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A Week In Woodstock, ON, On A $68,500 Salary

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Today: a packaging developer working in food & beverage who makes $68,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on chicken wings.
Occupation: Packaging Developer
Industry: Food & Beverage
Age: 26
Location: Woodstock, ON
Salary: $68,500
Net Worth: $32,688 (TFSA: $32,686; RRSP:$5,949; savings: $8,000)
Debt: $13,947 (car loan)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,843.80
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent & Utilities: $0 (My partner, T., and I share the upper level of a house, and he pays the $1,000 for the rent and utilities. He also saves for emergencies. I'm responsible for down-payment savings and the bulk of our other living expenses, including groceries and personal care products.)
Car Payment: $164.09
Phone: $57
Health & Dental Benefits: $65.22
TFSA: $400
Personal RRSP: $200
Work RRSP: $263 (deducted from my cheque and matched by my employer)
Savings: $1,300 (We're saving as much as we possibly can to buy a small house on a country property. Rent is very low where we're currently living, so instead of rushing to buy as quickly as possible, we're taking advantage of the ability to save a lot each month. We'll have around $50,000 for a downpayment within the next two years.)
Annual Expenses
Down Dog Yoga App: $40
Disney+: $45 (shared with another household)

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?
I think my parents assumed I would go to university, although they never stated it outright. I did a five-year program and paid for it using grants, loans, income from summer jobs, income from co-op placements, and an RESP. (My parents contributed to my RESP, but they also required me to contribute 50% of my allowance and 50% of every paycheque throughout high school.) I ended up having $11,000 in student loan debt, which I paid off within six months of graduating.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents educated me about money at an early age. I started receiving an allowance when I was seven, and I had to split it up into categories: spending, education, and charity. They encouraged saving for things I wanted and required me to buy anything that wasn't a necessity. The bulk of my financial education was on saving and limiting debt, but as I got older they began to educate me on building credit and mortgages.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a greenhouse in high school. I wanted to go on a school trip to Europe, and my parents were willing to contribute $750. I got the job to save for the remaining $2,250.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Our family was financially stable growing up, and I never saw my parents fight about money. My mom in particular was tight with her money, and that mindset rubbed off on me. Growing up, a lot of my friends came from families that had more disposable income than we did, so I struggled with comparing myself to my friends, but I never had to worry about money in the sense of contributing to family bills.

Do you worry about money now?
I'm in a dual-income household with a fairly low cost of living, so I'm lucky enough to not have to worry about money in terms of my health and safety. I do worry about whether I'm making the right choices with my investments and the amount that I'm saving for each of my goals. I tend to deprive myself to save money, and I'm still trying to find the balance of enjoying life now while setting up a solid foundation for my future.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself when I left home for university. I knew I had my parents' help if I needed it, but it was understood that I would be in charge of managing my income, spending habits, and debt from that point on. Now, my partner and I each have accessible money that acts as an emergency fund for our life together. At the end of the day, if we got into a really bad spot, I know I could count on my parents to help.

Day One

6:15 a.m. — I reluctantly pull myself out of bed for work. I'm going into the office today, so I have my standard breakfast of coffee and oatmeal with walnuts and pumpkin seeds. I feed my two cats, coax my boyfriend, T., out of bed, and we both roll out the door before 7 a.m. Despite having to get up earlier and go through the routine of getting ready, I always feel better on the days I go into the office. I've been going stir crazy working from home during the pandemic and miss seeing other people.
12 p.m. — I enjoy a lunch of last night's leftovers — salad with chicken, peaches, cucumber, and a yogurt-based dressing — while reading at my desk. I'm currently reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and it's tough to put down when my lunch break ends.
6 p.m. — I get home and squeeze in a quick pilates workout before T. arrives. We enjoy a beer on the deck together, talking about our days and deciding what to have for supper. I love to cook, so I do all the cooking at our house. Tonight, though, I don't feel like doing much, so we order two pizzas and each pick our toppings. It's my turn to pay ($50.13 including delivery and the tip). We feel like watching something light and fun tonight, so we put on Monsters University and go to bed around 10 p.m. $50.13
Daily Total: $50.13

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I'm working from home today but have to wake up and get ready as usual because I have a chiropractor appointment first thing. My work-from-home setup is not very ergonomic, and I think my poor posture from the last few months has come back to bite me. I have a grapefruit and a cup of coffee, feed the cats, check emails, and get out the door for the appointment. Luckily, my benefits cover most of the cost. $8.60
12:30 p.m. — I'm excited because today is my second COVID vaccine dose! It's raining, so I drive to the community centre instead of walking and get my shot. It feels so good to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel — it has been a long 17 months. When I get back and log on for the afternoon, I wolf down leftover sausage and veggies.
6 p.m. — I finish up the workday and do an at-home workout. One thing I've learned during the pandemic is that I much prefer working out at home to the gym. T.'s friend stops in for a quick beer after work and ends up staying for dinner. We have pork chops, Caesar salad with homemade dressing, and corn on the cob. Our friend stays until 11 p.m. and we go to bed soon after.
Daily Total: $8.60

