A Week In Quebec City, QC, On A $67,000 Salary

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Today: a scientist working in healthcare who makes $67,000 and spends some of her money this week on a camera lens.

Occupation: Scientist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 30
Location: Quebec City, QC
Salary: $67,000
Net Worth: Negative
Student Debt: $34,000 (down from $43,000)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,640
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (I live with my boyfriend of four years, K., in a two-bedroom condo he bought before we started dating. I pay him $500 a month in rent, and we split most of our living costs equally. We haven't completely combined our finances, but we have a joint chequing account we use for groceries, gas, and eating out. K. makes significantly more money than I do, so he pays for things like condo fees, home insurance, property tax, and car maintenance.)
Student Loan: $750 (The minimum monthly payment amount is $450, but I'm trying to get rid of this debt quickly!)
Internet: $40 (for my half)
Phone: $55
Electricity & Heating: $50 (for my half)
Extended Health Benefits: $130 (deducted from my paycheque)
Pension: $420 (deducted from my paycheque)
Parking: $85 (I usually buy a $90 transit pass, but I'm avoiding the bus during the pandemic.)
Car Insurance: $15 (This is what it cost to add me to K.'s plan. Our car is 12 years old, so we chose one-way coverage, which means only the damage caused to others is covered.)
Charitable Donations: $20 (deducted from my paycheque)
Netflix: $7 (for my half)
Spotify: $8 (for my half)
Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop: $16
Travel Fund: $300
Savings: $300 to $600 (Whatever I have left at the end of the month goes into savings. I have about $12,000 in this account.)

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 a nerdy kid who loved school, and nobody had to pressure me to attend higher education. I moved from New Brunswick to Quebec when I was 18 to attend university, and I graduated with a PhD 10 years later. My parents covered my living expenses and my books during my undergraduate studies and occasionally helped out during my first two years of grad school. I paid my tuition with a mix of part-time work, student loans, and scholarships. I ended up taking out more student loans than I expected, because tuition in Quebec is very expensive for students who come from a different province (about $10,000 a year compared to the $4,000 Quebec residents pay).

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents gave us a weekly allowance from a young age and encouraged us to save it. They're extremely responsible and debt-adverse, and most of our money talks were about the bad things that happen when you max out a credit card or don't pay your bills on time. Because they had two kids and a mortgage by the time they were 25, my parents' finances revolved around their family, their house, and their retirement. I don't recall them treating themselves very often. I always hesitate before telling them about a trip I'm taking or a big purchase I made, because I feel like they're still getting used to the way I spend my money, which is very different from the way they spent theirs at my age.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I was 14 when I started working part-time at an arts and crafts store. A family friend offered me the job, and I took it because it made me feel grown-up. I always had a part-time job as a teenager, but I was mainly doing it to pay for clothes, makeup, and outings with friends. I only saved about $1,500 over the years and spent it on a laptop for college when I was 18.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I grew up in a middle-class household. My dad had a stable job, but my mom was working in healthcare and struggling with inconsistent hours. We were occasionally aware of money being tight when I was young, but at no point did my parents let my brother and I worry that we wouldn't have enough. The situation improved as we grew up, and by the time I was a teenager, both my parents were making a good living and had saved up for my education.

Do you worry about money now?
After 10 years as a student, I can finally say I don't worry about money, and it feels great! I do wish I was further along in terms of my income and savings. That's one of the many downsides of being in school for so long.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I've been responsible for my own living expenses since I was 22, but money was extremely tight because of the astronomical tuition bills. I had to borrow money from my parents on occasion until I was 25. That's when I started getting doctoral scholarships that covered 100% of my tuition and living expenses. I never want to go back to being financially dependent. I have plenty of people around me who could provide for me (boyfriend, family), but I refuse to rely on anyone. I always make sure I have enough savings to last me a few months, should anything happen.

