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A Week In Toronto, Canada, On A $55,498 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 writer/actor who makes $55,498 per year and spends some of her money this week on parachute pants.

Editor's Note: all currency has been converted from CAD to USD.
Occupation: Writer/actor
Industry: Marketing/entertainment
Age: 30
Location: Toronto, Canada
Salary: $55,498, plus bookings from acting and comedy gigs
Net Worth: $36,998 (across checking, savings, and retirement)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,627
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,136 (I split with one roommate.)
Utilities: $74
Internet: $22.20
Cell Phone: $41.81
Spotify: $5.92
Netflix: $5.92
TFSA Investment: $18.50
Car Payment: $162.79
Car Insurance: $134.12
Checking Account Fee: $5.88
Amazon Prime: $8.35
Google Drive: $2.33
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?
There was an expectation for me to attend higher education. My siblings both got degrees in India (where my parents are from), and I was expected to be the first to get a degree in Canada. I lived at home rent-free, thankfully, but everything else was up to me financially. My degree was about $37.000. I received scholarships and grants and took out $18,500 in student loans, which I paid off within three years of graduation by working three jobs. I’ve also taken acting and comedy classes adding up to about $3,700, which led to signing with my agent. I paid for classes out of pocket, and they were a great investment.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn’t talk about money growing up and my parents weren’t the most financially literate. Money was taboo, though I knew that we were broke and my dad loved to gamble. Immigrating from India in the ’80s, my parents were primarily concerned with paying the bills and keeping food on the table, so they don’t have investments and barely planned for retirement. My financial education is happening on the fly, learning from my peers and my eldest sister and brother-in-law.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was making minimum wage as a customer service representative at a furniture store when I was 18, right after I graduated from high school. I knew I had to be financially responsible for myself, especially going to university with no safety net, so I wanted to start ASAP.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, I worried about money growing up. I remember my parents borrowing money from friends, my dad spending late nights into early mornings at the casino, my parents working several jobs through their own health problems, and finally, declaring bankruptcy. Though they would try to hide our struggles to keep afloat, I wouldn’t ask my parents for money because I knew our situation was not good. I missed school trips, didn’t join the band, and skipped the hot lunch program. My goal became to secure wealth so I could help my parents in the future.
Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now, but not as much as I used to. I had a therapist who helped me work through a lot of money anxiety in my mid twenties. I have savings and a support system, I’m a working professional, and if something were to happen, I can trust myself to figure it out.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for many aspects of my life when I was 18 — my education, cell phone, credit card, social and transportation expenses. The responsibility expanded at 23 when I bought a car. And at 25, I became responsible for rent and groceries, too. Now that I’m 30, I’m entirely responsible for myself. I have a financial safety net of savings, and I could turn to trusted friends or my eldest sister if I needed them.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

8 a.m. — It’s my birthday week! I spent the weekend out partying with friends to celebrate, so I’m trying to be more conscious of my spending today. I get out of bed and get ready.
9:30 a.m. — I work my day job today from home as the writer for a marketing team.
12 p.m. — I’m out of groceries, so I order a sub combo from my favorite local shop. It comes with a huge cold cuts sub, potato salad, and a drink. I split it into two meals and eat half now. I put the other half away for dinner. $21.32
3 p.m. — I take a break from writing to tape some auditions for my acting agent.
6 p.m. — I eat the rest of my sub for dinner then get ready for the improv show I’m in this evening. On my way to the theater, I drop off some clothes at a donation bin.
10 p.m. — My improv show goes well and I abstain from buying drinks — go, me! I head home and go right to sleep.
Daily Total: $21.32

Day Two

9 a.m. — Happy birthday to me! My roommate buys me drip coffee with oat milk at my favorite cafe down the street as a birthday treat. I enjoy leftover birthday cake from the weekend for breakfast and then dig into work.
3:30 p.m. — After I log off of work, I head out with a friend to do an ice bath (I love this new spot in Toronto, it’s so cool). On our way, we get stuck behind a garbage truck on a one-way street and don’t make it to our time slot. We drive there anyway, my friend parks in a nearby lot, and I cover the parking. She buys me a $12 birthday smoothie and we hang out at the smoothie cafe for the evening. $10.36
9 p.m. — I have been wanting to try this local pasta bar I keep seeing on Instagram, so I made a birthday dinner reservation for myself and two friends tonight. My friend drives me over from the smoothie shop. We get a range of cocktails, apps, and mains, and the pasta tastes just as incredible as it looks on the ’gram. And, yes, I pay for my own birthday dinner. $46.37
Daily Total: $56.73

