A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $40,000 Salary

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Today: a customer support specialist working in tech who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on chocolate milk.

Occupation: Customer Support Specialist
Industry: Tech
Age: 27
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $40,000
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,323.85
Debt: $4,742 (I accumulated this debt when I had vascular surgery on my varicose veins. The procedure is considered "cosmetic" and therefore not covered by OHIP, even though my veins caused me daily pain and swelling, plus a varicose ulcer. Literally: fixing my broken veins, which pump blood, is considered cosmetic?!)
Savings: $2,900
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $637.50 (My husband and I live in a one-bedroom apartment and split our $1,275 rent evenly.)
Electricity: $17.50 (This bill can be as low as $10 in summer months or as high as $80 in winter.)
Internet: $12 (for my half)
Phone: $100 (Give or take. I have yet to get organized about paying my phone bill, so I tend to send them what seems like enough money every couple of months. I usually overpay them, so we're good.)
Medical Loan: $250 (My husband and I each pay this amount against the loan for my surgery.)
Life Insurance: $24.70 (deducted from my paycheque)
Netflix & Spotify: $32
Annual Expenses
Hot Yoga: $1,300 (My membership is paused right now due to COVID-19, so it's $0 until further notice.)

Day One

6:45 a.m. — I'm drowsy but awake and check the time. I notice Cat is looking at me hopefully, but I go back to sleep. No, baby feline, not yet. Every minute of sleep counts.
7 a.m. — I wake up with my alarm and feed Cat in her puzzle feeder, then Lysol wipe the kitchen surfaces as I've been doing every day — sometimes twice a day — since COVID-19 got intense. No germs for me, thanks.
7:30 a.m. — I enjoy a coffee with cream and read Women & Weed magazine, then make a smoothie with a banana, mixed berries, almond milk, and chocolate protein powder.

8:30 a.m. — I put on NYX Micro Brow Pencil and CoverGirl clear brow gel, then get dressed for work. I usually go into an office, but I've been working from home for the last three weeks. It's a huge fucking gift and massive privilege to have a job I can do remotely, and I'm grateful.

10:30 a.m. — I go on chat. Whenever you go on a website and it says, “Chat with us!” or something like that, you reach someone like me. At least you do if you're chatting with a company that provides boss-ass customer support. We do, and I'm proud to be part of it. I grab a piece of chocolate-banana loaf that Husband made a few days back and spread a layer of salted butter on it, then make tea to dip it into. Cat bites my hand, and I take a break to clean the cut. Cat is not adjusting well to me being home all day, every day.

12 p.m. — Husband is heating up leftover pizza from last night. We don't have (or want) a microwave, so this is an oven situation. I eat two slices and a clementine while reading more Women & Weed. I'm completely entranced by a feature on a weed-friendly yoga studio. Doing yoga while high has been wonderful for me, and I love the idea of ritualizing the connection.
1 p.m. — I'm back to work, and I accidentally take on 50% more tickets than I'm supposed to. (Tickets are what customer support agents call the emails that customers send us.) The truth is that we have so few tickets thanks to COVID-19 that we can't take on too many at once or there won't be anymore to answer.

4 p.m. — I initiate a co-working Zoom meeting. My teammates and I have been doing this during the pandemic to recreate the feeling of sitting together without any real pressure to talk. We do end up chatting, of course, but sometimes we don't. It's just nice to hear people mumbling to themselves. I sip my second coffee while working.

5 p.m. — I control + command + Q the laptop and feed Cat her dinner. I also feed myself two more slices of pizza and two Eggos with butter and maple syrup. This is not a filling meal, but it's better than nothing. (We need groceries.) I fold laundry, watch a French show called Call My Agent!, listen to music, and take a shower just to feel the hot water. Cat irritates the goddamn shit out of me. You have a million toys! Stop scratching the chair for god's sake!

9:45 p.m. — I eat half a sleeve of rosemary crackers and contemplate going to bed even though I'm not tired. I don't.

10:30 p.m. — I open my mobile banking app and realize I have money to spare, because I'm not buying much these days. I move $100 to my savings account.

11:07 p.m. — I check my personal email and see a reminder for a payout I need to claim. I'm also a playwright, and I recently entered a playwriting challenge and won £26.32, which is £3 more than I paid to participate in the competition. Noice. I deposit the money into my PayPal account and realize I have US money sitting there from my theatre company's Patreon account. I marvel at how weak the Canadian dollar is currently.

