A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $72,000 Salary

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Today: a policy analyst working in government who makes $72,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a pregnancy test.
Occupation: Policy Analyst
Industry: Government
Age: 26
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $72,000
Paycheque (2x/month): $1,680–$1,870 (My take-home has been affected by the Phoenix pay system mess, which has caused paycheque errors for a lot of government employees. In my case, it means I haven't been paid correctly since January 2019, and the range listed above isn't the accurate rate for my current position. Hopefully, the issue will be sorted out soon.)
Gender Identity: Woman
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $759 (for my half of the two-bedroom apartment I share with my roommate, R.)
Hydro: $20
Internet: $31
Phone: $32
Netflix: $10.99 (My mum uses it as well.)
The New York Times: $5.38 (student diiiiiscount)
Spotify: $4.99
Car Share: $10
Tax-Free Savings Account: $300
General Savings: $200
Pension: $211 (matched by employer)
Apartment Fund: $700 (I'm preparing to move in with my boyfriend, at which point my rent will nearly double.)
Annual Expenses
Gym: $450

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I like to sleep in on the weekend, but I'm having brunch with a friend from grad school who recently moved back to town. I get dressed in black skinnies with a green, sleeveless blouse, a long camel cardigan, and brown riding boots. I do basic makeup (concealer, blush, taupe eyeshadow, mascara) and am ready just in time for her to pull up. We go to a cozy place on the other side of town, and I pay for parking. $2
12 p.m. — This place is usually packed, but we beat the rush. I get a brie, bacon, and pesto omelette with hash browns, a salad, and gluten-free toast, plus a coffee. It's so nice to catch up on each other's lives and grad-school gossip! We pay separately before she drops me off at my place. $34.31
2 p.m. — Knowing I won't go out again if I settle in at home, I go straight to the grocery store. I'm planning to make a roasted butternut squash salad for this week's lunches, so I get mixed greens, a squash, pecans, cucumber, tomatoes, dried chickpeas, and hummus. I also get cheese, yogurt, bananas, and laundry detergent. $52.31
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4 p.m. — After unloading my groceries, I check out two pairs of brown ankle boots that I ordered with the intention of returning one. The pair I like is more expensive, but still discounted, so I'm not too mad. I leave the other pair packaged up until I can get out to return them. I text my boyfriend, L., to confirm our plans for tonight, then clean up the apartment, and update my bullet journal for the month.
7 p.m. — I meet L. at a video game bar. It's busy, and he's put our names down for a TV and table, so we go to a local brewery in the same building while we wait. I have celiac disease, but this brewery makes beers in a way that removes most of the gluten, so I can drink them without getting sick! Since I never got into beers, I'm enjoying learning. I get a flight and like the sour and the unfiltered beer the best. $13.50
8:30 p.m. — Our TV is ready, and we head upstairs to play Mario Kart and Donkey Kong. We split an order of tandoori nachos, get a sangria each, and have a blast kicking each other's butts (we're both competitive). We pay separately before heading back to my place for the night. $36.50
11:30 p.m. — We watch an episode of Queer Eye In Japan (adorable!) before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $138.62

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — No sleeping in again today! I rinse off and toss on leggings and my hockey league's sweatshirt. I coach a girls' team, and they have a game this morning. I make coffee and a bagel with cheese, then walk over to the car share station.
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12:30 p.m. — The game starts out rough, but the girls do well and have a lot of fun. I drop off the car ($26.34 for the time and kilometres), and go home to roast my butternut squash and chickpeas, make candied pecans, and mix a tahini-based dressing for my lunches. My roommate, R., is home, so we chat before she walks over to see her boyfriend. I make a chickpea sandwich (mashed chickpeas with red onion, sour cream, and dijon mustard on a gluten-free bagel) and spend the rest of the afternoon playing Sims. $26.34
6 p.m. — L. picks me up for my hockey game, and we drive out to the 'burbs. This is my first year playing since high school, and I'm only just starting to get my timing and cardio back. I play decently well, though, and we pull out a win!
8:30 p.m. — L. and I are both starving, so we get pho before going back to his place. I'm over-ambitious and order a large beef soup. I wind up leaving very bloated, but it was SO good. $15.15
9:30 p.m. — After I've showered, L. and I watch an episode of The Good Place before I insist that we go to bed. We're both too tired and bloated to do more than cuddle and fool around tonight. We fall asleep around 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $41.49

