A Week In Saskatchewan On A $53,094 Salary

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Today: a researcher working in education who makes $53,094 a year and spends some of her money this week on a new workout tank top.
Occupation: Researcher
Industry: Education
Age: 26
Location: Saskatchewan
Salary: $53,094
Paycheque Amount (Biweekly): $1,529
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,059 (I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment. This includes internet, cable, and parking.)
Power: $51
Student Loans: $0 (My parents paid for my undergraduate program, and I paid for my graduate degree.)
Car Insurance: $104 (I own my car outright.)
Tenant Insurance: $24
Phone: $62
Defined CPP: $301.76 (My employer matches this total 100%.)
RRSP: $50
TFSA: $200 ($75 of this goes into mutual funds.)
Savings: $400 ($200 goes to my vacation fund, $50 to my gift fund, $50 to my fun fund, and $100 to my emergency fund.)
Banking Fee: $6
Charitable Donations: $15 (This goes to a local sexual health centre.)
Gym: $110 (I have an unlimited barre studio pass.)
Netflix and Crave: $36 (My parents also use my accounts.)
Spotify: $10
New York Times Crossword App: $8.40

Day One

6:15 a.m. — I wake up, shower, and do my morning skincare routine: I use a jade roller on my face and neck, wash with Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser Creamy Fragrance-Free formula, tone with Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner, moisturize with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluide, and finish up with La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion in SPF 60. I made a batch of maple-walnut granola for the week and eat it with milk and sliced pineapple on the side.
7:50 a.m. — I get into work and check my bank account. I do this every morning to pay off new transactions posted to my credit card (I use it like a debit card). The pedicure I got over the weekend has been posted, and I pay for it using my fun fund, which is for things like spa treatments, punch passes to different gyms, and pricier clothing. The pedicure was a reward for completing my sixth month of therapy and making some big strides in managing my anxiety. $94
12 p.m. — I packed a ham-and-cheese sandwich on 12-grain bread, snap peas, an apple, and a granola bar. I put in my headphones and listen to music while I eat.
2 p.m. — I stop by my manager's office to schedule a discussion about the merit raise process. Every year, my employer and my union conjointly offer employees the opportunity to apply for merit raises. But these kinds of personnel tasks tend to fall by the wayside in our department, so I'm trying to be proactive about keeping my raise top-of-mind for her.
4 p.m. — Pilates class. I'm taking a foundational series that teaches breathing and exercise techniques, as well as how to use the different equipment. Today, it's the chair. After class, I reheat turkey chili I had in the fridge and follow it with Häagen-Dazs. I pack lunch for tomorrow and wash the dishes.
6:35 p.m. — I chat with my mom for an hour. We talk twice a week, a habit we picked up when I moved out-of-province for grad school. I lived with my parents during my undergrad degree, so it was a pretty big adjustment for all of us when I moved out. I'm back in the province now, but we're still two hours' drive away from each other. I get off the phone and pull up today's New York Times crossword.
9:30 p.m. — I do my night-time skincare routine: jade roll, exfoliate with Nip & Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads, wash, tone, pat on The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum, and moisturize with First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream. I only exfoliate twice a week because I destroyed my moisture barrier as a teen using Oxy cleansing pads, Sea Breeze toner, and zero moisturizer. I'm now very cautious about overdoing it.
Daily Total: $94

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — Wake up, shower, do morning skincare routine, eat breakfast (granola and pineapple again), blow-dry hair, brush teeth, get dressed, make coffee, leave house.
7:45 a.m. — Get into work, check my emails, and look at my mutual funds. I hold five of them, three of which are in my TFSA. Two of these funds are medium-risk and have different investment mixes of Canadian equities that typically result in about $30 profit quarterly. I recently added a low-risk bond fund, with an investment mix that is almost 100% income funds and distributes income on a monthly basis. I find having different risk levels helps to blunt the effects of the market when it dips.
I'm also using my TFSA as savings for a down payment on a house. In three years, I'll have 15 % to put down on a $250,000 to $300,000 home. Because I'll be using the money soon, I've opted for a low-risk profile and increased income distribution. I don't want to hit a dip in the market at the moment I need the money and end up with less than I put in. This way, I make less money but it's more predictable.
12 p.m. — Lunch time. I respond to my book club's group chat. We're trying to nail down a date for our next meeting, and I'm the one hosting.
4 p.m. — My Aritzia order is in my mailbox when I get home. I bought two tank tops for working out. They fit perfectly and are soft, which satisfies my very scientific criteria for good clothing. Afterwards, I take my laundry to the machines down the hall. We have to pay for our loads using reloadable laundry cards ($2 per cycle), but I topped my card up earlier in the month, so I'm good to go.
6 p.m. — I'm one of those rare birds who genuinely enjoys grocery shopping. At Superstore, I buy blueberries, bananas, green apples, pears, celery, cucumbers, onions, lunch meat, pancetta, canned plum tomatoes, dried mango, granola bars, applesauce, popcorn, chips, cheese, 2% milk, Greek yogurt, ice cream, bread, and cotton face pads. $86.21
7 p.m. — After unpacking my groceries, I get a bowl of chips and watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I scroll through Food52 for the rest of the evening, breaking briefly to fold my clothes.
Daily Total: $86.21

