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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $65,000 Salary

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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.

This week a legal assistant who makes $65,000 per year and some of her money this week on a succulent.
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Occupation: Legal Assistant
Age: 28
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $65,000
Net Worth: $123,000 (This money is in various savings accounts back home in the UK, including premium bonds, a fixed-rate bond, and an easy-access savings account. I plan to move these funds over to Canada soon but haven't gotten around to it yet. I also have $4,000 in my English pension account, $4,250 in my Canadian savings account, $5,333 in a TFSA, $725 in a chequing account, $600 in my Wealthsimple account, and I just started to dip my toe into crypto and stocks.)
Debt: $700 (I owe this amount on my credit card. I'm waiting for my next paycheque to clear it.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/week): $1,804
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,650 (I moved into my own apartment last October. I was ready to leave roommates behind, and it turned out to be the best decision, especially since I started working from home.)
Renter's Insurance: $26
Phone: $75
Internet: $50
Spotify: $11.29
SoundCloud: $10 (I DJ on the side for fun, and my SoundCloud allows me access to all music.)
Apple Cloud Storage: $6
ClassPass: $55
Savings: $250

Annual Expenses
Toronto Bike Share: $99

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?
My family always hoped I would proceed to higher education (had I attended, I would've been the first person in my family to go), and I went to a very academic high school. The pressure to attend university was extremely high. I went through the steps of applying and was accepted, but deep down I knew it wasn't the right decision for me. Instead, I deferred my place, went out into the world, and began working in the film industry. One day, I will go to university. I know myself better now and have a clearer sense of the subjects I'm passionate about, and they are definitely not the subjects I would have studied 10 years ago.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
When I was 12, my dad took me down to the local building society (like a credit union here), and we set up a savings account for my allowance. From that day on, I loved saving money, seeing the balance increase, and knowing that it will help me when I'm ready to buy my first home one day.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was waitressing at my village's golf club. My dad helped me get the job because he DJ'd weddings there and got to know the catering staff. I was 14 and wanted extra spending money, but about 75% of my earnings would go into my savings account.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I was lucky that money was never a concern. My parents weren't frivolous with their spending, and we would never buy expensive clothes, or dine at fancy restaurants, but we were comfortable and didn't want for anything. I'm so grateful for that. They also saved for fantastic family holidays each year, so we were lucky to travel to places like Thailand, Malaysia, and Mauritius.

Do you worry about money now?
Money isn't a constant worry, but I'm always trying to save as much as I can!

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became mostly financially responsible at 19. I still lived with my dad at that point and was only paying expenses, but I could've afforded to have my own place. My parents would absolutely step in if ever I found myself in trouble.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, I received £10,000 (about $17,000 CAD) when my nan passed away a couple of years ago.
What brought you from the UK to Canada?
I spent a few summers working here, and every time I went back to the UK, I realized that I felt most at home in Canada. I made the move with no job and no idea what was going to happen. It's the scariest and most exciting thing I've done!

Day One

11 a.m. — Wow, that was a lazy morning in bed. It's rare that I don't have morning plans on a weekend, so I soak up the late start. I walk to the park to make the most of this beautiful fall weather. I promised to call my mum back home this morning, so we FaceTime for an hour in the park. We're planning her trip to Toronto to see me. Because of COVID, I haven't seen my mum in two years, which is the longest we've ever gone. I'm so ready to give her the longest hug and cherish every moment with her.
12 p.m. — I need caffeine! I head to Starbucks to pick up an oat milk latte (going for something different). My card is empty, so the app reloads $25, and I pay for my latte with that — gotta grab those stars! There's a reason this isn't my normal order; it's way too milky. But the caffeine is oh so good, and I drink it all quickly! $25
1 p.m. — I head over to the mall to return a couple of online orders to American Eagle ($96.24 back on my card). While I'm there, I stop by Shoppers and grab a new CeraVe nighttime moisturizer and two strawberry-scented deodorants that are on special. $18.16
3 p.m. — I head back to my favourite weekend spot, the local park, to catch some October sun, people watch, and read my book. I'm currently reading The Woman in the Window, and I'm totally hooked. I set a goal of reading 30 books this year, and after a slow patch in spring, I've made it to 19 books. Favourites include: It Ends With Us, Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life, and Three Women (would highly recommend the last one for raw and eye-opening true-life stories). My friends L., M., and T. join me in the park for a few drinks. Turns out, we need a couple more, so I run to the nearby LCBO and buy an extra for each of us. $12.40
5 p.m. — L. and M. come back to mine for dinner, and we pick up a few dishes to share at a local Thai spot. I pay through my Ritual account and put the total, $57.18, in Splitwise (the best money tracking app if you aren't using it), so I get two-thirds of it back. $19
10 p.m. — My friends head home. That was the perfect end to the weekend. I tidy up the apartment. I cannot go to bed unless my couch is neat and all my dishes are done! Then I do my evening skin-care routine, which includes Aveeno face wash applied with a PMD beauty scrubber, hyaluronic acid, Retinol by The Ordinary, and my CeraVe nighttime moisturizer.
Daily Total: $74.56

