A Week In Vancouver, BC, On A $60,000 Salary

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Today: a stenographic court reporter who makes $60,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a desk chair.
Occupation: Stenographic Court Reporter
Industry: Law
Age: 28
Location: Vancouver, BC
Salary: $60,000–$65,000
Net Worth: $11,952 (I have $2,652 in an RRSP and $9,300 in savings.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,500 (This is an average total before taxes. I'm an independent contractor, so my paycheques vary, and I put away $1,000 from each one into savings, so I have money for taxes at the end of each year.)
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,950 (I live with my husband, N., but he's been out of work due to COVID, so I'm covering his half of the rent right now. This total includes hydro and internet.)
Health & Dental Benefits: I don't have benefits.
Phone: $130 (I’m paying more than usual because I bought a new phone, and a portion of the cost of the phone is added to my bill each month.)
Netflix: $13.99
Crave: $22.38
Spotify Premium: $13
Savings: $2,000 (I try to put away $1,000 from each paycheque.)

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?
My parents let me know that they had the money for me to attend various levels of higher education. I ended up going through two different two-year diploma programs: I flunked out of one (I was young and not serious enough about school) and graduated with honours from the other. My parents paid my tuition for both programs.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents tried to get me to keep track of my finances as soon as I was old enough to get an allowance. I'm terrible at math, so I had a hard time tracking my spending, but I remember them diligently going over the taxes and thoroughly tracking their own spending. My parents tried their best to educate me on finances, but it took me a while to take it seriously.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got a job as a grocery bagger and then got promoted to work in the floral department when I was 16. I can't remember why I got the job, but I'm assuming it was because I wanted financial independence to buy things for myself because my allowance came to an end when I was a teenager.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, but I know that's because my parents were incredibly smart with their money. My mom retired when I was born so she could stay at home with me, and my dad continued working. They wanted to spend money on memories for our family, so instead of renovating our house, we would go on a fun vacation every year. My mom tells me that ordering pizza once a month was an indulgence for them when I was little. They're definitely able to afford more than their monthly pizza now.

Do you worry about money now?
Absolutely. Even though this is the most financially stable I've ever been, N.'s unemployment has been tough. I was hoping to be a double-income-no-kids household for a bit. We have sufficient savings to cover expenses and afford luxuries here and there, but I also need to make sure I can pay for the majority of things with just my paycheque.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Honestly, I wasn't fully responsible for myself until I got married this past year. I was in school from 2018 to 2020, and before that, I was working a full-time job but not making nearly enough to afford anything, so my parents have been helping me out for a long time. I'm eternally grateful for this, and it's motivated me to spend my money wisely, have lots of savings, and hopefully give my kids the same financial support that my parents gave me.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — It's the first day back at work in the new year, and it's a struggle to get out of bed. I know it shouldn't be hard to wake up at this time, but I've been getting up later now that I'm working from home and don't need extra time to commute downtown. My resolution for 2021 is to get up earlier! We'll see about that.
9:10 a.m. — I finish doing my hair and put on my Zoom makeup, which is just concealer, Benefit Cosmetics My Brow pencil, and lipstick so I don't look super-washed out in my mediocre home office light. Can I business expense one of those makeup lights that Instagram models use? At 9:30 a.m., I sign on, set up my steno machine, and drink my coffee while I wait for the other attendees to show up for the 10 a.m. start.
12:15 p.m. — The job is over, and it was short but challenging. The content was depressing, so I'm thankful that it was only two hours. I'm a big true crime fan and like to think I can handle some messed up stuff, but this was a lot to handle. I'm now sad and hungry so I go into the kitchen to see if N. wants to go on a walk to the store with me. It's nice to get outside, and it has stopped raining. I'm craving a grilled cheese for lunch, so we pick up Gruyère, bread, kombucha, olive oil, some new sparkling water drink, dill, and chicken thighs. $59.28
1:30 p.m. — I'm still feeling meh from my job earlier, so I take it easy for the afternoon. I play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cuddle with my cats, take a nap, and watch The Mindy Project. I forgot how good this show is. For dinner, we're doing one of our weeknight favourites: chicken thighs with crispy potatoes with feta and dill. N. has a video game hang-out with his friends tonight, so he does the dishes and preps dinner for me to throw in the oven later.
4:30 p.m. — My proofer sent back two transcripts to finish up, so I put the chicken and potatoes in the oven to roast while I go through her notes. As I'm working away, I get a text from the upstairs neighbours that a package came for me. I haven't stepped foot in a mall in months, so I've been doing all my shopping online, and sometimes the packages go to the front door instead of ours. I'm worried our neighbours think I have a shopping addiction. I'm excited to see that it's my Sephora stuff. I've decided to take better care of my skin this year. I'm not getting any younger and I can finally afford skin-care products — 2021: the year of good skin! I'm looking forward to trying these out before bed tonight.
8:30 p.m. — I spontaneously make brownies and finish my work while I wait for them to cool. N.'s video game hang finishes just as the brownies are ready — suspicious — and we chill together on the couch and watch more of The Mindy Project (my pick, not his, but I think he likes it).
10:15 p.m. — Skin-care time. I did a lot of research before buying and settled on First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser, The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, and The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. We'll see if they work. I play with my cats in an attempt to tire them out, then crawl into bed. I've been having a hard time getting to sleep, so I get N. to put on the podcast Sleep With Me to help get my mind off things. My cat comes to cuddle, and I start to fall asleep as soon as I hear her purring.
Daily Total: $59.28

