A Week In Northern BC On A $76,000 Salary

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Today: a counsellor working in mental health who makes $76,000 per year and spends some of her money on supplies to build a dock.
Occupation: Counsellor
Industry: Mental Health
Age: 31
Location: Northern BC
Salary: $76,000
Paycheque Amount (bimonthly): $1,800
Gender Identity: Woman
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Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,200 (Houses are cheap in northern BC! That's a big reason I left Vancouver to live and work here. Between serious savings and help from my incredibly generous parents, I was able to put down $30,000.)
Utilities: $200
Student Loans: $0 (My parents put aside money for their kids' education in RESPs. It covered my undergrad and grad school tuition, and I worked part-time through undergrad and mostly full-time through grad school.)
Mutual Funds: $300
Car Insurance: $111
Apple Music: $10
Netflix: $13.99 (My whole family uses it, too.)
Phone: $70
Internet: $70
Donations: $90 (To three different small humanitarian aid charities.)

Day One

6:59 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I see my boyfriend, D, has just texted me. I respond and then keep snoozing.
7:30 a.m. — I roll out of bed and make a leisurely coffee and eat the granola I made last night, along with Greek yogurt and blueberries. My commute is 3.5 minutes, and I miraculously make it on time.
9:30 a.m. — I've caught up on some paper work and head to the high school to see clients there. I somehow acquire a new (very animated) 18-year-old client, even though my caseload is maxed out. We need more mental health support up here!!
12 p.m. — A friend pops by my office and asks if I want to head to A&W with her for lunch. I go home instead and eat a salad and bagel with a tasty herb sauce because I'm doing a month-long greens challenge with my friend who's a nutritionist. I'm trying to eat four different types of greens each day. This time, I've managed arugula, spinach, cilantro, and cucumbers (is that a green??) all in one meal!
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5 p.m. — Going home later than usual. I stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things for the Thai ramen I'm planning to make for D and I tonight. Avocado, cilantro, red pepper, and a lime. $5.86
6:30 pm. — I make the Thai ramen in my Instant Pot. It's a hit! We eat it outside on my front steps along with a beer. Once the sun starts to go down, we go in to watch Game of Thrones. We're in the middle of season 5 and trying desperately not to get any season 8 spoilers, but more creep in everyday.
9:30 p.m. — D crawls into bed while I take a shower. He's down for the count by 10 p.m., and I read The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $5.86

Day Two

5:50 a.m. — D's alarm goes off and we snooze for awhile. He leaves by 6:30 a.m., and I'm up by 7 a.m. to make a coffee. Breakfast is an everything bagel with cream cheese and herb sauce (it's mostly cilantro and white onion).
8 a.m. — I leave to see some kids at an elementary school.
12 p.m. — Back home for a quick lunch of last night's Thai ramen. I realize I forgot to add peanut butter, but decide it's better this way. Now I'm off to another elementary school to facilitate a self-empowerment group with a bunch of Grade 6 and 7 girls.
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4 p.m. — I stop at the building supply store after work because I'm constructing a deck rail and a dock (my house is on a lake). The guy who has been helping me plan it isn't there, so I decide to come back tomorrow morning. I hit the health food store to buy a bag of my favourite Yukon-roasted coffee beans, and then go home for a snack (more cream cheese and herb sauce, but this time on little wafer thingies) before going for a run. $17
7 p.m. — D gets off work after a long day and calls me from his hammock while I sip a grapefruit Radler on the deck. I'm hungry, but I'm not feeling very inspired, so I eat another helping of ramen. My friend FaceTimes me, then I watch an episode of Survivor before heading to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $17

Day Three

7:38 a.m. — I hustle to get to the building supply store.
8 a.m. — I talk through my building plans with an older gentleman at the store who has been helping me get a detailed estimate. There are still a few questions to be answered, so I don't buy anything yet. I stop at the coffee shop for my Friday morning muffin. This place makes THE BEST muffins I've ever had. I get in to work a little late, but no one's checking. $3.15
12:05 p.m. — Neither of my clients showed up this morning, so it's been a boring morning of paperwork. I eat lunch at home on the deck. I'm still not sick of the cream cheese–herb sauce combo, but this time I add a bunch of arugula. I fill up my work truck with gas and put it on the work card. $155 (expensed)
4 p.m. — I leave work early so we can get out on the lake with D's family. D and I have been texting all afternoon excitedly because this is the first time we're taking out the boat this year. I run home to change, while D gets some beer. He says his parents are bringing dinner, so I don't have to do anything.
9:30 p.m. — We're back on land after an amazing time on the lake. I just bought my house last fall and this is the first time I get to see it from the water. We head over to D's for a campfire and a couple of his buddies come over, too.
1:30 a.m. — I'm in bed, but they're still going strong downstairs.
Daily Total: $3.15

Day Four

12 p.m. — After last night's late shenanigans, we are dragging. We take showers and crawl back into bed.
2:30 p.m. — D's friend R is still over, and we go for brunch at the one restaurant in town with a patio. We are overwhelmingly disappointed with the food (I have a BLT wrap with salad), but we're still happy to soak in the sunshine. D pays for my lunch.
5 p.m. — We've been lazing in the sun on D's porch, taking turns in the hammock. At some point, we notice that the power has gone out, and for some reason we decide now would be a good time to go get groceries. Thankfully, by the time we get to the store the power is back on. We buy pizza shells, prosciutto, goat cheese, mozzarella, chips, and bananas ($28.33), plus berry ciders ($10). We sip them on the sunny porch and head over to my house once it starts cooling off outside. We notice we've both gotten sunburned, even though we've been diligently applying sunscreen all day. $38.33
10:45 p.m. — After eating a dinner of fancy prosciutto, arugula, and goat cheese pizza, we watch Breaking Bad in bed. We're both so sleepy from last night and today's sunshine. Hurray for lazy weekends!
Daily Total: $38.33

