Money Diaries logo

A Week In Toronto, Canada, On A $79,677 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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 senior product manager who makes $79,677 per year and spends some of her money this week on getting film developed.
All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: Senior Product Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 34
Location: Toronto, Canada
Salary: $79,677
Net Worth: ~$104,170 (checking: ~$297, savings: ~$43,400, TFSA: ~$35,890, employer matched RRSP: ~$8,637, car value: ~$7,446, joint savings account with husband: ~$8,500. Our joint savings account is the only money my husband and I share, everything else is separate).
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,251
Pronouns: She/they

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,040 of $1,780 for a one-bedroom I share with my husband, utilities included. I pay more than my partner since he pays the other bills for the apartment and car.
Netflix: $11.29 (my partner pays for Crave and we traded a login with a friend for access to Disney+. We also use Kanopy, which we get for free through the Toronto Public Library).
Spotify: $8.41
Cell Phone: $46.28
Cloud Storage: $9.68
Internet: $0 (husband pays $60).
Car Insurance: $0 (husband pays $140).
Renters' Insurance: $0 (husband pays $30).
Parking Permit: $0 (husband pays $13).
Savings: $150 to personal savings, $185 to joint savings.
TFSA: $370
RRSP: 5% of paycheck matched with 5% from my employer.
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?
Yes, both my parents were very keen on my little brother and me continuing our education. I am very lucky that my mother worked at a university and as a benefit, her dependents qualified to get half off of tuition. My parents also had an RESP (registered education savings plan) for my brother and me and since my brother did not attend higher education until many years after I had completed mine, I was the main recipient of those funds. They also paid for me to live in the dorms. I worked part-time in retail and as a barista all through university to cover my spending money and school supplies. I had zero debt at the time I graduated.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were both money-conscious but I would say my father was a more frugal parent and it was important to him that we understand saving and how to avoid debt. Otherwise, we didn't talk much about investments or managing a household.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
When I was 16, I walked to my local mall and got a job at a department store. I knew that being able to make my own money would allow me more independence and I wanted nice things without being a burden on my parents. I didn't know much about money or banking at the time — when I got my first paycheck I deposited it and straightaway went to buy this wonderful plaid winter coat I'd fallen in love with, only to learn at the cash register that you have to wait for checks to clear! I went back three days later and bought it.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. I understood that there was a limit on what was “too much” to spend and tried not to ask for things I did not feel a strong need for, but overall I felt we were financially comfortable.
Do you worry about money now?
Generally, no. I used to but I think I'm well compensated for my work and balance that by living within my means. I've learned to save money by making my own meals, walking as a primary mode of transport, and having people over rather than going out. I also try to sell as many things as I buy to keep things in balance (and my apartment less cluttered). When I do feel like I'm spending a lot in a month or when I have to make a large, unexpected purchase, my heart skips a beat. But I know it will be okay.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent around the age of 24 after I started working full time. It was important to me to start living a lifestyle I could afford soon after university so I didn't need my parents to continue to cover my costs. Thankfully, I have a good safety net under me if I should lose my job, but I know I could count on my partner and my parents to help out if I was ever in a bad position for an extended period of time.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents have lent money to my brother and in return, without my asking, have given the same amounts to me since they felt that was fair. I also received about $2,000 from my grandmother last year since she wanted her grandchildren to receive money from her and not get tied up in sorting out inheritances should she pass away. My husband and I received $14,000 in gifts from our recent wedding. After paying off our wedding costs (about $3,000), we put the rest in our joint savings account.

Day One

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and my two fluffy backup alarms (also known as my cats) jump up on the bed and commence yelling at us to get up and feed them. I feed the babies, make coffee and scroll Reddit.
9:10 a.m. — I cruise across the room to my desk and start work. I feel cranky today. I realize I'm probably just uncomfortable and cold since the heat isn't on in the apartment. I send a message to my landlord — they must have turned it down with the spring weather jumping up and down.
12 p.m. — I'm still feeling a bit out of it but I psych myself up to go for a run. I feel so much better after moving around. After my run, I hurry home to shower and get ready for my afternoon, which is mostly meetings. I stuff my face with a leftover avocado, mango and black bean bowl from a recipe I made with a meal planning app, Mealime. I've been using it for two weeks and I feel like I've saved a lot of money grocery shopping with a specific list and quantity of ingredients. It's also delicious!
5 p.m. — I close my laptop for the day. I did some good work but was pretty distracted. I feel proud of myself for managing my mood and focusing well even though I feel kind of crummy today. I've been trying to practice driving three times a week since I have my learner's permit and I'm trying to become more confident driving in our busy city. My husband, Q., needs a passport photo taken and I need to take in some film of my best friend's wedding to be developed so we drive to a local photography store.
6 p.m. — Unfortunately we arrive too late for passport photos but I drop off my film ($14.30). We stop by a bulk food store for raw cashews and brown sugar ($19, Q. pays) and go to an Italian spot for dinner since Q. didn't get around to buying groceries today. I have a walnut and gorgonzola salad with a chicken breast ($12, Q. pays). I love their salads, I don't know what they do differently but they are always so delicious. $14.30
8 p.m. — We head home, fall onto the couch and watch Last Week Tonight and It's Always Sunny until bedtime.
Daily Total: $14.30

