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A Week In Western Quebec On A $161,000 Joint Income

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 evaluation specialist working in the non-profit sector who has a $161,000 joint income and spends some of her money this week on a new car.

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Occupation: Evaluation Specialist
Industry: Non-Profit
Age: 26
Location: Western Quebec
My Salary: $82,000
My Partner, T.'s, Salary: $79,000
Net Worth: $219,000 (We have $23,000 in savings for our wedding, house expenses, and emergencies, $38,000 in savings for retirement, and approximately $150,000 equity in our house, plus a car that would sell for $33,000. T. and I make similar salaries, so we split everything equally and consider our money shared.)
Debt: $225,000 ($200,000 owing on the mortgage and $25,000 on the new car)
My Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,140
My Partner's Paycheque: $2,104
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,323 (we overpay by $100)
House & Car Insurance: $212.57
Hydro: $145
Internet: $86.18
Appliances Loan: $94.66
House Cleaner: $140
Alarm System: $45.99
Car Payments: $494.80 (We split this evenly.)
Both of Our Phones: $140
Health Insurance: $0 (Our employers fully cover both of us.)
Donations: $24 (Patreon and dog rescue)
Combined Pensions: $622 (T. contributes 3% of his paycheque with a 5% match, and I contribute 6.5% and have a defined benefit so I'll get a percentage of my salary for the rest of my life when I retire based on my income and years of service.
Savings: $2,200

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 got good grades and liked learning, so my parents assumed that I would attend university and likely grad school. They never pressured me, but they discussed university as the main option.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
When I was four years old, my parents set me up with a bank account, and I received money for chores that I would use for fun things, like candy. My parents would also get my brother and me bonds occasionally, so we could see how interest worked.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first official job was at Tim Hortons when I was 16. Before that, I was the neighbourhood babysitter. I got the job because it seemed like the thing to do, and I wanted more money to do things with my friends and pay for a new phone.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I was pretty unaware of money. I always had everything I needed, got a lot of my wants, and we were able to take vacations, play sports, and buy new clothes for school. I really didn't know how much things cost. When I got older, I realized how privileged I was.

Do you worry about money now?
Money isn't a big stressor currently, but it's on my mind frequently. I know that I have enough to cover my bills and extra expenses, but I worry that I'm not managing my money properly to meet long-term savings goals. I also worry about how our finances will change when we have kids.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became mostly financially responsible for myself when I started grad school at age 21. My parents still paid the interest on my student line of credit and helped me out occasionally with plane tickets home. I technically became fully financially responsible for myself when I paid off my loans at 24. I do have a financial safety net in my family, and I know my partner could support me if necessary — and vice versa.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents paid for my rent in undergrad, paid for part of my tuition, and covered the interest on my student loans until I paid them off.

How did you buy your home?
My partner and I bought a three-bedroom semi-detached house in 2019 for $215,900, which we're so grateful for now because we got in on the market before it exploded. Previously, we lived together in a tiny apartment where we each paid $450 a month. The low rent allowed me to pay my student loan while still saving for a downpayment. At first, I put aside $500 a month, and then, once my student loan was paid off, $1,000 a month. My partner also saved $1,000 each month. When we bought, we only put down 5%, so just under $11,000, and then also had to pay around $2,000 in closing fees and welcome taxes. We considered putting down 10%, but we had also just gotten engaged and needed to ensure we could pay for a wedding. In hindsight, we should've put 10% down because COVID postponed the wedding, but c'est la vie. We didn't get help from family with the downpayment, but we did get a generous gift of $4,000 from my partner's father to help with wedding and house costs, and we did ask my parents if they could help us out with a loan should we face unexpected expenses, which we luckily didn't. 

