A Week In Victoria, BC, On A $48,000 Salary

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Today: a doctor of Chinese medicine, college instructor, and small business owner working in health and wellness who makes $48,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on maca and cacao superfood powder.

Occupation: Doctor of Chinese Medicine, College Instructor, Small Business Owner
Industry: Health & Wellness
Age: 45
Location: Victoria, BC
Salary: $48,000
Assets: $14,000 (This includes my car.)
Debt: $100,000 (all in student loans from years ago)
Paycheque Amount (1x/month): $3,037.50 (This is from teaching. I also make various sums throughout the month from practising Chinese medicine remotely and selling online courses.)
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,635 (I rent a one-bedroom apartment that includes utilities. I'm married, but my partner and I have chosen to live across town from each other. It's a long story, but basically, we got married and lived together, then split up, and recently remarried. Since then, we've decided to live separately, because we have extremely different living styles. He's louder, messier, a bit chaotic, and cooks lots of meat, to name a few things. Also, I crave my own space, silence, and solitude. Our relationship is so much happier this way!)
Hydro: $21.50 (the only utility not included in my rent)
Loans: $0 (I’m on a US-based repayment program, and the provider put my payments on hold because I didn't make enough money last year.)
Phone: $157.92 (I have an unlimited phone plan covering Canada and the US. Most of my private clients are in the US, so I need this plan for our remote phone sessions. Perhaps I should switch to Zoom for this.)
Internet: $109.76
Spotify: $9.99
To Be Magnetic Pathway 2.0 Online Membership: $37.59 (Basically, this is a manifestation school and DIY therapy in one. I use it daily!)
Unlimited Fitness & Yoga Studio Membership: $103.95 (I attend classes seven days a week.)
Business-Related Software Subscriptions: $229.68

Annual Expenses
Professional Licences, Malpractice Insurance & Website Hosting: $2,526.86 (These business costs are steep, but at least I don’t have brick-and-mortar expenses. My storefront and office are literally my phone, laptop, and desk.)
Car Insurance: $2,933.53 (I have a perfect driving record, but I'm a recent permanent resident in Canada, so I'm considered a “new driver” and have to pay extra. Thankfully, I own my car, a beloved two-seater John Cooper Works MINI with racing stripes, so have zero car payments.)

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?
I've always been a huge nerd and thrived in academic settings. I have my BA and MA from Universities in the US. I also did a year-long fellowship in Egypt. Later, I completed a five-year Chinese medicine program in Canada, and now I teach college!
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Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I grew up lower-middle-class, and money was an obvious source of ongoing stress and dread for my parents. I definitely picked that up along the way. In the past few years, I've started tracking my income and every single expense using You Need A Budget, as well as devising my own systems on Evernote and Asana. I've done lots of self-guided learning and reprogramming using books like You Are A Badass At Making Money: Master The Mindset Of Wealth by Jen Sincero. I've also taken online business courses ranging from the practical to the woo woo, including Gabby Bernstein and others. All of this has totally shifted my relationship to money. Though my income is still low, it's been increasing steadily. Last year, for instance, I made less than $30,000, and this year I'm making $48,000. I even manifested a raise in the time of 'rona!

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I had a lemonade stand. I was excited about making money from an early age, even though I've never had much of it. From my teen years on, I've had at least one job, but I’ve tended to work extra-hard rather than extra-smart. This past year, I’ve been changing that. As a result, my income is increasing and my stress is decreasing.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. My parents were usually stressed about credit card debt, which prompted me to avoid accumulating it. Also, whenever I get a bill for anything, I pay it straight away.
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Do you worry about money now?
Yes, but WAY less than I used to. Learning about finances and meticulously tracking income and expenses has largely put an end to the dread and fear.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I paid for my undergrad degree with student loans and got a full ride for my master's at Georgetown. I worked through school and always contributed as much as I could, though my parents helped me when they were able to. The Universe is my safety net!
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I got $5 a week when I was a kid : ) My dad has helped me through a few rough spots as an adult, particularly when I was awaiting permanent residency and couldn't go out and get a job in Canada. I’m deeply grateful, but I hate asking others for financial support and prefer to be independent.

