A Week In Winnipeg, MB, On A $51,000 Salary

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Today: a communications manager working in education who makes $51,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on gulab jamun.

Occupation: Communications Manager
Industry: Education
Age: 33
Location: Winnipeg, MB
Salary: $51,000
Net Worth: $18,365 (This is across my RRSP, TFSA, savings and Wealthsimple investments.)
Debt: $600 (on a store card I used to buy a patio set this summer)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,319
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $0 (I live with my husband and sister-in-law, and they cover the mortgage, utilities and internet because they both earn a lot more than me. In return, I cover groceries, food, and other household expenses.)
Phone: $75
Store Credit Card Payment: $100
Amazon Prime: $8.95
Squarespace: $22.35 (for my freelance work)
Crave: $22.38
Transit Pass: $51.25 (Work covers 50% of my transit passes up to $500 a year.)
Yoga Studio Membership: $110 (for nine classes) 
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 always wanted me to go to college, and they funded my degree in fashion design, which I earned at a college in India. I moved to Canada about five years ago to marry my long-term boyfriend, who had moved to Winnipeg for school, and I enrolled in a communications program to ramp up my marketing skills. My savings and my husband's income jointly funded that diploma. I also had a part-time job to help with personal expenses.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My dad works in the stock market, and my mom is also big on investing, so we were always talking about money. We were well off, but my parents made sure I understood the value of money and stressed the importance of being financially independent.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I did an internship after college for about three months. Once I finished that, I started my own clothing line, so I went straight from an internship to self-employment! One year later, I opened a clothing boutique and managed it for five years. When I moved to Canada, my mom took over the shop (and she still runs it, although it's temporarily closed while the pandemic is raging in India). I had a tough time finding a job when I moved to Canada, which is one reason I went back to school.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Only during the 2008 recession. My dad lost a lot of money in the market and was genuinely worried then.

Do you worry about money now?
I don't worry that much because I'm careful. I did worry when I was doing my diploma and felt guilty about not contributing to household expenses. I knew it was for a better future, though.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I launched my clothing line at age 22. I started saving up for my education in Canada. Culturally, Indian kids tend to stay with their parents until they get married, so I was lucky that I didn't have to worry about rent. My parents and in-laws would always step in financially if we were in trouble, but we also have to save to take care of them in their old age.

Day One

9.45 a.m. — When I wake up, my husband, R., mom-in-law, and sister-in-law are up already. I'm the latest riser in the household, especially since I started working from home this past spring. I'm trying to kick the habit. I make the bed, brush my teeth, and head to the kitchen to help my mom-in-law prepare a traditional breakfast of poha (pressed rice) and chai tea.
9:45 a.m. — We have plans to spend the day at a family friend's place, so the morning is rushed compared to our regular Sunday. After we eat, we take showers, finish chores, and leave.
12 p.m. — We're visiting our friends for the first time since they bought a new house, so we stop by to pick up a housewarming gift and dessert. We find a cute artificial orchid at Winners ($39.99) and pick up a box of Brar's Gulab Jamun ($6.49) from the Indian grocery store. $46.48
1 p.m. — Our friends' new house is so cute! We have yummy barbecue appetizers outside, then head inside for a lunch of pav bhaji, an Indian stew served withs hamburger buns. After lunch, we watch a Bolly movie on Netflix and drink chai tea.
6:30 p.m. — We say our goodbyes to our lovely hosts and drive home. We're talking about how nice their new place is, and I can see R. is envious. We bought our house three years back and still haven't finished decorating it. I keep putting it off because our house is big (four bedrooms with a finished basement), and it's expensive to do everything we'd like to do, like updating our breakfast nook and laundry room, plus buying plants and a coffee table and art from real artists, not just decor-store canvas prints. Our conversation gets heated, but we resolve things and agree to start taking home improvements more seriously.
7 p.m. — I browse the internet and read a few articles on my favourite female-focused websites, like The Financial Diet, Girlboss, Career Contessa, and Refinery29 (of course). I also check the news (CBC News, the Winnipeg Free Press, and India Today). Then I log onto Pinterest and pin some décor inspiration.
8 p.m. — We're all feeling too tired to cook, so we order pizza for dinner. I feel for delivery drivers who have to take risks during the pandemic, so I leave a larger tip than usual. $64.90
10 p.m. — R. and I play a word game on my phone before he nods off. I'm still not sleepy, so I make myself chamomile tea, watch Indian Matchmaking, and finally go to bed around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $111.38

