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A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $50,000 Salary

Phoot: Courtesy of Decolonial Clothing Co.
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 communications specialist, yoga teacher, and babysitter who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money on a Decolonial Clothing Co. sweatshirt.
Occupation: Communications specialist, yoga teacher, and babysitter
Industry: Media, health, and child care
Age: 35
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: Good question. This year I'll probably earn about $50,000
Net Worth: $100,000 (mostly RRSPs, some in a TFSA, some sitting in savings accounts for upcoming expenses)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (Inconsistent): $3,300 (I net around this each month, but the total varies depending on how much I work.)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $650 (I've lived in my one-bedroom basement for a long time, and this beyond-reasonable rent has enabled me to do so much. Mainly, it provided me with a soft place to land when I burned out and couldn't keep working full-time — no small gift given the nuttiness of the rental market in Toronto over the last 10 years.)
Internet: $57.57
Phone: $90
RRSP: 10% of anything that comes in
Wealth Distribution: 3% of anything that comes in
Chani App: $18.07

Annual Expenses
Savage Lovecast Subscription: $50 (a little more or a little less, depending on the dollar's strength)

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?
I never felt pressure to attend university, but I always assumed I would. I did an undergraduate degree in Quebec, the province where I was born. Tuition was cheap — about $1,200 a semester (gotta love Quebec tuition rates). My mom, dad, and stepmom covered most of my expenses in my first year, plus I worked in high school and my dad took money from each of my paycheques and set it aside to help with first-year expenses, so I technically contributed, too. My dad and mom continued to pay for my tuition throughout the rest of my degree, and I took on my living expenses after the first year. I ended up doing the last two years of the degree part-time and working full-time to cover everything.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mom and dad split up when I was little, so I had divergent experiences with money. My mom struggled to cover our expenses, while my dad was a money guy — good at accumulating wealth and very into educating me on the topic (although I didn't internalize many of those lessons until my mid-20s).

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started working at a camp when I was 13, and I got a job at a movie theatre when I was 15. The camp job was just a way to keep having fun when I aged out of the kids' program, and the movie theatre was about earning money and also about socializing (my friend worked there first and got me the job).

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yeah, when I was living with my mom. She had a hard time with money (and generally), and I was always aware of that. When I was a teen, I moved in with my dad and stopped worrying because I knew he had a good handle on things.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. Yes because I live in a city (and country) where housing has become very expensive. I also have a chronic illness (that I'm just now treating), which has led to some serious burnout. I've had a habit of working two or three jobs at a time, 60 or 70 hours a week, and then not being able to do anything for a while. I live cheaply and always have at least six months of living expenses in a TFSA, but I do worry about where I'll live when/if I have to move. But also no because the impending climate disaster is probably going to make these concerns secondary to, you know, sourcing clean water.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became fully financially responsible when I graduated from university. I'd been supporting myself, aside from tuition, since I was 19, so the transition wasn't a challenge. As for a financial safety net: Yes, I could ask my mom and stepdad, but I would go into debt before taking this option. Which is another form of financial safety net, I guess: I have access to credit. My dad died a few years ago, and I didn't realize how much I depended on him (in theory, never in practice) for the illusion of financial safety. When he died, he left me nothing, which was a shock I wasn't expecting. It has taken me a while to reckon with it.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandma died in 2015 and left me $9,000.
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Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up and meditate after a fitful sleep. I recently stopped smoking weed after relying on it for years (and years) to soothe my inner chaos. It took a lot of work to figure out how to soothe that chaos using other tools. Giving up weed has helped me (finally) address some persistent health problems, and, TBH, it was way easier than I imagined it would be. I'm just waiting for my sleep patterns to fully sort themselves out.
9:45 a.m. — I have friends coming over for brunch, and I run out for a loaf of sourdough, ricotta, and peaches. $16.15
11:30 a.m. — My friends are over! Friendship is such a delight! We eat yogurt bowls with fruit and nuts, plus sourdough with ricotta, cooked peaches, and pistachios. We spend a couple of hours sipping coffee and tea and enjoying each other's company.
2 p.m. — My friends are gone, and I clean up before putting together my weekly newsletter. I spend a lot of time online (I love the internet) and recently started a newsletter to share my fave memes and random musings. It also lets me practise doing a thing instead of just thinking about it.
5:30 p.m. — Dinner is a BLT with asparagus and potato soup I made last spring and froze.
8 p.m. — I go for a walk with headphones, my phone, a mask (in my pocket, just in case), and nothing else. My glasses are at home, so the world is fuzzy, and I sing along to tunes as I stroll. Walking and singing is a de-stressor for me, and it's all the better when I don't have to carry anything.
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10 p.m. — Back at home, I scroll Twitter and come across a tweet about the upcoming Orange Shirt Day. I order a Land Back sweatshirt from an Indigenous-owned clothing company called Decolonial Clothing Co. to wear on September 30 and beyond. It looks hella cozy. $75.62
Daily Total: $91.77