Day One

6:58 a.m. — I wake naturally around this time nearly every day, though I set an alarm for 7:30 a.m. just in case. My mornings are super-important to me; I truly savour them and hate rushing. First, I take a freezing cold, very short shower. Cold water therapy has a whack of purported benefits for immune health and muscle recovery, but I mostly do it for the feel-good hormones it releases. Then, I press start on the coffee I prepped last night, feed my two Siamese cats, and do the Five Tibetans, a yogic breath and movement practice. I sip my Bulletproof-style coffee (coffee, collagen, colostrum, and grass-fed butter) while working on one of two books I'm currently writing. One traces my life and soul across different times, places, and relationships. The other recounts my psilocybin journeys and teachings I've received from plant medicine. I do NOT open email or get online until I’ve spent at least a half hour writing. Usually, I listen to spiritual, kirtan music during this time, along with the seagulls. Unfortunately, neighbourhood renovation noise and lawn mowers are often mixed in. At times, they make me go bat-shit ballistic.
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8 a.m. — I open email to see what awaits. I keep my inbox at zero, but new incomings have accumulated overnight. I respond to my dad, partner, and clients. Most other things get deleted or snoozed until the appropriate time. Emails from my students at the college usually get snoozed, otherwise I’d never get any work done. I teach four classes, and students email me constantly. Is that normal? I certainly didn’t email my college professors about things I could ask in class or look up. I used to be way more generous with my time, but I'm SO glad I’ve put boundaries in place.
9 a.m. — I rush to my car to make a 9:30 a.m. fitness class. I have a 20-year yoga practice but mostly do that at home these days. Rather than invest in yoga classes, I’ve taken up hot box fusion (basically, boxing and fitness set to music). So. Frickin. Fun. Also, it totally counts as therapy. I go every day (though some days it’s hot barre or hot yoga flow). It’s worth way more than $103 a month.
11 a.m. — I’m home, showered, and sitting down to lunch. I only eat two meals a day (lunch and dinner) and never snack. This leaves me feeling my best and definitely saves me money. I also eat super-simply and prefer the same things on repeat. Lunch is small and pretty much always consists of tofu sprinkled in cinnamon and quickly fried in butter, an avocado, a handful of blueberries when they’re in season, and a spoonful of maca powder. I pair it with another Bulletproof-style coffee and eat veeeeerrrrry slowly while reading blogs that are fun, light, and often related to interior design. Pure entertainment. I resist looking at email until I'm done eating.
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12 p.m. — This week happens to fall during a break between school terms, so rather than start class (all in Zoom since COVID-19), I answer client emails. I run two interconnected businesses: one where I create online Chinese medicine kits and courses, and another where I help women who are newly sober or sober-curious craft lives they love. At times, these bring in more money than at present. Whenever I take on more college teaching, they falter a bit, because I throw myself into teaching. It’s just so much to balance all three. All I really want to do is spend entire days writing articles and books. That’s my three-year plan.
1 p.m. — I do a Whole Foods shop. This is where I spend the majority of my disposable income. I don't eat out or get take away, so pretty much all of my food and beverages come from here. Yes, there are cheaper options, but I enjoy the experience of Whole Foods and don't like other grocery stores in my area. Plus, food shopping is one of the only times I leave my apartment! I'm vegetarian, gluten-free, and mostly stick to eating whole foods. Unfortunately, my bill always includes several items that add up fast: kombucha, grass-fed yogurt, and 100% dark chocolate. It usually includes a superfood, too, such as maca powder, spirulina, or collagen. However, I don't drink alcohol, which saves SO much money! $109.82
2 p.m. — I mail a stack of self-designed business cards to a small business incubator. They're featuring my business in a gift basket they're creating to promote local entrepreneurs and artists (postage comes to $5.59). Since I'm at the drugstore to mail my business cards, I buy a bunch of cat food. I usually splurge on pricey, grain-free stuff for my cats, but every once in a while, they get the cheap stuff. They love it. It’s kitty crack. $24.52
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3 p.m. — I dive into more client work for the rest of the afternoon. Mondays are a big day for that. We have weekly email check-ins as well as monthly or weekly phone sessions. 
6 p.m. — I stop work, take a hot shower, and cover my body in, like, five different oils. I’ve never worn makeup aside from occasional mascara, but my self-care indulgence is all-natural, oil-based skin-care products. My current favourites come from Living Libations in Ontario and OSEA in Malibu. I’m in my 40s, but I’m often mistaken for younger. I credit a simple diet of whole foods, plus decades of all-natural oils, and zero makeup.  
6:30 p.m. — I do an evening yoga practice while listening to a podcast on the inner shadow work involved in manifestation.
7:30 p.m. — I prepare my usual dinner: a two-egg omelette, shiitakes and blueberries sautéed in butter, and high-fat, grass-fed plain yogurt. I pair this with a non-alcoholic stout and a Brew Dr. kombucha. I follow dinner with three small squares of 100% dark chocolate.
8:30 p.m. — I stretch a little, then do my nightly meditation practice. This usually lasts 20-some minutes, but tonight is more like 15. I then head to bed for my nightly call with my partner. Normally, we see each other seven days a week, but he's out of town right now. We email, text, and talk constantly. Are we enmeshed? Yes. But we’re okay with it.
Daily Total: $139.93

