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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $85,000 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: a social media manager working in entertainment who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Manischewitz.
Editor's Note: This is a follow-up diary for the September 2019 Money Diary entitled "A Week In The Greater Toronto Area, ON, On A $55,000 Salary." You'll want to read that first, here.
Occupation: Social Media Manager
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 25
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $85,000
Net Worth: $25,000 (savings)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,505
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,100
Parking: $100
Internet: $56
Hydro: $50
Car Insurance: $235
Health & Dental Benefits: $0 (paid by my employer)
Spotify: $11.29
Noom: $59
Savings: $300–$500

Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $79
How has your life and financial situation changed since your last Money Diary?
When I wrote my first Money Diary, I had recently graduated and had a mountain of student debt. I was living at home in the suburbs and commuting two to three hours each day for work. I was also working at a startup flush with cash that allowed me to expense many of my vices, like daily Starbucks, drinks after work, and even Tinder Gold. During COVID, I was able to pay off my loan aggressively and save enough to feel comfortable moving out. I've been at a new company for about 18 months now, I have two adorable cats, and I'm living on my own in a one-bedroom-plus-den apartment in downtown Toronto. I'm proud of the progress I've made, but there's always room for improvement. As my salary increases, my lifestyle changes, so I'm working on balancing everything in a sustainable way.  

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. I was expected to earn a BA at minimum. I went away for my undergrad, and it was a controversial decision in my household because I had originally planned to live at home and commute to Ryerson and hadn't prepared financially to move out. I ended up taking out a student loan from the bank. It was $10,000 per year and interest started accumulating as soon as I withdrew money.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I wouldn't say we had educational or constructive conversations about finances. My dad particularly wanted us to understand the value of money, and he tried teaching us through a rewards system: “Happy faces,” worth $2 each, were awarded for good behaviour, doing our chores, etc. We could spend the cash on our weekly Walmart trip. Everything I know about managing money, I've learned from financially savvy friends and the internet.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job ever was as a day camp counsellor. I loved working with kids and wanted my own spending money.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, but it's complicated. My parents got divorced when I was five, and they had 50/50 custody. My mom paid my dad alimony each month, and I was made very aware of that. For most of my childhood, my dad was in a more precarious financial situation than my mom.

Do you worry about money now?
Definitely, and I don't know if that will ever go away. I'm in a much more secure position now than at any other time in my life, but I also have more expenses and aspirations, and I'm worried that I'll never learn how to properly manage my money. Or that it'll never feel like enough.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent at 18 when I left for university. My bank loan was a huge weight on my shoulders, and I graduated with a $40,000 debt in 2018. I finally paid it off in 2020 by living at home and saving. I know my parents would try to help if I was ever in financial trouble, so I do have a safety net.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I finally drag myself out of bed and straight to my coffee machine. I used to go to Starbucks or a local shop daily, but then I was given a Lavazza machine that CHANGED. MY. LIFE. I make myself an oat milk cappuccino and settle in for a thrilling workday at my laptop.
10 a.m. — It's one of those days when I'm checking the clock every few minutes. I get up to stretch and feed my cats breakfast. They get a can of wet food each day plus a handful of dry food. (It's $39 for 48 cans, so it's less than a dollar per day.)
11:30 a.m. — I'm getting hungry, so I fry two over-medium eggs and put them on whole-wheat English muffins with smashed avocado. I'm super boring and have this for breakfast almost every day.
5:45 p.m. — After an uneventful day, I get ready for my work dinner. I make decent time but get lazy at the last minute and decide to take an Uber because the event is uptown, and I'd have to walk and take the subway otherwise. $31.33 (expensed)
6:15 p.m. — I get to the restaurant on time, immediately order a gin and tonic, and munch on the starter bread, which turns out to be a terrible decision, because we proceed to have pizza, pasta, steak, and tiramisù. It's all covered by work, and I don't know the cost of anything because it's a set menu.
10:30 p.m. — A small group takes an Uber to a nearby bar ($13.03). It's Thursday night, so there's no wait to be seated and we end up stuffing ourselves even more with fries and drinks. We get the bill by 11:45 p.m. because we're all working tomorrow. I only ordered one gin and tonic, and we split the fries ($15.08). $28.11
12 a.m. — I'm exhausted so I take an Uber home. $13.12
Daily Total: $41.23

