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

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Today: a data associate working in publishing who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money on bubble tea.
Occupation: Data Associate
Industry: Publishing
Age: 24
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $40,000
Paycheque Amount (biweekly): $1,229.52
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $687.50 (My half for a one-bedroom apartment I share with my partner. It includes utilities and internet.)
Student Loans: $300 (I owe $32,259.)
Phone Bill: $75.71
Street Parking: $18.50
Gas: $40
Gym Membership: $22.60
YNAB (You Need A Budget) App: $4.16
Spotify: $9.99
Netflix: $14.99
New York Times Subscription: $15.37
Costco Membership: $5
Banking Fee: $3.95
Notion App: $5
Quip Toothbrush: $8 (I have a subscription and get new brush heads and batteries sent to me.)
Savings: $1,165 (I'm currently saving for a new laptop and web development course. I'm also rebuilding my emergency fund after it was depleted due to my partner's unemployment.)
Additional Expenses
Seasonal Shopping: $80 (I like to shop for clothes whenever the seasons change.)
Gifts: $50
Home Improvement: $50

Day One

7:55 a.m. — I wake up to "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston and, weirdly, start grooving in my bed. My girlfriend, L, is in the other room and tells the Google Home to stop. I grouch at her because I was dancing to it. She asks Google to turn it back on. I'm happy again.
8:15 a.m. — I use the Quip toothbrush I bought yesterday in Buffalo. I'm super-excited to finally take care of my teeth. I've forever had gum issues and got a root canal last year. It was traumatizing, and I never want to experience it again. I put on sunscreen, do my makeup, and take my vitamins (omega-3s, magnesium, and vitamin D).
8:45 a.m. — I'm running late and don't have time to eat breakfast. I grab lactose-free vanilla yogurt from the fridge and bring it to work, so I don't end up impulse-buying a croissant.
9:10 a.m. — Stuck in summer construction traffic. Grrrrr. I shouldn't complain, though, because at least I don't have to take public transit (L doesn't drive to work anymore, so I borrow her car). I have my yogurt and a yuzu green tea when I get to work.
12:30 p.m. — I eat two slices of leftover Domino's pizza from yesterday — pepperoni with Parmesan-garlic sauce — and take a walk with a work friend. We avoid coffee shops to save money, and chat while walking in the sun. I'm praying my shirt doesn't show any pit stains.
2:30 p.m. — I'm barely concentrating on work and blame it on my lack of coffee. I cave and grab a soy milk latte from the coffee shop next door. It's happy hour, so it's half price! $2.56
5:30 p.m. — I pick up L from the subway station, so she doesn't have to wait for the bus. We're both grumpy after a long workday and debate getting bubble tea. We resist because we spent a looottt of money over the weekend.
6:15 p.m. — Dinner is more leftover Domino's accompanied by an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also stuff my face with Parmesan and sharp cheddar Cheez-Its. Essential unwinding time.
6:45 p.m. — We don't want to survive on leftover pizza for the rest of the week, so L and I meal prep: potato salad with parsley and dill, plus jalapeño cornbread muffins. I use the new Chrissy Teigen pans I bought from Target in Buffalo yesterday. (Told you I spent a lot of money over the weekend.)
9 p.m. — L does the dishes, while I tidy up and do a little budgeting through YNAB. We vegetate with more Avatar.
Daily Total: $2.56

Day Two

7:50 a.m. — I'm up five minutes earlier than yesterday, which I consider a success, and am imagining myself as a morning person. I only see L for 10 minutes before she rushes out the door. It's nice because I get time alone with my thoughts in the mornings. I love solo time, but it's hard to find it while also making time for my friends and time for L.
8:15 a.m. — I wash my face with a Drunk Elephant cleansing bar, then apply a Paula's Choice exfoliant and CeraVe moisturizer. I grab iced coffee from the fridge and wander around the house, forgetting what I was doing. Nope, I'm still not a morning person.
9:07 a.m. — Get to work at a decent time thanks to minimal traffic. I chat with my favourite work people and eat my yogurt with honey, hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
11:25 a.m. — My period arrives, and everything hurts. I almost tell my boss I'm working from home for the rest of the day, but pop a Midol and power through.
12:15 p.m. — I walk for 15 minutes to my favourite café and get a London fog (this version tastes like Froot Loops). I call L and we talk about our days so far. I answered a few important data questions and feel proud of how far I've come in my career in a such a short time. $3.97
5:30 p.m. — After work, I hit the neighbourhood grocery store, which specializes in local goodies. I'm tempted by some fancy kombucha but resist. I pick up some acacia honey, cornmeal, granola for my morning yogurt, and Parmesan flatbreads to take to work tomorrow. This goes on the joint credit card, which we split. $44.28
5:45 p.m. — L and I go to a nearby pizza place where we share a box of garlic knots and grab a slice each. Mine is topped with arugula in lemony dressing, so it's pretty much a pizza salad. Even though we buy dinner today, I feel okay about it because we normally would have bought a whole pizza to split and more knots. We're learning portion control. $21.09
7:30 p.m. — We tidy up and watch Avatar. It's nice to just relax sometimes.
Daily Total: $69.34

