologist with an MA. My parents paid for my undergraduate education, and I also got a small scholarship. I paid for my graduate degree by serving in a restaurant and working as a youth worker in community housing.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents both worked a lot and frequently showed their love through gifts and material items. They took me shopping when I got good grades or did well in sports, which created some unhealthy reward-type patterns with my personal spending. I sometimes feel like I deserve treats, like a new bag, a pair of shoes, or a manicure when I crush it at work or accomplish some major task in my personal life. My parents didn't talk to my brother or me about putting money away, how to pay bills, finance a vehicle, etc. I always knew that we had enough money and that if I asked for something, I would generally get it. I had no idea how to manage a budget or do any sort of financial planning until my late 20s.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Apart from babysitting, my first job was at a pizza shop in Halifax. I took it because they hired my best friend and I on the spot, and I wanted to hang out with her all summer. I also wanted extra money to spend at American Apparel (it was very much 2006).

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I didn't. I know that makes me sound like an asshole.

Do you worry about money now?
Not to any great extent. When I first graduated, I was making about $30,000 a year and would regularly spin out about how I was going to live, but my financial state has stabilized in the past five years.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents helped out while I was in school, so I was financially responsible for myself at age 25. I'm lucky to have a financial safety net. If I were to lose my job, my partner could support both of us for a while. Failing that, my family would chip in.

Day One

7:10 a.m. — I have a really cute habit of waking up super-early on the weekends but struggling to get up through the week. We're going to a friend's cottage in New Brunswick, so I get in a quick jog by the lake near my house before packing. I make bacon, eggs, and coffee for P. and I. We're getting married next month despite COVID-19. It's worth noting that, at the time of this diary, both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have only two reported cases of the virus. I'm sanitizing my hands regularly, wearing a mask, and respecting social distancing in public places, but things here feel pretty normal.
10 a.m. — I get dressed in an oversized black T-shirt dress and black Vagabond sandals, and we hit the road.
11:15 a.m. — My gas light comes on. I fill up the car and pay with our shared card. P. and I split expenses, like food, gas, and cat supplies, and use our separate bank accounts for personal spending, though we're not super-rigid about treating each other. $24.28
12:30 p.m. — I pay for the highway toll. We cross the border without hassle. $4
1:30 p.m. — We stop in a cute university town for lunch and grab sandwiches from an old manor that's been converted into a café and event space. We also buy a loaf of fresh bread to bring to the cottage with us. P. pays. I've been drinking water and coffee on the drive and am very much on the cusp of peeing my pants. The bathrooms at the café are currently closed to the public, so I scuttle off in search of an open one. I find a pizza place a few blocks away and buy a Diet Coke, so I can pee! I tip a dollar out of appreciation ($2.94), then grab a variety box of White Claw hard seltzers ($33.99) on our way out of town. $36.93
2:30 p.m. — P. is Acadian and enjoys showing me around the small French-speaking towns throughout New Brunswick. We stop in a cute one on the way up north. I spy a Guy's Frenchys (an Atlantic Canadian thrift store chain) and cross my fingers for thrift magic. I'm rewarded! I find two silk tops ($11.37) and a blue art deco–style lamp ($4.60). $15.97
4:30 p.m. — We arrive at the cottage, and it's like being in a time capsule from the '60s. It was P.'s birthday last week, and our friends have set up birthday decorations. We have drinks and lounge in the sun. For dinner, we barbecue sausages and corn on the cob. Pasta salad and regular salad are also eaten, followed by a very campy New Brunswick–themed birthday cake. After dinner, we go swimming and have a bonfire. It's a perfect summer evening.
Daily Total: $81.18

Day Two

6 a.m. — I sleep poorly when I'm not at home. My period also arrived right before bed — an unwelcome weekend guest. I read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo and snack on popcorn while I wait for everyone to wake up.
10 a.m. — My friends are finally mobile! I throw on a cropped, cream-coloured T-shirt, and an a-line denim skirt with my bathing suit underneath. My friend T. and I make a trip into town, so I can grab tampons from the drugstore. As usual, I wind up with a few extras: bug spray, sunscreen spray, and a NYX eyebrow pencil. $54.38
10:45 a.m. — We eat a large breakfast prepared by the boys. They go canoeing, while T. and I lounge in the sun. T. is three months pregnant with her first child, and I'm excited for her. We plan to start trying shortly after our wedding, and I have lots of questions! I drink two pink lemonade seltzers.
3:15 p.m. — We go back into town to grab ice cream ($11) and a taco kit for dinner, along with salsa, sour cream, a red pepper, green onions, peach-and-honey soda water, and my favourite black currant jam, which I haven't seen in Halifax for months! Thrilling! We put the groceries on our shared card, and my half comes to $15.67. $26.67
5 p.m. — We hit the beach and have another swim. I packed a floaty, and P. and I take turns flopping about on it. Afterwards, I make trashy tacos for dinner, and they're delicious. We eat and hangout on the deck until the mosquitos get too voracious.
10 p.m. — We play a few rounds of Asshole. I'm bad at cards and maintain my position at the bottom of the corporate ladder. Afterwards, the boys have a bonfire, and T. and I retire independently to our books and beds.
Daily Total: $81.05

