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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $69,200 Salary

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Today: a communications specialist working in the non-profit sector who makes $69,200 per year and spends some of her money this week on an ice cream sandwich.
Occupation: Communications Specialist
Industry: Non-Profit
Age: 27
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $69,200
Net Worth: $39,961 (Chequing: $200; Wealthsimple: $3,298; TFSA: $15,173; RRSP and RPP: $31,000; investments with Wealthsimple's trade option: $94. I'm learning! I also started a new job in the last two months, which I chose equally for the increased paycheque and the change of routine. I've been set up with a new RRSP within their matching plan, but I don't have access to the account online yet to see the calculations. However, the amount deducted from my first few paycheques YTD is $1,008.)
Debt: $10,812 (student loan)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,849
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 (This includes all the utilities and the internet, which is fantastic. In the winter, I found a new place with roommates in a great house located in a nice neighbourhood, which is a change from the condo I used to live in. In the pandemic, our backyard has been key, and that's one of the big reasons I wanted to live here.)
Student Loans: $210
Phone: $65
Netflix: $0 (I use my mom's account.)
Health & Dental Benefits: $42
Crave: $22
Spotify: $9.99
Charity: $10 (to the Toronto Environmental Alliance)
New York Times & The Globe and Mail: $35.99 (combined)
TFSA: $225 (My TFSA is invested with my family's wealth manager, and my fees are low because of an initiative for kids of investors.)
RRSP: $380
Wealthsimple: $150

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?
I was definitely expected to go to university. My high school was very high-achieving for a public school, and I'd easily say 80% of my graduating class went on to university. I was able to pay for my first year using an RESP started by my parents and grandparents. After that, my parents paid my tuition every year, and I paid for living expenses. I have a national student loan because I did a post-grad certificate after my degree.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Money was my mother's biggest anxiety and the easiest way to get her stressed. There was always a sense of scarcity because of her fear, but then we'd go on a vacation to Florida or suddenly have a pool, so I received mixed messages. I became afraid to ask for money because I didn't know if we were in trouble or not. Now I know that it was my dad who was pushing my mom to enjoy herself and that, in fact, we were definitely middle class, and I didn't actually lack anything. We didn't have any conversations about money until I started university. I wasn't taught to budget or balance an account. When I got to university and got my first credit card, my mom freaked out. It was always easier to talk to my dad, and so I started to ask him questions about investing and debt while at school. My dad set me up with a line of credit for emergencies, and after I graduated, he connected me with his wealth advisor with whom I still have a good relationship. But when I was 25, my dad passed away due to very aggressive cancer. In the two years since then, I've tried to follow his advice and lean on people who he trusted for conversations about money.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
At 15, I coached swimming and worked at the local library as a page. I worked about 15 hours a week from grade 10 to grade 12, at $11.25 an hour, which was above minimum wage at the time — not bad for a high-school kid. I wanted my own money so that I didn't have to ask my parents for things.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Definitely. My mom's anxiety made me feel guilty about asking for money, and I certainly took on her stress by proxy. She was always reviewing bills and hated any debt, even things like a mortgage. It caused me a lot of stress to ask for money, and I don't remember having a formal allowance. If we needed something, we asked my dad. When I was 16, he got a promotion, and my mom was happy that we would be able to pay the mortgage off faster.