Day Three

7 a.m. — I expect to wake up feeling not so great from the vaccine, but I actually feel fine. I have a grapefruit and oatmeal with coffee for breakfast, then check my bank account. My TFSA contribution has come out for this paycheque. I get dressed, feed my cats, and log on to my work computer for the day.
12 p.m. — I've been snacking all morning (a bowl of cereal, a peach, carrots and hummus, a few crackers), so I'm not hungry for lunch. Instead of eating, I use my lunch break to call my sister and chat.
5:30 p.m. — I listen to the Crime Junkie podcast while doing the dishes from last night. When that's done, I make a stir-fry with beef, bok choy, red peppers, and peanut sauce. After eating, I rush out to my weekly yoga class. I prepaid for this eight-week program back in September 2020, and we've only just been able to start the class now that COVID numbers are down.
8:30 p.m. — T. did the rest of the dishes while I was gone — thank goodness! When I get home, I realize Love is Blind: After the Altar has just come on Netflix. Reality TV is my guilty pleasure, and I watch all three episodes before heading to bed at 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up early because I'm going into the office today. I have oatmeal for breakfast and pour a coffee for the drive. I have to get gas, and the price recently jumped a lot higher than it has been lately: $1.37 per litre! I partially fill up in hopes that the price will come down before I have to fill up again. It's pouring rain on the way to work, making for a slow commute. $39.58
12 p.m. — I drive home over lunch and eat leftover stir-fry and a peach before logging back on for the afternoon. During an afternoon meeting, I put chicken breast in to bake. This is definitely a perk of working at home!
5 p.m. — After work, I volunteer with a local animal rescue. Once a week, I clean cubbies and play with cats that are up for adoption. I have to be careful not to get attached to any of them because I already have two cats, and that's my limit! I stay for two hours, then pick up cat litter for my own kitties ($18.07). I also cave and get them new mouse toys ($9.03). On the way home, I stop at the grocery store for a bag of milk ($4.59). $27.10
7 p.m. — I cut up half the chicken I cooked in the afternoon and put it in a wrap with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, cheese, and ranch dressing. It's a low-key dinner for a summer Thursday. T. is working late, so I veg out on the couch with a new book, Julie and Julia by Julie Powel. When T. gets home, I pour a glass of wine, we catch up on our days, watch Game of Thrones, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $71.27

Day Five

7 a.m. — I can barely get up today. It's a good thing I'm working from home and don't have to be up early. T. is almost out the door by the time I manage to get up. I pour a coffee, sit quietly with my kitties for a few minutes, then get dressed and open my laptop.
12 p.m. — I only have a half workday today, so I log off for the weekend. My mom is coming over this afternoon for a visit, so I get to work tidying up the house and doing the dishes, which have somehow piled up. Lunch is more leftover stir-fry and a peach. Before T. gets home, I do a quick HIIT workout and squeeze in a trip to the LCBO to get whiskey for T. and beer for me. $102.38
5 p.m. — We're both tired from a long week, so T. and I have a couple of beers on the deck and enjoy the afternoon sunshine. For dinner, we make nachos, then spend the rest of the night watching Game of Thrones.
Daily Total: $102.38

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I have trouble getting up this morning but know I should get the coffee going. While I drink my coffee and have a bowl of oatmeal, I plan meals for the upcoming week. My Saturday morning routine includes a trip to the farmers' market and grocery store to do our food shop for the week. Now that it's summer, the market is busy, and I have to make sure I get there early so nothing has run out.
10 a.m. — I've been doing most of my shopping at the farmers' market for about a year now, and I love knowing the food I buy is locally produced. I get peaches, apples, corn on the cob, lettuce, peppers, a cucumber, tomatoes, eggs, chicken breast, salmon, ground beef, bacon, and a pork roast ($70). It's my favourite time of year for local produce. Next, I stop at the grocery store to get everything else: grapefruit, an avocado, salsa, corn starch, milk, cookies, coleslaw, naan, walnuts, Gatorade, cheese, and chips ($62.69). All in all, it's a pretty regular week in terms of the cost of groceries for the two of us. We spend a lot on food, but we're comfortable with the cost because we eat lots of fresh food and typically only eat one meal out a week. $132.69
11:30 a.m. — My friend comes to pick me up, and we drive an hour to spend the afternoon at the beach. I bring my own coffee for the drive and a sandwich and a peach for lunch. It's busy when we get there, and I'm not surprised because today is the first non-rainy weekend in a long time. Since she drove, I pay for parking ($10). $10
5 p.m. — We spend about four hours laying out on the sand and chatting, then drive back home and go for a drink on a patio before parting ways. I have a beer and a flatbread appetizer. $20.13
7 p.m. — I get home, and T. has gone to a friend's place for the evening. I put on Crime Junkie and do the dishes and a load of laundry. Instead of supper, I have a small bowl of cereal because I'm still full from the flatbread. Afterward, I curl up on the couch with Julie and Julia and head to bed early. I'm absolutely exhausted from a day in the sun!
Daily Total: $162.82

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up feeling refreshed and have a grapefruit and a small bowl of Rice Krispies with a coffee. My sister comes by, and we chat over another coffee on the couch. She brought me a bottle of wine from a winery she recently visited. I can't wait to crack it open and try it.
12 p.m. — My dad arrives. We're taking him out for a long-belated Father's Day celebration, and we head over to a restaurant together where we each have a pound of wings and a drink. T. joins us later for another drink. My sister and I split the cost of the food, and I cover the beers for everyone. $85
4 p.m. — After lunch out, T. and I relax and catch up. I put together a taco casserole for supper, with ground beef, noodles, green pepper, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. I have it with a glass of the wine my sister brought me.
7 p.m. — After dinner, I go for a walk, and then watch 8 Simple Rules, a show I grew up watching. T. falls asleep early on the couch, and I head to bed with him around 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $85
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