A Week In Vancouver, BC, On A $68,000 Salary

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Today: an administrator working in management consulting who makes $68,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on historical fiction.
Occupation: Administrator
Industry: Management Consulting
Age: 34
Location: Vancouver, BC
Salary: $68,000
Paycheque Amount (Bimonthly): $2,141.09
Inheritance: $5,000 (My grandfather passed away last summer. This is a one-time payment.)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $860 (This is my half. I split rent with my boyfriend.)
Student Loans: $500
Phone: $155
Electricity: $25 (I cover this in full.)
Cable & Internet: $90 for my half (This includes internet, cable, Crave, Netflix, and Spotify.)
RRSP: $200 ($100 per paycheque)
Donations: $35 (I'm a monthly donor to the SPCA and Bard on the Beach i.e. Shakespeare in Vanier Park)
Gym Membership: $35
Frank & Oak Subscription Box: $100 (This is an average. The monthly total differs each month.)

Day One

9:30 a.m. — I wake up to the sun streaming through the windows and luxuriate in the fact that I don't have to get up for any particular reason.
10 a.m. — I make a cup of dandelion root tea mixed with apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and honey. This concoction helps balance my blood sugar, so that I don't become a hangry harpy while I'm waiting for my boyfriend R. to get ready for brunch.
11 a.m. — Showered and dressed, we leave the house. I bring my bike, so that I can run errands afterwards. It's a beautiful day, and we take the long route through our neighbourhood. We get a seat at the café right away, and I order a breakfast sandwich, hash browns, and a London Fog. My lovely boyfriend pays.
12:30 p.m. — We stop at a nearby produce stand to pick up local strawberries, a cucumber, and asparagus, which we split. $5
1 p.m. — I cycle over to my dad's apartment. He's out of town for a few weeks, so I pick up his mail. I then bike to a coffee shop to write. I completed a creative-writing program last year and I'm working on my first novel. I'm almost finished the first draft and I get more done when I'm not at home being distracted by undone chores. I order a matcha latte and situate myself at a table outside. There's a beautiful black lab at the table next to me who comes to visit. $5.56
2:45 p.m. — I stop at the drugstore for toiletries and a Burt's Bees compact and eyeliner. $42.24
3 p.m. — I meet R. just as Barra 41 is opening, and we snag a table right by the open window. This place is a hidden gem with fantastic BC wines on tap, including Le Vieux Pin from Oliver, which is one of my favourites. We take advantage of the happy hour specials: a large white wine for me and a beer for him. We also get calamari, a fried goat cheese salad, and chicken wings to share. Several glasses of beer and wine later, I get the bill. $124.03
6 p.m. — We watch Wine Country while I shop online. I'm a little tipsy and wind up buying several items that I've favourited on ThredUp, an online thrift store. I also manage to convince R. that I need ice cream, which he goes and buys along with a bag of Hawkins Cheezies. He's a keeper! $239.94
Daily Total: $416.77

Day Two

10 a.m. — I wake up feeling refreshed and make protein pancakes with strawberries, and scrambled eggs with cottage cheese. (This is the best. The cheese curds melt and make the eggs so rich.) After breakfast, I tidy up and drink tea while reading trashy romance novels (my number-one guilty pleasure).
1 p.m. — I have an Indigo Chapters gift card, so I bike over there. I can browse in bookstores forever. I buy the Ottolenghi Simple cookbook and Alison Weir's A Dangerous Inheritance. It's insanely hot in here, though, so I don't stay as long as I would like. I use my gift card to pay for most of the bill. $12.60
2 p.m. — I end up at the Stable House, which is another gem with a small patio and a great wine list. I take a corner table, order a rosé and spiced nuts, and attempt to write. I'm distracted by a boisterous table and spend too much time trying to figure out how they all know each other. I'm getting hungry, so I order another glass of rosé and huevos rancheros, which are completely different than what I expected — and not necessarily in a good way. I do manage to get a chunk of writing done and feel productive. $60.95
4 p.m. — I get home to find that R. has gone grocery shopping. We alternate between who pays, and this weekend is his turn. I read for a bit, then make chicken cordon bleu with mustard-lemon sauce over asparagus. The recipe is loosely based on one from the Skinnytaste One and Done cookbook. We eat while watching Chopped (my favourite evening ritual).
7 p.m. — R. decides that we need more ice cream and goes to buy two pints of Ben & Jerry's, which we eat while watching an episode from the third season of Deadwood.
9 p.m. — R. cleans up the kitchen, while I prep my lunch for tomorrow. Leftover chicken with a cucumber and cabbage salad. He then goes for a walk, while I pack up my outfit for work (I ride my bike to the office) and get ready for bed.
Daily Total: $73.55