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Wake up to my alarm with no feline accompaniment today. I get out of bed to make coffee, put away yesterday's dishes and read.
9:10 a.m. — I clock into work and start preparing for a presentation with another team to present some findings and recommended actions from a research project. I'm anxious that one of the members of this other team who I've butted heads with before is going to say something antagonistic during my presentation but I try not to overthink it.
10:02 a.m. — The meeting actually goes very well, everyone agrees with me and I feel my inner Leo is very validated — I'm a genius! I take a short break to snack on some raspberries and have an interesting exchange with the more talkative of my two cats.
12 p.m. — Go for a run. I've picked a 20-minute fartlek run off the Nike Run app. Most of my runs are tempo/recovery runs so I should focus some more on speed and endurance if I want to see improvements. I love literally running errands so I go by a coffee shop to pick up two bags of coffee beans and a chocolate chip cookie ($29.78). $29.78
12:40 p.m. — I return home from my run to find Q. is using the shower so I'll likely be stinky for my meetings this afternoon until I can find time to sneak in a quick shower — I am thankful Zoom has not come out with smell-o-vision yet. I don't have lunch prepared so I make two Eggo waffles with maple syrup and half a banana. It's a very sweet lunch but it sustains me. Then I focus back on work for more meetings this afternoon.
4:45 p.m. — I feel very good about how focused and productive I've been for the day but feel my energy waning and I can also feel two sets of eyes on me waiting to be fed dinner so I end my workday, feed the cats and finally have a shower. Q. is at work until later this evening so once I'm cleaned up, I put together a tofu bacon, avocado and crouton salad for myself and set aside some for him. The recipe is amazing! I eat while watching an episode of the second season of The Great.
9:45 p.m. — It's cold and rainy out so I spend most of the evening curled up with the cats and a book. Q. returns home from work and we get talking about yo-yos because he remembered having a yo-yo artist (is that what you would call it?) visit his school. I start to feel pretty sleepy so I get ready for bed and watch TikTok for about an hour before passing out.
Daily Total: $29.78

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — Get out of bed, coffee and feed the cats. I spend some time looking at my bank accounts and notice I'm a bit off track for my savings goal for the year. I open up Mint, which I haven't used in a while, and reconnect my accounts. I resolve to spend some time later today going through my transactions for the last few months to see where spending is high.
9:15 a.m. — Head over to my desk. I notice that I have a lot of sinus pressure today. It has a somewhat fizzy sensation, like I inhaled soda through my nose. Lovely. This is probably a good sign to try to take it easy today.
11:45 a.m. — I wrap up my last meeting of the morning and make two pieces of toast with hummus, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes for lunch. I scroll through Mint and recall that we spent some money last month replacing our bedding, getting some closet storage and some other reasonable expenses. I don't worry about it too much since they have all had a positive impact on my life so far. It is still raining out but I need to stretch my legs. I take a scratch card Q. won $9 on to the corner store and exchange it for three more (we play them just for fun on rainy days) and a Snickers bar ($1.41). We win another $6 total on two of the scratch cards and I eat the Snickers bar and get back to work. $1.41
2 p.m. — I see an email notification come in from my doctor's office — I've been trying to make an appointment in order to get a referral. It's hard to get in to see my doctor and they were able to move my appointment from the end of the month up to next week. I'm relieved!
4:36 p.m. — With so many meetings this week, I can start to feel myself burning out from having to listen actively most of the day. I step away from my desk to unwind a bit and watch TikTok while keeping an eye on my notifications to see if anyone needs me.

5:15 p.m. — Q. gets home from running some errands and we cook vegan bolognese and make a salad with spring mix and artichoke hearts. He was laid off a couple of months ago from his work-from-home job and has started three jobs in different bars recently so we are now on different schedules. It's an interesting adjustment, not overall bad, but I've been feeling like I'm doing more than my fair share of the housework and that we haven't been spending enough quality time with each other. We start discussing rearranging some housework and agree to continue the discussion after we are both more settled into the new schedule.

