A Week In Edmonton, AB, On A $50,000 Salary

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Today: a reporter working in media who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on ramen.
Occupation: Reporter
Industry: Media
Age: 23
Location: Edmonton, AB
Salary: $50,000
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,590
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I moved back in with my parents after I graduated last spring, and they graciously don't charge me rent.)
Student Loan: $171.78 (I took on $8,000 in debt to cover my last year of school, because my parents and family covered the rest of my education. I'm paying the minimum each month, because I'm saving for grad school next year.)
Cell: $0 (I'm on my parents' family plan and work covers my company phone).
Netflix: $0 (Thanks, parentals!)
Gym Membership: $49 (after a 10% corporate discount)
Public Transit: $76.78 (This is for 30 tickets. I miss my U-Pass!)
Spotify: $10
Health Insurance: $0 (covered by employer)
Dental Insurance: $17.60 (deducted from my paycheque)
Pension: 3% is deducted from my paycheque and matched by my employer.
New York Times Digital Subscription & Employer Publication Subscription: $14.20 (essentials for any young journalist)
Savings: $1,500 (This goes into a high-interest account that I don't touch except for education and travel expenditures.)

Day One

5:20 a.m. — I hate the morning shift. I could sleep for another week, but my brain manages to break through the haze when I realize my big piece is out today! I grab my phone, nab the link, and tweet it with the text I wrote last night. (Laugh all you want; Twitter is life for journalists.) I throw on a black mock-neck dress, tights, and my new vintage jacket. I wash my face and moisturize (Éminence probiotic moisturizer and willow bark serum). My new acne cream has been irritating my skin, so I do simple makeup (Garnier BB cream, Smashbox concealer, blush, Kat Von D tattoo liner, and Covergirl mascara), then grab my pre-packed gym bag.
6:10 a.m. — I fry a couple of eggs on a slice of wholegrain toast with Sriracha, and my dad comes downstairs to let the puppy out. He offers to drive me to work, and I'm glad, because it's cold. I wish I had known, though, so I could've slept in! I settle on the couch to watch Gilmore Girls (it's autumn, baby!) and drink my coffee, which I spill when the pup demands affection by nibbling my toes. I get to work right on time, and there's no news breaking, so I tweet about the story, which is getting traction. My mentions aren't a dumpster fire yet, but give Twitter time.
9:10 a.m. — I head over to the courthouse for a hearing that doesn't yield anything, then grab a soy chai latte (in my Thermos) from my favourite spot on my walk back to the office ($6.50). I used to get most of my lattes for free, because my friends worked at this café, but they've all since graduated and moved on. $6.50
11:30 a.m. — Starving, I get a chocolate brownie Clif bar out of my desk. These things save journalists' lives on the daily.
12:40 p.m. — It's finally lunch time, so I have the sandwich I brought from home (smoked tofu, cheddar, mayo, Sriracha, plus lots of spinach and onion) and leftover roasted Brussels sprouts my mom made. I waste the rest of the day reading and doing research, since I'm done my stories for tomorrow. I also go for a walk with my colleague/work wife.
3 p.m. — I catch the bus to physio, but I'm so tired I get on the wrong bus and can't figure out if the driver gave me the right transfer, so I use another ticket to get on the right bus. I stopped buying a monthly pass, because I wasn't getting my money's worth, but tickets are a hassle.
4:30 p.m. — I make it to my appointment and, after an hour, my shoulder is feeling much better but still banged up, so I don't go to the gym as I had planned. I pay the $80 physio fee, which will be fully reimbursed, and get back on the bus with my transfer (still valid!) to drop my bag back at the office, file my claim, and charge my phone. ($80 expensed)
5:30 p.m. — I'm BACK on the bus to grab wine ($12) and a coffee ($1.67) for my friend, who works near my boyfriend, F.'s, place. The Second Cup is closed for renovations, so I feel bad bringing her second-rate coffee from a worse chain, but she's still grateful. $13.67
6:30 p.m. — We're making gnocchi with brown butter and lemon, plus more of the leftover Brussels sprouts (it's a Belgian kind of day). Cooking takes forever, because F. can't keep his hands off me, and I'm not much better. I haven't seen him all weekend, since I was visiting a friend in Saskatchewan (a cool place but Alberta is objectively the best prairie province). We started dating over the summer, and I've honestly never felt like this about anyone, so I'm relishing acting like a total teenager. The meal turns out amazingly, and we have it with the wine I brought, then spend the night watching Mindhunter and smoking a bit of weed.
9:50 p.m. — F. drives me home, because I'm on the early shift again, and I wouldn't want to inflict my wake-up time on anybody I care about. My parents have gone to sleep, so I pet the puppy, do my skincare routine, and apply my new nighttime acne cream. I never had cystic acne until this past summer when my temples started breaking out, so I got a prescription for a cream that is getting rid of my pimples — along with every last drop of moisture in my skin.
Daily Total: $20.17

