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A Week In Muskoka, ON, On A $71,700 Salary

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Today: a teacher working in education who makes $71,700 per year and spends some of her money this week on cryptocurrency.

Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 29
Location: Muskoka, ON
Salary: $71,700
Net Worth: $27,600 (I have around $3,800 in various investments through Wealthsimple, and I keep at least $2,000 in my chequing account at all times. I recently opened a high-interest savings account that has $800 in it, and I contribute to it on a biweekly basis. I also have an RRSP and a TFSA through my primary bank, totaling $22,000.)
Debt: $5,342 (This is on a line of credit I opened seven years ago to pay off my student debt. It started at $50,000)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,795
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $650 (I rent a room from a colleague/friend. I have my own bedroom and bathroom, but the rest of the house is shared with my friend and her BF. This total includes utilities, most notably our ridiculously terrible internet — hurry up, Starlink!)
Line of Credit: $350 (I try to make lump-sum payments every few months as well.)
Car Insurance: $96
Life Insurance: $16.50
Health & Dental Benefits: $0 (They're built into my teaching contract, and I don't pay for them.)
Cell Phone: $40
Car Payments: $214
Teacher's Pension: $286.67 
Netflix: $0 (mooching off of my parents still)
Savings: $800 ($600 is automatically deposited in my TFSA and RRSP accounts, and $200 goes into a high-interest savings account.)

Annual Expenses
TeuxDeux: $30 (It's an organizational app. I'm still evaluating whether or not I really need it, but I've committed to a year.)
Headspace: $90 (Because COVID done stressed me out!)
Amazon Prime: $79
Ontario Teaching Certification: $170

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 would've been supportive no matter what path I chose; however, I've always felt destined to be a teacher, so post-secondary education was in the cards for me. I have a BA and B.Ed and recently completed my M.Ed (online, part-time). My parents only had a few thousand to give me for schooling, so I paid for the rest by working two jobs and taking out government loans, which I'm nearly done paying off.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I can't remember getting any explicit lessons about finances, short of "save, save, save." Ever since I started to make my own money, I was left to decide what to do with it. My parents would advise me to save a certain portion of my paycheque, but I seldom did when I was a teen. I did pick up unintended lessons from them, however, because they would argue about money in front of my sister and me. My mom was always resentful that she was the major bread-earner of the family. From this, I learned that if I ever get married, to keep separate bank accounts and negotiate splitting the bills, although I'm still not sure if that really worked for my parents. They've been married for over 30 years and still squabble over finances.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a sales clerk in the houseware department at Zellers. Remember Zellers (RIP)? I was 15, and it was an amazing first job. I was the youngest person in my department by half a century, and I worked with about five different women named Linda. Among the many things that I learned was how to fold a towel 10 different ways. I got this job to make money to travel, which I started doing on my own when I was 16.

Did you worry about money growing up?
As the saying goes, my sister and I were “never without” growing up. Although we didn't live lavishly, we were able to go on the occasional trip, and the kitchen was always stocked with food. We would often buy second-hand clothing (which I still do), and I can't remember my parents ever buying food when we went to the movies (a mark of the bourgeoisie in my opinion), but I was never worried about money as a kid.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I don't worry about paying my bills or having enough to book a last-minute vacation. But I do often feel behind other people my age. I have no property, no large investments, and I struggle to read and understand financial literature. I worry that if I don't start a side gig or make big changes soon, I may never catch up to some of my friends financially.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I've been financially responsible for myself since I left home for post-secondary school at age 17. I've had to borrow money from my parents now and then when I've been in tight spots, but I've always repaid them quickly.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I've received a few thousand dollars now and again with the passing of my grandparents over the years.


