A Week In The Greater Toronto Area, ON, On A $55,000 Salary

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Today: a communications coordinator working in tech who makes $55,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a McFlurry.
Occupation: Communications Coordinator
Industry: Tech
Age: 23
Location: The Greater Toronto Area (I live in a suburb and commute into downtown Toronto 90 minutes each way.)
Salary: $55,000
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,706
Gender Identity: Woman
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my mom.)
Student Line of Credit: $300 (I graduated with $40,000 of debt and I've paid down about $20,000 of it since April 2018.)
Car Insurance: $243.37
Public Transit: $120 (I load a Presto card each month.)
Spotify: $9.99
Tinder Gold: $12
Audible: $14.95
Amazon Prime: $13
Netflix: $0 (I'm still on my mom's account.)
Ipsy: $0 (This is a beauty box subscription. My mom pays, and we share the items.)
Gym: $12.50 (It costs $350 for the year, but my work benefits cover $200, so I only pay the difference on a monthly basis.)

Day One

6 a.m. — I wake up early because I'm at my date's place, and he needs to leave for work. Lucky me, his apartment is next to a Starbucks, so I grab my grande iced cappuccino with lactose-free cold foam and light ice to go and head to the subway station. I'm working from home today but still need to be productive, hence the coffee. It takes me 40 minutes to get home. $6.16
10:30 a.m. — My cappuccino clearly didn't work, because I wake up from a two-hour nap and frantically rush to another Starbucks to get work done. I order a double-smoked bacon sandwich for breakfast (because I'm worth it!) and opt for an iced water instead of my usual $6 coffee. $5.82
4 p.m. — I'm getting hungry and consider driving down the street to my favourite bagel place for a lox and cream cheese sandwich. I usually have very little self-control, but I'm currently saving to move downtown and rent prices are not forgiving. Instead, I drive home and have a bowl of cereal. Thanks, Mom!
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8:30 p.m. — I'm not particularly hungry for dinner but I've been super-productive today so I treat myself. I drive to the nearest McDonald's drive-thru window, grab a snack-size Oreo McFlurry, and happily indulge in the parking lot. $3.65
Daily Total: $15.63

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — I'm running late for work. My phone died overnight, so my alarm(s) didn't go off, and I slept until 8:20 a.m., which is when I usually leave. As I start driving, my gas light comes on, but I ignore it and hope that I can make it to the subway station. I finally get into the parking lot at 9:20 a.m. and pay, then get on the subway toward downtown. $5
10:20 a.m. — I'm finally at work, and my boss is super-understanding. Thank God! I rarely buy breakfast, because our office kitchen is stocked with granola bars, cereal, and snacks. I grab a chocolate chip Clif Bar and get to work. I'm already thinking about lunch.
1 p.m. — We have catered lunches in the office, but today we're having a farewell lunch for someone on my team and we go to an Italian restaurant. We go all out with drinks, apps and individual pizzas. I have an Aperol Spritz and a burrata pizza. $40 (expensed)
3 p.m. — This day is going by so, so slow, and a colleague offers to pick up McFlurrys. Yes, I had a McFlurry yesterday but I deserve this one, too. $3.65
7 p.m. — I meet two of my best friends after work at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The gallery has introduced a new policy, so admission is free for anyone under 25 years old. I love free things! I don't have to worry about dinner because I scarfed down my leftover pizza from lunch before leaving the office.
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10 p.m. — We walk to the subway station, part ways, and I start my 90-minute journey home.
Daily Total: $8.65

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I leave my house, which should give me just enough time to get to work by 10 a.m. Living in the suburbs is just so much fun. I drive to the closest subway station, pay for parking again ($5), and hop on the subway. I nab my favourite seat and listen to an episode of the Girls Gotta Eat podcast for the entire train ride. $5
9:50 a.m. — My commute was short today: only an hour and 20 minutes! I'm proud of myself for getting to work on time, so I mobile-order my go-to Starbucks drink while I'm on the Queen Street streetcar. I pick up my iced cappuccino, walk to my office, grab a Clif bar from the kitchen, and start in on my emails. $6.16
2:30 p.m. — By now, I'm usually on my second coffee but I'm trying to save money. Keyword: trying. It's time for a one-on-one meeting with my boss. We walk to a coffee shop around the corner, and I order a chocolate chip cookie for $3.50. At least the cookie is a couple of bucks cheaper than my Starbucks order? $3.50
6 p.m. — The Toronto Facebook group, Bunz Home Zone, is poppin' as usual because the rental market here is insane. A couple of days ago, I set up a viewing for an available room in Liberty Village, and I'm meeting my potential roommates soon. The rent is $1,200 a month, and I'd live with two complete strangers. That's Toronto for a recent grad, I guess.
6:45 p.m. — The room is small but clean, and so is the condo. As much as I want to move out of my mom's house, the reality of how expensive it will be is hitting me. A shorter commute is tempting, but it'll take me so much longer to pay back my student loan if I move downtown. I think about this on my way home, mostly because my wireless earbuds are dead, and I can't listen to a podcast to distract myself.
Daily Total: $14.66

