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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $120,000 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.

Today: a marketing and communications manager who makes $120,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on pancakes.

Editor's Note: This is a follow-up to a September 2019 Money Diary entitled "A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $90,000 Salary." You'll want to read that first, here.
Occupation: Marketing & Communications Manager
Age: 33
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $120,000 (plus a bonus of up to 15%)
Net Worth: $135,015 ($22,910 in emergency savings, $2,000 in a YOLO account, $27,865 in a TFSA, $47,090 in an RRSP, and $35,150 in LIRA)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $3,325
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,417 a month (This includes rental insurance. I live in downtown Toronto with my sister in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo. I love it!)
Internet: $55 (my half)
Phone: $90
Bank Fees: $15
Spotify: $3
Life Insurance: $17.09
Donation Account: $200 (This is a fairly new expense that I actually learned from another Money Diary! I used to donate sporadically here or there, but I realized that if I organized this as its own fund, I could better structure my donations to different organizations.) 
Savings & Investments: $1,230 (I just calculated that I saved an average of 37% of my income per month in 2021.)
Family Support: $275 (I contribute this amount, as do my siblings, toward my mom’s monthly expenses, ranging from self-care activities, unexpected home expenses, dining out with friends, etc. My mom decides what she does with it.)
How has your life and financial situation changed since your last Money Diary?
Firstly, I jumped $30,000 in salary at a new job, so we love that for me. I'm so proud of my negotiation skills. I cannot stress enough how important it is to negotiate during the interview process – future you will love you for it! I also put a hold on purchasing a property. I realized I shouldn’t buy unless I'm prepared to stay in a property for at least five years. It’s not a no; it’s a not right now. In my previous diary, I also mentioned matching with M. on Tinder. We got pretty serious over these past two years, but unfortunately, we just broke up. Sighhhh, millennial dating.

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?
Not really. My mom was fairly hands-off when it came to our education, but she was always supportive of my and my siblings' dreams. We all pursued post-secondary education of our own volitions. I did a bachelor's degree, and I'm the least educated person in my family! I funded it through student loans and working each year. It was tough. I worked two jobs while attending school full-time (10/10 do not recommend).

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't discuss money aside from the basic notion of frugality. I understood money was tight and not to ask for much. When I got my first credit card, my mom found one of my maxed-out statements, and I got it together after that lovely conversation.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a movie theatre. It was a blast, although I was making $6 an hour. I used my income for pocket money, to purchase phone cards (#TBT), and monthly bus passes. I have six siblings, and we had a sweet tradition in my household: Once you got your first paycheque from your first job, you threw a pizza party for the family. It was bittersweet when the youngest family member had her pizza party.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, I did. I understood money was extremely tight and tried not to ask for things. However, my mother and older siblings did an excellent job of sheltering the younger kids. It was a protective environment. We were BROKE broke, but I have memories of picnics in parks and movie nights at home. I also quickly learned about the various social safety nets available to people with lower socioeconomic statuses, allowing me to partake in numerous extracurricular activities, like tennis, karate, basketball, swimming, squash, and ballet. That was a lifesaver.

Do you worry about money now?
Not in the traditional sense. I make a decent income and have fairly low expenses. I do worry about the larger, macro issues: affordable housing, raising children, and taking care of my mom when she's older.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 25 when I left my mom's house. I don't really have a financial safety net, but when you have six siblings, you do have options should things go south. I know they would support me.

Day One

9 a.m. — Upon awakening, I do my skin-care routine: wash my face with water (no cleanser), then it's Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum, Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Moisturizing Cream, Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40 PA, and Maybelline Baby Lips (one of the best lip balms ever made). Then I drag my soul to my home desk for a big virtual budget meeting with senior leaders. It goes very well. I make an iced coffee, and because it's Halloween week, I enjoy a scary ghost doughnut from Bloomer's that was delivered yesterday.
2 p.m. — I take a break from work and head to the front desk to pick up a package. (Note: Any time I am outside of my home, I'm fully vaxed, waxed, and always masked.) My brother sent me a pair of boots for my recent birthday. They fit perfectly and give off some Matrix vibes! I eat a banana, hummus, and spicy potatoes from Paramount that I ordered last night, then spend the rest of my afternoon in meetings and snacking on nuts and berries.
7 p.m. — I finally wrap up work after a little emergency and, man, ya girl is starving. I make roasted veggies with salmon and have the rest of the hummus from earlier. I have Pringles for dessert, call my mama, and watch YouTube videos (favourites include Lydia Elise Millen, Ben Felix, Patricia Bright, The Plain Bagel, and Graham Stephan, who discusses finance and investing), then call it a night.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9 a.m. — It's hard getting up this morning, but I slept really well. For some reason, I have not had toast in a long time, which feels wrong? I make some with PB and homemade blueberry jam to go with my coffee. Exceptional.
12 p.m. — Urgh, one of the senior partners is being douchey for no reason. I make an egg salad sandwich and have a banana as I rage pace in my apartment talking shit about him in my head. I also text some friends about their upcoming visit. I can't wait to get into some wholesome shenanigans! Brace yourself because I will be spending frivolously.
5 p.m. — I do an IsaWelly Pilates workout and crack up because she fully admits to being hungover and will be struggling during the workout. She's hilarious. After a hot shower, I make a salad. Yes, a big-ass salad. It includes a veggie patty, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, shredded carrot, avocado, and a honey-Dijon dressing I whip up. I watch Succession while eating and laugh at how the Rogers family is pretty much going through its own Canadian succession.
7 p.m. — I'm celebrating the one true holiday this weekend: Halloween. I couldn't find any of the pieces for my Star Trek costume so I pull out a glue gun and say a prayer. I'm impressed with myself, but that's enough hot glue for the night. I catch up with my brother on the phone and help him set a study plan for an upcoming licensing exam. I watch another episode of Succession and have chamomile tea. Later, I do my evening skin care, which ends with Vaseline to seal in all my products. My skin is incredibly moisturized and, no, petroleum jelly doesn't break me out. Then it's lights out (metaphorically speaking because the brightness on my phone as I scroll through Instagram is very much lit).
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up feeling refreshed again. What is this magical gift? I make coffee and oatmeal with a banana, PB, hemp hearts, and crushed walnuts. Like Arthur's dad said, oatmeal sticks to your ribs. I don't exactly know what that means, but I think it is about satiety. I log on to work.
12 p.m. — I'm in meetings for the rest of the afternoon so I make avocado toast beforehand (so millennial). After work, I do a weight training workout, grab a quick shower and an apple, then head out to meet a friend for our weekly stroll.
6 p.m. — On my way back from the walk, I stop by the bank to deposit a cheque from my landlord for repairs. It's been a while since I've deposited a cheque. It feels very adult. I stop by the grocery store while chatting with Mama. I'll be eating out a lot this weekend so I don't get much: a couple of apples, plums, Cajun chicken tenders, and chicken salad ($19.64). I also head to the pharmacy for costume essentials — contact solution, nail polish, a couple of lipsticks, and Ritz crackers, the bestest of crackers ($47.61). $67.25
7 p.m. — I make a side salad with the leftover salmon from Tuesday and roast peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and onion. I have peanut brittle for dessert and add the final touches on my costume. This is definitely an A-for-effort situation where I tried really, really hard. Whatever, it's the spirit that counts, right? Skin care, then goodnight!
Daily Total: $67.25

