A Week In Vancouver, BC, On A $80,152 Salary

·18 min read

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: a marketing manager working in retail who makes $80,152 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Mamma Mia rental.

Totals have been converted to USD.

Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Retail
Age: 30
Location: Vancouver, BC
Salary: $80,152
Net Worth: $328,941 ($36,108 in an RRSP, $21,190 in tax-free savings accounts, $39,240 in investments, including company stocks. I also recently purchased a one-bedroom apartment for $566,000. I haven’t moved in yet, but I made a $235,500 down payment with a combination of my own investments and a generous gift from my parents.)
Debt: $333,597 (mortgage)
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,285 (after retirement and stock option deductions)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000 (I currently live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a roommate. We’ve lived in the same place for over four years and realize how lucky we got when the pandemic hit: Our rent is relatively cheap for Vancouver, and we feel like we each have our own space. Our building is also new, which is rare in our neighborhood. I’ll move into my new place on June 1 and start paying $1,500 a month for my mortgage then.)
Renters Insurance: $16
Phone: ~$20 (My company will pay up to $60 a month for my phone, but I always go over the data limit on my plan.)
Internet: $0 (With WFH, my company covers internet.)
Car Lease: $325
Car Insurance: $145.82
Health & Dental Benefits: ~$50 (I’m Canadian, so I’m lucky to have great coverage from the government, but I also pay for extra benefits through my work plan. This comes off my paycheck, so I don’t notice it.)
Peloton: $57 (I own the bike, and my roommate pays the membership fee in exchange for using it.)
Spotify: $7.85
Company Stocks: $537.38 (9% of my paycheck and my company matches to some degree)
Retirement Plan: $353.14 (6% of my paycheck and my company matches, same as above)

Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $65.23


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?
Yes, there was an expectation that I’d attend higher education, but I also loved school and expected it of myself. I went to a fancy business school, which meant tuition that was three times the amount my siblings paid for their education. I was incredibly lucky that both my grandparents and parents started saving for my school when I was young. Given that my tuition was so high, I contributed between $4,000 and $8,000 a year, whereas my siblings were able to cover theirs with the RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plans) our parents and grandparents contributed to. My parents also covered my housing for the four years I was at university.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Beyond the usual “money doesn’t grow on trees,” I didn’t have any serious conversations with my parents about money or budgeting until I was getting ready to go to university. Since then, my mom is one of my most trusted advisors when it comes to my personal finances.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a hostess at a restaurant until I was old enough to be a lifeguard. There was an expectation that I get a job as soon as possible, and I think the main reason was to teach me about discipline and responsibility. I remember paying for the extra activities, like going out for lunch or to the mall with friends, but my parents still covered most of my expenses until I was in university, including extra-curricular activities, clothes, and vacations.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Truthfully, no. My parents both worked extremely hard and never expressed any real concerns about expenses, even with four kids.

Do you worry about money now?
Absolutely. I’m single, and it has quickly dawned on me that the world (or at least Vancouver) isn’t made for single-income households. I am constantly trying to find a balance between being conservative with my money and allowing myself to get the most out of living in BC, which basically means lots of outdoor hobbies with expensive equipment.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I went to university, I became responsible for all of my spending aside from rent. After that, I moved home for a year, where I was able to save what I would normally spend on housing and groceries. However, that meant I had a three-hour commute to work each day. My parents would step in to help if I lost my income, but I would likely need to move home, which is across the country.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. Last year, my grandmother passed away, and my mom received an inheritance. My parents decided to give their kids a very generous portion of this, with specific instructions that it was to be used for a down payment for real estate (which I did). Without this gift, there is no way I would have been able to purchase a home in Vancouver.

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up, struggle my way through Wordle, and make coffee at home. WFH has forced me to embrace making my own coffee. I do a quick stretch on the Peloton app and then sit down at my desk (yes, in pyjamas) to get a jump start on my inbox.

9 a.m. — Second coffee, baby. I’m on calls throughout the morning and sneak out for a run around 11.

12 p.m. — Post-workout lunch is leftovers. About 90% of the time, I eat at my desk while on calls. Some people are polite enough to go off-camera while they eat, but I have nothing to hide! I multitask and make a grocery list for later this evening.

4 p.m. — I call it quits at 3:45 and drive to my gym. I am able to expense up to $160 per month for health and fitness, which covers my unlimited monthly membership to my gym. Given the cost of studios in Vancouver, this is one of my favorite job perks.

5:30 p.m. — Still red-faced and sweaty, I go to the grocery store. I try my best to keep my weekly food costs low but still struggle to get enough healthy and protein-rich food without breaking the bank. I pick up easy ingredients for my favourite meals that I eat on rotation: chickpea salads with tzatziki, spicy ramen with shredded chicken, tuna and avocado on toast, plus various protein and rice dishes. $77

7 p.m. — I quickly shower, then scarf down a protein smoothie (I always have frozen fruit on hand) while I make ramen, which takes all of five minutes. I like to cook for others but can’t seem to find the same passion when cooking for myself. Simplicity for the win.

9:30 p.m. — I eat Greek yogurt and chocolate chips before bed, then climb into bed and watch YouTube before drifting off around 10.

