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A Week In Guelph, ON, On A $205,000 Joint Income

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.

Today: a product manager working in IT who has a $205,000 joint income and spends some of her money this week on a burger and fries.
Occupation: Product Manager
Industry: Information Technology
Age: 30
Location: Guelph, ON
My Salary: $110,000, plus a $25,000 bonus
My Husband's Salary: $70,000
Net Worth: $233,000 (Our house is conservatively worth $650,000 with $440,000 remaining mortgage. I have $10,000 in my emergency savings, $7,000 RRSP, and $6,000 TFSA.)
Debt: $440,000 (mortgage)
My Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,982.80 (after 9% RRSP deductions, matched by my employer at 50%)
My Husband's Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,970.38
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,880.95 (for a three-bedroom condo)
Property Taxes: $209.60
Condo Fees: $227
Natural Gas: $65
Hydro/Water: $175
Hot Water Heater & Water Softener Rental: $70
Loan Payments: $0 (I have no debt other than our mortgage. I paid off our student loans last year.)
Internet & Cable: $64.63 (after a $40 subsidy from work)
Phone: $0 (covered by work)
Car & Home Insurance: $186.49
Chefs Plate Meal Kit Delivery: $183.80
Netflix: $16.95
Spotify: $12.99
Disney+: $8.99
My Fun Money Fund: $500 (My husband, N., and I have completely joint finances with the exception of separate "fun money" accounts into which we each transfer $500 to use for solo expenses in a judgment-free zone.)
My Husband's Fun Money Fund: $500
Savings: $1,000
RRSP: $500 (This is separate from the RRSP that my employer matches.)
TFSA: $1,500
Annual Expenses:
Amazon Prime: $79

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 was placed in the gifted program in elementary school and was never able to even consider anything outside of attending university — not even college was an option. I went to university right out of high school but ended up in the hospital needing colectomy surgery after being diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I had to take a couple of years off in order to recover and be healthy enough to go back to school. I went back and earned my bachelor's in psychology and then did a post-grad program in human resources management (and because life happens, I ended up hating HR and doing a major career shift three years ago). I'm very lucky that my parents paid for my undergrad tuition, but I needed to work at a coffee shop and take out student loans to help pay for living expenses because they live in the U.S. so living at home to save money wasn't an option. I paid for my post-grad studies through a co-op placement and more student loans, but I was lucky to only owe about $20,000 after graduating, while my husband had double that amount.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My birth mother (we don't have a relationship due to abuse, but I consider my stepmother to be my mother in all the ways that matter) and my father divorced in my teens mainly over money. My dad grew up poor, and despite being an executive who earns a high six-figure salary, remains very frugal to this day. Meanwhile, my mother would go on spending binges and rack up credit card debt without my father's knowledge. My father and I are very close and he always encouraged me to choose a partner that has similar views on money as me. Funnily enough, the biggest lesson my father is still trying to teach me is to not worry about money as much as I do and to make sure that I don't forget to live today out of fear that I won't have enough in the future — that once I have my savings goals reached, it's okay to treat myself to things that make me happy.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a ski instructor's assistant at age 14, and I became a certified instructor in my own right at 15. I was already up skiing every weekend so I figured I might as well be making money doing it. Other than that, I worked at Dairy Queen throughout high school. My parents made it clear that having a job was a necessity.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I grew up very privileged and never had to worry about having enough of anything.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I have anxiety (working on it) and money is one of the things I fixate on the most. I'm scared we won't have enough money to retire and have an irrational fear of losing everything and ending up homeless. However, my salary has tripled since I switched to the IT industry, and I do feel calmer knowing that we can very comfortably cover all of our bills.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I graduated from my undergrad at 24. We have a great safety net in both sets of parents. They would jump in to help us if we ever needed it.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received $5,000 when my grandmother passed away during my undergrad. I used the money to pay for summer classes in order to have a lighter course load while completing my thesis and graduate a semester early.

