A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $153,000 Joint Income

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Today: an accountant working in real estate who has a $153,000 joint income and spends some of her money this week on a bidet for her husband's birthday.
Occupation: Accountant
Industry: Real Estate
Age: 27
Location: Toronto, ON
My Salary: $75,000
My Husband's Salary: $78,000
Rental Income: $21,360 (Before my husband, G., met me, he saved up and bought a one-bedroom condo on his own. When we got married, we started renting out that place for $1,780 a month and bought a two-bedroom condo closer to downtown, so now we jointly own the two properties.)
Net Worth: $280,000 (In addition to the equity in our condos, we have cash savings of about $70,000.)
Debt: $720,000 (Mortgages in the GTA are crazy.)
My Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,086
My Husband's Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,338
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgages: $3,362 ($2,185 for our place and $1,177 for the rental condo)
Hydro: $50
Phone: $51
Internet: $112
Long-Term Disability Premium: $84 (deducted from my paycheque)
Netflix: $0 (We mooch off the in-laws.)
Gym Membership: $0 (I usually pay $25 with Fit4Less when the gyms are open.)
RRSP: $125

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?
My parents were both university graduates (my dad has a PhD in economics), and I grew up being expected to go to university. I finished my undergraduate studies and got my chartered professional accountant (CPA) designation but didn't pursue higher education past that point. My parents paid my tuition upfront each year, but I fully paid them back with scholarships and money I made doing co-op work terms.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were risk-averse and skeptical of any investments that were not either a savings account or real estate. Having immigrated to Canada in the mid-2000s, our family had a lot of arguments about money and how to make more, and this instilled financial anxiety in me from a young age. I was taught to minimize spending on discretionary items and to save as much as possible. Those are good lessons, but they don't make my life happy. As an adult, I had to re-shape my attitude toward money. I started by reading books on personal finance and learned that not embracing moderate risk while you are young can lead to many missed opportunities and that proper risk planning (i.e. diversifying your investment holdings, buying ETFs, and avoiding high-volatility speculative stocks) is the way to go. I also realized that it's okay to spend money on things that bring me happiness, as long as they're reasonable, and I have a discretionary spending budget (it's around $830 a month). Life is short, and everything is about balance. 

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was in university, working a co-op work term as an accountant for a consumer-packaged-goods company. It was part of my undergraduate degree, and I really enjoyed it.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, I worried about money quite a lot. My parents didn't have stable, high-paying jobs since coming to Canada, and we were struggling to purchase a house for almost seven years. We never starved or went without electricity, but there was still not enough to build up a proper retirement fund or safety net. Partly influenced by my childhood, I chose an in-demand career that would give me a stable job early on (without the need for extensive schooling). Thankfully, I enjoy what I do.

Do you worry about money now?
No. Since meeting my husband and purchasing my first property, I've become more reassured about our financial future. We save a good proportion of our income and don't spend money on expensive things too often. That being said, I'm starting to compensate for what I missed out on as a teenager: I'm budgeting for vacations (post-pandemic) and spending money on cute things (jewelry, books, and stationery).

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 age 25. That's when I started paying rent to my parents ($1,000 per month) and helping out with groceries occasionally. My financial safety net consists of our savings and our investment property.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Back in 2019, when G. and I purchased the condo we live in now, my parents and in-laws gave us $30,000 to help with the downpayment. Last year, when we got married, our parents gave us about $1,600 in red-packet money (as part of the Chinese wedding tradition).

