A Week In A BC Ski Resort On $18 Per Hour & A $14,400 Freelance Salary

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Today: a media specialist and freelance writer working in tourism who makes $18 an hour and spends some of her money this week on jelly beans.
Occupation: Media Specialist & Freelance Writer
Industry: Tourism
Age: 27
Location: A BC Ski Resort
Salary: $18 per hour
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,185 (media), $600 (freelance writing)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $270 (This includes utilities, cable, and internet. I live with two roommates, one of whom owns the house. Rent is super-cheap here in the summer but doubles — or even triples — in the winter.)
BC Medical: $28 (My employer pays the other half.)
Canadian Pension Plan: $120
Employment Insurance: $30
Phone: $0 (My employer takes care of the bill.)
Spotify: $9.99

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Up and at 'em. My two housemates have already left for work, so I crank Gang of Youths and shower (nothing makes me happier than really loud shower tunes). I wash my hair and leave it to dry naturally, then do my make-up, grab my bag, and walk out the door.
9 a.m. — I currently live and work at a ski resort that's low-key during the summer, and my commute is a two-minute walk. Along the way, I stop to pet several dogs. Having no commute really makes me appreciate the time I have left in my day. I grew up in a major city, and it used to take me a minimum of 45 minutes to travel eight kilometres from home to work, one way!
10 a.m. — Employees get 50% off at the on-mountain café, and I go wild and buy a cheese twist AND a spinach-feta pastry. I bring my own tea bags to work, so I get the cashier to fill up a mug with boiled water. $3.56
12 p.m. — My team is hosting media partners for lunch, so we go to a restaurant on the mountain and order a bit of everything. I get an Asian-style salmon salad and a soda water with lime, and have a bite of this herb-encrusted baked brie with apricot relish. Oh Mylanta! I wish the media partners would mysteriously leave so I can finish the brie on my own, but they continue to eat it. Sad. ($46.50 expensed)
2 p.m. — My workmate/best friend and I have come up with a plan to go swimming in the lake for a cool photo shoot, even though it's a relatively bad day for it: 11 degrees outside and 4 degrees in the water. Coworkers drive us up to the lake in a side-by-side, which is super-fun, and we go for a (very, very, very cold) dip before coming back to work.
3 p.m. — I treat myself to a hot chocolate to warm up after the swim, and the woman at the café gives it to me for free because her till is down. Lucky it's free, because the hot chocolate machine is clearly malfunctioning and spits out cocoa-coloured hot water. Ew. She attempts to fix the machine and gives me a second one, which is just as bad. I throw both of them out and eat pineapple pieces I left in the work fridge instead.
6 p.m. — I was supposed to go to dinner with the media partners, but my coworker took one for the team and is going in my place, so I get to go home. The only issue is my grocery situation — it's woeful. I head to the tiny on-mountain grocery store to find dinner. I never shop here because it's too expensive — we're talking $10 for a bag of potato chips — and when I arrive it's closed. Classic ski-resort-in-summer life.
6:30 p.m. — Instead, I take my housemate's dog on my favourite hike, which goes up to the base of one of the higher-elevation chairlifts. After a broken heart and a traumatic work experience in Japan earlier in the year, I'm trying to take good care of my brain and give it a big metaphorical hug every day. Hiking has become a key part of that process. I live by this quote I saw on Pinterest once: "Go hiking, the trees will heal you."
8 p.m. — Back at home, I immediately remove my sports bra and join my housemate in the kitchen to stare woefully into the fridge. We unofficially take turns cooking each other dinner, so tonight she pulls together turkey and cheese wraps with chopped peppers on the side. We watch TLC while we eat dinner, then snack on cheese strings and popcorn. I pull out my computer to freelance while still half-watching Four Weddings.
11:30 p.m. — Three articles done. Bed.
Daily Total: $3.56

