A Week On Vancouver Island, BC, On A $150,000 Joint Income

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Today: a teacher and server-bartender who works in education and hospitality, has a $150,000 joint income, and spends some of her money this week on fresh mussels.
Occupation: Teacher & Server-Bartender
Industries: Education & Hospitality
Age: 27
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Teaching Salary: $59,985
Waitressing & Bartending Salary: $13.95 an hour, plus about $30 an hour in tips
My Husband, B.'s, Salary: $13.95 an hour, plus about $20 an hour in tips
Teaching Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,626.52
Waitressing & Bartending Paycheque Amount (2x/month): Around $1,750 (including tips)
My Husband's Paycheque Amount (2x/month): Around $2,000 (including tips)
Net Worth: $1,166 (We have $19,470 in assets, but we owe $18,304 on our car. B. and I have had completely merged finances for about two and a half years.)
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,370 (This includes parking for one car.)
Car Payments: $572.36
Car Insurance: $208.99
Hydro: $17.50
Internet: $117.60
Both Our Phones: $205.45
Health & Dental Benefits, Pension, EI & Disability: $732.48 (This comes off my teaching paycheque each month. B. doesn't qualify for health and dental benefits as we wait for his permanent residency to come through, but I'll add him to my plan when he does.)
Spotify: $14.99 (for us and my sister)
Amazon Prime: $7.99
Travel Savings: $4,000 (B. and I are saving aggressively to travel for a year.)
Annual Expenses
BC Teaching License: $80

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 are both educators, so they placed value on education, and I was a super-nerdy kid, so I was so excited to attend university. I paid for my education through a combination of academic scholarships, volleyball scholarships, summer jobs, and financial help from my grandparents who set aside $60,000 for each grandchild's education. I'm super-lucky for their support.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My siblings and I each received $2 a week for allowance when we were quite young, and our parents taught us the value of saving for things we wanted. My dad taught us a little bit about the stock market, but I've muddled through on my own in adulthood when it comes to budgeting, savings, and credit.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Technically, my first job was at Tim Hortons in Grade 8. I took it very much against my parents' recommendation. They said I was too busy with school and sports, and they were 100% right. Later, after my first year of university, I did summer maintenance and labour for the school division in my hometown. The job paid well, and I worked with friends, so it was great and helped pay for rent, books, and entertainment during the school year.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Until I was in junior high, we had everything we needed but mostly spent holidays within Canada, and I didn't have the name-brand clothes my friends had (Roxy, I'm looking at you). Then my family received a considerable amount of money from my grandparents, which relieved a lot of stress for my parents. We went on more holidays, and they were able to retire early. They always valued experiences over things, and I'm grateful for that mindset, which has stuck with me.

Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. Moving from Alberta to BC has opened my eyes to the drastically different salaries teachers receive across Canada — I took a $15,000 pay cut. But, for B. and I, quality of life and loving where we live are really important. COVID-19 has also shown us how perilous working in hospitality can be. When it's good, it's great, but when it's bad, there's not much of a safety net. B. and I hope to open a restaurant in the next 10 years, and COVID has made me even more nervous about the financial security of that plan.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became fully financially responsible for myself after my fifth year of university, when I finished playing volleyball. I know that I will always have my parents to bail me out, but I would hate to ask.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandparents gave me the $60,000 mentioned above.

Day One

6:50 a.m. — My alarm jolts me awake. I smell smoke??? Living in a high-rise apartment building, I immediately panic. I check the halls, nothing. I look out the windows and see that the smoke is outside. A quick Google tells me the smoky skies are from the Washington wildfires — scary but better than coming from inside my building! I get ready, make coffee, and pack my bag for the day.
8 a.m. — I arrive for the first week of school and have the day to myself to prep. I definitely don't feel ready for this year. As someone who is a type-A control freak, the uncertainty of this back-to-school season is overwhelming. There have been so many changes due to COVID. Students have been split into cohorts and aren't allowed to share anything. Our older kids are supposed to wear masks in shared areas, and the little guys have the choice. The biggest thing is trying to get kids to socially distance and not hug and high five each other and be together. It really changes the teaching and learning dynamic. Plus. All. The. Sanitizing. Half of my job is wiping down surfaces and sanitizing and planning activities with as few materials as possible, all while dreading an impending outbreak and the return to online classes.
12:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover dumpling soup and steal a cinnamon bun from the staff room. I spend my lunch break looking at real estate in Montreal. We've been saving to take an extended trip, but if limitations are still in place this summer, we're considering buying a condo. As much as I love being on Vancouver Island, the cost of living is absolutely obscene. Hence, investigating real estate in Montreal.
1:15 p.m. — B. picks up goodies for tonight's dinner: fresh mussels ($20.46 with tip) from a wharf shop, a six-pack of cider ($15.88), and miscellaneous groceries ($49.95). $86.29
3:30 p.m. — I finish my last online meeting for the day, bless. I ran out of face cream this morning, so I stop at Shoppers for Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream for Extra Dry Skin ($20.93). I also deposit tips at the bank, return my Supergoop sunscreen (worst breakout of my life), and pick up waffle fries and a baguette that B. forgot for dinner ($9.98). $30.91
4:30 p.m. — An $85 charge is applied to our joint credit card for B.'s biometrics. This is one of the final steps in our application for his permanent residency! B. is from the U.K., and we met while working and living in Melbourne. He came back to Canada with me and has been here for over two years. Applying for permanent residency has been expensive but necessary. $85
5 p.m. — I usually do the majority of the cooking, but tonight B. cooks, and I sous chef. This is our first time making mussels, and they turn out fab. We enjoy dinner, leftover homemade pumpkin spice doughnuts, and the rest of the wine we opened to cook the mussels.
11 p.m. — After a couple episodes of Bosch, I do my nighttime skin-care routine: micellar water, First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser, FAB Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream, and IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye cream. It's a little late for a school night, but I like to take advantage of the evenings that B. and I have off together.
Daily Total: $202.20

