A Week In Burnaby, BC, On A $73,316 Income

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Today: a legal assistant who makes $73,316 per year and spends some of her money this week on Open Book by Jessica Simpson.
Occupation: Legal Assistant
Industry: Law
Age: 34
Location: Burnaby, BC
Salary: $50,000 (I also get an annual bonus that ranges from $10,000 to $13,000, but I was on maternity leave last year, so I got nada.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,702.83
Child Benefit (1x/month): $443
Child Support (1x/month): $1,500
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600 (I live with my one-year-old son, T., and cat in a house owned by my parents. They have a second property in the Okanagan where they spend half of the year. For the other half, they are with me and the kiddo. We're very fortunate.)
Car Lease: $498
Car Insurance: $186
Child Care: $875
Phone: $100
Life Insurance: $13
Storage Unit: $200
Credit Card Payment: $500 (I'm paying down about $4,500 in credit-card debt that I accumulated during a relationship with someone who lost his job. I ended up footing the bill for most of our living expenses and relying on my credit card. The relationship took a negative turn, and I left him. One month later, I went to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday and get a fresh start, so the debt isn't all for nothing!)
SWEAT App: $20.98
Melissa Wood Health Membership: $13.64
RESP: $200 (For those unfamiliar, this is an education fund for my son.)
Savings: I move whatever money is left over at the end of each month. I went through a lot of savings preparing for the arrival of my son, and then took a 50% pay cut while on maternity leave for 13 months, seven weeks of which were unpaid. I've been back to work for a month now, and I'm working on building my savings back up. Currently, I have $10,000 stashed for emergencies or larger purchases.
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Day One

7 a.m. — It's Friday and my flex day! I work an extra 20 minutes per day to get one extra day off each month. The little man is awake. He's been sick with a cold and teething this past week, and he doesn't seem to be feeling any better today. Poor guy! I do a quick diaper change, and then we head downstairs for his "bubba." This kid lives for his milk in the morning, and patience isn't a virtue of his yet. I make a coffee with collagen and a splash of caramel protein drink. We turn on Dr. Phil that I PVR'd earlier in the week and watch while I prep mini waffles with peanut butter, jam, and banana for T. I pop him into his highchair and await the mess he'll leave all over himself and the floor. I've spent the past year as a single mom. His father, M., and I went through a rough patch and don't live together, but we're working on our relationship and co-parenting our son.
12 p.m. — I have an appointment to get my car serviced. A keyless entry alert light has been illuminated on my dash for the last week, so I have to get it checked out. My SUV is two years old, so the service will be under warranty. My mom is going to watch the kiddo while I run out. I would bring him with me, but he's still not feeling well and is extra tired and cranky. Plus, with all this COVID-19 stuff, I'd rather keep him home. I have a little extra time and stop at a Starbucks drive-thru for a coconut milk matcha latte and use my Starbucks app, which is preloaded, so the $5.35 is taken care of.
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1:30 p.m. — Turns out, there's an issue with the keyless entry sensor in my door handle. The dealership has to order one for me and will call next week to book another appointment. I'm annoyed, because I really don't have time to go back. Weekend appointments are booked solid, and the dealership closes at 5 p.m., so this doesn't work with my schedule. It's payday today, so I run to the bank to deposit my paycheque. I wish we had automatic deposits. Next door to the bank is a florist, and I pop in to grab a bouquet for my mom. Right now, she watches my son three days a week. He's in daycare the other two. She won't let me pay her, because she says it's what grandmas do. My son is my parents' first grandchild, so the novelty hasn't worn off yet. I grab a bunch of white flowers, pay, and hop in the car to go home. $24
5 p.m. — I'm off to a chiropractor appointment. The kiddo went down for a nap around 3:30 p.m. and hasn't woken up yet, so my mom offers to keep an eye on him. I truly am blessed. I had a traumatic delivery when I had T. He did some damage, and I already had one surgery last summer. I'm scheduled for a second next month and will likely need a third. My tailbone also took a hit, so I've been seeing my chiropractor for adjustments, which have been life-saving. Without them, I literally wouldn't be able to sit. I commute an hour each day for work and also have a desk job, which aggravates things. The charge is $50, which will be reimbursed by my extended health plan through work.
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5:30 p.m. — On the way home, there's a Neapolitan-style pizzeria I've been meaning to try. I call my mom to see if her and my dad would like anything. We go with their eight-slices-for-$20 special (tax and tip included). I grab a few veggie slices (I eat chicken, fish, and some beef, but no pork), Hawaiian for my parents, and another meat option. I'll feed the kiddo oatmeal. He hasn't been into eating because of his teething, and at least I know he'll eat that. $20
Daily Total: $44

