A Week In British Columbia, Canada, On A $28,970 Salary

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 administrative assistant who makes $28,970 per year and spends some of her money this week on Starbucks Nespresso pods.

Editor’s Note: All currency has been converted from CAD to USD.

Occupation: Administrative assistant
Industry: Sales
Age: 30
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Salary: $28,970
Net Worth: $9,284 ($1,485 in my savings account, $371 in checking, $7,428 car value).
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $977 to $1,172 (I’m paid hourly, so it varies).
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,013.52 (I live alone in a studio with my dog.)
Life Insurance: $10.99
Car Insurance: $111.49
Cell Phone: $33.28
Internet: $90.68
Dog Food Subscription: $60.68
Discord Nitro: $10.37
Google Storage: $2.07
Spotify: $12.47
Netflix: $0 (fiancé pays)
Disney+: $9.98
NYT: $1.11

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?
There was an expectation from my mother for me to attend post-secondary school, however I didn’t go straight out of high school. I wasn’t a great student — especially in subjects I didn’t care about — and mostly got Cs. I ended up taking a graphic design course paid for by an ICBC claim (more on that below) and I am currently working my way through coding bootcamps.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I was raised by a single mother and we didn’t have many conversations about money. When I got my first job, my mom made me put half my paycheck into a savings account and would take away my debit card so I couldn’t spend money. We never really discussed the reason for saving and most things I”ve learned about money have been in my adult life.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got a job as a sales associate at a shoe store when I was 15. I wanted some money to spend on going out with friends and clothes.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not particularly. We weren’t overly wealthy, but we weren’t in bad shape at all. My mom put herself through nursing school while I was very young and always paid for things when I needed them. I didn’t have some flashy things, but I always had new clothes for school each year, plenty of food, and any essentials I needed.

Do you worry about money now?
All the time. I went through a very bad period of depression in 2021 after my significant other passed away in a car accident. I was ultimately let go from my job after expressing a desire to take time away from work. I used all my savings in the few months after that keeping myself afloat and got a new job when I ran out. I had to take out a loan as the job I landed didn’t start for an additional two weeks past my budget. The place I took the loan from was very predatory and I ended up wasting a lot of money in fees and other hidden costs before paying it off.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 18. I had a bad fight with my mom over how controlling she was and moved out. I ended up mostly staying with friends and couch surfing until I was 19. After my mom passed away, I moved out of my hometown and began renting a room.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When I was 19, I received an $80,000 settlement from an accident I was in as a child that did permanent damage to my back and teeth. After lawyer fees, I walked away with around $50,000. I used this money to pay off my car loan in full and pay for my post-secondary education and a computer. I received $1,500 from my mom’s coworkers when she passed away. Due to a late payment, her life insurance and home weren’t available to me. She did have a retirement account, but as there was no will, I would have had to probate her estate and I was not ready to take on the amount of debt left when I was 19.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I hit snooze and cuddle my dog, A., for a bit. I feed A. and do my morning skincare routine — CeraVe cleanser, e.l.f. hydrating toner, CeraVe Vitamin C serum, Vanicream moisturizer, and La Roche Posay SPF. My bosses are out of town so it’s a super casual day. I throw on a black crewneck, thick black leggings, black crew socks, and my black Brooks Ghost 15s. I throw leftovers in my lunch bag along with a protein shake and pack up A. to bring her with me.

7:40 a.m. — I get to work; A. greets my coworkers when we walk in. I toss her blanket down on the ground next to me and go to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee.

12:30 p.m. — The day passes by pretty uneventfully. At lunch, I harness up A. to go for a walk. When we get back, I eat my leftover ground beef, rice, and green beans and top it with sriracha.

4:20 p.m. — It’s snowing! I run outside to warm up my car then grab A. and we head out. I call my fiancé on Discord from the car and we talk during my drive.

5:30 p.m. — I finally get home and bring in A. with our stuff. I make a quesadilla for dinner and feed A. as well. After I eat, I read while on a call with my fiancé.

7:30 p.m. — I take a quick body shower then log onto my PC. I play Apex and stream it for my fiancé, Y., to watch. After I play, we say our goodnights and both mute, but stay on the call. I take A. for a walk then do my nighttime skincare routine (CeraVe cleanser, E.L.F. hydrating toner, CeraVe retinol, Vanicream moisturizer). I watch TikTok in bed and fall asleep by 11 p.m.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off from across the room. I roll out of bed and go turn it off. Because of the snow, my apartment is absolutely freezing. I refuse to turn the heat on so I curl back up in bed for a few minutes. I finally drag myself out of bed, feed A., and do my morning skincare. I get dressed, take A. out for a walk, and then head to work.

7:40 a.m. — I get to work and drop my stuff. I eat a Rice Krispie square and a bag of salted Kettle Chips as my breakfast, along with free coffee.