Day Two

5:10 a.m. — I wake up to a cute message F. sent me after I went to sleep (swoon) and scroll the socials, refusing to check my email. If there is news at this hour, it can wait. I shower, barely blowdry my hair, get dressed in evergreen corduroys and a dressy white T-shirt, make the same eggs as yesterday, and grab leftovers for lunch.
6:15 a.m. — Coffee with vanilla almond milk in hand, I'm out the door into the frosty morning to catch the bus.
8:30 a.m. — Work has been slow, but I wander over to a scene a few blocks away, which gets me out of the office. My hands are frozen when I get back, though, so I make a mental note to bring mittens to work tomorrow (and every day for the next six months).
10:30 a.m. — I take a cab to cover an event and grab a free coffee, a couple of mini danishes, and a gingersnap cookie that I wrap in a napkin and tuck in my bag to share with my colleagues. I get a ride back with the photographer on staff and eat my lunch of Brussels sprouts (I'm on a roll!) with rice pilaf and ground beef my mom made last night. ($8 expensed)
1 p.m. — I take a walk around the office to clear my head after hearing that one of the reporters who has been mentoring me is leaving for a new position. She helped me turn my internship into a job, and I'm sad we won't be working together anymore.
2:12 p.m. — Apparently, all the news was waiting until I started feeling emotionally stable! An important and depressing report lands in my inbox, so I wrap my other story and write it up. I also get a notification that my company phone has (finally!) shipped, so I put in an order for business cards with my work number. I negotiated for work to pay half of my personal phone bill (which I paid back to my parents) while I was waiting for my work phone, like the HBIC I aspire to be.
2:40 p.m. — I do a quick Starbucks run with a colleague and get a green tea and refill my app balance ($11.67). After I've filed my stories for the day, I hop on the bus to my nail appointment. $11.67
5:19 p.m. — It's thotumn, baby, so I pick a dark burgundy for my nails as I watch more Gilmore Girls at the salon. My nails are the only thing I splurge on in my appearance; having them done makes me feel so professional and polished. I had a bad habit of biting them all my life, but this keeps me from giving in. I pay $88.30 for a fill on my gel extensions, which includes a 20% tip, because they do a great job and often repair chips or breaks for free. This manicure will last three weeks at least. $88.30
5:54 p.m — I take the bus home to drop my bag and change into my black Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans with ragged cuffs, a grey Aritzia turtleneck, red blanket scarf, and black leather ankle booties with a black military-style canvas jacket. I feel like I always see F. right after work, when I'm not exactly fresh, so I take advantage of the chance to dress up and curl my hair. I chat with my dad and the pup about their days (pup got kicked out of doggy daycare for being too playful), then borrow my dad's car to drive to F.'s before dinner. I bring a box of Girl Guide cookies my dad was too nice not to buy.
6:30 p.m — F. is very excited about the cookies, and we wander over to a new ramen place. We both get spicy tonkotsu ramen (I add an extra egg), and he gets an IPA on special, while I stick with green tea, because my voice is still hoarse from a weekend of day drinking and socializing. I pay for both of us despite his protest, and he agrees he'll get the next one. I don't mind paying for more of our meals out, because he drives us around and pays for more groceries at his place. I also make more than he does and don't pay rent. We stop at Circle K to get rolling papers and a matcha green tea KitKat (our obsession), which F. kindly pays for. $48.10
10:20 p.m. — We lose track of time talking about our days and my upcoming birthday, so we start Mindhunter late, and we then lose track of time again, so I'm heading home later than I planned. I have a lot on my mind from all the awful emails and tweets people were sending about the article. Some of them were really racist, and I think of the journalists of colour who deal with this on a much more regular basis than I do. At home, I do my skincare routine, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed.
Daily Total: $148.07