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling energized and ready for a new day. I brush my teeth, kiss my husband good morning, and make myself a cup of coffee with my Tassimo machine. I have two slices of whole wheat bread with strawberry jam for breakfast.
9 a.m. — This is my first week on a new job, so I'll be in video meetings for the better half of the day. I brace myself and apply makeup (Smashbox eyeshadow, Estée Lauder foundation, and Revlon lipstick). I'm extremely lazy and have not dolled up for the last 11 months of working from home. I don't trust myself with eyeliner at this point.
12 p.m. — I've had a productive morning, learning new things about my role and teammates. Two of my online book orders have arrived, so I eagerly go downstairs to pick them up from the concierge. My latest haul is from a U.S. second-hand books website called Thriftbooks. I've been slowly adding more titles to my collection of Royal Diaries, a series I loved as a child but is now out of print. They're historical fiction about princesses and have lovely gilded edges. Sadly, when I unwrap the packages, one of the books seems to be from a different edition and doesn't have the golden edges. I might keep it for now and hunt for another copy once second-hand stores reopen in my region.
12:30 p.m. — My husband and I have leftover beef shawarma on rice from our favourite Mediterranean restaurant, Osmow's. The portions are great, and a $17 plate lasts me two or three meals. My husband makes himself a beef burger.
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4:30 p.m. — Work is wrapped up. My first week is mostly centered around learning, and my teammates all seem very capable and friendly. I've had the misfortune of working with a terrible and unsupportive manager in the past. So far, my new manager has been great, and I'm hoping this new job is going to be much better.
6 p.m. — We watch two episodes of an anime show called Dr. Stone, which is set in a world where all humans have been petrified, and the world reverts back to a primitive caveman era. The main character tries to recreate modern civilization with science. It's educational and funny; we're intrigued.
7 p.m. — Dinner is Osmow's again, and I stir fry vegetables on the side. My husband has leftover braised chicken stew with potatoes and peppers, rice, and Dr.Pepper. After dinner, I play Paper Mario on the Nintendo Switch, which is one of our best purchases since quarantine began. The game is simply adorable, and my husband helps me beat the bosses at the end of the stages, so it's not too hard.
11 p.m. — I do my nighttime routine (brush my teeth and put on Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum followed by Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel). I'm asleep by midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

8:45 a.m. — It's hump day! I make myself a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese. After breakfast, I apply toner and a mixture of lotion and Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation. I'm using a luxury Korean skin-care brand called the History of Whoo, which comes in fancy glass bottles and works very well for my skin.
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12:30 p.m. — My brain is short-circuiting with too many new things to learn. I need to take a break. G.'s birthday is coming up, so I ask him what he wants. He absolutely hates surprises and wants to dictate exactly what he gets so there's no waste of money. If you think that's unromantic, this year, he wants a bidet attachment for our toilet so his daily poop ritual can be extra pleasant. Oh G., never change. I place an online order for one from Home Depot. $157.07
1 p.m. — I'm not very hungry for lunch, so I cut myself pear slices and have cereal. G. has peanut butter and banana toast with milk.
5:30 p.m. — We drive over to the nearest Walmart and stand in line for a few minutes. Grocery prices have risen again, especially dairy. (A small tub of Ben & Jerry's is $6.50. What is this madness?) We buy garbage bags, popcorn kernels, eggs, coffee creamer, yogurt, apples, bananas, cucumber, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, honey, peanut butter, canned tuna, fruit juices, Tassimo coffee pods, antibiotic-free chicken thighs, and ice cream. $75.30
6 p.m. — I also discover super-cute Korean sheet masks on clearance for $1 each. They come in different flavours (strawberry yogurt, plain yogurt, banana milk, and coconut milk). There's also two kinds of Mediheal X BTS collection sheet masks, so I pick up one of each ($15/set). $55
7 p.m. — We head over to a Chinese supermarket for Chinese New Year snacks and vegetables, including pastries, bread, sushi, bok choy, bread, and cupcakes. $58.22
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8 p.m. — We come home and have a late dinner (sushi, Chinese pastries, and leftover veggie stir-fry). My husband complains that the sushi from supermarkets isn't the same as sushi from restaurants. He misses all-you-can-eat sushi with a passion. So do I.
10 p.m. — We watch Modern Family on Netflix and play Paper Mario on the Nintendo Switch. I go to bed at 11 p.m. while my husband stays up and watches Twitch.
Daily Total: $345.57