Day Two

10:30 a.m. — M. and I are taking T. to an indoor amusement park that has an area for toddlers. He's been cooped up all week and seems to be feeling much better today. I pack up his food, milk, water, and snacks for the afternoon and get him into the car. We pick up his dad and drive 35 minutes to the amusement park. Admission is free, but you have to load money onto a card to use the games and activities. M. loads $20 onto a card, and we head to the toddler area. We spot a mini-carousel and put T. on. He isn't too sure about it. Next is a Bob the Builder digger ride, which he loves, followed by a toy pony ride. He seems to be getting tired, so we put him in his stroller and check out the adult area. We both take a turn in the batting cage, where I surprise myself and actually manage to hit some balls.
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12 p.m. — M. wants to take T. on a go-kart ride, but he's too young, so M. goes solo, while T. and I head over to the viewing area. Kiddo thinks the go-karts are pretty cool. Even though M. and I had a rocky period, I'm happy to see the bond he has with T., and I'm glad we can do family activities together.
12:30 p.m. — The three of us go to the restaurant next door for lunch. I order soup for T., although I packed lunch for him as well. He refuses to eat anything, so we settle on a fruit and veggie pouch and milk. I order fish and chips and a coffee, and M. orders a breakfast special and coffee. The bill comes to $58, including tip, and M. pays.
2 p.m. — Gas is cheaper in this neighbourhood, so I fill up. I had about a quarter of a tank, and the bill comes to $52. I spot a Dairy Queen and NEED a root beer milkshake. We go to the drive-through, and I order a small ($5). I'm on a mission to gain weight, because I lost too much postpartum. Who knew that could be an issue? The milkshake is too sweet and disappoints. After DQ, we drive to a car dealership. M.'s truck was stolen a month ago, and he's looking for a replacement. After a month-long hassle with ICBC (BC's insurance organization), he finally received his payout. $57
3:45 p.m. — We're back in my neighbourhood now. Daycare emails and asks that I bring in more diapers and wipes, so we head to the grocery store. I leave T. sleeping in his car seat with M. while I run in and grab a jumbo box of diapers in a size larger than he's currently wearing ($34.38). Our child, while only one, is actually the size of a two- or three-year-old kid. He's tall and 30 pounds! I also notice cute shorts (two pairs for $21) and pants ($16.80) for him, so I grab those, too. I pass Open Book, the new Jessica Simpson memoir displayed at 30% off ($25.72). I've been meaning to read it, so I pick up a copy. I'll sell it on Facebook once I've read it. Normally, I would just download it to my Kindle, but this way I can make money back. I also grab a few toddler snacks ($20.72) and then hit the checkout. I hop in the car, drop off M. at his rental vehicle, and go home for the day. $118.62
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Daily Total: $175.62