Day Three

9 a.m. — Good morning! I need a few grocery essentials, like bagged salad mix, eggs, cereal, and almond milk, so I stroll over to the grocery store near me for a haul before I start working from home. I have a breakfast of leftover cake and tea. $19.59
2:30 p.m. — Thankfully the ice bath place from yesterday let us reschedule, so my friend and I return to the area from yesterday extra early, avoiding any garbage trucks trying to thwart us. I drive and I pay for parking. $8.14
3 p.m. — Finally, my friend and I have our ice bath experience, which is $45.99 each. They allow you to “free flow” through the circuit for about an hour — alternating between sauna with essential oils, the ice bath, and tea breaks. I hit a personal goal and last two minutes in the ice bath both times I do it, with my hands in the water, too. I’ve only done this once before, and they say the hands are the hardest part of your body to put in. $45.99
4:30 p.m. — After the ice bath, my friend and I grab smoothies from a different spot, where I have a voucher for my birthday. They load my vanilla almond butter smoothie with toppings like sea moss and protein, so I make the most of the freebie, which would usually cost around $20. Then I drive home.
8 p.m. — Another friend picks me up and takes me to a speakeasy for a birthday treat, where I have a tea-based cocktail served in a teacup shaped like a cat, and a few little biscuits, which is adorable. He also takes me out for dumplings for dinner. Throughout the night, we chat about improv and comedy. He drops me off at home and I get in bed.
Daily Total: $73.72

Day Four

8 a.m. — I have a quick breakfast of tea and cereal before diving into a busy work day.
1 p.m. — I take a break to go for a quick run and then make a lunch of salad and eggs. I want to be a wellness girlie in 2024, so when I get back to my laptop, I invest in a three-pack of boot camp classes at a really intense gym. $44.32
1:10 p.m. — While I’m on my laptop, I might as well buy new electric toothbrush heads. I snag a pack of three on Amazon. $27.56
5 p.m. — I’m out of liquid eyeliner so I order a new one, and with my aging anxiety, plus the dry winter weather adding up to dry eyes and eye bags, I buy a hydrating eye oil I’ve been seeing on TikTok. $56.02
8 p.m. — I drive to my friend’s place with a bottle of wine in hand that someone gave me for my birthday. I also take some macarons someone else got me, but they end up being dry. At my friend’s place, he makes dinner that he bought (lasagna and veggies, yum), and we read each other’s tarot. I drive home and am happy to have had a fun, free night.
Daily Total: $127.90

Day Five

8 a.m. — I’m up and working.
11:30 a.m. — I take an early lunch and head to my first boot camp class. I pay for parking on the street. $4.70
1 p.m. — I loved the class! I tried this place many years ago and almost passed out because it was so difficult — I’m so proud of myself for being able to not just keep up but crush it, since I’ve been working out these past three years. I buy a protein smoothie on the way out as a reward. Then it’s back to work. $8.36
7 p.m. — I finish work, get dressed, and head out to an improv show I’m performing in tonight. I fill my gas tank on the way to the show. The show ends at 9 p.m. and I quickly drive home. $29.60
10 p.m. — I freshen up and then get an Uber to a music venue to meet a group of friends. $7.38
10:15 p.m. — At the music venue, the ticket is $27.38 for an incredible show! My friends and I find a spot to watch and dance to this epic concert. $27.38
1:30 a.m. — I need a slice of pizza and there’s a place near the venue that sells massive slices. My friend and I split a double pepperoni slice and she pays. We forget the garlic dip, so I head back to the cashier and buy that. $0.84
2 a.m. — Time to head home. I happily pay for the Uber that gets me back to my bed! $8.87
Daily Total: $87.13

Day Six

11 a.m. — I snooze a few times after last night’s party before starting my Saturday morning routine, where I take a leisurely stroll to the bakery for a breakfast of champions: an oat milk latte and a ham and cheese croissant. $7.32
2 p.m. — This afternoon, my plan is to memorize lines for a sketch show I’m performing in tomorrow. While I’m on my laptop, I decide to buy a pair of parachute pants and a few wireless bras. $106.70
5:50 p.m. — I have an improv show tonight, so I get freshened up and drive over. I pay to park underground near the venue. $5.92
6 p.m. — The restaurant venue for the improv show offers performers half off dinner, so I have to take advantage: I get a steak and a Caesar salad. The improv show goes swimmingly. The show is sold out and we get a lot of laughs. $18.88
11 p.m. — Surprise! I’m in a second improv show tonight, so I drive over to that venue. Here, I treat myself to a raspberry sour beer. The show goes well and then I drive myself home and plop in bed. $8.51
Daily Total: $147.33

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Good morning! I scroll in bed for a bit before getting up to meet my friends.
11 a.m. — I meet two friends for our now monthly “brown girl brunch.” We all get along well and are in the comedy scene, and it’s important to me to keep up these connections. The Turkish brunch spot we picked is pricey but delicious. We catch up over eggs, pita, hummus, and coffee. $27.04
1 p.m. — I get home and lounge for the day before my sketch comedy show.
6 p.m. — The venue for my sketch comedy show is close to my apartment, so I walk over. The show goes well — a good way to end the week!
8 p.m. — I walk home and scrounge to create an easy pasta dinner from my pantry. After I eat, I get ready for bed and fall asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $27.04
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