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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $62,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of PC Chef.
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 customer experience rep working in software who makes $62,000 and spends some of her money this week on meal kits.

This diary was submitted before Ontario's three-phase reopening plan was announced.
Occupation: Customer Experience Rep
Industry: Software
Age: 29
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $62,000
Net Worth: $208,708 ($116,338 in savings, $52,701, in an RRSP and $39,669 in a TFSA)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,910
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $980 (My boyfriend, Z., and I share a one-bedroom apartment that's $1,400 a month, including utilities and internet. We split rent and groceries according to how much we make because Z. lost his job at the start of the pandemic and has been receiving benefits since then.)
Monthly Loan Payments: $0
Phone: $28
Health & Dental Benefits: $48.06

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?
When I was in high school and wanted to go to a college program, my parents persuaded me that a college diploma wouldn't be a good choice and encouraged me to go to university instead. I do not agree. I think the college program would've made me just as successful, but I ended up going to university anyway and was fine with it.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents gave me an allowance for things like candy or toys, which taught me the importance of managing my own money. My parents never talked to me about their incomes, and it's only now that I realize we lived very comfortably. I would describe my upbringing as middle class: I never saw my parents worry about paying bills or having food, yet we never went on international trips or had the latest toys like other kids at school.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
From Grade 7 to 12, I babysat for two families. One family had me come every weekend to give the mom a day to get away and do her own thing, and the other family would hire me once a month to look after their kids on date night.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I never worried about money growing up, but I do remember that my classmates would get new gaming systems right when they came out, but my parents wouldn't spend money on those things. My parents were much more financially conservative than others around us.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I'm afraid of a rent increase, and I want to buy a home, but I've had to face the fact that homeownership in Toronto isn't an option because houses here are averaging over $1 million.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I graduated high school, my parents gave me $25,000 to help cover tuition. It certainly didn't cover getting my degree, but I did get to live at home rent-free until I graduated. That was an enormous help in keeping me from spiralling into debt. It's also the reason I have so much money in savings right now. If I were to lose my job, I have enough savings to be okay on my own, but if I called my parents to ask for help with rent or something, I don't think they would do it. They would very much be pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of people.

Day One

8:45 a.m. — Z. makes egg salad sandwiches for us, and we each go to our desks at opposite ends of the living room, where we have our laptops, and put on headphones.
1 p.m. — I get off a company call. Our boss brought up a reminder to use our vacation days, but we're all holding out until things open back up, and we get our vaccines, but it's not clear when that will happen. I talk to Z. and suggest I take a couple of days in May; we could go to eye appointments during that time off (I have felt since last summer that my glasses prescription has changed). He's annoyed, saying we can't do that with COVID, why am I not taking this seriously, we're not making any plans. I overthink this exchange for the rest of the afternoon. We've been stuck in this apartment for 13 months and need a break from one another.
2:55 p.m. — I get a message on Facebook that a necklace I posted on Marketplace got picked up. The buyer transferred me $5 last night.
4:52 p.m. — I sign off work and start streaming a show. In order to afford a place with two-plus bedrooms (we're thinking of having a baby), I either need to make more money, or we need to move to a cheaper city. My manager and I discussed getting a professional certification that would advance my career, so I turn off the show, sign up for the test, and pay the registration fee. $682.65
6:16 p.m. — Z. gets an email asking him to take an online skills assessment test next week as a part of a job he applied for. Yay, someone looked at one of the job applications he sent into the void! He doesn't have an interview yet, but this is something. I make us a pasta salad for dinner and watch YouTube videos (favourites include The Bucket List Family, PCDev, and Eamon & Bec, who used to do vanlife videos but have started a cottage renovation during COVID). Before going to bed, I put chickpeas in a bowl of water to soak overnight.
Daily Total: $682.65

