A Week In Vancouver On A $50,580 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: an operations coordinator working in entertainment who makes $50,580 per year and spends some of her money this week on doughnuts.
Totals have been converted to USD
Occupation: Operations coordinator
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 32
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Salary: $50,580
Net Worth: $39,375 (UK account: $5,419; mutual bonds: $11,560; savings: $22,396; checking: $1,084, minus credit card debt below.)
Debt: $1,084 (I pay off my balance every paycheck.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,474
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $632 (I rent a bright basement suite underneath some lovely landlords. I share it with one roommate.)
Phone: $65
Health & Dental Insurance: $0 (Medical Services Plan is free in BC, plus I get supplemental benefits from work.) 
Amazon Prime: $14.99
Spotify Premium: $13.30
Netflix: $0 (My roommate pays for this in exchange for Amazon Prime.)
Crave: $7.21 (I’ll probably cancel this after the first month. I got it to watch Our Flag Means Death.)
Patreon: $21 (for four different podcast subscriptions.)
Apple Storage: $1.04
International Screenwriter’s Association Membership: $10
InkTip Pro: $32.50 (another screenwriting membership.)
Email Domain: $11.55
Transit Pass: $75.80
Savings: $1,445
Annual Expenses
AHLTV (American Hockey League TV): $68.62

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?
Definitely, my mom was the first in her family to go to university, and my dad got the highest marks in Scotland on his accountancy exams when he graduated. I was an academic child so I always thought I’d go to university. I’m from the UK, and everyone I knew back home took out student loans, but I was lucky that my dad paid for me. I was also lucky that I squeaked through when the fees were only $3,600 a year — they’ve tripled since then.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Nothing much honestly, probably because of a terribly British attitude that talking about money is rude. My parents split when I was young, and I was aware that they were at different income levels, but we didn’t talk about it. Despite my dad working in finance his entire life, he never talked about money, and I feel stupid in this area.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I didn’t work in high school, but even at my Richie Rich high school, lots of people did. I overcommitted to extracurriculars and academics and I wanted to spend my weekends with family because I went between my mom and dad every other weekend. I was privileged not to work and receive an allowance. I started working at a concert venue in my third and final year of university, pulling pints. I did it so I could have a little more independence, but I didn’t have to work.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. I was aware that my dad had a lot more money than my mom. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized how much my mom struggled to balance full-time work, custody of me and my brother most of the time, and studying for a career change. She hated having to borrow money from my dad for things like holidays. I admire her so much for how hard she worked. I went to an affluent private high school (think rockstars’ and actors’ kids) but most of my friends were pretty normal. I know my mom always worried about what my friends thought of our house, but I never cared.

Do you worry about money now?
Definitely. I live in a high-cost-of-living city and know I won’t be able to afford my own place without help.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Not until my mid-20s. I grew up in London and lived at home during my master’s degree and for a couple of years afterwards (I contributed by buying groceries but not rent). Later, I moved to Canada without a job or a visa. I went back to school so I was super dependent on my dad until I got my job after that. My dad still pays for some of my flights home, and my parents pay for almost everything when they visit. I know my parents would help if I needed it, but obviously I don’t want to ask them.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My mom gave me $25,000 from the sale of our childhood home recently, and my grandma left me $15,000 in shares when she passed away 20 years ago. I spent a lot of this on film school and on moving to Canada without a job or visa, and what’s left is in my UK savings account. My dad paid for my university tuition, rent, and spending, plus he supported me after that. He’s keen to help me buy a place here, and I know I’m incredibly, incredibly fortunate for that. Still, there are complex feelings tied up there that I haven’t quite navigated yet.

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up and message my boss that I shouldn’t risk coming into the office today because I still have a bit of a cold. Honestly, I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday when I fled the office with my work laptop and a mountain of tissues, but there are so many people getting sick that it doesn’t make sense to go in. I already tested negative for COVID-19. I go back to sleep.
8 a.m. — I wake up again and immediately log into work so I can clock out early for my weekend bachelorette trip. Good thing I’m feeling better because I was worried I’d have to miss it.
9 a.m. — Everyone else logs in, and my day becomes a lot busier. I get up at some point to get coffee and toast and put in laundry. My job is fully in-office, and a work-from-home morning makes me miss my hybrid role. One day at home per week would make such a difference!
12:30 p.m. — I hop in the shower, then make a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich to bring to my bestie’s office, where I’ll finish the work day. I jump in an Evo shared car. $6.96
1:15 p.m. — I arrive at N.’s office and start working again. There’s something incredibly weird about seeing a friend in her professional space. I awkwardly hide away and eat my lunch and help myself to coffee and water from N.’s office kitchen. Have a productive afternoon writing summaries and prepping emails for staff.
4:30 p.m. — N. and I hop in a car and pick up two other friends. We’re on our way to catch a ferry to the Sunshine Coast. We white knuckle to make it on time. Luckily, we make the sailing but end up driving the wrong way until some helpful ferry workers sneak us in the back route. Nothing is ever simple! The maid of honor prepaid for the ferry, and everyone will pay her back at the end of the weekend when all the costs are added up.
5:45 p.m. — The ferry is late, and we’re getting hangry. Finally, we board and are on our way. It’s just a 40-minute ride, but we’re starved. I buy fries, a Nanaimo bar, and a block of cheese. I also pay for another cheese and a root beer for N. (we’ll get each other back later). N. ends up having to go back to pay for mayonnaise; the fact that it isn’t automatic as an accompaniment with fries offends my European sensibilities. $11.33
7:30 p.m. — We stop off for extra supplies. I buy yogurt for myself and ice for the group. $6.34
8 p.m. — We arrive at our accommodation, and it’s super lovely. There’s charcuterie and pizza and wine aplenty. We talk shit with old and new friends and drink for a few hours until bedtime at 12:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $24.63

