A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit.
Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,175 (for a one-bedroom apartment that I share with my kitty)
Renter's Insurance: $23
Car Payment: $385
Car Insurance: $155
Work Parking: $70
Internet: $85
Phone: $73
Hydro: $60 (this ranges depending on the season)
Union Dues: $72.56
Pension: $256.82 (automatically deducted from my paycheque)
Netflix: $13.99
Spotify: $4.99 (Spotify still lets me get away with the student discount, and I'm not complaining.)
Charity: $75 (I have a sponsor child as well as a couple of other organizations that I donate to monthly. It's not a lot, but I like to give back what I can.)
Therapy: $40 (My monthly visit runs $200 per hour, but my insurance covers 80% of it.)
Savings: $500 (I'm working on building my emergency fund, as well as setting aside money for a down payment on a condo.)
Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $99
Gym: $110 (My gym is heavily subsidized by work.)

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Up and at 'em! J.K. I scroll through my phone mindlessly. My kitty greets me at the door and follows me into the bathroom while I pee, brush my teeth, and shower. I slap on hyaluronic acid serum, moisturizer, and SPF, because my skin sheds its exoskeleton every winter. Next, makeup: TooFaced concealer, Laura Mercier translucent powder, Tarte blush, Anastasia highlighter, Covergirl mascara, and a thick line of L'Oréal eyeliner. I change into a turtleneck and black dress pants from Zara that are getting tight on me. I've gained weight, which is a good thing, because I used to be very thin. I turn on my kettle and pack my lunch while the water boils for a quick cup of instant coffee.
7:30 a.m. — On the road to work. I have a pretty nice commute past Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal, so I can't complain. I sip my coffee and listen to a random playlist on Spotify. I'm a morning person, so it's not uncommon for me to belt out songs in the car.
8:30 a.m. — It's finally time to make breakfast. I find that eating at work saves me time in the morning and helps me ease into the workday. My breakfast of choice for the past couple months has been multigrain toast with a glob of almond butter, both of which I bring from home and prepare in the communal kitchen. I usually blab with my favourite co-worker before going back to my desk.
10:30 a.m. — I. AM. STARVING. A good chunk of my work day consists of me complaining about how hungry I am while constantly snacking. I rummage through my snack drawer and pull out a Nature Valley granola bar, which results in me being satiated as well as a giant pile of almond crumbles on my keyboard.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime, baby! I go to the communal kitchen with a couple of co-workers. They're a hoot, and we end up talking about the most absurd things during our lunch breaks. I've brought pre-mixed kale salad that I snazzed up with grilled chicken strips and avocado, plus an apple. I also remember to take my iron supplement, because my iron levels have been low for as long as I can remember. I recently went to a naturopath, and she recommended taking them every other day for better absorption.
2:30 p.m. — My brain is starting to shut off, so I look up all-inclusive deals for a vacay my girlfriends and I want to book. I moved to Ottawa from Toronto about four years ago, and most of my best friends are still back home. I've only managed to make a couple of solid friends here since then. I'm partially to blame. I was in a relationship for a long time and definitely spent way too much time and energy on him, when I should've been trying to broaden my circle. I find a couple of decent deals to Cuba that fall within most people's budget and time frame and send it to our group chat. Everyone is busy with their own lives and jobs and partners, but this group of girls is one that I feel VERY blessed to have in my life.
4:15 p.m. — Time to punch out! I go to the gym and stretch before doing a quick cardio session on the treadmill, followed by about 40 minutes of arms and abs. I'm obsessed (in a healthy way?) with the gym. I went through a hard breakup at the beginning of this year and changed many aspects of my life as a result. The gym has been one of the greatest blessings to come out of it. I go four to five times a week.
5:45 p.m. — Sweaty and tired, but feeling so good, I go home. I realize I have a pack of Swedish berries left in the car from the weekend and munch on those on the drive home while calling my mom. She's a single mom, and I'm her only child, so her hearing from me daily is a must. We've had lots of ups and downs over the course of my adulthood, mainly to do with me establishing my independence and drawing boundaries, but through communication and a lot of therapy on my end, our relationship has improved significantly.