Day One

9 a.m. — It's Saturday, so we sleep in, which is much needed after a long week. N. gets up first and brings me tea and himself coffee while we read the news in bed and cuddle the dogs. We adopted our second dog a couple of months ago from a rescue organization that brings stray dogs from Mexico to Canada. It's been an adjustment with our spoiled former “only child” but they both love sleeping and cuddling more than anything, and they're getting closer to actually cuddling with each other.
10 a.m. — N. has a dentist appointment, and I start with the weekend chores. We both went an embarrassingly long time without going to the dentist, and this is the last appointment in a long string of appointments for fillings. The Copay total is $98.08, which comes from our joint account. Important reminder: Look after your teeth, especially when you have insurance through work and there's no excuse. $98.08
1 p.m. — I'm making a vegetable lasagna from scratch using a recipe I've made a couple of times, and I realize the spinach we have is wilted and gross. N. runs out to the grocery store to grab me more, as well as fresh basil and white chocolate chips and sprinkles for a Christina Tosi birthday cake blondie recipe I've had my eye on. $15.32
5 p.m. — Our close friends stop by with a surprise gift and ask us to be part of their wedding party! I might have teared up a little. Okay, maybe I full-on cried. They're really sweet. Like us, they've had to scale down and have a micro-wedding due to COVID, and we know how tough it is. We were supposed to get married last October but ended up making the heartbreaking decision to cancel our wedding a couple of weeks beforehand and elope instead. It was definitely the right choice, and we have zero regrets because the elopement ended up being romantic and perfect in its own way. To celebrate, we all go to a local brewery for a couple of patio beers, and our friends treat us (we'll grab next time). Although indoor dining is now open, none of us feels comfortable doing that just yet. We're also keeping the group of people we see in person small and fully vaccinated.
8 p.m. — We get back home, and I preheat the oven for the lasagna I made earlier in the day and have a few too many glasses of wine while eating, binge-watching Masterchef, and having a good couch cuddle session.
12 a.m. — We take the dogs for a quick “business walk” around our complex and stumble up to bed (not kidding about the too many glasses of wine).
Daily Total: $113.40

Day Two

9 a.m. — It's so nice to sleep in again. N. gets up to make me tea and himself a coffee. We take the dogs on their morning walk, and I go back to bed and read while N. goes to practise piano. He's played guitar most of his life and decided to teach himself piano, too. He's so gifted at all things musical and is picking it up annoyingly quick (I can't even carry a tune). His love of learning is super-inspiring to me.
12 p.m. — Our Sunday tradition is to make eggs Benedict and curl up on the couch and watch TV. As if we didn't get enough Masterchef last night, that's what we watch again.
2 p.m. — The worst part of cooking is always the cleanup, but we tackle it together and get everything prepped to make birthday cake blondies. N. discovered that my favourite pastry chef, Christina Tosi, has free online classes, and this recipe is the first one we're trying. N. “helps” (eats the batter).
3 p.m. — The blondies are cooling, so we do our weekly FaceTime with my parents. The pandemic has been hard on all of us with the U.S. border being closed. We normally see each other a couple of times a year and are hoping that a trip down for Christmas will be feasible, but the Delta variant is starting to make me worry.
5 p.m. — N. completely forgot to tell me he made plans for us to double date with his best friend, P., and his new girlfriend tonight. We take the dogs for a walk, and I rush to get ready when we get back. I'm still getting used to putting on anything other than sweatpants and actually wearing makeup again, but it's nice to have a confidence boost when looking in the mirror before heading out. I bring blondies for them so we don't eat the entire pan ourselves.
7 p.m. — We play a round of mini-golf, and for the first time ever (and we've played a lot of mini-golf in our eight years together), I lose to N. I accuse him of taking secret mini-golf lessons to beat me. The night's going so well that we also decide to grab a basket of balls and hit the driving range. P.'s girlfriend is super sweet, and it's great to finally be able to meet her. $37.56
9 p.m. — We get home and curl up on the couch to watch Big Brother. Afterward, we walk the dogs and get ready for bed. This is the most socializing I've done in a long time (two days in a row!), and my introverted self is feeling the exhaustion, but I am happy to finally see the people we love again after such a long time. We cuddle in bed and fall asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $37.56