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I’m in the pullout bed in the loft so I wake up when everyone else does. Oof, I don’t have the energy to socialize yet. We have a slow breakfast and get into bathing suits and head to the spa. We have treatments scattered throughout the day so we hang at the pool and hot tub all morning. I read a chunk of my book. If you, like me, get your book recommendations from Money Diaries, it’s Leading Men by Christopher Castellani and it’s fantastic.
12:30 p.m. — I go back to the villa for snacks and to watch the Rugby World Cup. My team loses, and I’m stressed. I charge out the door for my treatment, not in the right frame of mind for a massage.
3 p.m. — I float out from the massage, totally blissed out. The maid of honor paid, and I will pay her later. We all change into our bachelorette shirts (I paid for these last week and I’ll get it back when we tally up all the costs) and go for a walk along the coast.
6 p.m. — We’re back in the villa for bubbles and getting ready. I park myself in front of the TV at 7 p.m. to watch the start of the hockey game before dinner.
7:30 p.m. — We go out to dinner at the resort restaurant. By 8:30 p.m., we’re still the only ones in the place — oh, small-town Canada. I have a French 75 to start and then a pasta that sounds nice in the description but ends up being dry ($44.10 for the cocktail and meal, including tip). We go back to the villa for games, and I drink a few G&Ts. I don’t know half the group very well, but it’s a good laugh. I'm in bed at 1:30 a.m. after downing water and Hydralyte. $44.10
Daily Total: $44.10

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — Everyone else is up, so I’m up. We had planned on brunch but we have so much food. The maid of honor cancels our reservation, and we chill out and eat all morning.
12:30 p.m. — We leave for a cidery where I have a pale ale and a grilled cheese sandwich with a salad. I play with a cat and enjoy the lovely chill time. $17.53
2 p.m. — Once again, we’re booking it to a ferry, trying to make the sailing before our reservation. We’re so close, too, but they cut off the line about 10 cars ahead of us. While we wait, we get coffees (N. pays for mine) and spot a sea lion and a heron. I co-host a podcast and am recording an episode tonight, so I write my notes for it. I read a chunk of my book and eat Cheetos from the weekend’s leftover stash.
5:45 p.m. — We finally board the 40-minute ferry back (you don’t have to pay for the return), and the bride-to-be drops me at home.
8 p.m. — I’m too stuffed from snacks to eat. I pull tomorrow’s lunch out of the freezer, throw in a load of laundry, and use my last vestiges of energy to record my podcast with my co-host. When we’re done, I shower and watch Our Flag Means Death in bed. I finish the last chapter of my book before lights out at 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $17.53

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I snooze it a few times.
7:55 a.m. — Pull myself out of bed, grab a yogurt, an apple and my lunch, and leave at 8:20 a.m. to get the bus and SkyTrain to work (my transit pass is in my monthly costs). I stand up for most of my journey and read Money Diaries on the way. I pay the maid of honor for the weekend, which includes food, drinks, lodgings, the ferry, and my massage, minus the shirts. $302.23
9 a.m. — I arrive at work to the usual Monday-morning chaos. I have a meeting with my boss about a platform we’re about to implement. It’s going to be a lot of work to get it up and running but so much better in the long-run.
1 p.m. — I break for lunch. I always try to leave the office, even if it’s just to go to the building’s lunch room. It’s raining today, and I eat leftover pasta while making a dent in my new book of Indigenous essays: Truth Telling: Seven Conversations About Indigenous Life by Michelle Good. It’s so important for everyone in Canada, especially someone not from here, to learn about the country’s shameful history.
6 p.m. — I escape right on the dot (our days are long) and walk to the other end of downtown to watch Pedro Almodóvar’s Strange Way of Life and The Human Voice with my friend. The tickets are her treat as a late birthday gift from several months ago (we’re bad at organizing). The shorts are weird and wonderful.
7:30 p.m. — We stop in at a late-night coffee spot to chat about the films. My friend gets a cookie, and I get an anchovy and artichoke pocket that’s just okay. I take the bus home with my pass and read more of my book. $5.06
9 p.m. — At home, I shower, and wash and blowdry my hair. I watch some Cricket World Cup and women’s soccer highlights and recaps I missed on the weekend. In case you couldn’t tell, my personality is sports. I read in bed and turn out the lights at 11:15 p.m.
Daily Total: $307.29