Day Three

9 a.m. — It's Chinese New Year's Eve! Similar to Christmas, we celebrate on the eve of the New Year. Usually, I take the day off, but since this is my first week on a new job, I'm going to celebrate with my parents this weekend instead. Still, I'm burdened with glorious purpose, and I want to make today special. For breakfast, I have green tea with Chinese pastries.
11 p.m. — Meetings take up the majority of my morning, and I need to take a mental break. There's a channel on YouTube called A Walk Around the World; it lets you virtually stroll around China, Japan, Korea, Paris, London, and almost anywhere you can think of. Since today is Chinese New Year, I watch a walking video of Shanghai, China. I miss the crowds and the streets and the food.
12 p.m. — Lunch is Korean instant noodles with a fried egg and SPAM. It's not exactly healthy, but once in a while G. and I love it.
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5:30 p.m. — It's the end of the workday, and I'm more than ready. We bust out happy Chinese New Year songs on YouTube and sing along. We also call up a local buffet restaurant that does takeout and order sweet and sour pork, Beijing duck, Cantonese chow-mein, and Kung Pao chicken. G. is Caucasian, but he's happy to learn about my culture and traditions and to eat Chinese food. $56.06
6 p.m. — G. leaves to pick up the food. While he's gone, I clean up the kitchen, wipe down the tables, and organize the living room. I also cook one more dish for dinner (shrimp and cucumber stir-fry). No laundry or sweeping, though: It's bad luck to do them on Chinese New Year's Eve. We don't want to wash or sweep away our good fortune.
7 p.m. — The food is here, and it's delicious! We eat as much as we can, put away the leftovers, and sit on the couch like two happy piglets. We turn on a documentary about the Chinese New Year, and it's quite touching. This is a time for people to reunite with their families and to welcome the New Year alongside loved ones. Due to the lockdown, my mom can't visit her brother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago. We miss him a lot, and we're all hoping he'll live as long as possible.
9:30 p.m. — I finish reading the Royal Diary about Eleanor of Aquitaine, a medieval French princess. The next one I plan to read is about Cleopatra VII, and I'm secretly hoping there's some Mark Antony in it. I've had a secret crush on Mark since Grade 10 when we studied Julius Caesar in English class.
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11 p.m. — I apply lotion and moisturizer, then head to bed. G. and I cuddle for a bit, and I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $56.06

Day Four

10 a.m. — It's Friday, but I still have a busy day ahead of me. My breakfast is Ritz crackers, yogurt, and coffee. Between my training sessions, I talk to one of my new coworkers. I like my new team so far, and everyone has been friendly and approachable. I love working from home and wouldn't mind doing it forever, but I'd also enjoy grabbing Starbucks with my colleagues. Plus, my new work has a great downtown office that I'm excited to check out.
12:30 p.m. — It's lunchtime, and we have leftover Chinese takeout. The newest episode of WandaVision is out. My husband and I are hooked on this new Marvel show.
2 p.m. — One of my meetings is delayed, so I look for a new scrapbook on the Michaels website and place an order for a large album using a 30% off coupon code. $23.72
6 p.m. — I finally get off my last call at work, and the long weekend officially begins! Tonight, I'm visiting my parents after almost two months of quarantine, and I'm sleeping over at their house. I pack my PJs, skincare set, and my laptop. I also bring my Cleopatra book with me.
7 p.m. — Thankfully, traffic on the way to their place isn't too bad. We have hot pot for dinner! There are lamb rolls, shrimp, fish balls, fish, leafy greens, tofu, and mushrooms. We each make our own hot pot dip with sesame paste. My parents also make freshly squeezed orange juice. It's a delicious meal!
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8:15 p.m. — After dinner, we watch the annual China Central Television Chinese New Year Gala together. It's a show with dancing, songs, and comedy skits, however, it has become increasingly politicized over the years, and the entertainment factor has gone down by a lot. Still, we put it on the TV and watch together. When a comedy skit is good, I try to do a real-time translation for G., who doesn't speak any Chinese. I do a good job most of the time.
10 p.m. — G. goes home to sleep for the night, while I settle down in my old room. My parents are thrilled I'm here, and we end up chatting until midnight. On the way back home, G. fills the tank at a gas station and pays with our joint credit card. $39.44
Daily Total: $63.16

Day Five

10 a.m. — My parents and I sleep in. For breakfast, we have pork buns with congee. We continue to watch the gala from last night (it's four and a half hours long). Afterward, we make green tea and munch on pastries. I show them travel and walking videos of Shenzhen, the city we lived in before coming to Canada. It's been 17 years since we left, and we've been discussing going back for a family vacation once COVID is under control. Now that my parents are retired, and I have a healthy number of vacation days per year, the wanderlust is real!
12 p.m. — We take a break from watching videos. I tell my mom about my scrapbook, and she suggests I check out Taobao, the Chinese Amazon, for cute stationery and art supplies. I go on a rampage and buy a bunch of stickers and washi tape using my mom's account. They might not arrive for a while, but I can wait. I pay my mom with cash from my wallet. $70
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2 p.m. — I read my Cleopatra book while my dad makes dough for dumplings and takes out cabbage and minced pork for dinner. My mom takes a nap.
5 p.m. — G. comes back to my parents' house, and we sit around the dinner table and fold dumplings. We always put one or two almonds in the dumplings, and whoever ends up eating them will get good luck for the whole year. Last year, G. got both dumplings, and we ended up working from home for the majority of 2020 (which G. absolutely loves). He's very excited about the dumplings this year.
7 p.m. — My dad makes delicious fried fish and spicy braised beans with ground pork. G. is determined to get his lucky dumplings, but we don't finish them all, and no one gets an almond.
8 p.m. — After dinner, we clean up the table and video call my uncle and auntie in China. It's around 9 a.m. there, and they're very happy to see us! Uncle has gotten skinnier due to his illness, but he's wearing a bright red top and looks energetic. He even takes us on a video tour of his newly decorated home. We chat for almost an hour.
10 p.m. — We finish the Chinese New Year gala, and my parents pack dumplings for G. and me to take back to our place. We make plans to meet up again in two weeks, in time for the Chinese Lantern Festival. G. and I get home, tidy up, and go to bed before midnight.
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Daily Total: $70

