A Week In Toronto, ON, On A $56,600 Salary

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Today: a legal assistant who makes $56,600 per year and spends some of her money this week on kombucha.

Occupation: Legal Assistant
Industry: Law
Age: 29
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $50,000 (plus around $6,600 in overtime.)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,575
Overtime Amount (1x/month): $425 (give or take depending on the month)
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,725 (I live alone with my two cats in a studio apartment that has in-suite laundry and a parking space.)
Hydro: $35–$50
Loan Payments: $75 (My grandparents generously loaned me $27,000 to pay back my student loan and avoid the insane interest rates. Whatever is left of my debt at the time of my grandmother's passing will be covered by my inheritance. I was paying $150 a month, but I reduced the amount after I gave up my second job, waitressing, so I could focus on studying for my litigation clerk certificate.)
Car Payments & Insurance: $0 (My parents gifted me their old car when they bought a new one, and they cover the insurance.)
Line Of Credit: $75 (I'm currently paying down $7,900. I used my line of credit to pay off a high-interest credit card, plus debt I'd accumulated over the last five years.)
RRSP: $86 (This is matched 100% by my employer.)
Transit Pass: $138
Phone: $122
Internet: $70
Netflix: $14
Melissa Wood Online Health Membership: $14
Waxing Membership: $17
TFSA: $0 (I'm not putting in anything at the moment. I have about $2,000 saved, which I'm aware isn't great.)

Day One

6:45 a.m. — I press snooze twice before dragging my ass out of bed. I fire up the Nespresso machine, clean the litter box, make my bed (a must), feed the cats, “wash” my face with Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution, and put on the usual minimal makeup: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro moisturizer, Skinfix eye cream, Tatcha primer, Maybelline Fit Me foundation, NARS concealer, Laura Mercier pressed powder, and a touch of Marcelle bronzer. I usually forgo mascara and curl my lashes with the Shu Uemura eyelash curler. I'm too lazy to do my hair today, so it goes into a low bun.
7:30 a.m. — I'm low on groceries, so I pop gluten-free frozen chocolate chip waffles into the toaster and pack up what's left of my blueberries. I also made a salad before I went to bed last night, so I bring it for lunch. There's a blizzard outside, so I put on my Sorels and heavy winter coat and leave to catch the streetcar for my 20-minute commute.
9 a.m. — I finally take a break from my emails to grab my green juice from the kitchen (I typically buy a large juice at the beginning of the week and make it last a few days). It's going to be a busy day of preparing briefs for an upcoming appeal hearing. I'd love to have another coffee, but my stomach isn't going to have it.
12:30 p.m. — I break for lunch. I'm both blessed and cursed to work a five-minute walk from a mall. I head to Dynamite to return a pair of faux-leather leggings I bought but didn't need ($45 goes back onto my credit card). I take a quick stroll around Pusateri's, a gourmet grocer, before heading back to the office to eat my sad salad at my desk.
4 p.m. — There's an office fundraising event, so my coworker and I head over to partake (i.e. drink and eat for free). Part of the event is pie-ing lawyers in the face, which I'll never turn down an opportunity to see. After a couple glasses of red wine and one too many mini quiches, I return to my desk to finish up one last brief before the weekend.
5:45 p.m. — I take the subway two stops to my chiropractor appointment. Note to self: Don't make appointments for after work on Fridays. The appointment costs $70 and 80% is covered by my benefits. I still have money from the settlement I received after a serious car accident several years ago, so the difference comes from my savings account. $18.
7 p.m. — I'm finally home. The couple glasses of wine I had on top of an exhausting week has me ready for bed. I'm still full from happy hour so no dinner for me. I tidy up my apartment and have a body shower before settling in for the night. I pop all of my nighttime medications, along with my cannabis capsule, which I take to manage a chronic pain disorder, post-traumatic stress, and depression that resulted from the car accident. I read a couple chapters of The Better Sister by Alafair Burke, which I borrowed from my local library, before turning the lights out at 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $18