Day Three

7:50 a.m. — Woot! Woke up before 8 a.m. again. I'm definitely a morning person now. I have iced coffee with oat milk and end up leaving right on time. I feel so successful.
10:45 a.m. — My co-workers and I are going to a Blue Jays game at 12:30 p.m. (I bought my ticket a few weeks earlier.) I chow down on my prepped lunch and pack an apple for the road.
11:25 a.m. — My lovely coworker offers to drive, and I happily accept. I leave my car at work and come back for it later, because I'm afraid to drive downtown during games. The roads get inundated with pedestrians and drivers get honk-happy. I offer to help pay for parking when we arrive, but she refuses.
12:15 p.m. — A bunch of kids are at the game, which is good because the line up for beer is non-existent, but bad because the line up for pizza is insane. Afraid of being hungry and dehydrated for the next four hours, I panic-buy a slice of cheese pizza and a water bottle. I get ripped off. $12.50
3:30 p.m. — Yeah, the Jays lost. Nothing new. I hop the train at Union Station to go back to my car. I help a fellow from Atlanta figure out how to get to the train along the way. $5.25
4:15: p.m. — I prep dinner (spoiler alert: I'm making homemade pizza) and do the dishes so that we can go to the gym and eat when we get home. L's gym lets you bring a guest for free, so I always go with her.
6 p.m. — I finish pizza prep early, so I start a meal plan and grocery list for this weekend/next week. I make sure to put Filipino spaghetti on the plan. I've been craving it like crazy. It consists of a sweet spaghetti sauce, chopped hot dogs, and melted cheddar cheese. I promise it's really good.
6:45 p.m. — L and I walk for bubble tea. I get a fresh milk version with brown sugar tapioca, and L gets the same thing but with custard. We drink it while walking up a very steep hill to the gym. My thighs start to hurt. Clearly I need to go to the gym. $13.56
7:15 p.m. — I do the stair climber for 10 minutes before moving on to overhead presses, deadlifts, dumbbell rows, and a quick sprint on the treadmill.
8:30 p.m. — At home, I stretch out the pizza dough and add honey-garlic BBQ sauce, spicy soppressata, and an extra drizzle of honey. The pizzas turn out beautifully. Clearly, I'm addicted.
10:45 p.m. — I snuggle into the covers while reading Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi. I try to read as diversely as possible, and this book has been on my TBR pile for a long time.
Daily Total: $51.31

Day Four

8:15 a.m. — I sleep in. I am definitely going to be late this morning, but I'm so tired that I don't even have the energy to rush to work.
9:30 a.m. — The commute is not fun. I end up having to turn on my GPS to find an alternate route.
12:15 p.m. — On lunch, my friend and I walk and rant about work and life. We stop by a cute Italian grocery store and bakery, where she picks up a loaf of sourdough and lunch. I don't buy anything.
3:15 p.m. — I remember the snacks I packed and eat them while talking to L on the phone. She tells me about her friend who is 30, married, owns her own home, and looking for a high-level tech job. Could this really happen to me in the next five years? Five years doesn't feel like enough time to accomplish all that. I have a mini anxiety attack.
5:15 p.m. — Time for my regular board game night. This is the first time it hasn't been at my apartment, and I have to say it's very nice to let someone else host, instead of panic-cleaning because people are coming over. We stop by Tim Hortons to grab Iced Capps for everyone. My friends pay me back in cash. $8.56
6 p.m. — Our host orders dim sum for all of us and tells us she'll let us know the total later.
Daily Total: $8.56

