A Week In Vancouver, BC, On A $100,000 Salary

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Today: a pharmacist working in healthcare who makes $100,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on coat hangers.
Occupation: Pharmacist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 30
Location: Vancouver, BC
Salary: $100,000
Net Worth: $193,100 (I have $31,000 in two RRSPs, one of which is matched up to 3% by my employer. I own a condo with my mom that's worth $550,000. I still owe $155,500 for my portion of the mortgage, so my share of the home equity is $100,000. Then I have $10,000 in savings for emergencies, $10,000 in my chequing account, $21,000 in a TFSA and $1,600 in WealthBar investments.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month ): $2,500–$2,800 (I work at a few locations within the same company, and some posts pay more than others, so my paycheque varies.)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,500 (I live alone in the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 670-square-foot condo mentioned above.)
Condo Fees: $312
Internet: $64
Phone: $65
Extended Health & Dental Benefits: $250 (automatically deducted from my paycheques)
Car Insurance: $200
Savings: Depends on the month. I sometimes allocate everything remaining towards the condo. Other times I add to my TFSA, RRSP or WealthBar investment.
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Annual Expenses
Home Insurance: $450

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 graduated at 27 with two bachelor's degrees: one in science and the other in pharmacy. When my parents immigrated to Canada, they saved $50 every month to help pay for my first degree. I paid $55,000 for my pharmacy degree by working three jobs during summers. I'm a first-generation immigrant, and my parents definitely expected me to go to university. They still think I should've gone into medicine instead of pharmacy, and I agree to some extent!

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We moved to Canada when I was eight, and it was difficult for my parents to land jobs right away. They worked hard, went back to school, and saved every penny. We didn't go on vacation, and I can count on one hand how many times we ate out as a child. We didn't speak about money, but I was always aware that money was tight. I started educating myself about finances last year when I moved to Vancouver from Alberta and all of a sudden found myself living paycheque to paycheque. Since then, I've been learning about investing and the FIRE movement, which stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I took a job as a Dollarama cashier when I was 15, mostly to help curb my boredom during the summer. I enjoyed every bit of it.

Did you worry about money growing up?
My mom is extremely loving and would've done everything she could to buy me what I wanted. I remember looking at Barbies in shop windows and wanting one so badly but knowing I couldn't ask because money was tight. When I became a teenager, my parents were more financially stable, and I didn't worry anymore.

Do you worry about money now?
I wouldn't say I worry about money. I'm conscious of it — and excited by it! When I graduated, I spent thousands on Botox, fillers, and makeup. I'd never treated myself before and felt like I'd earned a reward for everything I'd accomplished. I had no idea what was coming in or going out of my bank account. It wasn't until I became a homeowner and started on a path of minimalism that I realized all those things I'd purchased rarely made me happy. I've been focusing on finding happiness in other ways.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
In my culture, it's normal for twentysomethings to live with their parents, and I did so until age 27. They paid for rent and food, and I was responsible for everything else. I do have a financial safety net in that I have an emergency fund, but I wouldn't depend on someone else to help me out.
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How did you manage to buy your condo?
I saved up for the down payment on my own and was approved for a mortgage based on my income alone. Later, my mom joined in as half-owner, because she wanted to invest in property in Vancouver, not because I required financial assistance. Having said that, I’m very happy about this arrangement, because it means my condo will be paid off in the next two years. The end goal is for it to become a rental property, generating $2,000 monthly to be split between us.