Day Two

6 a.m. — I feel like I barely slept, tossing and turning most of the night. My anxiety levels have been higher than usual lately, which, in addition to my chronic pain disorder, makes sleeping difficult. I get an early start on the day: I make coffee and read a few more chapters of my book before officially getting out of bed.
8 a.m. — I turn on my current background noise of choice, 30 Rock, and get to cleaning. This weekend I do the bathroom, kitchen, and litter box. I take a couple breaks throughout to catch up on one of my favourite websites, Apartment Therapy.
10:30 a.m. — Cleaning is complete, and I'm feeling accomplished. I drive 15 minutes to Loblaws. Currently, there isn't a grocery store near my place but one is being built, which will eventually make getting groceries very convenient. I pick up ingredients for chicken and butternut squash soup, plus eggs, coconut yogurt, fruit, a frozen pizza, turkey bacon, mayonnaise, gluten-free waffles, and cat litter. My total comes to a whopping $100, but I redeem $10 in points, and I also get 15,000 points from my purchase ($90). My soul hurts every time I leave the grocery store. On the way home, I pick up a bottle of pinot noir and a bottle of sparkling wine for my friend's birthday tonight ($25). $115
1 p.m. — With my grocery haul, I make a sandwich on gluten-free bread with egg, turkey bacon, and tomato. Now it's time to study. My employer offers $1,000 a year for tuition assistance. I'm a licensed paralegal, but I thought it would be beneficial to complete my law clerk litigation certificate. Obtaining my certificate will open up new opportunities at my current job, along with a substantial raise if I move into a clerk role. I'm currently completing an online program that will prepare me to write my certification exam. I was working two jobs up until two months ago: my full-time job at the office and a serving job, where I worked three shifts a week. With studying in the mix, I was spreading myself too thin, especially given my health issues. I definitely need the money, but I'm choosing to take a break for the five months I need to study.
4 p.m. — I've gotten through more studying than I intended, so I reward myself with a nap. I'm usually in bed by 9 p.m., so I need a power nap before tonight's festivities.
6:30 p.m. — I'm up from my nap and groggy as hell. I make coffee and watch an episode of 30 Rock before doing a 13-minute Melissa Wood Health video. I get ready to go out: I have a body shower, curl my hair, and do my makeup, which is my daily makeup, plus mascara and liquid eyeliner. I put on a grey-silver bodysuit, black jeans, and my high-heeled black boots. I bring a small bottle of vodka, a couple cans of club soda, slices of lemon and lime, and the bottle of sparkling wine I bought for the birthday girl.
8:30 p.m. — I take an Uber instead of transit, because damn it's cold ($12). I arrive at my friend's place to an amazing cheese board. We stay at her place until midnight, at which point we walk to a bar down the street. There's no cover, but I check my coat ($4). I'm already not feeling the vibe of this place, but I buy a gin and soda anyway ($11). $27
1 a.m. — After listening to one too many sad pick-up lines, I bid farewell to the group and call an Uber ($12.50). I get home and put my frozen pizza in the oven (bought during my grocery haul in anticipation of post-bar snacking). I've demolished my pizza and am ready for bed. I take my cannabis capsule and a Gravol and Advil like the responsible adult that I am. $12.50
Daily Total: $154.50

Day Three

10 a.m. — I can't sleep any longer. I only have a mild headache, which I'll take, considering how much I drank. My whole body definitely feels inflamed. I've already decided it's going to be a lazy day. I wash my face with Bioderma, brush my teeth, and clean the litter box. I also put in a load of laundry and feel blessed to have an in-suite washer and dryer on days like today.
1 p.m. — I break from watching 30 Rock and browsing the web (The New York Times, Pinterest, and Refinery29.) to make a turkey bacon sandwich on gluten-free bread. I desperately wanted to order McDonald's on UberEats, but it's going to be an expensive week, so I adult and eat what I have. Since quitting my second job, I've gotten better at eating what I have and preparing food for the work week. I chat with my mom on the phone. I'll be going home for two weeks, so we talk about our plans. I suggest a cross-border trip to Detroit to go to Trader Joe's (for the first time ever) and Target. My mom says she'll think about it (eye roll). She offers me the popcorn machine she won at an event last night. Um, yes please.
4 p.m. — I wake up from a nap I wasn't intending to take, which should make sleeping tonight interesting. I check my email and see a message from the Toronto Public Library advising of a $1 charge, because I didn't pick up a book I had on hold. I completely forgot that yesterday was the last day to pick it up. I don't forget very often, but when I do, I get peeved at myself. I also have an email from my professor advising that there is a new lecture posted, and I feel immediately guilty for not studying yet today. I woke up on the wrong side of the couch, and I'm now feeling anxious. I have a steaming body shower in hopes of clearing my mind. $1
6:30 p.m. — I prepare the ingredients for the chicken–butternut squash soup I plan on making tomorrow morning. I say a prayer that the pre-cut butternut squash can hang on until the morning. I wash and cut the rest of the fruit and vegetables I bought. I'm not super-hungry (thanks, anxiety!), so I make a hot tea with lemon. I study for a couple hours before calling it a night.
8:30 p.m. — I finally have an appetite, so I put together rice cakes with fig goat cheese and salami. After I finish eating, I take my nighttime medications, along with my cannabis capsule. I watch an episode of 30 Rock before heading to bed, where I read a few chapters before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $1