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — I do my usual snooze and am up by 8 a.m. I charge out the door with an apple and fixings to make a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich at work.
9 a.m. — My bus is late, so I’m late. My boss is stressed, so I’m stressed. I sit down and reply to urgent emails before getting up for coffee and cereal from the snack stash at work, plus an apple and yogurt from my own snack stash. I go to a meeting for IT security training that’s been in the works for months.
12:30 p.m. — I eat lunch in the office kitchen with coworkers. I add salt and vinegar chips to my sandwich, and it’s delicious! Then I go down to the lobby to sit in the comfy chairs and read for the second half of my break.
2 p.m. — An office fire drill gives me a workout. Good thing I planned ahead and wore comfy shoes. After the drill, a coworker and I get started on clearing out our supply room. There’s so much junk in there, but I like the break from emails.
3 p.m. — Back to emails and schedules for the rest of the afternoon. I have the play-by-play of the hockey game in my ear as I work. The Canucks are on an East Coast road trip, so all the games are during work hours, sadly. They lose. I knew their hot start couldn’t last. Sport is pain.
6:15 p.m. — I leave the office and ride the express bus home. It’s another glorious Vancouver evening of rain. I go to the supermarket to pick up some bits on the way home: two frozen pizzas, ice cream, peas, pasta, margarine, penne, and laundry detergent ($31.04). This store is called No Frills, but the prices suggest it has a few frills these days! $31.04
7:10 p.m. — I’m home and somewhat dry. I start making mac ’n’ cheese with balsamic spinach and roasted peppers on the side. I watch the highlights of the hockey game while I eat — painful! Then it’s scrolling, dishes, shower, and reading in bed. I finish Truth Telling. Lights out at 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $31.04

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — I wake up late, charge around the house to leave on time, and sprint down the hill in the rain to make a bus.
8:55 a.m. — I arrive at work early somehow. I’m dressed slightly cuter than usual because I have plans with my colleagues after work. Trying to balance rainwear with aesthetics is a constant struggle in Vancouver.
12:30 p.m. — My morning is spent trying to sort things that resist being sorted. Lunch break is leftovers from last night. I sit with a coworker who’s feeling down and just needs a chat. We hear from another coworker about a doughnut pop-up nearby and decide to venture out into the rain for it. I get half a dozen for the office, and my coworker does the same. He also buys a cute mug, and the whole adventure seems to have briefly cheered him up. I take a doughnut for myself and leave my colleagues to fight over the rest. I return to my desk for a hectic afternoon of meetings and last-minute check-ins with my boss. $10.88
6 p.m. — I leave with colleagues to meet our former coworker at a bar on the other side of downtown, which involves a soggy walk. I order an IPA and duck tacos. We have a great night talking nonsense. Two people in our group are sensible and leave after two drinks, but the rest of us stay for another. No regrets — this group is the best! $49.65
11:15 p.m. — I Uber home and go to bed immediately. $11.39
Daily Total: $71.92

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off an hour early because I work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Still, I snooze until 7ish. I grab lunch and am out the door slightly late.
8:10 a.m. — This hour is always the calm before the storm, so I enjoy my quiet time at the office.
12:15 p.m. — I start my new book over a lunch of leftovers. It recounts the history of a local venue, which has played host to Elvis, a professional hockey team, and Canada’s oldest roller coaster — fascinating stuff!
5 p.m. — I’m out the door and on the way to my weekly netball training. If you don’t know what netball is, look it up — it’s a fun sport similar to basketball. It’s impossible to get Evos downtown on weekdays that aren’t hidden away in multi-storey parkades, so I take two buses instead. On the way, I drop off my library book. I pay $4.70 for the netball session when I arrive. $4.70
8 p.m. — I’m exhausted after missing the last couple of weeks of training. I really need to be doing other exercise outside of these sessions. Some girls go for a drink afterward, but I’m too exhausted. I Evo home, listening to podcasts as I go. I do laundry, heat up a frozen pizza, and eat it with salad while I watch the new episodes of OFMD. My roommate gets home from soccer, and we catch up. He works Saturdays to Wednesdays, so we don’t see each other much unless we purposefully organize it. I wash my hair, blowdry it, and read in bed. I’m asleep by 11:15 p.m. $14.90
Daily Total: $19.60
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