A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $63,000 Salary

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Today: a project officer working in the non-profit sector who makes $63,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Birdie by Tracey Lindberg.
Warning: This diary references a sexual assault.
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Occupation: Project Officer
Industry: Non-Profit
Age: 28
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $63,000
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,812
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,600 (I live alone downtown)
Utilities & Internet: $80
Renter's Insurance: $27
Monthly Loan Payments: $0 (I got scholarships in university, and my parents helped me pay for the rest.)
Phone: $0 (Work pays for my phone.)
Health & Dental Benefits: $72.62 (deducted from paycheque)
Therapy: $22.50 (My monthly therapy session costs $120, but $97.50 of it is covered by my benefits.)
Netflix: $16 (I pay for the family account.)
RRSP: $150 (I've saved $20,000 and invested it.)
Savings: $200 (I know I should save more, but this is as much as I can do right now.) 

Day One

8:30 a.m. — It's my first day back at work after almost three weeks off. I had accumulated a ton of overtime and used it to go back home to see my family. About a year ago, I moved to Toronto from a small town a several hours' drive away. I was ready for a change after a bad break up, and I was offered a new, better paying job, so I figured why not! I'm happy to be back in the city after the break. For breakfast, I eat oatmeal at my desk.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is a medley of Caribbean food my parents cooked for me before I left: rice and beans, plantain, and salad.
6 p.m. — After work, I go to Canadian Tire to buy supplies for my upcoming move. Although I've only been at my new apartment for six months, I can no longer live there. The place is infested with cockroaches. The whole process of getting it was super-easy, which probably should've been a red flag. Luckily, I've found an older studio apartment in a condo building. I’m not the fancy condo type; I like an older place with character, but I can’t lie, the amenities (a gym and my own washer and dryer) are sweet. Breaking my lease has been expensive, because I'm basically paying rent on two places this month, on top of an $850 fee for breaking my lease. I’m using my emergency funds to cover it all, and I figure if you can't use them to get out of a cockroach-infested apartment, when can you? At Canadian Tire, I buy two storage bins, a new garbage can, Method cleaning products (not sure if they're truly organic, but I like them), and more moving supplies. $79.92
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7:30 p.m. — I take a Lyft to my apartment because carrying all of that on the TTC would be a pain. 2019 me would have done it, but 2020 me is aiming to simplify her life. $8.72
Daily Total: $88.64

Day Two

9 a.m. — I have the usual oatmeal for breakfast. My co-worker comments that my desk always smells like instant oatmeal in the morning. You're welcome?
12 p.m. — For lunch, I have leftover pizza and chocolate someone has brought in. I already gained five pounds over the Christmas holidays, and I don't need this chocolate but also YOLO. (Let's bring back #YOLO in 2020.) I call my new building manager to confirm the date and time of the move. They require a $500 deposit for using the elevator. Toronto is an expensive city, I tell ya.
2 p.m. — I read more about the wildfires in Australia and how I can help. I work in the non-profit sector, so I know that donations are an obvious way to help, but they're a short-term solution. How can these communities regrow post-disaster? Being Caribbean, I also know first-hand that the Red Cross can provide help in moments of despair after hurricane seasons, so I give $20. It's not much, because I'm extremely tight on cash right now, but I message my family members and encourage them to donate $28 in honour of my 28th birthday tomorrow. $20
5 p.m. — Another work meeting is done. My co-workers are on the west coast, so they always schedule 4 p.m. meetings. It's very tiring, and I want to SLEEP. I remember to pay my therapist for Sunday's session. It was intense. I finally told her that I was assaulted a few years ago. For the past three years, I’ve been living in shame for being a sexual assault victim, and I've never shared it with anyone. My therapist is awesome, and we made a plan to work through the trauma in small steps. She suggests buying Chanel Miller's biography, Know My Name.
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5:30 p.m. — I'm an avid library user and a cheapo, so I check the public library for the biography. SO MANY HOLDS. I wonder how many women are like me, trying to find ways to cope with the same experience. I place a hold and order a few other books: My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid, What We All Long For by Dionne Brand, and Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall.
7 p.m. — More packing, more leftover pizza, and a soca playlist to help. I have anxiety about the move and don't sleep until 3 a.m.
Daily Total: $20

Day Three

9 a.m. — It's my birthday! I take the day off work to pamper myself. I go to Second Cup for a vanilla bean latte with lactose-free milk. Six dollars for coffee? I’m not getting another one until next year. $6.16
10 a.m. — I'm already at Sephora to pick up my free birthday gift. I get the Briogeo set, which includes shampoo and a conditioning mask that I’ve heard are great for curly hair. My curls need a revival. I also pick up a mini Tata Harper cleanser and a cream for 300 points, plus a mini Laneige lip mask set for my sister, and a Too Faced Born This Way concealer in the shade “warm sand,” which is a collaboration with Jackie Aina, my favourite YouTuber. $46.50
11 p.m. — I have a facial booked at the place that does my laser hair removal. The aesthetician is super-nice and gives me a full facial for the price of the express version. I look like my 18-year-old self with her shiny skin. $78.50
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2 p.m. — It's colder than I expected and, although I'm usually a downtown Toronto explorer, this girl needs shelter. I walk to the mall for window shopping, and I feel like a teenage mall rat. I grab a banh mi at the food court. It's meh but fills me up. $9.98
4 p.m. — After the mall, I go home for a nap. My long, sleepless night is catching up with me. I follow up with my family and friends, thanking them for all the birthday love. I'm truly blessed!
7 p.m. — I hit the gym for 20 minutes of cardio and 25 minutes of weights, then stretching. Afterward, I'm famished. Unfortunately, my friends can't meet tonight for a birthday dinner, and they suggest Friday instead. I can't eat pizza all alone surrounded by boxes tonight. I take a shower, put on a cute outfit, and head to my favourite ramen spot, Ramen Isshin. I get the vegetarian red miso version and sit at a wall designed for solo eaters like me. It's perfect. I have a whole photoshoot by myself. There's no shame in my game. I order a horrible sake jelly shot thingy that's also stupid-expensive. I don't recommend it, but the ramen is amazeballs. $35.33
9 p.m. — There's an ice cream store next door that I've been meaning to check out. They give me a free upgrade, because I mention it's my birthday (more blessings), so I get vanilla with sprinkles and immediately regret the sprinkles. I go home and crash with a full belly while answering the rest of the aunties and uncles who tried to reach me. $8.90
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Daily Total: $185.37

