A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $41,500 Salary

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Today: an assistant editor working in publishing who makes $41,500 a year and spends some of her money this week on Tom Ford sunglasses.
Occupation: Assistant Editor
Industry: Publishing
Age: 25
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $41,500
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,261
Gender Identity: Woman
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $850 for a one-bedroom condo downtown (My partner, D., and I split rent according to our income, and he pays $1,250.)
Student Loans: $0 (I had no debt from undergrad, and I just paid off my post-grad loan!)
Tenant's Insurance: $13.75
Internet: $50 (I pay for the internet, and my boyfriend pays for hydro.)
Netflix: $0 (We're parasites on D.'s family account.)
Amazon Prime Hayu: $6.99
Apple Music: $9.99
Phone: $0 (Work pays for my phone.)
Website Domain: $21.99 (Having my own website was a godsend when I was a freelancer. Even though I have a full-time gig now, I like having my portfolio online.)
Health & Dental Benefits: $0 (My work offers health insurance, but you have to pay to opt into it. My boyfriend's plan is 1,000 times better, so I'm on it instead.)

Day One

8 a.m. — It's Sunday, and my boyfriend and I have a very important date with Target! We eat a quick breakfast of coffee, croissants, and fresh berries while watching a few episodes of Alex Eats It All on Bon Appétit's YouTube channel before hitting the road.
10 a.m. — We cross the border into Buffalo seamlessly and go straight to the outlets. We're on the hunt for artwork and decor for our new place. We just moved into our very first condo, and it's our first time living together without roommates, so we're super-excited to make the space our own. We stop at a sunglasses outlet, and I find the Tom Ford sunglasses I've been lusting after for 50% off! $245
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12 p.m. — What time is it? It's Target time! We stop at the Starbucks inside of Target for Christmas-themed beverages. I get a peppermint mocha, and D. gets an eggnog latte. I treat. $8.58
4 p.m. — There's not much we like in the way of home stuff, but we do pick up Christmas decor (Target is already in the spirit, and I'm here for it) along with Rao's pasta sauces ($13.90), matching Harry Potter Christmas pajamas ($44.03), Dove moisturizer for D. ($9.50), a sweater for me ($12.45), apple-cider doughnuts ($5.67) and toffee-covered pretzels ($3.51). We split the bill. $44.53
6 p.m. — We drive to The Cheesecake Factory for an early dinner. We order a glass of wine each, avocado egg rolls to share, and a lacklustre pasta dish each. For dessert, it's key lime cheesecake for me and chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake for D. We're disappointed with everything except the cheesecake. Americans, please tell me, is The Cheesecake Factory worth the hype? Should we give it another try? D. so kindly pays.
8 p.m. — We cross the border back into Canada without having to pay duty! D. and I are both terrible liars, so we're always honest about how much we've spent. We've never been inspected or had to pay duty (knock on wood). There's a $5 toll at the bridge when we arrive back in Canada. We usually never have cash, but I happen to have $5 on me from a sweater I sold on the Carousell app last week. $5
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9:45 p.m. — We drop the car off at D.'s mom's house (we don't have our own car, but she lets him borrow it any time, which is awesome). I fill up the tank and surprise D.'s mom and sister with the apple-cider doughnuts and toffee-covered pretzels as a thank you. D.'s mom drives us home, and we watch an episode of Friends before heading to bed. $31.55
Daily Total: $334.66

