A Week In The Maritimes On A $58,840 Salary

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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.
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Today: a manager working in the non-profit sector who makes $58,840 per year and spends some of her money this week on onion rings.
Occupation: Manager
Industry: Non-Profit
Age: 27
Location: The Maritimes
Salary: $55,000, plus $12.55/hr working at a market stall every Saturday
Net Worth: $29,000 (I have $7,000 in my everyday account, close to $7,000 in my pension, $5,000 in investments, and $10,000 in my TFSA.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,500, plus approximately $160 from my weekend job
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700 (I share an apartment with one roommate.)
Internet & Heat: $80
Phone: $57.99
Climbing Gym Membership: $64.40
Pool Fees: $40 (approximately)
The New York Times: $23
Spotify: $9.99
iCloud Storage: $1.49
Charitable Donation: $20 (recipient varies)

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, definitely. My mother has a PhD, and my father has a degree. I was a "book smart" kid, and from as far back as I can remember, teachers, friends, and family expected that I would complete multiple degrees. I've only got a BA and a post-grad certificate thus far, and speculation about when I'll go back to school is still a discussion topic (much to my dismay) at family get-togethers. I paid for university through my personal savings (I saved every penny I made in high school and summers), money saved in an RESP by my parents, some family inheritance (see below), and scholarships (I had good grades in high school). I also worked multiple jobs throughout university.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't discuss money growing up. I don't think it was a subject anyone avoided; it just wasn't broached that often. My dad helped me open a bank account when I was eight, and I remember it being a shared experience that brought him joy. My parents discussed their investments and incomes when I was around but not in a way that actively included me. They were (and still are) happy to answer questions but usually left (and leave) the subject up to me.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at local pools during high school, starting when I was 16. I was (and am) a swimmer, and the job made a lot of sense for a kid who already spent time around the pool, plus I liked being busy and wanted to save for university.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No. My parents own their own home and work in stable industries. We lived in a rural town and didn't have any particularly expensive hobbies. I never wanted for anything, and there was always lots of food, clothes, and plenty of books to please young, nerdy me.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes, to some extent. I'm comfortable with my spending and saving habits, and I live well within my means presently. However, I've been laid off in the past, and I've struggled with finding employment. I worry about what I would do if that happened to me again. I'm also increasingly flabbergasted by how people are able to save for major purchases, and I have no idea how people in my income bracket raise families. I enjoy working in the non-profit sector, but doing so will never put me in a much higher income bracket than I'm in right now, and while I don't live all that extravagantly, it's difficult to save more than $1,000 to $1,500 monthly. I would like to buy a house and go back to school, but I'm not sure how I can accomplish that without giving up many things that I care about and/or enjoy.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I left home at 18, I paid my own bills and decided where my money would go. However, I returned home for five summers after that, during which time I didn't pay for rent or groceries and was certainly not supporting myself. I was fully financially independent at age 23. (But my mom still pays for my car insurance, so feel free to rip on me in the comments!) My parents are a financial safety net: They are sweet, angelic folks who would welcome me back with open arms if something went wrong in my life.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My great aunt died when I was in my teens and left me $10,000, which I saved for my undergrad. My parents also saved money for my brother and me in RESPs, which helped me avoid accumulating student debt. I also drive my mother's hand-me-down car. She pays my insurance as a generous gift in perpetuity.
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Day One

8:30 a.m. — I woke up an hour ago but felt completely unable to get up. I'm in a not-so-good headspace this month. I've found this work-from-home year draining. I'm an extrovert and sitting in my apartment on a laptop doesn't give me the human interaction nor the hands-on work conditions that my job formerly provided, and in which I thrived. It also means the transition from bed to work is quick. I get dressed and wash my face in a hurry. The sad mood continues, but a meeting with my manager perks me up somewhat. Any positive human interaction is a mood booster, and she's easy to laugh with.
11 a.m. — I have a brunch of leftover naan and aloo gobi, both made last night while giggling in the kitchen with my roomie, my neighbour, and my neighbour's *perfect* dog. I go back to work (AKA my bedroom).
2 p.m. — I lay down on my bed, mindlessly scrolling on my phone (working alone in my apartment drains my productivity). A friend calls and asks if I want to go climbing. We've been great gym buds this year. I have a meeting at 3:30 p.m., but it's still an easy yes.
2:15 p.m. — My friend picks me up, and we have a great climbing session, although I still can't get the route I've been throwing myself at for a week and a half. I make it back just in time for my meeting.
4:15 p.m. — Meeting over and attention waning. I log off for the day even though the gym sesh was a longer break than I'm technically allotted. I've been craving greens so I walk to the local market. It's finally cold out after a half-assed winter, but also sunny and clear, and I'm grateful for the walk. I buy Russian kale, spinach, onions, eggs, and (expensive but worthwhile!) gourmet mushrooms. I pay in change from my Saturday tips (a blessing). $25.45
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5:30 p.m. — Back at home, I make a heavenly fruit smoothie and climb into bed to read. I've been plugging away at Pelosi by Molly Ball, and I finally finish it. I have a lot of respect for how often Nancy Pelosi has been the only woman in rooms full of self-important men. The book is also a welcome recognition that many powerful people got where they are through some combination of luck, connections, money, and confidence — not wild intellect. I read some fiction, too: Thomas King's Indians on Vacation. I love the dynamic between the couple at the centre of the novel.
7 p.m. — I make a life-changing Ottolenghi-inspired salad with eggplant cream, radishes, avocado, celery, toasted nuts, and breadcrumbs on kale. So good HOLY. I do dishes and have a piece of chocolate loaf from the freezer.
8:30 p.m. — Back in bed. I send messages about planning with a volunteer board of directors I'm part of (group tensions need work). Then I read more and lose time to the internet, alas. At 10:30 p.m., I force myself into the shower and then pass out.
Daily Total: $25.45