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I lay in bed staring at the ceiling until 7 a.m. I slept like shit again. Like clockwork, my youngest cat was riled up from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. I took today off work to use up vacation days. I start my morning routine, but forgo the coffee. I put the ingredients for my soup in the slow cooker. God bless slow cookers, am I right? I throw on an entire outfit of Lululemon (minus my Nike's) and am out the door by 8 a.m. to hop on the streetcar, then subway, to go to my monthly craniosacral therapy appointment. Craniosacral therapy is a form of massage that relieves compression in the bones of the head, sacrum, and spinal column, and my body and mind respond well to it. Plus, it works wonders on my chronic migraines. The cost of the hour-long appointment is $155. My benefits should cover 80% of the treatment, but I somehow end up paying $75 for the difference. $75
9:30 a.m. — I stop at the Winners, because I still have a few presents to buy, but this chick is on a budget. I'm a pro at tracking down designer clothes at Winners — it's where I buy my Equipment blouses. I find a cute Rag & Bone sweater on clearance for $120, but it's still way too pricey for me. I end up purchasing a gluten-free lemon–poppy seed loaf mix ($4.99), a box of trail mix for my desk at work ($5.99), a pack of gift bags ($2.99), a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile soap ($5), and a set of marble coasters with gold wiener dogs on them for my best friend ($10). The total comes to $33. Then I stop at a Metro grocery store to pick up two packages of raspberries (my absolute favourite snack) and a Health-Ade pomegranate kombucha ($9.75). On the way home, I listen to the Criminal podcast (episode 129, "Panic Defense"). $42.75
11 a.m. — My apartment smells amazing thanks to my soup. I make the lemon–poppy seed loaf I bought, along with a coffee, and start going through my week and finances. I get paid this Friday, thankfully, and my overtime hours will also be paid out. I pay my phone bill, which is $7 more than usual thanks to texting a guy I met from the U.S. The exchange fizzled out, and me and my bank account are just fine with that. $7
1 p.m. — As I'm tidying up my kitchen, I realize I purchased the non-gluten-free lemon–poppy seed loaf mix, which was directly beside the gluten-free version I was looking at — that's dangerous, Winners! (Insert swear word of choice here.) I try to avoid inflammatory foods like gluten to help manage my pain condition. I'm feeling annoyed and confused, and a migraine is definitely creeping up, so I pop an ibuprofen. It's pouring outside, but I have a craving for a sub, so I run the literal one minute to Subway. I get the oven-roasted chicken breast on gluten-free bread ($6.21). I settle in on the couch to eat my sub and watch an episode of 30 Rock. My mom texts me to give me the go-ahead on purchasing a wall letter for my brother and his girlfriend. They just bought a house, and I think it would be the perfect gift. I browse online for one... And there goes the rest of my afternoon. $6.21
3:30 p.m. — Enough couch time. I have a body shower to feel less like a slob (I promise, I'll wash my hair tomorrow). Let's hear it for makeup-free Mondays! My soup is way past done, so I turn off the slow cooker and divvy it into containers for the week.
4:45 p.m. — Time for my least favourite appointment: the dentist. I throw on leggings, a white T-shirt, my cozy sherpa, and Hunter boots, because no one should be more uncomfortable than they have to be at the dentist.
5:45 p.m. — I'm thanking my lucky stars that I'm cavity-free! My benefits cover 70% of the cost of the exam, so I pay $24 out of pocket. My migraine has only gotten worse, likely due to my craniosacral appointment this morning (headaches are a common side effect in the first 24 hours) and my anxiety about going to the dentist. I do a 30-minute flow in hopes of reducing my anxiety. Then I heat up a bowl of soup for dinner, and it's delicious! $24
8 p.m. — After reading through my study notes, it's time to sleep. I pop my usual pills and crawl into bed to read a few more chapters of my book. It's lights out shortly after.
Daily Total: $150.93

