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A Week In Toronto On A $78,200 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.
This week: a senior implementation specialist who makes $78,200 per year and spends some of her money this week on chocolate pudding.
Editor’s Note: All amounts are in Canadian dollars.
Occupation: Senior implementation specialist
Industry: Healthcare tech
Age: 32
Location: Toronto
Salary:  $78,200 ($76,500 from my full-time salaried job, $1,700 this year from my side hustle as a stage manager in community theatre.)
Assets: $500 in my checking; $7,444 in my rainy day fund (I pay rent out of this and contribute $1,400 per month); $4,195 in my savings account for a trailer; $1,265 in my travel fund; $3,652 in my RRSP; $14,325 in my TFSA. Both my RRSP and TFSA have some in GICS, and the rest in Wealthsimple’s Socially Responsible Index. Car is also paid off but I won’t guess its value in this equation.
Debt: $0. I finally got my decade-long lingering credit card debt paid off in September and have been paying off my balance in full every paycheck since. I’m very proud of that.  
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,156.22
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $1,125 — my husband T. and I split a three-bedroom apartment, it’s a steal.
Monthly Loan Payments: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Hydro: ~$70
Cell Phone: $6.50 ($50 is covered by work and this is just the remainder.)
Internet & Cable: $148
Hayu: $7.90
Spotify: $12.42
Pet Insurance: $71.98
Amex Fee: $12.99
Monthly Donation: $26.10 (This is to the camp I grew up at.)
Annual Fees: Local theatre membership, $13.27; Google storage, $40 Savings: $300 a month to my rainy day fund; $600 a month to my Wealthsimple TFSA; $300 a month to my Wealthsimple RRSP; around $300-$800 to either my trailer park fund or my vacation fund.
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, but to my parents’ credit they did tell me they would be happy with either college or university. I remember my mom saying it’s very hard to get a good job just with a high school diploma. I did really well all through high school and got a scholarship for a full ride to university for first year, which I promptly lost after one semester by not reading the fine print about mandatory GPA and partying a lot. My parents and my grandmother generously supported me throughout all of university, including housing, but I had part-time jobs for spending money and I worked in the summer. This is a privilege I don’t take lightly as I watch my friends all struggle to pay off their loans now.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I remember my parents fighting a lot about money and it’s really impacted my relationship with money and my husband. We’ve been together for 13 years, but I’m still not going to combine our bank accounts. My mom earned more than my dad, but she also spent a lot more, always insisting that we go out to dinner or go on vacation. Both of my parents had good government jobs, but I remember them having to ask my grandmother for a loan to do a repair on the roof. I never want to be in that position. Eventually when they divorced they sold the house and both moved into rentals because the debt was too much to take on individually.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a summer camp every year starting at age 15 until I was 19, where I was paid an “honourarium” of $45 a week and $5 of free candy. I got this job because I was such a campkid and couldn’t imagine aging out of camp, and they were some of the best years of my life. My parents did “trial separations” multiple times while I was in high school and when they were separated my dad would give me an allowance for cleaning the house and cooking dinner a few times a week. My first real job was a student space supervisor during my first year of university.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Maybe not worry, but I was definitely annoyed by my mom’s spending habits. I remember listening to the fighting and the complaining about being broke and even then being like “Well… Feels like a pretty obvious solution to me.” Overall though we were happy, had clothes on our back, and never went without.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. This last year I really started to care about my financial picture for the first time and finally got out of debt. I also got a new job with a fairly substantial pay bump and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I am proud of my cheap rent and my rainy day fund and I know I could make it quite a few months of being unemployed. I have given up on home ownership but am coming around to taking retirement seriously. I worry about having children and that wiping out our disposable income.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 22 when I graduated from university and moved to Toronto. I have enough in my rainy day fund for a few months, and I know my partner (and theoretically his parents) would support me if needed. My dad has told me, “You can move home if you’re about to be homeless, but not for any other reason.”
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
As mentioned, my parents and my grandmother supported me all the way through university. I received around $2,000 from my granddad when he passed away in 2013. My in-laws also gave us $10,000 for our elopement earlier this year which was not asked for, but definitely appreciated.