Day Two

6:50 a.m. — Waking up this late is pushing it. I realize I need to get up earlier and start my day off without being rushed — what a concept. Morning routine: coffee, English muffin with peanut butter, pack school stuff and work stuff, then get out the door by 7:30 a.m.
12:30 p.m. — I break from meetings and planning. I forgot to pack naan, so my now sad lunch consists of Costco channa masala and peanut butter cups.
3:30 p.m. — I leave school to head to my second job. To save money to travel, I started waitressing and bartending again in June after a two-year hiatus. Teachers are paid abysmally in BC, especially in comparison to Alberta. Working a second job allows us to afford the high cost of living on Vancouver Island while saving around $4,000 a month for our travel fund.
10 p.m. — I get home from work. It was a hot one: 30 degrees working on the patio, which feels even hotter with a mask on. B. ordered pizza for dinner ($31.86 with tip). One of his only vices is pepperoni pizza, so this is not a surprise and definitely welcome. We eat, catch up on our days, and watch an episode of Bosch before bed. I do the same nighttime skin-care routine with the addition of The Ordinary retinol serum. $31.86
Daily Total: $31.86

Day Three

6:40 a.m. — Up and at 'em! My morning skin-care routine consists of: FAB cleanser, FAB Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc or Fresh Vitamin Nectar Glow Juice, Neutrogena Hydro Boost, CeraVe Eye Repair Cream. For makeup, I keep it pretty simple: Laura Mercier Skin Perfector, NARS concealer, powder, bronzer, blush, and mascara.
10:45 a.m. — B. calls me six times while I'm teaching. This is super-unusual and worrisome, so I call him back ASAP. Apparently, one of the people in his work bubble tested positive for COVID, so he was sent home and has to self-isolate for two weeks. B *should* be okay because everyone at his work has been adhering to COVID protocols.
1:15 p.m. — Lunch is Thai noodle salad and pineapple. I speak to my admin team, and they assure me that I'm good to be at work so long as I'm following COVID guidelines, and B. doesn't present symptoms.
3:30 p.m. — I leave school to pick up COVID snacks for B.'s self-isolation. This list includes but is not limited to: cookies, chips, Halloween candy, bagels, and coffee creamer ($72.49). I self checkout because I have zero interest in being judged for this junk food haul. $72.49
6 p.m. — B. and I make iced coffees, hang out, and catch up on my day. It's 30 degrees again, and our apartment gets the late afternoon sun, so it's absolutely roasting. I take the sweatiest nap of my life and regret my choices.
7:30 p.m. — It's too hot to turn on the stove, so B. orders burritos for me to pick up. We have a credit from a previous wrong order, so they're free-ish ($5 tip). I finally order the satin face masks I've been looking at for a couple of weeks. All of the time spent in a mask teaching and serving is doing my skin zero favours. I've been using a satin pillowcase for a year and absolutely love it, so I'm hoping satin face masks will be just as gentle on my skin! B. picks out three colours, and I pick three. I order from a local seller on Etsy, so I don't mind that the order is a little expensive ($80.27). $85.27
11 p.m. — More Bosch and bed. I forgot how much working doubles takes it out of me. Maybe it's because I'm now in my mid (late?) 20s and am no longer resilient AF.
Daily Total: $157.76

Day Four

6:50 a.m. — Same old, same old but with a blueberry bagel to keep it fresh.
12:45 p.m. — Friday is the most chaotic day of the week. I don't have a break until 12:45 p.m., and with all of the COVID-19 regulations and rules, the morning is extra exhausting. Trying to get little, excited humans' attention with a mask on is no easy feat. I have leftover pizza, pineapple, kombucha, and a couple of Halloween chocolates for lunch.
4 p.m. — I have a coffee before heading to my second job. B. and I recently bought a Nespresso machine, and we're making a conscious effort not to spend money on buying coffee out. So far so good! New hospitality rules have been put in place, so it looks like the restaurant will be closing earlier, which I don't hate.
9:45 p.m. — It's super-smoky, so the patio isn't as busy as usual, and a friend from work closes for me, which is so kind. I get home early and see that B. has made waffle fries and vegan “ribs” from The Very Good Butchers for a late dinner. They have great veggie meat alternatives. When B. and I sheltered in place in the spring, it was nice to spend so much uninterrupted time together. But I'm now working two jobs, so B. is going to spend the majority of his two self-isolation weeks alone. I'm worried about him going crazy in our tiny apartment!