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — My resolution is not off to a good start. How was there ever a time when I woke up earlier than this? I pull myself out of the warm bed, and my cats follow me into the bathroom. I think they're cold because they stay with me while I shower and bask in the warm steam (weird, I know).
9:30 a.m. — I get set up again in the office with my coffee and wait for everyone else to log in. The plaintiff will be using an interpreter for the discovery, which means that my job might be a little longer because each question and answer needs to be interpreted.
1 p.m. — The clients didn't order the transcript! This is a good thing because transcript orders can pile up in the blink of an eye. I'm thankful for an easy day. N. is finishing up a job interview, so I hang out in the office until he's done, then go see how it went. He's pretty sure he's got the job, and we're just waiting for the official offer. It'll be part-time work, so I’ll probably still be paying for our rent, but we’re hoping that his extra income will help with other expenses, like groceries and pet supplies. 
4 p.m. — I've finally taken down all our Christmas stuff, which makes me sad. The decorations brightened up our living room so much, and now the space looks empty. I stifle the urge to online shop for home decor. As I'm getting leftovers ready for dinner, my best friend, C., calls, and we have a nice catch-up. I want her to move to Vancouver, and things are looking promising. We try not to get ahead of ourselves talking about the future. COVID has taught me to not plan too far ahead in life.
6 p.m. — I finish eating dinner and need to work on a transcript that's due soon. It's only an hour long and 31 pages, but I know it'll take me a long time to edit it. I settle in on the couch to work, and N. hangs out in the office.
8 p.m. — One transcript down. I realize I haven't been outside all day (this happens more often than I would like) and decide to brave the rain. N. and I take a quick walk to a local pub and grab two pretzels (he pays).
10 p.m. — It's day two of the skin-care routine, and I'm loving it. I get into bed to watch more of The Mindy Project before the cats join and me and N.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up earlier than usual but stay in bed until 8:30 a.m. anyway. One day I'll fulfill my resolution.
9:30 a.m. — My job starts at 11 a.m. today, so I walk to our neighbourhood coffee shop with N. to grab coffees and a scone. It's a beautiful day outside, and I'm happy to get in a morning walk. $11
12 p.m. — We're on a five-minute break, and I realize I've got four texts from C. She's asking if I'm aware of the Capitol riot in the U.S. I've been in a job all day, so I haven't been checking social media. I use the break to read up on what's happening.
3:15 p.m. — My job finally ends, and I immediately head into the living room to watch the news. The more I watch, the more upset and angry I get. How can this be the world we live in? I'm a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S., so right now I'm not feeling great. N. and I agree that we need comfort food tonight. I also need to buy a new external hard drive to back up my work, so we grab take-out burgers ($35.02) and hit up a Memory Express for the hard drive ($61.81). $96.83
8 p.m. — My proofer sent back another transcript, and I welcome the distraction from the news. As I'm finishing up my work, my mom calls. She's why I have dual citizenship, so we talk about how we're feeling about today. We're both mentally and emotionally exhausted, but I hang up feeling better than I did earlier.
9 p.m. — I check to see what's happening with the Electoral College votes. The debate about Arizona has just finished, so the votes for the rest of the states can finally be counted. They get all the way to Pennsylvania before an objection is valid and they have to debate again. I Google how long the process will take and read that it's two hours. I do my skin-care routine and get ready for bed instead.
Daily Total: $107.83