Day One

7:45 a.m. — I start snoozing my alarms. I went to New York over the weekend and am still recovering and very snoozy. I eventually get up, brush my teeth and get dressed, then walk my dog P. and make breakfast. I have a bagel with baba and Chipotle Everything Bagel Seasoning and a coffee. I also feed P. and eventually sit down for work by 9:05 a.m.
10:45 a.m. — Two of my friends that I went to New York with sent me some money for the trip — $40 for an Uber back to the airport and $220 for one person’s share of the hotel. I put the $220 in my vacation fund and the $40 on my Amex. I’m mostly sending follow ups this morning so I’m just kind of chilling. I have a clementine and a cinnamon bun Joe-Joe.
11:40 a.m. — Still not being super productive. I finish one task, have some leftover pizza and caramel rice cakes for lunch as my next meeting gets canceled.
2:30 p.m. — I take P. out for her afternoon walk and then make a veggie wrap for lunch #2 (Team Always Hungry). I have my first one-to-one with my new manager and it goes okay. I’m one of those people who is terrified of getting fired and I think he reads this wrong. But he doesn’t bring anything up about the fact that I’m only going to the office once a week instead of the mandated twice.
4:10 p.m. — I promise I’m generally not an impulsive person but I just randomly ordered a new phone online. I’m going to Morocco at the end of the month and I was thinking about how my phone is now a twice-a-day charger and how I’ve been out of storage for a while. For only $15 more per month I can get 35 more gigabytes of data, and a 128G iPhone 15, and just went for it. I think this is my first example of lifestyle creep since getting my new job last July, but since my work pays for $50 of my bill I think it’s worth it.
5:15 p.m. — Unfortunately I do spend the last hour of my workday getting this new phone and looking at phone cases, lol. I clock out and do 45 minutes of power yoga, shower and clean my apartment for a bit.
6:50 p.m. — T.’s home! My husband travels a lot for work and has been in the States for the past two weeks. We did see each other very quickly and luckily while I was in New York, but it’s very nice to have him home. We eventually go for dinner and drinks at an Irish bar fairly close by. I get a grilled cheese and fries with two and a half Harp beers. T. pays and we have a really good time talking shit about the New York trip, his time on the road, and how obsessed I’ve become about going to Antarctica. T. and I don’t split finances, which I know people have a lot of opinions about, but I hate feeling like the money police and I like feeling like I get taken out to dinner. Right now it works for us.
10 p.m. — We walk home and feed P., then watch an episode of the show that T. shot (actually he was the director of photography, but who’s bragging) that came out while he was away. It looks super good. It’s hard for us to be apart but I’m really proud of him and how talented he is. Bed around 11 p.m.; so happy to not be the one taking the pup out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — Office day means getting up a little bit earlier, but nothing criminal. I brush my teeth, put on sunscreen, make toast and a coffee to go and head out for the streetcar; there’s money loaded on my Presto and there are fare inspectors today.
9 a.m. — In the office, pretending to work already. My first order of business is ordering a cake for my upcoming Go Live client ($52 expensed). After that I work on some documentation and attend an API kick-off call. I also make coffee #2 and eventually eat a granola bar from the office kitchen.
11:50 a.m. — Not to complain about a free lunch but… This one is Greek, and I’m a vegetarian, and I literally just get iceberg lettuce, three olives, and a few roasted potatoes. Cool. I have a bag of Cheez-Its and half of a doughnut that were ordered for our coworker’s birthday, and a small bag of Brookside, and am feeling full enough.
3:30 p.m. — I am having trouble keeping my eyes open. I move my desk to be a standing desk and eat a bag of chips.
