A Week In Montreal, QC, On A $55,000 Salary

Photo: courtesy of Glossier.
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Today: a copywriter working in advertising who makes $55,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Glossier hoodie.
Occupation: Copywriter
Industry: Advertising
Age: 24
Location: Montreal, QC
Salary: $55,000
Net Worth: $44,369.80 (This amount is in savings. I don't have any investments, properties, or assets, but I'm working on it.)
Debt: $0 (I'm very lucky.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,653
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,025 (I live alone, and it's the BEST. My rent includes heat and hot water.)
Electricity: around $20
Phone: $45
Internet: $35
Health & Dental Benefits: $0 (My work contract includes these. The company pays all premiums, and I have no deductible for either.)
Virtual Hot Yoga & Barre Membership: $40
Savings: $300 (This isn't a set amount, but I try to transfer at least this much each month.)

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?
Growing up, my family stressed that a good education would lead to a good future, so it was never a question of if my sister and I would go to university but when. I ended up getting my bachelor's degree and was incredibly lucky to have my parents pay for all of my tuition and living expenses. I also had money on the side from working full-time every summer since turning 14, but it was nothing compared to my parents' contribution, and I want to acknowledge again how lucky and thankful I am. Their support came with the expectation that I will do the same for my kids one day (which I will, but kids are not coming for a while).

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
"Save, save, and save some more" was the money mantra my parents passed down to me. They were also keen to teach me the value of a hard-earned dollar, so I was heavily coaxed into starting work when I was 14. I still remember going to get the working papers in the guidance counselor's office.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first-ever job was working at the snack bar of a country club. I was 14 and had heard about it from a family friend. She told me the club hired people without any experience. Of course, my family was within earshot when this happened, so my application was sent in the week after. I got my first "adult" job out of university, working as a brand strategy consultant.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No. I'm incredibly privileged to say I never had a second thought about whether there would be food on the table or a roof over my head. My parents are the hardest working people I know. They've worked their entire lives to give everything they could to me and my sister. I admire them in the highest regard and know I'm unbelievably blessed.

Do you worry about money now?
Not really. The concept of direct deposit is a powerful thing. I've convinced myself that because I'm getting a biweekly paycheque that money is always going to be coming in, but sometimes there's a small voice in the back of my head that's like "What if you get fired?" Because of this, I try to watch my spending to make sure I'm okay if that happens.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I started working immediately after graduation, at age 22, and have tried to put money from every paycheque into my savings. I know if things ever got really bad I could ask my parents for money. I lost that first job back in April of 2020 due to COVID cuts, but thankfully Canada has very good employment insurance, so I was living on that until I got my current job in October.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I never got an allowance, but if I was going somewhere, like shopping, with my friends, my parents would give me money to pay for myself. Other than that, if I wanted something, I would ask my parents to get it for me, and it was up to them (and God) to decide. I was definitely not a trust fund kid.

