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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $52,000 Salary

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Today: an administrative assistant working in finance who makes $52,000 per year and spends some of it this week on patio decor.
Occupation: Administrative Assistant
Industry: Finance
Age: 26
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $52,000
Net Worth: $38,100 (This is my net worth: $16,400 in an RRSP and $14,700 in a TFSA, both invested at my workplace for no fee. I have $2,000 in a high-interest savings account, and $5,000 in an emergency fund. My partner also has $38,000 invested in a Questrade TFSA, $9,000 in a work-sponsored RRSP, and $5,000 in an emergency fund, which brings our combined net worth to $90,100.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (1x/month): $3,233
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent & Parking: $1,086 (Z., and I split our shared expenses proportionate to our incomes, so I cover 40% of our $2,715 rent.)
Utilities: $40
Internet: $0 (It's $80, but I expense it through work.)
TTC: $145 (I set aside the money, even though I haven't paid for the pass since April 2020.)
Phone: $0 (It's $97, but my work is paying for my phone bill while I'm working from home.)
Netflix: $19
Spotify: $10
Investments: $700
High-Interest Savings: $300

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?
Both my parents went to university right out of high school, so my sister and I did as well. My parents remortgaged the house when we were teenagers to free up money for our undergrad degrees. They paid tuition and housing throughout. I worked part-time during the school year and always had summer jobs for my spending money. When I enrolled in a graduate program at a local college, I paid for that myself with a combination of savings, OSAP, and $1,500 from a birthday fund my grandmother set up when I was a kid.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mum is an accountant, so my parents have always been open about finances. My parents, by their own admission, lived beyond their means and had a few unsuccessful businesses and thus carried a lot of debt from the time I was a baby until my early teens. When I was about 15, both my parents got great jobs and became much more comfortable from that point on. My sister and I had our own bank accounts and got credit cards in our own names when we turned 18. Because of my parents' previous lifestyle, I've always viewed credit as a bad thing, so I avoid taking on debt of any kind.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I played competitive soccer and got a job as a referee for house-league games when I was 13. Then, when I turned 16, I got my first legitimate job as a server at a golf course, doing tournament dinners in the summers and after school. The summer I turned 17, I went to Europe for a month with a school program. My golf course job helped me pay for that trip.

Did you worry about money growing up?
In hindsight, we had a privileged childhood, but we lived in an affluent community, and I always felt like I didn't have the same nice things as my friends. I worried about money in the sense of comparison, but in terms of day-to-day worries, I never had to think about shelter or food.

Do you worry about money now?
I'm an anxious person by nature and I think about money constantly. But I take steps to ensure I'll be okay (retirement savings and emergency fund). I also have a stable job, which is important to me. I live by a strict personal budget (to the annoyance of my partner and my friends), but it works for me. I'm currently studying to be a financial planner so I've managed to marry my personal interest with my career.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I moved away to go to school at 18 and slowly took on more financial responsibilities. At 24, I got my first salaried job, paid off my student loans, and fully detached from my parents' support. My parents or my in-laws would gladly be our financial safety net, but we have our own buffer before it gets to that point.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
In university, I had a $50 weekly allowance from my parents, and my grandma saved $100 for every birthday until I was 19. I used this money for my diploma.
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Day One

8 a.m. — It's Canada Day, which means I have the day off from work. Unfortunately, my Partner, Z., works, so it's a solo day. I lounge in bed for a while but then have to get out because Z. works in our bedroom and doesn't want me in my PJs in the back of his Zoom meetings.
10 a.m. — I grab my phone, wallet, mask, and headphones and set out on a long walk. I listen to Barack Obama on Armchair Expert. I already like him but I love hearing that he's such a classic dad! I walk to Casa Loma (it's closed) and then over to the Moore Park Ravine. I pop into a Starbucks and grab a grande black iced coffee with a pump of vanilla, then weave my way home through Evergreen Brick Works (now I'm listening to Danny Ricciardo on Armchair Expert). My parents call me while they drive up to their cabin, and we chat for the rest of my walk home. $3.80
1 p.m. — I'm wiped from my walk. I make a lunch of cheese and fresh Ontario strawberries. Strawberries are overrated 11 months out of the year, but there is nothing like a peak-season strawberry in Ontario. I get comfortable on the couch in the afternoon sun and quickly fall asleep.
3 p.m. — I wake up and start looking for flight deals. It's extraordinarily expensive to fly in Canada, but the airlines keep offering seat sales as lockdown restrictions are lifted. I call my sister and tell her I found a good deal from Toronto to Charlottetown, PEI. She's excited and tells me to go for it, so I book two tickets on my credit card. She'll split it with me once we sort out the other details. We went to PEI once on a family road trip when we were four and six, so we're already planning the photos we can recreate. I have a panic moment 'cause I'm not sure how I'm paying for this trip yet, but I have three months to figure it out, so I take a breather. $688.40
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6 p.m. — Z. is done work for the day, and he has tomorrow off so he's extra-eager for a drink. We open a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauv Blanc and watch Luca on Disney+ (with my sister's account). Oops, we drank the whole bottle! Once the movie ends, I get ready for bed and am asleep by 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $692.20