Day Three

6:15 a.m. — I fly through my morning routine, but have a banana instead of pineapple with my granola. Living on the edge!
7:50 a.m. — My Aritzia order has hit my credit card, and I pay for it using my fun fund. I topped up this fund up with extra money from my tax return. I got $3,928 (this is the last year I can use the tuition credits that afforded me this return). I earmarked $500 for clothing, $500 for a new couch, and $325 for my barre membership and pilates punch pass. The rest of my return went to my TFSA, my RRSP, and my vacation fund. $63.90
12 p.m. — Stop for lunch, which is a sandwich, snap peas, sliced cucumber with dip, diced pineapple, and a granola bar. I text back and forth with a friend about watching Avengers: Endgame. (I guess this means I have to see Infinity War???)
2:35 p.m. — I have an acupuncture appointment, so I pack up and leave work. I experience sinus headaches regularly, but the severity has lessened somewhat since I started trying this. My acupuncturist doesn't direct-bill my insurance, so I pay up front and submit my claim when I get home. ($70 expensed)
5 p.m. — I eat dinner and clean my apartment. I looooove going into the weekend with a fresh apartment. That done, I spend the rest of the night between the TV and my iPad.
Daily Total: $63.90

Day Four

8 a.m. — I'm meeting my friend to go rock-climbing so I get up to make coffee and breakfast.
10 a.m. — I recently cancelled my climbing membership, but the cancellation doesn't kick in until next month, so I scan in. The place is packed, but we still get in a good climb. We've been busy lately, making it hard to get together on a semi-regular basis. I'm happy to finally catch up with her.
11:30 a.m. — After climbing, I go to the library and check out Kristin Wong's Get Money, which was recommended by a financial blogger I like. I love reading about personal finance and budgeting (unsurprising, no?). For the last year, I've been following the system outlined in Worry-Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons. I cannot recommend it enough. It helped me structure my budget so I can spend money on things I actually like, rather than cutting back on them. Anyone who gives me permission to spend $400 on groceries a month is truly an amazing person.
12 p.m. — I eat a quick lunch, soak in the bath, then go to Sobeys for coffee, lemon juice, cough drops, and a box of tissue because I've been dealing with an allergy flare up. $15.91
4 p.m. — Having lazed around for most of the afternoon, I get up and start making dinner. I make Marcella Hazan's braised celery with pancetta, onion, and tomatoes. The recipe is from her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Even though I love to cook, I haven't felt like doing it much lately. I'm hoping this dinner will help amp my enthusiasm back up. I eat it with toasted French bread and a glass of white wine.
6:30 p.m. — I call my mom. We talk about our upcoming trip to northern Italy in the fall. We're mostly going to eat and drink: I can't wait to try cicchetti in Venice (small plates, like tapas, which means you can snack your way around the city) and lampredotto in Florence (tripe sandwiches, a local specialty). This will be my last big trip for a while. When I get back, I'll be reducing my vacation savings by a $100 a month, so I can put more money towards my house. I could stop saving for vacations all together but, as my mom reminds me, I still need to enjoy life in the meantime.
10:30 p.m. — Head to bed.
Daily Total: $15.91