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up at 8 a.m., even though I set my alarm for 9:30 a.m. There goes sleeping in. I take my time getting ready, brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, and doing my skin-care routine. I just got new CeraVe products last week (yes, based on a TikTok I saw) and am very excited to try them — here comes clear skin, baby! My office has this thing called "employee days" that let us each take off several days a year, so I'm straight chillin' for the day (literally and figuratively speaking because it's -17°C outside; gotta love Montreal winter). I Skimm my morning newsletter (it's called theSkimm; I think I'm clever).
10:30 a.m. — I've spent way too long doing nothing, so I go on a morning walk. Today's destination is the Old Port to check out Galerie LeRoyer, because the Slovak photographer, Mária Švarbová, is having an exhibition there. I'm insanely excited to see it in person because I'm Slovak, too. I spend the next hour navigating downtown Montreal in the cold. It's so worth it once I'm there, though. She has created a dream-like atmosphere with soft colours and symmetry against the backdrop of Soviet-style swimming pools. It reminds me of the summers I would spend visiting my grandparents in Slovakia when I was little. I'm so glad my dad told me about this exhibit.
12:15 p.m. — On my way back to my apartment, I stop at Les Glaceurs (amazing cupcakes!) to get red velvet cupcakes for two of my friends as a treat to remind them they are loved this Valentine's Day. They look so gooooood, but I resist the urge to get one for myself. I walk to my friend's place to drop them off, and she asks me if I want to stay for lunch. Hell yeah, I want to stay over for lunch, so she makes paninis. This is my first human interaction in a long time, and it's so nice! I normally FaceTime with my friends and family, but I live alone, and she and her boyfriend haven't seen anyone in person, either, so I think we're being safe. Work is slow for her today, so we end up playing the Wii (wow, a blast from the past, right?) for the next two hours, and I demolish a pack of chocolate-covered almonds. This is like my entire childhood in one afternoon. $8.51
2:30 p.m. — Apartment, sweet apartment. I'm finally at home and take off my seven million layers so I can begin the defrosting process. I spend the rest of the afternoon making a Valentine's Day version of Jeopardy for a virtual game night with my friends tomorrow. My questions are about early 2000s rom-coms, and I know none of the guys are going to have any interest or insight. It's going to be so fun (and hilarious).
9 p.m. — Time to FaceTime another friend! She's visiting her family in California right now, and I miss her. We catch up about our lack of lives (Okay, like who has a life in this pandemic?) and Netflix Party To All The Boys: Always and Forever (also, yes, I mooch Netflix off my parents). The movie is okay, I guess. It could've been five minutes long if LJ and Peter had literally just talked to each other about the only thing that happened (#nospoilers). The end of the day hits me like a bus, so I go to sleep right after the movie.
Daily Total: $8.51

Day Two

8:02 a.m. — I wake up naturally. Lovely. I don't even get up this early on weekdays.
9:30 a.m. — I scroll TikTok in the fetal position until I get a call about a package I ordered. I don't remember ordering anything recently, but I go downstairs to meet the delivery person anyway. Fingers crossed it's actually a delivery person. It's the GLOSSIER SWEATSHIRT I ORDERED two weeks ago! Yes, I'm now a member of the pink-hoodie club. Now I can pretend to be T. Chalamet/P. Davidson's girlfriend in the privacy of my own home. I spend the next 30 minutes looking at my reflection and wondering if I should get a larger size because the band at the bottom is oddly tight, and the entire shape of the hoodie is awkward.
10:40 a.m. — I FaceTime my sister to show off the Glossier hoodie and deliberate if I should get a larger size. I send an email to the Glossier customer service team to see if I can return or exchange it. Thankfully, I can, so I'm going to get another one in a larger size to see which one I like better.
12:30 p.m. — I get dressed in workout clothes and join an online barre class. It's too slow for my taste, but I love the instructor and have a good time. Working out is honestly the only thing that's kept me sane throughout this pandemic. Also, summer bodies are made in winter, and this summer I want to be hot when I socially distance at the park.
2:30 p.m. — My stomach is grumbling, signalling it's most definitely lunchtime. I did a big grocery haul a few days ago, so the next two weeks are going to involve a lot of home cooking. Today's menu is leftover shrimp with peppers, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.
5:08 p.m. — I get back from a walk to get my eyebrows done, but the line to get into the mall was wayyyy too long. It's like everyone and their mothers are out and about now that stores are open again — I'm convinced Zara is going to become a COVID epicentre. My eyebrows are definitely bushier than I'd like (hairy girls represent), but there's no one I'm seeing, and the Zoom camera is very forgiving thanks to my questionable internet connection, so I'll live. I take off my seven million layers and place an order for the Glossier sweatshirt in a larger size. $68.99
6:30 p.m. — I contemplate treating myself to delivery for dinner, but I already spent $$ on the hoodie, and I have food at home (sigh), so I make myself salmon and asparagus. It's delicious, and I'm glad I chose to cook.
8 p.m. — I have a solo dance party to a tasteful medley of 1D, emo, and early 2000s throwbacks. My friends' weekly game night is in an hour, so I hype myself up and do V-day-themed makeup. My mom got me these amazing neon eyeshadows for Christmas, and I wet my brush with water to make the pink one into a strongly pigmented liner. Can you tell I watched Euphoria?
9 p.m. — I get into my best Alex Trebek mindset (RIP), and it's Jeopardy time! I'm hosting this week's game night with incredibly niche rom-com questions for Valentine's Day. Answer: Heath Ledger's character in 10 Things I Hate About You is rumoured to have eaten this animal while still alive. Question: What is a duck? Hope you shouted that one out with me. My friend has made a game based on Google Search trends, so we play that one next. Overall, it's a great night. I leave the call around 11 p.m. to go to bed.
Daily Total: $68.99

Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up and pretend I don't notice the staggering screen-time notification on my phone: 50 hours, 10 minutes! (I'm addicted to technology like every other person under 50. However, I do read a lot on my phone.) I have raspberry yogurt, granola, and a banana for breakfast — my favourite — and watch the snowfall from my balcony window. It's Valentine's Day and, like my previous 23 years, I am spending this year alone. I'm going to try again to get my eyebrows done today, so I check the salon's hours and plan to get there first thing (they don't take appointments).
10:45 a.m. — Yeah, it just started snowing, and the sidewalks are already covered. I love myself enough to bail and stay inside.
12:30 p.m. — I FaceTime with my family. They tell me all about the birds visiting our backyard. They put up a feeder in the fall, and now every day is like a National Geographic documentary in their yard.
1:43 p.m. — I've been mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and TikTok for the last hour. I put down my phone and watch Stuck in Love, one of my all-time favourite movies.
3:20 p.m. — I finish the movie and feel a little sad. It's all about love, and I'm spending V-day alone. Despite my previous hesitation to go outside, it might be good for me to clear my head (and I also secretly want to believe that if I go on a walk I will meet the love of my life in the world's most perfect meet-cute). Time to start layering.
3:25 p.m. — I. Hate. Everything. I. Own.
4:35 p.m. — I finally find an outfit I feel good in and leave my apartment. I walk down Saint-Catherine and let myself window shop, averting my eyes from any good-looking restaurants because I have food at home (sometimes I wonder if this is all adulthood is). There's no line at the salon! I hurry in to get my eyebrows threaded, so I can finally stop feeling like a lumberjack. The lady does them flawlessly. Like, I'm not kidding — Vogue is going to call asking about a cover. With this little self-esteem boost, I go back onto Saint-Catherine, intending to continue my walk. It's a lot colder than when I started, though, so I go home instead. $25.49
5:30 p.m. — Get back, wash hands, take off layers, defrost. I start making dinner immediately: turkey burgers with avocado and tomato, plus sweet potato fries on the side. I wish I had sauce for the fries, though. Wait! I have Greek yogurt! And I have cucumber! I make tzatziki! Author's note: I owe everything I am to Greek yogurt. I use it for sauces, parfaits, as a sour cream substitute — there's NOTHING it can't do. I put on Crazy, Stupid, Love while eating. It's such a good movie. Let's make this into a marathon: I play The DUFF right after. Quick appreciation for Robbie Amell.
8:30 p.m. — I spend 30 minutes debating if I should get dessert. Silly me, the answer is always yes. I order two slices of cheesecake for myself because it's Valentine's Day and, you know, #treatyoself. I'm excited because 1) I never do this and 2) I LOVE cheesecake. In a series of unfortunate events, the cheesecake arrives basically frozen and it's the wrong flavour, which is incredibly disappointing. This is a first-world problem, but there is literally nothing worse than spending money on junk food that turns out to be disgusting. $25.83
10 p.m. — Okay, after that terrible cheesecake, I need some real self-care. I put on a Korean sheet mask one of my friends bought me ages ago and try to relax. I don't normally do sheet masks, because they feel slimy, but it's nice to give myself the illusion that my skin is going to be flawless after this.
Daily Total: $51.32