Day Two

9 a.m. — By the time I get up, R. has already had breakfast and is working at his desk. I brush my teeth and work on my phone for half an hour. My manager is on vacation, so I've been sending out the morning reports before 10 a.m. while she's away. I really should've done them in the evening and saved them as drafts to send out in the morning, but I procrastinated last night. On the couch, I have my usual weekday breakfast of toast and chai tea while listening to music and periodically replying to emails and social media comments for work. Working this way takes double the time, but I like the slow start to the day.
11 a.m. — I shower, make coffee, and head down to the makeshift office in my basement to work for a few hours. I have no meetings today, so the schedule is flexible. I finish up emails and plan the rest of my day in my bullet journal.
2 p.m. — One of the perks of working from home is having time to make lunches that I would usually buy if I was going to the office. Today, I make myself salad rolls.
3 p.m. — I'm almost out of clean undies and PJs, so I put my clothes in to wash and power through my to-do list for the next few hours.
6 p.m. — I finish work for the day. R. and I drive to a nearby store to pick up art I had framed. Framing is expensive! I paid $300 for the piece during my last trip to India and $300 just to frame it (prepaid last week). It looks gorgeous, though! It was definitely a good investment. R. drops me back home and goes to the gym.
7 p.m. — My mom-in-law usually makes dinner for us, and tonight it's ready when I get home. She lives with us for half the year, but it might be longer this time, because she probably won't go home until it's safe to travel again. She's a homemaker and happy to cook for us while we're working during the day, which saves us so much money and time! After dinner, I water the plants and organize our bathroom.
9 p.m. — R. and I have a cup of tea on our deck. We recently invested in a patio set, and it's a nice evening. There are too many mosquitos, though, so we head inside to watch Joker, which is so sad, and snack on popcorn.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I spend a good 20 minutes browsing social media in bed after I'm awake, which is definitely a habit I need to break. There's a 10 a.m. Zoom meeting with my colleagues, so I make myself chai tea and freshen up. These check-ins are socially distanced alternatives to getting coffees together to go over the week ahead. It's great to see everyone's faces, plus it saves me money I would've spent on fancy coffee!
10:30 a.m. — I make dental and massage therapy appointments that I've been putting off. My benefits are good, so I have to keep reminding myself to take advantage of them! I take a quick shower, make coffee, and get ready to work. It's sunny out, so I work from my bedroom today where I get nice light.
2.15 p.m. — Lunch is a couscous salad while watching an episode of Modern Family. After that, I empty the dishwasher and head back to work.
5:30 p.m. — All the important tasks are done, so I call it a day. We need gardening, home, and kitchen supplies, so I walk to Dollarama. I pick up planters, river rocks, gardening gloves, hangers, a pizza pan, and a grill pan. I also see a bath pillow that I don't need but is tempting and only $4, so I add it to my cart. ($63.65). My sister-in-law picks me up from the store, and we head to Home Depot for an eight pack of LED vanity bulbs for our bathrooms and ant killer ($93.92). $157.57
7:30 p.m. — My mom-in-law made us roti and chickpea curry, and I'm starving. After dinner, I call my mom to chat and text some friends. I'm really tired for some reason, so I binge more Indian Matchmaking until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $157.57