7:15 p.m. — I still want more chocolate than the Snickers from earlier so I embark on a long walk to the supermarket to restock us on chocolate. I completely forgot it was still calling for rain so I end up getting soaked. Since I'm already wet I stop into the garden center and buy two delphiniums. $7.57

7:25 p.m. — I head into the grocery store and buy salmon, Q-tips, compost bags, two giant dark chocolate and almond bars, two other flavored dark chocolate bars and a package of chocolate peanut butter cups for Q. ($34.10). We will be stocked for chocolate for a long time! $34.10

8:30 p.m. — After trudging back home in the rain, I do a Nike Training Club core workout since my back muscles feel like noodles and my posture has been horrible. It feels good to move around. Then I put on more of The Great and snack on a row of chocolate and cuddle a cat.

Daily Total: $43.08

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, feed cats, make coffee. Today is the Gotcha Day of my older cat. I spend some time cuddling with her and looking at photos of our time together. She is so important to me and we have a very special bond. I feel very thankful to have her in my life.
9:10 a.m. — I scoot over to my desk for another day packed full of meetings. Since I've been leading a lot of these meetings this week, I'm feeling very productive, having gathered a lot of information to push things along.
9:20 a.m. — Ack! An email from the team member I was dreading presenting to following up with some concerns. Reading through it, I think they are mostly emotional responses to a change I'm proposing — change can be really hard to take in for some people! I make notes about the data points I might need to respond with.
12:14 p.m. — I take a break to go for a run. I don't have a lunch prepared today and I still need a shower once I get home so I grab a slice of pepperoni pizza from my local café. $5.74
1:06 p.m. — Get home and shower. I put on a dress I sewed from a pattern and painted since I'm going out later to a book launch and want to look cool. I sit down at my desk and head immediately back into meetings again. They're starting to wear me out. It takes a lot of energy just to listen attentively all day.
3:30 p.m. — Okay, I've definitely had one meeting too many this week. I feel meeting-drunk. I also haven't taken enough breaks today. I try to sit quietly through my last meeting then finish up sorting through some data to get talking points to respond to the concerned email from earlier.
5:25 p.m. — I realize it's long past quitting time for me so I crawl out of my mental data hole. I see I have a notification for a tie-front top I ordered from Urban Outfitters so I pick up the package from the front of the house and put it on with my dress. This is a power outfit! My brain feels like a rat's nest but at least I look great.
6:15 p.m. — I get on the TTC ($2.46) to head to the book launch. I'm not sure I want a full dinner today but I should probably stop somewhere to get a quick bite. $2.46
6:45 p.m. — I hop off close to an Odd Burger to buy two hash browns ($8.06) for Q. and me since we haven't had dinner. Then I head to the book launch. Q. is delighted with his hash browns. I buy a non-alcoholic beer ($4.47, with tip), which I don't enjoy because it's Budweiser and it's a bit too warm for my liking, then I take a seat. $12.53
7:45 p.m. — The readings and talks begin. I really enjoy it, I haven't been out to any talks for a while and there is some great food for thought.
9:15 p.m. — The talks end and I'm pretty exhausted. I kiss Q. goodbye as he is staying to DJ the event and take the TTC back home ($2.46). I watch the last episode of The Great with both my cats on top of me. I wish there were more, I really enjoyed this show! Then head to bed. $2.46
Daily Total: $23.19

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — After I make coffee I wake up Q. and talk to him about our plans for the evening since it's one of the few days this week he will not be working. Initially we had talked about going to see The Super Mario Bros. Movie but since he finishes work around 6, we probably won't have time to eat beforehand. We discuss going out to dinner and watching a movie at home instead. I also message one of my friends, K., about going on a little picnic or visiting a garden center together with her baby daughter tomorrow.
9:06 a.m. — I wiggle to my desk. It's Friday and I feel pretty burned out after so many meetings this week. I resolve to take lots of breaks today and do some house chores.
11 a.m. — I take a short break to do some vacuuming and munch on an apple with cheese and chat with Q.
12:14 p.m. — I start my lunch break and go for another run. I spend half the run contemplating getting an iced latte but I decide to save my money. When I get home I see a text from Q. that he left a large flower arrangement left over from the event in the car so I go pick it up. They are funeral flowers, which is kind of funny, but they look lovely and smell divine!
1:15 p.m. — I don't need to participate in the meeting I'm in so I turn off my camera, make a salad in the background and fold some laundry. I'm so excited for today to be over.
4:48 p.m. — Q. comes home from work a little early so I end work for the day. We decide to go to a Southeast Asian spot for dinner — it's one of our favorite places but we have never eaten in person there, only delivery over the pandemic. We are both starving so after relaxing a bit we take the TTC down ($2.46). $2.46
5:30 p.m. — There is no wait when we get to the restaurant. Q. has a ginger beer and I have a non-alcoholic sour and we decide to do the "feed me" option for $50 per person. The meal is delicious and I'm happy we have time to hang out together. I pay since Q. got dinner out earlier in the week ($114.06). We go by one of the bars he works at for another drink. We run into a hairstylist I was seeing for a while then stopped going to and I feel awkward. $114.06
9:45 p.m. — We leave and stop on the way to buy a small bag of regular Ruffles chips ($1.84) and take the TTC home ($2.46). We are both totally exhausted and fall into bed. $4.30
Daily Total: $120.82

