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A Week In Vancouver, BC, On A $108,000 Salary

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Today: a planner working in marine shipping who makes $108,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on camping reservations.
Occupation: Planner
Industry: Marine Shipping
Age: 27
Location: Vancouver, BC
Salary: $108,000
Net Worth: $392,845 (the equity in my condo, plus savings, an RRSP, and investments)
Debt: $456,731 (mortgage)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $3,004
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,870 (My boyfriend, N., pays me $650 in rent.)
Strata Fees: $355
Hydro: $60
Internet: $98
Phone: $55
Extended Health Benefits: $92.94 (deducted from my paycheque)
Union Dues: $180 (deducted from my paycheque)
Pension: $371.66 (deducted from my paycheque)
Spotify: $9.99
New York Times: $21
Savings For Parents: $200 (This goes into a separate account that I don't touch. My parents don't know about it, and they probably won't ever need it, but it's there for them should anything happen.)

Annual Expenses
Home Insurance: $712

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?
Yes, almost every person in my family has a bachelor's degree, and two of my immediate family members have master's degrees, so university was a given. I decided not to pursue a master's because I didn't enjoy school, and I appreciate the financial freedom I get from working full-time. I'm extremely lucky that my parents have paid for my tuition fees.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents had different attitudes toward money. My father believed saving is the way to go, while my mother invested heavily and frequently. The conversation was never explicit — more of a learning-by-watching experience. I've inherited both of their approaches, moving my money between savings and investments as I deem fit.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a department assistant for a medical clinic. It was a work-learn program offered through my university that allowed me to make extra cash while in school. I've been on student visas since I was in high school, so working during those times was never legally possible.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not at all. We lived in a country where the cost of living was low, and my parents were reasonably smart with their money. We also had a wide safety net available to us in the form of friends and family.

Do you worry about money now?
Not so much now because my career pays well. However, money was definitely a constant on my mind when I first moved to Canada for university, back in 2012. Living frugally was difficult when I had no real income and didn't know how to live cheaply in an expensive city.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After I graduated, at 25. I was lucky to have been hired straight out of university and even luckier to have my parents as my safety net should I ever need them.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I inherited $20,000 that went toward the downpayment on my condo.

Day One

10:58 a.m. — I wake up dazed and groggy. I worked the night shift, which ended at 6 a.m. I enjoy my work, but I can't help but think I'm actively sabotaging my health with shift work. I pop a pod in the Nespresso machine and watch it work its magic. The machine was an investment, but it has paid for itself 10 times over. Last night was the last of my four-day work week, so I put on a Lush Cup O'Coffee mask (I would take caffeine intravenously if I could) and plan my weekend.
12:15 p.m. — I'm somewhat functional so I go out for a walk. It's a sunny day, and it's cherry blossom season, so the walk is invigorating. I stop by a small grocery store to get supplies (I try to support local businesses whenever I can). I walk out with my favourite kombucha, oyster mushrooms, tea bags, and a big head of cauliflower. I received Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook as a birthday gift last year, and the cauliflower recipes are always a hit. $20.97
1:47 p.m. — I get home and preheat the oven for onion rings because some days only onion rings will hit the spot. The cats are giving me the you're-starving-us-to-death-here meows, so I feed them first, then settle down with N. for onion rings and kombucha. N. recently went back to school and is stressed out between work and studying, so I help by keeping him fed and watered.
4:30 p.m. — I receive an email reminding me it's time to sign up for CSA boxes again! I absolutely love these. The produce is always fresh, and they encourage me to be a more creative cook (as one is when faced with mounds of kohlrabi). I forward the email to a friend who also lives in the area, and we catch up on life. We haven't seen each other since the pandemic began, and it's surprising how life changes, even when it feels like every day is the same.
8:20 p.m. — I make popcorn because eating is a self-loving activity in pandemic times. I settle down with a cider and a book, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. My hopes are high because A Man Called Ove is one of my favourites. Reading is my main source of entertainment, and I'm glad to have a Kindle to store all my books in a nifty little package and access the public library's ebook catalogue, too.
10:11 p.m. — N. and I chat before going to bed. I have commitment issues when it comes to writing journals (see: my piles of half-completed notebooks) so being able to unravel my day with someone has been immensely helpful for maintaining my sanity. My body craves any sleep I can get, and I fall asleep right away, despite having woken up only 12 hours ago.
Daily Total: $20.97

Day Two

6:10 a.m. — I didn't set an alarm, but I wake up at this hour anyway (something about shift work). N. already fed the cats, so I greet them and make pour-over coffee. I enjoy the ritual of making a pour-over despite it being more time-consuming than turning on the Nespresso. Over coffee, I finish filing my taxes. I've always done them myself, but last year my finances became way more complicated, because I bought my condo, started trading stocks, and opened up more savings accounts for dedicated purposes. I'm overzealous in making sure I have everything right. I receive a good return, so I plan to splurge on workout clothes and save the rest.
10:26 a.m. — I've been craving food from home, so we make a trip to a Taiwanese grocery store. I buy anything that catches my eye: various snacks, instant noodles, sausages, tea, and two pineapples. Grocery shopping isn't the same as going home for a visit, but it's the closest alternative at the moment, so I don't hold back. $151.16
11:45 a.m. — I put pork tenderloin in the sous vide machine this morning, and it's ready for a sear. I started cooking more earnestly when the pandemic began and held out on buying a sous vide machine until I saw one for 50% off. Cooking meat in it is easy and quite a fun, experimental process. We eat the tenderloin with rice.
1:42 p.m. — I feed the cats and go for a walk. My goal is to buy a notebook for book reports. I write down my observations and feelings after I finish a book, mostly to help me retain information and emotions because I mix up books and characters when I read them back-to-back. Nothing catches my eye in the stores I go into. Ultimately, it's just a notebook, but I like to convince myself that I will be more committed if I have one that's easy on the eyes (spoiler: it never works).
4:30 p.m. — At home, I make myself an open-faced smoked tuna sandwich. I signed up for a community-supported fishery program earlier this year, and it's my go-to whenever I need good-quality fish.
9:20 p.m. — I play with the cats and feed them during a break from reading. They're only kittens so they're allowed to eat however much they want, but it feels like the food is just going into a void — where is it going!? N. and I chat and opt for an early bedtime.
Daily Total: $151.16