Day Two

8:50 a.m. — Urgh, I slept so terribly. Slowly waking up.
10 a.m. — French press coffee has never tasted so good. I have it with eggs, sourdough, salad, olives, and avocado.
12 p.m. — After tidying up and texting friends, I head out to return two pairs of jeans and a sweatshirt I ordered online. There's nothing wrong with the clothes, but given the likelihood of an upcoming fall or winter lockdown, I decide against purchasing any more hard pants. Also, maybe RIP hard pants forever? $143.40 goes back on my credit card.
2 p.m. — Back home, I tuck into communications work for a few hours. I'm on contract and make my own hours. While I work, I snack on pumpkin seeds, a banana, and chickpea and tomato salad.
5 p.m. — Finished working! I chat on the phone with a friend, then pause to grab takeout: chicken fingers with a disgusting amount of plum sauce and a can of Coke. I call my friend back when I'm done eating, and we play two games of Settlers of Catan online. (Definite nerd alert.) $26
8 p.m. — It's too early to go to sleep even though I'm so tired. I work on this Money Diary, take a shower, and then crawl into bed with a book, A Prayer for Owen Meany.
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Daily Total: $26

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I'm awake! I meditate in bed and then write in my journal. Afterward, I make coffee and fix myself a yogurt bowl with fruit, cinnamon, and pecans.
8:30 a.m. — I do communications work for an hour, and then have a virtual hang with a friend.
11 a.m. — I'm minding kids this afternoon, so I stroll to the library and grab a couple of books to read to them. When I get home, I heat up leftover asparagus soup, soft boil an egg, and toast a piece of sourdough to eat with avocado and salt. Then I have a straggling piece of chocolate cake sitting on my counter (begging to be eaten, naturally).
12:30 p.m. — I head out to babysit. I love the stroll there. These last few weeks of summer are still so lush without being aggressively hot. It's a lovely time of year. While I'm babysitting, the kids and I hang out at the park, and I treat them to popsicles the size of their heads. $15
5:30 p.m. — Home! I get a text from a work friend who needs help with a project, so I video chat with her and then go outside to clear out the window well above my kitchen sink. I live in a truly delightful basement apartment, but when it pours sometimes water gets in.
6:30 p.m. — I eat a bunch of chickpea and tomato salad with parsley and the French fries that came with last night's chicken fingers. I make a delicious dipping sauce with mayo, ketchup, pickles, onion, and garlic powder.
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8 p.m. — When I babysat today, I was paid $400 for the days I did last week, plus today and tomorrow. I transfer $40 to my RRSP and $12 to my wealth distribution (WD) account.
Daily Total: $15

Day Four

9 a.m. — Urgh, another terrible night's sleep. There was a big storm, and I woke up at 4 a.m. and lay there for a couple of hours listening to the thunder and lightning. I meditate in bed and then check to see if water got in overnight — it didn't!
10 a.m. — I eat a banana, pumpkin seeds, and a soft-boiled egg while working on this Money Diary. I also do some writing for a book of essays I want to submit to Roxane Gay's publishing house (mostly I'm excited to have goals). I have a little home yoga practice and sign up for an online class happening this Friday (I bought a pack of five classes a couple of weeks ago so the class is prepaid).
12 p.m. — I make tuna salad to put on sourdough before I head out to babysit. Yes, this is also kinda a food diary. Those are the ones I like to read!
5 p.m. — Babysitting is done, and I stop at the fish shop and the fruit and vegetable place on the way home. I end up with smoked salmon, kippers, a piece of fish, potatoes, corn, butter, and sour cream. $36.65
6:30 p.m. — I make and eat mashed potatoes, corn, and fish, then spend the rest of the night chatting with a friend and reading my book.
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Daily Total: $36.65

