A Week In The Kootenays, BC, On A $47,300 Salary

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Today: a program director and teaching assistant working in arts and education, respectively, who makes $47,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on maple syrup.
Occupation: Program Director & Teaching Assistant
Industries: Arts & Education
Age: 24
Location: The Kootenays, BC
Salary: $39,000 (program director), $8,300 (teaching assistant)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,041 (program director)
Paycheque Amount (1x/month): $693 (teaching assistant)
Gender Identity: Woman
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $400 (My part of the rent for a three-bedroom apartment I share with my boyfriend, T., and two other roommates.)
Utilities: $100 (I pay mine and my boyfriend's share.)
Health & Dental Benefits: $0 (I'm covered by T.'s plan.)
Car Payment: $248.50
Car Insurance: $252
Phone: $62
Spotify: $19.98 (I pay for myself and my three brothers, who share the account.)
Gym: $50
Netflix & Disney+: $0 (Thanks, fam!)
Doggie Daycare: $150

Day One

4:45 a.m. — I wake up with T., who leaves for work a lot earlier than I do. This is a new routine, but I like relaxing with him in the morning, because the rest of the day tends to be busy. While he showers, I put on coffee and snuggle the pup. T. and I hang out before his carpool picks him up.
6:45 a.m. — This is when I really get going for the day. I feed the pup, prep my lunch of leftover pasta with vodka sauce, and bundle up in snow pants, a jacket, a hat, and goggles. Yes, it's a dorky outfit but brilliant for early dog walks in a snowstorm. I usually walk my dog along a river trail that takes about 45 minutes. On longer walks, I’ll take him up to a cross-country skiing and hiking trail. 
7:30 a.m. — At home, I put on loose suit pants, sneakers, and a sweater. I give pup a quick cuddle, then am on my way to the elementary school, where I work as a teaching assistant three mornings a week. I have a fun morning with my kids.
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12 p.m. — I'm at my second job. We're launching our new website, and I work all day on populating it with up-to-date pictures, content, and events. This has been a long process for me, and it's involved a lot of me hand-holding the website designer. It's finally starting to look how I want, and I'm excited about working on it this week. I have my pasta lunch while chatting with my boss.
6 p.m. — After work, I head to the grocery store to pick up tights, milk, and maple syrup that I forgot to buy during our big shop for the week on Sunday ($27.68). I was going to go to the gym, but T. calls to tell me he's feeling flu-ish, and I use it as an excuse to skip and hang with him. We take the pup on a late-afternoon walk in the pitch dark, then tag-team prepping our lunches for tomorrow and making a dinner of steak and green beans with garlic and almonds. $27.68
8 p.m. — We clean up after dinner, watch the new Mandalorian and pass out at 9 p.m. Our weeknights are not super-eventful.
Daily Total: $27.68

Day Two

4:45 a.m. — I wake up with T., put coffee on, snuggle my pup, and leave for the gym, where I use the step machine for an hour.
7:15 a.m. — On my home, I buy a medium Double Double ($1.92) at Tim Hortons, then walk the pup, and leave him a Kong toy filled with peanut butter and treats to keep him occupied, because he's not going to daycare today. I don't bother changing out of my leggings after the gym, but I add a sweater to hopefully achieve a planned-looking athleisure getup. $1.92
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8:30 a.m. — Today is a BUSY one. We have people coming in to work on our phone system and do our books. I get next week's paycheque early and deposit $1,425.50 into my checking account. (This includes a Christmas bonus.) I immediately transfer $652 to T. for rent and car insurance for January. I transfer the rest to my Visa. I have about $1,700 on my credit card. I had mechanical issues when I first bought my car, and I didn't have enough savings to pay for repairs, so I've been working toward paying off the balance.
1 p.m. — For lunch, I eat a quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes, green onions, chickpeas, cumin, olive, oil, and lime, as well as a turkey sandwich with chipotle mayo. I top that off with a Christmas cookie I brought from home, because apparently it's imperative that I have something sweet after every meal.
6 p.m. — Dinner is spaghetti aglio e olio with shrimp (can you tell we're Italian yet?), which I eat while watching an episode of Seinfeld. T. comes home from the gym and eats dinner later than me, and we watch part of Elf before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $1.92

Day Three

6 a.m. — T. doesn't have any time to hang out this morning, so I sleep in. I call our dental insurance company first thing. From September through November, this was a daily occurrence. T. had two major accidents in the last year that resulted in a broken jaw and the loss of several teeth. He has all his pearly whites now, but we're dealing with the insurance aftermath and trying to get things covered. Insurance companies tend to assume people with difficult cases will eventually give up, and I do feel bad that they have me as a client, but I won't be giving up any time soon. I walk the pup, make my coffee, get dressed in black jeans and a black sweater, and am out the door.
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8 a.m. — It's another school day! We practise for our Christmas concert, and I do some marking.
12 p.m. — The rest of my day is long. I eat quinoa salad and my sandwich when I get into the office, and continue populating the website. By 4 p.m., I'm ready for a break and go to the grocery store for dried mango and pineapple because I'll be at work late tonight. $9.79
6 p.m. — I set up one of our studio spaces for a life drawing session. The model arrives and people trickle in. The class needs someone to guide the flow of the evening, so I get to sit in and sketch!
9 p.m. — T. has cooked sweet-and-spicy pork chops and asparagus for dinner. We eat together, I shower, and then a giant fight ensues about when we should be moving out of our current house. He's hesitant to move, because he's unsure we'll get everything we want for what we can afford. I KNOW we won't get everything we want for what we can afford, but I'm of the mindset that no place is perfect, and I value our own private space over amenities. We decide it's pointless to argue when we have no places in mind yet and agree to revisit the topic in April. (We live in a ski town, and more rentals open up when the season ends.)
Daily Total: $9.79