Day Three

7 a.m. — Monday morning! I get ready: basic makeup, paper-bag trousers, and a blue, floral blouse. I put on coffee and kiss L. before walking to work. It's a half-hour walk from his place, and I listen to podcasts on my commute. I forgot my headphones today, though, so it's a silent walk.
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8 a.m. — I get to work, drink my coffee, eat the overnight oats and banana I brought, and catch up on emails before tucking into briefing documents.
10 a.m. — I get a notification that an item I listed on Poshmark has sold. Yay! I'm still trying to figure out how much to ask for different items. I'm purging my wardrobe due to a combination of minor weight gain — hello, IUD and desk job — and having gone through a Lululemon phase. I figure getting money for things that are otherwise collecting dust is better than nothing. I'll get $40 from this sale, and I print off the return shipping label so that I can send it off tonight after I pick up an envelope. I use this as an opportunity to eat the cucumber, hummus, and cheddar cheese I packed.
12:15 p.m. — Lunch time! It's raining out, so I eat at my desk instead of venturing outside. I eat my salad (roasted squash, chickpeas, pecans, mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, feta, and tahini dressing) while reading Money Diaries and scrolling through rental.ca L. and I are planning to move in together in the spring and are constantly sending each other listings. I start to eat a Good To Go cinnamon-pecan bar, but after one bite, I realize it's spotted with fuzzy mold. Gross! I'm annoyed, because these bars aren't cheap. I don't have any snacks left, so I help myself to leftover cheese and nuts from a co-worker's baby shower.
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4:15 p.m. — It's beautiful outside, so I enjoy my 45-minute walk home in spite of the lack of audio entertainment. Everything's sore from last night's hockey, so I do a Yoga With Adriene video at home. I roll out my mat, put sage and lemon oils in my diffuser, turn the lights down low, and work on low-back and hip release. Glorious.
6 p.m. — After rolling up my mat, I take a load of laundry up to the communal laundry room and am pleasantly surprised to find a machine free (it costs $2 per load). I just got a natural detergent with honey and lavender extracts that I'm weirdly excited about?? I watch Kara and Nate videos on YouTube while my laundry is in, then hang it to dry around the apartment. $2
7 p.m. — My roommate, R., is home before her volleyball game, and I chat with her while I make my dinner (roasted sweet potato, onion, and pepper, with sriracha sour cream, feta, and a soft-boiled egg on top). I join her for an episode of The Good Place while I eat.
8 p.m. — I play Sims while snacking on SkinnyPop. Time flies while you're micromanaging imaginary people, and it's 11 p.m. before I know it.
11 p.m. — I run through my routine: Bioré baking soda scrub, Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2, Body Shop vitamin C moisturizer, and an acne patch on an annoying cystic chin zit.
Daily Total: $2

Day Four

7 a.m. — NOPE.
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7:45 a.m. — Shit! I over-snoozed and will now be late for work. My boss doesn't care, but I hate staying late when it's unnecessary, so I'll be annoyed with myself later. I get dressed in my biking gear super-quickly: Lululemon joggers, an Old Navy half-zip pullover, Nike Free trainers, and my MEC winter rain coat. I toss my work and gym clothes in my backpack along with my lunch and coffee mug, and head out the door.
8:30 a.m. — At work (slightly before my boss, thank goodness), I change into my black trousers, white blouse, and blue cardigan-blazer (it's a boring outfit, because I was running so late). I use a free-coffee coupon at the building's mediocre canteen and am at my desk by 8:45 a.m., doing my five-minute version of makeup and eating my overnight oats while going through emails.
12:15 p.m. — I meet R. and another friend to eat our packed lunches (they work in a nearby building). I have my prepped salad, except I forgot to add pecans last night. It's still delicious but missing that little extra sweetness. I take an hour for lunch.
3 p.m. — There's drama around potentially hiring someone new to my team, and I can't help but overhear my boss talking about it with someone a few cubicles away. We're hiring for the position directly below mine and, although I feel pretty comfortable in my role since I joined this past summer, I'm still nervous that hiring someone equally qualified for a lower role will make my bosses regret hiring me. Especially because the person they're looking at is a Francophone dude (like the rest of my team), and I'm the only Anglo woman. Imposter syndrome strikes as usual.
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4:45 p.m. — I'm out! I change back into my commuter clothes and hop on my bike to ride to the gym. I swing by the drug store for toothpaste, a toothbrush, and pregnancy tests. I've had an IUD for a year and a half, but I don't really menstruate, so I like to confirm about every quarter that the bloating and acne are, in fact, just bloating and acne. $54.99
5 p.m. — Then it's off to the gym for BodyAttack, which destroys me as usual. After, I stop at Farm Boy, a Canadian cross between Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, where I grab black bean pasta and seriously marked-down havarti. $10.35.
7 p.m. — I shower and take one of the tests. It's negative — shocker, I'm just bloated. I make a bowl of the pasta with kale, vodka sauce, and Parmesan. Sadly, the pasta has a weird texture, and I'm disappointed. I watch an episode of The Office, prep my things for tomorrow, then play Sims before going to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $65.34