4.50 p.m. — Had a productive push to end my day but really ready to leave. I take a granola bar and some fruit gummies from the office snack drawer and head for the streetcar. I tap my Presto and read for about 75% of the way, and then I get off early to walk since it’s a nice-ish day and I feel a headache coming on. I have had a headache about 95% of the days I’ve worked from this office, something about the fluorescents.
6 p.m. — Home and feeling loopy. T. and I giggle on the couch for a while and listen to music and talk about our days. Eventually he goes on an LCBO drinks run and I watch an old episode of Summer House. When he gets back he makes us breakfast for dinner: hash browns, eggs and toast. We watch EuroTrip and we both have an ice cream sammie for dessert.
9:50 p.m. — When we switch the movie off I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open and end up going to bed at like 10:10 p.m., which is early even for me. I’m out by 10:40 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:45 a.m. — Got distracted with T. this morning and am up later than I’d like to be, but I don’t have any morning meetings and honestly I don’t regret it. I take P. out, make an everything bagel with baba and a coffee, and sit down to work.
9:30 a.m. — I got paid a day early! Thank you Easter! I do my payday routine: pay off both credit cards (which really hurt after New York), put $700 into my rent and rainy day fund, and put $300 in my TFSA. The only bills I manually pay are on my first paycheck of the month and this is the second. Usually I’ll have about $300-$400 to put in my trailer park fund this paycheck, but New York put a stop to that. If I didn’t have another trip coming up in less than a month I would pay my credit card back with some money from my vacation fund, but at the moment I think skipping a month of my trailer fund is okay. I also buy my pay day treat: a phone case for my new phone from Walli. I can’t ever go back from having a loop at the back of my phone case, but the Loopy case I wanted is sold out. It is kind of pricey, but cheaper than Loopy and I get a really fun cow print. $73.33
10 a.m. — While paying off my credit card, I see that my Presto has auto-loaded. $20
10:40 a.m. — Really on a rip and a tear this morning. I’m watching a training video for one of my new clients and get a one-day sale email from Uniqlo. I need a larger, more secure purse for Morocco so I can bring my film camera around, and I’m still on the look out for a pair of green cotton pants, also for Morocco. Both of these are on sale at Uniqlo and I buy an extra pair of underwear to meet the $75 free shipping minimum. I also get $10 off from signing up for texts and that means the $75 is irrelevant. I do in-store pickup and tell myself I will try stuff on and potentially return things while I’m in store. Still another kind-of impulsive purchase. $74.24
12:20 p.m. — T. also got paid early today and e-transfers me for the flights to Morocco that I bought back in January. I had lent the money from my rainy day fund so I put the money right back in (+$630). I have a veggie wrap, a cookie and everything bagel cashews for lunch.
1:40 p.m. — The tote bag I bought online last week — because it was sold out at the concert I went to in New York — is marked as undeliverable and is being returned to sender… Thank you for the $75 back but also… I wanted that tote bag. I submit an online form but don’t hold my breath.
4:30 p.m. — Just got told I had the wrong info for something I’ve spent probably about five hours on this week :)
5:15 p.m. — Done for the week! I do a quick power yoga video and then spend 10-15 minutes in my reading nook to finish my book. It was a collection of short stories that a friend of a friend of mine wrote, I rate it higher on GoodReads than I normally would to support a pal. Afterwards T. and I stroll to the LCBO since it’s closed tomorrow ($17.40) and then pick up hot cross buns from Cobs to be extra festive ($9.25). $26.65
7 p.m. — Once we’re home, I make us a quick dinner of zucchini and gnocchi with red sauce. Gnocchi is a hugely underrated pasta. I also have a Harp and T. has a High Life. Eventually T. heads out to meet a pal and I finish season 6 of Summer House and go to bed around 11:20 p.m.
Daily Total: $194.22

