A Week in Toronto, ON, On A $101,000 Salary

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Today: a management consultant working in data and analytics who makes $101,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bagel and lox.
Occupation: Management Consultant
Industry: Data & Analytics
Age: 25
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $101,000 (I also get a bonus, which varies from year to year. This year, it should be between $10,000 and $15,000.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $3,412.88
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,750 (I live alone in a studio condo.)
Student Loans: $0 (I'm extremely fortunate to have had tuition covered by scholarships and my parents.)
Tenant Insurance: $28.35
Internet: $65.54
Phone: $0 (My phone bill is usually $63.46, but since I'm working in Dallas, TX during the week, I can expense it.)
Health Insurance: $2.67 (My insurance is mostly covered by work. I pay a little extra for additional dental benefits.)
Hydro: $40
Apple Storage: $0.99
Curology Subscription: $32.85 (Curology skin care is only available in the U.S., so I ship it to a colleague's place and pick it up when I'm stateside.)
Netflix & Apple Music: $0 (I use my boyfriend's accounts.)
RRSP: $336.66 (Work matches half this amount for an additional $168.33. This is taken out of my paycheque.)
Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP): $841.67 (This is taken out of my paycheque, too.)
Savings: Anything I don't spend goes into investments. Currently, I have $300,000 across various accounts. My parents put up a little over half of this to help me with a down payment. Right now, most of my savings are in low-interest, high-liquidity investments, since I'm condo-hunting.
Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $119

Day One

3 a.m. — The fire alarm goes off. It's incessant, and I've never hated drunk kids coming home from the club more.
10 a.m. — I wake up begrudgingly. My boyfriend, Z., is already up. He's much more of a morning person than I am. Z. lives a couple of hours outside of Toronto and comes in almost every weekend. It's a good cadence, since I'm not in Toronto during the week anyway, and we can spend most of the weekend together. I shower, and he grabs coffee for us and breakfast for himself. I make Chinese rice porridge with pickled vegetables; it's a super-simple and tasty breakfast.
11 a.m. — Aritzia is having an online sale, and I'm in desperate need of work pants that are also plane-friendly. On my first travel project, I was much more diligent about wearing my work clothes on the plane, but the flight was just an hour long. Toronto to Dallas is about three and a half hours, and I'm either uncomfortable for the flight, or I'm changing in airport washrooms that are sus. I spot a cute grey blazer and white silk cami and add them to my cart. My order ends up getting cancelled as soon as I place it due to a glitch, and I take it as a sign that I need to stop shopping.
12 p.m. — I'm going to a friend's birthday party later tonight, and, in anticipation of being hungover tomorrow, I crack down on work. I've got an important meeting with a client's data science team on Monday, and I need to prep and research.
3 p.m. — Z. hits the gym. I should go with him, but my thoughts are all over the place. Instead, I stay in and practise piano. I used to play competitively, and, while I don't miss practising five hours a day, I do miss deep learning and feeling like I've mastered something. My biggest gripe about work lately is that I can spend a full day in back-to-back half-hour meetings, each about something drastically different than the one before. Playing piano puts me in a good headspace and grounds me.
5 p.m. — I make Adobo chicken with coconut rice, bok choy, and red cabbage salad for dinner. Z. does a run for booze for the birthday party, and toilet paper and paper towels.
7 p.m. — Z. and I watch Rhythm + Flow while I get ready. I put on a full face of makeup: BB cream from IT Cosmetics, concealer from NARS, blush from Milk Makeup, brow pencil from NYX, eyeshadow from Pat McGrath, eyeliner from Kat Von D, mascara from Maybelline, and lip balm from Burt's Bees.
8 p.m. — We take an Uber to the birthday party, and Z. pays. I love having a big event on the weekend. That way, I can see most of my friends in one setting. Travelling projects make it difficult to keep in touch with friends during the week, when I'm not in Toronto, but they still require so much socializing with co-workers, so I value my alone time on the weekends. Striking the right balance is easier when everyone is in the same place.