Day One

7:15 a.m. — My alarm buzzes. I snooze it a few times, having not slept well last night. I get up eventually and wash my face (Dermalogica products) and get breakfast going: frozen gluten-free waffles and yogurt and granola. I also make a smoothie in a travel jar for my lunch, plus other snacks to get me through my day. I'm always tempted by mid-afternoon salty cravings, so I need to plan ahead so I'm not running out to buy something at the corner store.
11:55 a.m. — Lunch break. As a teacher who has been working online for the past month and a half, I'm lucky to come into my empty classroom to take advantage of the fast internet at my school. I step outside into the sunshine and scarf down my packed lunch before the black flies tear me apart.
2:10 p.m. — I get a text from my mom saying that my old car has officially sold for $1,700. The buyer paid in cash, so that money will be waiting for me next time I visit my parents. I recently upgraded my car from a sedan to a compact SUV (for $21,000) making for a larger bill at the pumps, plus more expensive insurance, and bi-weekly payments that I didn't previously have. I wrestled with this choice, but my old car needed a lot of repairs, and I'm planning to move out west in the next few months for a new job, so I'm ultimately glad I took the plunge for a more capable and reliable car.
9:30 p.m. — I'm done with work for the day. (Teachers often have homework, too!) I spread out on my yoga mat and do gentle stretching to wind down. I get into bed with a cup of Pukka nighttime tea and my book, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. I've started teaching history courses and have been incorporating more historical reading into my routine. This book is well-written but dense and highly academic, so when I read it before bedtime, I usually only last a few pages before my eyes close on the day.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and fill in my Five-Minute Journal for the morning. Ideally, this is a daily occurrence, but in reality, it happens about two times a week. After, I get ready for the day, pack my lunch, and head out the door by 8 a.m.
4:50 p.m. — Stepping into the warm sunshine after being cooped up inside all day triggers something in me, so I stop at the corner store for a tub of mint-chocolate chip ice cream (the best flavour — don't @ me). $7.50
8:30 p.m. — I finish cleaning up from a dinner of burritos and, of course, ice cream for dessert. I sit down with my roommate, and we cruise around online for some gifts for an upcoming drive-thru baby shower for a colleague (courtesy of COVID). In the end, we each contribute $51 for toys, a blanket, and a nostalgic children's book. Later on, I climb into bed, finish the evening section of my Five-Minute Journal (highlights for the day include catching up with a friend, getting time-sensitive work done, and buying the ice cream). I fall asleep by 10:45 p.m. $51
Daily Total: $58.50

Day Three

6:40 a.m. — A mosquito buzzing in my ear abruptly wakes me up. That makes the list of 10 Worst Ways To Wake Up, I think. I have time to take a long shower and fill out my Five-Minute Journal before hustling to work for the weekly virtual staff meeting.
10:50 a.m. — A quick Twitter break and some crypto-chatter gets me onto my Wealthsimple app to check my (modest-but-still-something) investment in cryptocurrency. Taking advantage of a sudden dip, I invest more in Ethereum, the horse I'm currently backing. I'm waiting for the market to go up again before cashing out. $250
4:30 p.m. — I'm feeling tired after work so I indulge in a nap when I get home. Whenever my schedule allows, I split my sleep: I get three to four hours when I come home from work, then get up, make dinner, and relax or work until 2 or 3 a.m., then I go back to sleep until 7 a.m. I definitely focus better at night, so when I'm slammed at work, I find this schedule helps me increase my productivity. I also like to let my body tell me when it's time to rest and try not to fight it when I wake up. I've been doing this for as long as I can remember.
9 p.m. — I sit down and update my budget notebook with the latest expenditures. I've kept a monthly budget for over a year now, breaking it down into my planned expenses, actual expenses, and allocating funds for various savings accounts. Although I don't really set a budget to limit my spending, tracking everything makes me mindful of the money going in and out, and it has created a positive habit.
Daily Total: $250

Day Four

6:20 a.m. — Another early morning, another mosquito-buzzing wake-up call. I roll out of bed and make a mental note to check my window screen for holes. Since I'm already up, I take advantage of the extra time with a quick 10-minute yoga routine and five minutes of mindfulness.
12:40 p.m. — I'm able to leave work early, so I run errands. This is a weekly occurrence, seeing as I live a 45-minute drive from town. Making a list is a must because the worst thing is getting home and realizing you forgot the milk. I pick up a prescription ($8.83), buy shampoo and conditioning bars to try out, along with a few other toiletries ($31), and complete my grocery shopping for the week ($170). I tend to spend a lot on my groceries. A few years ago, I made the decision to invest in my health by buying mostly organic, whole foods. It definitely dings the bank account, but I've found my digestion and overall gut health have improved. $209.83
6 p.m. — I Zoom into my weekly Girl Guides meeting from home. I was in Sparks through to Rangers as a kid, and I've been volunteering as a Guide Leader for almost two years now. Most leaders are older women or moms of the guides; I'm neither, so I'm a bit out of place, but I love guiding. Tonight's meeting features a guest speaker who talks about financial literacy, 9-to-11-year-old edition. Coles Notes: Every penny counts and don't underestimate compound interest.
Daily Total: $209.83