11:30 p.m. — I suspect there might be more US dollars hiding in my Patreon account. Lo! There are. I move the balance to my PayPal account. What a nice surprise. I had $242 in PayPal already, now I just added another $200 USD, plus my £26?! It all adds up to a dope surprise money dump. This is a great opportunity to donate to COVID-19 efforts. Lord knows I'm not producing a play with an audience of people sitting close together anytime soon. I head to the WHO's COVID-19 webpage and donate $140. I've been too intense with charitable giving in the past and fucked my own finances, so I prefer to take things slower these days. I text Husband to tell him about the donation, and he says it's great. $140

Daily Total: $140

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up. Ugh, staying up late for no reason is always a bad idea. I rinse my face, wipe down the kitchen with Lysol wipes, and do the dishes.
7:45 a.m. — I finally make a coffee with cream and the same smoothie as yesterday and sit down on the couch feeling awesome and grateful for today. Then Cat bites me on the arm. Things are not right between us, and I suddenly sob. I'm prone to crying anyway but even more so during this pandemic. I put on my eyebrows while tears pour down my face. They are not my best brows.
8 a.m. — I take a walk. I think Cat is acting out because I'm on week three of WFH. I've never been home this much, and I know cats are routine-lovers. I commit to leaving for walks more frequently to give her some normalcy. If I'm gonna do the right thing and stay home, then the home I'm staying in needs to be peaceful.

11:30 a.m. — I grab a tea and another piece of chocolate-banana loaf with salted butter. I'm specifying the salt because growing up we always had unsalted butter, and we called it sweet butter. I think this might be a maritime thing; one of my parents is from New Brunswick.

12 p.m. — I take a walk, then eat a weak sandwich: cucumber, hummus, mustard, and two fried eggs. We need groooocerieeees.

5 p.m. — I finish work and move my monies around. All in all, I deposit $556.04 from PayPal into my bank account. I send Husband my half of the rent, as well as my payment for the medical debt mentioned above. I put another $250 into my savings. I want to have at least two months' rent on hand, because I can afford it right now, and who knows how long this situation will last? Who knows how long we'll both be making money?

7 p.m. — I eat a bit of the sausage and potato that Husband made for his breakfast. I have a beer, too.
8 p.m. — I chat on Instagram with a co-worker/friend about songs we might sing together to pass the time. Alone, I end up practising the harmonies to "Roulette," a song I love by System Of A Down. Sorry, neighbours.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:57 a.m. — Cat starts trilling at me to feed her. Fuck, can you not wait three minutes, baby?
7 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I feed Cat and take a walk. The park behind my house is pathetically strung with caution tape, and I read the public signage hastily zip-tied to a light pole: “Practise good physical distancing — two metres apart or about the length of a hockey stick.” It's absurdly Canadian, which breaks my heart and makes me smile at the same time, because I know exactly how long a hockey stick is.
8:45 a.m. — I opt into a coffee club for work. It's a 15-minute pure-fun hangout for anyone from our department who wants to join. It's just me and one other person, plus the host. Part way through, my work husband joins as well. It's fun. I have a coffee with cream but no breakfast.

12 p.m. — It's lunch, but I don't eat. I just don't feel like it.
5:30 p.m. — I take a walk and bring a joint. I call my sister but get her voicemail, then go to a local farm's store and get in line outside. It's small in there, so it doesn't take many people for a line to form. The meat you get lived a happier life than factory-farmed animals, so it's expensive, but it's worth it. The store clerk is behind a giant pane of glass, and there are Xs on the floor indicating where to stand when waiting in line. It's weird. I buy 16 chicken thighs for no goddamn reason, a curry rotisserie chicken, a pack of bacon, and a litre of chocolate milk on special. $71.44

6:30 p.m. — I light up my joint and smoke while on the phone with a friend. I smoke more than I meant to, because I'm a showoff and like being seen smoking, not that anyone is impressed. I put out the joint and save the halves-y in my pocket, then pop into a small market for a carton of cheap chocolate ice cream and romaine lettuce. I also pay a fee for using the debit machine. The clerk is wearing a plastic face guard. $12.25

7:30 p.m. — Now high as fuck, I eat a full breast of chicken with salt and a giant dollop of mayonnaise on the side that I barely use. Husband hates that I do this strange, wasteful thing with mayonnaise, but here I am doing it. I somehow, for some reason, chug 750mL of 3.8% fat chocolate milk. It's amazing. I then watch RuPaul's Drag Race and eat ice cream. I take a break to send way too many Instagram videos to the friend I was talking to on the phone earlier. My sister calls me back. The edible she ate prior to calling me kicks in, and we have a good time considering the possible shift in civilization we might be going through right now. I hang up, grab more ice cream, pour chocolate milk on the ice cream, and watch more Drag Race. It's been a weird day for food, and I'm okay with it.
10:30 p.m. — I head to bed and have a great fucking sleep.