2 a.m. — My eyes are getting droopy, which is always the first sign that I'm ready to go. Z. and I take an Uber back to my place, and I pay. In the peace and quiet of home, I realize I'm more inebriated than I thought. I wash my face while we finish the last episode of Rhythm + Flow. We snuggle into bed around 3 a.m. $11.89
Daily Total: $11.89

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — My body wakes up earlier than my brain is ready for, and I curse my small bladder. A tiny and subconscious part of me knows I can stay up and have a productive day, but my piercing headache is yelling a big, fat Hell No. I crawl back to bed.
11:30 a.m. — Z. is already up watching football. The headache is still there, but it has dulled. I lie in bed and FaceTime with my best friend, who lives in London. I visited her earlier this year, and we went to Jordan and Lebanon together, which was an incredible trip. We catch up on our love lives and our thoughts on the upcoming election. What I treasure most about our friendship is how easily we can go from frivolous topics to substantive ones, while maintaining the honesty that only comes with deep comfort and time. Also, she puts me in stitches every time we talk. I forget about the headache completely.
12:30 p.m. — I hop into the shower while Z. gets us coffee. I run through my skin-care routine, and put on light makeup (BB cream, blush, eyeliner, mascara). Z.'s family lives a few hours outside of Toronto, and we're going to their place for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm excited to see their dog.
2 p.m. — Traffic is insane. We make a pit stop at Wendy's for a small chili to curb my hunger until dinner. My realtor calls me while we're on the road and lets me know that the place I saw a couple of days ago has gone to another buyer. I feel sad, but I've been rejected so many times at this point that the sting has mostly faded by now, so I shrug it off. $2.30
6 p.m. — Dinner with Z.'s family is delicious. I've met most of his family many times but have only interacted briefly with his grandparents. There's an awkward-turned-hysterical moment when his grandfather asks me if I know Hirohito, and the way he phrases it confuses me. Turns out, his grandfather has spent the dinner thinking that I'm Japanese (I'm ethnically Chinese), and he apologizes profusely. The quirks of interracial relationships!
9 p.m. — It's getting late, and we still have to drive back to Toronto, because I'm flying out tomorrow. We make it home in record time, and I shower and pack. I've become an efficient packer, so we're in bed a little after midnight.
Daily Total: $2.30

Day Three

5 a.m. — It's too early for me to physically sit up, so I literally roll myself out of bed. I wash my face, and we're out the door. I'm mad that I forgot I technically have today off — it's not Thanksgiving in the U.S., but I'm still on Canadian payroll — and my flight was already booked by the time I realized. Z. is driving me today; he drives me to the airport most Mondays, and I marvel at that. It makes sense since the airport is on the way home for him, but it's still too early to be on the road. I offered to let him take my condo keys today, so he could sleep in, but he refused. I know he does it so he can stay over on Sundays and spend more time with me, and I'm so appreciative.
