A Week in Vancouver, BC, On A $39,500 Salary

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Today: a clerk and student working in healthcare who makes $39,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on a session with a personal trainer.
Occupation: Clerk & Student
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 25
Location: Vancouver, BC
Salary: $39,500
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,235
Gender Identity: Woman
Rent: $950 (I live alone in a one-bedroom suite, and I got lucky with the location and price!)
Students Loans: $0 (I have about $24,000 in debt from my last degree, but I'm currently doing a second degree that my employer is paying for. I don't have to start making payments until I'm done school.)
Tenant Insurance: $19.33
Internet: $44.80
Phone: $78.40 (I pay for mine and my mom's phones.)
Netflix: $0 (My sister pays for a family plan.)
Cable: $65.45 (I'm paying for cable at my parents' place.)
Health Insurance: $0 (My employer pays for health insurance.)
Utilities: $60 (I set aside this much, but utilities vary from month to month.)
RRSP: $100 (I just started this account, so it only has $200 in it.)
Tax-Free Savings Account: $50 (I have about $11,000 saved.)
TFSA Mutual Fund: $200 (So far, I've contributed $800.)
Emergency Savings: $90 (I have about $2,700 in this account so far.)
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Day One

5 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm. I've been running every morning before work for about two months, so maybe I'm getting used to it. I slip on a T-shirt, leggings, a waterproof windbreaker, and I'm out the door for a 30-minute run. I love running this early, because there's no one else around — not even that many cars — and I don't feel judged as I run.
6:20 a.m. — I shower and apply Drops of Youth serum from The Body Shop, my only skin-care indulgence. It's $40 but each bottle lasts about three months. Then I use whatever moisturizer is on sale, usually Nivea or Neutrogena, SPF 30 sunscreen, body lotion, and deodorant. I brew coffee on a stovetop espresso maker, which takes 15 or so minutes, during which time I look at assignments for my online class. I'm way behind, as per usual, so I pack the textbook to bring to work.
6:50 a.m. — Coffee's ready! I pour it in my travel mug, then put on makeup (concealer, bronzer, eyebrows, and eyeliner), and to change into work clothes. My work wardrobe consists of button-ups and black slacks or jeans. I'm not the most fashionable person.
7:28 a.m. — I tap my Compass Card as I hop on the bus. My transit pass is included in student fees, so it doesn't cost me anything, and the balance doesn't go down when I tap. (Thanks, university!) The bus is jam-packed, and there's no breathing room for anyone. This is the life of a TransLink commuter.
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7:55 a.m. — I set up my desk for my day, then pull out two Mandarin oranges and my overnight oats, which I made with just water; I'm not fancy enough to add nice things like cinnamon or fruit.
12 p.m. — I head to the break room with my lunch and textbook. Lunch is fried rice with eggs, spam, and frozen veggies. I was visiting my parents last week, so my fridge is empty. I'll do groceries tonight.
4:45 p.m. — It was a slow day, so I still have energy to spare, which is good because I need to spend the evening reading. The bus comes right on time, but I accidentally get off at my usual stop instead of the one by the grocery store, so I have to make do with things from the pantry again. I make pasta vongole; the clam is canned instead of fresh, but it's good enough for me. Afterwards, I catch up on three chapters for class.
7:10 p.m. — I put on a cardio workout video from Joanna Soh's YouTube channel and work up a sweat for 30 minutes
8:30 p.m. — I put on Forensic Files while I remove my makeup, wash my face, apply serum and moisturize, then put on my comfy clothes.
9 p.m. — I video-chat with my parents. I do this on a daily basis, even if it's just to see their faces for a few minutes.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Wake up, run, shower, skin care.
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6:20 a.m. — I lay down on my bed to rest.
7:20 a.m. — I didn't mean to fall asleep, but I guess I crashed after my shower. Tuesday is technically my day off, aside from evening classes, so I'm lenient with myself today. I strain homemade cold brew I had in the fridge and have it with a handful of blueberries, overnight oats and scrambled eggs doused in Sriracha and ketchup (a must with eggs).
10 a.m. — I finally drag myself to the grocery store for broccoli, carrots, blueberries, nectarines, free-run, organic eggs from Rabbit River Farm, Miss Vickie's chips, and Breyers ice cream. The ice cream and chips weren't on the shopping list, but I know if I don't get them now, I'll be cranky in a few days and order something dumb on Skip The Dishes. $40.77
11:30 a.m. — I grate broccoli for broccoli rice. I don't know if that's a thing, but I used to make cauliflower rice and didn't the weird smell, so I substitute broccoli. I mix half the broccoli with half real rice, which is filling and gives me more vegetables than if I had just rice. I make the rice in my Instant Pot, which is all I use my Instant Pot for at the moment.
12:30 p.m. — For lunch, I add sautéed spicy pork with onions and peppers to my half-rice/half-broccoli mixture, and pull out some of my mom's kimchi. She still sees me as a baby, so whenever I visit her, she packs me little one-serving portions to cook at home. I love having mom's cooking when I have time to fully enjoy it (or when I get sad and need the comfort). I don't get to visit them as much as I'd like because they don't live in the Lower Mainland.
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3 p.m. — I'm feeling snacky, so I have a nectarine and glance through the readings for my evening class. I've noticed that the pre-readings are not really that useful.
6:30 p.m. — I'm still full from lunch, so I head off to school without having dinner. This decision will probably bite me in the ass later.
10 p.m. — Buses don't run frequently at night, so it takes double the time to get home from class. The lectures were interesting, but I don't think I retained anything. Luckily, I'm still full, so I won't have a late-night snack before going to bed. I wash up, and I'm down by 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $40.77