Daily Total: $83.69

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up, feed Cat, and take a walk. I'm hungry this morning after eating pretty much nothing but coffee, chocolate milk, and ice cream yesterday, so I use the other rotisserie chicken breast in a wrap: chicken, (not too much) mayonnaise, mustard, and romaine lettuce. I crush it while making a coffee, because I'm running behind today and don't want to be eating during my morning work check-in.
12 p.m. — I make tea to go with the last slice of chocolate-banana loaf.
12:30 p.m. — It's lunch, and I'm not feeling terribly hungry yet, plus Husband has woken up and is in the kitchen, so I don't eat. This is a huge mistake. I take a walk.

4 p.m. — I'm starting to feel sick. The lack of food yesterday and today is catching up with me. I make a coffee with cream to stave off the headache and hunger, but it doesn't work. I meet (not exceed) my ticket target, make four slices of bacon and two scrambled eggs with pecorino cheese finely grated on top, and watch an episode of The Office. I then hop back on my computer to say goodbye to everyone and close it again.

5 p.m. — My headache is officially a migraine. I used to get these all the time as a kid. I eat two slices of buttered bread and down two Tylenol and one Advil. Then I grab a cloth soaked in cold water and retreat to the bedroom with the blinds closed. I gradually fall asleep into an ultra-rare nap and wake up feeling much better.

6:30 p.m. — Husband bought groceries and made dinner while I was resting. What a gift. We watch an episode of Arrested Development while eating two chicken thighs, homemade hummus, and a heap of roasted vegetables with feta and lemon. Groceries were $170 (on him), and he also bought two bottles of wine ($54 on him).

7 p.m. — I do dishes while Husband relaxes and looks up a brownie recipe. I listen to today's episode of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, a podcast in which the hosts read HP as if it were a sacred text, like the Qur'an or Torah. Today's episode is so poignant it moves my atheist heart to tears. Husband gets the brownies in the oven, we have sex, and then I drink a beer while he does the brownie dishes.

10 p.m. — Husband brings me two whopping, heaaavy brownies with peanut butter icing, and we watch another episode of Arrested Development. Husband vapes, and I can only eat one brownie. He eats three, and then we head to bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — Baby starts meowing. I try to empathize and remember that she's confused by routine changes, so it makes sense that she's acting weird.
7 a.m. — I get up, feed Cat, and take a long-overdue shower, then put my legs up on the wall to drain them (yoga pose Viparita Karani). Even if you don't have vein issues, this feels amazing.
8:10 a.m. — Trying to avoid the same no-food mistake three days in a row, I make a smoothie with a banana, peanut butter, spinach, and chocolate protein powder. I put on my brows and get dressed in a tropical shirt, which feels right. I join the morning coffee hangout. Turns out, I'm matching one of my favourite co-workers on the tropical train.

9:20 a.m. — I make a coffee with our superior beans, so no need for cream.

12 p.m. — I eat leftovers from dinner last night and make another coffee while watching Drag Race.
4 p.m. — In a co-working Zoom meeting, I find out that the tropical train stopped at another co-worker's closet, too. Triplets. Noice.

5 p.m. — Quittin' time. I want to take a walk and get high again. I eat a bit of ice cream first, which ordinarily I wouldn't do, but it's here and IDGAF right now. I also fry up four pieces of bacon to hold me over until dinner. I take a walk, get high, and come home to find out that the dinner I thought we were having isn't happening.

8 p.m. — I end up eating two brownies and rosemary crackers. It's another day of unbalanced eating, and I want to be more on top of this, because I know it messes with my energy and moods when I don't eat enough. The brownies are fucking great, though.
10 p.m. — I head to bed at a perfect time and fall asleep immediately.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7 a.m. — On the dot, baby girl starts trilling for her food. I oblige and head back to bed, hoping to fall back asleep, as is my Saturday tradition. I lay in bed scrolling through various things until around 8:45 a.m.
9 a.m. — I intend to start the day with a coffee and breakfast but instead get carried away cleaning. First it's just the daily wipe down of frequently touched surfaces, but it quickly evolves into dishes and a full-on bathroom clean. I'm talking toilet and tub scrub, too.
10 a.m. — I finally get that coffee made, play with Cat, read Women & Weed, and look at social media.