Day Two

8:55 a.m. — I wake up and leave my apartment within 15 minutes. I have a dentist appointment, and the office is literally a 30-second walk from my apartment, so I arrive with a few minutes to spare. Insurance covers 80% of the cost (it's just a cleaning). $28.40
12 p.m. — My mouth is sore, probably from the dental hygienist tearing into my gums, so I eat a banana and scrambled eggs for breakfast. This day could not be going by slower. I'm counting down the minutes to 5 p.m.
5 p.m. — I leave my apartment on the DOT to drive uptown for a family birthday party. The drive takes me about 75 minutes because of rush-hour traffic on the 404. We have pasta, chicken Parmesan, and Caesar salad for dinner. I'm definitely taking home leftovers.
10:30 p.m. — It only takes me 25 minutes to get home. I feed my kittens a late dinner, and get in bed to read before falling asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $28.40

Day Three

11 a.m. — It's Saturday (and Halloween weekend!), so I don't sleep in too late. I feed the cats, book a last-minute massage, get some work out of the way, shower, and head out for coffee and food. I end up with an egg-and-cheese bagel and a blueberry muffin. I planned to eat in the park nearby, but it's raining, so there's nowhere dry to sit. I walk until I find a covered pathway and park myself on a ledge so I can eat the first half of my sandwich. Did I mention I'm starving? $6
12 p.m. — After wandering, I end up at HotBlack on Queen Street West and grab an oat milk latte. This place is stupidly expensive and not my first choice, but everything else is super busy. I grab a bar seat near the window to work, eat the rest of my bagel, and read before my massage at 1 p.m. $7.03
1:50 p.m. — So, I learn that I need to get massages more often because my upper back and shoulders are absolutely f*cked from sitting at a desk all day, every day and looking down at my phone. Insurance covers some of the cost, luckily. $20.34
2 p.m. — I have a couple more stops before heading home. I pop into Winners for the finishing touch on my Adam Sandler costume: a huge, baggy T-shirt. He's a fashion icon. I'm also a total sucker and add dish towels while I'm in line ($24.85). I make a quick stop at the LCBO to grab a bottle of white wine for the party hosts and some Manischewitz ($20.40). I'm two minutes from home, but I stop by a plant store and grab a lil cutie peperomia. I'm slowly building my plant collection! ($14.69) $59.94
3 p.m. — When I get home, I'm exhausted so I take a cat nap before getting ready for the Halloween party.

6 p.m. — I shower, put one pound of dry shampoo in my hair, and apply minimal makeup. The party is in Etobicoke, and I'm aiming to be there at 8:30 p.m., so I have lots of time — for once! I scroll TikTok and attempt to read.
8 p.m. — After feeding my cats and shoving a buttered whole-wheat English muffin down my throat, I leave my apartment. The drive is quicker than expected, so I pull over to get gas. $30
8:30 p.m. — I'm welcomed to the party with a tequila shot that BURNS going down, and then I make myself a gin and tonic. We play Kings Cup, Flip Cup, all the cups, and it's great. I'm sleeping over, and by 3:30 a.m., it's time to go to bed. I'm gonna hate myself for this tomorrow!
Daily Total: $123.31

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I can never sleep in after drinking, especially at someone else's house, so I'm up around 8:30 a.m. I trudge upstairs and help clean up before driving straight to McDonald's for breakfast, which is truly the only thing I want when I'm hungover. I get a bacon-and-egg McMuffin, a hash brown, and a mango-pineapple smoothie. $9.37
10:30 a.m. — I eat in the parking lot — gotta have it while it's hot! — and drive to my apartment. I feed the kittens (poor gals were alone all night) and practically dive into the shower. After blow-drying my hair, I climb into bed for yet another nap.
1 p.m. — I wake up, do dishes, get some work done, listen to the Sounds Like A Cult podcast, and fold clean clothes. Then, I call my friend who just had a beautiful baby boy! We catch up, she tells me all about her labour, and I'm even more certain that I'm not ready for children.
7 p.m. — I arrive at my friend's place for a Halloween movie night, and the place is DROWNING in candy, chips, and chocolate. I try to resist the urge to eat everything in sight. Spoiler: I eat everything in sight. My stomach hates me.
9 p.m. — We order wings on one bill, and when we pick it up, I pay. Everyone is supposed to pay me back, but we'll see! Venmo, are you ever coming to Canada? I leave around midnight and go straight to bed. $127.39
Daily Total: $136.76

