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A Week In Toronto On A $60,000 Salary

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: an independent PR consultant who makes $60,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on balloons.

Editor's Note: This is a follow-up to one of Refinery29 Canada's most popular Money Diaries entitled "A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $60,000 Salary." You'll want to read that first, here.
Occupation: Independent PR Consultant
Industry: Communications
Age: 26
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $39,000 (I have $8,000 in an emergency fund, $11,000 in a TFSA invested in a mild-risk ETF, $16,000 in a TFSA invested in a higher-risk ETF, and $4,000 in a high-risk RRSP.)
Debt: $0 (I paid off my $30,000 student loan in 2018.)
Paycheque Amount (monthly): $5,000 (The total fluctuates because I'm self-employed, but this is the average.)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $924.50 (I live in a two-bedroom apartment with a great roommate I met on Facebook Marketplace — proof that you won't get murdered from meeting people on the internet. Please notify all parents.)
Internet: $63
Hydro: $24 (This is my share of it.)
Therapy: $180 (This is for two sessions per month. I recently went down from four per month because #progress.)
Gym: $120 (This includes squash court access. I'm not even embarrassed that I'm wildly competitive about playing squash. It's an incredible cardio workout.)
Netflix, Crave, Apple TV & Amazon Prime: $0 (I'm lucky enough to share all these streaming services with my parents, and they pay for them. Our family is VERY committed to television.)
Spotify: $10
Globe & Mail: $30
Google Storage: $2.95
Patreon: $20 (for one of my favourite astrologers and for a Toronto tech publication called BetaKit)
How has your life and financial situation changed since your last Money Diary?
My life has changed a lot since my 2019 Money Diary. I moved out of my parents' house, broke up with the boyfriend I was dating then, created and shut down a tech business (not my PR consulting business, a different one) and, of course, lived through — and continue to live through — a global pandemic. I hadn't written in a really long time when I wrote that Money Diary. Despite all the negative backlash in the comments (they're mean, but some are kind of funny?!), the Money Diary made me realize how much I missed writing. I now make time to write for publications, TV, and podcasts. I have the Money Diary series to thank for reminding me how much I love writing (even if it's just about my diarrhea). My financial situation is a bit harder than it was in 2019. Having moved out, I need to pay for rent, groceries, utilities, etc., which makes saving a lot harder. I'm lucky that my career hasn't changed much and that my income has stayed the same, but we live in a society where moving up and making more money is always the goal. I must admit that re-reading that 2019 Money Diary made me feel bad because my income has stayed the same, not increased. I know that's actually a good thing (I'm lucky my income hasn't decreased), but those feelings of shame, guilt, and lack still do come up. 

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?
Absolutely. Both my mom and dad have multiple degrees, so it was assumed I would go to university. That said, there was a brief moment when my mom's fanatic Jewish orthodoxy overtook her mind, and she said: "Why would you go to university when you can get married and have babies?" I was 10 when she said this. The fact that my mother has a PhD makes this comment even worse. Luckily, even at 10 years old, I knew it was ridiculous, and my mom got over her anti-feminist phase. I attended an affluent public high school and am Jewish, so the expectations from those communities are also to attend university. That said, I really wanted to go to university and wasn't pressured into it. I read the Maclean's University Guide every year from Grade 10 onward and enjoyed school. Plus, I fashioned myself a Canadian Rory Gilmore and even almost applied to Harvard and Yale (a fun fantasy that stopped being so fun when I looked at these universities' price tags). I paid for my education myself with student loans ($30,000 to be exact) and worked four jobs throughout the school year, as well as multiple jobs every summer. It was exhausting, and I have no idea how I pulled it off. I'm not sure if all that stress and anxiety were worth the degree. I certainly wouldn't do it again.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I mainly heard about finances through my dad. He was a single dad until I was eight. We were often operating at the poverty line, if not lower. He was always worried about money and still is — even if he has it. When my stepmom came into the picture, our finances improved, but my dad and stepmom are artists, so money is never stable. I've never heard about money in a non-scary context at our dinner table.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a cashier at Shoppers Drug Mart when I was 15. I sold lottery tickets illegally (you needed to be 18) and always had trouble balancing the till. I got the job because I needed to save for university. I still left school with an absurd amount of debt, but that job taught me how to manage my time and how little minimum wage really pays for (and why it NEEDS to be raised).

Did you worry about money growing up?
For sure. I went to a private school on a scholarship, and it was very obvious that my family's income didn't match everyone else's. In Grade 3, the teacher instructed us all to write thank-you notes to our nannies. I was the only kid in the class without a nanny. I was so embarrassed that I lived in an apartment that I rarely ever invited anyone over. I was always imagining that I would grow up one day and become disgustingly rich and finally be able to go on vacations and wear a different colour of Juicy Couture tracksuit every day. Sometimes, I still have those fantasies.