Day Three

5 a.m. — Alarm, run, shower.
6:20 a.m. — I drink my coffee while watching dog videos on YouTube. I also make comments on a discussion board for my online class at the same time. This is a productive morning!
8:30 a.m. — I'm working and eating overnight oats and blueberries and grape tomatoes.
12:20 p.m. — I have rice noodles with stir-fried vegetables and eggs that I made two days ago, and another handful of blueberries.
5:50 p.m. — I remember that I wanted to buy a paper shredder to securely destroy personal documents, so I stop at London Drugs. I didn't realize paper shredders were so expensive, but it'll save me a lot of time in the long run, so I buy one. $87.44
6:15 p.m. — I get home and shred documents and bills I been wanting to get rid of. I debate ordering food, but instead I make instant ramen and add an egg and green onions to make myself feel better about my vegetable-free dinner. It doesn't work.
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6:50 p.m. — After washing my face and dressing in my lazy clothes (loose top and elastic-waisted pants) I watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and play Candy Crush Saga instead of doing homework.
7:30 p.m. — I video-chat with my parents again, and my mom updates me on her garden. It's a nice chat and makes me regret moving away from home.
9 p.m. — I migrate to my bedroom and read random internet stuff while listening to the Heathers soundtrack (the musical, not the movie, though the movie's soundtrack is good, too).
Daily Total: $87.44

Day Four

5:15 a.m. — Same routine. I go for cold brew, which saves time, but the outfit I want to wear today requires ironing, so I end up taking just as long to get ready. I'm meeting my personal trainer after work, so I pack exercise gear, too.
7:20 a.m. — I'm still sleepy so I drink my second coffee before I even get to work, which sucks because I'll most likely buy coffee later.
10 a.m. — As expected, I head to Starbucks during my break. I buy a grande caramel macchiato and pay with my app, which I pre-loaded.
12:20 p.m. — I have rice/broccoli rice with sautéed bulgogi, onions, and bell peppers. I chat with my work friends.
5:20 p.m. — I arrive at the private gym to meet my personal trainer. My weight loss has plateaued for the last four months, and I'm struggling to reach my goal. I'm using the extra money I earned this summer to pay for a trainer once or twice a week. My organization pays me extra (for lodging, meal allowance, etc.) when I work out of town, and I earned an extra $1,500. We go through a full-body workout, and I'm sweaty and feel awesome. The session is worth every dollar. $78.75
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6:40 p.m. — I'm not usually hungry after exercising, but I know I need to eat. I have my broccoli rice/rice combo with a fried egg and soy sauce for dinner.
7 p.m. — I chat with my sister. She recently moved to Ontario for school, and I miss being in the same time zone as her. Then I video-chat with my parents for our daily update. I feel like I need more vitamins, so I have a handful of blueberries while chatting.
8 p.m. — I read over class notes while listening to a K-pop singer named Ailee. My current favourite song is "Ice Flower," but all her songs are golden.
8:45 p.m. — I only finish one lecture worth of notes before giving up. I watch an episode of The Masked Singer (the original Korean one, not the Fox English version). The panel is hilarious and the songs are lovely.
Daily Total: $78.75