6:05 a.m. — I get to the airport, breeze through security and customs, and grab a water and a Clif bar for the flight. On travel days, I get a per diem of $82. It's an allowance each day, regardless of how much I actually spend on food and drinks, so I usually end up pocketing some of it. I spend half the flight reviewing an analyst's spreadsheet, and the other half listening to the Freakonomics podcast. ($8.34 expensed)
9:30 a.m. — I land in Dallas. I gain an hour, which is nice, but it means I've been up since 4 a.m., Dallas time, and I still have a full day of work ahead. I need coffee badly, so I grab a flat white at Starbucks ($6.23) before calling an Uber to the office. My driver is amazing, and I've had a lot of weirdos in Dallas, so I add a generous tip. ($49.33). ($55.56 expensed)
1:45 p.m. — A meeting over lunch means I eat late today. I opt for a food-court salad, which is a spring mix with tomatoes, cucumbers, cranberries, feta, chipotle chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette. ($15.66 expensed)
4:15 p.m. — I do a coffee run to sync with colleagues and refuel. Exhaustion hits at this time of day, but I still have a couple of hours to push through. I get a drip coffee, which I hope is enough to hold me over. ($4.10 expensed)
7 p.m. — A good chunk of the team has flown in today, and we're all beat, so we call it a day. I go out for dinner with a couple of folks from the strategy team. We were aiming for tapas, but the restaurant is closed for repairs, and we end up at a cute bar nearby. They're playing a football game, so the place is rambunctious, but it's the perfect environment for winding down. We share a charcuterie board, and I order salmon and a glass of white wine. A manager graciously covers the charcuterie and the Ubers to and from dinner. ($33.80 expensed)
9 p.m. — I check in at the hotel, and I've been upgraded! The suite is larger than my condo, which makes me mad about Toronto real-estate prices. Everything is bigger and cheaper in Texas, I guess. I shower immediately; I always feel so gross on travel days. Expenses are due tomorrow, and I don't want to spend time during the work day scrambling for receipts, so I finish them tonight while running a couple of queries in the background.
10 p.m. — I should sleep, and I'm exhausted, but I allow myself one episode of Criminal Minds before dozing off.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7 a.m. — I'm still not a morning person. I splash water on my face, cleanse with micellar water, and moisturize.
8 a.m. — I quickly eat a complimentary breakfast at the hotel lounge. The coffee is no good, though, so I grab one on the way to the office. It's ridiculously expensive for brewed coffee, so I make a note to avoid cafés attached to hotels in the future. ($6.19 expensed)
12 p.m. — Plans for what is supposedly the best barbecue in Dallas are derailed by last-minute meetings, so the team opts for Chick-fil-A instead, which is definitely one of the best things about America (along with Shake Shack). ($9.05 expensed)
3 p.m. — There are snacks in the lunchroom, and I scarf a Snickers to keep me going until dinner.
7 p.m. — My manager asks me to walk with him back to the hotel, so we can align on expectations for this project. I'm nervous, because I've been feeling out of my depth lately due to the complexity of this project, but he just wants to discuss my role and career goals. I work in a high-expectations, high-pressure environment, and I'm grateful for the coaching and support.
7:30 p.m. — I meet up with my friend, T., for dinner. We only work together peripherally, but she's quickly becoming a good friend. She recommends a fast-casual place where they stuff salad into carved out baguettes. I go for a Greek chicken salad baguette, broccoli soup, and a cookie for later. ($22.74). We trade old recruiting stories over dinner and muse about what it would be like to go on The Bachelor. On the topic of reality shows, we both want to catch the democratic debate, so I call us an Uber back to the hotel ($9.03). ($31.77 expensed)
11 p.m. — I shower and get a head start on packing anything I'm not using tomorrow. I remember I still have that cookie and go to bed content.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7 a.m. — I'm thankful that I fly home early this week. I hit my morning routine and finish packing.
8 a.m. — I grab a café au lait on my way out. I know I just vowed to avoid hotel cafés, but I'm running late, and there's nothing else on the way, so I resign myself to overpriced coffee. ($5.14 expensed)
2 p.m. — Stacked meetings and priority deliverables force another late lunch today, and I'm so hungry. I order sushi, and there's a $3-off promo, so I get a spicy tuna roll and miso soup. It's pretty good, but Asian food in Dallas isn't in the same league as Asian food in Toronto. ($9.01 expensed)
5 p.m. — I leave and call an Uber to the airport ($56.93). On my way there, I book my flight and hotel for next week. Almost all the hotels are booked for some reason (conference?), but I manage to get a decent rate: $738.37 for the flight and $953.94 hotel. ($1,749.24 expensed)
5:45 p.m. — Even though I had a late lunch, I'm still hungry, so I have pasta at the airport before boarding my flight. I usually like to work on flights, because they offer three uninterrupted hours, but I'm having trouble connecting to the in-flight Wi-Fi. I watch Criminal Minds instead (Canadian Netflix doesn't have this show, so I download a boatload when I'm in the US). ($27.72 expensed)
11 p.m. — I take a taxi from the airport, which gets me home just before midnight. I shower and pass out, happy to be back in my own bed but missing hotel pillows. ($68 expensed)
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up, respond to emails, and set my out-of-office message. I'm taking today off, because I worked on Thanksgiving, and I have a gynecologist appointment later anyway. I wash my face and go back to sleep for 30 minutes.