Day Four

8:45 a.m. — We all know this resolution isn't happening. I'm SO TIRED. It's probably the emotional hangover from yesterday. I've got another discovery today, so I do my usual thing and get ready for 10 a.m.
12:30 p.m. — My job today is long. It's a questioning of both the defendant and plaintiff, and it looks like we're going until at least 3 p.m. I feel like this is a good time to note that I do get breaks during the job. Today, I have a half-hour for lunch, so I whip up scrambled eggs and toast and chat with N. while I eat. He starts work tomorrow, so we go over all the things he needs. My paranoia is getting to me, and I'm convinced the mask he has now isn't as good as it needs to be, so we agree to go buy new ones after I'm done work.
2:50 p.m. — The discovery ends, and my arms, neck, and back are killing me. This can't be a good sign, especially so early in my career, and I wonder if I need to replace my office chair. I didn't plan on working from home this much, and the chair I have isn't great. I read good reviews for one on Amazon and order it, even though it's more money than I want to spend right now. It's for the greater good. $215.59
4 p.m. — N. and I go on another afternoon walk. The problem with these outings is that we inevitably end up going somewhere to spend money. We can only walk to the park and back so many times. Oh, well. Isn't buying things like saving the economy or something? We head to our favourite general store and pick up new masks, toilet paper, and a notebook for me. On the way home, I pop into a coffee shop to treat myself to a London fog. $23.58
5 p.m. — I have another transcript due, so N. preps dinner again (broccoli-cheddar casserole), and I get to work. I love my job, but it's demanding. In addition to writing during the day, I spend most evenings working on other transcripts that are due. I'm thankful to have a supportive partner to help with cooking and cleaning, but I do miss having evenings free to make dinner myself. Maybe this weekend I'll get back in the kitchen and cook something fancy-ish.
9 p.m. — The words on the page are starting to get blurry, so I call it quits on editing for the night and play Animal Crossing before doing my skin-care routine and crawling into bed.
Daily Total: $239.17

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — N. is about to head out the door for his first day of work but checks to make sure that I'm actually awake and getting out of bed. He knows me so well. I do my morning routine with an episode of New Girl on, because it's too quiet in the house when N. is gone.
12 p.m. — My job was a sweet two hours today. TGIF! N. is still at work, so I relax on the couch and heat up leftover broccoli-cheddar casserole for lunch. Since I started working from home, we haven't had a lot of time apart from each other, so I enjoy having the place to myself.
2 p.m — N. comes home, and I grill him on how safe he was at work and if everyone was following COVID procedures. I'm paranoid all the time. We don't even go out to eat, so the fact that he's now out in public with strangers is giving me anxiety. He reassures me that he was alone in a room all day watching instructional videos, so I feel better. I work on a transcript for the rest of the afternoon while N. takes a nap.
6 p.m — I'm starving, so we go on yet another walk and pick up roti from our favourite place down the street. I also grab a bottle of red wine on the way. We come back home, watch Bob's Burgers while we eat, and I get back to work. I'm in a rare zone where I feel like I can get a lot of work done, so it's not the most glamorous of Friday nights, but if I can finish things this evening, I'll have a much more relaxing weekend. $45.80
12 a.m. — I've lost track of time completely and realize that it's already midnight. I've spent way too long working, but I got my transcript done, which means I can enjoy the weekend. I force myself to do my skin-care routine and fall asleep instantly.
Daily Total: $45.80