Day Two

6:58 a.m. — My morning routine is the same EVERY DAY. I love, love, love routine. Mornings are The. Best.

9:05 a.m. — Heading back to boxing class for a big sweat while punching air.

11 a.m. — And, on the dot, I'm starting my same lunch of tofu, avo, and berries. Am I weird? Yes. Do I embrace it? Oh, yeah. I’ve come to adore my quirks and unconventional, intentionally crafted life.
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2 p.m. — I buy cat litter from a local pet store. This is the ONE cat litter that the three of us (my two cats and I) can agree on. It's all-natural, made of pine, and smells good. $14.48
2:15 p.m. — I pop into a nearby Starbucks to get a bag of coffee. I prefer local places, but only Starbucks has been willing to grind whole beans for me during COVID-19. I go through phases without my beloved morning brew, but the pandemic is not one of them. $18.95

3 p.m. — I prep for the coming college term and build out online courses for my own business at the same time. I’m prepping lots of cool, bonus materials for my Zoom students while also creating self-guided courses to sell on my website. This makes being a college instructor way more fun and lucrative.

6 p.m. on — My nightly ritual of hot shower, yoga, dinner, meditation, phone call with my partner, reading, and bed truly makes me happy. Aside from teaching via Zoom, my pandemic nights and days don’t look much different from pre-'rona times. 
Daily Total: $33.43

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Surprise! Today, I actually stay in bed until the alarm at 7:30 a.m. I can't believe my cats allow this. They are bossy, vocal, and hate sleeping in. When I can sleep in, I’m grateful — after a lifetime of insomnia, I never take rest for granted. I got sober in February, and since then sleepless nights are rare. I didn't have a "problem" with alcohol and rarely drank more than two glasses of wine with dinner, but I knew my life would be better without it. And it is! I have better sleep, energy, and skin, way less anxiety and depression, and more self-confidence and a stronger sense of self-worth. I'm also more in touch with my intuition, able to go deeper in meditation and yoga, and have removed a block to manifesting what I want. It's been the most transformative thing I've done to up-level my life.
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9 a.m. — The rest of the morning and early afternoon unfolds like clockwork. I feel slight stress knowing the summer break is nearly over. Though I do enjoy teaching and get A+ student reviews, I sure do prefer being 100% in charge of my own schedule. Also, teaching up to six hours of class a day takes a lot out of me. Really, interacting with anyone for that long does. I’m one of the biggest introverts I know (in case choosing to not live with my husband didn’t give that away). Plus, when I teach or work with clients, I’m all in. It’s a lot.
2 p.m. — Okay, so I guess I spend way too much time and money shopping for my cats. This round is from another, larger pet shop. Letting them puke up the cheap crap food each day is too much, so I get them the good stuff to alternate feedings. $52.54
3 p.m. — I devote the afternoon to more school prep, which helps steady my back-to-school nerves. Otherwise, the rest of the evening is gloriously all mine.

