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A Week In London, ON, On A $50,000 Salary

Photo: Dreamworks/Kobal/Shutterstock.
Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an editor working in media who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Shrek 2 rental.
Editor's note: This diary describes side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on what to expect after vaccination, click here.
Occupation: Editor
Industry: Media
Age: 36
Location: London, ON
Salary: $50,000
Net Worth: $182,850 (I purchased a detached house for $249,000 eight years ago, and it's worth around $350,000 now. I also have $11,500 in an RRSP and $200 in a fun money account, which will go toward a PlayStation 5.)
Debt: $178,850 (My current mortgage is $163,000, I owe $9,750 on a line of credit I used for home repairs, and I owe $6,100 on a credit card.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,487
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage & Property Taxes: $1,047
Natural Gas: $90
Electricity & Water: $130
Water Heater & AC Unit Rental: $100 (The AC unit is on a rent-to-own plan.)
Home Insurance: $95
Internet: $20 (It's usually $70, but my employer covers $50 a month through a COVID stipend.)
Phone: $30 (I have a grandfathered unlimited account that I'm holding onto for dear life.)
Veterinarian Family Plan For My Two Dogs: $66.48 (A yearly trip to the vet for check-ups and vaccine boosters used to cost me over $200 for EACH dog. This plan just spreads out the cost over the year, so I pay nothing at the actual visit when I take them. It also includes other perks like monthly nail trims and a couple of emergency appointments.) 
Hello Fresh: $120 (I skip every other week to save money.)
Netflix: $15
Crunchyroll: $8
Apple TV+: $6
Funimation: $7
Disney+: $7
Audible: $17
RRSP: $50
Fun Money Fund: $10 plus $0.50 every time I use my credit card
Line of Credit: $100

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I did a two-year college program in multimedia design and production that I paid for with a $5,000 student line of credit.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My family struggled with money due to mental health issues that prevented my mother from working for a number of years. My father worked overtime to help compensate, but my family still needed to file for bankruptcy. It wasn't until my late teens that my mom was able to start working part-time again before eventually getting back to full-time.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at McDonald's when I was barely 16 years old. I wanted to buy things for myself that I knew my parents struggled with (art supplies, computer games, etc.).

Did you worry about money growing up?
We never went hungry, but I learned how fragile a budget can be when living paycheque to paycheque. I was always careful with my belongings because I knew replacements would be expensive.

Do you worry about money now?
Rationally, I know I'm doing okay, especially compared to my peers. The financial struggles my family had during my childhood instilled certain good habits in me, such as starting an RRSP as soon as my student line of credit was paid off. However, it also left me feeling perpetually anxious about money — even when I know the situation isn't dire.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Once I had my job at McDonald's, I paid for most non-essential things, like going to the movies, fast food, and hobbies. I moved out at 22 to live with a boyfriend and have been financially independent since. I know that if I suddenly lost my house, I could stay with family, but once COVID stops making budgeting weird, I want to rebuild my safety blanket savings in case of future issues.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I originally purchased my house with a romantic partner. We split up six years ago, and it was 95% amicable. As such, we were pretty chill about splitting assets. He got the car, and I kept the house, but I was making much less than I make now, so a generous aunt gave me $40,000 to pay down the mortgage enough so that I could qualify to keep the place on my own. I intend to pay her back when I sell this house in the future.

Day One

6 a.m. — I wake up and make coffee while the dogs do their business in the backyard. Once they're done and the coffee mug is full, I park myself on the couch with my laptop. My workday starts at 7 a.m., and I have a daily virtual meeting at 9 a.m. I start early so I have wiggle room for personal online tasks, like banking. Since payday was last week, I transfer $400 directly to my credit card.
8 a.m. — I get a notice from PayPal that the "pay after delivery" charge for an Etsy order has been taken from my account. I still haven't actually received the item (a handmade paint palette), so I check the tracking and see that it finally cleared Russian customs a couple of days ago. $32.50
4 p.m. — My second vaccine appointment is after work, so I drive over to the clinic to get jabbed. While in the mandatory waiting area afterward, I putter on my phone and see that Ruggable sent me a 20% off coupon. I'm in the middle of refinishing my kitchen, so I'm weak to temptation and order a new rug ($130.49) to replace the gross one that's impossible to wash. I also order delivery through SkipTheDishes because I know I won't feel up to cooking when I get home. I get a pint from Marble Slab Creamery (cheesecake ice cream with caramel sauce, graham crackers, and brownie bits), along with two waffle bowls, and an ice cream sandwich made of peanut butter ice cream and two chocolate chip cookies ($31.45). I'm not proud of this. $161.94
5:30 p.m. — I feel guilty about my Ruggable purchase, so I make myself transfer another $400 from my chequing account to my credit card balance.
Daily Total: $194.44