Day Three

5:45 a.m. — Can you tell I'm tired of the morning shift yet? I push my wake-up time to the limit by snoozing twice, then roll out of bed and throw on the same outfit as last night (it's still cute and clean!). I refresh my curls and do simple make-up (BB cream, blush, brow pencil, and mascara). I fry two eggs with Sriracha on whole-grain toast and pet the cat and pup. I add my Patagonia puff underneath my coat for extra warmth and chat briefly with my mom before heading out the door.
6:40 a.m. — I can tell it's going to be one of those days that I'm always hungry. I munch on half a Clif bar on the bus and grab a large tea with a touch of milk and sugar ($2) from Tim Hortons before I get into the office. People who think Timmies coffee is good are blinded by the corporate patriotism that company has managed to cement in our country, but the steeped tea is bomb. I check my emails on the walk over. The awful ones have abated, but some about a tragic story I wrote yesterday are still insensitive. I love my job, but I truly see the worst of people some days. To cleanse my mind, I scroll back through the supportive messages I got about my big piece. $2
12:35 p.m. — It was a busy morning at court with a heavy case, so I Ritual spicy pho to pick up on the way back to the office. I manage not to spill the soup and eat it at my desk while catching up with co-workers. $14.45
2:20 p.m. — I've filed the story and munch on an apple while I wait for edits, which go through smoothly! My physio insurance reimbursement is automatically deposited, so I sigh in relief. After sending emails to set up my stories for the next couple of days, I head to the gym for cardio and to stretch my shoulder.
4:30 p.m. — I change afterwards but don't put my bra back on and feel the closest thing to true freedom I've felt in years. I drop by a shoe repair place to leave my ankle boots for new insoles and heel repairs, then bus home while listening to a Libra playlist on Spotify.
7:30 p.m. — I shower and put on my acne cream right away, so I can take it off before bed and give my skin a break from drying out. Mom gets home with the pup, and I make us falafel, brown rice, and sautéed broccoli, since my dad is out at the Oilers game for work. (Where can I get a job like that?!) We game plan what we need to do for my birthday brunch on Sunday, and I head to get brunch supplies (eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, cheeses), plus stuff for myself (nylons, Clif bars, a cinnamon candle), as well as Prosecco, an eight-pack of Somersby ciders, and a six-pack of Alley Kat Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ale. Mom gave me her credit card, since the supplies are for my birthday, and I technically don't pay for any groceries. She refuses my offer to pay her back for the personal stuff I bought. My parents are the best.
9:45 p.m. — The pup has a case of the zoomies, and it's serious. He won't let me change my sheets without jumping on the bed, so I finish cleaning my bathroom and vacuuming my room while he calms down. My friend, R., is visiting for my birthday this weekend, and he'll sleep in my bed for the night he's here, and I'll crash with F. or take the couch. I do a face mask and put on a touch of brow dye. I check if my therapist has any openings in the next little while but no such luck. I used to go every week, but my mental health has made a miraculous and well-earned recovery in the last two years following a truly nasty break-up. Now I go once a month as a check-in about work stress and adjusting to life after university. My parents pay ($200 per session), because my insurance only covers one and half sessions per year. I crash before 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $16.45