10:20 a.m. — Y. texts me that his work is letting him go home early because of the bad weather. I love that his job cares so much about their employees. He is in the US and we’ve been long distance since we became official two years ago. We submitted our application for my visa recently, so I’m hoping I will be joining him there this year.

12:35 p.m. — Lunch time! I have a can of tuna, an English muffin, mayo, and a bag of Popcorners. I also chug a bottle of water. I log my most recent book, Red Queen, in Goodreads and put a hold on the next book in the series.

4:30 p.m. — I drive home while talking to Y. on the phone. I grab my library books and head to the library. I find two books and check them out then head home.

630 p.m. — I get home, take A. out for a quick pee, give her dinner, and log onto Apex with a few friends. We play for a few hours. I make chicken in my air fryer with fajita seasoning. I also cook some frozen peppers in a pan and throw it all in a wrap with Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

8:30 p.m. — I call Y. on Discord and we chat for about 30 minutes before he goes to bed. Once he mutes, I take a quick shower then grab my new book and curl up on my bed with a bunch of blankets. A. snuggles in next to me as well. I read up until I can’t keep my eyes open and go to sleep around 11:30 p.m.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I hit snooze for a bit. Once I’m up, I take A. out then head out to get my hair cut. The hairdresser asks me if I want to donate my hair and I say yes and cut off a LARGE amount, around 15 inches. The cut is cheap and I tip almost 100%. I go home, then rewash and style my hair. My hair is naturally a mix of curls and waves and always ends up a frizzy mess after a haircut. I use Dove curly hair mousse, Not Your Mother’s Defining Cream, and JVN Airdry Cream. $33.58

9:30 a.m. —I get dressed and then my friend G. picks me up for breakfast. Once at the restaurant, we get breakfast and tea. We really want to do high tea, but this restaurant doesn’t do it anymore. I pay for breakfast and then we head to another restaurant for high tea. $17.40

12 p.m. — At the second restaurant, I get Earl Grey and we split a high tea service. The server brings out a three-tier tray with all the goodies: There are fresh warm scones with butter and jam, panna cotta, macaroons, different dessert squares, and three types of sandwiches. G. pays because I paid earlier and then she drops me off at home. I love an afternoon with a friend!

2 p.m. — I spend most of the afternoon talking to Y. on Discord and playing video games. Around 5:30 p.m., I check my bank account and see I got paid early. I go through my normal payday routine and pay my internet, phone bill, and ship A.’s food (all in monthly expenses). I also impulse-order sushi for dinner. I get a full order of salmon sashimi, one torched salmon nigiri, one chopped scallop nigiri, and a spicy tuna roll. $22.72

6 p.m. — While I wait for the sushi to arrive, I log onto Walmart and make a grocery order. I do my grocery shopping monthly then just top up veggies as needed, so I’m getting a lot. I end up with a huge tray of chicken breasts, two packs of sandwich meat, block cheese, sliced cheese, mustard, mayo, Crystal Light, a mix of Fiber One and Pop-Tart snacks, cookie dough, rice, Greek yoghurt, sugar-free sodas, zucchini, frozen fries, tater tots, bread, potatoes, and cottage cheese. I also need some everyday items so I get a bottle of Aveeno lotion, Aveeno body oil, and Not Your Mother’s Curl Cream. I have free delivery but add a tip. I schedule it to arrive tomorrow morning. $150.36

6:30 p.m. — My sushi arrives! Y. and I decide to watch some movies for date night. We decide on the new Thor movie. It’s not bad, but not good either. Exactly what we expect from Marvel at this point. After it ends, Y. picks Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. It’s hilariously bad and we love it. After the second movie ends, Y. heads off to bed. I play Apex for a couple of hours, then rejoin Y. on our muted call and go to sleep around midnight.

Daily Total: $224.06

Day Four

8 a.m. — My weekend alarm goes off. I sleepily get up, feed A., and then do my skincare routine and get dressed. I want to get to Costco before the weekend shoppers get there, so I grab a coffee protein shake and I’m out the door by 8:30 a.m.

8:50 a.m. — I get to Costco. I get grapes, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, Popcorner snack-sized bags, Rice Krispies Treats, semi-sweet chocolate chips, sparkling water, Coke Zero, Alani energy drinks, a rotisserie chicken, and a huge bag of sandwich buns. $130.26

9:30 a.m. — I leave Costco and drive to Real Canadian Superstore. I grab two containers of coffee creamer, Starbucks Blonde Roast Nespresso pods, a huge bunch of lettuce, and a tray of chocolate chip cookie dough bites. Once home, I unpack the groceries and do some cleaning. $24.16

10:55 a.m. — I log in to check my Walmart delivery ETA and notice he’s close… But the address isn’t my house. It’s my work. I curse myself for not double-checking the address and throw my runners back on. I bring A. and drive to work in a hurry to meet the driver there. He texts me when he arrives and thankfully I’m only a few minutes behind him. He laughs when I tell him about the address mix-up and helps me load everything into my car. On the way home, I stop at the pet store to get A. some Greenies. $10.81

11:30 a.m. — I get home and unload all the groceries. Then, I settle in to play some Apex. After an hour or so, Y. calls and we watch Pan’s Labyrinth.