Day Three

11 a.m. — It's Sunday, and I have an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar to have the rear camera on my phone looked at. My AppleCare is about to expire, and I've put this off long enough. I pack up the kiddo, along with snacks and lunch, and we drive to the mall. I'm told the problem is likely a software issue. To fix it, I have to wipe my phone to factory settings and start over at the risk of losing everything on my phone. My phone plan is ending soon, and I've been thinking about upgrading to the iPhone 11 Pro. The tech at the store recommends that if I'm getting a new phone, I should wait to wipe my current one. He makes a note in my file to extend my AppleCare by another month. So nice of him! I have some thinking to do.
12 p.m. — M. meets us at the food court. T. can be challenging at times, so it's nice having his dad around, so I can run errands. I go to Jugo Juice and grab a Clean Kick smoothie for myself and a strawberry-banana smoothie for the kid. M. declines one. $9.79
12:30 p.m. — The next stop is London Drugs to buy a birthday card for my best friend. I also grab more fruit and veggie pouches and snacks, teething crackers, a box of Pete's Coffee K-Cups, and lip balm. By this time, T. is tired and antsy, and it's time to get him home for his nap. We stay in for the rest of the day. $28.74
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Daily Total: $38.53

Day Four

6:04 a.m. — It's Monday already. The weekend flew by. I'm up, and T. wakes up with my alarm. He won't sleep in his crib in his own room, so he goes to sleep in his playpen next to my bed. By 12 a.m., he cries and ends up in bed with me. This has to stop ASAP. I like the cuddles, but this kid kicks and flops around in his sleep and keeps me up all night. Momma needs some sleep! I change his diaper and plop him in his playpen. I turn on Little Baby Bum or LooLoo Kids for him to watch while I get ready. I hop in the shower, realize my hair needs washing (I wash every other day), and try to hurry. I do my makeup (foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, brows, shadow, cat eyeliner, mascara), dry my hair, plug in my flat iron while I brush my teeth, then straighten my hair. The texture changed postpartum. It's now coarse and prone to fly-aways. I get dressed in houndstooth pants, a black turtleneck sweater, and black leather booties.
6:55 a.m. — I take my son downstairs and make his bottle. My mom watches him Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so she comes downstairs and takes over around 7:15 a.m. I load my Starbucks card with $10, throw on my coat, kiss T. goodbye, thank my mom, and head out the door. I allow myself Starbucks twice a week, and I pull into the drive-thru to order a whole milk, half-sweet vanilla latte and a Greek yogurt parfait. I turn on a podcast for the drive. Today it's Better Together With Maria Menounos. I'm all about health, wellness, and mindfulness. Before the baby, I used to meditate and journal daily. I need to integrate those practices back into my life. $10
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8:10 a.m. — I work for a few lawyers, and they've left a ton of files on my desk over the weekend. I eat my yogurt and drink my latte while reading through my work emails.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! If I have leftovers, I'll bring them, but usually I buy lunch. It often works out to be cheaper than buying groceries that I end up throwing away. I walk to Freshii and order a Fiesta Salad with hard-boiled egg. While walking back, I remember that I forgot to take my meds. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety nine months after my son was born. I saw a psychologist weekly for a few months, and I also take an antidepressant. Fortunately, I keep a stash in my desk. Getting used to working after more than a year off has been hard. I miss my kid. I'm tired. I feel guilty. It's a lot to balance. Without family help, I don't know if I could cope. M. sees T. on weekends, but works 14-hour days during the week and doesn't get off work until well past his bedtime. Our plan is to eventually live together, so M. can be there to help. We're taking things slow to ensure it's the best choice for all of us. At my desk, I FaceTime with T. $11.11
4:30 p.m. — I finish work and start my hour-long commute. Traffic is the shits. This is the worst part of each day. I like my job and really adore my co-workers. My boss is good to me, and I have a decent amount of flexibility, but the commute drains me and takes away from time with my son. I arrive home, start the evening routine of dinner, clean up, play time, bath, read a story, snuggle, and hopefully get the kid to sleep at a reasonable hour. He hates going to bed, so getting him to sleep can be quite the process.
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9 p.m. — I have a quick body shower, get into my PJs, and climb into bed. I catch up on 90 Day Fiancé, my guilty pleasure.

