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A Week In Victoria, BC, On A $74,000 Salary

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Today: a communication specialist working in government who makes $74,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on White Claw.
Occupation: Government Communication Specialist
Industry: Provincial Government
Age: 35
Location: Victoria, BC
Salary: $74,000
Net Worth: $660,683 (I bought my townhouse for $412,000 six years ago, and it's now increased in value by at least $200,000. I also have $15,000 in an RRSP and $112,151 in a TFSA.)
Debt: $78,468 (amount left on mortgage)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,775.14
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,282.80
Strata Fees: $0 (They're $300 but my husband pays for them, and I pay for 100% of our mortgage.)
Utilities: $100
Internet: $0 (It's $80 but my husband pays for it.)
Phone: $0 (work pays)
Horse Board: $470
Horse Prescriptions: $200 (approx)
Farrier: $55
Riding Lessons: $350
My Prescriptions: $150
Life Insurance: $20
Dental Plan: $53.50
Health Plan: $131.50
Pension: $237.26
Netflix: $11.99
Shudder: $4.75
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Annual Expenses
Car Insurance: $1,200
House Insurance: $0 (Husband pays)
Property Taxes: $2,500


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. My parents paid for my undergraduate degree, and I paid $20,000 for my master's degree.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were very frugal but generous with my sister and me. They taught us to save well and avoid spending on things like takeout, ready-made meals, delivery services, and coffees. They didn't eat out much at all, but we did enjoy vacations and a privileged lifestyle. They also made sure we had a savings account and learned about investing, something I wish I was involved in now!

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was working as an usher at my university theatre. I wanted pocket money and job experience. I was 18 and starting my undergrad degree.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Nope. I knew my parents were paid well and we had a privileged upbringing.

Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. I do well, but a horse is incredibly expensive. Houses — and everything else — are also very expensive here, and it feels like moving out of our townhouse and buying something else is out of reach.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I graduated university at 21. My parents are my safety net. I know I can count on them if I have to.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents gave me $100,000 for the downpayment on my townhouse.  

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, get dressed, and go downstairs to my office (AKA the living room). My husband has a Stash blueberry tea ready for me (I switched to tea from coffee recently thanks to an ultra-sensitive stomach). I have it with vanilla Greek yogurt and bananas (I eat this every day except for the weekends when my husband makes a special breakfast). My rabbit goes outside on our enclosed patio for fresh air.
9 a.m. — I brush my dog's teeth (I make my own dog toothpaste of coconut oil and cinnamon) and then mine. It's time for my morning medications: Visanne for endometriosis, Flovent for my allergy-induced asthma, and Blexten for allergies. I have good coverage through work for prescriptions, but the Flovent is quite expensive at $172 for the inhaler. I have chronic and serious year-round allergies to basically everything.
10 a.m. — Snack time is at 10 a.m. because I have a daily meeting at 10:30 a.m. and I like to be fuelled for it. I have two cookies I baked yesterday and a handful of peanuts. While I'm working from home, I can read emails and do a few of my rehab activities for my bad knee. I buy a lottery ticket for our work pool ($5). We've been doing the lotto for several years and have never won, but it's fun! $5
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11 a.m. — I'm recuperating from a leg injury, so I take a five-km walk. Along with walking, I've been doing shockwave sessions on my leg to the tune of $50 each, but nothing really seems to be helping right now.
12 p.m. — I don't love eating big lunches, so I picked up a few Lunchables from Country Grocer on Sunday. I have one for lunch with hummus and veggies while I respond to emails. After lunch, it's time to crack down and write news releases for an upcoming event. While I'm writing, I listen to a Spotify playlist. My husband pays for our subscription.
2 p.m. — I have two more cookies — can't stop — plus trail mix and two clementines. My husband and I take the dog for a brief walk, and I like to check the little free libraries for books (I rarely buy books).
4:30 p.m. — I head to the stables (as I do after every workday) to ride, groom, and medicate my horse. He's in a full-care boarding barn where there's an old indoor arena. We're working together to get back to showjumping and dressage after he had a serious injury nine months ago and was in extensive daily rehab with commensurate vet bills (nearly $2,400). He's getting old (17), so he takes Previcox for his arthritis and Prascend for his Cushing's disease. We're only now able to do riding lessons again, and it feels great!
7 p.m. — I stop at the liquor store for a six-pack of Watermelon White Claw, a strawberry Bud Light Seltzer, beer for my husband, and a bottle of coconut rum. $58.56
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7:30 p.m. — I get home around 7:30 p.m., and it's dinner. My husband does all of the cooking and important grocery shops. I do a lot more of the fun shopping for things like chips, ice cream, yogurt, seltzers, and candies. I'm able to get home and have a hot-cooked meal pretty much every night, and it's amazing! Today, we have mandarin chicken stir-fry using Gardein vegetarian "chicken." When we're done, I have a shower, and then we watch Superstore. I go to bed early because I love to read in the evenings. When I'm ready to sleep, I take Phoenix Tears THC, because I also have severe insomnia (it costs $30/vial and one vial lasts for almost a month), and it's lights out by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $63.56