Daily Total: $77

Day Two

6 a.m. — Coffee at home (Okay, in bed). I wait to eat because I’m going to an early fitness class, which isn’t my usual preference.

7 a.m. — I make a rare appearance at a reformer Pilates class, which would normally cost almost $40 for one class! My mom got me a pass for Christmas, so I’m still cashing that in. I hate to admit it, but I’ll probably purchase my own pass once this runs out — it’s so different from my normal workouts, and I can tell it’s helping my core get stronger.

8 a.m. — I stop at Starbucks on the way home from class. I have a gift card so I use it to buy an Americano and a breakfast sandwich, then go home and jump onto my computer to get my head straight before the day truly begins.

12 p.m. — I make lunch from the groceries I bought yesterday (avocado, tuna, red onion, and orzo), and sip a sparkling water while on a call. I get an email with information on next year’s season pass for my local ski hill. I bite the bullet and take advantage of the early-bird prices. At $785, it’s not a cheap purchase, but I skied at least 25 days this past year, which makes it absolutely worth it. The good news is that only $40 is due today, so I decide to worry about the remaining amount later. $40

5 p.m. — I leave for a “wine walk” with a friend (we started doing this at the beginning of COVID and refuse to give it up). I have rosé in the fridge so pour some into a blender bottle — it’s not classy, but it’s effective.

6:30 p.m. — On the way home, I pop in the drugstore. I’m leaving for a family trip next week and need small toiletries. Of course, I can’t leave without buying a bunch of unnecessary items: new lip balm, Mini Eggs, and popcorn. $18.06

7 p.m. — I quickly throw together chicken and rice for dinner, and then decide to add a smoothie with spinach because my vegetable intake is embarrassingly low today.

9 p.m. — I spend the rest of the night watching Alone on Amazon Prime. It’s the most random show, but I am INVESTED. I try to get my roommate to join me, but she’s made it very clear that I’m on my own for this one (or should I say Alone). I start my skin-care routine at about 9:30 and am fast asleep by 10.

Daily Total: $58.06

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up, fail at Wordle (come on!), and then drown my sorrows in my morning coffee. I use up the last of my beans from a recent trip to Hawaii and am stoked to find that Amazon sells the exact same brand! It’s more expensive than what I’d normally buy at the grocery store, but I want to feel like I’m back on the island. I immediately purchase a bag with zero regrets. $14.14

8 a.m. — I’m traveling to the States next week and, as a Canadian, I need a negative COVID test to enter the country. I book a virtual test, which is super convenient, but I’m annoyed that we still have to pay to get tested. I have somehow avoided COVID for the last two-plus years and am nervous about getting it before the trip, so I make a mental note to be more aware of who I’m hanging out with and opting to wear a mask whenever I’m in a crowded space. $31.42

4 p.m. — The day flies by, and I barely stop to eat lunch (tuna and avocado on toast once again; I told you I’m boring). I go to my usual class at the gym at 4, then swing by the gas station on the way home. Gas is normally very expensive in BC, but for the last month or so it’s been outrageous. I fill up my tank, and it costs me $15 more than it normally would. $70.72

5:30 p.m. — A friend calls and asks if I want to run to a local brewery because the sun is out. Who am I to say no? We jog about 5 kms to the brewery, and I get one beer before my sweat dries and I’m freezing. We start to walk home, and it ends in a run because I can’t wait to hop in the hot shower. $7.07

7:30 p.m. — Post-shower, I dig a frozen burrito out of the freezer and eat it while finishing up work. I often put in a few hours before and after the regular 9-to-5, but I’m happy to do it because it means I can take breaks as needed throughout the day. This type of flexibility is new for me and it has quickly become one of my favorite parts about my job.

9 p.m. — It’s the Sephora sale, y’all. I don’t really wear makeup but, damn, do I love skin care. I take this opportunity to refill one of my Drunk Elephant products and test out a few cheaper ones. I really went ham at the beginning of the pandemic and am working hard to refine what I use so it’s not so expensive to maintain. With that being said, my complexion has gotten so much better over the last couple of years (I used to struggle with acne), so whatever I spend is worth it. $77.01

10:30 p.m. — I finish the night with chocolate chips and go down a TikTok hole. As usual, I fall asleep to the sweet sounds of The Office (thank you, parents, for the family Netflix account).

Daily Total: $200.36

Day Four

6 a.m. — My Hawaii coffee has yet to arrive, so I have to make do with Folgers this morning. I get out the door for a class at my gym. I have plans later tonight, so the early class is my only option today.

7 a.m. — I go for a walk post-class and call my mom. Clearly, I need a coffee to fuel that, so I stop by a local shop and grab an Americano. $3.53

8 a.m. — I arrive home, shower, and dive into work with wet hair. This is no surprise to my boss, who is now used to me showing up on video post-workout. I plug away until 12 when I need more endorphins, so I jump on the bike and get in a 30-minute class with Cody Rigsby.