Day Four

8:12 a.m. — I wake up naturally and bring my yogurt parfait into the living room (laying on the couch is the more socially acceptable version of the bed, is it not?) to watch the snowfall outside again.
8:40 a.m. — I wash my face with CeraVe hydrating wash, followed by The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% blemish serum, and CeraVe moisturizing cream. It's been interesting to see what my skin is like when I'm not on birth control. I've definitely had more breakouts than I'm used to, but I think they're calming down. I was on birth control consistently for about two and a half years but stopped seven months ago because I felt like it was making me depressed. I wanted to see what I felt like without it. I do feel happier now, and the joy I experience isn't muffled, it's sharper, but I can't say for sure whether it's because of being off birth control specifically or because the last few months have been pretty peaceful/introspective.
9 a.m. — Another day off! So much possibility... Actually, wait. I have a French lesson at noon. My work lets me take one-on-one classes with the YMCA every week for an hour. They're so good, and I can actually feel myself improving.
10:30 a.m. — I look for apartment decor inspo on Pinterest and Instagram. I'm obsessed with these specialty knot pillows from Jiu Jie, but they're $120 apiece, and I can't justify paying that much for a pillow right now. They're so sick, though.
12 p.m. — I fumble through my French lesson for the next hour. Learning languages is so awkward. Like, I know practice makes perfect, and you have to put yourself out there to get better, but my god it's so annoying speaking at a third-grade level. This begs the question: Do I dislike learning a new language or do I dislike being bad at it? I barely think about that one and reheat a leftover turkey burger for lunch instead.
1:30 p.m. — I start doing my dishes when my sister FaceTimes me. I set up the phone on my counter and multitask talking and scrubbing. We usually text 24/7, so it's nice to see her face. After the call, I contemplate going to Zara, but it's snowing again. UGHHHHH, I don't need clothes, and I'm not going anywhere anyway. I take a barre class instead to get my mind off shopping. It works. In just minutes, I'm swearing at the instructor for making my abs burn.
5:30 p.m. — Dinner once again consists of turkey burgers, avocado, tomatoes, and sweet potato fries. After eating, it's time for another dance party. I blast the Vistas' (Scottish indie/alt) Spotify station in my living room, and the party turns into a fashion show, which then turns into a self-timer photo shoot. This has been my entire quarantine.
11 p.m. — I get ready for bed: brush teeth, wash face, exfoliate (I use the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant from Paula's Choice and so far so great), moisturize, and pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8:35 a.m. — I wake up for my first full day back at work. What do I do again? I go to the bathroom and see amazing news: I got my period! I originally started birth control because I didn't get my period for seven months. Another reason I stopped taking it in July was to see if I could get my period naturally. That's also why I've been trying to eat healthily and exercise, so my hormones balance, and I can get my period without taking meds. This is the second month in a row, baby! I immediately log it in my tracker app. I get my bowl of yogurt and granola and admire the snowstorm outside. I know it's winter, but I'm always surprised when the outdoors turns into a snow globe. I brush my teeth, do my skin-care routine, and brush my hair. I hate quarantine the same as the next person, but the fact that this is all I have to do to be ready for work (AND the fact that I don't have a commute anymore) is *chef's kiss.* Once the clock strikes 9 a.m., I open up my laptop and get ready for the influx of emails.
11:50 a.m. — The past three hours have flown by in a flurry of feedback from a client. My creative process includes jamming out to music and trying to have as much fun as possible to inject my work with love. I've banged out edits on four briefs so far and can't wait for lunch. I should also mention that I've had no meetings today (life as a creative is glorious).
12 p.m. — I make myself avocado toast with an extra-runny fried egg on top. I don't own a real toaster so I toast my bread in a pan. Like an amateur, I forget that I'm toasting it and it burns. The avocado is also browner than I'd like, but you win some you lose some.
3 p.m. — I think about how I can use the rest of my spinach before it goes bad. This is kind of a theme in my life.
5 p.m. — I make edits on another two decks, finish up emails, and I'm done for the day. I have another turkey burger with sweet potato fries, then run out to Pharmaprix for pads, liners, body wash, and hair conditioner. It's stopped snowing outside (thank God), but the roads are mushy (my least-favourite part of winter). Back at home, I scroll socials until I finally make myself do a barre class. $25.89
6:30 p.m. — What a good class! It's the perfect combination of difficult but doable. I hate hard classes that require an Olympian's strength — they make me lose motivation too early. This one is good, though, with lots of abs, no planks, and a decent amount of booty (RIP my flat ass). Feeling invigorated, I take a quick body shower with my new shea butter body wash, which smells divine. Being an adult is Very Exciting.
8:30 p.m. — I FaceTime with my parents. I really don't know how we still have stuff to talk about, but I love calling them.
10 p.m. — I'm scrolling noncommittally on Instagram when I see Elsa Hosk's birthing story. It's an interesting read, and she's stunning (and so is her home), but my key takeaway is "no kids for me anytime soon!" I look at Cult Gaia's story next and see the latest collection has dropped. Wow, I love their clothes, but canNOT afford them.
Daily Total: $25.89