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up and lie in bed for an hour before starting work.
10:12 a.m. — I cover the chickpeas in cumin, olive oil, garlic flakes, and salt and bake them for 20 minutes. I cut up a tomato and add the chickpeas and spicy mayo into wraps for lunch. I put in a request to take off a couple of days later this month, and my manager approves them. I'll figure out what to do later, even if it's just to sleep in each day and keep my eyes away from screens. I can hear Z. digging through notes and textbooks he still has from school that are stored in a closet, trying to prepare for his test.
11:07 a.m. — I see an ad online that the Princess Margaret Cottage Lottery To Conquer Cancer is selling tickets for a draw. Hell yes! I purchase a ticket right away. I can already imagine myself working remotely from the deck of a cottage with a lake as a dreamy view behind my laptop. I would move there full-time if I won. Z. tells me we'll be able to book appointments for our COVID vaccinations on Monday! This sounds too good to be true, but we do live in a hot spot, so maybe it's true! I put a reminder in my calendar to book it. $100
4 p.m. — I log off work, do a 30-minute workout on YouTube, shower, then do a three-hour Linkedin Learning course to help prep for the certification I'm working on (Linkedin Learning is paid for by my work).
Daily Total: $100

Day Three

7:59 a.m. — I roll out of bed and get to work. I transfer my landlord $1,400, and Z. sends me his portion after a reminder. I eat gummy candies I find in my desk.
11:50 a.m. — I heat up a can of beans for lunch and put peanut butter on a stale bagel. We're out of fresh food and need to go grocery shopping. We've been trying to go less than once a month during the pandemic to reduce unnecessary exposure. In the past week, I saw on our community social media that the local bakery and bank both closed due to employees contracting COVID. We have a bag of rice and a bag of dried chickpeas that will last a long time. They're not the most flavourful options but they're easy to make and will get us through another week or two.
1:02 p.m. — I get a notification that the amount for my phone bill has been automatically deducted from my account. I've been debating cancelling it because all my communication happens on social media and through email, plus I have my work calls routed through a separate phone number on my computer (costs less than $10 a month, my work pays for it, and it allows me to truly log off when I turn off my laptop). Literally, the only texts and phone calls my cell gets are spam or two-factor authentication for my apps. A family member said I should keep it for emergencies, but that doesn't make sense. If I get hurt going for a jog or something, I feel like I could just walk to a store or ask someone to call for help? There's no data and no roaming when I travel, so it feels like wasted money.
3:13 p.m. — Z. sees online that we're now able to book our vaccinations, so we quickly do so and have appointments for next Tuesday! Wow! Maybe this is happening sooner than I thought!
4:43 p.m. — A friend messages me a pic that The Boys is filming a few blocks away, and a local business has been transformed to look like a different country for a scene. I want to get a pic to post online, so it looks like I'm on an international trip during a pandemic, which would freak out my family, but I don't have the energy to go through the "It's not safe, COVID, there will be people around blah blah blah" argument with Z. But then he takes one look at the chickpeas I left soaking for dinner and orders us pizza (he pays). Now it's my turn to complain about being careless during a pandemic, but my complaints are half-hearted because I also want to eat junk for dinner. I should've gone to check out The Boys filming location. We could live in a shoebox on the moon and live the exact same life we've been living for the last year, only it would feel safer because there would be no one outside to walk too close to us. I hate it.
7:27 p.m. — Z. arrives with the pizza and is upset because the guy taking it out of the oven and cutting it wasn't wearing a mask. I don't chime in. I'm still annoyed with myself for missing out on The Boys set, which has likely been taken down by now.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up to the family above us blasting The Wiggles for their little one. Sounds like a dance party. I would never want to raise a family in a one-bedroom apartment. I lie in bed and scroll through my phone, ending up on a group call with some friends.
10 a.m. — Inspired by Z.'s closet digging the other day, we spend the day decluttering and spring cleaning while Tallboyz streams in the background. We post some things on Facebook Marketplace for either very low amounts or for free, just to get things out quickly. After people message saying they'll take the items, we leave them out for pickup. We make $10 and our place looks a little less cluttered, which feels nice.
6 p.m. For dinner, I cook those chickpeas and also make cookies.