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — There's nothing more exciting than a Monday. Big surprise: an oat milk cappuccino is first on the agenda. My Lavazza machine is a lifesaver. Before I started making coffee at home, I would buy coffee four or fives times a week, which would add up.
11 a.m. — I've been in meetings all morning so I contemplate what I want for breakfast. I haven't gone grocery shopping in a while, so I finally crack open the oatmeal I bought three months ago. It explodes a tiny bit in the microwave, but I eat what's left with maple syrup, granola, and a sprinkle of chocolate chips.
2:30 p.m. — I place a quick Amazon order for pimple patches, my favourite purple shampoo, and a six-pack of lightbulbs. $69.25
4 p.m. — I realize the rent is due today. It's always painful (shout out, Toronto rental market). Hydro from the previous month is due, so I add that on top of my base rent and parking spot, then transfer the money to my landlord.
6 p.m. — I'm getting dinner with my mom tonight at one of our favourite Thai spots, so I curl my hair, put on makeup, and leave for a 10-minute walk to the subway (prepaid Presto card). My mom is an angel and insists on paying for dinner. She normally does, and sometimes I'll cover dessert or parking. I'm very thankful that we both love trying new restaurants.
10 p.m. — I take the subway and streetcar home from dinner, climb into bed, and demolish the book Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover, which I started on the commute to the restaurant earlier tonight. I turn out the light at 2:30 a.m.!
Daily Total: $118.66

Day Six

9 a.m. — I sleep in after my WILD night of reading, walk 10 steps to my computer, and start working immediately. My nails are bugging me — one broke and chipped — and I got them done almost three weeks ago so I make an appointment for 2 p.m. today.
12:30 p.m. — I've been super productive all morning so I take a break to eat and watch an Emma Chamberlain YouTube video. She's so calming and watching her videos actually helps my anxiety. On my lunch menu: cocoa and sea salt oatmeal with dark chocolate chips, maple syrup, and granola. #healthyliving
2:50 p.m. — I get my nails done and take a couple of work calls while I'm there. I go for a dark green shade in an effort to not get Lincoln Park After Dark AGAIN. Classic for fall. $77.97
3 p.m. — After my nail appointment, I head to NoFrills and grab bread, fruit, and eggs. I hop on a call for work in the frozen foods section and pray that there are no overhead announcements. Work is uneventful for the rest of the day; I conduct a few interviews and plan for the remainder of the week. $36.89
6:30 p.m. — I have a therapy session. I never know if I'll have something significant to talk about, but only five minutes in, I'm crying. Therapy is draining, so I'm glad to have a low-key night ahead of me. $140
7 p.m. — I have leftover Khao Soi for dinner, tidy up my apartment, play with my cats, and head to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $254.86

Day Seven

11 a.m. — I sleep in past my alarm, but luckily it seems like everyone at work is having a slow start to the day, too. I make coffee and whip up my avocado and egg toast before my 11:30 a.m. meeting.
2 p.m. — I have back-to-back meetings, so I brew a second cup of coffee. My eyes don't want to stay open.
4:30 p.m. — I hop in the shower to get ready for dinner with an old coworker. We haven't seen each other in a whole year (thanks, COVID), and I made us a reservation at a cute Italian restaurant I found on TikTok.
6 p.m. — The streetcar is surprisingly on time and not too busy, so I start a new book called Nightbitch for the book club I have with a couple of friends.
10:30 p.m. — We have the best time! We order a bottle of red wine, split two wood-fired pizzas, and get a peanut butter pie to top it all off. $80.66 (for my half)
10:40 p.m. — I check Uber, but it'll be $13, and at least the streetcars are pretty empty at this time of night. I hop on, and my Presto card reloads $30 automatically. I almost miss my stop because I'm reading! At home, I immediately take off my makeup, brush my teeth, and climb into bed. The end! $30
Daily Total: $117.06
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