Daily Total: $21.11

Day Five

6:04 a.m. — My alarm goes off. Of course my son ended up in bed with me. I do a diaper change and turn on Little Baby Bum, then head to the bathroom for a quick shower, plus hair and makeup time. I curl my hair quickly and throw on black paper-bag pants, a white T-shirt, and a grey boyfriend blazer. I like dressing for work again after so many days in leggings during mat leave. It's daycare day, so I dress my son in daycare clothes and make myself a coffee with collagen and caramel protein drink to go. Bless my angel of a mother: She's offered to do the drop-offs and pickups for the next little while. My son is having a hard time transitioning to daycare. Her doing drop-offs and pickups means he's there for six hours as opposed to 10 if I were to do it.
7:10 a.m. — I turn on another podcast. This morning it's Almost 30. The only perk to my commute is the ability to listen to podcasts while I drive.
12:15 p.m. — After a blur of a morning, I heat up chicken stir fry leftovers for lunch and walk to the grocery store to pick up mini yogurts, bread, organic homogenized milk, blueberries, and strawberries for my son. I head back to the office for our weekly staff meeting. $17.85
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6 p.m. — My aunt and her boyfriend are visiting from California, so we get together with them, my parents, and my brother and his girlfriend for dinner at our house. We catch up and eat a yummy dinner of stuffed chicken breasts, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, and salad. And wine of course. My aunt hasn't seen my son since he was five months old, so she's amazed by how big he is. Pictures don't do him justice. After dinner, I head upstairs to give the kiddo his bath, then we do jammies and bedtime. He's wound up, and it takes a while for him to finally settle and sleep. Everyone leaves around 9 p.m. I shower and head to bed with my current read, Leave Me by Gayle Forman. It's the story of an overwhelmed mom and wife who suffers a heart attack and ends up leaving her family. So far it's a good, easy read.
Daily Total: $17.85

Day Six

5:50 a.m. — I'm up earlier than usual, and I try to be quiet so my son stays asleep. No go. He's awake. I do a diaper change and put on Little Baby Bum to start his day. I wish he would sleep longer in the mornings. We're trying to sleep train, but it hasn't been going well, clearly. At least these shows are educational. Today's episode is about the alphabet. I proceed with my usual morning routine. Grandma has T. today, so he gets to stay in his PJs and play with his cars. I'm off by 7:05 a.m.
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8 a.m. — I arrive at work early and make myself oatmeal in the office kitchen. I keep packets in my desk cupboard, along with snacks. I'm always the first one at the office, and it's nice to have quiet time. I log into my CRA account to see the status of my income tax return I recently submitted. This is the first tax year that I've been able to claim my son as a dependant given that I'm a single mom. As a result, I'm pleasantly surprised to find out I'll be receiving a decent tax refund! I was so worried, because I've heard horror stories of women owing money after maternity leave, because the government doesn't deduct enough taxes from parental leave pay. The CRA message says I should have my refund within two weeks. Nice!
9:30 a.m. — One of the lawyers brings in Timbits. How thoughtful! Or it could be a bribe. I guess we'll see. I grab a birthday cake Timbit and a chocolate one.
12 p.m. — During my lunch break, I run to Dollarama and buy a Baby Shark colouring book, crayons, and a MOM mug for work. The kids do arts and crafts at daycare, and I want to have a few things for him to keep it up at home. $5.25
12:30 p.m. — I grab myself a veggie sub from Subway and go back to the office. I also have SunChips at my desk. $5.23
4:50 p.m. — On my way home, there's an accident, and traffic is barely crawling. I turn on an audio book, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I love her! I rotate between audiobooks and podcasts during my commutes.
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8 p.m. — After running through our typical evening routine, T. is fast asleep. I do a Kayla Itsines post-pregnancy workout from the SWEAT app. Today it's legs and abs. I have Diastasis Recti, which is basically a separation between the ab muscles. (Thanks, pregnancy!) I've been working on closing the gap. It's getting much better thanks to these workouts. I try to do at least two a week. I love that they're only 20 to 30 minutes each. That's all I can muster. I hope in time I'll have more stamina and energy. I'd eventually like to try Kelsey Wells's PWR program, also part of the app.
9:15 p.m. — After a shower, I crawl into bed and realize I need to make a Sephora order. I have an online credit of $91, and I'm out of a bunch of items. I place an order for Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation, Kat Von D translucent powder, Ouai texturizing hair spray and IT Cosmetics Bye Bye under-eye concealer. After my credit, the total comes to $78. Then I catch up on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. $78
Daily Total: $88.48