Day Two

7 a.m. — I had unsettling and restless dreams all night after falling asleep with the light on, so I hit snooze a LOT and roll out of bed at 7 a.m. After washing my face and chugging water, I go for a walk to return a library book. It's another stellar day — sunny and frigid.
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7:45 a.m. — Back inside, I do yoga, eat an orange, and have a hot shower before starting work.
11 a.m. — I make myself luxury scrambled eggs for brunch (the lone WFH perk in my life, baby) with shallots, spinach, the expensive mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, and smoked cheddar. I have it with French press coffee and am back at my desk for an 11:30 a.m. meeting.
3 p.m. — After my last meeting, I scurry to the closest grocery store. The local spot I went to last night doesn't sell butter, and I'm making maple-pecan-chocolate squares for a friend's birthday tonight. I grab the butter and also chocolate chips, whole wheat flour, Brussels sprouts, more mushrooms (you like what you like!), avocados, toothpaste, and a couple of apples. $31
5:30 p.m. — We were supposed to go skating, but the birthday gal cancels because it's so cold, which works out well because I'm running super-late and am just pulling the squares out of the oven now. I log back on to the computer to do more research for a work project.
7:15 p.m. — I head out the door for birthday cellies. I'm late because I tried on probably 10 outfits before settling on hand-me-down jeans and a plain turtleneck.
10:45 p.m. — Home. Because of COVID, bars here are required to have last call by 10 p.m. It's still so strange that nights end this early in the new normal. We had a lovely time splitting a couple of bottles of wine and listening to live music. A friend drops me off, and I crash into bed. (I will choose this moment to note to all concerned readers that COVID is pretty sleepy here lately: At the time of this outing, there are 11 active cases in the province, and they're all connected to travel or close contacts. I'm following all local restrictions and recommendations.) $30
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Daily Total: $61

Day Three

8 a.m. — I'm awake and feeling the soft hum of a hangover. My boss tells me to take the day off (because of overtime earlier in the month, not the hangover). I read the news in bed, journal, do some yoga, and get dressed.
8:30 a.m. — I have leftover aloo gobi on naan (I don't believe in breakfast foods). I grab my backpack and head out the door by 9 a.m. I left my car parked where it shouldn't be last night, so I'm going to pick it up. It's -19°C with the windchill: stoked.
9:30 a.m. — I hop in my car to join my friend at another climbing gym across the city.
11:45 a.m. — I'm home again after a good climbing session. I work so much harder when someone is there encouraging me. I crush the last of my salad. (My life was a much sadder one before I fell in love with kale, the rare salad green that gets better with time in the fridge coated in dressing).
1 p.m. — I get out of my meeting and feel a bit teary. Work during COVID is neither fulfilling nor challenging. I'm recognizing that it might be time for me to cut ties with this job, but the idea is scary: It pays me decently well, having dental coverage is a GIFT, and I'm not sure where I could move next. I make a tea and finish the aloo gobi and scraps leftover from the birthday squares.
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3:30 p.m. — My best friend FaceTimes me from Toronto, and I take it as a sign to log off for the day. She is forever a day-brightener.
5:30 p.m. — I cook plain rice and stir in leftover carrot-top pesto, then top it with sautéed onion, mushrooms, chickpeas, and spinach and call it a meal. I also blend up a fruit smoothie for my shift at the market tomorrow, so I don't fall into the Saturday trap of exclusively eating carbs.
7 p.m. — I'm off to a board meeting to work on a grant application, then I go for a swim.
9 p.m. — After leaving the pool, I go to a nearby friend's house to join in on some board games. I get home by 1 a.m., shower, lay out my clothes for tomorrow morning (I work my second job), and get into bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — I'm not super-stoked about getting out of bed, but I only hit snooze once or twice. I'm in the car and heading to the market by 6:20 a.m.
6:40 a.m. — I'm trying not to out myself as a small-city inhabitant here, so excuse the limited details, but this is a dream job: beautiful views out the windows (with a couple of visiting seals today!) and lots of human interaction. It's bliss for an extrovert, especially in COVID times. I drink my smoothie between sales. I also have a mini quiche, a coffee, and a pair of samosas from various market vendors. $10
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2:30 p.m. — Home again. It's beautiful, but I'm drained from the seven hours on my feet. I clean the bathroom, sweep the apartment, wash my face, and climb into bed.
8 p.m. — Ah yes, a classic three-hour post-market nap. I guess I'm cancelling my evening plans. I have a leftover snack from the market and spend four delicious hours finishing Indians on Vacation before going back to bed.
Daily Total: $10