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — I'm awake again early for no reason. I dress in an oversized black sweatsuit and take my book to the couch to hang out with T.'s dog, a cranky chihuahua-terrier mix with a propensity for eating underwear. More shameful breakfast popcorn. It's raining for the first time in a long time, and I feel very cozy.
10 a.m. — Everyone's awake, so we make a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and coffee. I also eat a plum. We putter about and say our goodbyes.
2:30 p.m. — We stop for McD's iced coffee and French fries. P. pays. We cross the border back into Nova Scotia from New Brunswick and aren't stopped by the guards, which isn't that alarming because we've got Nova Scotia plates. There's a camper van with Alberta plates in front of us, and they get waived straight through too, which is worrisome because Alberta is a current COVID hotspot, and I feel like border patrol should be keeping track of who's in the province, along with their contact information, for tracing purposes. The Atlantic provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland) set up the Atlantic Bubble in July so that residents can travel freely within the bubble without a fourteen-day self isolation period, which is required for visitors from elsewhere. We have very few cases of COVID-19 here, and I'd like it to stay that way. I feel very safe right now. I pay $4 for the toll again. $4
4:30 p.m. — Before getting home, we stop by the grocery store. I grab stir-fry sauce, broccoli, green beans, bananas, almond milk, and bagels. $13.45
5:30 p.m. — Once home, I feed and snuggle the cat, shower, and make a large tofu and veggie stir fry and a pot of quinoa. I'll eat this for lunch for a few days. I spend the rest of the evening chilling out, catching up on I'll Be Gone In The Dark, and reading.
Daily Total: $17.45

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up, snooze, feed the cat, and then make chocolate protein smoothies for P. and I. I throw on high-rise Lululemon joggers and a white T-shirt, and I'm out the door to see my first client by 8:20 a.m. My dress code is casual because I work with children, and there's a high likelihood that I'll be covered in Play-Doh/pee/barf at any time.
12 p.m. — I'm home for lunch, and I eat leftover tofu, veggies, and quinoa before going into the office. My in-laws are staying with us for two days to help restore our front porch. They're lovely and such hard workers, and I'm very appreciative.
3 p.m. — At work, I snack on SmartSweets and a plum from home.
5:30 p.m. — I do a HIIT class with two friends. I used to work the front desk at the gym in exchange for a free membership, because this place is pricey, but my schedule was too irregular during COVID to commit to shifts at the gym. Now I pay for my membership, and it's soooo worth it.
6:45 p.m. — Home and showered. P., his parents, and I make spaghetti with grilled peppers and sausages for dinner. P. and his dad go out to pick up a table for our backyard (P. and I split the cost) while I watch a Disney animal documentary with his mom. Furnishing a new home is not cheap! $230.45
10 p.m. — I impulse-purchase a dusty pink sherpa jacket by Toad&Co. on the MEC website. This is a bad habit that I need to work on. Come at me in the comments section. (JK, please don't. I'm a hugely sensitive baby.) $124.03
Daily Total: $354.48

Day Five

7:50 a.m. — Oops, I overslept. At some point during the night, I woke up with bad jaw pain and took CBD oil, which must've knocked me out. I have a cup of coffee, eat a coconut RXBAR, and am out the door to see my first client. I wear the black oversized T-shirt dress again (it's a locally made favourite).
11:30 a.m. — Home for lunch, I eat chicken, cucumbers, and pasta salad. P.'s parents have been working on the porch all day, and it's looking so much better. We need floor paint, so I nip into Benjamin Moore to pick up a can of black semi-gloss. It's $64.88 on the house credit card, which comes out to $32.44 for my half. I have a blast playing outside all afternoon with my client. $32.44
5:30 p.m. — My work bestie and I do a strength-training class. I'm pretty out of shape after lockdown, and I'm trying to tone up again before the wedding.
7:30 p.m. — I shower and get dressed in a jean skirt and a vintage cream-coloured knit tank top. P., his parents, and I hit a local bar and grill and split apps. I have a Diet Coke because I'm driving, along with a giant piece of haddock for my main. I leave full and happy. We pay as a thank you for their hard work on the porch ($75.01 for my half). $75.01
9 p.m. — We get home, I have hibiscus tea, and we FaceTime P.'s sister to show her the house. We've become actual friends, and it's nice. I'm asleep by midnight.
Daily Total: $107.45

