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A Week In Calgary, AB, On A $45,000 Salary

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: a legal assistant who makes $45,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a 7-Eleven Slurpee.
Occupation: Legal Assistant
Age: 20
Location: Calgary, AB
Salary: $45,000
Net Worth: $-29,000 (I have $3,000 in various accounts.)
Debt: $32,000.00 (I have $30,000 in student debt and I owe $2,000 on a credit card.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,488.22
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,150
Electricity: $50
Internet: $110
Phone: $125
Car Insurance: $90
Health & Dental Benefits: $0 (I'm still on my parents' insurance plan.)
Student Loan: $0 (because I'm still in school)
Credit Card: $400
Spotify & Amazon Prime: $10 (student subscriptions)
HelloFresh: $160
TFSA: $200
Vacation Fund: $200 (Mexico)

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?
My parents encouraged us to pursue anything that made us happy. For me, happiness was the legal industry, and I'm still hoping to become a lawyer. I paid for my diploma and my ongoing undergraduate degree through student loans. This year, I'm so proud to say I'm only using grants to pay for my education.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents didn't speak about money with us kids. They didn't teach us the importance of saving for retirement or having anything put away for a rainy day. These are all things I wish I had known. I envy the kids who were taught about managing their finances as children.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a cashier at a grocery store. I got it so I could save money to move to Alberta on my own. I loved my job and made awesome money in high school.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. My mom always made our family feel insecure about money. She claimed to have so much debt on a line of credit and a maxed-out credit card that I felt like I couldn't ask for certain things, even if my parents could actually afford them. In retrospect, both my parents had good incomes and nice cars, and we had a nice home. We were upper-middle-class.

Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. It's nice to know that so long as I'm working, I will have a paycheque coming within the next 14 days. I live alone, and with housing costs rising, I worry about not being able to afford another place when my lease is up. My boyfriend's parents are beyond strict, so I can't move in with him and reduce my housing costs for another year. Other than that, I worry about my ability to chip away at the debt I've slowly accrued on my credit card.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became fully financially responsible at 17 when I moved to Alberta. I seriously wish I would have stayed in my home province where tuition was cheaper, and I wouldn't have had to accumulate so much debt. However, I'm happy I took that leap of faith, even if it means that I will have $80,000 in student loans by the time I'm done.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

9:30 a.m. — I'm up and at 'em for my dentist appointment. I hate the dentist and am wondering why I booked an appointment for 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday. I was out with my friend last night and didn't get home until 3 a.m. I sure regret it now. I drag myself out of bed and wash my face with one eye half-open. I use The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, The Inkey List Vitamin C Brightening Serum, and CeraVe daily moisturizer. I frantically brush my teeth, floss, and get out the door by 10:10 a.m. On my way, I realize I need gas urgently. I fill up my tank on the way. $45.58
12 p.m. — After a long hour of having my teeth scraped with a pick, I'm finally in the car on my way home, and I stop at Starbucks for an iced matcha latte. After a disappointing one last week, I relish the fact that this one is made perfectly. I get home and laze in bed until it's time for my boyfriend, A., to come over. Because of our busy schedules, we only hang out on Saturdays, and it's my favourite day of the week. $5.50
3 p.m. — A. finally arrives, late as usual. I don't mind today, though, because I'm just happy to see him. We debate what we should do, and I suggest a cool restaurant and the trampoline park. He agrees. We have time to kill before dinner, so we cuddle and fool around.
7:30 p.m. — We head to The Street Eatery. I decide on a Korean-style wrap, and he orders vegan wings and a vegan Philly cheesesteak. We both thoroughly enjoy the meal and each other's company. The bill comes to about $50. A. pays (we take turns paying for meals and dates).
9 p.m. — A. and I get stuck in traffic on our way to the Flying Squirrel trampoline park. There's a deal on, so we get two hours for the price of one, and I want to take advantage. I snap at A. to hurry up through the traffic. To be honest, my annoyance is unwarranted, but I'm a woman who likes things to go her way. Finally, we get to the trampoline park and we each pay for ourselves. We have so much fun that it's 11 p.m. before we know it, and we get kicked out. $29.40
11:30 p.m. — On the way home, we stop by 7-Eleven for Slurpees, and I pay to apologize for my temper tantrum in the car earlier. We head home and cuddle until A. has to leave at 1 a.m. (He has a curfew! Like I said, his parents are strict.) $4.91
Daily Total: $85.39

Day Two

11 a.m. — I wake up and feel genuinely refreshed for once. I lay in bed scrolling through all the social media apps and finally coax myself out of bed to do my morning routine. I have a banana–chocolate chip muffin for breakfast and play with my kitty. At 2 p.m., a lady is coming to pick up an old nightstand I posted on Facebook, and I realize that I don't have screws to fix a broken leg on it. I go to Home Depot and find the screws I need. They come to $3.12. Not too bad when I'm making $30 on this sale. On the way home, I run to the dollar store and grab a few cleaning supplies along with an aloe vera drink — my WEAKNESS ($8.62). $11.74
2 p.m. — The lady buying my side table shows up, and I put the $30 toward my Mexico fund. Now that A. and I are both fully vaccinated, he's taking me to Mexico, and I can't wait!
5 p.m. — I get ready to go for sushi with one of my close friends. I haven't gone for sushi in six months and am so excited to get all you can eat. I do my makeup, get dressed, and drive to my friend's neighbourhood. We go to Fusion Sushi and order a ton of rolls followed by matcha ice cream. We split the bill. $42.78
8 p.m. — Another one of my friends who lives in my building reminds me that we have a date to get ice cream. I reluctantly agree because I'm already stuffed. I end up getting a single scoop of cookies and cream. We sit in my friend's car and eat, then head back to our respective apartments. I do my lengthy skin-care routine, which includes CeraVe cleanser, Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid from The Ordinary, the Inkey List retinol, my tretinoin cream (I used to be on Accutane), and CeraVe, Cetaphil, and First Aid Beauty moisturizers. I know this seems excessive but I swear it works for my stubborn, dry post-Accutane skin. I hop into bed and get some shut-eye. $6
Daily Total: $60.52