Day Three

8 a.m. — N. wakes me up with tea in bed (he starts work at 8 a.m., and I start at 9 a.m., so I get to lounge a little longer). I catch up on the news, which is pretty much all COVID-related and as depressing as it has been for the last year and a half. The toll of the past 18 months and living in fear over the virus is really setting in, and the idea of another wave is terrifying. We walk the dogs together, and I put in a load of laundry before my workday starts (my favourite work-from-home perk).
10 a.m. — Our weekly Chef's Plate delivery box arrives. I was super skeptical about it at first and thought it would be a waste of money, but after a free trial from a friend, we really enjoyed it and have been getting two recipes a week for a couple of months. It's fun to try new recipes we wouldn't normally consider and turn dinner into dates (we even make corresponding playlists for each recipe). It's cheaper than eating out, and we usually have leftovers for the next day as well.
1 p.m. — Back-to-back work meetings go long, and my calendar gets booked for the rest of the day. Plans to make lunch and go for a run on my treadmill are out the window, so I heat up the last of the lasagna and eat it at my desk while preparing for the rest of the day's meetings.
6 p.m. — After another afternoon of being booked solid with meetings, I'm not being productive anymore, and my brain is mush. I call it a day, and N. and I walk the dogs and catch up. Even though we're both working from home in the same house, we don't get to talk much during the workday. Back at home, I make butternut squash soup and a big salad that we can eat over the next couple of days, then we tag-team cleaning the kitchen.
8 p.m. — I fold laundry while watching The Bachelorette finale. The pandemic has led to me watching way more reality TV than I ever have before, but it's nice to turn off my brain sometimes. I tell myself I'm not going to watch the next season, but we'll see. N. says he's reading his book on the couch beside me, but he's definitely watching The Bachelorette as well, and even going on the subreddit for further gossip. By the end of the episode, the book is completely set aside, the pretext of reading abandoned.
11 p.m. — We take the dogs out so they can quickly do their business, then crash hard in bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8 a.m. — It's raining and dark, which always makes it so much harder to wake up. N. brings me my tea, and I slowly get out of bed, so we can walk the dogs before the workday starts. Luckily, I don't have any meetings until the afternoon so I can catch up on work.
10 a.m. — Scratch that, I now have three meetings added to my calendar. I have to start blocking off my calendar; anytime someone sees “free” time, they assume that means I have time to meet.
12 p.m. — N. knows that I have a bad habit of not eating when I get stressed, so he brings me cheese tortellini and salad. After a gentle reminder of the importance of not overworking and stepping away from my desk throughout the day, he gives me a kiss and leaves me to it. I guess I won't be getting in a run today either.
3 p.m. — N. has to go into the office for a meeting, which still makes me nervous, but I know his whole team is vaccinated, and they're strict about wearing masks, which helps ease my nerves. On his way home, he grabs me a chai latte from Starbucks as a pick-me-up (he pays for it using his fun money, which is separate from mine). I realize I haven't had Starbucks in almost a year, and I'm savouring every sip.
6 p.m. — Despite having several items left on my to-do list, burnout is setting in. It'll be better to focus tomorrow with a clear mind. N. had a rough day as well, and we walk the dogs and talk about it. Our rule is to hash out our work issues on the evening walk with the dogs, so when we get back home, we're in better moods and don't dwell on them the entire night. At home, we open a bottle of malbec and cook turkey burrito bowls from our Chef's Plate box. N. created the playlist this week, and it has major Mexican vacation vibes — the perfect reset after a long day.
8 p.m. — We've been playing through the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy together on Playstation, switching back and forth between levels. N. is a much more experienced gamer than I am, but we are equally bad at this game, and it always leads to a ton of laughs.
10:30 p.m. — After almost rage-quitting countless times and multiple close calls of controller throwing (on my part), we finally beat the bridge level (if you know you know) and decide to call it a night. We take the dogs on a quick walk and curl up in bed and have a cuddle session before falling asleep watching The Office on Netflix.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — I wake up to tea waiting for me from my lovely husband. Writing out this small gesture every day has made me realize just how much it means to me. I make sure to say thank you every morning, but I need to let him know how grateful I am to wake up every day in such a nice way.
12 p.m. — It's another morning of back-to-back meetings, and I'm starving by the time noon hits. Thanking past me, I grab the last of the premade salad and grill up veggies for a wrap, adding chicken for N. who, despite our many conversations otherwise, still doesn't think a meal is complete unless there's meat in it. I try to limit my meat intake to a couple of times a week because I've read that reducing meat consumption is one of the easiest ways to reduce our carbon footprint. I've finally gotten him on board with Meatless Mondays though, so that's a start.
5 p.m. — It feels like my eyes are bugging out staring at my computer screen, and I really can't concentrate. All of the urgent things have been crossed off my never-ending to-do list, so I take no-screen time and go out in the backyard to enjoy sunshine and read my book. I'm currently reading The Lost World by Michael Crichton after absolutely devouring Jurassic Park last week. The movie is a work of art, and somehow the book is even better!
5:15 p.m. — Well that was a nice idea while it lasted. After receiving a message from a team member asking for help, I head back up to my office to get the issue solved.
6:30 p.m. — We're able to get things figured out, and I even cross off a couple of things on my to-do list, which looks like it's becoming a to-do novel at this point. I call it a night, and N. and I take the dogs on a quick walk. They don't like the rain, which is coming down now.
7 p.m. — N. and I are both big nerds and have been loving all the new Marvel shows on Disney+. Tonight What If...? is premiering, and we grab burgers and fries (veggie for me) from a local place. It's a special night, so we splurge on a milkshake to split. $35
8 p.m. — We're both a little iffy on What If...? It was fun, and we enjoyed it, but I feel like WandaVision set the bar so high that it's a little underwhelming. We also watch tonight's episode of Big Brother while researching master's programs for N. He's taught himself multiple coding languages and is a gifted analyst but a master's degree seems necessary to move up in his career. It's too late to apply for the fall, but he's earmarked some for the winter semester and is planning on speaking to his manager about tuition reimbursement programs through his work. One of the things I love most about him is his constant desire to better himself.
9 p.m. — I'm starting to get bad cramps. I guess that explains why I've been feeling more burnt out than usual this week. Wow, being a woman is just the gift that keeps on giving. I have a bath to try and relax before climbing into bed. Instead of putting headphones on in the bath, I listen to the sound of N. playing piano drifting up the stairs.
Daily Total: $35