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I wake up to watch the sunrise over the water. The view is undoubtedly the best part of living in my apartment. I do some yoga and tidy my room.
8 a.m. — I have leftover rice/pesto/chickpea/veggie mix for breakfast. I make fudge and weird tahini energy balls that mask as truffles for my drive to the skill hill with friends later.
11:30 a.m. — My friends pick me up. It's an hour and a half drive to the hill, and we've been going once a week. I have a beer, a boozy coffee, and onion rings once I'm there. I regret both the coffee and the onion rings; I should've just had another beer. $22
9 p.m. — Home again, tired and happy. I transfer $30 to my friend for my ski ticket and rentals and add $20 for gas because he's been driving us every week. After finishing some computer work, putting away my gear, and showering, I'm in bed by midnight. $50
1:30 a.m. — I turn the bedside light back on. I'm uncharacteristically unable to fall asleep and feeling a little sad. I work on my knitting project (and work out my feelings) until I'm worn out around 3 a.m.
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Daily Total: $72

Day Six

9 a.m. — Holiday baby! I'm thankful for this after last night's failed sleep. I leap out of bed, do some quick yoga, have a smoothie, toss on my gym clothes, and hop in the car.
10 a.m. — I have a blissful empty-gym morning and do some good climbing today. I'm close to out-puzzling two problems that have been bugging me and just need more courage to nail the final moves. I fill up my gas tank on the way home. $23.27
12 p.m. — Home again. I snack on leftover tahini balls. (I wasn't stoked on them but am coming around.) I undress and climb into bed because why not! I work on my knitting and catch up on articles I've saved to the Pocket app. (This app is the best for people who read a whack of newsletters/read a lot in general. It makes it possible to actually return to long reads online that I don't usually have time to dive into when I first discover them.)
3 p.m. — I continue the solitary vacation day by eating a gorgeous fried egg/mushroom/avocado/smoked cheese sandwich on challah. It's a nice and fairly warm day, so I drive 30 minutes to one of my favourite beaches. I go for a long walk up to the best vantage point for watching sunsets. It has clouded over, so there isn't much of a sunset, but I'm still happy.
6:30 p.m. — I stop at the used bookstore on the way home, but it's closed for the holiday. At home, I make a lentil-tomato-cilantro-coconut-milk soup (an Ottolenghi recipe, but I add extra carrots, celery, and chickpeas).
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8 p.m. — This is usually when I would be getting ready to head to the pool. COVID has already drastically reduced my swimming in the months that I can't swim outside (or choose not to). Any further reduction is a bummer. I have a piece of cake from the freezer (LOL that this is what I replace my regularly scheduled exercise with) and start reading Cradle to Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart and William Mcdonough. I'm asleep by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $23.27

Day Seven

7 a.m. — It's supposed to be messy weather today, so I get out of bed and dressed early to go for a walk in the calm before the storm.
8:15 a.m. — Back inside, I shower, snack on nuts, and log on for the workday.
10 a.m. — I take a work break to do some shopping research. I generally take ages buying non-consumables. I critique sources, materials, and ecological footprint and weigh the pros and cons of everything before buying. I sometimes wonder if I'm overthinking purchases, but this isn't a trait I particularly want to change. My current online cart debate is bedding. I would like a duvet the right size for my bed, plus I currently only own one pillow. (If you were wondering how single I am, that is your answer.) I'm interested in local wool bedding, and it's pricey — as it should be! I'm also intrigued by local buckwheat pillows (if anyone has any input on those). I have some inescapable purchases coming up this spring, including new car tires. I'm also starting to think about my trusty laptop's 10-year anniversary. I close my browser tabs. At least my singular pillow is the perfect loft for me.
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11 a.m. — I brunch on another glorious veggie sandwich and yogurt.
3 p.m. — The day is bleeding away with work and watching the snow and sleet out the window. I lose time looking at job postings and daydreaming about going back to school. I chuck my sheets and towels into the laundry. The washer and dryer are shared with the other units in my building and are coin-operated. $4
5 p.m. — For dinner, I roast Brussels sprouts, red onion, and carrots to eat on top of savoury oatmeal with pesto and a soft-boiled egg. This is a good pairing with the weather and my mood.
6 p.m. — The evening is lazy. I put on Normal People (ugh but also wow) and work on my knitting. Later, I make my bed up with the clean sheets, light a candle, and journal at my desk until I'm good and tired and climb into bed.
Daily Total: $4
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