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Good morning! P.'s dad is up and cooking bacon. I have two slices, a plum, and a cup of coffee before saying goodbye to them and heading to work. I'm wearing cut-off jean shorts and a red linen Everlane top c/o Poshmark. I wouldn't wear cutoffs to the office but anything goes on double therapy days.
8:30 a.m. — I bus to a provincial park with my client and his mom. I pay for her bus fare, because she doesn't have change. Our total is $5.50, but I can expense my half. $2.75
11:30 a.m. — We hit up a convenience store while we wait for the bus back. They have cute homemade masks. I buy three: a red botanical print and a lemon print for me, and a chilli pepper print for P., who is a hot sauce aficionado. I also buy a can of soda water because it's hot as balls. $29.38
12 p.m. — I have a lunch meeting with a family friend who is officiating our wedding. I grew up next door to her, and her daughter is my best friend and maid of honour. We have a great chat, and she gives me tasks to complete. I've been so busy with the house and transitioning back to work after lockdown that I haven't really been thinking about the wedding. I love my partner, but I'm not a huge wedding person. I was kind of relieved to have to cut the guest list down from 100 people to 40 due to COVID. (Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed here if social distancing and masking can be maintained.) This means our wedding budget also came down from $20,000 to around $10,000. My parents are giving us $10,000 and P.'s parents are pitching in $5,000. Whatever money we don't end up using will go towards house updates, like getting a heat pump, a new hot water tank, etc.
2 p.m. — I was redeployed to work as a door screener at the hospital during the initial COVID shutdown. Today, I have to go back to help train new screening staff, so I change into adult pants — so professional! It's a disorganized shitshow this afternoon, but we get through it. Parking is $10, but it'll be reimbursed. $10 (expensed)
5:30 p.m. — I stop at a grocery store and buy a large salad for P. and I to share for dinner. I pay with my personal card for no reason in particular. $12.63
6:30 p.m. — We consume said salad, and it's delicious: mixed greens, green onion, cabbage, cucumbers, beets, egg, bacon, Parmesan, and a honey-dijon dressing. It's my favourite pretend-healthy dinner. I also have a pink lemonade seltzer and a couple squares of milk chocolate (as opposed to a single square of dark chocolate; I'm not a murderer).
8:30 p.m. — I snack on grapes and popcorn while farting about on the internet. My best friend and maid of honour is coming from New York City for the wedding and finally picked an Airbnb to self isolate in. We send a bunch of her dress options back and forth. I fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $44.76

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I overslept again! Frig. I had set an alarm to go running at 6:30 a.m. but turned it off and kept right on snoozing. I make a cup of coffee to bring with me to my session. I'm wearing light-wash mom jeans and the cream knit tank again. My hair is made of dry shampoo.
12 p.m. — I'm home for lunch. I roast a sweet potato with EVOO, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. P. grills Italian sausages. This has been a sausage-filled week. We need groceries. I prepare a quinoa, chickpea, sweet potato, and feta bowl to take with me to work tonight, because I have to do more training at the hospital. I also drink iced hibiscus tea that I made the other night. I head to my next visit at 1 p.m.
5 p.m. — I drive to the hospital and street park, then spend the next five hours training new door screeners. It's a Friday night, so it's quiet. $1.75 (expensed)
8:30 p.m. — Boredom gets the best of me, and I buy an ivory lace mask on Etsy for the wedding. We're having our ceremony outside, but people will still have to wear masks. Our guests can take them off to eat and drink, but they'll have to wear them for the dancing portion of the evening, which means I'll need one, too. What a weird year to get married. $34.68
10 p.m. — It's finally the weekend, and I'm wiped! I drive home, picking P. up from a friend's house on the way. When we get home, we split a cinnamon-raisin bagel toasted with lots of butter. I fall asleep around midnight looking forward to a weekend of bike rides, hanging at the beach, and hitting up the farmers' market.
Daily Total: $36.43
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