Day One

6:45 a.m. — I wake up early because we have a technician coming at 7 a.m. to install our new dishwasher (pre-paid). I look out the window at 6:55 a.m. and see that the van has arrived already — of all the times to be early! T. and I hop out of bed to greet the technician, and I take our dog, F., on a walk in the rain, so she won't bark at him. It starts pouring, so I end the walk carrying F. home under the umbrella.
8 a.m. — The dishwasher is installed, and we notice the items under our kitchen sink are wet for some reason. Turns out, the faucet has been leaking and corroded the back of our counter. Fun! T. takes a look at it while I have a meeting with my manager.
9:30 a.m. — Out of my meeting, I make a bagel, a Nespresso coffee, and a yogurt parfait. T. calls a plumber who is coming tomorrow to fix the countertop and install a new faucet. I'm pretty annoyed at the cost, which will be over $500, but I'm into the idea of a new faucet — the exciting things you buy in your mid-20s, I guess. T. runs out to get the new faucet from Home Depot. $240.35
12 p.m. — I grab my yoga mat for a home workout. I do a Jake DuPree full-body session. Their Patreon workouts are my favourite. They're high-energy and always leave me feeling like I had a good workout but also energized. Afterward, I make a chicken and salad wrap with fries from last night's leftovers and eat it at my desk.
4:30 p.m. — Work is finished, and T. opens a bottle of wine. I take a glass to the bath and use a Lush bath bomb to relax while reading People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry.
5:40 p.m. — I'm making peppers stuffed with spinach, artichoke, and chicken. They turn out quite well, but I miss the carbs that are in our usual recipe for stuffed peppers. After dinner, I FaceTime with one of my friends for about an hour, then do my skin care (wash with Lush Angels On Bare Skin, use a toner from The Ordinary, and finish with Nivea moisturizer), and go to bed.
Daily Total: $240.35

Day Two

7:05 a.m. — My unwelcome alarm goes off. I scroll on my phone for a few minutes, then throw on sweatpants and a sweater to take F. for a walk. Once we're back, I make a smoothie for T. and me and let F. into our room to cuddle. We turn on the radio, and I grab my laptop to start going through emails.
8:25 a.m. — I make myself a latte and half a sesame bagel with cream cheese and settle into the home office. There are no meetings today, so I plan to do data analysis and review reports (mixed with some Instagram scrolling, of course).
11 a.m. — My morning snack is biscotti, carrots with hummus, and trail mix.
12 p.m. — I change into workout clothes and grab my yoga mat to do a Kayla Itsines abs and cardio workout. The plumber comes partway through, so I bring F. with me and throw her ball between exercises. She likes to be involved in everything, which probably wouldn't be appreciated by the plumber. After reinforcing our counter and installing our new faucet, the plumber leaves, and we're $340 poorer. $340
2 p.m. — Lunch is leftover stuffed peppers and a handful of tortilla chips. After eating, I take a quick work break to shower. I just got a new body conditioner and I'm super excited to try it! Also, I put leftover rotisserie chicken in the crockpot with seasoning to make broth for a soup.
4:30 p.m. — I drive to the mall to find a new bra ($4 for parking). I strike out at a few stores. Apparently, no one is catering to the itty bitty titty committee right now. I stop by The Bay to see if they have part of the gift I want to get T. for his birthday, but no luck. I go home reminded that online shopping is so much better. $4
6:15 p.m. — Dinner is gnocchi with sage, white beans, arugula, and chicken. I pair it with a dill ranch salad from Costco and a glass of wine. T. and I are going to start shopping for a new car tomorrow, so we discuss our key comparison points. After dinner, we turn on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I've insisted on watching Season 7 again before we start Season 8 because I'm not ready for it to end. While watching, I order a bra and five pairs of underwear from Aerie. $88.37
10 p.m. — I do my skin care, which is just Lush Angels On Bare Skin and Nivea moisturizer tonight, then scroll on my phone before bed.
Daily Total: $432.37