Day Six

9:15 a.m. — I have a hair appointment at 10:30 a.m. and sleep in later than I wanted, so I'm rushing to get ready. I eat yogurt and fruit, and N. picks up Starbucks for me, so I can have coffee before my appointment. (Does anyone else miss being able to drink a coffee while getting your hair done?)
12:30 p.m. — I leave my appointment feeling great ($275.58). When I moved to Vancouver, one of my biggest worries was leaving behind my hairdresser, but I managed to find a great new stylist. She always knocks it out of the park. I stop by a coffee shop for cinnamon buns ($11.26) to thank N. for driving me this morning, then take an Uber home ($6.06). $292.89
3 p.m. — It's time for — you guessed it — another afternoon walk. We head to a fancy neighbourhood to look at the mansions. Some of them are absolutely insane —a few have gardens the size of my apartment. I notice that the curtains are drawn in a lot of the homes even though it's Saturday afternoon. I wonder if anyone is even living in these homes right now? On the way home, we swing by the grocery store and grab mixed mushrooms and prosciutto for dinner tonight. $13.87
7:30 p.m. — I make Bon Appétit's pasta with mushrooms and prosciutto for my fancy-ish Saturday dinner, and N. makes us cocktails: a Bee's Knees for him and a Boulevardier for me. As we wrap up dinner, I text C. that I'm ready to watch RuPaul's Drag Race. We started watching together when Season 12 was airing, and then just kept it up. We chat for a while before doing the countdown to make sure we press play at the same time, then we hang up to text each other our thoughts. Thanks, Ru, for helping us keep this tradition going. No spoilers for Season 13, but I'm cheering for Olivia Lux, Gottmik, and Symone!
11 p.m. — The long walk plus the alcohol are making me sleepy, so I do my skin-care routine and pass out fast.
Daily Total: $306.76

Day Seven

10 a.m. — N. worked at 8 a.m., so he's already gone, and I wake up to the cats snuggled up next to me. I lie in bed for another hour with them before my hunger forces me out of bed.
11:30 p.m. — I walk to a bagel place for a lox and cream cheese sandwich, and then head back home to clean up and take it easy. N. is working until 4 p.m. today, so I have the place to myself. This is the perfect opportunity for me to be productive, but I end up finishing The Mindy Project. Sundays are for relaxing, right? $13.23
4:30 p.m. — N. comes home from work, and before I can even ask, he tells me he was in a room alone again watching training videos and that he ate lunch in his truck to avoid the breakroom. We have a video chat with my parents tonight, so I try to work before I start dinner, and N. does the dishes.
7 p.m. — I video chat with my parents while cooking BA's crispy sheet pan meatballs and fettuccine, and N. makes cocktails again. Before COVID and before I moved to Vancouver, I would go to my parents' place for Sunday dinner, so now we do this instead. The big news this week is that my elderly relative who lives in a care home is getting the COVID vaccine soon. This gives us all peace of mind. Hopefully, we'll be able to visit again soon.
8:30 p.m. — The chat with my family is nice, but every week I feel like there is less and less to talk about since none of us is doing anything exciting. After dinner, I get in another hour of work and go to bed early. Maybe if I get to sleep at a decent hour, I'll finally wake up early tomorrow. But probably not!
Daily Total: $13.23
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