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — I've been slacking off this week with my morning routine. I could not force myself out of bed at 4:45 a.m., nor could I get up at 5:45 a.m. to get to the gym as I planned. I feed the pup, make coffee, get my gear on to brave the winter weather, and off we go. When I get back, I put on a black turtleneck dress from Zara, polka dot tights, black ankle booties, and my winter coat.
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8 a.m. — Two of my students give me cards and a gift card to a bookstore for Christmas! I'm excited, because these are my first teacher presents, and because now I can buy a book for my plane ride to New York City this weekend. We're going home to see our families for Christmas. (Mine is in New York, and T.'s is in the east, too.) I grew up in New York, London, and Geneva, but went to Montreal for university where I met T. An internship with his current company brought us to B.C. The small-town life has been a big adjustment, and I sometimes miss being closer to an airport, but it’s been nice to feel like a local in a small place after years of moving around and being anonymous in large cities.  
12 p.m. — I got a delivery notice last night, so I go to the post office to pick up my package. I bought T. a backpack for ski touring, and it arrived today! I pay the $37 customs fee. I eat quinoa and pineapple I brought from home, then I'm on calls with the website designer all day to get the site prepped for launch. $37
7 p.m. — The staff is having fondue for our holiday party. It's a three-course dinner that starts with a squash salad, then fondue with all kinds of sides, and crème brûlée for dessert. I went to high school in Switzerland, so I have a high bar for fondue, and I didn't have a ton of confidence in this restaurant, but it's actually good! They have steak as a side to dip, which is definitely not correct, but I think we can forgive and forget. The meal goes on the company card.
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9:30 p.m. — T. also went out after work, and we're both feeling loved up. We hang for a bit, say all kinds of stuff that would make me cringe to read, so I won't include it, and then pass out with the pup in between us. He's a big dog, and we have a double bed, so this experience isn't as pleasant as you might imagine.
Daily Total: $37

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — T. is off work today, and we both wake up at 6:45 a.m. We make coffee and walk the pup, then head to the gym. He stops at the grocery store, and I go home to get ready for work. I put on a cropped black turtleneck, high-waisted, slouchy khaki pants that make me look like a newspaper boy from the '30s (I love them), and black ankle boots. T. comes home and quickly makes me an egg wrap, then I drive to work for 9 a.m.
9 a.m. — I spend most of the day prepping the website and social media content to post while I'm on vacation — and finally launching the website! It's a full day, but I feel ready to leave knowing that things are taken care of.
1 p.m. — I go to the Christmas concert at the school to watch my kids sing the song that they've been practising all week! They are all so good, and I'm excited to have my own class next year. I'll be working as a teacher five mornings a week and will keep my arts job as well.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — Even though it's a weekend, we have a lot to do, so we wake up early to walk the pup, then head to the gym together. When we're done, we swing by town to grab two coffees. T. treats. I pick up my final paycheque for the month from school and deposit into my checking account. This goes directly to my Visa.
10 a.m. — I shower, wash and blowdry my hair, and get dressed in comfy clothes because we're going to be driving to Calgary to catch our flight. We pack our bags in the car, get the pup's stuff sorted for his week at daycare, and take him for one more quick walk.
10:30 a.m. — T. and I buy two more coffees, drop off the dog at daycare, and are on our way! It's a white-out, so the drive is sketchy, but we built extra time into our schedule for exactly this reason. We've both gotten into wrecks because of winter conditions, so we're extremely careful. $4.05
2:30 p.m. — My grandmother's friend in Calgary has offered to let us stay with her the night before our flight. We arrive early, but she's a typical Italian Nonna and is so happy to have us. We spend the afternoon chatting and being fed way too much before dinner.
6 p.m. — Dinner is unusually early, because there's a two-year-old grandson present, but I don't mind because I'm exhausted from the drive anyway. There's homemade ravioli in butter-sage sauce, green beans, and a chicken roll dish, plus a pear tart for dessert. I live far away from my family, so I appreciate having someone dote on me, and I love hearing Italian all around me.
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Daily Total: $4.05

Day Seven

5:30 a.m. — T. showers, and I get dressed in loose cargo pants, a black hoodie, and a giant scarf with sneakers. This is my typical plane outfit: comfy but still cute, and I never have to worry about being cold. We were planning on leaving our car and taking a taxi to the airport to save on parking, but, of course, our family friend is up and ready to drive us to the airport, despite our protests.
6 a.m. — We check in, drop our bags, and grab ourselves coffees and breakfast sandwiches from Tim Hortons in the airport. We board the plane, and I settle in with some lovely sixth-grade books to get ready for the literature circles in my next teaching practicum. $10.32
2:30 p.m. — We land in New York and grab an Uber. Normally, I would take the MTA, but T. is excited about being in the city and wants to see the skyline as we drive in. We go to my family's apartment, kick off our shoes, and catch up with my younger brothers and parents. $50
5 p.m. — After freshening up, we meet T.'s cousin at a wine bar near my parents' apartment and get a glass of red each (T. treats).
7 p.m. — My family, my two best friends, and their families meet up for dinner at an Italian place in the West Village. I let them pick the place, because most of the spots I want to go to are too small to fit such a big group. I order a delicious truffle pasta and dig into the burrata that my Dad got for the table. My Dad treats. I'm incredibly exhausted in the cab ride home, but also incredibly happy to be surrounded by so many people I love.
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Daily Total: $60.32
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