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — It's coworking Wednesday! Some of my colleagues have been meeting up at an outdoor space to work together. The number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba is low right now, so we've been lucky enough to see each other's faces once in a while (while social distancing, of course). I freshen up, have breakfast, and get my bag ready.
10 a.m. — I'm avoiding public transit right now, so R. drives me, and I get a cup of coffee ($4.08) before heading to our usual table. After catching up and working for an hour, we break into two groups, so my assistant and I can do employee evaluations. $4.08
1 p.m. — I get a sushi bento box ($19.32) that's not as good as I hoped it would be, but it's a nice change from homemade food, along with a tea to last me through the second half of the day ($4.09). After lunch, the group joins up again and works together for about an hour. $23.41
4 p.m. — We pack up and walk to a coworking space for a tour. Our workplace is closed, but we still want to meet and work in a safe environment occasionally, so we're exploring a few options. The tour is great! The prices are affordable, and we're going to see if our workplace can cover the cost.
7 p.m. — I walk to the grocery store for a week's worth of food for four people: onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, cauliflower, spinach, kale, carrots, mangoes, a watermelon, Indian snacks, bread, burger buns, frozen patties, milk, yogurt, sour cream, two packs of flavoured sparkling water, and garbage bags. ($254.40) It seems like a lot, but it'll make up the majority of our meals for the next week. R. picks me up. $254.40
8.30 p.m. — We unpack the groceries and eat the dinner of chapati and curry my mom-in-law made. After dinner, we all sit outside and chat for an hour. We're getting as much use out of the patio set as we can while the weather lasts.
10 p.m. — My dad video calls, and I talk to him for some time before Netflixing more Indian Matchmaking until 1 a.m. It's going to be a late morning tomorrow!
Daily Total: $281.89

Day Five

9 a.m. — It's payday! Seeing the balance go up in my chequing account is a great way to wake up. I do the usual: brush my teeth, eat breakfast, and shower before setting up my desk on the patio for the day.
10 a.m. — The second half of the day is all meetings, so I power through a bunch of pending emails now.
2 p.m. — I've been applying for new job opportunities, and I hear back from one company I'd interviewed for saying they're going in a different direction, which is disappointing. But I also hear back from another place inviting me to participate in level two of the evaluation process, which is exciting. Mixed feelings! I've been in my current position for the last two years and the growth opportunities are limited. I've also been having issues with management, so I'm hoping to move to an organization with more structure and less stress. 
5:30 p.m. — Meetings all day! I finish, log off, and update my Money Diary.
6:30 p.m. — I prepare veggie burgers with a cauliflower-and-cheese side dish that turns out pretty well! After that, I read and watch Netflix for a few hours before R. and I go to bed at midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

11 a.m. — It's my day off, so I don't set the alarm. Every other week, is a four-day work week during the summer. I freshen up and make myself chai tea and a hearty brunch of grilled cottage cheese sandwiches (stuffed with cottage cheese, chopped onion, cilantro, salt, and chilli powder).
12 p.m. — I don't have much scheduled for the afternoon, so I laze around watching Netflix and reading until I feel guilty and decide to tackle laundry, which takes me a couple of hours.
3.30 p.m. — I'm only slightly hungry, so I eat leftover couscous salad. It's a hot day, so I water the lawn and do dishes.
6:30 p.m. — On his way to the gym, R. drops me off to meet friends for a drink. We go to a local bar, where the tables are set six feet apart. We sanitize our hands before going in, and I order a beer. The food menu looks interesting, so I order a cauliflower appetizer, even though I'm not that hungry. We have a good time catching up and call it a night at about 8:30 p.m. $21.35
9 p.m. — I chat with my sister- and mom-in-law before they head to bed. R. is out, so I get to watch Downton Abbey, which he'd never watch with me.
Daily Total: $21.35

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — Weekend breakfasts are a family affair. We have waffles, hash browns, and chai tea. No one has any plans, so we take our time, then I spend a couple of hours finishing the job application test I mentioned earlier.
2 p.m. — I make bhel puri for lunch, a savoury Indian street food made from puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and cilantro, with a tamarind-chilli sauce. It's SO GOOD: tangy, spicy, and sweet at the same time. It tickles all your taste buds. After lunch, I work on the application for a few more hours.
5 p.m. — I work on my little garden for the rest of the evening. I'm growing carrots, herbs, radishes, and flowers, and everything is just about ready to harvest!
7 p.m. — Cooking on weekends is the best, because I can take my time and actually enjoy it. Tonight, I make Hakka chow mein and crispy chilli baby corn. We're eating out a lot less during the pandemic, and I'm grateful because we've saved so much money.
9 p.m. — I haven't been exercising as much as I should, so I go for a long walk to get fresh air and listen to a podcast. R. is out, so I watch Crazy Rich Asians for the rest of the night!
Daily Total: $0
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