Day Seven

6 a.m. — It's daycare day, so I get T. dressed and bottled up. It's LooLoo Kids cartoons this morning while I rush to get myself ready. I then head downstairs and pack up my son's lunch for the day. His daycare provides snacks twice a day, so I don't need to pack a lot. Today, it's a carrot muffin, cheese, grapes, a mini yogurt, and a fruit and veggie pouch along with a cup of milk. My mom comes down and takes over, and I get extra kisses from the baby before heading out the door. Thankfully, he's starting to get more comfortable at daycare.
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7:20 a.m. — I pick up a latte from Starbucks and opt for a reduced-fat turkey-bacon breakfast sandwich to eat at my desk. I listen to another episode of the Better Together with Maria Menounos podcast on my drive. $10.87
10:15 a.m. — I'm working away and remember that I have to order shoes for my son. He has big feet for his age, and it's hard to find shoes that fit. The best I've found are Nike FlyEase, because there's a zip around the shoes that makes them easy to put on. I go to Nike.ca and find what I'm looking for. The total after shipping is $61.95. He's almost walking, so decent shoes are a must. $61.95
12:30 p.m. — We're ordering food from the Cactus Club for a lunch-and-learn session. I get the chicken tenders with Parmesan dip and a side kale salad, which is my favourite. The firm covers the bill. We eat and discuss class action protocol. Thrilling.
2:30 p.m. — Back at my desk, I go online and make a ferry reservation for the Easter long weekend. M. and I are taking T. to Victoria. The cost is $20 to reserve the return trip. It'll be another $91.90 at the terminal. I then reserve the hotel. There's no charge for this until we check in. It'll be $369.48 for two nights, and M. and I will likely split the cost. $20
5:45 p.m. — Back at home, I make a quick dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup (gourmet chef over here). I'm not that hungry and I know my kid will eat this meal. It's one of his favourites. We eat, clean up, play with cars, then it's off to have a bath. Once he's jammied up, we Skype his dad for a few minutes. We do this every night before he goes to bed. At least they can have some contact each day.
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8:30 p.m. — T. is finally asleep. I check the mom group I belong to on Facebook. It's quite entertaining. I decide to skip the Kayla Itsines workout tonight in favour of a 15-minute Melissa Wood workout. I love her! She's so calming and positive, which helps with my anxiety. I hop in a hot shower afterwards and then feel motivated to do a quick guided meditation. I either use the Calm App or the Insight Timer app. Melissa Wood also has great meditations available on her app. I hope, in time, that my days will feel less rushed, and I can be more present. It's a work in progress.
11 p.m. — I get wrapped up in Married at First Sight. My television choices during the week are so educational. I also love Dateline, 20/20, and 48 Hours during the weekend. I read a few more chapters of Leave Me. I've started using a pink Himalayan salt lamp at night instead of my regular lamp. It's soothing and doesn't disrupt the little man. I switch it off and then snuggle under my weighted blanket, my cat at my feet. The poor guy has been a little neglected since my son came into the picture, but the two of them are starting to become buddies now, which makes my heart happy.
Daily Total: $92.82
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.
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If you are experiencing postpartum depression, please call the Postpartum Support Helpline at 1-800-944-4773.
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