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada voice: I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.
6:40 a.m. — Timmies continues to fuel Canada's economy, and I contribute $2 for steeped tea. I resist the urge to get a bagel and head to the office to eat the thawed tropical fruit, 0% Greek yogurt, and Bran Buds I packed. Does becoming an adult mean you have to be the one to tell yourself there's food at home? $2
7:20 a.m. — A co-worker reminds me it's payday AND a three pay cheque month! I check that my pay came through on my RBC app and hold off on transferring the usual half to my savings, so I can enjoy this rare and fleeting moment of wealth. It feels good having a fair amount of savings ($8,000) for my age, but it always sucks to feel like the money I'm making is disappearing for something abstract with grad school still over a year away. My goal is to have at least $20,000 for living expenses saved by next September, when I start grad school (my grandparents are generously paying my graduate tuition), plus extra for a short trip before then.
10 a.m. — I drive a company car to an assignment and grab a free coffee to keep my hands warm, since it's outdoors. It's a gorgeous, crisp fall day, and I love that my job gets me outside. As I'm unwinding my scarf in the car afterwards, I realize one of the beaded studs I bought over the weekend is missing. Back at the office, I look for the same pair online while I eat leftover falafel, broccoli, and rice, but they're $10 more than what I paid.
12:10 p.m. — My co-worker buys me a tea at Starbucks. We're casual about coffees for everyone, and it always evens out.
3 p.m. — It's finally time to go after I reheat a frozen Amy's burrito. I realize I forgot my gym shoes and fate is telling me to skip the gym, so I take the bus to a consignment shop to look for sweaters. All of mine are feeling worn and tired now, and I've lost a fair amount of weight since I bought them (35 pounds from my heaviest). I find a grey Aritzia turtleneck and a gingham tie-front top with bell sleeves. I buy them both ($78.90) and make a mental note to bring back my own clothes soon to make money. I pop down the street to Planet Organic for chips, a grapefruit-sage kombucha, and sesame tofu from the deli to bring to F.'s tonight ($13.51). $92.41
5:30 p.m. — A friend got us free tickets to a series of climate talks. She drives us and pays for parking, so I promise to buy her a coffee soon. We load up on free food like cheese and crackers, cauliflower bites, and veggies before the talks start. The eight short talks are, on the whole, great and make me feel less alone in my existential dread about climate change. We nab two dessert bars on the way out and my friend drops me off at F.'s just after 9.
11 p.m. — We finish watching the game (F. is a big football fan and reigning champ of his fantasy league) and talk for awhile before we realize it's time to go to bed.
Daily Total: $94.41

Day Five

5 a.m. — I get up to pee after fighting off F.'s cuddles. This boy, I swear. I don't really get back to sleep, but I doze until my alarm goes off at 5:50 a.m. F. half-wakes up, and we snuggle until I tell him to go back to sleep, and I pull myself out of bed to put on a grey mock-neck dress and my black Matt & Nat platform boots. I don't know which made me love wearing black and neutrals more, doing my undergrad on the West Coast or becoming a journalist. I do simple make-up, throw my hair in a ponytail, since it's too greasy for dry shampoo to fix, and steal a yogurt from the fridge. I try to sneak out without waking F. again, but he demands a kiss before I walk to the train at 6:30 a.m. It's so hard to leave him looking so cute and sleepy.
6:50 a.m — I get a Timmies tea and two sausage breakfast sandwiches (two for $5!). $7.51
8:20 a.m. — Our soccer team manager sends a reminder to register, so I scan and sign the form and transfer her $200 for the upcoming season. I've played soccer since I was four and still play with some of the same women as when I started! The sport made me who I am in terms of teamwork and drive, and I'm so glad I can keep it up in my adult life. I also check that my benefits renew in the new calendar year and book three massages to use them up before January, because any unused benefit is just profit in the insurance CEO's pocket. $200
10:40 a.m — I eat the second breakfast sandwich and dip out to return They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib to the library because I left it at F.'s for him to read, and he forgot to return it before it was due. He slipped me $5 last night to cover it because he felt bad, but I don't pay the $3.25 fine yet. I grab Normal People by Sally Rooney while I'm there. I've heard mixed reviews, but I'll give it a shot. I still have most of Family of Origin by CJ Hauser to read, and it's due Monday, so I'm being overly ambitious. I also pick up and pay for the boots I brought in for repair and they look great! $49.35
2:50 p.m. — I dip out 10 minutes early, because work is dead, I'm dead, and I've filed all three of my stories for the day. I ate a Clif bar and a frozen Lean Cuisine, but I'm starving and can't wait to get real food at home.
5:10 p.m. — Showered, changed into my new grey turtleneck, fed (smoked tofu sandwich with toasted multigrain bread) and bags packed for the weekend, I take the bus back downtown and head to a dangerously cheap happy hour for my co-worker's goodbye drinks. Over the next couple of hours, I get three single gin and gingers, which comes to $14.40, including an 18% tip (I told you — dangerously cheap!). $14.40
7 p.m. — I take a Lime e-scooter down to F.'s., because it's a gorgeous day and with a free unlock code, it costs the same as using a transit ticket to be underground on the train ($3).
8:20 p.m. — F. and I are beat and doze during Vertigo, the first of many spooky movies I'm using October as an excuse to watch. We manage to make it through the movie and get to bed by around 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $274.26