Day Two

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I feel AWFUL. My immune system is on high alert after the second vaccine dose and everything hurts. I call in sick and go back to bed after setting my Slack status to "Feel like I'm dying, be back tomorrow."
11 a.m. — In a break between bouts of fever, I force myself to the kitchen for fuel. I toast a bagel and discover that the cream cheese in the fridge is oddly melty. It's not expired and tastes fine, though. Since I can't trust my own sense of temperature at the moment, I order a fridge thermometer on Amazon in case my fridge is at the end of its life. $15.82
6 p.m. — Still in a fever haze, I decide that this is the right moment to rent Shrek 2, which my movie club picked for the week as a joke gone too far. After the movie, I go back to bed. $4.99
Daily Total: $20.81

Day Three

7 a.m. — I feel mildly more human and log onto work at the usual time, catching up on the previous day's tasks and starting on the next ones. I get a shipping notice for a fridge thermometer — I forgot I ordered it in my feverish state yesterday.
11 a.m. — The dog walker comes to take the boys to the park for an hour. My ex-partner pays $30 for each bi-weekly park trip for the dogs, even though they live with me. He visits regularly to take them on long walks and helps with expenses. Occasionally, they'll spend a day or night at his place, but he lives in a high rise, so it's not the most ideal dog situation.
2 p.m. — I try to be productive, but I've developed a strong case of vertigo. I muddle through the rest of the day and barely remember to log into my virtual movie club meeting.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7 a.m. — I start the day feeling a lot better and log into work as usual.
10 a.m. — The vertigo is back in full force. I tough it out until the 11 a.m. meeting and then take another half a sick day.
12 p.m. — I force myself to do a round of dishes before falling asleep on the couch.
5 p.m. — I wake up groggy and slightly less dizzy. I scrape together something to eat — probably cereal, but it's a blur — and then stare at the television for a few hours. According to my watch history, I was watching the anime Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid but I don't really remember it. So far this week has sucked. 
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

10 a.m. — I feel human! I spend the workday catching up.
4 p.m. — By the time the day is over, I even have some energy. Ontario just entered Step 3 of reopening, and I have a post office notice, so I decide to LEAVE THE DANG HOUSE.
4:30 p.m. — The post office charges me $28.70 for customs on what turns out to not be my Etsy order. Instead, it's for an exchange on a different thing I'd already paid to ship back to the company. Had I been paying attention and checked the package before I left the post office, I would have refused to pay the customs and sent it back. Alas. $28.70
4:45 p.m. — I'm enjoying being out, so I drive to Michaels for a couple of pads of multimedia paper, small squares of leather, and fasteners for the leather (bookbinding is one of my many DIY hobbies), plus a few black fineliner pens because you can never have too many. $59.90
5 p.m. — I go through the drive-thru at Harvey's and get a hot dog combo with fries and an order of mini doughnuts. I take my dinner home and make the dogs wait patiently for me to finish eating before rewarding them each with a French fry. $12.74
Daily Total: $101.34

Day Six

6 a.m. — I'm an early riser regardless of the weekend, so I get up and make coffee. The dogs do their business and then we all curl up on the couch, me with a book and them snoring. I'm reading Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives. It's about the history and complicated dynamics of ownership, and I'm learning a lot from it. My phone dings, and I realize that in my post-vaccine haze, I forgot to skip the next Hello Fresh order, so my card was just charged for the delivery next Tuesday. Oops. Also due to the vaccine, my fridge still has the three meals from this week's order waiting, so I guess I'm cooking tonight.
6 p.m. — My Hello Fresh delivery doesn't cover the basic groceries, so I put in a pick-up order for Monday at the No Frills around the corner: milk, bread, snacks, other odds and ends, and, most importantly, coffee. I have a social anxiety disorder that makes navigating crowded spaces like the grocery store overwhelming, and the $3 pick-up fee is a more-than-reasonable cost for avoiding the noise and bustle. Since I'm planning ahead, I also call to make an appointment at the salon next week for my first haircut and root touch-up since April. $54.65
Daily Total: $54.65

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Now that I'm feeling 100% again and have caught up on errands and chores for the week, I turn my attention back to my ongoing kitchen project. My cupboards were top-of-the-line, ultra-modern laminate when they were installed in the '70s, but laminate did not last forever the way people thought it would — it's now peeling and looks generally gross. Replacing them would cost me thousands, so instead, I'm repairing, filling, sanding, priming, painting, and sealing all 19 doors for around $400. I spend the morning labelling and diagramming the doors before removing them from their hinges and stacking them in the dining room. The whole time I remind myself that all this work will be worth the money I'm saving.
1 p.m. — Once they're all down, I shower and spend the rest of the day playing video games because I don't have the motivation to start the next step: scrubbing and sanding all the doors. That can be next weekend's task.
Daily Total: $0
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566 at any time or text 45645 between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET. Residents of Quebec, please call 1-866-277-3553.
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