Day Two

7 a.m. — I get up early to go to Service Ontario to handle documents for work. I rent a bike from Toronto Bike Share, which has to be one of the best money-saving decisions I've made all year. It's $99 a year for unlimited access to city bikes, with a 30-minute riding limit each time you take one out. It saves me time and opens the distance I can travel without needing to jump on a streetcar or the bus.
9:30 a.m. — Success! That was much easier than I thought. Now it's time to get my morning Starbucks. I revert to my usual order: a venti Pike Place with oat milk (paid for with my card on the app). Then I head home and settle down at my WFH desk.
12:30 p.m. — It's lunchtime, and I cannot wait. I have some of the leftover Thai food from last night, and it's delicious. A good lunch really brightens my day.
5 p.m. — I'm doing my best to finish work on time. I've realized that the work will still be there tomorrow and having a good amount of time in the evenings is so important to me. I throw together a random dinner: two chicken-mango-jalapeno sausages from Costco (they'll make a few appearances this week) and leftover grilled corn salad. It's an odd combo but tasty.
8 p.m. — It's my favourite time of the week and my ultimate guilty pleasure: Bachelor in Paradise! It makes me laugh so hard. The drama is next-level, and I fold four loads of laundry while watching, so I don't feel so bad.
10 p.m. — It's time for my usual skin-care routine. Tonight, I add The Ordinary rosehip oil to seal in the hydration.
Daily Total: $22

Day Three

8 a.m. — Up and at 'em! I'm off to Starbucks for my usual (I redeem points on my account).
10:30 a.m. — Wow, that was a great first hour of work, but then the motivation disappeared. I'm doing my best to not be too hard on myself. This has been a crazy year and not everything will always be perfect! I don't finish all of my coffee before I need to put in my Invisalign (best thing I did this year), so I put the leftover coffee in the fridge for tomorrow.
12 p.m. — I treat myself to sushi for lunch. It's been ages since I did this. I get a spicy salmon roll, a spicy tuna roll, miso soup, and salad via Ritual. $14.63
2 p.m. — Now I remember why I haven't had sushi in so long. I have awful stomach cramps, which happened last time, too. Note to self: speak to doctor about food intolerances.
5 p.m. — I was meant to use ClassPass credits for a barre workout tonight, but I'm not feeling up to it. I'm so disappointed. I call the studio to cancel my spot. The staff member is super kind and doesn't charge me the cancellation fee, so all I lose is the credit for that class. I take a nap to sleep off these cramps.
7 p.m. — Goodness me, I'm living an exciting life. I have a toasted bagel with peach jam from Niagara on the Lake (my favourite), then go to bed early. Today was not my day.
Daily Total: $14.63

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — A loud noise outside my apartment startles me awake. I slept terribly last night, so the struggle is real. I do my morning face routine, which consists of CeraVe daily SPF moisturizer, Supergoop! Glow Screen, and eyebrows and lashes using random drugstore products.
9 a.m. — I make an iced chai latte from the leftover Starbucks I had in my fridge, unsweetened vanilla oat milk, and Tazo chai concentrate (the best concoction I've discovered since working from home). I settle at my desk and the grind begins.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! I make wraps with Costco chicken sausage fried up with onion and yellow pepper, hot sauce, hummus, and leftover salad from the sushi takeout yesterday. They are chef's kiss!
5 p.m. — I do my work on the patio, watching people go by. This is one of my favourite ways to spend fall afternoons when working from home. My friend N. works close by and stops by on his way home.
6 p.m. — It's time to go on a walk. I plan out my loop, put my headphones in, and off I go. My first stop is Farm Boy to grab groceries for the rest of the week. My shop includes turkey-kale burgers, peppers, zucchini, pineapple, salad mix, mild salsa, and pita chips. I also stop in at the LCBO on my way home because tonight calls for a bottle of rosé! $36
8 p.m. — I make curry with shrimp, veggies, and the leftover Penang sauce from Sunday's takeout. Oh my, it's delicious.
11 p.m. — I should go to bed, but I'm distracted by TikTok videos, and they motivate me to get cleaning. I organize a few things around my apartment that have been bothering me. Where is this motivation when I need it first thing in the morning! I do my usual skin-care routine before settling down in bed to read. I take melatonin to ensure I get a good night's sleep.
Daily Total: $36