Day Five

7 a.m. — After yesterday's performance, I need to get to work at a reasonable time. I do the same routine as usual and pack a black paper-bag skirt and gold polka dot v-neck sweater, both from J. Crew, plus black tights and black heels to put on at the office.
12:15 p.m. — I split my lunch hour between eating salad at my desk while reading Money Diaries, running to the post office to finally get the envelope for my Poshmark order ($3.44), and treating myself to a cakey flourless chocolate cookie ($4), which is entirely worth it. I also find the cuuuuutest St. Bernard mix on a local dog rescue page, and I send the link to L. We're definitely not getting a dog until AT LEAST after we move in together, but we both love giant floofs, and it's nice to dream. $7.44
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2 p.m. — It's mid-year review time, and I'm pleasantly surprised that my boss has only good things to say. He even says he's very happy with his choice to bring me on, and we discuss how our team will evolve in the next little while. I switched from a more prestigious department (high-paced, very ambitious, driven people) to this one to work on a file that's close to my heart. My review confirms that it was a good move.
4:15 p.m. — Out we go. I have a sugaring appointment with my usual tech. She's lovely, and we always have pleasant conversations while she rips out my pubic hair. It's my only regular personal maintenance indulgence, and I budget for it monthly, but this was my sixth visit, so it was free! I tip $10 cash before biking over to my yoga studio for a warm flow class. The lights in the studio are low, and the class is EVERYTHING. I'm still working through a 25-class pack my mum gave me for my birthday, so I'll be covered for awhile. $10
7:30 p.m. — I'm finally home, and I toss a cubed sweet potato and frozen Brussels sprouts with olive oil, garlic, and paprika to roast while I shower. After frying an egg to go on top, I eat all this with feta cheese and sriracha while watching The Office.
8:30 p.m. — After doing my dishes and prepping my lunch, I turn on RuPaul's Drag Race UK while I put away my laundry from Monday and pack my clothes for a business trip to Central America next week. I'll be gone for five days, and I'm making everything fit in a small-ish carry-on. I wind up packing two summer dresses (for downtime), three sleeveless blouses, trousers, a pencil skirt, a sheath dress, a blazer, and a swimsuit. I put the heels in the suitcase, but I'm still debating which flats to bring, so I hold off on packing shoes and accessories. There's still lots of room in the suitcase, so I consider packing a success so far. I'm also CACKLING at Drag Race (the queens are playing "Snatch Game," and they're KILLING IT). I apply my Clinique toner and Body Shop moisturizer, then read Becoming by Michelle Obama until 11 p.m.
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Daily Total: $17.44

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I'm up, and it's snowing?? I'm not ready to bike in the snow, so I get ready to walk. I put on a pair of great French terry Lululemon pants I got years ago, a warm fleece pullover, Blundstones with cabin socks, a big scarf, and my wool peacoat. I get a notification that it's the first day of Starbucks Red Cup season, which means I can get a reusable cup if I get a holiday drink. I mobile order a chestnut-praline latte and top up my card, then pick it up on my walk. $20
8:30 a.m. — I change into a fantastic blue wool skirt from Uniqlo (it has POCKETS) and a blush blouse, leaving my hair down to dry from the snowy walk in. I eat my breakfast at my desk, then there's an urgent inquiry that eats up most of my morning.
12:15 p.m. — There's an interesting article in the New York Times about hidden wealth that I read for most of my lunch hour.
4:30 p.m. — It's date night, which L. and I have been doing every week since we got together, so I book it home to change. I walk over to the art gallery where we check out the (free) opening of a fantastic exhibit by Indigenous artists from around the world. It's incredible, but neither of us is super-artsy, so we feel a little out of place.
8 p.m. — After the exhibit, we walk over to a gastropub for dinner. L. gets an amazing lamb kofta plate that I steal a few bites of, and I get trout with latkes (A+), and we both get wine. As usual, we pay for our own meals before walking back to L.'s to watch The Good Place before bed. $42.25
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Daily Total: $62.25

Day Seven

7 a.m. — FRIDAY! L. convinces me to stay in bed longer than I should, but I force myself up eventually to put on coffee. It's Friday, and I know I'll be rushing around finishing prep work for next week's travel, so I'm dressed comfortably in black skinnies, a sleeveless blouse, and a long brown cardigan. I walk to the office listening to the Call Your Girlfriend podcast.
4:45 p.m. — As expected, the day is full of documents and printing and double-checking that I have everything I need to travel. I walk home, stopping to pick up flowers for my grandmother's birthday ($16). I also go into Saks Off 5th to find new black flats for the trip (my go-tos died). I luck out and find some cute loafers for $48. Once home, I make a bowl of pasta before taking an Uber to L.'s ($7.45). $71.45
7 p.m. — L. drives us to our friends' place to hang out before we all go to an arcade/playground/laser tag place that's 19-plus after 9 p.m. L. and I split a cider while catching up with our friends and playing with their puppy. Someone lets us know there's a Groupon for the place we're going, and I buy $40 of credits for half price! $20
9:30 p.m. — We head over to the arcade and trade the Groupons for game cards before we hit the bar. I drink two vodka sodas over the course of the evening ($10.15), and we have a blast playing games. I kick everyone's butts at Skee-Ball (who knew?) and, through some strategic playing, come second in laser tag, so I had a good night! $10.15
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Daily Total: $101.60
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