Day Four

8 a.m. — Happy Friday, y'all! I have a light day today, and my friends are arriving from out of town. We're doing a charcuterie/games/movie night at my other friend's place. After this past year, this is so special to me. I make a pumpkin spice blend and stir it into the maple syrup I drizzle on my waffle. No one is safe from pumpkin spice. I put my head down to work.
12 p.m. — I ride my stationary bike and chug a ton of water afterward. I'm trying to consciously drink more water. I find it tough to do when it's cold out. I'm styling my hair tonight so I use a deep conditioning mask in the shower and dry brush my body after the shower. I love dry brushing — I've seen a significant improvement in cellulite and lumps on my thighs ever since starting. I'm sold. I then make avocado toast. Am I basic? My mom asks me to order vitamins for her. $52.25
5 p.m. — I chew on cheese and cucumbers while I finally bite the bullet and get a subscription to The New York Times app ($2.26). I've finished everything that I need for work and go online to order groceries for next week ($77.70). $79.96
9 p.m. — Everyone is here! I order an Uber XL to go to our friend's place, and the price is insane, but I remember it's Halloween weekend and c'est la vie. We have an awesome night! $48.96
Daily Total: $181.17

Day Five

10 a.m. — We sleep in and head out for brunch at 1 Kitchen. The food is delicious! I'm a sweet and savoury breakfast person so I convince a friend to go halfsies with me on a pancake/omelet scenario (she treats). We stop by Soma Chocolatemaker, and I pick up truffles (another friend treats).
1:30 p.m. — The others go shopping, but I go home and clean my place. During a break, I come across a GoFundMe for someone who needs surgery and I donate. $52.50
7 p.m. — My friends and I take an Uber to Canada's Wonderland ($46.28 for the Uber; I bought my ticket last week) where I realize that I haven't eaten and am desperate for sustenance. The lineups are insane, so I pick the least appetizing place and get a bottle of water and a dry sandwich ($18.63). The audacity. We walk through the attractions, and after 16-year-old hits on me, we all realize we are 15 years too old to be here. We leave expeditiously (someone else pays for the Uber back). $64.91
Daily Total: $117.41

Day Six

11 a.m. — We have brunch at Amal Restaurant in Yorkville. I have delicious orange-honey pancakes with cardamom (10/10 recommend). $36
2 p.m. — My friend and I head to the Ritz. I'm buying myself a belated birthday massage and facial. I haven't had either since the pandemic started, and they are pure bliss. My friend and I agree to do this every year going forward. The total is $707.40 including a tip. My benefits will reimburse $125 for the registered massage therapy. $582.40
6 p.m. — I grab a big-ass salad with chicken, cranberries, croutons, almonds, tomato, red onion, and lemon–poppy seed dressing. $16.66
8 p.m. — I take an edible, have chamomile tea, and watch Love Life for the rest of the night.
Daily Total: $635.06

Day Seven

8 a.m. — The excellent sleep continues. I'm on top of the world. I brush my teeth and wash my face with water but skip my morning skin care because I'll be working out in a couple of hours. I make a coffee, grab a plum, and log onto work.
12 p.m. — My workout consists of 45 minutes of weights and some stretching. I'm going to be sore because I haven't worked out in a few days! I grab a quick shower, skin care up, and make a tuna salad sandwich with baby carrots on the side.
4 p.m. — I wrap up for the day and remember my brother's birthday is next week. I get him a subscription to a hot sauce of the month club. It's a thing for him. I make pasta with turkey meatballs for dinner and spend the rest of the evening working on an abstract painting. I'm incredibly bad at painting, but it helps me to unplug, think, and work things out in my head. $119
Daily Total: $119
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