Day Three

7 a.m. — I hit snooze three times. I time my snoozes exactly so that I'm not late. Three is the magic number. I shower and make my usual breakfast smoothie with strawberries, spinach, avocado, Greek yogurt, coconut water, protein powder, hemp hearts, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar. I drink my smoothie while I get dressed and dry my hair.
8:15 a.m. — The weather is lovely, so I enjoy my ride. It takes me under half an hour, which is the same time it would take on the bus, plus I don't need to worry about being crammed into a slow vehicle. At work, I lock up my bike and change into work clothes.
9 a.m. — I arrive at my desk and make an Earl Grey tea with almond milk. I'm tired and feeling off today and am not at all in the mood to review minutes from last week's meetings. I trudge along and find myself absolutely starving. I finish off a package of salami jerky (this is made in Port Moody, and it's absolutely delicious!) and have another mug of tea.
12:15 p.m. I try to hold off on lunch until 12:30 p.m., but I barely make it. I eat my leftover chicken and salad, then polish off an embarrassing amount of chocolate.
3 p.m. — I have my probationary review with my boss, and it goes well. I recently switched jobs after working in the not-for-profit world for almost eight years. I was in a managerial position with great perks, but my stress level was not sustainable, and the organization was super-dysfunctional, which was taking an emotional toll. My new job is still within my general area of expertise, but with way less responsibility. I'm also making pretty much the same amount. I have a positive chat with my boss, then celebrate by running down to a nearby coffee shop to grab a feta-spinach bun, which I have with a banana and more chocolate. $3.97
5 p.m. — I dash to a bootcamp class (previously paid for). I'm very blah and not into it, plus I'm having frissons of sciatic nerve pain, but I make it through. The class is convenient and cheap, but I wish it incorporated more strength and less cardio.
7 p.m. — I'm feeling off, so I get home and collapse onto the bed. My subscription style box from Frank and Oak has arrived, but I'm hot and tired and not into trying on clothes. There's also a letter from my grandfather's estate lawyers, which contains a cheque for my inheritance. My grandfather passed away unexpectedly last summer, so even though receiving the cheque is financially positive, it still makes me sad.
7:30 p.m. — R. has made a shrimp, cauliflower, and cabbage stir-fry that we eat while watching Chopped. This is followed by more ice cream and the Great Food Truck Race. The Food Network is my biggest TV blackhole — and one of the reasons we still have cable.
9 p.m. — I finally drag myself off the couch to clean the kitchen, and R. goes for a walk. I'm too lazy to make anything for lunch, so I grab frozen soup to thaw. I try on the clothes from my style box: a sleeveless navy blouse and a flouncy black maxi dress. Both fit well, so I keep them.
Daily Total: $3.97

Day Four

7 a.m. — I'm barely able to drag myself to the shower on my third snooze. I feel sore, even though I half-assed bootcamp yesterday. I take forever getting ready in the bathroom and making my smoothie.
8:35 a.m. — I leave late and then seem to hit every red light on my bike route. Vancouver is a bike-friendly city, which is fantastic, but the commute can be congested with other cyclists.
9 a.m. — I make it to my desk and make tea with almond milk. I also add grapefruit essential oil* to my water. It's supposed to help manage snack cravings, which is a definite benefit to me (see: Monday's snacking destruction). I spend a few hours following up from last week's meetings. *Editor's note: not all essential oils are edible. Check with your doctor or provincial poison control centre before ingesting.
12 p.m. — I eat defrosted soup at my desk. It's made with chickpeas, chard, potatoes, and chorizo, which are some of my favourite things, but it's only okay. I supplement it with rice crackers, a mozzarella cheese stick, cauliflower, and more chocolate. Does it count as snacking if I eat everything at once? I also book a yoga session at YYoga, which is expensive, but the facility is beautiful and the instructors are great. $25.20
6 p.m. — I get home, immediately change and get dinner going. I love all things food, so I volunteer to do the bulk of the cooking. Tonight, it's a sheet-pan meal of miso-glazed cod with bok choy and mushrooms. I have a Lonetree rosé cider while I make it.
7 p.m. — We live in a two-bedroom apartment, and the spare bedroom is, in theory, my office. But it's so filled with random stuff that it's become more of a storage closet that sparks zero joy. I've booked a junk removal service for tomorrow, so R. and I go through our things and determine what should go. This leads to disagreements about the reasonableness of keeping several boxes of wires, a bag of stuffed animals, and action figures of the cast of Reservoir Dogs. I convince him to divest himself of the boxes of wires.
8 p.m. — I spend the rest of the evening drinking a white-wine spritzer while watching more Deadwood and perusing my new cookbook. I think about making my lunch for tomorrow but am pretty cocooned on the couch, so that doesn't happen. I finally pull myself off of the couch after watching an episode of Euphoria. What is this show?
10 p.m. — I get ready for bed and spend far too long dillydallying on my phone before starting A Dangerous Inheritance.
Daily Total: $25.20