Day Six

5:55 a.m — My body didn't get the memo that it's my day off. I pee before I remember it's my birthday, too! I check my texts while F. snoozes beside me, and I try to fall back asleep to no avail. He rolls over around 7:30 a.m. to wish me a happy birthday and give me a kiss. I tell him to go back to sleep, while I head into the living room to make tea and reply to birthday texts and calls.
8:10 a.m. — F. is up and comes to pull me back to bed for cuddles and — cue Jeremih voice — birthday sex. We lay around game planning for the weekend.
10:40 a.m. — F. drops me off at home, so I can take my Dad's car to pick up R. from the airport. I eat a Clif bar on the drive to the airport.
12:40 p.m. — Bag dropped off and parents and puppy caught up with, R. and I drive over to Whyte Avenue to grab brunch at a BBQ place called Meat. I get the southern benny, and he gets a breakfast skillet, both of which we share. It's so good to catch up. Even though it's only been a week since we saw each other, I miss living a few blocks from him and seeing him almost every day. He pays while I'm in the washroom, even though I had insisted we split it. We meander through the farmers' market for samples, then along the main drag, so I can show him the hip spots in town. I buy a butternut squash–coloured turtleneck for a sweet deal from a store that's closing. It's perfect for my fall wardrobe refresh. $42.50
2:40 p.m. — We drop by the office, so I can show R. around. Then we swing by Duchess Bake Shop to share a mini Duke Cake, an autumn tart, and a meringue. I insist on paying even though it's my birthday, because R. is my guest ($24.10). After stopping at a lookout over the city, I put gas in my dad's tank ($25). My parents don't make me pay for gas, but I usually fill it up to at least half a tank as a thank you when I'm driving it for errands. $49.10
4:40 p.m. — R. naps, while I shower and get changed into a black deep-v wrap dress and ankle boots. My dad also gets home from the wedding my parents were at to take care of the dog, so he meets F. for the first time by surprise (eep). It goes well, and the three most important guys in my life seem to hit it off. We head out to a local vegan place and share curry "chicken," spicy eggplant, sweet-and-sour "chicken," and coconut rice, plus Americanos all around. We split the bill evenly, because I make the most of any of us, and I really don't want to make this an expensive day for people ($22.50 including tip). We swing by the liquor store and buy beer and cider for the corn maze. R. buys me two cans of Strongbow. While they shop, I grab my free Starbucks birthday drink, a pumpkin chai latte with soy milk, which we all share. $22.50
7 p.m. — I grab everyone's tickets for the maze, but we're three short of getting the group discount, darn! It's $156 for all 12 of us, but everyone transfers me money right away ($13 for my share), and we head into the maze. I have a cider and we get wonderfully lost. I love the perfect peak of autumn my birthday falls on, and it's cute to see F. chatting with my friends he's meeting for the first time. $13
9:30 p.m. — F. drives us back into town, and I text my colleague on night shift that there's a collision near us that she could look into. No way I'm working on my birthday. I crush the second cider in the car on the way back under the terrible influence of both R. and F., who want me to have An Evening. We get to my fave bar and throughout the next several hours I have two double Tom Collins, a cider, tomato-mozzarella crostini, a gin and tonic, and three tequila shots, one of which my bestie in Toronto buys me via e-transfer. I only order two of the drinks and the crostini (everyone is buying me drinks), and F. generously picks up my tab as we close out the bar.
2 a.m. — We stop to quell our munchies, and I get poutine, which is the first thing I see on the menu in my drunken tunnel vision. ($9.50). There is leg wrestling on the street, many drunken photos, and new friends made as the crew finishes our food. I pay for R.'s Uber, which is surging insanely, but I'm too drunk to make the logical decision to take a cab, and give him my keys to get back home ($49.50). I know he'll pay me back, but he also treated me a bunch today, so I don't worry about it too much. $59
4 a.m. — I'm feeling almost sober but still love-drunk. F. and I stumble back to his place and lay in bed being extremely mushy before we pass out.
Daily Total: $186.10

