A Week In The Prairies On A $89,322 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Editor's Note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Today: a 911 dispatcher and part-time grocery courier who makes $67,480 per year and spends some of her money this week on Reese's peanut butter chocolate spread.
Occupation: 911 Dispatcher & Part-Time Grocery Courier
Industries: Government & Delivery
Age: 22
Location: The Prairies
Salary: $59,925 (I currently make between $24.19 and $25.50 an hour at my dispatch job — nights and weekends pay a bit more); $7,554.75 (I also deliver groceries on the side. The total varies depending on the number of orders and tips; this is an average.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,547.21 (dispatch); $302.19 (grocery delivery)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,113 (My boyfriend bought his house. We make nearly the same amount, so I decided on this number, and he agreed. It includes utilities, cable, and internet.)
Car insurance: $129.04
Spotify: $3.77
Netflix: $0 (I received a free year of Netflix by signing up for a reloadable prepaid Visa.)
Phone: $39.66
RPP: $136.74 (This is automatically deducted and matched by my employer — sweet, sweet government pension.)
TFSA: $302.19 (My income from my side hustle goes to savings.)
RRSP: $302.19 (I have about $9,065.70 in my RRSP right now.)
Major Purchases Fund: $75.55
Vacation Fund: $75.55
Cat Medication: $15.11 (We love him. We really do.)
Additional Expenses:
Medical Insurance (Annually): $679.93 (I am on very expensive medication and my benefits only cover 80% of it, so I pay for non-group insurance to cover the additional 20%.)

Day One

6 a.m. — I'm leaving work, because I was on the night shift. I'm still in training to be a 911 dispatcher, so I'm a shadow operator. I recently finished my ten-week course, and I have to undergo 3,200 hours of training, plus an exam. Typically, I work 12-hour shifts, four days on, four days off. Today is my last shift before four days off! Whoopee!
6:15 a.m. — I make it to the yoga studio. Due to the stressful nature of the job, we get to expense a lot of health and wellness opportunities, so I have an unlimited hot-yoga pass. The class helps me forget about the shift I just had — plus, if I don't go after work, I will not go.
7:30 a.m. — My mom gave me her old car, which I drive to and from work. Going against the traffic means I make it home fast. My boyfriend, P., is getting up for the day, and I pop into the bathroom to give him a kiss. Back downstairs, I load the dishwasher, prep all of the ingredients for his morning smoothie, and feed our two yowling cats. One has urinary issues and anxiety, so he gets special food. The other could eat an entire ham and wouldn't be fazed, so we lock the special-food one in the bathroom. As he eats, I have water and an orange, and take out ground turkey for tonight. I also make a grocery list. When P. is out of the shower, I let out the kitty (whose sibling goes to scavenge for potential leftovers), and we kiss goodbye. Then I wash my face (Cetaphil) and moisturize (CeraVe and Differin Gel for acne), brush my teeth, and knock out.
2:30 p.m. — I'm awake, showered, eating toast, and having coffee. I pack up my library books and play with my cats, then head to the grocery store. I pick up Reese's Puffs cereal, chocolate chips, oranges, bananas, avocado, onions, chickpeas, arugula, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, shredded cheese, garam masala, tomato paste, chickpeas, white bread, eggs, and garlic butter. The total comes to $34.71, and I collect 4,000 points on our rewards card. We're so close to $70 worth of groceries! $34.71
3 p.m. — The novelty sweet shop is the only place that sells Reese's peanut butter chocolate spread. I buy two jars. They're an indulgence for bad shifts, so I'll take them to work. They last a lot longer there anyway. $17.45
3:30 p.m. — I head to Walmart to print cat photos to put inside a thank-you card (which I also buy) for our neighbor, who recently watched our cats. She adores them and refuses to let us pay her. Library books are then dropped off. $7.12
5 p.m. — Dishes are unloaded, and P. comes home to grab his gym stuff.
6 p.m. — He texts me when he's done stretching, so I start making dinner. I dump chickpeas in tomato sauce and add a ton of spices to marinate for choley, my favorite Desi dish.
7 p.m. — We eat and watch TV. I give our sick cat his pill and take my own. We are both on antidepressants: The cat because he's high-strung, and me because I left my abusive family household last year and have had panic attacks and guilt.
9 p.m. — P. and I head to bed. I listen to the Stuff You Should Know podcast to fall asleep and dream of olive oil, the topic on tonight's episode.
Daily Total: $59.28