9 a.m. — I get up for real and get ready for the day. I'm meeting my realtor later this morning for showings, and the first one is close to a cute café that I love. I take the streetcar there (using a prepaid Presto card) and order a flat white and lox bagel ($17.35). I eat and read The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide To Success In Business And Life. I took a couple of game-theory courses in university and loved them, so I'm trying to reintroduce myself to old concepts and learn more. $17.35
11:30 a.m. — I meet my realtor, and we do a round of showings, but none of the places scream "the one." I feel bad for my realtor, because I'm probably the pickiest client he's had in a while. We almost closed on a place last week, but I backed out because the condo corporation was about to enter litigation. It's been a stressful few months of searching, in part because of my pickiness, in part because the market moves so quickly, and I'm not always around for showings when properties come out. But hey, if I'm about to drop $600,000 on a shoebox, it better be the perfect shoebox. My realtor drives me home, and I have half an hour before I have to leave for my appointment, so I read more of my book.
2 p.m. — I take an Uber to my appointment, because I have to take a work call en route. I'm off today and not taking client calls, but I've been working on a report about how artificial intelligence can be used to elevate marketing. There's an opportunity to partner with a client, and I definitely can't miss the meeting. It runs over time, and we agree to schedule a follow-up. $12.42
2:30 p.m. — I wait at the doctor's office for close to an hour, but I don't mind. I listen to an episode of Hidden Brain while playing Wordscapes on my phone.
3:30 p.m. — The doctor calls me in, and we discuss my reproductive health. I've been having irregular periods and experiencing pain during intercourse, and my IUD also expires in a few months. She gives me a pap smear and pelvic exam. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong that she can physically observe, so she suggests I avoid painful sex positions for three months to let any irritation heal, and come back for a check-up and new IUD. I laugh at the idea of telling Z. he has to do all the work for the next three months, and I'm relieved there doesn't seem to be anything serious. Z.'s been worried, too, so I text him to let him know it's all good. He jokes that he's going to have amazing abs.
5 p.m. — It's a 45-minute walk home, but it's not too chilly out, and I'm bundled up, so I go for it. I need to exercise and run a couple of errands anyway. I stop by a drugstore for a three-pack of Burt's Bees lip balm, cotton pads, and baby wash to clean my makeup brushes ($21.49). I stop at Sobeys to grab groceries for the weekend: salmon, chicken thighs, asparagus, mushrooms, peaches, broccoli, pasta, milk, Alfredo sauce, a small bag of chips, and gum ($50.16). Then I go to Canada Post to Xpresspost my ballot. I stupidly forgot to vote in advance, and I'll be in Dallas on election day ($14.03). I also pick up a birthday card for Z. ($8.38). $94.06
6 p.m. — Z.'s birthday is this Sunday. He's so difficult to shop for, because he's so practical, and I've been waffling over what to get him. I know he's never been to the west coast and wants to go, so I decide on taking him to San Francisco. I write the gift in the card, because I don't want to book anything without confirming that he can get the time off. I plan to use miles to cover his flight and hotel points to cover the stay. I'll also likely be staffed in Dallas until summer, so I can take a flex trip from there. Company policy permits travel to a location other than our home office on the weekends. Planning this out reminds me that I'm travelling to New York for Halloween weekend to visit my friend. I confirm with her that I can stay at her place and promptly book my ticket. ($541.96 expensed)
7:30 p.m. — I make honey-dijon salmon, asparagus, and rice for dinner, plus a second portion for lunch tomorrow. It's rare that I cook, and grocery shopping can be tough, since I'm travelling so much. A lot of food used to go to waste, so now I try to buy only what I'll need over the next day or two. I watch Explained while I eat, and the episode on the water crisis gives me existential panic. I've been trying to eat less red meat, but Shake Shack is such a weakness.