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — NOT TODAY, MORNING SHIFT. I get up to pee and drink water.
7:30 a.m. — F. and I are both painfully awake, but I feel more tired than hungover. F., on the other hand, is hurting, so we lay around talking about the night, and I make him tea and toast. I joke that the two years age difference between us are showing.
9:10 a.m. — We scooter to the car, which we left parked by the bar last night. I feel like I'm in an episode of Broad City, as I zip through the empty streets wearing my nice jeans, ankle boots, F.'s Patagonia pullover, my blue peacoat, and a mustard-yellow toque R. got me for my birthday. It's a look, and I really need my normal clothes. We drop the scooters ($4) and drive home to collapse back into bed. $4
11:30 a.m. — We are both sluggish but motivated by food. I pick up spinach-potato cakes at the Planet Organic ($26.23) and ice ($6.48) on the way to my place, which my parents said they will cover, since it's my birthday. My credit card is mine but still under their umbrella, so I go through my bill each month and flag what major things I purchased for the house/dog beyond small grocery runs, and then subtract that from my bill, which I pay in full each month (I never carry a balance).
12:30 p.m. — Brunch (eggs, sausages, bacon, cheese board, chocolate croissants from the Italian Centre, fruit salad, spinach-potato cakes, toast, and mimosas) revives me from the dead. F. meets my mom and grandparents for the first time. It goes well! My sister and R. get me a leather tote bag, a candle, a plastic severed foot (random but I dig), exfoliating sugar scrubs, and a new teapot. My grandparents give me a gift card for my next manicure and pedicure and a cheque for $100. My parents already bought me a flight to Vancouver to visit my university friends for the weekend, and F. is taking me for a dinner this week, because picking gifts is maybe his only weakness, and it was stressing him out. I'm tired and happy and feeling like my heart is full in a way it's never been before.
3:45 p.m. — F. heads out to his parents' place to do laundry and have dinner, and I drive R. to the Italian Centre to get a sandwich for his trip and a couple of coffees to sip while we sit in the park under the falling leaves (he pays). We talk about how much our lives have changed in the last year. I drive him to the bus station, and we hug goodbye, promising another visit soon.
5:20 p.m. — My parents are out with the dog, so I grab leftovers from brunch and watch Gilmore Girls in bed for all of 10 minutes before I pass out.
6:37 p.m. — I wake up to my bestie in Toronto FaceTiming me as we planned. I catch her up on the weekend, and she tells me about her new contract at a major paper, which I'm so proud of her for scoring. We talk for almost two hours about anything and everything. I deposit my birthday cheque into my savings account, and I spend the rest of the night watching TV, munching leftovers, and chatting with F. before crashing just after 10 p.m., stomach bloated and heart humming.
Daily Total: $4
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