Day Five

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off. What a great sleep. Thank you, melatonin! I decide that I can get away with snoozing a little longer.
8:30 a.m. — Oops, that was longer than I'd planned. I quickly complete my morning makeup and head off for the short walk to get my standard Starbucks (paid for using the balance on the Starbucks app).
9 a.m. — I'm back at my desk and the emails begin. The morning flies by. We're interviewing someone new to join the team, and the meeting goes well.
1 p.m. — I'm on a half-day today, so work is done. I close my laptop and think about lunch. I roast pepper and zucchini, cook up quinoa, fry the last of the Costco chicken sausage, and have it with spring greens — it's so delicious!
2:30 p.m. — I have an orthodontist appointment for my Invisalign at 4:30 p.m. It's a beautiful day to walk down Queen West to browse stores and try to find a gift for K., one of my best friends whose birthday is next week. I don't find anything for her but I do, however, find a cute succulent and pot at one of the independent stores as I go along. $12.50
4:15 p.m. — Whoops. I browse too much and now I'm running late for my appointment! I jump on a city bike and pedal like crazy to make it on time.
6:30 p.m. — My appointment goes well. I'm very lucky that my mom paid for my Invisalign treatment because the cost is around $8,000, which covers all checkups. I'm nearly at the end and I'm so excited to finish! I stop in at Winners on the way back home and pick up a hoodie and T-shirt for K. ($45). I also grab a chicken arrabbiata pizza ($5) at Loblaws for dinner. I have no energy to cook tonight. $50
9 p.m. — It's been a lazy evening watching Manifest (I'm hooked), drinking my rosé, and browsing Amazon. I got a gift card from work recently and am strategizing what to buy: something sensible like a printer (I find I need one more often these days) or something fun, like new eye cream, a shacket, or books. I do my usual skin-care routine and head to bed by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $62.50

Day Six

9 a.m. — I'm up and ready for the last day of work before the weekend! Ritual is doing a $1 special on hot drinks, so I walk to a new coffee shop to try out the Americano. $1
12 p.m. — It's lunchtime, and I stop by the LCBO to pick the drinks I need for the weekend: peach and blackberry Muskoka Spirits sparkling waters and a couple of bottles of rosé. $41.05
3 p.m. — The weekend is so close, and work is slowing down for the day, so I move to my outdoor seating to people watch and work for the rest of the day. I buy a ferry ticket ready for my beach trip tomorrow. We've been so lucky with the good fall weather that it's still warm enough to go! $8.50
6 p.m. — Work is done, and I go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make cupcakes and sausage rolls for my friend's birthday tomorrow. I get sausages, frozen pastry, yogurt, eggs, and cream cheese. $26.51
10 p.m. — I've finally finished my crazy night in. I've made red velvet cupcakes, sausage rolls, and chicken pasta salad for my trip to the beach tomorrow, plus a chicken-quinoa veggie bowl for my dinner. Early to bed, ready for a big day.
Daily Total: $77.06

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I get up for a FaceTime call with my mum, then get ready for the day.
11:30 a.m. — I line up for the ferry and bike over to the beach. It's a beautiful day, and there's a great atmosphere on the island. It's K.'s birthday, so I pull out the snacks I prepared. We spend the day playing frisbee and drinking together.
7 p.m. — Totally dehydrated and tired, we jump on the ferry back to the city and stop by a friend's place for a BBQ. They bulk bought the food from Costco, and I bring some leftover drinks. It's so great to be able to enjoy dinner with all my friends.
10:30 p.m. — It's time to go home. I'm going up to my friend's cottage tomorrow, so I need to get to bed and pack a bag ahead of an early start!
Daily Total: $0
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