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up and throw on sweats to take F. on a walk. It's super foggy out, and F. growls at the fog while sniffing. I don't love it. After our walk, I go for a short bike ride and see that a crazy, absolutely huge house in a nearby neighbourhood is for sale. I eagerly pull up the listing. The inside is all marble, glass, and crazy colours. It's... a lot.
9:30 a.m. — I get ready to go car shopping: body shower, loosely curl my hair, and apply makeup, which consists of NYX primer and foundation, Hoola bronzer, NYX blush, highlighter, eye shadow, mascara, and setting spray. I'm a walking NYX advertisement. I put on plaid pants, a white camisole, a black denim jacket, and white Vans. We can't decide what to make for breakfast, so obviously we stop at McDonald's on the way to the Subaru dealership. I get an egg-and-chicken combo with a latte, and T. gets an egg-and-bacon combo with orange juice. $10.76
11 a.m. — We arrive at the dealership. We're hoping to get a plug-in hybrid car, but there aren't many available. The Subaru hybrid is nice, but we decide it doesn't have enough trunk space.
1 p.m. — Our next stop is Mitsubishi to test-drive an Outlander. We price out a few options and decide to take a couple of days to think it over. Then we stop at Hyundai to ask about their hybrid, but the salesperson says they won't have one for a few months at least.
2:30 p.m. — We go to a bistro, check in with our vaccine passports, and grab a seat on the patio. I have a gin drink, T. has a Black Velvet, and we split a basket of fries. $33.24
4 p.m. — Back at home, we play fetch with F., then look at reviews of the Mitsubishi. They're just okay. We don't want to commit to the price of a new car if it's just okay. Unfortunately, the Outlander is one of the few hybrid SUVs available to us, so we might have to settle for a non-hybrid, which is upsetting. I really want to be more eco-friendly when driving.
6:30 p.m. — F. destroys her toy, gets the squeaker out, and goes absolutely nuts. T. and I play with her while chatting about cars, then order pizza from our local pizza place. We walk over with F. to pick it up. When we're back, we eat while watching Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father. $43.62
8 p.m. — I take off my makeup (Boscia makeup remover) and do my skin care (regular face wash and moisturizer plus a Glen Cocoa Lush face mask). F. is still chasing her squeaker around. I'm guessing she'll sleep in tomorrow.
10 p.m. — T. takes F. out to the bathroom and her squeaker “mysteriously disappears.” F. is disgruntled when we put her to bed without it. I read my book and go to sleep around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $87.62

Day Four

7 a.m. — Why is it so difficult to get up at this time during the week, but somehow it's my natural wake-up time on weekends? I try to sleep until 8 a.m. and then scroll on my phone. F. gets out of her cage to cuddle, then T. takes her on a long walk. While they're walking, I do a French lesson.
10 a.m. — I eat leftover pizza and have a coffee, then T. and I pack the car with leftover renovation materials, old electronics, and large recycling items to take to the eco-centre. If you live in our city, you can take your old materials to the eco-centre, and they'll be recycled properly for free, which I love. Tossing old pieces of flooring into the bins, I joke to T. that I feel so masculine.
11:45 a.m. — Once we're home, I call my aunt to chat, then join T. for Sunday football. We cheer for rival teams, and football typically takes up most of our time on Sundays. While watching, we snack on chips and popcorn, then heat up leftover gnocchi from Friday. I also drink a glass of wine and a sour beer, and T. has a few regular beers.
4:30 p.m. — Both our teams lose. Pain.
5:30 p.m. — We make garlicky tofu with quinoa, dill ranch salad, and buttery green beans for dinner and eat while watching the afternoon football game. At one point, we order a book about coffee for T.'s dad to go with the Le Creuset mugs we bought him for Christmas. We definitely don't shop for Christmas this far in advance, but we saw the mugs at Costco a few weeks back and thought they were perfect. $28.92
8 p.m. — The game is over, and we're footballed out. I finish the dishes from dinner, then do my nighttime skin care, and settle in bed to read my book.
Daily Total: $28.92