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up extra early today to curl my hair and go through what I know will be four or five outfits choices. Not only do we have a work party this evening (and I'm one of the planners), but we're having a photographer come to our office to take headshots (which I'm also co-ordinating). Unlike most days at a startup, we're getting fancy.
9 a.m. — I arrive at the subway station and pay for parking ($5). It's humid today, so I'm already sweating. I grab a cold water bottle ($1.50) and chug it on the subway. $6.50
9:50 a.m. — My commute is only an hour and 20 minutes, so I'm in a good mood. Today is going to be loooong, so I mobile-order my Starbucks drink and get on the streetcar. When I walk into Starbucks, it's PACKED and my drink isn't ready. Sad. I wait 10 minutes and walk to my office. $6.16
10 a.m. — I sit down at 10 a.m. on the dot and skip breakfast.
12:30 p.m. — I walk for a Starbucks strawberry-acai Refresher. It's super-sweet but exactly what I need on this humid summer day. Our catered lunch today is sandwiches and salad from my favourite place, so that lifts my spirits, too. $5.40
1:30 p.m. — The photographer arrives, and I spend the rest of the day co-ordinating headshots. It's been fun but so tiring, and I'm not even the one doing the photography! I have so much respect for creative entrepreneurs.
5:45 p.m. — Our summer party starts soon. I frantically call an Uber and corral my fellow party planners out of the office. $8 (expensed)
6:35 p.m. — We arrive a little late but nobody is here yet. Woo! We set up balloons and confirm our food and drink budget with the restaurant staff. We're good to go as people start rolling in. I love the adrenaline rush of planning an event, no matter how big or small. It's an open bar and there's TONS of food. Our team will be happy. I order my first gin and tonic of the night. $7 (expensed)
7:45 p.m. — I order red sangria. $13 (expensed)
8:30 p.m. — Everyone is having fun and we announce raffle prizes. It's an exciting part of the night and we raise money for a local charity. I'm winding down on drinking because I need to drive home later. I order a light beer to join a toast with everyone. $6.25 (expensed)
10 p.m. — I'm exhausted and more than ready to climb into bed. My commute home will take about one hour this time of night, so I down a glass of water at the bar and walk to the nearest subway station.
10:15 p.m. — This day is almost over. I can't wait. I jump on the subway and attempt to keep my eyes open by listening to Lizzo.
11:05 p.m. — Two minutes into my walk from the subway to my car, it starts drizzling outside. I continue at my leisurely pace, mostly because I'm too tired to walk faster. Lucky me, it starts POURING. I'm wearing a jean jacket, a flowy dress, and sneakers so I'm in no way prepared for a rainstorm. I pull my jean jacket over my head and pick up the pace, but it's futile. By the time I get to my car, my dress is dripping wet and my jean jacket is soaked. I look like I just went swimming. For some reason, I'm not surprised that my day would end like this.
11:30 p.m. — I immediately change into PJs, take off my makeup and forgo the rest of my skincare routine because I have to wake up in six hours.
Daily Total: $18.06

Day Five

8:50 a.m. — TGIF! My commute is always shorter on Fridays since the lovely folks of the GTA are actually out enjoying their summers. Fewer people on the road also means that I nab a closer spot in the parking lot! I pull out the Green P parking app while I walk to the subway entrance and pay for my parking ($5). I forgot to pay once and got a ticket, so I'm hyper-diligent about it now. I hop on a mostly empty subway car. $5
9:45 a.m. — To celebrate Friday (and because I'm starving), I order my usual Starbucks coffee ($6.16) AND a cream cheese everything bagel ($4.19) via Ritual. My favourite bagel place is on the way to work, and I used to buy a bagel five mornings a week. I've been pretty good about avoiding it lately. $10.35
12 p.m. — I don't know what comes over me, but I order a Pangoa bowl from Freshii. It's not even that healthy but it makes me feel superior to my Popeyes-eating friends. I take it outside to a shady area and enjoy my 15 minutes of fresh air while not enjoying my semi-healthy lunch. $10.44
1 p.m. — As if I haven't spent enough money today, I take a post-lunch break to grab a strawberry-acai Refresher from Starbucks. Tall, not grande, with light ice to maximize the value. I don't feel guilty buying my second drink of the day because it's Friday! $5.40
5:30 p.m. — My work wife and I are going to a speaker series at Slack HQ where entrepreneurial women will be telling stories about their biggest mistakes. We're not focusing at the moment, so we dip out early and grab a beer beforehand.
5:45 p.m. — When we get to the bar, we remember that they have the most delicious fries, so we order a basket to share. We gossip and break down the most recent Bachelor in Paradise drama. $13.67
6:30 p.m. — We arrive at the event and immediately head to the bar. I get white wine, my friend gets rosé. Then we circle back to the food counter. There are sliders! And meatballs! And dumplings! We load our mini plates (despite having just demolished a basket of fries) and find a place to sit. As we wait for the talks to begin, we chat with some other attendees. Everyone is super-nice. We learn how to add LinkedIn connections via QR code and marvel at technology until the organizer starts her intro. $30 (expensed)
9 p.m. — The first two speakers are wonderfully candid and inspiring, but we leave before the final one because we're both exhausted. We walk to the subway together and part ways. I can't wait to get home.
Daily Total: $44.86