6:20 p.m. — Kitty greets me at the door with a lot of angry meows. He's such a sassy cat and demands constant attention and food without returning any sort of affection. Sometimes I laugh to myself that if he were a boyfriend, I'd probably still stay with him, too. I take out frozen shrimp from the freezer and rice and veggies. I'm feeling Thai curry with shrimp, and I know that my Instant Pot will make this a breeze. I got it last week and have been using it non-stop. I'm not sure if this is a quarter-life crisis situation, but I LOVE MY INSTANT POT.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner donezo, dishes put away, counters wiped, I quickly take off my makeup with Garnier micellar water before showering, changing into PJs, and crashing onto the couch. My nails are a disaster, and I can't handle it when they're even slightly chipped, so I paint them a festive rose gold colour while watching Money Heist. I just started season 2, and I think Rio is the biggest babe ever.
9:15 p.m. — This show is too good.
9:40 p.m. — I get up and brush my teeth, wash my face with the Purity face wash, and apply Retin-A, which is another product that I've been using since high school, and that shit WORKS. It's prescription, and I think the overall texture and tone of my skin is so much better when I use it. I also apply this random eyelash serum from Amazon that I've had for months. I had eyelash extensions over the summer and once they fell out, I felt like a naked mole rat and panicked and bought a serum. My eyelashes are definitely back, but I'm not sure if it's due to time or the serum.
10:15 p.m. — I apply Burt's Bees lip balm, set my alarm for the next day, and snoooooze.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I'm up, I'm up. Same spiel as yesterday, except my cat knocks my phone off the bathroom counter while I'm in the shower. Thank God for screen protectors. Today's outfit is a long, tight red dress because why the hell not? I'm the office fashion diva, so I'm used to the absurd looks I get sometimes for my clothing choices (half of my fellow office-goers wear cargo shorts with socks and sandals to work).
7:50 a.m. — The inevitable has happened: My gas light is on. (You mean my car doesn't run on love?) I remind myself to swing by a gas station after work.
9:10 a.m. — I get an email saying that tickets to the office Christmas lunch are on sale, so I buy one ($28) from my colleague. He's French, so I try to practise with him. "Try" being the operative word. Call me naïve — and this most definitely stems from my Toronto upbringing — but I never expected so many people to speak French in Ottawa. My French isn't great by any means, but I think it's a fantastic language and am keen to improve, and my co-workers are understanding and patient. $28
12:30 p.m. — Lunch with my buddies again. I bring out my leftover Thai curry and gush about my Instant Pot for the 100th time. I then realize that I've forgotten my apple. I jokingly make a fuss about how I can't remember the last time I've had lunch without an apple. A couple of minutes later, one of my older co-workers walks into the lunchroom and silently places and apple on my table and walks off. My workplace is the best.
2:30 p.m. — I go to French training, which I attend every Tuesday and Thursday for a couple hours. My co-workers and I crack a bunch of sub-par French jokes the entire class while our professor half-heartedly laughs and probably wonders how his life brought him here to this very moment.
4:15 p.m. — Gym time. Here we gooooooooooooo.
4:50 p.m. — Yup, I totally tried to hit on a guy at the gym and got over-confident and embarrassed myself. Yup. That just happened. He was nice, though, and I think I redeemed myself, but OH MY GOD this is why I don't talk to people.
5:40 p.m. — I see the car's blaring yellow gas light and wonder how far I can get before I stall. But then I chuckle and realize I have way too much anxiety to even fathom taking that risk. I stop to fill up my tank. $47.60
6:20 p.m. — Home, call momma, snuggle cat (this is so rare, and I'll TAKE IT), and shower to wash off leg-day sweat. After the shower, I stop to admire myself in the mirror and pat myself on the back for all the physical and emotional progress I've made this past year. Girl, you are looking GOOD.
7 p.m. — I still have leftover Thai curry but I would rather not have the same thing twice in one day and save it for lunch tomorrow instead. I whip up scrambled eggs with avocado and a lot of sriracha and eat while watching YouTube videos.
7:40 p.m. — My cousin calls, and we catch up. She's like a sister to me. I tell her about my lack of gym game, and she's highly amused. She was NOT a fan of my ex (neither was anyone else in my life), so she's happy to hear I'm finally entertaining the idea of another man.
9:30 p.m. — I watch an anime series on Netflix I'm obsessed with. I used to watch a lot of anime growing up. This show makes me nostalgic and is just so damn good.
10:15 p.m. — I take off my makeup do the usual night-time drill.
Daily Total: $75.60