11 p.m. — Time to pamper myself with a face mask, which I follow with the rest of my skin-care routine. I curl up in bed and try to suppress my Shake Shack cravings.
Daily Total: $123.83

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I wake up earlier than usual to get ahead of missed emails from yesterday. Thankfully, they're not too bad, so I shower, run my skin-care routine, and brew coffee.
11:15 a.m. — I quickly eat the second portion of salmon for lunch. I have a meeting at the office, so I try to get ready while eating but just end up slowing myself down.
12 p.m. — I take the streetcar to the office. The internal meeting goes well, and Fridays are always a good time to connect with coworkers I don't get to see during the week. I relax and meet up with an old friend from school who joined the firm a few months ago. I was recruited out of undergrad, and she's worked at a few places already, so it's interesting to learn more about her experiences.
5 p.m. — I walk to a coffee shop to meet a student I'm mentoring through my alma mater's mentorship program. Overall, I don't think I had the best college experience with respect to my major, which has a self-aggrandizing and hyper-competitive culture. This is my fourth mentee, and I'm saddened by how similar her experience is to mine. We spend most of the time discussing her various academic pursuits and career goals. We touch briefly on parental expectations, and it turns darker when we pivot to the recent suicides at our university. I remember the stress of being a student well, and I hope I can provide at least some guidance and relief for her. We make plans to meet again, and I cover coffee for us. $10.18
6 p.m. — I stop by a LCBO to restock on alcohol: elderflower liqueur, Freixenet bubbly, and apple soju. I take the TTC home, and Z. is already waiting in the lobby. He's a welcome sight. I wrap up work quickly and cook us fettuccine Alfredo for dinner. $39.40
8 p.m. — Z. and I are meeting up with friends at a show to unofficially celebrate his birthday. We skip the pre-game, since it's in the opposite direction of the concert venue, plus he wants to go to the gym. While he's gone, my friend texts me and tells me to buy tickets to a Halloween event in New York City that's happening during my visit. This year's theme is Hitchcock, and I have exactly zero ideas. When Z. gets back, we play Picolo (a drinking game) by ourselves. It's surprisingly fun with just two people, and I manage to capture a hilarious video of Z. imitating a slug. I send it to all our friends. I'm nothing if not an embarrassing girlfriend. $150.15
10 p.m. — We chug our drinks, and Z. calls an Uber to the venue. I hand the bouncer my ID, and he asks if I've had anything to drink. I answer honestly with bubbly and soju, and he tells me I'm too inebriated, and to come back in 30 minutes. I'm shocked, because I've never been turned away at the door before, and I don't think I'm that drunk. Z. is confused, too, and I immediately feel guilty that this might stop him from enjoying his birthday celebration.
10:15 p.m. — We go to an Indian restaurant close by and order naan, a mango shake, and water. Z. seems fine but doesn't eat much, and I apologize repeatedly for potentially ruining his birthday night. He's good-natured about it and laughs at the situation. We go back to the venue to give it another shot, and we're let in! I'm given a more aggressive pat-down than I've had at any airport, but I'm too happy to care. $9.37
10:45 p.m. — We greet our friends, and they tease me about the bouncer mishap. It's still the opening act, and the music isn't too loud, so we catch up for a while. I order a round of drinks and cut myself off for the night. $27.31
2 a.m. — We dance the night away, but the show itself is kind of boring and the DJ is playing repetitive beats. Z. wants to go home, so I call an Uber. When we get home, I reluctantly wash my face, and we collapse into bed. I promise him Sunday — his actual birthday — will be filled with football and no complaining, then we drift to sleep happily. $12.49
Daily Total: $248.90
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