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — I wake up early. I can't sleep in, I guess! I eat the same breakfast with Stash tea and brush my dog's teeth and then mine. I'm in a hurry to get to a surprise work meeting, and my rabbit gives me a hard time about catching him in the yard.
10 a.m. — I root around for a healthy snack, but chuck it up and go with cookies again. I then worry it's too early for cookies and go back to eat handfuls of peanuts before my meeting at 10:30 a.m.
11 a.m. — I do a Fitness Blender workout. I'm thinking about becoming a subscriber. I love how accessible their workouts have been during the pandemic. When I'm done, I have a nice light lunch of hummus with veggies, an apple with peanut butter, and a slice of bread with cheese.
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2 p.m. — After I walk my dog, it's time for a second snack: handfuls of trail mix and two cookies.
5 p.m. — I drive to the barn to get groomed and tacked up for my riding lesson. I had my saddle, which is over 20 years old, restuffed and reworked last month, and it cost $632! It's really fun to be back jumping, but I get anxious when I think my horse is going too fast over the jumps. My trainer laughs and shows me the video — we aren't going fast at all. When I finish up, the barn manager reminds me to order more hay.
8 p.m. — I drive home, and we have Gardein black bean burgers with stir-fried veggies. It's so nice to come home to dinner! I have a shower and go to bed, while my husband goes to the gym for a late-night climbing session.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and have chamomile tea and the same breakfast as usual. My dog is reluctant to get out of bed this morning, and I know how she feels! I remember to call my hay guy to order more bales. $240
10 a.m. — I have two pre-meeting cookies. I love them — so yummy. By 11 a.m., I hit the streets again and listen to a new podcast, RedHanded. I walk for five kms, trying to ignore the hot spots growing on my legs.
12 p.m. — I eat Lunchables with hummus and veggies and trail mix, a cookie, and a can of Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale.
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2 p.m. — I break from meetings and take the dog for a quick walk, then have a handful of trail mix and two more cookies.
5 p.m. — I drive to the barn for a very light ride because I have a lesson tomorrow and have to be careful about hard back-to-back sessions. When I'm done, I buy a bag of grain to refill my horse's bags. $30
7 p.m. — I get home fairly early for once and do a 30-minute Yoga With Adriene session before dinner, which is black beans with yams, stir-fried cabbage, and salsa. We watch The Stand before bed, and I start a new book, Bones of the Barbary Coast by Daniel Hecht. Lights out at 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $270

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Same morning routine. To my disgust, my bananas are going rotten, which is super-annoying because they went from green to black!
10 a.m. — I have two cookies for my 10 a.m. snack and successfully fight the urge to eat more before my morning meeting.
11 a.m. — I try a Fitness Blender upper-body workout today. I like it, but I miss the heart-pounding efforts of hard HIIT and cardio. Sigh, being injured sucks.
12 p.m. — I eat a hummus and veggie sandwich with a handful of trail mix and one Justin's Peanut Butter Cup. My emails are going crazy, so I spend extra time sitting downstairs focused on them, which can be dangerous because all I do is snack on things that are within reach.
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2 p.m. — Snacktime: chocolate, peanuts, and two clementines.
5 p.m. — My second riding lesson of the week is dressage day. I start off feeling out of sorts, but my horse improves, and we have a lovely canter! I share this lesson with a fellow rider, and it's inspiring to see her horse make real improvement. I do up my horse's grain bags, give him his meds, and ice his bad leg.
8 p.m. — My husband has outdone himself on dinner: barbecue chicken with vegetables and roasted potatoes. We split one chicken breast and save the rest for a meal tomorrow. I try a watermelon White Claw. They're fine, but I'm not sold on this flavour. I prefer mango. After dinner, I have a shower, and we watch The Stand before going to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