Day Two

6 a.m. — I hit snooze for 10 minutes before jumping in the shower. I like having an early start, but hurling my sad, sleepy self out of bed is always a challenge. I feed our cat and make coffee using our beloved Nespresso machine (D. bought the almond-cake-flavoured pods, and they're amazing). I put on makeup (Neutrogena moisturizer, L'Oréal Double Extend mascara, Glossier's Boy Brow, and ChapStick), spritz myself with Le Labo Bergamote 22 fragrance (worth the splurge), and get dressed in a black jumpsuit overtop of the grey sweater I got at Target. I love cozy layers.
6:45 a.m. — I begin my commute, which takes about an hour. I used to bike all the way to work, and I miss it dearly. My new job is about 18 kilometres from our place, so I only bike part of the way now. The ride wakes me up, and the little bit of exercise is better than nothing. Once I get halfway, I lock my bike outside the TTC station. My Presto card only has $2.10 left on it, so I reload it at the station and get on the subway. I start reading Tan France's autobiography Naturally Tan. I'm a HUGE Toronto Public Library fan, and I'm on a real biography kick. $25
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8 a.m. — When I arrive at the office, it's deserted. I prefer an early start time, because I can get so much work done. I'm lucky that my office is flexible on start and finish times.
9:30 a.m. — I wander over to the office kitchen to see if there are any sad office snacks. While there, I run into my friend in the lunchroom, and we chat for 20 minutes. I ask her advice on an article I'm putting together on period products, and I'm feeling nervous about bringing this up to the all-male editorial team. But P. tells me the idea is fantastic, and I should pitch it. I feel emboldened, but decide to wait until our next editorial meeting to bring it up.
12:30 p.m. — I have a two-hour meeting and feel like a gremlin by the end of it. I need food, so I order a burrito bowl on DoorDash using a free-delivery promo. The burrito bowl is extremely disappointing. I'm pretty sure there's actually Cheese Whiz on it, but I'm starving, so I scarf it down. $14.35
3:30 p.m. — My boss has left early for the day, and I wrap up ahead of schedule. I kill time by scouring thredUP for new dresses. I'm going to Las Vegas for work next month, and I'm using the trip as a justification to buy more dresses. I almost take the plunge on a military-style Stella McCartney number, but I leave it in my cart and think about it. I don't really need it, plus I just spent $245 on sunglasses!
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5 p.m. — I still have one free tune up left for Gracie, my bicycle, so I take her into the shop before the snow comes. Rain, snow, or shine, I'm a city cyclist till the day I die, and I have the scars and bruises to prove it. D. texts me to see if I'd be down to grab dinner instead of going straight home. We meet outside his work and go to a new restaurant that specializes in over-the-top Caesars. We forgo the $40 Caesar that comes with a burger and onion rings on top and take advantage of the happy-hour deals instead. We each have two Mill Street Organics for $5 a glass, D. orders a $10 burger, and I get mac and cheese, which is also $10. I love this place! D. so kindly pays.
11 p.m. — D. and I clean up when we get home. He watches the Leafs game, while I read Naturally Tan. I also look on Amazon for a gift for my secret Santa. After falling into a few Amazon holes, I get her Himalayan salt tea light holders with a gift receipt. $12.61
Daily Total: $51.96

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I get to sleep in, because I'm working from home today! D. and I eat breakfast together (Nespressos, breakfast sandwiches made by yours truly, and a banana each.) We spend too long kissing at the front door, and he jokes I'm going to make him late. We're gross, but I'm so happy I don't care. D. and I have been together for two years. He's my lobster. When my last relationship ended, I took a break from men for over a year. I focused on myself and addressing my issues. I also started therapy, went on medication, and started practising yoga and dance as additional forms of therapy. It saved my life.
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12:35 p.m. — Research and editing takes up the morning. I take a quick lunch break to run errands. I pick up my medication, which is covered under my boyfriend's plan, along with cat litter ($14.43) and picture hangers ($1.70), then return my library books, and do a quick grocery haul, so we'll have lunches for the rest of the week. I buy mushrooms, a red pepper, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, green beans, salmon, new potatoes, dill, grapefruit, lemons, sriracha, smoked tofu, coconut Greek yogurt, vegetable broth, cat food, tonic water, and Chicago mix. The total comes to $36.07, but I've accumulated $20 in points through my credit card. I redeem them and save on the grocery bill. $32.20
6 p.m. — My friend K. stops by on her way home from work. I make dinner for us: dill butter–basted salmon, roasted potatoes, and green beans. We catch up on each other's lives and sip G&Ts with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, which is the only way to have a G&T in my opinion. We also dig into the two-bite brownies she brought and end up finishing the bag.
10:35 p.m. — D. and I watch Top Chef. I go back on thredUP, this time looking at a gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana dress for 80% off. D. likes it, but it's still $85 USD (!), so I hold off.
Daily Total: $32.20