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I lay in bed, scrolling through Instagram, emails, etc. I make a reservation at Oretta for aperitivo hour to celebrate my friend's birthday. (Instead of presents, we give each other good food and wine.) I go through my usual morning routine and put together coconut yogurt, blackberries, hemp seeds, and gluten-free granola to take with me to work in addition to my soup. The office dress code is business-casual, so I throw on my green wide-leg pants from Ann Taylor with a black wrap sweater. I'm out the door five minutes late.
8:30 a.m. — I arrive at work to 75 emails after one day away. I started at my job 10 months ago, because I was craving a more challenging position. It was great at first, but now I'm feeling underpaid, overqualified, and stressed out. Once I get my certificate, I'm hoping I will be considered for a clerk position. If not, then onwards and upwards!
12 p.m. — My coworker and I walk to the mall to purchase a birthday gift for our coworker. We buy her a Stasher bag from Indigo and a $30 gift card to Lululemon. She's a health nut, and I love her for it. We split the cost, and I transfer my coworker my share, which is $25. Before heading back to the office to eat our lunches at our desks, we stop at Shoppers Drug Mart for chips, and I also grab a bottle of coke for my migraine ($5). I have the soup I brought plus a KIND bar from my desk stash. $30
5:45 p.m. — The rest of the day goes by too quickly. I leave the office to take the streetcar to my waxing appointment. When I get off at my stop, I take a quick rip through CB2, which is one of the reasons I continue to go to this waxing place. I get my underarms waxed and, because of my membership, the cost of the service is only $10, plus a 25% tip. $12.50
7 p.m. — I wash my dishes from my lunch and vacuum quickly. I'm exhausted and have a migraine, but it's finally time to wash my hair. It takes 30 minutes to blowdry, so can you blame me for not wanting to wash it?
8 p.m. — I get a notification that a package has arrived at the front desk (Filofax refills), so I throw on a pair of leggings and my sherpa to go pick it up. I call my parents when I get back, and we chat for 20 minutes. My mom tells me my grandpa has to have surgery soon. He's been battling cancer for the last seven years. After I'm off the phone with my parents, I send my grandma a text, telling them I'm thinking of them and will call this weekend. I make scrambled eggs with zucchini, red onion, lactose-free cheese, and turkey bacon for dinner.
10 p.m. — I read a couple chapters of my book, and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $42.50

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I do the usual morning routine and curl my freshly washed hair. I pack up the same breakfast and lunch (thank god it's the last day), then put on a pair of wide-leg navy trousers from Ann Taylor and an H&M blouse with my knee-high boots. I almost always switch to my flats once I get to the office. I'm out the door early today!
5 p.m. — The workday flew by. I go with my three coworkers (really, my friends) for happy-hour apps and half-price wine at Joey. We order five appetizers and two bottles of red. We also get a round of champagne on the house for the birthday girl. Joey has one of the best happy hours in the city, in my opinion. One friend ordered her own food and drink, so we split the bill evenly among the rest of us. My share is $44 with tip. I hop on the subway to head home. $44
9 p.m. — The wine definitely did me in. I give some love to my cats and clean their litter box, then start my nighttime routine: I wash my face with Avène cleanser, same eye cream as in the morning, Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide moisturizer, and floss and brush my teeth. I do a quick scroll through my Instagram and Flipboard and fall asleep shortly thereafter.
Daily Total: $44

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Headache. Need Advil. I'm up earlier than usual to have a shower and put a little more effort in, because there's an office party tonight. I complete the rest of my morning routine and have an extra espresso. I pack what's left of my yogurt and berries for breakfast, then throw my two outfit choices (black jumpsuit and a velvet black jumpsuit), heels, and makeup in a tote bag and head for the streetcar.
12:30 p.m. — The morning goes by quickly thanks to tasks I need to complete before my day off tomorrow. I head to the mall with my coworker. We both have separate errands to run, so we split with the promise to get lunch afterwards. I want to try on a pair of Lululemon pants before my friend orders them online (she has a 25% off coupon). I haven't bought a pair of full-price Lululemon pants in FOREVER — I usually shop the “We Made Too Much" sales. I meet up with my coworker and get a small Greek salad from Pusateri's ($6) and a bleh wrap from Tim Hortons ($7). $13
4:30 p.m. — Time to get ready! A coworker and I get dressed in the bathroom, and I decide on the velvet jumpsuit.
5:15 p.m. — We meet up with other coworkers and head to the party, which is a 10-minute walk away.
9:30 p.m. — After too many gin and sodas and not nearly enough food (not by choice, I swear), I make it home. This is also after three expensive Uber rides that add up to $45 (I took the second ride because I forgot my apartment keys at the office and had to go back). I'll charge at least one ride to the firm. I pull a classic me and order McDonald's on Uber Eats ($20). I call my mom to let her know I made it home safe and to complain about the party (seriously, where was the food?). I drunkenly watch a couple episodes of 30 Rock before falling asleep. $65
Daily Total: $78
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