Day Five

9 a.m. — I'm wide awake, but D is still sleeping. I'm jealous of his ability to sleep for hours and hours. I get up and wrap myself in a blanket and finish reading my book on the deck. I call my mom, and we talk about her and my dad's upcoming visit.
12 p.m. — I crawl back into bed and wake up D. He's sleeping away the sunshine!
2 p.m. — We have a cute weekend tradition of making crepes. Today, I enjoy a mixed berry sauce with bananas and whipped cream on mine. D sticks to his traditional peanut butter, bananas, and syrup.
5 p.m. — I rake dead grass out of my lawn. This new house is amazing, and I feel lucky everyday that I live on the lake, but I'm also overwhelmed by all the yard maintenance that comes with having property. I get a burn pile going and add a bunch of brush. We have a fire ban here. We had SO MANY wildfires in the area last year, but little campfires are still okay.
6:30 p.m. — I've worked up an appetite and eat leftover pizza before taking a shower and watching Jane the Virgin. I feel peckish again and make my go-to green smoothie with spinach, banana, peanut butter, chia seeds, protein powder, and almond milk.
7:30 p.m. — I pick up a bottle of wine on my way over to D's. We play our new favourite board game, Patchwork, and watch a couple episodes of Breaking Bad. $12.70
12 a.m. — D doesn't have to start work till 4 p.m. tomorrow, so I go to bed at his place around midnight, but he doesn't crawl in until at least a couple hours later.
Daily Total: $12.70

Day Six

7:08 a.m. — D wakes me up to ask if I've set my alarm. Yes, it's set to 7:22 a.m. Thanks for waking me up early! He usually gets up first, so I appreciate his concern. I scroll through Instagram while I wait for the alarm, and then roll out of bed and into my car, so I can get ready for work at my house.
8 a.m. — I'm not feeling breakfast this morning, but I absolutely can't go without it, so I make cream cheese, arugula, and herb sauce on crackers. I swear, this is just a week-long phase. Next week I'll be on to something new. I guess I get into food ruts pretty quickly.
12:10 p.m. — This morning flies by with a meeting and a fun session with kids involving lots of paint and rainbows. I go home for lunch (a fried egg on toast with prosciutto, sautéed spinach, and cream cheese) and watch Gilmore Girls. I love that I get to come home for a break most days.
4:30 p.m. — I am so grateful the workday is over! It's been a really stressful afternoon. I try not to let my worries for my clients creep into my personal life, but some kids have so much to deal with, it can be overwhelming. I head to the grocery store and stock up: milk, yogurt, bananas, raspberries, asparagus, mixed greens, pasta noodles, tortilla chips, and salsa. I also fill up my eight-litre jug of water. My well water at home is sulfur-y. It's okay to drink, but it's not my favourite. I make a big taco salad with sautéed peppers and mushrooms for dinner. $45.64
7:30 p.m. — I head over to my neighbour's to watch The Bachelorette. I have a total love-hate relationship with the show. It's so entertaining and a fun way to hang out with friends, but I also find it kind of repulsive. I don't like the catty side of me it can sometimes bring out. We have ice cream with caramel sauce in cute waffle bowls, and club soda with blueberries.
10 p.m. — I'm home and in bed, reading Women Talking by Miriam Toews.
Daily Total: $45.64

Day Seven

6:59 a.m. — I scroll my phone for 40 minutes. I had intentions of doing a short yoga video, but I can't bring myself to do it. Breakfast is coffee, Greek yogurt, raspberries, and homemade granola.
8:30 a.m. — I take my car in to get summer tires put on, and a long-overdue oil change. I have an old car that I bought outright for $6,000 10 years ago. It just won't stop running. These days, I hardly drive it because my work provides me with a vehicle. $196
3 p.m. — I feel exhausted today and can't quite figure out why. I call D for a quick break. He's just getting ready for work. These weeks when we work opposite schedules always feel disjointed.
4:15 p.m. — I call it a day and hit the building supply store with firm plans for my deck railing and the dock my dad and I are going to build next week. It takes about an hour to sort through all the plans, but I leave with everything for the deck railing. I also put down a $1,000 deposit on the supplies for the dock (the whole project, with the railing and the dock, will cost $3,500). They still have to order a few things in from southern BC. All of this building stuff is out of my comfort zone, but I've been incredibly happy with the professional and non-condescending way the staff at the supply shop has been treating me over the past two weeks. $2,194
6 p.m. — All I want to do is curl up on my couch and catch up on Jane the Virgin, but I force myself to go out in the rain to my community garden's work night. I know I'll feel better getting fresh air and working in the dirt, but it definitely takes a lot of energy to get there.
7:30 p.m. — I come home refreshed and make a weird dinner of — you guessed it — my herb spread on crackers, along with some salsa and tortilla chips and a berry cider. Then I call a friend from Vancouver to catch up and head to bed early.
Daily Total: $2,390
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