Day Six

10:30 p.m. — It's Valentine's Day! I wake up before G. and have a bagel with cream cheese. I make a cup of tea using my French tea press. While it's brewing, I text my friend who is in a new relationship and wants her guy to put in more effort on Valentine's Day. I recommend that they check out their love languages together.
11 a.m. — I get a call from the concierge downstairs. G. has a surprise for me: a lovely little package with roses, a teddy bear, a box of Lindt chocolates, and a little balloon. Even though we're married, I still love romantic gestures that probably cost way more than they should (G. paid in advance, so I don't actually know the cost). Some of my older friends joke that the flowers shrink each year after you marry, from a bundle of roses for your first Valentine's Day to a single stem to eventually a head of cauliflower 20 years down the line. I'm pretty sure I'll want roses even when we're wrinkled and old.
11 a.m. — I happily shower G. with a bunch of kisses even though he's still sleeping. He's glad that I'm happy and takes a picture of me holding the Valentine's Day package, so I can use it for my scrapbook later.
1 p.m. — We grab burritos from Burrito Boyz for lunch (G.'s favourite food). He gets a large chicken burrito with guacamole and lots of red sauce. I get a quesadilla that I don't like very much. $21.54
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2 p.m. — After we eat, we binge Modern Family and Dr. Stone. G. shows me a funny podcast called Trash Taste, which is all about anime. The three hosts are hilarious.
7 p.m. — We take out a frozen lasagna for dinner, and I have coconut milk to go with it. G. is appalled by my choice and has a Dr. Pepper instead.
9 p.m. — I colour in my adult colouring book, write in my diary, and update our budget spreadsheet for the year. We're saving up for a few major things right now, including our honeymoon trip to New York (I'm really hoping travel costs won't skyrocket once restrictions are lifted) and our wedding reception, which we postponed due to COVID. The things we really want for our reception, such as a buffet, dancing, and open bar, probably won't be allowed anytime soon, so we're content to wait and see when our preferred vendors are allowed to open again, then we'll book a date.

10 p.m. — True to the Valentine's Day spirit, I put on cute lingerie, and we have an early night.
Daily Total: $21.54

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — It's Family Day, so we're sleeping in.
11:30 a.m. — G. and I make pancakes with white chocolate chips. I have my usual cup of coffee. After brunch, G. takes down the garbage, and I do the laundry and sweep the floor. It feels good to clean up!
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1 p.m. — We start a 1,000-piece puzzle depicting the periodic table of elements, and it's quite fun.
3 p.m. — I try one of my new Mediheal face masks. The box comes with 10, plus some BTS postcards. The face mask feels super-hydrating, and I'm filled with the giddiness of finding a good bargain. While I have my mask on, I watch a video of walking around in Paris during quarantine. The streets are so empty, and many stores look closed. G. and I are planning a trip with his parents to visit London and Paris once COVID is over. It will be my first trip to Europe, which is on my To Do Before I Turn 30 list.
5 p.m. — For dinner, we cook chicken stew and vegetables and finish our leftover Chinese New Year takeout. After dinner, G. plays games with his friends on Discord, while I play Paper Mario, browse social media, and read seriously steamy fanfiction on Archive of Our Own about Steve and Bucky, my favourite Marvel characters. The author's writing skills are legendary. Every few minutes, I'm either laughing at the hilarious scenarios or fanning myself because the sexy scenes are so hot! I'm in bed by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0
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