Day Two

5 a.m. — What even is this time? Not keen. I roll out of bed, throw on clothes, and put on just enough makeup to appear semi-functioning, then stand in the kitchen sipping a hot lemon water. My workmate and I are picked up and driven down the mountain for an event.
6:30 a.m. — When living on a mountain with limited food options, going to town is exciting. We go to Tim Hortons with a great deal of stoke, and I get a bagel with cream cheese and a 20-pack of birthday cake Timbits to share with workmates for the day. ($5.24 expensed)
8 a.m. — The event is full on, and I'm with the media team for the day, stress-eating Timbits as we drive around. I've been so in love with birthday cake Timbits that I even bought a birthday-cake-flavoured Balm Dotcom from Glossier a couple of weeks ago. Because who wouldn't want a lip balm that matches their favourite doughnut?
12 p.m. — The event videographer gets his drone stuck in a tree — 60 feet up in the air! We get the local fire department to try to get it out with no luck, so I have to find an arborist who can retrieve it sometime this week. My job gets random on occasion.
2 p.m. — I'm back at the office on the mountain. I pop home to switch out a contact lens that's playing up and grab a container of chopped peppers for lunch, along with cheese strings and Pringles. While I'm rummaging through the pantry, I find a buried bottle of wine that I'd forgotten and put it in the fridge for tonight. I head back to the office to eat my lazy lunch in front of my computer.
3 p.m. — I pass by the on-mountain café and buy a cheese twist to maintain my cheese twist addiction and a purple Vitamin Water. I try to avoid pop and juice, but the purple Vitamin Water looks delicious today for some reason. I pay and add a tip. $4.16
5:30 p.m. — Home time! I make good overtime so I don't mind working a longer day, and in this job, time always flies. I came on at the beginning of summer for a seasonal contract and started with so much on my long-term to-do list, but the months have been speeding past. It's a nice feeling, but I seriously need to get back onto the original to-do list because I don't have much time left.
6 p.m. — A friend and I are going to the local fire hall to have dinner with some of the firefighters. They're the nicest guys and, let's be honest, easy on the eyes. I dress up and attempt to look like a snack. The mountain is so casual that "dressing up" involves wearing cut-off denim shorts, a tank top, and an oversized flannel shirt, but with slightly more make-up than normal. I grab the cold bottle of wine and four IPAs to share, and we head up to the fire hall.
7 p.m. — The guys have gone all out with the dinner spread, a giant bottle of wine and entertainment in the form of a tour of the fire hall. We eat, drink wine, and have a lot of laughs. One of them has been texting me for a few weeks, and I've been trying to gauge his interest. I get my answer when he pulls me into a separate room at the end of the night to kiss me. Spicy!
11:45 p.m. — My girlfriend and I walk home and stay up for another two hours talking about past relationships and current head spaces while also eating pasta and attempting to sober up before bed.
Daily Total: $4.16

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Why did we stay up until 2 a.m.? I feel better than I deserve to, probably thanks to the pasta and a pre-bed bottle of water, but more sleep would've been nice.
9 a.m. — The bosses are away today, so a handful of us are going for breakfast. But then I remember that I have a 10 a.m. meeting and a bunch of boring stuff to do beforehand.
10:45 a.m. — Meeting is over, breakfast time! We head to a different on-mountain café where we don't get a discount, so it's a rare treat to go there. I get an insanely delicious breakfast bun with mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato jam, cheese, and avocado, and a soda water with lime. One of my workmates unexpectedly pays as she's gotten approval to expense the meal under "staff appreciation." (They are good to us here!)
2 p.m. — I buy jelly beans from the convenience store to keep me awake. I brought my housemate's dog to work today, and she's been asleep under my desk for two hours, which is absolutely the current mood of the office. $1.57
6 p.m. — I get home with full intentions of going for a hike, but quickly realize that it's not going to happen due to exhaustion. I put in a load of laundry instead (the washer and dryer each require $2 coins) and throw together avocado and feta on toast with a side of French beans for dinner. My male housemate and I settle in to catch up on The Bachelorette. Since moving in, he's become deeply invested in 90 Day Fiancé and The Bachelorette, much to my entertainment and his personal dismay. $4
10 p.m. — I finally get around to doing some freelance work and eat my way through the last of a Galaxy bar. My Legs Won't Stop Growing comes on TV, and my male housemate finally loses his TLC patience and goes to bed.
1 a.m. — Work done. Feeling relatively accomplished after all. Bedtime.
Daily Total: $5.57