Day One

5:15 a.m. — Ugh. Five hours of sleep isn't enough. I wake up, scroll Reddit, and update the spreadsheet I started a few weeks ago to track my expenses and income. I force myself to go for a jog. I'm doing a 66-day running challenge, which is apparently how long it takes to fully build a new habit. I'm starting to enjoy running! It's my time to listen to my favourite podcasts.
6:45 a.m. — Every Monday morning, I commute to Victoria on Vancouver Island for a few days of work, and I somehow manage to cram a shower, breakfast, and packing my bag into one hour. I scarf down two pieces of Silver Hills Squirrelly Bread, my all-time favourite sprouted loaf, with almond butter. I drink an Earl Grey tea, because I'm also doing a no-coffee challenge. I think about how much I miss coffee and wonder why I torture myself with these challenges.
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8:15 a.m. — Phew, I make it to the ferry in time! I pay $73.50 for my car and one passenger. (I submit an expense report weekly, and work reimburses me.) I've done this often enough, so I drive into the ferry, tilt back my seat, take out a pillow, and doze off for 90 minutes until we arrive in Victoria. I used to work in a corporate office, where the pay was higher ($120,000), but I was unhappy with the work environment. I gave my notice at the height of the pandemic and went back to being a locum pharmacist (i.e. an independent contractor). I've been commuting ever since, and it can be taxing, but I'm glad to have a job for the time being and grateful that I get to see my boyfriend weekly. $73.50 (expensed)
10:30 a.m. — I arrive at work with 30 minutes to spare. I park downtown and sit in my car to eat a tuna sandwich I made earlier this morning. $12 (expensed)
4:30 p.m. — I take a late lunch break. Pharmacist breaks make for odd meal times, but I've adapted! I buy a pack of Naked granola bars and use a voucher to get it for free. As I walk downtown to a bakery, I nibble on two of the granola bars, plus carrots I packed this morning. It's definitely not enough food, but I have trouble finding healthy lunches on the road. The bakery is closed due to COVID-19. Darn, they sell the best multigrain loaves.
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8 p.m. — I'm done work, and I only had one patient today. It's amazing how nasty people can get with their pharmacists. Luckily, there are always those patients who are sweet enough to make up for the others. I drive to my boyfriend, C.'s, place. He lives in Victoria, and we've been in a long-distance relationship for the past eight months. I can expense $25 a night when I find my own accommodation rather than having the company book me a hotel. He welcomes me with a dinner of salad, boiled eggs, and Squirrelly Bread. I munch while we talk about our days. We never take our time together for granted because of the long-distance. No skin-care routine for me tonight. I fall asleep by 11:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up and cuddle C., my favourite part of the day. We joke around and have a good laugh.
8 a.m. — Jog time! It's always nice to explore new trails. I incorporate a set of 126 stairs into my workout. I haven't noticed a change in my body during the past few weeks of running, but that's not the point of doing the challenge. I'm trying to teach myself resilience and sticking to a promise I made myself.
9 a.m. — I shower and have an orange and two hard-boiled eggs with Squirrelly Bread. (Do you see a pattern yet?) I stop by Esso to get gas before work. Gas prices have crept up to $1.30 a litre since the pandemic started. I use my Speedpass+ App to get points for my fuel. I love this app, because you can pay without touching anything at the station, and it retains your receipts. $52.95
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4 p.m. — It's an easy, slow day at work. I'm not downtown today, so I don't have to pay for parking. I have a banana, two granola bars, a tuna sandwich, and free tea from the staff room for lunch.
7:30 p.m. — The pharmacy is so quiet that I get to leave half an hour early (this rarely happens). I spend the evening having dinner with C. and chatting with his parents. He brings me my retinol prescription, which he filled earlier today. I got four tubes fully covered by my insurance ($276.44). I've been simplifying my beauty routine, and I feel much better about it. It's currently only retinol, sunscreen, and cleanser. I used to spend thousands every year at Sephora. After trying every expensive skin-care line they carry, I realized nothing makes a true difference in my skin. Investing in my health and water intake has created better results and has been better for my wallet!
Daily Total: $52.95

Day Three

6 a.m. — It's Canada Day, and C. is off, but I'm going to work. I don't mind because I get paid time and a half for working the stat holiday. I also go back to Vancouver tonight, so I spend the morning with C. and say goodbye before I head to work. It's been getting harder and harder to leave lately.
8:30 a.m. — I get to work and pay for parking ($12). I reserved a spot on the 5 p.m. ferry, so I'm skipping my lunch break to leave early. $12 (expensed)
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4:30 p.m. — I make it in time for the ferry! I'm always a few minutes away from missing my reservation. If that happens, I sometimes have to wait two hours for the next one. I pay for my car and myself ($73.50) and gobble down lunch that C. made me: an almond butter sandwich, a banana, and an apple. He leaves a note in my lunch that makes me smile. I have my usual nap until I get home. $73.50 (expensed)
7:30 p.m. — I unpack and go to the grocery store to grab almond milk, two jars of almond butter (on clearance), and bananas. $18.88
9 p.m. — I'm so tired, but I drag myself out for a jog. I feel much better afterwards. I make a simple meal of brown rice pasta and veggies which turns out surprisingly good. Or maybe I'm just really hungry? Most people don't trust my recommendations for food, because I could eat rice cakes for the rest of my life and be content. I spend the evening chatting with C. and another friend.
12:30 a.m. — Bedtime! Luckily, I have four days off. I have family visiting from Alberta for the next three weeks, so the plan is to devote tomorrow and Friday to cleaning my condo.
Daily Total: $18.88