Day Five

10 a.m. — A day off from work = sleep in! I have a late breakfast and follow it with a 15-minute Yoga With Adriene video to get my body moving.
1:30 p.m. — Summer weather is on the menu for today, and I want to take full advantage. I change into my bathing suit and drive down to a dock with my roommate. A few friends come out and join us later on, just as the sun dips behind the clouds. Although the water is a tad too cold for swimming, it's still a great preview of a summer that's hopefully more normal than the last one.
7 p.m. — I have a few hours of Zoom training tonight for a job I'll be working this summer. Although many teachers take the summer off from work (as they should), I find ways to make additional income, typically by working in camps or outdoor education centres. I'll be working just a short gig this summer because I'm packing up my life and moving out west in August. It's nice to connect with familiar faces over the screen and get excited about working outdoors again.
10 p.m. — I get into bed with a book and good intentions to read, but I fall asleep rewatching Peaky Blinders. This is my third time watching the series. It's the best show out there (in my opinion), and I credit the lead actor, Cillian Murphy, and his striking blue eyes and high cheekbones, for getting me through 2020 quarantine. Everyone should watch it!
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:50 a.m. — I wake up to an alarm buzzing and my back gasping for lotion. I have a massive sunburn from yesterday. You know that upper back region that you need help to cover adequately with sunscreen? Yeah, I neglected to ask my roomie for help, so now I have to get her to apply aloe.
9 a.m. — I begin a full day of online training for my summer gig. Zoom screen, shared screen presentations, chit-chat — you all know the routine these days.
4:45 p.m. — After a long day of sitting and screen-time, I'm happy to get home. Two friends come over for a backyard BBQ, and it's awesome to catch up and relax. Unfortunately, the bliss doesn't last long because the black flies and mosquitoes come out to feast, bug spray be damned. It's still a nice time, though, and we scarf down veggie burgers and homemade pecan pie.
8:30 p.m. — Friends gone, me back inside and bug-free, I settle into my beanbag chair to watch a few episodes of Supernatural (I'm trying to get through the whole series). I start doing some casual real estate cruising in the city I'm moving to (although renting is very much in the cards for a while). I get to thinking about packing and transporting my belongings across the country in my SUV. After reading several reviews, I order vacuum seal bags for moving. $28
10:30 p.m. — I get ready for bed, scrubbing the bug spray and sunscreen off my face. Looking in the mirror, I scan my hairline for greys. I spot one, carefully pluck it out with tweezers, and mutter a student's name as I drop it into the toilet to be flushed away. This ritual began a few years ago when a patch of grey hairs suddenly sprang up following a few particularly stressful weeks with a group of challenging students. I pick the hairs out as I ramble off the kids' names. Does aging become any easier when there's someone to blame?
Daily Total: $28

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I blissfully sleep in, then read for 45 minutes in bed. I usually have three or four books on the go at a time. This morning's pick is Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. It's beautifully written, but it’s a complex book, and I’ve been working through it for a few weeks. I do a short yoga session to get the blood flowing, then get showered and dressed for the day.
12 p.m. — I drive about 30 minutes to a small lakeside community to meet a friend for lunch and to explore her town. Since I only have a few weeks left in this region, she's keen for me to discover her corner of paradise. We walk to the water, past a waterfall, and take in the local scenery. It's a beautiful afternoon and feels wonderful to see people enjoying the day as much as we are. I wish I had discovered this place sooner.
4:30 p.m. — After a late lunch on my friend's patio (hummus, tabouli, BBQ veggies, and polenta) I leave for home with a bag of leftovers. I stop for gas along the way at one of the premium-priced stations and kick myself for not gassing up when I was in town earlier in the week. On the drive home, I think about the stunning qualities of this beautiful place I've called home for the past four years and how I'll miss the people the most. I'm leaving behind a community and moving to a big city where I don't know a single person — an exciting yet scary change. Why is it that the most necessary changes in life are the hardest ones? $20
8 p.m. — I spend time preparing for the week ahead. Lesson plans? Check. Urgent emails? Nothing that can't wait. Student work to grade? Maybe tomorrow.
11 p.m. — I head into bed with my book and a mug of warm tea. I only last a few pages before I hit the lights.
Daily Total: $20
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