Day One

8:45 a.m. — Wow, I slept in! It feels great to have absolutely no plans today, except for a few Sunday chores. K. is still asleep, so I quietly migrate to the living room. I make myself a huge latte with my espresso machine, and I watch Epicurious and Gordon Ramsay cooking videos on YouTube, which make me insanely hungry.
10 a.m. — K. gets out of bed and joins me in the living room. I make poached eggs, bacon, and toast, and we eat our breakfast outside on our tiny balcony. Our street gets busy on weekends, so we people watch for a while.
12 p.m. — I make a grocery list for the week, and K. goes to the store while I do my laundry. I'm a huge foodie, and I absolutely love cooking, so I make most of our meals, and K. does most of the grocery shopping. He buys bagels, sprouted grain bread, tofu, chicken, cheese, yogurt, chickpeas, quinoa, salmon, milk, ice cream sandwiches, coffee beans, sparkling water, and loads of fruits and veggies. He pays with our joint debit card, which means we split the bill evenly. $63.95
2:30 p.m. — I've had this power bowl recipe idea floating around in my head all week: quinoa, grilled halloumi, pears, pomegranate seeds, kale, and walnuts. I prep it for lunch tomorrow and listen to music (the Indie All Stars playlist on Spotify is my favourite for cooking). I'm so happy with the result that I get out my photography gear and spend about an hour styling my food and taking a good photo. I recently got into food blogging, and I absolutely love it!
6 p.m. — K. offers to make chicken and potato wedges for dinner, and I accept. While he's cooking, I call my mom to chat.
8 p.m. — It's 90 Day Fiancé time, my favourite time of the week! K. and I get comfy on the couch, and he reads a book, while I watch two hours of cringe-worthy reality TV. I'm exhausted by the time the show ends, so I do my evening skin-care routine (Caudalíe micellar water, cleanser, and moisturizer) and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $63.95