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I wake up and have an extremely sore throat. I'm a bit nervous that I have COVID even though I was double-dosed a couple of months ago. I call 811 (the health line) and am advised to quarantine and be tested. I email my bosses to tell them it will be a work-from-home day and fall back to sleep until I start the workday at 8:30 a.m.
12 p.m. — It's been a slow day, and I don't have much to do. I have soup for lunch and go back to my laptop with a blanket and tissues.
3:30 p.m. — COVID TEST TIME. I'm kind of excited to leave the house. I run to my car and get to the clinic. The throat swab is very fast, and I head home to wait for my results with the biggest headache on this planet earth.
11 p.m. — No results yet. I do my skin-care routine and set my alarm for 7 a.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7 a.m. — Still no results. I email my bosses to let them know I'll be working from home again, then snooze until my alarm at 8:30 a.m.
12 p.m. — I'm still bored at work but with a bit more to do today. A. socially distantly brings me soup and an Iced Capp. He's such an angel. I blow him kisses from far away and eat my lunch.
2:30 p.m. — My COVID result comes back negative — such a relief. I text my landlord to let him know he can fix my dishwasher and also let my bosses know I'll be in the office tomorrow. I never know what to do when I'm working from home so I mostly sit on TikTok and wait for the emails to trickle in.
4:30 p.m. — I'm off for the day and decide to make delicious chili from my HelloFresh box. I love HelloFresh (not sponsored). It's just fast and convenient, and, even though it's expensive, I truly believe it saves me money in the long run! I cook it up and eat while listening to the Gals on the Go Podcast. It's one of my favourites.
9 p.m. — I have a shower and get myself ready for bed. I use my heating pad as I fight the post-shower chills. I'm out by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7 a.m. — Up and at 'em. I get dressed in a cute top and white pants from RW&Co. with a blazer from Aritzia. I make a big cup of coffee and have fruit for breakfast. A. calls, and we chat as he drives to work and I do my makeup. This is one of my favourite times of day because we don't chat much after work. I brush my teeth, pack my lunch, and am running out the door by 8 a.m.
10 a.m. — WHY DOES WORK GO BY SO SLOWLY? I snack on a muffin while I wait for more work to roll in.
12 p.m. — Finally, it's lunchtime. I have leftover chili that I warm up in the staff microwave and head to the park to eat. I call my brother, and we catch up about how everyone is doing back home. I really miss my family, and it gets hard not being with them. I'm back at my desk by 1:15 p.m. (our lunch is 75 minutes).
4:30 p.m. — Quitting time. I walk home and take the long way because being cooped up for two days has made me miss fresh (smoky) air. I get home and feel like working out. I do a Chloe Ting video and die the entire time. After that, I make dinner from my HelloFresh box. Today it's DELICIOUS pasta with shrimp (10/10). I also get a couple of people to buy my macrame hanging (for $15) and old picture frames (for $10) off Facebook Marketplace.
7 p.m. — My landlord finally fixes my dishwasher. I would rather not be in his presence, so I go grocery shopping (with a mask because the damn variant is raging here). I get basics like fruit, yogurt, oat milk, and vitamins. My total is much higher than I expect (thanks, $20 vitamins). $78.57
8 p.m. — On the way home, I get a text from a student who is interested in buying a textbook I posted. She asks if I can drop it off tonight, and I agree to sell it for $35.
10 p.m. — I'm back home, skin-cared up, and in bed. I watch YouTube and TikTok and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $78.57

Day Six

7 a.m. — BOY AM I TIRED TODAY. Fruit for breakfast and an oat milk latte. I chat with A. while I get ready. I'm wearing a cute top with black dress pants and my fake Gucci-style flats. I'm so excited for today to be over.
8:30 a.m. — I complain about having things to do and complain about not having things to do. My lawyer dumps a huge deadline on me and tells me to figure it out. I spend the whole day binding orders and documents together. It goes by faster than you could imagine. I almost forget to go for lunch.
4:40 p.m. — I'm 10 minutes past quitting time and I'm not finished my work. I decide to save the rest for tomorrow and head home. I eat yogurt and do a workout. I'm sure getting tired of doing this whole 9-to-5 thing, man.
7 p.m. — DINNER TIME! I have leftover pasta, which is even better today than yesterday, and watch Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken while I eat. I have no other plans for the night and am in bed by 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — You know the drill by now.
8:30 a.m. — Fridays are my favourite days because there's free breakfast at work. I have a bagel and sit at my desk to tackle the rest of the work from yesterday. I finish it by 10:30 a.m. and reward myself with Turkish delight and Turkish coffee my colleague brought in. They are to DIE FOR.
12 p.m. — I meet up with my friends from my old law firm for lunch. We grab sushi and Starbucks and head to the park. The hour flies by, and I'm back to work to watch my coworker's bar call. It makes me want to be a lawyer even more than I already do (something I'm working towards; I'm doing an undergrad while also working full time at the law firm). $14.44
3:30 p.m. — Quitting time! I head home and do a quick workout and eat yogurt. I relish this Friday feeling.
7 p.m. — I make a Korean dinner, which is the final recipe in my HelloFresh box. It's too spicy for my liking. Afterward, I clean up, have a shower, and shave my whole body (just in time for my date with A. tomorrow). I watch Superstore and am asleep by 12 a.m.
Daily Total: $14.44
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