Day Four

6:20 a.m. — I overslept this morning, but I still manage to leave on time. I take the subway, because Gracie is still in the shop. I'll need to haul my winter bike gear out of storage soon: ski goggles, a hockey mask and suspender snow pants. I look like a blob, but I'm warm, and I don't get catcalled like I do in the summer, which can be brutal. On the way to the subway, I stop at Tim Hortons for a black coffee. $2.51
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8:02 a.m. — I JUST miss the shuttle from the subway to my office, so I take an Uber. I have a $4-off promo, so it's cheap. $4.49
8:20 a.m. — I'm one of the first people in. I'm working on a few news stories as well as designing a sidebar. I pop on an episode of the By the Book podcast and get to down it.
12:45 p.m. — I take the work shuttle to the mall on my lunch break. I'm on the hunt for a dress or nice blouse to wear on Friday. My mom is in town, and we're going out to dinner and to see Come From Away. There's a gorgeous little black dress on sale at Club Monaco, so I get it. I also find the black silk slip of my '90s dreams at Aritzia. It will be perfect for evenings in Las Vegas with a jacket over top. I need to stop shopping now. $271.20
2:30 p.m. — A panic attack comes on. I go to the washroom to try to calm myself, but it doesn't work. I'm shaking and hyperventilating. This hasn't happened in weeks, and I feel ashamed, even though I know I can't help it. I take an Ativan I keep in my bag for emergencies. It makes me extremely foggy, so I leave early. I haven't disclosed my anxiety disorder to people at work yet. I don't want my illness to interfere with doing my job, but worrying about that increases my anxiety, so it's a vicious cycle. I tell my boss I'm not feeling well, and he's kind and understanding. I Uber home from the office. $19.72
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3:30 p.m. — When I get home, I text D. before nodding off to fill him in on what happened, then fall into a dreamless, medication-induced sleep.
8:30 p.m. — Five hours later, he finally wakes me up. I can see he tried to call me, and his texts seem worried. I feel bad, but he tells me not to worry about it. Instead, he brings me the carrot-ginger soup I planned to make for dinner tonight, plus a cup of Earl Grey. He also gives me a letter he wrote — just a few lines telling me how much he loves me and how proud of me he is. It makes me tear up. I'm incredibly lucky to have people who love and support me.
Daily Total: $297.92

Day Five

6 a.m. — Still groggy but feeling better, I shower, make my coffee, feed and cuddle our cat, and get dressed. I spend extra time on my outfit this morning to make myself feel good. I go for a pair of high-waisted black pants from Babaton with an off-white turtleneck sweater that hits just at my hips. I pop on a black velvet headband, Tiffany earrings, and a spritz of Bergamote 22 before heading out the door.
9:30 a.m. — Time for a quick meeting. I'm supposed to take photos of an event tomorrow, and we're trying to figure out if it's more cost-effective for me to rent a car instead of Ubering both ways. I also meet with my boss to book my hotel for the upcoming Las Vegas trip. ($1,038.99 expensed)
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12:30 p.m. — My friend messages me and asks if I want to try out a new spin gym with her. It's close to my work, and there's a $10 promo for the first session, which comes to $11.31 with tax. I book it, and we decide to go tonight! I have my packed lunch with two of my work friends. $11.31
5 p.m. — Quitting time! I leave the office and go to the spin studio. It's on my way home, and there's a mall next door, but I forgo the mall and go to the studio early. I scroll through Pinterest in the dressing room while waiting for my friend to arrive.
6:45 p.m. — The class is amazing! But it's usually double what I paid today, so I don't think I'll go regularly. My friend and I grab a glass of wine at a nearby Italian restaurant. I get an amazing Valpolicella at the server's recommendation and tip generously. $22.80
8:30 p.m. — D. has already eaten dinner but made extras for me. I heat up a burrito bowl with grilled chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole, and caramelized onions. It's amazing! We watch an episode of Top Chef, and I do a green tea sheet face mask. D. makes fun of me for looking like Jason from Friday The 13th, which I kind of do. He also shows me the new litter box he ordered for our baby. It's a top-entry box, and I doubt that the cat will actually use it, but he does! I transfer D. money for half of it. $20
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Daily Total: $54.11