Day Four

8 a.m. — I get up and check my mail. A package from Sephora has arrived. I ordered a bunch of samples to use up all my points — 2,500 of them — because I don't intend to maintain my VIB Rouge status anymore. The total spent was zero!
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11 a.m. — I go to the dentist, which is a 30-second walk from my condo. I love the convenience of where I live. Sadly, I find out that I have a tiny cavity — my first cavity ever! That's karma for bragging about my lack of cavities. I'm not entirely surprised, though. When I was stressed out in my old job, I was eating horribly and neglected my dental hygiene. The total cost of the dentist is $607.10, but I only pay $12.61, because the rest is covered by my insurance. $12.61
2 p.m. —  I'm lying in bed feeling discouraged. I have days like these sometimes. I don’t have family in Vancouver and only a handful of friends; granted, I haven’t gone out of my way to meet new people. My job situation, with the commute, is also a stressor. I know I can't sustain this lifestyle for long. I think about C. I love him so very much, and he has been my rock since we met eight months ago. He's 12 years older than me, and my mom keeps reminding me of the age gap. It bothers me when she does that. He's perfect for me in so many ways. Do I wish he was in the same life stage as me? Yes, but then he wouldn’t be who is. 
4 p.m. — I finally get out of bed and try to snap out of my negative state. I go to Ikea to return an item I purchased back in December — what a process it is! They tell me it will take 90 minutes just to access the sanitation station to disinfect the item, so they take my number to call me when it's my turn. I happen to be in my jogging gear, so I find a nearby park and fit in my daily run. I'm back at Ikea right in time for their call. I don't have the receipt, so they offer me store credit for 75% the original cost. I use the credit to purchase new coat hangers and pay $1.12 out of pocket. I then head to two grocery stores and stock up on fish, eggs, and more bananas to freeze for smoothies ($29.59). $30.71
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12 a.m. There's a false fire alarm in the building, and everyone has to evacuate. By the time the firefighters declare it safe to go back up, there's a huge lineup at the elevators. Since there's a max occupancy of three people per elevator for social-distancing, I hang back to let the kids and older people go up first. I don't mind; it's a beautiful night.
1 a.m. — I'm finally in bed.
Daily Total: $43.32

Day Five

9 a.m. — I lay in bed for an hour and read Reddit. I'm so happy I don't have anything planned, because I feel like a potato.
12 p.m. — I spend the entire day cleaning. I used to hate cleaning, but I've grown to love it since I've owned my own place. I watch my favourite YouTubers while I'm doing chores: Graham Stephan, a millionaire real estate agent and investor who talks about personal finances, Patricia Bright, a beauty and business guru, and Financial Diet and CNBC Make It. I usually watch Make It for the millennial money videos. My friends don't really discuss the details of their income or financial goals, so I've gravitated towards online communities to learn how others spend their money. I wish there were more people who are comfortable speaking about it in day-to-day life.
8 p.m. — I feel terrible during my jog, likely because I barely ate all day. I get home and make a huge dinner of pasta, salmon, and veggies and feel much better once I eat. I chat with a friend and then C. I spent zero dollars today and give myself a mental pat on the back before falling asleep.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — My sister and mom arrive today! I'm excited to see them, but me thinks three weeks is a long time for a visit. I'm the kind of person who values my personal space. C. is one of the few people I can spend time with without getting tired of him.
3 p.m. — I work on polishing up my resume and fit in more cleaning before my mom texts to say they're here. They look like sunburnt tomatoes from their 10-hour drive, and I scold my mom for not wearing sunscreen. I spend the rest of the night showing them around my apartment — it's my sister's first time visiting— and we take a walk to the pier.
5 p.m. — My mom unloads so much food and kitchenware into my cupboards. I joke that I'm not minimalist anymore as I nervously eye all the items she's unpacking. Apparently, she needs six jars of Nescafé during this three-week trip! I laugh at my mom. She'll never let go of bringing her own food. It's a frugal trait of hers.
10 p.m. — I chat with C. about our day. My family is going to meet him for the first time next week, and I'm nervous. My mom can be quite judgmental. She wants me to be with someone incredibly successful and closer to my age. I know her concerns come from loving intentions, but sometimes she can be quite off-putting to people I date.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I'm up and ready for a jog! Today is day 21, nearly a third of the way to day 66. I'm looking forward to finishing this, so I can start weight training. I'm scrawny and lack muscle tone, and I've always wanted an athletic physique. I haven't felt particularly attractive lately, but I'm trying to be kind to myself and focus on my physical, financial, and mental health.
8 a.m. — Breakfast is eggs, fruit, and Squirrelly Bread. My sister and mom are getting ready.
11 a.m. — We spend the day hiking at Burnaby Mountain. We stop to have granola bars and fruit we packed. It's a gorgeous day and, despite getting here relatively early, the parking is full. So many people are out and about!
5 p.m. — Mom cooks a dinner of rice, beans, and fish. It's one of the best meals I've had in ages. I need to cook more instead of relying on bread and granola bars.
7 p.m. — I hop into bed much earlier than usual. I feel pooped and mentally drained. I reserve my ferry sailing for tomorrow ($34). I'm going to work the next three days in Victoria. My sister and mom will be coming, and I can get a hotel reimbursed in Victoria, which means they get a vacation for free! $34 (expensed)
Daily Total: $0
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