Day Five

7 a.m. — I do not want to get out of bed. I had strange, fragmented dreams all night and kept waking myself up. I make my smoothie with frozen spinach because we're out of fresh. It has a weird texture, so I make a note to buy more fresh spinach.
8:15 a.m. — On my bike. I take a few moments to appreciate the beauty of my beloved city. I ride the Arbutus Greenway downtown, and it offers gorgeous ocean and mountain views. Vancouver's stunning location almost makes me forget about the ridiculous cost of living.
9 a.m. — I spend the next few hours working on board meeting follow-up and dreaming about how amazing my home office will be once all the junk is gone.
11 a.m. — I peruse the Meatme website. I try to buy our meat from small, local farms with sustainable practices. It tastes better, and I like knowing exactly where it's coming from. It's expensive, but I only order every two to three months, so it's worth it. I add a bunch of items to my cart, but decide to wait another week to use up what we already have.
1 p.m. — I buy a spicy chicken bowl from a nearby food truck, and it's exactly what I want. I try to limit myself to one bought lunch a week. The variety and convenience of so many delightful options could easily bankrupt me. I also snack on desk chocolate for dessert. $15.02
2:30 p.m. — The day is draggingggggg. I just want to be outside on a patio with a cold drink and a book. I'm also dealing with family issues, and I absolutely hate having life drama creep into my work. I'm still new and I'd like to wait a few months before unleashing all of my weird baggage (kidding... kind of). To distract myself, I look into writing contests and fantasize about supporting myself comfortably through writing. I also text R. to see if I should pick up wine. It's a rhetorical question. I'm definitely going to pick up wine. I also pay my medical services plan fee, which isn't covered through work. $37.50
5 p.m. — Quitting time! I stop at the liquor store on my way home and get irrationally angry at the lack of bike racks. Sometimes it seems Vancouver is divided into people who ride their bikes and then everyone else who hates us. Our last civic election included a candidate whose entire platform was built on dismantling bike lanes, which would've caused a ridiculous amount of construction leading to more congestion and probably more people in cars, so I'm not sure who would benefit. She was not elected, thankfully. I pick up two of my favourite summer wines: La Vieille Ferme rosé and Casal Garcia vinho verde. I also grab a couple of tall cans of Lonetree rosé cider. $34.86
6 p.m. — R. has made hummus and veggie wraps, and I quickly eat two. The junk-collection people call to say they'll be by around 8 p.m. We proceed to get into a huge argument about the couch we're getting rid of and whether or not moving it into the hallway, which would block everything, is a good idea. I storm off to our bedroom in a sulk.
8 p.m. — The junk removal takes less than half an hour and is way cheaper than I anticipated. They take the couch, a futon, and a random assortment of spare-room junk. It costs $420.02, and R. will pay half. Once they leave, R. and I chat about our fight and get over it. We look at new couch options, then he goes for a walk. I do some online window shopping. I don't buy anything because the items in my cart are put there by tipsy me, and she has questionable taste. $210.01
9 p.m. — I clean up the kitchen and make a ham sandwich and cabbage salad for lunch tomorrow. I love ham sandwiches. R. makes fun of me for this very basic choice, but ham with lots of mustard and some crunchy vegetables? There's nothing better.
9:30 p.m. — I wash my face with my Saje Konjac Kare Yam Extract sponge, which is supposed to be moisturizing. I received it as a gift for my birthday. My skincare routine is minimal, but I always wash my face and moisturize. Right now, I'm using Avalon Organics Intense Defense cream and rosemary essential oil.
Daily Total: $297.39