Day Five

5:10 a.m. — Today is Friday, and I couldn't be happier. I take a shorter run than usual, because I'm tired from the workout last night. I shower and get my face prepped for makeup: serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. I make my iced coffee with almond milk and pack a couple of cookies to take to work, along with breakfast and lunch.
7:50 a.m. — I get to work early and set up my desk before a team meeting.
12 p.m. — Two colleagues are in the break room, so we gossip, while I eat two ham and eggs with sriracha and ketchup on my rice/broccoli rice. (I was feeling lazy when I packed today's lunch.)
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2 p.m. — I need a pick-me-up, so I have my butter cookies.
4:20 p.m. — I arrive at the community gym to complete my full-body workout (my trainer designed it, so I can do it anywhere). The gym pass is covered by my work.
5:30 p.m. — I get home and unthaw more spicy pork my mother gave me. It's delicious, as usual, and I eat it while video-chatting with my parents.
6:25 p.m. — I power through the homework, aided by a scoop of vanilla-caramel ice cream.
7:45 p.m. — Now I'm free! As a reward, I watch Real Detective on Netflix. Certain episodes are just meh, but I enjoy others, even after multiple viewings. I'm meeting old friends tomorrow, and we message to confirm the time.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

5 a.m. — No alarm for Saturdays, but I still wake up. I go to the bathroom, then go back to sleep.
6:45 a.m. — I'm officially up now. I have tons of time to kill before meeting my friends, so I get absorbed in YouTube dog videos, then ASMR videos (the ones without talking; I don't like the ones with talking).
10 a.m. — I stupidly wasted too much time on YouTube and am now in a rush to get ready. I put more effort in my makeup today, so I do the full foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, eyebrows, shadow, and eyeliner. My friends are worth the effort! I wear a button-up shirt with jeans for a more casual look.
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11:40 a.m. — I meet V. and S. at the SkyTrain station, and we all hug. It's so good to see them again! We chat about our summers while we walk to Stepho's. I order the calamari special, one of my favourites. V. got engaged this summer, but we didn't get to celebrate because I was away, so we get a round of margaritas. I pay for V.'s drink and the appetizer on top of my meal. $60.22
1:30 p.m. — The weather is fantastic, so we walk around to work off lunch. We talk about our jobs — the great co-workers and the problem ones, too. It seems universal that there are always one or two bad ones.
2:10 p.m. — We go to Snowy Village and split a delicious matcha bingsoo (fluffy shaved ice with sweet toppings). I pay S. for my portion. $7
4:45 p.m. — We all head home after a fun day together. I wash off my makeup, put on my serum and moisturizer, get changed into comfy clothes, and video chat with my family.
7:10 p.m. — I want to be productive, but I'm feeling so lazy. I listen to Ailee on YouTube while I look through Instagram on my phone. I finally get up to do the dishes (while watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and catch up on notes for class.
Daily Total: $67.22

Day Seven

6 a.m. — I wake up and have nothing planned for today, so I'm taking it easy.
7 a.m. — I finally get out of bed and make coffee, which I have with a butter cookie. I walk to the trail for a run. The trail is beautiful, but I only do it on weekends because it's wooded, and I don't want to run there at 5 a.m., when it's still dark.
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9:20 a.m. — I return home and throw all my dirty laundry in the washing machine. I have eggs with my oats. I'm too lazy to make anything better for breakfast.
11 a.m. — I start my second load of laundry (blankets) and do the readings for this week's classes. I have a scoop of ice cream as a reward for finishing my readings, because I'm a child at heart who needs rewards for everything.
2 p.m. — I start watching the 1999 version of The Mummy, which is one of my favourite movies. It's so over the top and so completely inaccurate, that I can't help but enjoy it.
4:30 p.m. — I cook chicken and vegetables with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and maple syrup and have it on rice/ broccoli rice. I realize I should go grocery shopping, but I don't want to leave the house today. Instead, I go on Netflix and watch Thor: Ragnarok because priorities — I have them!
8 p.m. — Even though I didn't do anything today, I'm still super-tired. I go to bed and fiddle around on the phone, breaking only to video-chat with my parents. I tell them how I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow. But isn't it always like that when the weekend's over?
Daily Total: $0
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