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — I work in a mostly white industry and am estranged from my family, so sometimes I miss parts of my Filipino heritage. Lately, I've been craving hot pandesal (soft, salty buns) from the bakery that my dad used to take me to when I was a kid. After breakfast, L and I stop in, and it's just as good as I remember. L pays $7 because they don't accept my credit card.
12:30 p.m. — I drop L off at her part-time hustle and am laying on the couch with Netflix when an unknown number calls me. I'm hesitant, but I pick up the phone. Someone on the other end says my name. It's my aunt. I hang up immediately. I ran away from home three years ago, and have never looked back. My mother is very religious and started harassing me when she found out about my relationship with L. I was so stressed and anxious that I needed to leave. I didn't speak to her or my aunts (who sided with her) for almost two years, until my father passed away. Then we spoke for a short while before another falling out. I become stressed and text L.
1 p.m. — I'm still on edge. Someone starts pounding on my door. It's my aunt. I start freaking out. How does she know where I live? I look around in horror. My house is a disaster. I don't want to let her in. I don't trust her.
1:10 p.m. — She hasn't stopped knocking on my door. I call L and tell her what's happening, and she immediately calls an Uber to come home. We had to go through a higher-stakes version of this a long time ago, when my mother was harassing me at my retail job so, unfortunately, we are familiar with this situation. I begin to cry on the phone with L, overwhelmed with fear. I turn off the lights and hide in the middle of the house, away from any windows.
1:30 p.m. — L is almost home and says she'll deal with my aunt. I quickly pack a bag and tidy up in case she forces her way into the house. I sneak out the back door and go to Starbucks. I get a London Fog to calm myself down and a bagel because I haven't eaten lunch yet. I use my preloaded Starbucks card to pay.
2:35 p.m. — They're gone. L updates me on the situation. Turns out my mother was there as well. They bullied their way into my home, telling L that they wouldn't leave. My mother has apparently bought me a cruise to Croatia (?!?) so that I can go on a pilgrimage with her, even though we haven't spoken in months. This infuriates me. On the way home, I kid you not, it is raining and a car splashes me. I swear at it and accidentally end up yelling profanities in front of a child.
4 p.m. — I finally managed to calm myself down. I feel awful that L had to deal with my family by herself, so I buy her take-out khao soi and satay. $27.21
7 p.m. — L and I go to the grocery store. We charge arugula, bacon, limes, chiles, pasta, sweet spaghetti sauce, chicken thighs, and cheddar cheese to our joint credit card. $41.69
9 p.m. — I'm still angry at my mother and aunt and worried they will come back. I send my mother a text message, asking her to not to show up again. I tell her directly that having her in my life stresses me out and affects my mental health. She texts me back within five minutes, asking God to bless me. She says she's praying for the Holy Spirit to possess me. Good riddance. She didn't listen to a word I said.
12 a.m. — Time for bed. It's been a day.
Daily Total: $68.90

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — I wake up and see my mother texted me back more thoroughly. She tells me that she won't come by anymore — and that she prays for God to cleanse my heart, so who knows anymore?
10:30 a.m. — At the gym, I do some time on the treadmill. Beyonce's Homecoming album is perfect for running.
12 p.m. — I cooked adobo yesterday, which is chicken with soy sauce, vinegar, and tons of garlic. We have this with a big cucumber and arugula salad.
2 p.m. — L and I laze around in the sun at a park, grab bubble tea and two kinds of cookies: queso and s'mores. I'm thankful for this lazy day. $14.64
7 p.m. — I make Filipino-style spaghetti and prep food for the week: a smashed cucumber salad and a grilled corn salad.
12:30 a.m. — We watch Netflix for a little too long. Off to bed.
Daily Total: $14.64

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up on time and plan on having the most wholesome, drama-free day ever.
1 p.m. — Time passes fast, because I have meetings in the morning and I have a ton of work. I go out for a walk by myself and eat my prepped lunch at my desk.
3 p.m. — My horoscope essentially tells me to take the initiative to text people first, so I message friends and ask them if they want to hang out. We schedule something a few weeks out. It's so hard to schedule things as an adult!
6 p.m. — More spaghetti for dinner today. We had such a good workout yesterday that we go to the gym again tonight.
10:30 p.m. — I do a Glossier detox face mask while watching Netflix and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0
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