Day Six

7 a.m. — I wake up to rain. BC's forest fires have intensified over the last few years, so any rain we can get to mitigate them is welcome. I get ready, secretly delighted to wear a cozy black sweater. I love summer and sun but I also love sweaters.
8 a.m. — I take the bus due to rain. It's gross and packed with people, but I manage to snag a seat. I text my friend to confirm our plans for tonight, and she tells me in a roundabout way that she's pregnant! She and her husband have been trying for a second child, so this is very exciting. $2.95
9 a.m. — I'm waiting for a bunch of things from other people, so I set up my online profile for my benefits. I text with my writing group about our upcoming workshop. I'm super-lucky to have this group to keep me on track and provide feedback.
10 a.m. — We're ordering a team lunch today! I request a kale salad with grilled chicken. My ham sandwich will have to wait until tomorrow.
1 p.m. — Food's here! My salad is fine, but I have food envy when I see other people's orders. I placate myself with desk chocolate.
2 p.m. — There's dessert in the kitchen! I get a sliver of a chocolate-peanut thing and power through more emails. My pod-mate is going on a coffee run, so I get a small matcha latte with almond milk from a chichi café nearby. I need something to get through the afternoon. $2.73
3:30 p.m. — I've finished up most of my work, so I take a break to enter a writing contest. I'm under no illusions of winning but I do feel confident in my submission. I'm sure there will be a long road of rejection ahead but I'll take the surges of confidence when I can. $29.64
5 p.m. — I have to mail a physical notice of receipt to my grandfather's estate lawyers to acknowledge that I've received my inheritance cheque. Considering that I've cashed the cheque, you'd think they'd clue in, but I'm not about to argue with a pack of lawyers. There's a post box near my office, so I drop it off, then catch the SeaBus to the North Shore. I haven't filled up my Compass Card, so I tap my credit card. $5.70
5:30 p.m. — I love the SeaBus. I always get a seat, and the views are incredible. The sky is dark and ominous, and mountains loom over Burrard Inlet like malevolent gatekeepers. It takes me about 15 minutes to get to Lonsdale Quay. I stop at the market to pick up tortilla chips, house-made salsa, and jalapeño-cilantro dip. $16.96
6 p.m. — I'm greeted by my friend's adorable toddler, who is shy for about five minutes before turning into the biggest little ham in the world. We eat tortilla chips and watch Tangled until it's bedtime for the little one. We order two pizzas from a local place, one with sausage, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions, the other with soppressata and mushrooms. We devour them and ice cream while watching one of my favourite movies of all time, Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. They're the best. $25
9:30 p.m. — I catch the SeaBus, and R. graciously picks me up on the other side. I fill up my Compass Card. $40
Daily Total: $122.98

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Up and so very glad it's Friday.
8:30 a.m. — I take a quicker route that is less bike-friendly and make it right on time.
9 a.m. — I'm at my desk with an Earl Grey. It's payday! I deposit my cheque through my bank app and am informed that the vast majority of it is going to be held for five business days. I do some investigating and discover that my inheritance cheque is also being held. I spend several minutes cursing banks to R. and also remind him to grab ingredients for the banoffee pies we're bringing to a family birthday party tomorrow. Banoffee pie is an English dessert that has a digestive biscuit base, dulce de leche filling and bananas and whipped cream on top. You make the dulce de leche by boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk for three hours, which adds an element of danger to the whole enterprise.
12 p.m. — I review a few things and eat my ham sandwich. I'm counting down the minutes until our office happy hour.
3:30 p.m. — Happy hour! I pour myself a large glass of pinot gris and chat with colleagues. Two glasses later, I'm ready to leave.
5:30 p.m. — I go to the bank to sort out this cheque-holding nonsense, but I'm told by the teller that I will need to call the bank instead. I wind up spending a very frustrating 30 minutes on the phone and nothing gets resolved. I wind up close to tears and overwhelmingly angry at our capitalist system and the financial sector in general. R. asks if he can do anything, and I tell him that he can order in Chinese food. (He pays.) I transfer money from my line of credit to cover rent and bills, which I will transfer back once my cheques clears.
7 p.m. — Food arrives, and I have a white-wine spritzer and gorge on sweet-and-sour chicken balls, beef and broccoli, and chow mein. I eat way too much, though eating my feelings makes me feel marginally better. R. and I are making desserts for the family birthday bash we're attending tomorrow, so I get to work.
8 p.m. — R. had already put the cans of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water to boil. Once the crusts have baked and chilled, the cans are ready, so I very carefully pull them out of the boiling water, hold them away from me, and open them. All goes well, and I have two beautiful sheet pans of crust and caramel that will chill in the fridge overnight before being smothered in whipped cream and bananas.
9 p.m. — The rest of the night passes uneventfully with more wine spritzers and Big Little Lies.
Daily Total: $0
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