Day Five

7 a.m. — I get up and put on a workout set and a sweatshirt to take F. for a walk. (I'm hoping that the workout clothes will motivate me later.) When I get back, I unload the dishwasher and make a smoothie, then let F. in the bedroom to wake up T. I grab my laptop and start going through emails while listening to the radio.
8:30 a.m. — I make a latte and have it with a biscotti while settling into the office. I get an urgent request from my manager that derails my plan to exercise this morning, but I manage to finish it up just before noon and still get in a quick full-body workout.
12:35 a.m. — I hop in the shower for a speed clean, half-dry my hair, and throw on jeans and a pink bodysuit. I love working from home because no one on Zoom can tell that my hair is wet in the back. I rush back to my desk for a 1 p.m. meeting.
2 p.m. — My meeting was camera-off…really glad I rushed. I heat up leftover tofu, quinoa, and green beans, then top off lunch with a lemon cookie and half a cake pop.
4:30 p.m. — I call it a day, paint my nails, and play fetch with F.
5 p.m. — We go out for another test-drive, this time a Honda. We've given up on the hybrid dream but found some more eco-friendly cars.
7:30 p.m. — And we bought a Honda CR-V! It's $39,225, but we trade in our 2015 Nissan for just under $10,000 with tax, so it works out to around $30,000. We each put down $2,500 from savings and are happy with the 0.99% interest rate, which is by far the lowest of the dealerships we've looked at. We go through the initial paperwork and set up an appointment to pick it up on Thursday! We're super excited but also feeling nostalgic for our current car. $5,000
8 p.m. — T. made chicken pumpkin curry in the slow cooker earlier today, so we just have to make rice when we get home and dinner is ready. We eat and talk about our new car!
10 p.m. — I update my budget with our new car payments ($494.80 a month split between us), and then read before bed.
Daily Total: $5,000

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm. I don't love it. After scrolling on my phone, I throw on sweatpants, a long-sleeve shirt, and a bomber jacket to take F. on a walk. It's freezing today, and I almost need gloves!
7:30 a.m. — Back from our walk, I finish up the dishes from last night, then turn on my laptop. I let F. into the bedroom and turn on the radio before having half a blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a latte. Partway through the morning, I make a yogurt parfait.
12 p.m. — I need to finish reviewing a colleague's work before 1 p.m., so I quickly heat up last night's chicken pumpkin curry and go back to my desk after eating. I finish reviewing the work and send it along just in time. My afternoon flies by, and I break only to eat chips after a particularly long meeting. At one point, T. calls our insurance company, and I'm relieved to hear our new car will only increase our insurance cost by $12 a month.
4:30 p.m. — I finish work in a funk. T. encourages me to go relax, so I take a bath with a Lush bath bomb and do a Lush Cup O' Coffee face mask (I might have a Lush problem). I finish reading People You Meet On Vacation. The ending is pretty predictable, but I love a feel-good read. Would recommend if you want something engaging but still light and happy. Afterward, I make pineapple and beef stir fry with a side of mozzarella-topped roasted zucchini. T. has a headache and lays down while I'm cooking.
7:30 p.m. — I wake up T. to watch Bachelor in Paradise. We're shamelessly addicted to The Bachelor; our group chat is lit every week. I find out this week's episode is three hours long, which is THE WORST, because I'm old and like to be in bed by 10 p.m.
11 p.m. — This show gets me every time with the drama. It's truly trash TV gold. I quickly get ready for bed and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — An unwelcome alarm. I have a meeting with my director today so I throw on jeans and a soft green sweater. I put a headband on because it's definitely hair-wash day. Have I mentioned I love Zoom meetings? After getting dressed, F. and I go on our walk.
7:30 a.m. — I check the mail on our walk because my Aerie package was supposed to have been delivered yesterday, but it's not here. My anxiety spikes thinking that it's lost. I wake up T. and tell him, and he calms me down. I struggle with anxiety and sometimes small things set it off for no reason. After I calm down, I make a smoothie for us and we turn on the radio.
8:30 a.m. — I settle into the office with half a blueberry bagel with cream cheese, a coffee, and a wafer to go with my coffee. I have unexpected meetings, so my morning is taken up pretty quickly.
12 p.m. — I eat leftovers from last night and am back to working on reports and analysis all afternoon.
4:15 p.m. — I go out for a short run and check the mail again. My Aerie package is in! Once I'm home, I do a Marnie Alton barre workout in the backyard, so F. can run around. Afterward, I contemplate crawling up the stairs to the shower — that girl knows how to work legs.
6 p.m. — Freshly showered, I try on my Aerie order and discover I actually ordered six pairs of underwear instead of five. Then it's dinnertime, and I make spinach and feta casserole. T. is golfing, so it's just F. and me hanging out tonight. I call my grandmother to chat while dinner is in the oven, then watch Modern Family while eating.
7 p.m. — T. comes home just before 8 p.m., and we gather additional documents for our car. I get ready for bed (regular face wash and moisturizer with toner). T. and I go to bed and chat about picking up our car tomorrow!
Daily Total: $0
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