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. It's a day off, but I check my work emails before getting out of bed, then take the dog for a loop around the resort. We lap up the sunshine.
10 a.m. — My housemate and I drive to town. Town days are always a mix of fun summer activities and errands, because there's so much you can't get done on the mountain. We start with a Tim Hortons run for bagels and — what else? —10 birthday cake Timbits to share. My housemate pays.
11 a.m. — We're throwing a Christmas-in-summer party for all our mountain friends tomorrow, and we've decided on a Yankee swap. We head to Value Village to find weird gifts, and I absolutely hit the jackpot with a porcelain doll that's at least 40 years old, still in the original box, complete with authenticity certificate and looking creepy as hell. I also pick up three books for an Alaska trip that I'm taking when my contract is up. My housemate and I can barely keep a straight face when we get to the cashier, and she compliments us on choosing such a “beautiful doll.” $26.91
12:30 p.m. — Time to get our nails did! I've been painting my nails the same shade of nudey-brown for the last two years, but the nail lady is the sweetest human on the earth and talks me into silver-glitter shellac, and I love it. I tip generously. $34.50
1:30 p.m. — Some other friends pick me up from the nail place, and we play a round of mini golf on a course that's all natural grass and beautiful lake views. We reward ourselves with an ice cream afterwards. $13.84
4 p.m. — The eight of us go to a restaurant on the water and pretend we're fancy while we order a late lunch. I get what's probably my favourite meal of all time: butternut squash ravioli with prawns in burnt butter sauce, with a soda water with lime. $28.88
6 p.m. — Time for errands. I go to Shoppers Drug Mart for shampoo and tampons. $9.31
6:30 p.m. — Going to the supermarket is equal parts exciting and overwhelming. Exciting because there are so many fun things to buy; overwhelming because if you forget something, you can't go for a quick drive to pick it up. I get bread, avocados, peppers, a cucumber, feta cheese, cheddar, apples, watermelon, a taco kit, olives, and Rice Krispies squares. Since I'm making a Mars Bar slice for the party, I also grab bulk Mars Bars, Rice Krispies, and milk chocolate bars. The peppers are super-expensive for some reason, and the cashier is actively stressed out about it. I have to reassure him that I still want them. Canadians are so nice! I'll never get over it! $71.21
7 p.m. — We pop to the liquor store. I get a couple of bottles of BC wine, Sapporo beers, and delicious ciders called No Boats on Sunday. I'm moving back to Australia soon after being away for almost five years, and I swear I will miss these ciders the most. Also the Timbits. Also my friends. But mostly the ciders. $38.53
8 p.m. — Back up on the mountain, I give the driver fuel money, because he's driving his landlord's Porsche and that thing is not cheap to fill up. $15
9 p.m. — I'm snacky as hell but feel weird about eating dinner at 9 p.m. I eat watermelon, olives, three Rice Krispies squares, and popcorn as I unpack my groceries and make the Mars Bar slice, then settle in to do some freelancing.
11 p.m. — My housemates and I are playing an evil game with each other that involves moving the porcelain doll to each other's bedrooms and propping her in creepy positions. I'm looking forward to getting her out of the house tomorrow.
1 a.m. — I stay up late booking a car rental (I'll pay upon arrival) and inquiring about hostels for my upcoming Alaska trip. I've had a mental block when it comes to this trip, maybe because I'm going with a girlfriend, and we've both been too busy to sit down and figure everything out together. But I finally make some executive decisions and feel so good about locking things down.
1:40 a.m. — Bedtime. I throw back the covers and the PORCELAIN DOLL IS IN MY BED. After a silent heart attack, I sneak it into my male housemate's bedroom and walk back to my room as a slight breeze comes through my window and gently ripples my shirt. OMG. I try to fall asleep thinking about anything besides getting murdered by a porcelain doll.
Daily Total: $238.18

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I get out of bed, get dressed, put on mascara, and head to a friend's house for breakfast. She's doing a big cook-up for a bunch of us. I have avocado smash on toast with goat's cheese, mushrooms, and chives, plus fruit salad on the side.
10 a.m. — We drive to town to go to the liquor store, where I buy a bottle of rum for a friend on the mountain, and then hit the beach. $21
11 a.m. — The beach is so good. We spend three hours lying in the water on inflatables. I would never do this in Australia without reapplying sunscreen every five minutes, but the sun in Canada is so much gentler. It's nice to not be as stressed about the UV.
2 p.m. — We head to a food truck across the road from the beach, and I buy a fish wrap with Caesar salad. $9
3 p.m. — Time to get back to the mountain for Christmas! We go past a grocery store on the way up, and I buy limes and Sprite for my friend (clearly, he's making mojitos) and parsley for my housemate who's making a zucchini pie. They might pay me back later, but they might not. They tend to forget, and I'm awkward about chasing people for money. I figure things mostly even out in the end. $7.31
4:30 p.m. — We're hosting over 30 people at my friend's house for summer Christmas, so I grab a bunch of tables and fold-up chairs from work and drop them off. Then home to shower and get pretty. I do my full makeup routine: MAC foundation, JBronze illuminator, NARS highlighter and blush, Stila eyeliner, MAC eyeshadow, and Too Faced mascara. All while pumping Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" as loudly as possible. This song always makes me want to be madly in love with someone.
6 p.m. — IT'S CHRISTMAS! The vibes at my friend's place are so fun. Sadly, while walking over to talk to my friend, I trip over a couple of dogs and fall flat on my face, scraping up my knees and toes, and smashing my cider on the concrete. I scuttle inside to clean myself up and cry a bit at the shock of it. Some of my friends come upstairs to check on me and put anti-bacterial gel on my wounds.
7 p.m. — Time to drown my embarrassment in food. I load up on turkey, black bean salad, scalloped potatoes, cob loaf, and a pizza roll. Christmas with my own family is always a small, complex, and irritating affair, so being out in the evening sunshine with friends is so much more enjoyable. I don't really have room for dessert but eat one Tim Tam cheesecake ball just to try it — delicious.
9 p.m. — We do the Yankee swap and one poor friend obviously ends up with the porcelain doll, but it does get a lot of laughs from the crowd. I get a gift voucher for one of the cafés on the mountain.
10 p.m. — Most people have left. I go inside and eat leftover cob loaf. No regrets. The firefighter from the other night is texting me, which is cute, although I'm still so hung up on my recent heartbreak that I don't know if I have the emotional capacity for anything, even if it's just a fling before I move away again. All I can do is take it one day at a time, I guess.
11 p.m. — Home in bed and so full of cob loaf. I've had a bunch of Indy Brand items in my cart forever, so I finally pay and put the order through. I buy a hat, sweatshirt, water bottle, and blanket. All perfect Alaska items. $175
Daily Total: $212.31