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — My favourite Saturday routine is waking up early, scrolling through Instagram, scarfing a bowl of cereal while I watch Terrace House (currently: Opening New Doors), and promptly going back to sleep. So that's exactly what I do.
8:15 a.m. — I'm back in bed.
11:30 a.m. — After waking up from my three-hour cat nap, I actually start my day. I have to put gas in my car and do some chores before meeting my best friend for dinner tonight. I hop in the shower, throw on leggings and a baggy sweater, put some curling mousse in my damp hair, and head to the gas station.
12 p.m. — I got by without filling up my tank for a whole week. I put in $40. My 2009 sedan could use some love. She doesn't have rims on her tires, for example, but that's definitely not my priority. $40
12:15 p.m. — I'm back home and throw a load of laundry in, tidy up my bathroom, fold my last load of laundry (that has been sitting in the hamper for five days), and paint my nails while listening to Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb on Audible. I love it. It's from the perspective of a therapist so it makes me feel like I'm seeing into the mind of my own therapist, whom I adore! I may or may not plop on my bed and scroll social media in between chores, too.
5:30 p.m. — I meet my best friend at a nearby sushi spot for an early dinner because we're seeing the movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark later. She just got back from a month-long trip, so we have A LOT to catch up on: She got a tattoo while she was away; I deleted and reloaded all my dating apps five times over. She spent time with her cousin's new baby; I went to New York City for a weekend. It's so nice to see her. I treat. $40.28
7:15 p.m. — I'm not usually interested in scary movies, but we used to read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in our elementary school library, so this is a momentous occasion for us. She insists on buying our tickets because I got dinner.
9 p.m. — After the movie, we go to a nearby McDonald's to debrief. I order a snack-size Oreo McFlurry and grilled chicken snack wrap. The movie was creepy but not as scary as I'd expected, which is a relief. We're impressed that the film stayed so true to the books. $6.19
2 a.m. — My eyes are barely open, and I dive straight into bed. My friend and I haven't hung out in a hot minute, so when the restaurant closed, we moved to her car and sat in the parking lot talking for three hours. Because that's what you do in the suburbs.
Daily Total: $86.47

Day Seven

11:30 a.m. — I wake up after a nine-and-a-half-hour sleep. I feel like an old lady but I rarely stay out until 2 a.m., so last night took a toll on me. I don't have plans until tonight. My best friend and I have planned a surprise dinner for her boyfriend and we're planning to go downtown around 4 p.m. I chill in bed for another 30 minutes or so, then have a bowl of Vector cereal while I watch Terrace House.
1 p.m. — I don't want to rush so I start getting ready now. I blow-dry and curl my hair, which takes a good 40 minutes. I already know that I'm going to flip-flop between at least four different outfits and I'll need to try each on a minimum of two times, so I'm budgeting time for that as well.
2:30 p.m. — I'm ready in 90 minutes, so I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson while waiting for my friends to pick me up. I feel obligated to finish it because I'm one-third of the way through, but I really, really hate it.
4:30 p.m. — We arrive at the subway station and start making our way downtown. My BFF's boyfriend has no idea what we have planned!
7:30 p.m. — After exploring a part of Toronto we haven't spent much time in, we make it to the restaurant. At my recommendation, we chose an Izakaya — my favourite in the city — and 10 of our friend's closest friends are waiting for us. My BFF and I have known most of these people for eight-plus years, some even longer, so it's nice to be reunited. The surprise goes well! We order sharing dishes and each do two rounds of sake bombs — so fun! The staff isn't super-keen on splitting the bill, especially between such a large group, but we convince them to do it in groups of four. I pay for my group's via credit. The total is $166 after tip, but two of my friends pay me back on the spot, so I leave the restaurant having paid only $86. I'm not concerned about the other $40; my best friend will pay me back eventually. $86
10 p.m. — Instead of taking the subway back, one of our high-school friends drives us to our parked car. We use the 25-minute drive to catch-up, and I'm relieved to not take the subway.
11 p.m. — I get home, take off my makeup and hop straight into bed. I need to wake up at 7:30 a.m. for work tomorrow.
Daily Total: $86
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