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I wake up an hour before my alarm. Nooooooo. I stay in bed as long as possible, pretending to be asleep, so I can trick my mind into thinking I'm well-rested. Once my alarm starts ringing, I muster the courage to get out of bed and make myself yogurt and granola. At 9 a.m., I open up my work laptop and start editing decks.
12 p.m. — I make myself unburned avocado toast with a fried egg and garnish it with onion. After my break, I'm briefed on a new project. The client has asked me to come up with three key messages for different social media ads. I haven't done this for them before, so I book a meeting with a senior copywriter and my account manager to discuss. The rest of the afternoon is spent concepting and figuring out how I can best get in the consumers' heads. I think about their emotional needs and pain points, so I can find an underlying sentiment to tap into and create something that resonates with them. All for one click on a social post. Love my job (actually though).
5:30 p.m. — The end of the day rolls around, and all I'm thinking about is dinner. Since I have leftover sweet potatoes from yesterday, I reheat them and make salmon.
6:30 p.m. — I take a barre class and sweat out my day. I dread getting on the mat, but I feel so good after! My parents FaceTime me during the class, so I decline and call them after. Once the FaceTime is over, I hop into the shower.
9 p.m. — I unwind with a few episodes of Superstore.
10:30 p.m. — I read the Fashion Business Manual my mom got me for Christmas (it's been my lifelong dream to start my own label). The book is so interesting, but I barely get through a single chapter before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8:35 a.m. — I wake up with my alarm and get out of bed. The morning is quiet at work, so I have a lot of time to refine the concepts I was working on yesterday.
10:30 a.m. — I have a meeting with my account manager to discuss my progress on the brief. I show him a deck I've made, and he's aligned. Now I just have to get an okay from the senior copywriter, and we're off to the races (aka actually sending my proposals to the client). It's so funny how many eyes see a piece of content before it's published, and yet crazy (i.e. insensitive and racist) things still get published every day.
12 p.m. — I take a lunch break while thinking about how to elevate the deck I've made. Sometimes my brain doesn't want to switch off. I make myself bread with butter and onion. It's so simple (and so lacking in nutrients) but so good. I love anything that makes my breath smell BAD (onions and garlic, I'm looking at you).
1 p.m. — I get back to work, making final edits before my meeting with the senior copywriter. I have faith in my ideas, but there's always a tiny fear of having to start over (the deadline is the end of the day today, so fear is an appropriate response). I put on a pump-up song to get in a power mood. Thankfully, we go through the deck and most of his feedback is positive. Thank GOD.
3 p.m. — I should probably do laundry and vacuum, but I put on Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List instead and live-text my friend while watching it. We both love this movie. The doorman (AKA Gabriel AKA Matthew Daddario) is beautiful. I keep my work laptop running in the background to make sure I don't miss anything should it come in.
5 p.m. — I get a call from my account manager saying that the client has chosen which three options they want, so he's going to debrief me tomorrow. Great news! Since my workday is done, I put a chicken breast in the oven, wash my dishes, and do a quick vacuum. Once the timer goes off, I cut up the chicken for a bowl with spinach, corn, black beans, tomatoes, roasted yellow peppers, avocado, and a scoop of Greek yogurt.
7:30 p.m. — I begrudgingly join tonight's barre class. Exercise mode: barely on. My motivation for the week is running on empty. This class also has a lot of planks, so I'm not into it. Afterward, I'm feeling slightly better but still unsatisfied. I think it's my period.
9 p.m. — I need a break from all my devices and decide to work on a paint by numbers of a Harry Styles portrait my sister got me for Christmas. It's the perfect way to end my evening.
Daily Total: $0
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