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — I had bad dreams about my ex again (has this happened to anyone else months and months into the breakup? So annoying!). I didn't sleep well, so I hit snooze.
6:40 a.m. — Na.
6:50 a.m. — Shit. I hop in the shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, change, throw my lunch in my bag and still manage to make it out by 7:30 a.m. I definitely could sleep in an extra 15 to 20 mins a day if I really wanted to, but I don't like to rush, and putting on my makeup is a bit of a meditative practice.
8:05 a.m. — I'm walking into work and realize I didn't bring bread to replenish my breakfast supply. I make a quick pit stop at our work cafeteria and grab a breakfast sandwich ($3.29). I've been trying to reduce the amount of gluten I consume as per my naturopath's request, and I realize that the caf doesn't have gluten-free bread. $3.29
11:30 a.m. — I've had a couple of meetings this morning and am STARVING. I get back to my desk and much almonds while I look up more Cuban vacays. I found a great deal that leaves a couple days later than we had originally planned, but I still send it to the group chat and see who would be willing to go. I get good responses, and a few of us are willing to book tonight!
12 p.m. — I get a little too excited and look online for a couple of bathing suits for my not-booked-yet trip and go for it ($82.40). I always give myself a budget to get a couple of pieces every vacation. $82.40
12:40 p.m. — I have a frozen bean burrito that I grabbed last-minute on my way out the door this morning. It's very sub-par, and I spend half my lunch complaining about how bland it is. It's got a good amount of protein, though, and it's gluten-free. I remember my iron!
2 p.m. — I realize I need to book another lip-filler appointment. Come at me all you want, but I got lip filler about seven months ago for the first time, and I LOVE IT. I only get half a syringe, which is almost nothing according to most people, and to be honest, it's almost unnoticeable, but I find that it gives me a teensy bit of plumpness and pouty-ness that I like. My ex was also strongly against the idea, so once I was single I made some choices that were for me, and I don't regret it one bit. I look at the clinic's online booking system and select a slot at the end of January. The doctor that I go to (please do your research) is busy all the time, so I book at least a month in advance. I pay my deposit to secure my booking, and I am stoked! $48.50
4:20 p.m. — Aaaaand we're out! Today is a rest day, so I go over to the grocery store instead of the gym. I get apples, bananas, dairy-free yogurt, almond milk, blackberries, honey, bread, waffles, salmon, crackers, hummus, fruit gushers (my guilty pleasure), free-range eggs, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, kale mix, a bag of avocados, broccoli, a lemon, and almond granola bars. Eeeesh, things add up. $93.79
6 p.m. — I get home and unpack my groceries while FaceTiming my mom. She asks me about how the dating apps are going, and I tell her the truth: They're not. After some questionable first dates the past few months, I've resolved to just do me for the rest of 2019. I come from a very traditional south Asian family, and they put a lot of importance on marriage and settling down, which has always been a point of contention between my mother and me. I thought I would be married by 28, but life happens. For anyone else who feels pressure to be at a certain point in life by a certain time, know that wherever you are is okay! Self-compassion is such an important thing.
6:45 p.m. — I'm feeling lazy, so I toss the salmon into the oven with garlic and lemon slices and cut up broccoli to steam in my Instant Pot (bet you didn't see that one coming).
7:30 p.m. — I finish dinner and get a FaceTime call from my friends about Cuba. Three-way FaceTime is so cool (I'm easily impressed). We hash out the details and go for it! I put the whole amount ($2,367) on my card, and my friends immediately e-transfer their portions. $789
9:40 p.m. — It's early for bed, even for me, but I didn't sleep well last night, so I pass out as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Daily Total: $1016.98