Day Three

6:14 a.m. — No alarm again. I'm exhausted but I can't sleep in. Is this what being an adult is all about? I make an espresso and sit with it for a while, going through overnight messages from my family.
9:27 a.m. — I'm procrastinating my workout by cutting a pineapple. It's a little frustrating, and I can imagine someone throwing it into the ocean for an animated sponge to live in. I get going once the pineapple is in the fridge. I bought a pilates reformer machine at the end of last year. It was $2,900, but it has saved me a lot of money that I previously spent on a studio membership. The workout is difficult, but I motivate myself with the promise of more good food to come.
11:05 a.m. — I go for a walk. I joined a step challenge and am determined to get my 10,000 steps a day. That goal was easy to achieve before COVID times, but now that I'm at home more often, the walks have to be planned. I go to the pet supply store for snacks for the little ones. They love fish, so I buy them salmon treats ($23.50), then stop by a general store to buy a notebook for myself ($8.90). $32.40
1:25 p.m. — I take the long way home. Lunch today is vegetables roasted in duck fat and thyme with yesterday's tenderloin and rice. N. and I eat while he vents about possibly burning out. Luckily, his courses are short, but his workload is worrying all the same.
7:55 p.m. — I give my dad a call. We chat once a week when our schedules and time zones align. Tonight we talk about the shipping industry, marine conservation, and the little ledges I want to install by the windows so the cats can comfortably look outside. I haven't seen any of my family members since the start of 2020, but I'm glad they're in Taiwan where they're safe, and life has carried on as normal due to early prevention measures. I read after the call and head to bed with N.
Daily Total: $32.40

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — N. and I are both off today, so we wake up early and get ready for a hike. I nurse my coffee while I finish Anxious People. The book has ignited a whole lot of emotional responses in me. Every character is deeply relatable and their choices are made out of love, even though the decisions are flawed. The author manages to articulate that so well that it changes my view on how the people around me make their decisions. I was not ready for a feels trip this early in the morning.
11:47 a.m. — We go for our hike. On the way back, I call a local Korean restaurant for takeout. The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, but restaurants have had to adapt so quickly to the ever-changing situation. We're lucky to be able to support them and, in turn, we get delicious seafood pancakes. $57.45
3:44 p.m. — The hike this morning reminded me to make a reservation for camping this summer, so I do that and pay the $10 reservation fee. $10
7:33 p.m. — I snack on leftovers while I start a new book. It's a collection of short stories from the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. Fantasy usually isn't my thing, but the series has been a game-changer. N. and I chat before we both turn in for an early bedtime.
Daily Total: $67.45

Day Five

4:57 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm. N. is already at work, so I feed the cats, fuss over them, and have my coffee before I log in. I miss the social aspects of working in the office but am ultimately glad to be spared from having to trudge outside at this godforsaken hour.
10:28 a.m. — There's a small lull in work, so I do a cheeky little workout and prepare cauliflower to roast. Live operations can get very busy, so I take any small break I can. I finish the Korean leftovers from yesterday.
12:00 p.m. — Lunch break! While the cauliflower is roasting, I make myself instant noodles (stress eating is the name of the game today).
5:54 p.m. — Work is done for the day, and I go outside. It's no longer raining, and the walk is refreshing after being cooped up inside for a 12-hour shift.
9:22 p.m. — After a good talk, N. and I go to bed. It's been a long day for both of us.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

5 a.m. — I've never been one to snooze past my alarm, and I can hear the cats meowing for food, so I get up to make myself a coffee and give them their breakfast. N. has already left for work, so I make tea and log in to start my own workday.
11:39 a.m. — We send off a ship and wait for the next one to come in. Despite the pandemic, 2020 was an exceptionally busy year for the industry, and the momentum has followed through to 2021. All that is out of my mind, though, as I take an early lunch: sesame noodles, roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes, and leftover cauliflower. I'm digging into our shelf-stable stash, so we'll have to get groceries soon.
5:49 p.m. — I log off work and change out of my pyjamas (AKA my pandemic uniform) for a walk outside. I take the least-populated route to the market and buy sandwiches for N. and me. $12.58
8:45 p.m. — I start reading No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai per N.'s recommendation. I grind through the first few pages, but it's too emotionless for my taste, and I put it down to browse the MEC website. I buy myself three pairs of socks in anticipation of the upcoming hiking season. N. and I chat and go to bed way later than we need to. $85.51
Daily Total: $98.09

Day Seven

5 a.m. — N. is off today, but he wakes up with my alarm and takes care of the cats, while I sit with my coffee and try to wake up. I log in and take my handovers. Today is going to be a stressful day!
11:56 a.m. — It's now lunch break, so I run out to the store for a courgette, mushrooms, a head of cauliflower, peanut butter cups (which turn out to be cashew butter cups, but I ain't complaining), and a bag of onion rings. I rush home and roast veggies. While I wait, I dig into my stash of instant noodles. $21.55
5:47 p.m. — Work is done, so I go out for another walk. It's a beautiful day, and I enjoy the much-needed time to clear my head.
10:14 p.m. — It's the last day of my work week tomorrow, but I still go to sleep way too late. Oh well, better luck next time.
Daily Total: $21.55
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