4:30 p.m. — After the movie, I tidy up my apartment. I also portion out all the chicken breasts I bought and freeze most of them, slice and wrap all the sandwich buns, separate the rotisserie chicken, and wash the fruits. I set aside half the pantry snack items to take to work. Afterwards, Y. and I watch Mulan until he goes to bed.

8 p.m. —I feed A. then make a late dinner of a chicken sandwich, broccoli, and a big bottle of water. I pack a lunch for tomorrow as well and wash all my prep dishes. I take an everything shower once my kitchen is clean. I do a scalp massage, then double wash and condition my hair. I do my hair and nighttime skincare routine. I throw on Gilmore Girls while I let everything set in and eat two more cookie bites. I brush my teeth and go to sleep around 11 p.m.

Daily Total: $165.23

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — My first alarm goes off and it’s once again freezing. I hit snooze and cuddle with A. for another 30 minutes. After that I get up, feed the pup, do my skincare routine, and get dressed. I take an Alani protein shake and my pre-prepped lunch and go scrape the frost off my car. Traffic is terrible but I manage to scrape through and get to work at 7:59 a.m.

12 p.m. — I throw together my sandwich and eat it during my lunchtime walk. While I walk, I scroll on Amazon for a birthday gift for Y. I decide on at least getting him a lamp for his new home office. $25.49

4:30 p.m. — My day is over and I head home while talking to Y. on Discord once again. I stop at a gas station on my way home, I have a free play Lotto ticket from back in November. I redeem that and impulse-buy a mini can of Pringles. I get home and we chat until 5:30 p.m. We disconnect the call and I get changed for the gym. I walk over to my apartment’s gym and do a push workout, then walk on the treadmill for 40 minutes to get to my 10,000 step goal. $2.37

6:45 p.m. — I make Brussels sprouts in my air fryer. I also throw together another chicken sandwich.

7:30 p.m. — I see Y. join our Discord voice channel so I click in. We hang out for around 30 minutes then he needs to go to bed. I take a quick body shower then watch Gilmore Girls until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $27.86

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — Normal morning routine and then I head to work.

12:30 p.m. — I change into a pair of leggings and a crewneck sweater. I make a sandwich then throw on my runners, mittens, and a scarf and take my lunch walk. When I get back I eat a Fiber One bar.

4:30 p.m. — I join Discord with Y. and drive home. Once I get home, I get changed and head to the gym. I do a leg workout and walk on the treadmill for 40 minutes. I hit my 10,000 step goal as I walk back into my apartment! I take a body shower and moisturize then make yet another sandwich with a side of air-fryer zucchini. I have a zero-sugar Dr. Pepper with my dinner and chat with Y.

8:45 p.m. — I say goodnight to Y. and take A. for a quick walk. I come back and brush my teeth then read for a while. At 10 p.m., I do my nighttime routine and fall asleep.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off; I get up and look out the window. There is a TON of snow. I throw on leggings, a sweater, and my winter boots and walk outside. It’s way too deep to get my car out. I text my boss I’m not coming into the office, then update my fiancé. I go back inside, throw on Gilmore Girls, and snuggle with A.

9:31 a.m. — Aaaand my power goes out. I stay in bed and swap to reading my book.

10 a.m. — I take A. outside. She loves the snow — she looks like a gigantic bunny hopping around. I talk to a neighbor and she says the power is supposed to come back on in about an hour. We head back inside to warm up; luckily my apartment is holding the heat well.

12:15 p.m. — I take a break from reading to take A. outside again. When we get back inside the power is still out. I eat some Popcorners and keep reading.

2:15 p.m. — The power is finally back! I celebrate by making some tater tots in the air fryer and chocolate chip cookies in my oven. Right as I’m finishing up my food, Y. messages me he’s home from work. I join our Discord and he tells me he got the letter about our visa and it’s not good. They sent it to the processing center closer to me, not him. Because of that, our ETA is now 16 months instead of four! I manage to stifle tears from frustration and we watch a movie.

5 p.m. — We finish our movie and I log it on Letterbox. Afterward, I make some Brussels sprouts and chicken in my air fryer and eat them over a side of minute rice. After I finish, I play video games for a while.

9:30 p.m. — I take A. out one last time. I do my skincare routine and get into bed. I read for an hour, drink a bunch of water, and fall asleep around 10 p.m.

Daily Total: $0

If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.

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