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Sleep-in day! I don't have to be at the job site until 10 a.m., so D. and I canoodle in bed before showering. Once he leaves for work, I get dressed (jeans, Blundstones, and a striped mock-neck sweater from Madewell) before heading over to the car rental place.
8:45 a.m. — I rent the car and drive to the job site. Naturally, I blast a '90s party mix the entire way. ($68.07 expensed)
9:45 a.m. — I get to the site and… DISASTER. The place is flooding, and I've come at the worst possible time. The event planner basically tells me to buzz off, while they deal with the mess, and I can't blame them. I grab a few shots of the exterior in case that's all we have to use for the story. I also grab generic b-roll shots, so I don't come back entirely empty-handed. On my way home, I stop at Tim Hortons for a sausage-and-hash-brown wrap before I return the car. ($4.08 expensed)
4:30 p.m. — I work from home for the rest of the day, then get ready for tonight. We have dinner reservations at an amazing steakhouse D. has been dying to try. I wear the new black Club Monaco dress with black stockings and black patent pumps. I also put on Lime Crime Velvetines lipstick in Red Velvet.
6 p.m. — We meet my mom at the steakhouse and have an amazing dinner. We start with espresso martinis, then a bottle of Burgundy. For our mains, we share two perfectly cooked steaks (a tenderloin and a ribeye) along with duck-fat frites, mushroom risotto, and two lobster tails. D. is in heaven because Morgan Rielly, a defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, is sitting beside us. My mom pays.
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10 p.m. — Come from Away is absolutely amazing! It 100% lives up to the hype and is worth going to see — you'll laugh and ugly cry, especially if you've had a 10-ounce glass of wine. When we leave, I'm feeling tipsy, so I have an Advil and big glass of water before bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — It's Saturday! D. and I meet my mom for an early brunch. We go to a place just around the corner from her hotel, and it's so cute. The food is definitely overpriced (what brunch place isn't?), but the Eggs Benedict is delicious. As are their mochas! My mom's conference wraps up this morning, so we say our goodbyes at the restaurant. It was a lovely visit. My mom pays for our breakfast despite our protests.
11 a.m. — I take the streetcar to pick up my bike, and D. heads home to get a head start on Christmas decorating. When I get home, we toss together a quick salad for lunch (mixed greens, smoked salmon, grapefruit wedges, slivered almonds, red onion, and balsamic vinaigrette). We spend the afternoon decking the halls of our little one-bedroom unit. We put Christmas sheets on our bed, trade out our regular dishes for Christmas ones, and add little touches of Christmas decor here and there. The only thing we're missing is a tree. We had a real one last year, but it came tied up, so we had no idea how big it was until we unbound it, and it took over half our living room. Our roommate was understandably annoyed. We look at fake trees online, but they're all so expensive. D. and I are both discouraged, since we love Christmas and were looking forward to putting up a tree today. We decide to hold off and check again on Black Friday.
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5:30 p.m. — We stop by the LCBO for a bottle of Finlandia vodka for our bar along with fun craft beers for the week. D. pays for this one. We also stop by the grocery store, so we can meal prep tomorrow. We pick up a red pepper, basil, bananas, strawberries, pancetta, tortillas, English muffins, chicken thighs, antibacterial wipes, molasses, almond milk, eggs, basmati rice, and Parmesan cheese. I get this one since D. got the booze. $78.02
6:15 p.m. — On the way home, I get a manicure. There's a place near us that offers shellac for $18! I get a light grey colour and tip the nail technician generously, because she was very gentle and precise. $25
7 p.m. — We haven't eaten since brunch, and we're both starving! D. and I make penne with Bon Appetit's easy vodka sauce and a side salad (the leftovers from lunch, minus the smoked salmon, because D. and I are both smoked salmon monsters and left no piece behind). We turn on Holiday In The Wild, which is an awful Netflix movie. D. and I finish it but agree it sucks. We then watch Home Alone and cuddle before heading to sleep.
Daily Total: $103.02
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