Day Five

8 a.m. — My allergies are bad, and I feel awful but I've got barre at 10 a.m. I eat breakfast, take my extra-strength allergy medication, and pack water, cough drops, and tissue in my gym bag. I really don't want to inflict my grossness on anyone.
10:45 a.m. — Class is done, and I managed to keep up the entire time. Almost. I tapped out twice during the ab section but I'm still new to barre, so this is a win! I make myself a cup of tea with lemon and honey and get into the bath. I could take a bath three times a day, even in the summer, for the rest of my life. The afterlife will just be an endless bath. There's a 90% chance I'm having one right now as you read this.
12 p.m. — I finish the turkey chili (finally!) and pivot between Netflix (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Crave (The Urban Vegetarian), my iPad, and my phone for the rest of the afternoon.
5 p.m. — I reheat some of the braised celery on the stove and toast two slices of bread. It's just as good as it was yesterday. I pack lunch for tomorrow and do the dishes. I'm feeling very allergy-ridden and very tired, so I turn in at around 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — I wake up feeling even worse than I did yesterday, but standing in a hot shower helps. I make tea with honey and lemon instead of my usual coffee and rush through my routine, so I can go to Shoppers Drug Mart for Claritin (the extra-strength stuff I've been taking isn't cutting it anymore). I have $20 worth of PC Optimum points, so I put that towards my purchase. $13.06
8 a.m. — I'm meeting with my manager to discuss my merit raise today, so I pull together the last document I'll need. In the two-and-a-half years I've been in this position, my salary has increased by 6.5%. We receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment every year (1.5%–2%) and my union negotiated for an additional annual increase of 1.5% in our last collective agreement for a fixed number of years. If I'm awarded a merit raise, my salary will increase by another 3.5%. Here's hoping!
12 p.m. — Break for lunch. I packed a sandwich, sliced cucumbers with dip, blueberries, and a granola bar. I listen to music and read on my phone before getting back to work.
2:30 p.m. — My manager and I meet at Tim Hortons. I get a small London Fog, and she pays. We go over the documents I prepared, and she offers feedback. We also establish next steps for submitting my raise proposal, and discuss how to further my professional development. She floats the idea of me doing a PhD, which will make it easier to move forward in my career. We both acknowledge that I'm not ready yet. I was burned out after my master's program, and I do not want to end up back in that position (i.e. watching The Good Wife for literal days on end and crying all the time).
4 p.m. — I go to my massage. I typically get just my upper body done, but my quads and calves have been aching something fierce, so I have the massage therapist do a full-body treatment. She direct-bills my insurance, so I don't have to pay upfront or submit a claim. ($80 expensed)
5:30 p.m. — I eat dinner, pack lunch for tomorrow, wash dishes, then run a bath and read The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum, about the advancement of forensic toxicology in the jazz age. I eventually drag myself out, only to spend the rest of the evening lying horizontal on the couch. I go to bed at 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $13.06

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — I can kind of breathe through my nose again! I go through my morning routine, cancelling the barre class I had booked for tonight. I just don't have the capacity to deal with allergies + barre + exhaustion from barre + the million little tasks I need to do afterwards. I'm leaving to visit my parents tomorrow, so I've got a laundry list to get through. I had some extra vacation days I needed to use up before the end of the month (we don't get paid out if we don't take them), so I figured I'd tack them on to the weekend.
8 a.m. — I'm reviewing research proposals today which, depending on the quality, is not necessarily my favourite thing to do. My colleague, however, brought doughnuts! She gives me two: I eat a banana-walnut one and save a chocolate one for later.
12 p.m. — Lunch time. I listen to music and read on my phone as I eat.
4 p.m. — Leave work for the day. I stop by the gas station to top up my tank and get my car washed. $35.15
5 p.m. — I put cheese and spinach ravioli on to boil and make a sauce using the leftover braised celery. I discard the celery and put the onions, pancetta, and tomatoes in a pan on the stove, thin it out with some juice leftover from the canned tomatoes, season, and toss it with the al dente ravioli. I finish it with shaved pecorino.
6 p.m. — I meant to go the grocery store after I got gas, buuuuuut totally forgot. I go back to Independent for garbage bags. $6.30
6:30 p.m. — I pack, take out the recycling and garbage, and clean out the perishables in the fridge. I've got this down to a science now, but going through the motions is still tedious. Once all that is finished, I watch a couple episodes of Big Family Cooking Showdown on Netflix while playing Two Dots on my iPad.
9:30 p.m. — I book a pilates class for next week while brushing my teeth, read on my phone, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $41.45
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