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm, roll out of bed, put on home clothes, and open my laptop so I can start work at 8 a.m. My office has been working at home since March 2020, and we have no definite plans to return this year. I walk to work once a week or so, just to check mail and sit in a more comfortable desk chair. I have a project meeting with the partners at 10:30 a.m. every Friday, and there's a little busyness with the banks because of the holiday yesterday.
12 p.m. — I heat up leftover ginger-garlic noodle soup and eat it over my laptop.
3 p.m. — It's time for my second vaccine dose! The supply issues Canada had earlier in the year are long gone, and I'm eligible to be vaccinated way before the date I was originally given. I go down to the community centre on our street, wait in line, and the whole thing works like a well-oiled machine. I'm in and out within 45 minutes with a fancy tie-dye bandage on my left shoulder as proof. It feels so good to be fully vaccinated! Z. went earlier today, so we compare experiences, while I wrap up the rest of my workday.
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7 p.m. — We lounge around after work and then get dressed to go see our friends' new apartment. We grab a bottle of red from our kitchen as a housewarming gift and head over. We order pizzas for pick up and walk to Juniors Pizzeria to get them. Our friend pays, and we go back to their apartment to hang out and chat. We're planning a weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake together so we excitedly talk about the options. We say our goodbyes around 11:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6 a.m. — So I guess after the shot you just don't sleep? Neither Z. nor I slept a wink last night, and we're groggy and grumpy. We make Nespressos and put the TV on as background noise.
10 a.m. — Z. heads out for his long-awaited haircut, and I open my financial planning textbook and read a chapter because I've been negligent this week. Afterward, I go to Shoppers to get pain relievers for our achy vaccine bodies and grab a Toblerone as a pick-me-up ($15.80). We're hungry, so I also get a Chicken McNugget meal from McDonald's for us to share ($13.55). When Z. gets back, we snack and marvel at his newly tamed hair. $25.80
1 p.m. — We hop in the car and drive to my parents' cabin. I have a big extended family, and we haven't celebrated any holidays together since 2019. My parents sold our childhood home last year and bought a small country cabin that they plan to renovate. We're having a mini family reunion at the cabin today, and I'm so excited.
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3 p.m. — We get there and see a tent set up with lawn chairs and picnic blankets. My mom is prepping shrimp tacos and Mexican corn on the cob! The afternoon whizzes by in a flurry of sunshine, bocce ball, Spikeball, and sangria. Indoor gathering restrictions are still in effect, so my relatives all head out, and just Z., my sister, her boyfriend, and my parents are left. We set up a projector and watch Yesterday outside in the backyard. It's such a fun day and makes me excited for the rest of the summer when everyone gets two doses.
Daily Total: $25.80