Day Four

6:30 p.m. — I slept SO WELL. I wake up refreshed and grab kitty for reluctant cuddles, then hop into the shower for my usual morning routine.
7:20 a.m. — I change into a green turtleneck and black dress pants and... RIIIIIIIP. I literally rip my pants. I say a silent prayer for my favourite black trousers, while simultaneously thanking the gym gods. My weight gain has been more than welcome. My weight has always been on the lower end, mainly due to genetics, and it was never something I felt I should work on until a doctor addressed it a year ago. I didn't have an unhealthy relationship with food, but I wasn't much of a foodie either and eating healthy portions wasn't a priority. I've changed that now, and I'm so glad I did, but I still get a tinge of anxiety thinking about all the changes my body has incurred in the past year. I put on a different pair of pants, grab my coffee, and go.
8:15 a.m. — I remembered to bring bread this morning, so it's toast-and-almond-butter time. I talk with my co-worker about how much stickier almond butter is than peanut butter. Right? Can't be just me.
10 a.m. — I snack on a banana with more almond butter. I'm addicted to this stuff. I read the news and catch up on Money Diaries.
12:30 p.m. — I have leftover salmon and broccoli from last night. I check my phone and see messages from this weirdo dude who I went out with last month. I show my co-workers, and we gossip about how absurd dating is nowadays. This guy hurled insults at me for the entirety of the date (apparently this is called "negging" and is super-common?) and then had the nerve to say he was "joking" and "would love to see me again" and that he "felt a spark." Were we even on the same date? I reply with "Sorry, not interested" and plan on leaving him on read if he keeps messaging me.
2 p.m. — I get a text from my friend, C., asking if I'm game for Pilates tonight. I was planning on going to the gym tonight as usual, but I haven't seen C. in a couple weeks and this could be a nice opportunity to catch up.
2:45 p.m. — I peruse the interwebs for secret Santa gifts. I end up getting a gold-plated ear cuff ($26.12), fuzzy socks ($5.09), and a cork travel mug ($21.89), as well as a dark plum slip dress ($57.18) for myself. $110.28
4:20 p.m. — We outskies! I go straight home while listening to the Stuff You Should Know podcast. The hosts are quirky, and I love how they explain things.
5 p.m. — I talk to my mom before playing piano. I used to play a lot when I was younger and invested in a superb quality electric keyboard that feels and looks almost identical to an acoustic. I'm rusty, but I love playing. I need to make more time for this.
5:45 p.m. — It's early for dinner, but I want to eat before Pilates, so I opt for my usual lazy meal of scrambled eggs with sriracha and avocado. This combo is so satisfying.
6:30 p.m. — I change into gym clothes and grab my Pilates socks. I go to reformer pilates, and the studio requires you to wear anti-slip grip socks, so I've invested in a couple pairs. I go over to the studio and get in using a pass from a pre-purchased class pack.
7:30 p.m. — Damn, this instructor is the WORST. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. She kicks our ass every time, and I love her for it. C. and I chat on the way to the grocery store next door and grab a kombucha each ($4.24). We make plans to binge holiday movies on Sunday. $4.24
8:40 p.m. — I get home and shower. I only wash my hair twice a week, so this is always a momentous occasion. Kitty is loud once I'm out of the shower, and I realize his food timer (he has an automatic food dispenser that feeds him portions throughout the day) is beeping, which means he's running low on kibble. I make a note to myself to pick up food for him.
9:15 p.m. — I watch YouTube videos in bed for an hour (embarrassing, I know) and pass out.
Daily Total: $114.52

Day Five

6:18 a.m. — I'm up before my alarm today, because kitty is scratching at the door. I keep my bedroom door closed at night, and he rarely does this, so I'm not upset. I let him in and get a head start on my day (thanks, kitty). I curl my hair this morning, because I let it air dry last night. I have wavy, slightly frizzy hair, and it doesn't do well if it's not styled. I spray on heat protectant from TREsemmé and use my Conair curling wand. I let my curls set while I do makeup, then finger-comb them loose so they look effortless. I change into my favourite Zara mom jeans (that are also getting too tight) and a black v-neck blouse. It's a tad plunge-y, but I'm flat-chested (all my itty-bitty-titty-committee girls, holler), and it's Friday, so what the hey.
7:45 a.m. — Work, breakfast, gossip, meetings.
10:15 a.m. — I research online for wireless headphones. I use the regular Apple headphones that came with my phone at the gym, but the wire is a pain in the ass, and it's about time I invest in a nice pair. Everything is soooo expensive.
12:30 p.m. — I have more leftover shrimp curry. I'm definitely pushing it, but I don't like wasting food, and it tastes FINE.
3:55 p.m. — I leave early to hit the gym. Happy FriYAY! I do a decent leg day. I recently got resistance bands that I use to make my usual lower-body workouts more challenging, and, damn, do I feel sore after.
5:20 p.m. — I go to Walmart to pick up laundry detergent, pantyhose, hangers, Q-tips, nail polish remover, and vitamins. $46.88
6:30 p.m. — Home, showered, and warming up frozen chilli for dinner. I put on He's Just Not That Into You, because I've never watched the entire thing, and it's so cute. I fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, cuddle kitty, and pass out by 11 p.m. I live a wild life, I know.
Daily Total: $46.88