Do you worry about money now?
I do, but I know worrying is a habit leftover from my childhood and not because I'm actually in any financial trouble. For a few years after university, I got caught up in the freedom money can bring and did a bunch of impulse-buying as I figured out how to balance spending with saving. Now I have enough in my TFSA to be secure if something were to come up, and I feel more comfortable with my student debt, which, due to a small perk of COVID, has not been collecting interest since April 2020, and I actually increased my payments to take advantage of the break. It will get paid off eventually, and I'm not worried about having it. Being able to invest on my own, too, has given me a lot of confidence. I only started my Wealthsimple account one year ago and have managed to save almost $3,300.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After university, I was financially responsible for myself. If I needed help in an emergency, I knew I could ask my dad. For example, I accidentally BUMPED a Lexus and had to pay $2,000 in damages when I was 21, and my apartment flooded when I was 22, so my parents generously paid my tenant insurance until I was 24. My Wealthsimple account is my emergency fund; it's not placed in a risky investment category, so it's just growing slowly, and I can easily withdraw money from it.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When my dad died, my mom received life insurance and my dad's pensions. She became a multimillionaire overnight. First, she paid off all their debt, then she sold their house and used the money to buy her current place with cash. So she now has no debt, is still a millionaire, and has said that she's willing to help my younger sister and me when we need it. My first downpayment is apparently on her, as well as my future wedding. My sister and I received $7,000 each as mini inheritances in early 2020. I used mine to pay off a credit card, and I treated my close friends to a night out to toast my dad, which was important to me because they all loved him and he loved them. After that, $2,000 went to my student loan, and $4,000 went to my TFSA to put me over the $10,000 minimum I needed to invest with my family's wealth manager. I debated whether or not to put the whole $7,000 directly against my student loans, but with the way the market is right now, I decided I'm better off investing, especially because I'm not collecting any extra interest on the loan due to the government's initiative. As a test, I asked my mom to pay off my student loans, plus $2,000 for school courses. I suppose $12,000 was a lot to ask for at once. During that conversation, I could tell she wasn't comfortable parting with the money, even though she said she was, and I felt like I had to jump through eight hoops to justify the expense to her, so I decided the argument wasn't worth it. She ended up paying for the courses but not my student debt, and we haven't brought my student loan up since. Now, if she wants me to do something expensive, I tell her I'll do it if she pays for it: For example, she rented a cottage, and she paid for the car I needed to get there. It's not a great system, but it is what it is. I'd much rather be on my own than ask for money again. I know I have a good inheritance in my future, thanks to my dad's will, and I know if I do actually get into trouble before that comes to me, I can stay with my mom. My sister is more comfortable asking for money than I am, but I don't think she has the same perspective as me on my mom's anxiety. I'm trying to help her get started in investing because my mom isn't taking on that educator role, and I'm trying to give her the advice my dad gave me.

Day One

7:15 a.m. — I wake up slightly before my 7:30 a.m. alarm because my boyfriend is a cuddle monster. We met on Bumble about three months ago and clicked right away. He was single for most of the pandemic but wasn't looking until this spring, and I broke up with my ex back in October 2020. We've been exclusive since our second date, and it's the easiest relationship both of us have ever had, so I'd say it's going well. I kick him out at 7:45 a.m., so he can get back to his place in time for work, and I walk down my street to Starbucks. Since I moved to this place, I've usually gone for a walk in the mornings as a pandemic initiative to get out more, and the Starbucks is a sometimes treat. I buy a Grande True North (love a blonde!) with oat milk. $2.85
8:30 a.m. — I'm back, and my roommate comes home from staying at his girlfriend's last night. We discuss the game: He's a Jets fan; I'm a Leafs fan. Neither of us wanted Tampa to win, so we cheered for the Habs. We negotiate our turns feeding the cat while my other roommates are away.
9 a.m. — I call my RRSP and RPP manager to discuss my plan. I left my old job almost two months ago, so now my grace period is up, and my funds need to be moved out of the company plan. I chat with a lovely person and agree to a new contract, which she emails me. I choose one that will be aggressive enough to have great returns but not so much that I'll get anxious thinking about it. I'm definitely young enough to take some risks, and I trust these accounts — they did pretty well during the pandemic.
9:30 a.m. — I work in communications for a large non-profit, and it's a busy job. My last role wasn't keeping me on my toes, and I had plateaued. I'd much rather be busy and learning than stay comfortable, and this new workplace fits the bill. I stop for lunch and make a salad with Moroccan couscous and sardines.
5:30 p.m. — Work is finally over, and I meet my friend for a walk. We have a phone call at 7:30 p.m. with a few other friends to discuss our camping trip next weekend. She and I are the two more experienced campers, and so we make a few decisions on food and practical matters that we'll share with the group after. I quickly cook before our call. Dinner is kale, tomatoes, and leftover sardines with pesto and pasta. Lifehack for kale: To make sure it's good until I use it, I chop it up and put it in a container with an inch of cold water in the fridge. It's fresh and crunchy for at least a week that way and cuts down on food waste.
9 p.m. — The call goes well! Everyone is excited to see each other again. I watch a few episodes of Mrs. America (I bought the season on Apple TV+ a few months ago and am rewatching) and call it a night.
Daily Total: $2.85