Day Four

7 a.m. — Seems like I had a little too much fun yesterday because my head hurts when I wake up. The cabin doesn't have much space, so when everyone wakes up, we're basically all in the same room. Everyone politely tolerates my hangover, and my mom makes scrambled eggs, toast, and a pot of tea. Eventually, Z. convinces me, my sister, and her boyfriend that we have to help clean up.
12 p.m. — Evidence of our party is all tidied away, and we lock up the cabin and all head our separate ways. Z. and I drive to his parents' house for the afternoon, sitting on the patio under the gazebo. We're all double vaccinated now and talk about how to celebrate.
5 p.m. — They convince us to stay for an early dinner and make chicken on the barbecue with rice and roasted peppers from the garden. We love being fed by our parents!
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9 p.m. — We get back to the city and our untidy apartment and decide it can wait to be cleaned for another day. We do a load of laundry from the weekend and watch Parks and Recreation. Eventually, I go to bed and keep reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I really like it but am running out of time before it's due back at the library. Sigh, the troubles of borrowed books.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7 p.m. — I wake up to my alarm and snooze right until I have to open my laptop for work. The US market is closed for July 4th, so it's quiet for us at work as well. Z. and I plan our grocery list for the week. We usually batch cook two meals for the week so we have lunch and dinner prepped. It saves us money and time since neither of us likes doing the dishes. This week is a halloumi-chickpea salad with harissa-yogurt dressing for lunch. Dinner is spiced lentils with roasted potatoes and kale. Pinterest is the best for recipe planning! We both eat meat but like to keep our weekly grocery bill as low as possible, plus we don't like the quality of the meat at the budget grocery store in our neighbourhood, so we save our meat-eating for restaurants.
12:30 p.m. — We dash out to the No Frills on our street to grab eggs, sparkling water, Cheez-Its, popsicles, and a chicken teriyaki meal kit for a quick lunch today. I pay out of our joint account. $46.51
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5 p.m. — I close my laptop and get my gym clothes on. Once a week, I meet a friend at the public tennis courts. Neither of us is any good, but it's a nice way to see each other and get outside. It's also disgustingly humid today, so we're sweaty and tired by the time we're done. She bikes back to her apartment, and I run back to mine.
7 p.m. — Z. and I make the lentils for dinner, and I make us Pimm's cups! I bought a bottle to bring to my nana's a few weeks ago, and she insisted I take it home. We finally have the ingredients so we treat ourselves to a Monday cocktail. I read another chapter of my textbook, and Z. watches the Montreal-Tampa game begrudgingly (he's a diehard Leafs fan). Eventually, I emerge and prep lunch for tomorrow because I'm going into the office. SO many dishes now! I do half and sneakily leave the other half for Z. to wake up to tomorrow when I'm already out the door!
Daily Total: $46.51

Day Six

6 p.m. — I get up and start putting my work bag together. It takes me 45 minutes to walk there. Normally, I would take the subway but I don't feel comfortable taking it during COVID, and I actually enjoy the walk. I head out and stop at our local Rooster Coffeehouse to pick up ground coffee. I get a bag of house espresso and a London fog for my walk. $24.50
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8 p.m. — I'm in the office with my coworker. We haven't seen each other for a long time so we spend a lot of time chatting. The day ticks by slowly, but it's nice to sit at a full desk and in an office chair. It's much better than sitting at my kitchen counter on a stool! It's crazy-humid out, so I don't even pretend to leave the building all day. My cousins and I decided to do a gift exchange this summer. Five of us pool our money to get a gift for the sixth person. This month is my sister's turn. We order her patio decor from Indigo ($100.20). I pay on my credit card and everyone transfers me their share. $20.04
5:30 p.m. — My coworker and I have patio reservations with two other people from work. Everyone is giddy to be out together, so there's lots of feminine energy fighting for airtime in the conversation. It turns out bottles of wine are half-price, and we can't say no. We end up ordering our own meals and split two bottles of wine amongst the four of us. One person suggests we split the bill evenly four ways, which I don't like because I only have a starter, but the bill isn't too bad. My share comes to $37 before tip. We head out and promise to do it again now that things are opening up in Toronto. I walk some of the way home with my coworker, then get on the TTC using the money left over on my pass. At home, I shower and get in bed. $44.20
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Daily Total: $88.74

Day Seven

7 p.m. — Same old, same old. I'm up and at my laptop for an 8 a.m. start. It feels like summer now because it's so quiet at work. I make oatmeal and a French press coffee with the beans I bought yesterday.
11 a.m. — My sister and I are texting back and forth and making plans for our Charlottetown trip in the fall. I find a good deal on a boutique hotel right in town and book it ($402.97). We're tracking everything in a spreadsheet and will split it down the middle once we have everything booked later this summer. I waste time trip planning while I'm working. $402.97
12 p.m. — A maintenance man from the apartment building comes to check out our shower door. It's about to fall out of its hinges, and we don't want anyone to get hurt. I awkwardly wait around because our apartment is so small, and I don't know what to do while he's here. He's nice and gets it all set up and says he'll come back to finish it tomorrow. Things like these are a silver lining of not being a homeowner. I would love to buy a house, but it's nearly impossible in the Greater Toronto Area now.
5 p.m. — The day ends uneventfully. Z. comes with me to take my library book back (I'll come back for you, Addie LaRue!), and we stroll around Yorkville. At home, we eat our lentils, and I read another textbook chapter. Z. plays Xbox with his friends, and we eventually put on Too Hot to Handle. It's so bad it's good. We have favourite contestants, and it's a good brain break from the day before bedtime.
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Daily Total: $402.97
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