Do you worry about money now?
To this day, I have a massive problem with a scarcity mindset. Even though I have money in the bank and can pay my bills, I never feel like I have enough. Sometimes, I try to imagine I'm Jeff Bezos (minus his whole personality, just his bank account) and wonder: Would I feel secure if I was a gross trillionaire? And frankly, I don't know if I would. I don't think I'll ever feel like I have enough money, which makes me sad. I try not to make life all about money, but sometimes it feels like that's all there is.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
That's a complicated question. The minute I went off to university at 18, I was paying for everything: school, food, rent, nights out. But when I graduated at 22, I lived at home for three years. I didn't pay for rent or food most of the time. At 22, my financial advisor encouraged me to create an emergency fund and contribute to a TFSA. I've grown both substantially since then, mostly because I was privileged enough to live at home and could save cash. I know that I can always move back home with my dad and stepmom if I need to, so I'm very privileged to have that safety net.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
At 23, I received a living will of $10,000 from my grandmother. Every cent of that went to my student debt.

Day One

7:15 a.m. — I wake up at this absurd hour because one of my clients is on a morning television show promoting her new book. After the interview, I make a smoothie and call her to give her feedback on her performance (she rocked it), but we end up talking for 45 minutes about how I want to break up with my boyfriend, E., who she introduced me to (she's not weird about it; she totally gets it). She asks some great questions and validates my feelings. FYI: I'm not this cozy with most of my clients. I've become best friends with this particular one over the last few years of working together, which is why I'm so forthcoming with her about my personal life. I'm not THAT unprofessional, gosh.
10 a.m. — I make myself a coffee in my roommate's Keurig. I basically have the same conversation with her that I did with my client about why I want to break up with E. He told me he loved me two weeks into the relationship and has continued to do so even after I asked him to stop.
2 p.m. — I make myself lunch from a meal-kit box (I don't know how to cook and don't care to learn). E. calls. It's his birthday today, and he confirms when he's going to pick me up, so we can go to the surprise spot I planned. I try to be chipper and happy to celebrate his birthday without giving a hint that I want to break up. I'm already annoyed at him and hate myself for this.
4:30 p.m. — E. arrives, and I have no interest in making small talk or being with him, but I try to put on a good face because it's his birthday. Luckily, he spends most of the time on work calls while he drives. We stop for gas, which he pays for. The fill-up comes to $80! Can you believe how expensive it is?
6 p.m. — We arrive at his birthday surprise: a SPA! Yes, I booked him a lovely spa retreat for the evening because he tirelessly takes care of his whole family, his clients, and me. As much as I need to break up with him, he's still a great guy and deserves a break. He tells me he's never been to a spa before and is very excited! We mainly hang out in the heated pools and may or may not fool around at some point. $170
9 p.m. — After the spa, we're very relaxed but also very hungry. We're in a small town and finding a restaurant to eat at that isn't McDonald's is hard. We finally end up at a cute pub and have decent hamburgers. I give my boyfriend a handwritten card, and he loves it. Seeing how much he loves it makes wanting to break up with him even harder. $74.92
11 p.m. — We make a quick midnight snack and go to bed.
Daily Total: $244.92

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I make myself ANOTHER strawberry-banana smoothie (I'm a sucker for food predictability) while E. gets ready for work. He leaves, and I feel relieved. I schedule an emergency session with my therapist to talk about the impending breakup.
12 p.m. — My therapist and I talk about how I tend to lose myself in relationships, and this one is no exception. It was hot, heavy, and fast. I haven't seen my friends or even journaled throughout it! She validates my feelings, and we come to the conclusion that this breakup is the best thing for me. I'm probably not in a place to be in a relationship with anyone, much less someone who is so intensely into being in a relationship with me. I pay $90 for the session, which is on top of the therapy listed in my monthly expenses. $90
2 p.m. — My client's book comes out today! I send her a beautiful balloon arrangement to congratulate her. She calls me crying and makes a TikTok video about it. So cute! $96.92
3 p.m. — E. calls me while I'm eating a Lara bar. He feels that I'm off and wants to know what's going on. I admit that I don't think this relationship is good for me anymore. We have a huge conversation that lasts a good 45 minutes. He's very upset that I want to break up but accepts it. He asks me to write a farewell message to his friends in their group chat, which I've been in for a few weeks. The request is...weird, but I do it because he asks me to and I just broke his heart. I exit that group chat immediately after.
6 p.m. — I play squash with a squash friend. She asks me how my day is, and I tell her that I broke up with E. I confess that I feel relieved. She says, "That's good. Wanna play now?" This is exactly what I need.
8 p.m. — I'm not hungry, so I make eggs and toast for dinner and begin my annual re-watch of Gilmore Girls. I feel great, despite everything.
Daily Total: $186.92

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — I sip my usual strawbanana smoothie (do we like this portmanteau for the smoothie?) while a recruiter chats with me about a PR agency opportunity. It's not right for me, but the salary is $75,000, hence why I took the meeting.
1:30 p.m. — I eat more eggs and toast for lunch (I'm so unoriginal) while watching Rory Gilmore start at Chilton. This show never gets old.
5:30 p.m. — I walk to my weekly squash league. A 14-year-old boy kicks my ass.
7 p.m. — After lying on the floor for a good half hour (I call it "post-squash stretching"), I finally muster the strength to make a meal-kit dinner. I call my stepmom while I eat to tell her about the breakup. She says she's not surprised because this guy took up a lot of my energy and time. I feel validated.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