Day Two

8 a.m. — P. is up, and so am I. I go downstairs to feed the cats and start a pot of coffee. I pour myself a bowl of Reese's Puffs cereal. P. is allergic to peanuts, so we can't have a kiss goodbye when he leaves for work. Ooops! I tell him that I will bring him lunch to make up for it, because he works close by. He agrees and kisses the cats goodbye instead.
10:30 a.m. — Honestly? I have no idea how I spent the past two-and-a-half hours, except for plucking my Indian eyebrows, because the maintenance struggle is real. I don't get to go on social media much when I work nights, so I spent my morning zoning out on Instagram and catching up with politics.
12 p.m. — It's marathon training time. I'm signed up to run a race in about nine months — and I already paid the $150 fee — so my goal is to at least complete it. I'm hoping for a sub-six, as in six hours. Don't judge me. I go for a run and clock my miles, so my Apple Watch is happy. Yes, my watch is subsidized through work — your tax dollars at work. I call P. and he says he could really go for Japanese food, so I get his order, along with a chicken bento box with extra broccoli for myself. We eat in the lunchroom at his work. $21.91
1:30 p.m. — At home, I vacuum and wash the floors, play with the cats, take out the garbage, drop off the thank-you card at our neighbor's house, and check the mail, where I see our joint credit card bill. The only items on it are tickets to see Ariana Grande for my little sister's Sweet 16. My dad paid for her ticket, so I charged the rest and also bought tickets for P. and me (P. may be a bigger fan than my sister!). My little sister is pretty spoiled, but I love her too much to let this opportunity go by. I pay off the tickets. $256.86
4:30 p.m. — P. and I are going to Cancun for a friend's wedding, and he wants to know if we should book excursions now. I feel uncomfortable because the all-inclusive stay, flights, and outfits for the wedding have already cost me $2,266.43. I delivered a lot of groceries to pay for it, and I don't really want to shell out for excursions. He tells me he really wants to go see the ruins of Chichén Itzá with me, and offers to pay for my ticket. I agree.
6:30 p.m. — I put the leftover chickpea curry concoction on the stove to simmer and start the rice cooker. P. is watching Family Guy, a show I can't stand, so I take my bowl upstairs to Skype with my best friend in New York City. We have been friends for well over a decade, and I got to visit him last summer, but we've only met up in person twice (we met on a Harry Potter fan forum). We talk about our favorite shows and books, and I hold up the cats to the camera. He also left his abusive home, and we've bonded over our #firstgenerationguilt and discuss our recent therapy sessions.
10:30 p.m. — I fall asleep learning about how nitrous oxide works.
Daily Total: $278.77

Day Three

9 a.m. — I spend the morning in my yoga class. P. is at work today, which means I'm delivering groceries. After yoga class, I shower, blowdry my hair, and put on my grocery-delivering outfit: comfortable leggings, a sweater that I can pull off when I get sweaty, and my Bluetooth headphones.
1:30 p.m. — In the midst of my third order of the day, I buy California rolls from the counter at the grocery store. I haven't eaten all day, and I wolf down the sushi in the grocery-store parking lot before notifying the next customer I'm on my way with their delivery. $5.66
2:30 p.m. — I'm dispatched to pick up groceries at an Asian supermarket and can't find an item, because the label and description on my app are in a different language. I end up calling the customer and refunding him for the product. He doesn't leave me a tip because of it. Whatever.
4:30 p.m. — I finish my ninth order of the day, boosting me up to $151.10. My muscles ache deeply from lugging around bags all day, and I have a bunch of random receipts and extra grocery bags in my car, so I clean it out. When I check the grocery app, I see that the last customer left me a HUGE tip: $37.77! She was an older lady who needed help putting away the groceries. I only do grocery delivery once or twice a week, but today was so busy that I knock off my hours for tomorrow. Let someone else make that cash.
6:30 p.m. — P. suggests hot pot for dinner. Yes, please! The best nearby hot pot place has a late-night special after 9 p.m., so P. asks if I want to go to a yoga class beforehand. He cajoles me into doing my second class of the day by picking a simple meditative/stretch one.
8 p.m. — I'm glad I did the class because my shoulders are tight, and my favorite instructor helped me release the knots. We catch up on our weeks over hot pot. P. also works in government, so we know how frustrating these workplaces can get sometimes, and his week was full of bureaucracy. But he mentions personnel changes are in the works, so I'm hopeful his situation will get better. P. pays for dinner ($26.44.)
10 p.m. — We are full and happy, and I fall asleep listening to tonight's episode on impeachment.
Daily Total: $5.66