Day Four

8:45 a.m. — It’s Good Friday which means a Good Sleep-In. I get up around 9:15 a.m., walk P., have two hot cross buns and coffee for breakfast and start on my new book, an oral history of emo called Where Are Your Boys Tonight?
11:40 a.m. — T. eventually gets up and my reading time is interrupted. I do my hour of power yoga, have a big shower, do my skincare for once and make coffee number two and have two pomegranate Pop-Tarts that T. brought back from the States, and a clementine. I start my professional management course which I’m determined to do two hours of every weekend.
3:20 p.m. — My head hurts and I’m not focusing well so I stop to have some cheese and crackers, cucumbers and spin dip for lunch and watch this week’s Summer House.
4:15 p.m. — T. comes home from his camera prep and takes P. out for a walk. I get ready for my best friend B.’s birthday party! The theme is indie sleaze and this is my Super Bowl. I still have an American Apparel deep V and an American Apparel hoodie which I pair with skinny jeans and I straighten my hair. When I head out I stop by A&W and get two potato peri-peri buddy burgers ($9.02). I eat one at A&W and bring one to eat when I get there. $9.02
6:30 p.m. — I get there early to help set up and add a slouchy beanie to my ensemble. Our friends start to show up, the playlist is great, and it’s an all-time good party. We take a lot of film photos and decide on our summer mantra: take it easy. For context — last year was freak summer. B. brought a pack of PBRs for the party and our chef friend brought a birthday cake. I take the beers I brought home.
11:30 p.m. — T. has to be on set for 9 a.m. tomorrow so we gotta scoot. We TTC home, he walks P. and I wash my face and hit the hay.
Daily Total: $9.02

Day Five

8:20 a.m. — T. gives me a kiss before he heads out for set, and I snooze for a bit more before getting up to walk P. I again have two hot cross buns and coffee and put on Vanderpump Rules while P. has breakfast as well.
11:20 a.m. — Get myself off the couch to walk to the grocery store. We need dog food and I want to make my friend, A., worms and dirt for his birthday tonight. Yes that’s two birthdays in a row in the same friend group — we also have one next Friday. Woof. The grocery store is a 25-minute walk each way but I like to walk and it’s a sunshiney day. I see some buds on the trees! I get chocolate pudding, Oreos, gummy worms, Mini Eggs, crackers and dog food. The lady in front of me gets all vegetables. $26.14
12:45 p.m. — I get home and make the pudding in order to give it a few hours to sit. I eat two Oreos dipped in pudding and let myself have five minutes of chill time on the couch and then force myself to get up and do a slow yoga flow. Balance.
2:15 p.m. — I take a quick body shower, get my clothes sorted and run to the cafe across the street to break my $20 bill for laundry. I get a pumpkin spice Americano and a ginger molasses cookie — a very autumnal order for a nice spring day. $8
3 p.m. — I put two loads in at the laundromat ($7). When I get home I work on my PMP course for a bit and eat my cookie. Switch my laundry over and keep working on my course while it dries ($1.75). $8.75
4:10 p.m. — Walk P. and start making dinner while I put my clothes away, just an easy veggie fish and chips. I also assemble the worms ‘n’ dirt, feed P. and get changed for the night. I put on an old episode of Below Deck while I bop around.
5.50 p.m. — Wanted to head for the bus about 15 minutes ago but just had too much to do. I take the streetcar to the bus (paid on Presto), the bus to the subway, ride the subway for one stop and find out that it’s not running this weekend… Take the shuttle bus, the subway and then another bus… Overall two hours on the TTC by the time I get there. Love that for me.
8 p.m. — I drink three beers, have some chips and a mochi doughnut. This pal always celebrates his birthday by toasting his enemies which is very fun, and his girlfriend gives me an edible which is also very fun. This year he adds in an element where we all have to do a presentation. Mine is on “How To Not Shit Your Pants Internationally,” a concept I’m very passionate about. Other presentations include: “Horses and Gemstone Synesthesia,” “Sonja Morgan’s Toaster Oven,” and “Cereal.” Overall, a very fun night.
11:30 p.m. — T. drove to the party since he only finished set at 6 p.m. and there’s no way he would have made it with the shuttle bus, so he only has one drink and then drives us home. The weed has made me very sleepy and it’s extremely nice to just cruise home. I go to bed right away.
Daily Total: $42.89