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I muster the courage to open my eyes and see that K. is already awake and reading the news on his laptop. I hit snooze a couple of times, then get up. K. can afford to stay in bed longer because he's working from home.
7:30 a.m. — I spend way too long staring at my clothes and not picking an outfit. I recently traded my lab job for a desk job, and I'm not used to dressing up for work. I never bothered to look fashionable when I had to wear a lab coat over all my outfits. I manage to get dressed in a floral-print dress, a black blazer, and flats, then I brush my hair, do minimal makeup (foundation, blush, and mascara), and grab one of the power bowls I made yesterday along with half a loaf of bread to keep in my desk drawer. I make a gigantic latte, pour it in a tumbler, and go.
8:30 a.m. — I get to work and eat bread with almond butter at my desk, as always. Our office recently reopened with new sanitary and social distancing measures, but most of my coworkers live in the suburbs and are more than happy to stay home and avoid the commute, so the office is way calmer than it used to be. I spend most of my morning responding to emails and reading the latest scientific studies related to a project I'm working on.
12:45 p.m. — I eat my power bowl at my desk, and a coworker comes in to water her plants and get office supplies. We make Earl Grey tea and chat about work and life.
5:45 p.m. — It's time to get cooking! I make tofu and chicken pad Thai for dinner, and I also bake a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, which should last us the week (two days).
8:30 p.m. — I check my work email and spend an hour preparing for a meeting that was just called for tomorrow morning. By 9:30 p.m., I'm tired and don't feel like working any later, so I watch a few episodes of Friends in bed and fall asleep. I'll start my day earlier tomorrow to finish meeting prep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — Nooooooo! I meant to set my alarm for 6 a.m., but I completely forgot to do it. I get up in a hurry, wish K. a good day, grab my packed lunch, and head to the office.
7:30 a.m. — I eat the bread and almond butter I keep at my desk and drink two Nespresso coffees. I have three meetings today and tons of things to read to prepare for them. I blink and the morning is over.
12:40 p.m. — I don't have time for a proper lunch break, so I quickly eat my pad Thai at my desk while going through the 90 Day Fiancé subreddit on my phone (the obsession is real). I eat two (four) chocolate chip cookies. They're tiny, I swear!
2:15 p.m. — I'm in a virtual meeting with my coworkers (me and six other women), and the conversation eventually drifts away from work matters. They're talking about their kids, and I'm not saying much. One of them says the French equivalent of "Don't worry, you say you don't want kids now, but you'll change your mind!" This happens to me quite often. People seem to have trouble believing that a woman in her 30s can feel happy and fulfilled without kids. I politely laugh and change the subject, but I'm trying to think of a way to tell them to stop bringing this up without damaging our work relationship.
5:30 p.m. — It's Tuesday night, which means K. and I clean our condo before dinner. We both hate cleaning, but we prefer sacrificing an hour on a weeknight than doing it on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
7 p.m. — Neither of us feels like cooking, which means I make avocado toast for myself, and K. eats a pepperoni pizza we had in the freezer. In case anyone's interested, the best avocado toast combination is sprouted grain bread, sliced avocados, crumbled feta, black pepper, and a generous squeeze of lime.
8 p.m. — It's a quiet evening. K. is completely immersed in a book. I reply to a few work emails, then sit on the couch with my laptop and write a blog post for the recipe I created on Sunday.
10 p.m. — I'm exhausted, but I take a quick shower, blowdry my hair, and go to bed while K. stays up playing video games.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8:15 a.m. — I don't have any meetings scheduled this morning, and the office is even quieter than usual. While I'm having my coffee, toast, and almond butter, I receive an email from my boss asking me to peer review a document written by a coworker. I spend the entire morning doing this while listening to various podcasts that recap my favourite reality TV shows.
11:30 a.m. — I'm meeting up with two of my coworkers for a picnic today, but I didn't pack a lunch, so I order a poke bowl and an iced tea on DoorDash. I use a promo code for free delivery and leave a generous tip for the driver. $23.10
12:05 p.m. — I meet the girls at the park, we set up our picnic blankets six feet apart, and we talk for two hours straight, which is exactly what I needed. We started doing this a few weeks ago because we don't see each other every day at work anymore.
4 p.m. — Damn, that long lunch break set me back! I have to give a presentation tomorrow, and I don't feel ready, so I stay late to prepare.
6:30 p.m. — At home, K. and I chat about our days while I make vegetarian tacos for dinner. I make extra so that we have enough for lunch tomorrow.
8 p.m. — I take a shower and give my hair extra love so that I look presentable for my presentation. After, I make a donation to help the victims of the Beirut explosions, then K. and I watch a few episodes of Friends before going to bed. $50
Daily Total: $73.10

Day Five

8 a.m. — As I'm having my usual breakfast and coffee at my desk, I realize it's payday. I log into online banking and transfer the money I have left from my last paycheque to my savings account ($300 this time). I also notice my student loan payment wasn't debited from my account. Preauthorized payments are on hold for six months due to COVID, but my income hasn't changed, so I maintained my monthly payments. I find myself having to call every month to remind them to PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY.
9 a.m. — I join an all-day virtual meeting. I'm not required to participate in the entire meeting, so I turn off my microphone and camera and listen while I'm working on other things. I'm feeling anxious already, even though my presentation isn't until this afternoon. I've done a lot of public speaking, but I always feel awkward the entire time.
12:30 p.m. — I nervously eat my leftover tacos while listening. I check every 30 seconds to make sure my camera and microphone are still turned off and that nobody can see the salsa verde dripping from my chin. My presentation is scheduled for 2 p.m., so I go over my notes and reply to emails until it's my turn to speak.
2:30 p.m. — My presentation goes better than expected! I can finally breathe.
3:45 p.m. — I leave work early to go to a physical therapy appointment (and also because I kicked ass today and deserve the break). The session costs $70, but my insurance covers $55 per session. $15
6:30 p.m. — K. and I order food on Uber Eats, and it's my turn to pick the restaurant, so I choose a local Asian place. We order way too many dumplings, as well as Japanese fried chicken, and we pay for dinner with our joint bank account. When it arrives, we open a bottle of white wine we had in the fridge and spend the evening watching the latest season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. $31.75
12:30 a.m. — I'm having trouble falling asleep. I quietly get out of bed to avoid waking up K. and make my way to the living room. I lay on the couch with a blanket, put on an episode of Gilmore Girls, and eventually doze off. I end up spending the entire night there.
Daily Total: $46.75