Day Six

7:55 a.m. — I wake up and text K. about meeting up. Her daughter woke up early in the morning so we decide to meet after they have a nap.
11:23 a.m. — K. texts me they are ready. I prep some veggies, hummus and fruit for us all to snack on and pack it up in a wicker picnic basket I bought last year. The weather is amazing today and I feel cute as a button in an orange smock dress carrying this basket.
11:57 a.m. — I drive over to K.'s and survive another voyage on my own — huzzah! We get her daughter ready and roll out to a local park where we find that the neighborhood is doing a big yard sale. There's a DJ letting some kids play with his equipment so we sit close to the music.
1:30 p.m. — The baby starts to get a bit restless so we head out to our next stop: a local garden center. I buy dinosaur kale, Russian red kale, Thai basil, parsley and a sweet million cherry tomato plant. I put it in my picnic basket ($14.26). We head back to K.'s for a bit but it seems like her daughter is approaching nap time. I love spending time with them but I think this is my cue to leave. $14.26
3 p.m. — I drive home and see a message from Q. that Uber accidentally delivered him $50 worth of really nice sushi instead of his vegan sandwich so now that food is mine. What a wonderful day! I love free food.
3:30 p.m. — I remember I need to pick up my film today and I also have a bag of clothes from some spring cleaning to take to our local buy/sell/trade store. I take the TTC ($2.46), pick up the film and drop off the clothes. $2.46
4 p.m. — While I wait for them to go through the clothes, I walk around in the sun and get a mochi doughnut and an iced latte with oat milk. $8.40
4:20 p.m. — I get a text message that the clothes I dropped off are ready. I head back to the store but they didn't want anything — maybe I will see if someone on a Buy Nothing Group would like some. I head home on the TTC again ($0 with hop-on/hop-off).
5 p.m. — I cook some bok choy with maple glazed tofu and rice for dinner and make a blackberry chai syrup to mix with drinks. I really enjoy Daydream soda's blackberry chai flavor but at $4.99 a can it's pretty expensive. The syrup doesn't turn out quite the same but it is still quite tasty! I message Q. asking if he can bring home some soda water for it.
8 p.m. — I drive to pick up Q. from work. He has picked up two cases of Liquid Death for the blackberry chai syrup. Q. drives the rest of the way home since I'm pretty tired. He is full of energy and tells me about a funny interaction he experienced at work while we drive back. I have the accidental sushi for dinner.
9 p.m. — We watch a screener of The Super Mario Bros. Movie Q. downloaded — it's okay but nothing special. I'm surprised it made so much at the box office.
10:20 p.m. — I show Q. a book of our wedding photos I put together on VistaPrint. We order one copy of the book and Q. also makes a silly mug with one of our cats on it wearing a wizard hat I needle felted and some bookmarks with the same photo (Q. pays). Then we head to bed.
Daily Total: $25.12

Day Seven

8:50 a.m. — Wake up and feed the cats. I bring Q. coffee in bed and we watch some TikTok together on his phone and look at some Google Photos memories.
10 a.m. — We have a second coffee outside. I plant the veggies I picked up yesterday and some seeds for flowers as companion plants. Q. puts up some twinkle lights that he bought on Amazon. The patio will look fantastic in a month's time!
12:10 p.m. — I go for a run in the rain and get totally soaked through. I'm cheered at the thought that I can go home and put on pajamas for the rest of the day since I don't need to go out again.
1:30 p.m. — I get home, do a quick vacuum of the apartment, then shower. I get cozy in pajamas and then decide to plate up the rest of the sushi and make a blackberry chai drink with the syrup I made and some Liquid Death.
2 p.m. — I put on an episode of Succession and flop on the couch.
5 p.m. — Time has flown past but I'm feeling pretty deeply relaxed and content not really doing anything. Days like this are increasingly rare for me and feel very decadent. I spend the rest of the evening reading and getting small house chores done.
11:40 p.m. — Q. gets home to find me scrolling TikTok still on the couch. We get in bed and chat about our days before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more Money Diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series