12 a.m. — Bedtime! What a long first week back.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — Saturday is my day to sleep in, and it's glorious. B. is always up before me and today is no exception. We make coffee, lounge, and watch Architectural Digest videos on YouTube.

1:30 p.m. — I start scheming brunch. I'm definitely a sweet breakfast person, but B. is savoury, so we go with savoury today. After consulting Pinterest, I make Shakshuka, and it turns out really well. We have our second coffee and play half a game of Scrabble before I have to get ready for work.

5 p.m. — I park as close to work as I can, because I close the bar on Saturdays, and one of my colleagues was chased to her car after work a couple of weeks ago. The patio is even smokier than yesterday, yet people are still choosing to sit outside??? Torrential downpours, thunderstorms, and level 10+ air quality concerns all qualify as patio weather for some people. Wild.

11:15 p.m. — The new liquor service laws mean I finish work super-early, which suits me fine. When I close the bar, I'm the last person in the building, and it's creepy AF, so the earlier I'm done the better. B. seems a little bummed, so I bring home appies from work ($17.24). We snack hard, have a couple of bevs, and watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. $17.24

1:30 a.m. — It's way later than I thought it was. I'm going to be tired for my shift tomorrow!

Daily Total: $17.24

Day Six

9:45 a.m. — Yep, I'm definitely tired. I have a blueberry bagel, make a to-go coffee, and am on my way. One of the benefits of wearing a mask at work is simplifying my beauty routine: skin care, under-eye concealer, mascara, and that's it.

3:30 p.m. — With even more smoke, work is a bust, and B. picks me up. He left the house today to get drive-in tested for COVID. Everyone reacts differently to the test, and he feels dizzy and nauseated. Poor guy! We stop at the grocery store on the way home, and he stays in the car while I grab milk, eggs, jubilee tomatoes, chilis, Parmesan, and granola bars to replenish my desk snacks ($37.91). I swing by the smoothie shop next door, another one of B.'s guilty pleasures ($14.05). $51.96

4 p.m. — B.'s not feeling great after his test, so we cuddle up in bed, have some Halloween candy, and watch an episode of Bosch. I take a nap while B. plays video games.

7 p.m. — We finish our game of Scrabble, and I win as per usual. B. tidies the apartment while I make banana–chocolate chip muffins and get started on a late dinner. We have gnocchi with burst tomatoes, basil, garlic, chilli, prawns, and Parmesan. I use up the rest of the tomatoes in a side of bruschetta. B. makes us Negronis while I cook.
9:45 p.m. — We watch The Babysitter: Killer Queen, and it's as ridiculous as it sounds. I have a quick body shower, organize a few things for tomorrow, and get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $51.96

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — I wake up feeling surprisingly well-rested. With blueberry bagel and iced coffee in hand, I'm out the door by 7:30 a.m.

12:50 p.m. — I finally get a break for lunch. I have a couple of muffins, fresh pineapple, and lots of water. Remembering to drink water when I'm teaching is definitely one of my areas for growth. I reply to emails, finish my plans for the week, and work on ideas for COVID-friendly extracurriculars.

2:45 p.m. — I sneak out early so I can make it to the bank before it closes at 3 p.m. I deposit tips from the week and go to the drugstore to return a lace bridal top I was considering wearing for our elopement ($19.07 for postage) a couple of months ago. I changed my mind seven days before we got married, ordered my dream dress from a seller on Facebook Marketplace, and had it overnight shipped to me. This top has been chillin' in my drawer for two months, so it's about time I return it! While I'm at the drugstore, I pick up razors for both B. and I, contact solution, and potato wedges ($67.97). For the record, we don't usually eat this many frozen potato varieties. $87.04

3:30 p.m. — B. and I catch up and play another game of Scrabble. B. hasn't heard back about his test yesterday, but hopefully the results come in soon! He forces an episode of Scrubs on me, and I fall asleep halfway through.

7:30 p.m. — For the third time this week, B. makes dinner. I appreciate him so much. He makes wedges and The Very Good Butcher vegan bangers and beans (specifically from the U.K. section in the grocery store). His comfort food dinner is delicious as always. We talk about how the smoky skies make it look like it's going to snow, which makes us way too excited for Christmas.
Daily Total: $87.04
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