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — K. gets up for work, and I wake up feeling groggy AF. I do my quick morning routine and steal the leftover dumplings for lunch.
8:30 a.m. — On my way to work, I stop by Starbucks to get the salted caramel cold brew I love so much. I also buy a bagel with cream cheese because I'm all out of bread at the office. $9.25
12 p.m. — During my lunch break, I take a few minutes to Messenger with my best friend, who recently moved back to New Brunswick. She used to live in Quebec City while we were both working on our PhDs, and I'm still getting used to not seeing her several times a week. Then I browse Facebook Marketplace and see an ad for a camera lens I've been wanting to purchase for a few months now. It's only $150, so I impulsively message the seller to take it. $150
5 p.m. — I get home just in time to meet up with the guy who's selling me the camera lens (don't worry, face masks and plenty of hand sanitizer were involved in this transaction). K. isn't done with work yet, so I call my parents on Zoom for happy hour. I haven't seen much of them this year because the border with New Brunswick was closed to visitors for months. We chat, and I drink a fantastic IPA from a local microbrewery.
7 p.m. — Tonight, K. and I are meeting up with another couple for dinner and drinks. On the way, we stop by a convenience store and buy a few craft beers for the night (I pay). We get to our friends' place, settle in on the patio (social distancing and all), and catch up. We find out they've been trying to get pregnant, which comes as a shock. I'm starting to realize that most of my friends are ready to have kids. I'm genuinely happy for them, but it always takes me a while to get used to the idea. I'm scared we'll grow apart once the babies arrive, which has happened in the past with some friends. We all order poutine for dinner, and K. pays for the both of us. $25.50
10:30 p.m. — We get home, I remove my makeup, and I literally fall asleep within seconds. Now that I'm old, I can't stay out past 11 p.m. on a Friday night to save my life.
Daily Total: $184.75

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — It's Saturday! I make myself an espresso and binge the new season of Selling Sunset on Netflix.
9:45 a.m. — I don't want to watch the entire thing in one sitting, so I do a yoga class online. I've been unable to work out for a few months because of an injury, and I recently tried yoga as a way to start moving again. The class doesn't cost me anything, because I'm still on my free trial.
10:30 a.m. — K. is up, and we go for breakfast at a local bagel shop. It's a beautiful day (and there's a pandemic), so we eat outside. We each have a bagel with eggs, fruit, cheese, and homemade jam. I have two espressos and K., who doesn't drink coffee (!!!), has freshly squeezed orange juice. We pay for breakfast with our joint debit card, then walk around the neighbourhood. $16.50
1 p.m. — I can't stand to stay inside on such a nice day. I text a friend, and we meet at a park to sunbathe and gossip. Having both turned 30 this year, we often have long talks about where we're at in life and the fact that pretty much everyone around us is having kids. I couldn't be happier with my life and more at peace with my choice not to have kids, but I do struggle with the way people react to it. My friend is very understanding and unsure about wanting kids herself, so it's always good to talk to her about this.
5:10 p.m. — On my way home from the park, I stop by the grocery store and buy ingredients we need for dinner: cilantro, vermicelli noodles, hoisin sauce, and orange juice. I pay with the joint debit card. $5.75
7 p.m. — K. and I cook dinner together, which we love doing on weekends. We crack beers, put on music, dance, and make duck breasts with an Asian-inspired salad.
8:30 p.m. — I finish Selling Sunset, which I enjoy, but the balance between the drama and the real estate is off in this season. (Too much of the former, not enough of the latter!)
11 p.m. — K. and I watch an episode of Friends in bed, and I fall asleep halfway through it as usual.
Daily Total: $22.25
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