Day Five

8 a.m. — I slept through the night! A true delight! I meditate, write in my journal, and then check online things (emails, blogs). My contract employer paid me today, ($1,905.03), so I transfer $190 to my RRSP and $57 to my WD account.
9 a.m. — Breakfast is sourdough with butter and jam and a cup of coffee. I settle in to do contract work and then writing.
1 p.m. — For lunch, I have mashed potatoes, leftover tuna salad, and green salad with avocado.
5 p.m. — I'm going to be online for an event tonight (communications work), so I treat myself to delivery beforehand: a burger, milkshake, and fries. It is…not great? Should I be surprised that this food doesn't taste as good when I'm not stoned? Probably not. Am I surprised anyway? Yes, yes I am. $31.14
11 p.m. — I'm done working and am so tired. I listen to a podcast in bed before nodding off.
Daily Total: $31.14

Day Six

7 a.m. — I slept through the night again! Tiny victories! I do my morning things.
8 a.m. — Breakfast is the same as yesterday (the sourdough is finally done). I work on this Money Diary and scroll the internet before heading to my dentist appointment at 9 a.m.
10:15 a.m. — I'm home from the dentist. I've been putting off this visit since 2017 (the hygienist definitely scolded me), and I have three cavities, which the folks at the dentist kindly cost out for me. It'll be about $650 to fix them, so I book an appointment for October and make a mental note: After the fillings, I will have about $300 left in my health savings account for 2021. Today, I just pay for the cleaning, x-rays, and dentist check. They give me a 15% discount because I don't have insurance; humans can be rad. $220.70
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1 p.m. — I'm going to my brother's cottage this weekend! He's coming to pick me up later this afternoon and asks if I can grab groceries for us, so we don't have to stop on the way. I pick up chicken, eggs, cream, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, corn, bananas, peaches, blueberries, and a fancy bar of chocolate. I'll bring stuff from my place, too, and he lets me know that he has “a very nice loaf of sourdough.” I swear I eat (and love) all kinds of bread, despite my sourdough-heavy week. $49.65
6:30 p.m. — We make two pit stops on the way to the cottage: coffee for my bro and McDonald's for both of us, which is, again, not as good as I remember. I pick up the tabs. $26
Daily Total: $296.35

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I slept like a baby. It's so beautiful here! I write in my journal and make coffee and oatmeal (adding banana while the oatmeal cooks changed me from someone who never ate oatmeal to someone who cannot get enough of this delicious breakfast [and sometimes dinner] meal). I'm taking a writing course that runs on Saturday mornings, so I do that and then hop on a call with two friends for about 20 minutes before shutting down my computer for the day.
12 p.m. — My brother and I go to a community yard sale. I'm hoping to find oversized sweaters to wear this winter but, alas, there are no clothes. There are lots of beautiful homewares, but I already have everything I need. I give my brother $10 so he can buy a pitcher and BBQ tools. $10
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2 p.m. — I have a delightful afternoon alone while my brother is out golfing: a lake swim and more reading. I'm still working through Owen Meany. I'm generally a fast reader, but this book is almost 700 pages. For all my fellow book lovers out there, my fave reads lately have been: Scarborough, A Mind Spread Out On The Ground, Transcendent Kingdom, There There, Shut Up You're Pretty, and Girl, Woman, Other. Books are truly the greatest gifts of my life.
6 p.m. — We make a huge feast for dinner: chicken thighs, corn, salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, and potatoes. After we eat, clean up, and run the dog around, we settle in for tea, chocolate, and a Pulp Fiction viewing. It's my first time seeing this movie, and it's worth the hype!
10 p.m. — Read, meditate, snuggle into bed. Night!
Daily Total: $10
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