11:24 p.m. — In classic Saturday fashion, I make a to-do list for the day and don't do any of it. Instead, I do my other Saturday tradition: opening Buzzfeed Shopping, opening 10-plus tabs of product lists, opening another 10-plus tabs of individual products from said lists, and not buying any of it. I like the idea of impulse shopping, but I don't do it. After product-gazing, I read about other people's COVID-19 hobbies.
12:05 p.m. — I can hold in my pee no longer, so I get up and go.
12:24 p.m. — Just kidding. I hold in my pee for another 19 minutes to edit this diary. Now I get up and pee. After, I make scrambled eggs with feta and spinach, four pieces of bacon, asparagus, and a clementine, plus another coffee with cream. I watch half an episode of Drag Race, then call my mom. We chat for an hour about COVID-19, podcasts, Doug Ford (our province's premier), Trudeau, Trump, nail polish, paying rent, work, and comedy.

2:30 p.m. — I look at COVID-19 updates. I scroll down to see country totals: 12,906 confirmed in Canada as of this writing. I look at the world map indicating the most-affected countries and have a thought: Checking cases is my new normal. How long will this be my normal? Will I be looking at cases when I'm 40? Suddenly, I feel everything I feel in little bits all at once and cry. Big pandemic cries are becoming another Saturday tradition.
2:30 p.m. — The tears motivate me to get out of the house. I put on my brows and march to Shoppers for toilet paper, tinted moisturizer, Advil, Tylenol, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and Lysol wipes. I smoke on the way there. No Lysol wipes left, but I find Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner and L'Oréal EverSleek Keratin shampoo. It's intended for chemically straightened hair, but according to r/curlyhair, its sulfate- and silicone-free qualities make it a great choice for curls. $155.41

4 p.m. — I get home and have a craving for lemon chicken. I order some from Uber Eats, along with chicken balls. I second guess the purchase given how much I just spent at Shoppers, but then I remember that Husband's Nana sent me birthday money, so I decide dinner is a birthday gift to myself. I watch Drag Race while eating. $35.11

7 p.m. — Husband comes home with a surprise: birthday cake for me! I'm extra-surprised, because it's not my birthday until tomorrow. He used hookups from work to get me this amazing custom-made lemon chiffon mousse cake enrobed in meringue. It's deliiiiiiish. Later, we drink beer-wine and Zoom with my family, which goes exactly as idiotically as we expected. It's a lot of fun.

Daily Total: $190.52

Day Seven

7 a.m. — It's my birthday, but does Cat care? Nope. She decides the best gift is to attention-seek for 40 minutes. I head to our vet website to make her an appointment. Every cat behaviour post on the internet — “anxious cat,” “aggressive cat,” “bored cat” — always has the disclaimer that you should get the cat checked by a vet if their behaviour is changing, and hers is. So, appointment made.
8:54 a.m. — I remember I haven't paid my phone bill. I blindly send my provider $200.

9:30 a.m. — I eat half a banana to hold me over until whenever Husband wakes up to make my birthday breakfast. I take a shower and use my new sleek shampoo, which turns out is actually conditioner (read the bottle next time, me). I leave it in my hair for the whole shower. I also shave, exfoliate, and use my hyaluronic acid serum before moisturizing to get the full skin-care effect. I spritz my face with Mario Badescu lavender facial mist and spread Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner into my curls. It feels good to finally get the bod organized after a week of bleh. And this leave-in is like w-o-w good.

10 a.m. — Husband wakes up and makes me a coffee and the quinoa porridge I request: quinoa, almond milk, peanut butter, mashed banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and nuts and seeds. He adds birthday chocolate chips to it, though, and I admit I would've been fine without them. We watch a few Tiny Desk concerts, and he lets me paint his nails as part of my birthday! They look amazing.
2 p.m. — After many concerts and much lounging, Husband makes quick scrambled egg, feta, spinach, hummus, and Valentina hot sauce wraps. We head out for a walk and enjoy the sunshine while avoiding other people. We run into our neighbours from down the hall on the way home, and they tell us that some parents are naming their babies Covid and Corona. Good god.

4:30 p.m. — We get home and have sex three times. Between one and two, Husband orders pizza ($50 on him). We scroll through nail-polish colours he might like for his next mani. The pizza arrives, and we eat while watching Arrested Development.

6:30 p.m. — He games while I make a grown-up black tea with cream and Disaronno. I troubleshoot Husband's phone for him and explain why it wasn't working before. Working from home, indeed! We finish the day cuddling and watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I discover that there are new episodes of Car Masters: Rust to Riches. What a nice b-day surprise!
11 p.m. — I journal before bed: "Today I am 27, and it feels great." I think I've finally accepted that I am enough.

Daily Total: $0
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