Day Six

8:20 a.m — T. gives me a kiss goodbye and heads back to set, he walked and fed P. this morning so I keep snoozing.
11:30 a.m. — Finally up. I do my final yoga for my month-long challenge. I really liked this yoga streaming website and I will use it in the future, but I’m going to cancel for now. I tend to do one month spurts at working out so I can keep things fresh and not get bored. I eat some leftover pizza from B.’s birthday and watch Below Deck.
1 p.m. — Take P. out for a walk; the Easter parade is already starting on my street.
2 p.m. — Head up to the top of our block to get scooped by T. We’re heading to our hometown for Easter dinner and the traffic combined with the parade is intense. We stop at Tim Horton’s for a coffee and Timbits, and T. pays. I also pay my rent in the car.
3:45 p.m. — Made it home. The dinner is at T.’s parents house but my dad will come because they’re besties. There’s also his sister (who’s pregnant, lots to discuss), her husband, T.’s cousin and his son, my brother-in-law’s dad and T.’s aunt. I feel very fortunate to be adopted into a fun, nice and normal family, because that was not always my experience growing up. As a teen I couldn’t imagine an Easter dinner without someone screaming. I am slightly sad that I don’t get an Easter basket.
8:40 p.m. — Post-pie we leave our hometown and the traffic is still rough. We talk about how much we both got talked over in that dinner and how nobody understands what either of us do for work. We get home, feed P., and watch an episode of T.’s TV show. I shower and head to bed by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8:10 a.m. — Wish I had Easter Monday off. I get up, brush my teeth and put sunscreen on, and walk P. I give her breakfast and have leftover pizza, leftover Timbits and coffee for myself. My first Slack message I see when I log in is about how much internal time I used last week… Tracking my time is the worst part of my job.
11 a.m. — I start on this manual that should help with my billable hours, but it also feels very self-serving. I cancel my power yoga membership and sign up for the Action Jacquelyn Barre Definition app. It’s $29.99 but I won’t get charged for seven days and when I do I’ll expense it through my “wellness fund” and then I’ll cancel before the end of the month.
12:30 p.m. — I make a little snacky lunch of a hot cross bun, cucumbers, cheese, crackers and Everything Bagel almonds.
2:30 p.m. — Meetings are done for the day so I do my first workout of my new challenge. I do a Barre-Yoga-Leg-Sculpt with ankle weights and it is a killer. I haven’t used my ankle weights since I did this creator’s workouts last May. By the end of the 30 minutes I’m shaking.
3:10 p.m. — Back online and do a head-down task while listening to The Bald and the Beautiful.
4:55 p.m. — Done for the day and it looks like I missed the nice weather. I read my book in my nook for about an hour before T. and I head out on a walk. We stop by the grocery store and get canned dolma and spanakopita for dinner, and I eye that they have ice cream on sale. T. gets the groceries and then we stop at Shoppers for leftover Easter candy. I get some that doesn’t have a price tag and I’m not sure how discounted it really was ($6.20). Afterward we go to the same bar we went to earlier in the week and get two pints each. We have a really good talk about Morocco and our future trailer. I’m aware it’s not a good investment, but it’s the closest thing to a cottage I’m going to get. We agree that this will be an “information gathering” summer, and then, depending on the answers we get, try to purchase one during the summer after. T. pays for the beers. $6.20
8 p.m. — We get the ice cream on the way home. $4.99
8:15 p.m. — We make rice to go with our dolma and spanakopita and watch I Love You, Man. Our friend’s birthday on Friday is Paul Rudd themed and we’re still trying to get ideas.
11 p.m. — Lights out baby!
Daily Total: $11.19

The Breakdown

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