1 p.m. — I get out of my second shower of the day and eat a salad-smoothie combo. I have a chiropractor appointment at 1:30 that I walk to. I hurt my back pretty badly about a year ago and am really serious about trying to heal. My chiro is AMAZING, and since it’s covered through my work benefits, I’ll be reimbursed for the cost. PSA: work on your core! $117.80 (expensed)

4:45 p.m. — I walk to a local bar for happy hour with colleagues, and things get a bit out of hand. Work pays for the first couple of rounds, and then a bunch of us stay for more drinks and food. After too many glasses of wine and a LOT of shared appetizers, I go home around 8. $47.12

8:30 p.m. — I get home, breeze through my skin care, even though I’m a bit tipsy. I’m nothing if not dedicated to the routine. I fall asleep before 9.

Daily Total: $50.65

Day Five

7 a.m. — My Hawaii coffee arrived! I bask in its glorious Macadamia flavour, then go for a quick walk before I attack my inbox.

11 a.m. — I donate blood twice a year, and today is one of my appointments. I try to meditate my way through the procedure, but the nurse thinks I’m unconscious, and I create a bit of a scene. Overall, it’s not bad, and I get Goldfish as a reward. I also stop by a smoothie place on the way home because the Goldfish aren’t sufficient. $7

2 p.m. — One of my biggest weaknesses is that I go to the grocery store multiple times a week. I don’t have enough snacks for a day trip tomorrow and buy bars, sandwich stuff, and chips for tonight because why not? $24.15

4 p.m. — I go to the gym against the instructions of the blood clinic nurse but take it easy. I moved to Vancouver a few years ago, and my gym was the main place I made friends. It’s not just a workout for me; it fills my social cup! As such, my friends and I go to a nearby bar after the class for happy hour. I stick to only one glass of wine, and we split spring rolls. $15.57

7 p.m. — A friend comes over and brings pizza (I ordered, they picked it up). This has become a tradition, so we rotate who pays, and today it’s my turn. We chat for a while and then put on a movie but call it early because I’m skiing tomorrow and need to leave early. $21.80

Daily Total: $68.52

Day Six

5:30 a.m. — Oy, that’s an early wake up for a Saturday! I’m off to ski with a few friends and have a two-hour drive ahead of me. The hill opens at 8:30, and we always leave at the crack of dawn to avoid traffic as much as possible. McDonald’s is clearly the best way to make this early morning manageable, so I grab a coffee and Egg McMuffin for myself and my friend. The drive is beautiful, and we arrive just after 8. $7.88

11 a.m. — I brought a sandwich but am lured into the ski chalet for lunch. This resort is expensive, but the beer and chilli are worth it — especially because it’s snowing like crazy ($11.51). We ski until about 2, then head over to a secret(ish) spot for the happy-hour special of cheese fondue. I’m spending a lot on food this week but feel strongly that fondue is not the place to cut back ($19.39). $30.90

5 p.m. — While at happy hour, I’m convinced to buy a few new pairs of workout tights. I hop on my phone and (too quickly) add two pairs to my cart. I get a significant discount, which makes the pill way easier to swallow. $55.77

6 p.m. — I am staying at a friend’s place tonight, so luckily I don’t have to make the long drive home. I swing by the liquor store on the way to pick up a bottle of wine as a thank you, then arrive to a home-cooked meal. We stay up way too late playing board games and eventually pass out around midnight. $19.46

Daily Total: $114.01

Day Seven

6 a.m. — It snowed last night, so we’re up early to get in line for the lifts. We grab coffee on the way, and I pay for the four of us. $15.15

8 a.m. — While we’re waiting for the gondola to start running, I remember Friday was payday. I open my Wealthsimple app and transfer $390 over to my automated investment portfolio. Aside from my company matching programs (for both employee share plan and my retirement fund), this is my main savings account. I try to put additional money aside there each month. $390

10:30 a.m. — The snow is incredible, but we have to drive home so we call it early. We grab a quick brunch before hitting the road, but my friend treats.

2 p.m. — I arrive home and immediately put a pot of water on to make spicy peanut ramen while I unpack my ski stuff. I eat and watch YouTube, then drift off for what I consider a well-deserved afternoon nap.

5:30 p.m. — I get my weekly grocery shopping done and head out the door with what I think is a reasonable list. As always, I end up spending way more than I thought, and I know I’ll still have to come back to the store later this week. Meal planning is at the top of my list for skills I want to learn! I grab a pizza for dinner because I am still super tired from the weekend. $85.58

7 p.m. — My roommate is home, and we haven’t caught up all week. After dinner, we watch Mamma Mia, which sadly we have to pay to rent, but Sunday scaries don’t exist when you’re singing along with Meryl Streep. $3.88

9:30 p.m. — I’m almost out of Athletic Greens, so I place an order for a refill. I’ve been taking it for over six months. I can’t say I feel a notable difference, but I like knowing I have “nutritional insurance” on days when I don’t get my veggies in. $69.23

10 p.m. — Earlier this week my boss mentioned that we can expense a particular book about corporate culture. I purchase, send to my Kindle, and read a few chapters before nodding off to sleep. It’s definitely not a juicy page turner, but I’m so grateful that this kind of development is a priority at my company. $14.99 (expensed)

Daily Total: $563.84

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