Day Two

8 a.m. — I forgot to buy ground coffee, so I go to a local coffee shop, and because it's Friday, treat myself to a cheese croissant and a flat white with oat milk. $13.98
5 p.m. — Work FLIES by. I manage to wrap up one project that has been dogging me for weeks and feel accomplished going into the weekend.
5:30 p.m. — I do a 20-minute Pilates workout and get ready for dinner. My three best friends and I are having our first patio dinner at one of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants. I'm so excited to see them.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner is delicious. The food is so fresh, and we have some nice wine, too. I have missed restaurants. I didn't eat out very often before the pandemic, but I love a good experience and have my favourites around the city that I've missed. This place is one of them. I pay for the meal and the drinks and everyone transfers me their part. Each of us pays $74 after tax and 20% tip. My boyfriend meets me at the end of dinner to walk home with me, and I'm quite silly from all the wine and giddiness after being with friends, so it's a fun stumble to my place. I'm a bit too drunk to be feeling sexy, though, so he puts me to bed with water beside me, and we fall asleep by 1 a.m. $74
Daily Total: $87.98

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up hungover and tired from last night, and it's too hot in my room! I throw off the covers, and my boyfriend protests me. We get up very slowly and get ready for the day. I need coffee. I take Advil. I dress cute for brunch and a day of lounging in the park: navy bike shorts, a navy tank top, and a grey sweater. I use dry shampoo, and my boyfriend freaks out when he sees my white hair. He has a brother and has only lived with guys, so I guess he's never seen dry shampoo before? Hilarious. I explain what it is, and he's so confused and amazed when I brush it out, and my hair looks good and not white. The things boys don't know.
11 a.m. — I meet friends for brunch on a patio, and they've ordered me a coffee, so it's waiting on the table when I walk in — thank god. I have an omelette with a garden salad and steal some of my friend's hash browns. We are all quite tired from the night before, and I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one who is hungover. We try to eavesdrop on a couple talking about their son who is a model in Europe. We try to find him on Instagram but no dice. $24.41
12:30 p.m. — I pay way too much for an iced latte with oat milk at the only coffee shop between us and the park where we're meeting friends, but it invigorates me. $7.38
2:30 p.m. — The gang's all here! We're having a great time. My friend gives me a Corona, but I need more hydration, so I go to the convenience store across the street to get a Gatorade and spontaneously buy an ice cream sandwich. No regrets. In a plot twist, my ex and his friend are randomly sitting near my group when I get back. Our breakup was amicable but really hard, and we haven't spoken in months, so this is awkward. My group spontaneously decides to go to a different park to meet more friends and get ice cream on the way. The new park is better and everyone is very happy with their ice cream, and I thank them all for moving. $9.25
7:30 p.m. — After a great afternoon, I head to my boyfriend's for dinner, and we laugh about my ex encounter. We order pizza from a great place down the road from him on Queen Street West. We go pick it up and have a nice walk on the way: It's so great to see everyone out and enjoying the evening. I've missed this city's buzz, and it's finally back now that things are opening up. My boyfriend pays for the pizza, and we watch a documentary about design on Netflix. We're tired and tucked in by midnight.
Daily Total: $41.04

Day Four

10 a.m. — We wake up late and talk in bed, and my boyfriend decides to make his favourite breakfast for me: oatmeal. I'm not an oatmeal person. I have resisted for the last few months, but he says he'll go buy raspberries to put on top, so I finally agree. My boyfriend's place doesn't have coffee because he doesn't do caffeine (he's one of those "naturally energetic" people), so while he's out, I go down to a café for a cappuccino and get swayed by a mini tiramisu! Considering oatmeal is in my future, I think this is a good balance. $10.51
10:30 a.m. — He puts in a good effort and mixes peanut butter, crunchy cereal, and fresh raspberries into the oatmeal. It's not as terrible as I thought. I give it a 6.5 out of 10, and he laughs. That's a good-enough ranking to show I appreciate the effort but not so good that he's going to suggest I have it again.
4 p.m. — We laze about because it's raining all day and then watch Italy beat England in the Euro final. After the game, I bike home and try to avoid all the fans. There are a ton of people out, and everyone is honking. I do laundry when I get home and catch up with my roommates, who have been out of town at a wedding.
8 p.m. — I cook up the rest of my kale and have it with bread, olive oil, and pesto.
Daily Total: $10.51