Day Four

10:30 a.m. — It's Sunday, and that means I struggle into my salwar kameez to meet my family at the temple. Our relationship is getting better after no contact for six months, a lot of therapy for me, and a lot of boundary-setting with them. I refuse to go over to their home, so we see each other weekly at the temple. I see my little sister more often by taking her to the mall, teaching her how to drive, and meeting up at her high school. I have to give a small amount when I go in to pray in front of our Holy Book and take some of the sweet offering given. I spy my mom and little sister. My sister and I are like kids when we're at temple — incapable of sitting still. We spot my cousin, so we head to the eating hall to gossip. I don't go to a lot of family events on account of having a white boyfriend and living with him, so my cousin catches me up on all the drama. $0.19
12 p.m. — Lunch is free at the temple. My mom asks what I want for my upcoming birthday, and I tell her I'd like a fancy yoga mat. She loves Lululemon, so I tell her one from there is fine. She tells me to order it and she'll pay me back. My dad argues that takes the fun out of the present, and they bicker about it, while I roll my eyes at my sister.
12:45 p.m. — On the way home, I remember that I'm almost out of nail-polish remover and stop by the drugstore. I get acetone and eye the new Essie polish colors. I can't resist, so I get a sparkly shade ($8.75). I also buy a Kit Kat and a sweet peach tea ($2.39). Dealing with my parents calls for chocolate. $11.14
2 p.m. — P. wakes me up from my nap on the couch (the cats have tucked themselves into the billowing cloth of my salwar kameez). He wants to go to the gym. As we pack our respective bags, we do our weekly check-in about emotions and feelings. Both of us came from brutal childhoods, and that has sometimes made communication difficult. When we began to individually attend therapy, both of our therapists recommended regular check-ins with each other, and it's been great. We've been together since I was 18, and we've grown up so much together.
5 p.m. — I'm done with my run, but P. spends so long at the gym, so I read long-form journalism while I wait for him to finish. I know the desk staff at the gym, so I wander over to chat. They ask how the 911 gig is going, and I tell them that I was there for a call that resulted in an Amber Alert a while back, and it was the most terrifying experience of my life. (The child was found safe and sound.) P. comes out from the change room and we leave.
5:30 p.m. — I remember that the cat needs his special food, so we head to our local pet-food store and stock up. It's more expensive here, but both P. and I are passionate about trying to support Canadian businesses. It's his turn to pay, and I throw in some Pill Pockets (treats that disguise the pill inside), because the cat's antidepressants are bitter and the pockets are the only thing that masks the taste. We lament about our sick little baby. He will likely be on this food and his pills for the rest of his life. We are such cat parents.
7 p.m. — I see on Instagram that a bunch of my friends have been to a outdoor art installation. I ask P. if he wants to go and he agrees, so I buy tickets online at a 40% discount. $26.44
8 p.m. — P. drives us there and buys me caramel corn and a giant pretzel for himself as we wander around the gorgeous display.
10 p.m. — It's our usual bedtime routine. The cats stretch across the base of the bed, and I can't put my legs down. I can't sleep but count my blessings instead. I'm happy we have such a great little family. I finally fall asleep listening to how drowning happens.
Daily Total: $37.77