Day Six

8 a.m. — Last night's cramps were just the beginning, and I spent most of the night curled up in the fetal position trying to sleep. I have endometriosis, so what basically feels like my uterus trying to fight its way out of my body is sadly the norm every month. N. brings me tea, and I get out of bed and push through walking the dogs. It's the last thing I want to do right now, but I know I always feel better after I force my body to move.
11 a.m. — I get out of a fantastic and productive meeting with my boss, reminding me why I love my job. She's someone I admire and am always learning from, and the two of us work well together, oftentimes finishing each other's sentences. After feeling down for the past week with constant meetings and planning, this meeting is exactly what I need to feel energized again.
1 p.m. — After a call with my counterpart in the U.S., I'm absolutely starving. He's in a different time zone and often forgets that it's lunchtime in Canada, but I'm too shy to say anything. Luckily, N. makes me a chicken Caesar wrap and onion rings that are waiting for me in the kitchen. I eat with him in his office while he tells me that his manager seems receptive to him getting his master's and will look into how much reimbursement the company can provide. Even if it's just to help with buying books, every little bit counts!
3 p.m. — It's N.'s sister's birthday this weekend, and I'm going to make her a chocolate cake but realize I'm out of cocoa powder. N. has a slower afternoon at work, so he runs out to the grocery store to grab it along with milk, bread, rotisserie chicken, and aluminum foil. $29.83
4 p.m. — It's a beautiful day out, and we haven't had too many of those this summer, so I take my monthly all-hands meeting out in the backyard. I don't have to talk in this one, so it's a nice end to the day, especially with both dogs enjoying the sunshine. I feel bad that I've been down on my job lately when I work for a company I admire and have an incredible boss and team. Also, hormones are making me sappy. Is it too cliché to eat chocolate right now?
5 p.m. — N. meets me outside and brings me a beer. We play a game of Scrabble in the sunshine while the dogs play together in the grass. This is the definition of my happy place. It's a close game, but N. sneaks ahead and clinches a win with a strategically placed 30-point word.
7 p.m. — We head inside and make turkey gyros, our second Chef's Plate meal for the week. We dance around to a Greek playlist I find on Spotify, and I hold myself back from throwing a plate on the ground and yelling “Opa!” (I really like my plates.)
8 p.m. — N. and I curl up to watch Big Brother, and he gives me a lower-back massage to help alleviate pain from cramps. After the episode, I volunteer to clean the kitchen while he plays video games. I listen to the latest episode of Morbid: A True Crime Podcast and get into a cleaning groove and vacuum the house as well.
10 p.m. — We've both had way too much screen time this week and instead of watching a show, we read our books before falling asleep around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $29.83

Day Seven

8 a.m. — It's payday! Woo! While drinking my tea, I enter the week's expenses into my budget spreadsheet. I've diligently added every purchase for the past seven years, and the spreadsheet has grown with us from hourly customer service jobs to our careers and buying a house together last year. It's one of the things I'm most proud of. After I'm finished updating it, N. and I take the dogs for the morning walk with a Friday spring in our step. My manager is off today, and I've blocked out my calendar to focus on whittling down my to-do list. I have a good feeling about today.
12:30 p.m. — I get into a good groove and cross off half of my to-do list! N. makes lunch (a chickpea burger for me, a chicken burger for him), and we eat it together while watching an episode of South Park. I always wrote off South Park as dumb, but a lot of the humour is quite intelligent (some of it is gross-out humour, so we tend to skip those episodes). After lunch, I go back up to my office hoping to ride this productivity wave right into the weekend.
5 p.m. — I get my to-do list cleared in time to finish the day on time! It's always a plus to go into the weekend without the guilt of a nagging to-do list or needing to put in extra hours. We take the dogs on a long trail walk. Guelph is super dog friendly, and we have multiple fantastic trails within walking distance.
6:30 p.m. — We realize it's Friday the 13th and decide it'll be fun to watch a scary movie and turn it into a date night. N.'s craving pizza, so we decide to be bad and get take-out twice in one week. I find a fun cocktail recipe online called Witches Brew, which I figure fits with our spooky theme, and we watch The Shining because N. has never seen it. $32
11 p.m. — We take the dogs on a quick walk (while constantly checking over my shoulder at every little sound) and cuddle up in bed. Having two dogs sleeping next to me definitely helps with the post-scary-movie feelings.
Daily Total: $32
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566 at any time or text 45645 between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET. Residents of Quebec, please call 1-866-277-3553.
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