9 a.m. — It's the weekend, so I sleep in with our dog and have breakfast around 9:30 a.m. I have my usual yogurt and bananas and microwave a peanut butter–cinnamon bun from the freezer to share with my husband. It's delicious. We gear up to go hiking and pack Lunchables, a can of ginger ale, a beer, and water for us and our dog.
1:50 p.m. — After the hike, we stop at Tim Hortons. Usually, I avoid it like the plague but I have a gift card, so I pick up six doughnuts and a bacon grilled cheese with potato wedges and a hot chocolate ($11.50 covered by the card). I end up eating two of the doughnuts, we share the grilled cheese, and my husband eats the potato wedges. I'm totally stuffed! It's good but not great, you know? Given that the food is merely adequate, I'm always stunned to see lineups snaking around the parking lot of every Tim Hortons. What is this? It's not THAT good.
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2 p.m. — We stop for gas. The island has some of the highest gas prices in North America, and it now costs us around $48 to fill the tank of my 2007 Honda Fit! $48
2:30 p.m. — On our way home, we run to the store to pick up groceries. It's not often we're together at the grocery store, so this is our big shop for the month. We buy peanut butter, frozen waffles, cauliflower, sparkling water, tuna, two kinds of cheeses (yes!), a pack of bulk snack sausages, a bag of peppers, tomato paste, the greenest bananas I have ever seen, four Schneiders snack packs, and four Halo Tops (they're on sale for $2.77 each, which is a screaming deal here). $72.11
7 p.m. — We're wiped after hiking, so we have quiet time. I do a few stretches and watch TV while I supervise my rabbit playing on the floor with my dog. My husband prepares paella (my favourite), and we enjoy it with the watermelon White Claws. After dinner, we chill and watch The Stand and listen to music. My husband's been on a super-nostalgic '90s kick lately.
Daily Total: $120.11

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — Another great sleep-in day! My husband wakes up earlier than me to make a special breakfast: apple pancakes with bananas and peaches. I grab the peaches and cream Halo Top we bought yesterday and top the pancakes with it — delicious! After breakfast, I go out to ride and care for my horse, while my husband goes to the climbing gym.
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11 a.m. — We do a light ride, and it's pretty okay. I groom and medicate my horse, and then put my running shoes on and walk over to the track at the athletic centre. It's close to the stables, so the walk is a nice warm-up for my legs.
1 p.m. — After I do a few laps, I walk back to the barn and drive home, stopping at Circle K to pick up a few freebies I won using the Circle K game app. I love it! I redeem a bag of chips and a chocolate bar for free. When I get home, and my husband tells me he's injured his finger and has to take time off climbing. Having both of us on the injured list totally sucks. I give him my free chips as a consolation prize, and we take the soccer ball to the field next to our house and kick it around with our dog.
7 p.m. — Dinner is leftover paella, and I make a feta and apple salad to go with it.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I have yogurt and bananas, then leave to ride and care for my horse. We have kind of a frustrating ride; the magic just isn't there today. Oh well, we can try again another day. I pack another Schneiders snack kit and gear up for a walk/run at a local lake, where I do a 10-km loop. It's a lovely day.
1:50 p.m. — At home, I have lunch (Reese's minis, sausage stick), then we drive out to the beach to enjoy the sunshine with our dog. On the way, we grab a beer for my husband and a tequila mixed drink for me. $11
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7 p.m. — My husband makes special burgers with cherry sauce from Ted Reader's book. They're pretty awesome! For the rest of the evening, we chill out and laugh while playing Red Flags: The Game of Terrible Dates (but we're not really playing because it's just the two of us).
Daily Total: $11
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