9:30 p.m. — We go for a walk around the neighbourhood because there aren't many people out at night. It feels nice to get out and walk and chat, and we take detours to avoid getting too close to others who are also out.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

10:36 a.m. — I sleep in, read articles, and eat an apple. I see a piece about the Amazon Halo fitness tracker. I'm not that interested in it as a fitness tracker, although I could use a prompter since I'm sitting a lot, but more as a voice-tone tracker. I think that could help me monitor how I'm coming across to Z. and maybe improve our communication. I spend the next hour watching YouTube videos reviewing it. Z. expresses interest in trying it, too. They're only about $100 each, so I try to purchase two but find they're not available on Amazon in Canada? My Amazon search is just showing Master Chief merch, so I guess not? I make lots of soup so there are leftovers to eat through the week.
2:30 p.m.There's not a whole lot going on. I waste the afternoon scrolling through my phone and listening to the Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend podcast.
9:15 p.m. — I proofread a document online for a friend, then go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:50 a.m. — I get up for the day, heat up leftover soup for breakfast, and get to work.
10:19 a.m. — Z. has been pacing, trying to calm his nerves and pass the time until his skills test. I don't think the test is that complicated, but I know he's anxious to get back to work, so he feels added unnecessary pressure to do well.
2:05 p.m. — A coworker calls to get help on a customer issue. We chat for about an hour after the issue is resolved, and they vent about being unable to get an appointment for their vaccine. I don't mention my appointment because it seems like that would not improve their mood. I log off work at 4 p.m.
9:17 p.m. — After having more leftover soup for dinner and watching TV, I see a pretty decent discount code for PC Chef meal kits. The bland stuff we've been cooking makes me go kind of overboard on this purchase, and I end up buying nine kits! $162.35
9:50 p.m. — I update a spreadsheet where I track my receipts. I started this a few years ago, and it helped curb unwanted spending and realistically budget for indulgences. I highlight bad purchases (things I shouldn't have bought) in red, and there have been very few since COVID (no, my lottery ticket doesn't get highlighted in red; either I win a cottage or the money goes to cancer research, right?). I transfer $1,000 to Wealthsimple for my RRSP account (I don't put away a set amount each month; I just look at my account and move over what I don't need in the coming weeks.)
Daily Total: $162.35

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Vaccine day! I get up and get to work on my laptop.
1:06 p.m. — I make us a stir fry out of rice and frozen veggies.
2:44 p.m. — I'm on a group call with a client who mentions they are getting their second dose of the vaccine today. I chime in that I'm getting my first dose. After the call, someone from management at our company calls me. I seem to be the only one in the company who is getting the shot so far, and they're interested in sending me out of the country to be on-site during a product launch this summer. It didn't even occur to me that the vaccine could make me more useful to the company. I'll need to make the most of these next few months and hope COVID variants are kept at bay?
4:50 p.m. — We arrive at the vaccine clinic in a gymnasium at a local college. THIS IS HAPPENING! They hand out masks as we enter the building, and we put them on top of the masks we're already wearing. We show our OHIP cards to get proof of the vaccine added to our records, along with our IDs, which show our postal code. We go to stations where people with iPads run through risks and book our follow-up appointments for August. We're then sent to little cubicles.
5:01 p.m. — Aaaand I get the shot! They give me Pfizer and stick a badge on my shirt that has my name and the time I'm allowed to leave, then ask me to sit in a large area of spaced-out chairs for 30 minutes.
5:06 p.m. — I message my family to tell them I got the shot (I'm on a group chat with cousins and aunts and uncles). We didn't see any family in the past year — not even for Christmas — so I'm excited. Hopefully, we could have some sort of family gathering this summer. I also book an eye exam because I think it will now be safe enough to do that in person and buy new glasses. Z. and I spend the evening watching shows and discussing what we may be able to do this summer, like maybe going to the Toronto Zoo or Canada's Wonderland? Or maybe places will open up again, and we can have a date night at Storm Crow Manor, a geeky themed restaurant we like? Things feel hopeful and exciting for the first time in a long time.
Daily Total: $0
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