Day Five

9 a.m. — P. and I rarely have two days off in a row together, so today is a treat, and we go to A&W for breakfast using a two-can-dine coupon for coffees, eggs, bacon, toast, and sausage links. $10.57
10 a.m. — P. and I head to the grocery store so he can get dinners for the nights I'm working. He buys a random assortment of meats and vegetables, throwing in a pork tenderloin for tonight. I add Brussels sprouts because that's his favorite veggie with pork. Because I bought groceries last time, he pays this time. We hit $70 on our rewards card and talk excitedly about how we could spend it. P. wants to save up enough points for a new TV, and I want a Silk'n laser hair-removal tool. I pop over to the pharmacy to pick up two months of medication refills, which I carry to the car carefully because it would cost me $10,000 if it weren't covered!
12 p.m. — We reach Costco, which always strikes fear into my heart. P. and I split up to maximize our time in the store. I pick up cat litter and two pounds of strawberries. The line is crazy-long and we're hungry, so I buy us a hotdog and soda to share. Since we're mainly there to buy P. his work snacks, he pays for the main grocery bill. $1.13
1 p.m. — P. goes to the gym, but Monday is my rest day, so I go on a whirlwind cleaning spree while he's out. I do the laundry, scrub down the shower and the bathroom, and change the kitty litter. Then I take off my nail polish and settle in to plan my week, making notes about my goals for each day. If I don't do this, I get home from a bad shift and tend to spiral.
3 p.m. — Tenderloin is in the Crock-Pot for a four-hour roast, and I fold laundry. P. comes home and switches over the sheets, while I pack my bag for tomorrow. I bring everything I need to work for my four-day stretch on the first day, because I'll otherwise forget. This includes books I'm reading, snacks, pill cases, and gym clothes.
7 p.m. — Dinner is delicious, and I pack up leftovers for tomorrow for both myself and P. He cleans up, while I give the cats exercise with their favorite toys.
8 p.m. — We watch a few episodes of The Office but head to bed early. I prep the coffee pot for tomorrow and fall asleep listening to how orchids work.
Daily Total: $11.70

Day Six

4:45 a.m. — The coffee pot starts to brew, and I wake up to the smell.
5 a.m. — Everyone is snuggled so tightly in the blankets, but I roll out of bed and pull on my leggings, a shirt, a hoodie, and socks. Dispatcher clothing choices are nothing but comfort. I wash my face and kiss everyone goodbye.
5:45 a.m. — I make it to work and finish my coffee from home as I swipe in through several layers of security to get into the heart of the headquarters. I unpack my bag into my cubby and say hi to a few officers who are coming off their night shifts.
9 a.m. — Another dispatcher wants to order pasta and offers to pick it up on the first lunch rotation, so I e-transfer her $9.81 for my bacon penne. $9.81
12 p.m. — I call P. so we can chat about the morning while I eat penne in the lunch room. He tells me his friends planned a night out, which sounds fun.
2:30 p.m. — I witness a terrifying, triggering domestic-violence call and am sent out for an early break. I lock myself in a private room and sit on the floor, crying and eating pasta. I text P., and he reminds me to practice all of the techniques my therapist taught me. A lot of people drink and smoke at this job, and moments like these are why. It's still so hard to get used to being a passive bystander in these situations.
6 p.m. — I'm released a little early, so I stop by McDonald's for ice cream on my way to yoga class, because everything sucks. $1.89
7:30 p.m. — Everything still sucks, and I did terribly at yoga, crying and sweating on my mat like a disgusting Gremlin. I arrive home, and P. has set up a nest for me to burrow into on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I fall asleep there, so he gently shakes me awake to get me into bed. The tears have given me an intense headache, and I pass out once I hit the bed.
Daily Total: $11.70

Day Seven

4:30 a.m. — I awake from a nightmare before my alarm goes off and am immediately hit with a tears hangover. I go downstairs to chug water and take an Advil.
5:15 a.m. — Kisses goodbye, and I'm on the road.
9 a.m. — Someone brought coffee and treats from Tim Hortons. I drops some change into a Tim's cup and grab a few glorious chocolate Timbits. I'm glad I can share this stereotypical Canadian moment. $1.51
12 p.m. — At lunch, I see I haven't budged in the library hold queue for a popular new novel, so I log onto Amazon and buy it. If I hate it, I'll just donate it to the library. $19.83
6 p.m. — It's a marathon training day. My headache dissipates as I pound out my miles. P. joins me at the gym and makes kissy faces at me from the weight-training area.
9 p.m. — I don't go to work until 6 p.m. tomorrow night, so I try and stay up as late as I can to reset my clock. P. heads to bed, and I settle in with a book.
Daily Total: $21.34
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