Daily Total: $52.54

Day Four

6:58 a.m. — Back on schedule. Up before 7 a.m. All is well. 
1:30 p.m — I have a client session while taking a walk outdoors. My place is a short distance from a park and the sea. I love doing consults while walking. It lets me listen more deeply and help more fully.
2:30 p.m. — I order a book online. Since I got sober, I've been devouring books. My new purchase is The Buddha and the Badass: The Secret Spiritual Art of Succeeding at Work by Vishen Lakhiani. I was hooked after hearing him on a recent podcast. $35.60
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3 p.m. — I make another Amazon purchase (on account of having a temporary free Prime membership, which I would never pay for). I splurge on a fancy maca and cacao superfood powder ($22.06), along with a pack of Post-it notes ($9.99), which I use to make daily lists and write mantras. It’s weird for me to make two online purchases in a day (or even a week, for that matter). It’s also out of character for me to order from Amazon. I think it’s back-to-school stress. $32.05

Daily Total: $67.65

Day Five

6:58 a.m. — I try to avoid social media during this time aside from posts for my business. More generally, I’ve been making a concerted effort to stay away from Facebook and Instagram except for occasionally checking in for my business. I follow 111 people on Insta and curate my consumption of social media and news rigorously and radically. There’s just not enough time or energy in my life for much of it. My resolve slipped at the start of COVID, but I’ve redoubled my efforts this past month. Better to keep books around and read those instead.
12 p. m. — Walking around downtown Victoria before a hair appointment, I pop into a local shop and see adorable, locally made earrings. I buy two pairs — my first new earrings in over a year. When it comes to "stuff," I'm a longtime minimalist and rarely make random purchases like this. After getting the earrings home, I like but don't love them and kinda wish I'd waited. Still, I feel good about supporting other small business owners. Lots of folks are struggling right now. $59.14
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12:45 — I get a haircut. Pre-COVID, I got my very short hair cut every three weeks, but I'm growing it out now, and I wait a couple of months between cuts. The total is $57.75, and I add a $10 tip. Haircuts feel like such a self-care luxury these days! Plus, I adore my stylist and want to support him. $67.75
2 p.m. — I write my weekly blog post and social media shares, along with scheduling Friday’s newsletter. I usually do this earlier in the week, but I was busier than usual with course creation, and I’ve trained myself to avoid multitasking in life and business. That choice has done worlds for reducing my stress and anxiety.

6 p.m. — I'm done for the day, and I luxuriate in my evening routine. As at lunchtime, I only read fun blogs and posts with dinner. Dinnertime reading is how I discovered Money Diaries!
Daily Total: $126.89

Day Six

6:58 a.m. to 10 p.m. — I spend zero money today. Honestly, this is the case many days, although this week’s log doesn’t reflect that. Most of my money is spent on monthly and annual expenses, rather than on the daily. Since COVID-19 started, all the more so. I don't think I realized this until now. I feel a little better about my extravagant grocery habit.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:58 a.m. — Same old, same old : )
2 p.m. — Sigh. Another Whole Foods run already. This one also includes a couple of essential oils for my skin and diffuser. I avoid all artificial fragrance but love natural scents. Otherwise, my cart contains the usual lineup: tofu, avocados, berries, 100% dark chocolate, grass-fed yogurt, kombucha, sparkling water, non-alcoholic beer. The NA beer is new to me, but I'm loving it. It's from a company called Partake and, though I've never been a beer drinker, it's a nice change from super-sweet kombucha. An inordinate amount of my fridge is dedicated to tasty, alcohol-free beverages. They, like my morning coffee, make me happy. $148.36
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3 p.m. — The rest of the day follows my regular pattern. Things are a bit different when my partner is in town and when college is in session, but I still spend huge amounts of time alone. Above all, my morning, lunch, and evening habits are non-negotiable. You could chalk it up to being in my 40s, except that I’ve always been this way, even when living abroad. It helps me show up fully for what’s important and gives my body-mind-spirit exactly what it craves and needs.

Daily Total: $148.36
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