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I have work oatmeal again. My body hurts from yesterday's food and workout. Age 28 feels worse overnight. I'm not ready.
12:30 p.m. — I forgot to bring lunch, which is so not like me. I go to a food court for a burrito. It's basically just cheese and beans. There's no flavour, but at least there's protein. $9.04
4 p.m. — Only 90 minutes of work left. My afternoon crash is real. I go to the grocery store down the street for a chocolate bar. I share it with my co-workers, because sharing is the perfect way to eat less sugar. $3.30
6 p.m. — I'm finally home from work. I call one of my aunties who left me a message yesterday, and we chat for an hour and 27 minutes. She has all the tea on the everyone in the family, except her own kids. I also do my laundry and keep packing for my move. Dinner is a granola bar. I pass out famished and tired.
Daily Total: $12.34

Day Five

10 a.m. — I stop at Davids Tea for my free birthday cup and grab a bagel at Timmy's for lunch. My eating has been shitty this week. The bagel has protein, right? I'm gonna go with that. $3.25
10:20 a.m. — On my way back from Timmy's, I see that the backpack I've been eyeing is on sale. Being in Toronto this last year has made me realize I need a supportive bag, especially for commuting. Totes are cute and all, but my back is killing me. This backpack is perfect: It's a Timbuk2 waterproof roll-top that will hold my water bottle, tea mug, laptop, and gym shoes. I cave and buy it as (another) birthday treat. $101.13
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12 p.m. — I go to a bookstore that always has discounts, and it's closing down. I buy Birdie by Tracey Lindberg to support the shop. The synopsis says it’s a dark comedy about a Cree woman recovering from trauma. Reading about other people’s experiences with trauma is one of the steps my therapist recommends. It makes your experience feel less alienating. I also intend to read more books with Indigenous stories. $10.99
8 p.m. — I go to La Carnita for birthday drinks with my friend and his boyfriend. We order tacos and every dessert on the menu. The music and food are banging, and I'm very happy. They pay.
Daily Total: $115.37

Day Six

11 a.m. — My movers were supposed to be here an hour ago, but they're a no show. I call the guy, and he doesn't pick up. I'm anxious.
1 p.m. — Still no movers. I'm not the most patient person, but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I go out to smoke a joint I found while cleaning out my stuff.
3 p.m. — Still no answer. He seems to have blocked my calls. I text him asking to please cancel this move. Fuck.
3:30 p.m. — I'm not gonna stay in this place, so I take an Uber with as much stuff as I can to the new apartment. The Uber driver is not pleased that I'm using his SUV to move, which I understand. I tip him $5. I need to be better at tipping Uber drivers in 2020. $18.24
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4 p.m. — I have an inflatable mattress and summer clothes with me. I really should've paid attention to what I was grabbing. I pop over to a small mall nearby for groceries and house things, like a mop and broom. I buy cute storage baskets that end up being too big, wireless headphones for the gym, Cassava chips, no mop, and no broom. Winners is my weakness. $60.75
10 p.m. — I'm finally settled in the new place as much as I can be. I've arranged for new movers to come on Friday. This time I made a contract with a fixed price and made sure to confirm with them on the phone. I pray to Drake it works out this time. I haven’t eaten all day, and I'm tired and hungry. I make myself noodles I got earlier and pass out listening to Stormzy's new album.
Daily Total: $78.99

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up and do more cleaning. The place is in good condition, but I'm a clean freak and do a little more.
12 p.m. — I can cook again! Cooking for Caribbean people is a ritual. You need the right music, the right spices, and the right mood. Most of my pots and pans and spices are still in the old place, but I did bring a frying pan with me, and I have eggs that I bought yesterday. I make myself an omelette while listening to Chronixx. 
2 p.m. — I take a Lyft back to the old place, because I don't have bedsheets, and it's very cold at night. I grab my comforter, sneakers, actual winter clothes, and work clothes. $12.72
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4 p.m. — I do a workout at the gym in the new building. So fancy! I take a couple of mirror selfies to send to my sister and my dad. They would love the new building.
6 p.m. — Dinner is a bagel again, because we're limited here, but it's actually bomb. I pile on mushrooms, cucumbers, feta, hummus, and butter. Try it y'all.
7 p.m. — I watch YouTube for a while before falling asleep: Rachel Ama cooking (she does vegan Caribbean food), a few videos of people cleaning their apartments, which are my new obsession, and a For Harriet review of the Cats movie, which is hilarious. I kinda want to hate-watch this movie now. I can't believe tomorrow is already Monday. This week has felt like a whole year.
Daily Total: $12.72
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