10 a.m. — I slowly sip my bananaberry smoothie (new day, new name) while finishing Oona Out of Order for my book club. It's about a woman who time travels. It's very good, and I have a LOT to say about it. I can't wait to hear what the others think.
12 p.m. — I drink coffee made on my roommate's Keurig while prepping one of my clients for a VERY EXCITING spot on an American national morning show. I think of American TV as so much more impressive than Canadian TV, which is a bad attitude, but I can't help it. I'm quite proud of myself for getting my client this big spot!
5 p.m. — I get a birth-chart reading from an astrologer friend. She asked for media contacts to pitch articles and offered me a free birth-chart reading as a thank-you. We trace the astrology of my recent breakup, and let's just say, IT WAS IN THE STARS.
6:30 p.m. — I make a meal-kit meal (tomato sauce basa fish, delicious) and then watch You for something different.
9 p.m. — I gather with my book club on Zoom. We sip spiked-tea lattes and talk about the book for maybe 10 minutes (we all like it and can't wait for it to be made into a TV show), and then talk a lot of shit. I tell them about my breakup in a way that should be "a standup comedy special," according to one of them. I wish I remembered what I said so that I could at least profit off my relationship failure.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — I run out of bananas, so I just make a strawberry smoothie today. I drink it while I begin a new book, This is Your Destiny, about astrology and manifestation. Yes, I'm basic. No, I don't care.
1 p.m. — I eat leftover fish from last night while talking to a friend about a Christmas movie script we're writing. We're almost done revisions, and it's turning out to be the funny, cute rom-com holiday movie of my dreams. Netflix, call me if you're looking for new content.
5 p.m. — I crunch down on a Lara bar while catching up with my oldest friend. I once heard Pete Davidson say that it's a power move to eat during a meeting, and I've taken that to heart, as you can already tell.
6:45 p.m. — I walk to my stepmom's place, and we get amazing shawarma from a corner store near her. She pays for dinner (plus a bag of chips). We mainly discuss texts that my now ex-boyfriend has sent me this week, explaining his perspective. They're very long and mostly sad. We then watch a few episodes of Sex, Love & Goop, which are surprisingly good and interesting.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

12 p.m. — I play squash with a different squash friend. I woke up late and didn't eat beforehand and feel like I'm going to fall over the whole time. Afterward, I promptly go to the gym's snack bar and grab a kale-banana-pineapple smoothie. $7.50
3 p.m. — I laze at home all day long, munching on various snacks and sipping coffee. I watch way too many episodes of Gilmore Girls. This is the first weekend in many weeks that hasn't been jam-packed with activities with E. and his friends (who are EXTREMELY social), and I'm luxuriating in my solo time.
6 p.m. — I eat leftover shawarma from yesterday and continue to watch Gilmore Girls. I love Paris Geller more and more.
Daily Total: $7.50

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I sip lemon water while I watch my client on the American morning show. She ROCKS it. After, she says she didn't tell anyone about the segment because she thought she'd be really bad, but now she's very excited to share it. I'm so happy to hear that! Our prep really paid off. We hang up, and I promptly go back to sleep.
11:30 a.m. — I re-wake up and make eggs and pancakes. I'm out of milk, so I substitute water in the pancakes, and the results are surprisingly not too different from milk pancakes.
1:30 p.m. — I go to the grocery store for my bi-weekly shop. I grab milk, oat milk, PC white cheddar mac and cheese (far superior to KD, fight me), cookies, eggs, bread, spinach, pretzels, cheese, juice, and ice cream (it's always a good day when Ben & Jerry's is on sale). I somehow pack this all into three reusable bags and schlep it home. $75.74
3 p.m. — My friend comes over, and we walk to a squash open house at my club (she gets in for free with me, which is very rare). It's a pretty intense two-hour round-robin but really fun. When we're done, we come back to my place and eat Lara bars and drink water.
6 p.m. — I make myself a farro salad from a meal kit and watch two more episodes of You. Season 3 is the best season in my opinion.
7 p.m. — I see an acquaintance's Instagram story fundraising for Movember. I know his dad died of cancer, so I contribute to his Movember campaign. $54
8 p.m. — Our internet keeps dropping this week, so the internet company sends a technician over (super late, but okay). He tells me that our modem sucks. I call the internet company to convey this message. They tell me they need more proof. Okay???
10 p.m. — I make myself hot chocolate from Carnation Keurig pods my roommate bought (we share them, don't worry, I'm not THAT roommate) and journal about the breakup. I realize how much more work I need to do on myself, especially around feeling secure in my own identity rather than looking to men to make me feel secure. It's a hard truth but an important one. I can't wait for my therapy session tomorrow.
Daily Total: $129.74
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566 at any time or text 45645 between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET. Residents of Quebec, please call 1-866-277-3553.
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