Day Five

7 a.m. — I get up, get dressed, and remember I still don't have ground coffee. I go for a walk and then hit Whole Foods once it opens at 8 a.m. I buy a few granola bars for easy breakfasts, organic oat milk, coffee, a mixed greens bag for lunches this week, and a risotto I love that's on sale. I make coffee when I get home. $38.49
12:15 p.m. — Work has been busy! I have a dentist appointment at 2 p.m. out in Mississauga so I sign off for the afternoon and head out. I'm trying a new route today so I leave myself plenty of time and top up my Presto card for the trip. $20
2:30 p.m. — I'm LATE to my appointment! Two buses in Mississauga don't even show, and it's a nightmare. I'm so used to biking in the city, and this is a good reminder of why I prefer to bike. I've been going to this dentist forever, though, and they manage to get me an appointment at 3 p.m., so I wait around for half an hour. The appointment goes well, but my new benefits plan only covers 80%, so I pay the rest. $58.80
5:30 p.m. — I cave and buy sushi for dinner on the way home. What a long day. Even pasta seems like too much effort. $10.30
8 p.m. — My old roommate is in town for a few days, and we saw each other at the park on Saturday, but it wasn't enough. So I'm thrilled when she stops by for two hours to hang. We catch up and talk about travel plans we have together at the end of August, then hug goodbye. Hugging is the best part of being double-vaxxed. My second shot was over three weeks ago, and it's been amazing to hug my friends who also have two doses.
Daily Total: $127.59

Day Six

7 a.m. — I wake up, shower, and make coffee, then check my personal email, read my newsletters from The Globe and Mail and the New York Times, and manage some investments. I sell a couple of stocks and, using the funds from those sales, put in an order to buy another when the market opens. I'm truly an amateur but I don't mind losing a few dollars here and there as I learn.
5 p.m. — It's my roommate's birthday! I go to Indigo and get her a card, a $25 gift card, a candle, and a nice soap. I also buy myself a candle as a treat. $65.09
8 p.m. — Dinner is a big salad and sardines. When it comes to food in the summer, low-effort is how I live. I have the house to myself tonight because one roommate is gone and the other is out with her boyfriend. I put on a movie and start working on an online course. It's been great to be back in a [virtual] classroom.
9:30 p.m. — My boyfriend calls to say he got a haircut! I'm seeing him on Thursday for a dinner date and I don't want to see a picture — I want to be surprised. We talk on the phone, and after another episode of Mrs. America (Cate Blanchett is chilling and Rose Byrne is so good), I call it a night at 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $65.09

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — I go on my first run in three weeks! I twisted my ankle playing tennis in June, and I finally felt good this past week. I go for a quick run/walk, and my ankle feels fine, but my shins are stiff, so I do a good stretch when I get home.
8 a.m. — I make coffee, grab a granola bar, and get started at work a little earlier than usual. My boss is coming back from vacation today, and I want to make sure I'm on top of things before our meeting at 10 a.m.
12:30 p.m. — It's too hot today, and I cave to my daydreams of vacationing in Hawaii and buy a poke bowl from down the street for lunch. I also take my lunch break to call two of my best friends to discuss upcoming plans in August. Both of them are in different provinces, and it will be so exciting to see them in person next month. It's been over a year. $13.67
3:35 p.m. — Wealthsimple announces that it's allowing fractional stock purchases in an email. I've watched these larger companies accelerate so much over the past few months, and there's no way I can designate over $1,200 for a single stock. With this option, I can invest just as much as I feel comfortable. I add $10 to my account, sell another stock, and make a fractional purchase of a big name. As I said, this is an experiment! I also send my friend a code to buy one, and if she does, we both get one for free. She tells me she will do it tonight after work. $10
6 p.m. — I bike to my friend's place, and we take her car to the grocery store. We're in charge of buying the groceries for our camping trip and then everyone will pay us back for it. We buy taco and burger fixings (tomatoes, lettuce, chicken, buns, tacos, etc.), two fun salsas on sale, breakfast items like bacon, pancake mix, coffee, and oat milk, and granola bars, chips, cookies, and soda water. I'm so excited to camp and get out of town. I pay for the lot because I paid for the camping reservation way back in the spring, and this way everyone just pays me back in one go. There are five of us and for the groceries only, the total is $215, so $43 each. $43
8 p.m. — Back at my friend's place, we sort out all the camping gear on the ground. Her brother-in-law is also going camping, and we have to save some things for his trip. She makes a frozen pizza for us, and we munch while we make different piles. In her basement, I find hilarious old-school plastic visors that were used for a bachelorette weekend and pack them for us to wear on our hike. We write a list of a few final items we need, which my friend will pick up tomorrow. I hug her goodbye and bike home on Yonge Street's new bike lanes, taking in the city as I go. The patios are full, everyone is happy and having a good time, and the moon looks very cool over the buildings. I'm excited thinking about a patio date with my boyfriend tomorrow night.
11 p.m. — I'm back home and tucked in bed by 11 p.m., watching the Mrs. America finale. Once done, I move Insecure (Issa Rae!) onto my list for the next rewatch. I call it a night at midnight.
Daily Total: $66.67
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