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — I'm having the best dream about redecorating an apartment, so it's tough to get out of bed. I get dressed, throw on some concealer, drink a lemon water, and head to work. My scraped-up leg really hurts. I texted my mum about the fall, and she texted me overnight to see if I'm up to date with my tetanus shots, LOL. Is tetanus from concrete even a thing? Surely not.
9:30 a.m. — At work, I book a fjords cruise for the Alaska trip. We're trying to go cheap on accommodation (sleeping in the car or in hostels) but big on experiences. The seven-hour cruise includes seeing a bunch of glaciers and an Alaskan salmon lunch. $220.71
12 p.m. — Lunch is leftover zucchini pie from the party. I also have an apple and a Rice Krispies treat, then, because I'm still hungry, I grab a grilled cheese sandwich from the café. They don't charge me for it, because it's a day old. My workmate and I decide to go to a movie tonight, so she buys the tickets and I transfer her money for mine. $9.23
3 p.m. — Meeting time! The lady I'm meeting wants an Americano. I don't drink coffee but feel awkward about not getting one, so I buy a hot chocolate for myself and end up throwing out most of it. ($4 expensed)
6 p.m. — We drive downtown and go out for sushi. After living in Japan, I'm a huge sushi snob, but the place we go to is pretty good and pretty cheap. I get miso soup, house-made gyoza, and sashimi. $11.67
7 p.m. — I'm not particularly excited about the movie we're seeing, but I am excited about the snacks. I buy a popcorn, a frozen Coke (that's a slushie to Canadians), and a Kit Kat and end up panic-snacking my way through all the action in the movie. $10.38
9 p.m. — We go to the supermarket on the way home, and I buy goat's cheese, olives stuffed with blue cheese, Drano, a couple of bottles of mango-flavoured sparkling water, a new go cup for tea, and a ball for my coworker's new doodle puppy. I'm really hoping to meet the pup tomorrow and hug the shit out of it. $21.50
10:30 p.m. — I settle in front of my computer and redo my résumé and my portfolio to send off for a job in Australia. The firefighter messages me to ask me to go on a hike tomorrow. I feel like it could be fun, so we agree to meet up after work.
Daily Total: $273.49

Day Seven

8 a.m. — The usual: shower, wash hair, lemon water, get dressed in my best "hiking outfit," then pack up zucchini pie and peppers for lunch before heading to work.
3 p.m. — We're doing a photo shoot on the mountain, and I get to eat a leftover veggie sandwich for lunch. It's always a good time when a photo shoot involves food somehow.
4:30 p.m. — I'm crashing so hard. This week has seriously caught up with me. I have a little desk nap in an attempt to rest for my hike afterwork.
5 p.m. — The firefighter is here! I pack my bag with water, a speaker, and two beers I brought from home, then we hike up to a lake to relax. He's such a nice guy and easy to talk to. All the wildflowers are out, and we're on this isolated trail, so it's a beautiful hike, although I do make a couple of jokes about how easy it would be for him to kill me with no one ever finding my body. (I've been listening to too much of the true crime podcast The Teacher's Pet.)
8:30 p.m. — We go our separate ways to get changed at our respective homes before meeting up again for dinner. I get home and immediately go into a hangry mood in which I want to sit on the couch and never get up again. But that might change once I've had a snack, so I make avocado on toast with goat's cheese and pour a glass of wine for myself.
9:30 p.m. — The firefighter turns up at my house, and my housemates and I are all watching 90 Day Fiancé, so he settles in with us, and I pour him a glass of wine. Food has improved my mood, but my wine remains untouched. I drink a giant bottle of water instead and eat a couple of Mars Bar bites while we all laugh over the show. I feel like this is not the date the firefighter signed up for.
11 p.m. — My housemates have gone to bed, and I'm pretty much asleep on the couch. There are also about eight pillows between the firefighter and I, because I've essentially piled them into a nest for maximum couch comfort. This is definitely not the date he signed up for. Although, to be fair, I keep topping up his wine, so it can't be all bad.
12 p.m. — He suggests that we go to bed to cuddle… Alright, sign me up. Goodnight!
Daily Total: $0
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