Day Six

9:40 a.m. — Waking up naturally on the weekend is my favourite thing in the world. I scroll through Insta and YouTube for half an hour and make coffee. I FaceTime my mom, then get ready. My friend, R., is coming over and we're going to be spending our usual Saturday together. She's one of the few friends that I've made since moving to Ottawa, and she's the BEST.
11:45 a.m. — R. and I drive over to a popular brunch spot. The wait is over an hour, and I'm HANGRY by the time we get seated. I order a giant plate of pancakes, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and fruit. The food tastes insanely good, but I can't tell if it's actually good, or if I'm just that hungry. $23
3 p.m. — R. and I visit a local Christmas market. We walk around the stalls for a couple of hours but don't end up getting anything. I still love looking at all the things — people are so talented.
6:10 p.m. — R. and I go to the movies. We catch Knives Out, which I super-like: witty, entertaining, clever, and starring a great cast. I use Scene points for my ticket and pay for hers. We alternate treating each other to these kinds of things. We always joke that we're better boyfriends to each other than our exes ever were. $14.99
8:40 p.m. — We're hungry, even though our brunch was massive. Our guilty pleasure is McDonald's, so we grab food before hitting our favourite shisha spot. I get a Filet-O-Fish combo. $8.69
9:10 p.m. — The shisha bar is packed. We grab a table near the back and play card games while smoking. Some dude asks for my number, but I politely decline and say that I'm not looking to date, which is kind of true? He leaves, and R. and I discuss how normal and not-creepy he was about approaching me, and how refreshing that was. R. pays.
11:40 p.m. — I drop off R. and drive home. I take my makeup off, resist stalking my ex's social media, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $46.68

Day Seven

12:14 p.m. — I cannot believe I slept in this late. I wake up to a couple of texts from my mom wondering where I am (boundaries are still a work in progress). I text her back that I'm fine and make coffee while watching Friends.
1:30 p.m. — I get a text from C. confirming that I'm still coming over tonight. Yes ma'am. I'll be over in a few hours, which gives me time to do my usual Sunday pampering routine. I do a quick clean of the apartment, then hop in the shower, and put on a face mask. I'm religious about skincare, and I try to give myself a facial at least once a week, which involves steaming, exfoliating, extracting, and masking. Tonight's mask is The Body Shop's British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask, because my skin feels sooooo dry.
2:45 p.m. — I hang out on the couch to let my face mask soak in and realize that my nails are chipped. I got a dip powder manicure a couple of months ago, and it wreaked absolute havoc on my nails. They are so thin and brittle and feel like sandpaper. I take the polish off and put on a nail hardener (Sally Hansen is the best) and apply a sheer nude polish while watching more Money Heist.
3:30 p.m. — I finished season 2! I look at the time and realize that I need to get ready to go to C.'s soon. We're going to be hanging out at her place, so I don't bother doing my hair or makeup. I tie my hair up in a semi-damp bun and put on a pair of my classier sweats.
4 p.m. — C. and I bake sugar cookies, gossip for hours, have soup, and watch The Knight Before Christmas, a cheesy Vanessa Hudgens Christmas movie. It's definitely lame, but the guy in it is cute. I wish C. and I hung out more, but we're both busy, and I know she has a large external group of friends in Ottawa, so I don't want to seem needy. Or I could just ask to hang out with her more? I'm overthinking this.
7:30 p.m. — On my way home from C.'s, I realize I didn't pick up kitty's food. I stop to get some. $42.80
8:15 p.m. — Home. I straighten my mop of hair while talking to my mom and make green tea before going to bed around 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $42.80
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