I'm 28 & I Make $90K. Here's How I Bought My $1M Condo (2022)

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we're 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 brand manager working in food and beverage who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a flat white.

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Occupation: Brand Manager
Industry: Food & Beverage
Age: 28
Location: Toronto, ON
Salary: $90,000
Net Worth: $391,500 (I own my condo, which is worth around $950,000, and I owe around $600,000 on the mortgage. My savings, RRSP, TFSA, and Wealthsimple investments total $41,500.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,547
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,000 (My condo has two bedrooms, and I live with my pup. My family are all abroad, so the extra room is for them.)
Condo Fees: $760
Property Tax: $300
Hydro: $150 (on average)
Gas: $19
Home Alarm: $45
Phone: $50
Internet: $50
Netflix: $16.99 (I pay for my family, my sister pays for Disney+, and my parents pay for Apple TV.)
Spotify: $9.99
RRSP: $200
TFSA: $50


Did you go to college? If so, how did you pay for it? How did your family speak about college when you were younger?
I did! I was extremely lucky to be offered scholarships, and my family paid for the rest. My parents were the first generation in their families to go to university, and they saw paying for education as an investment in my future. They always said, "As soon as you are out of school, though, you are on your own!"

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I come from an Asian family, and we definitely weren't open about finances. But since we were teenagers, both my sister and I had to do chores around the house for our allowances. We had bank accounts set up for our red pockets (Chinese New Year money from our family), and both my parents instilled in me the importance of savings and having a financial goal in mind. They're very conservative when it comes to borrowing money and don't believe in any sort of debt, whether it be school loans or mortgages. Hence financing our education, so we start out in the world with minimal financial constraints.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job when I was in my first year of university. I worked as a cashier at Indigo. Honestly, I got the job to support my lifestyle, because most of my expenses, like rent, were covered by my parents. If I wanted to travel with my friends for reading week or buy new clothes, that was up to me. I loved my job and the freedom I felt when I got my first paycheque. I was able to buy gifts for my family with money I'd earned, and it was a totally new feeling.


Did you worry about money growing up? Do you worry about money now?
My parents didn't come from money, but they worked hard their entire lives so that my sister and I wouldn't have to worry about money when we were kids. They passed down that same work ethic to us. Even though I'm completely financially independent now, I'm blessed to know that my parents are my safety net. Still, I have the standard money anxieties. For example, on my birthday last year, I calculated how much I needed to save for retirement and had a mini panic attack when I realized I'm not saving enough.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself?
After university, at age 21, I moved back home, but I didn't love living with my parents, so I moved out after eight months. That's when I became financially independent.

You own your own condo. How did you manage to save up for the down payment?
It was truly an exercise in putting money towards my RRSP Home Buyers' Plan when I received every paycheque. I saved for six straight years before having enough to start looking for a place. Every time I got a raise or a new job, I would up the amount I put into my RRSP. The down-payment also gave me motivation to negotiate for better salaries. When I accepted my first big-girl job, I was offered less than minimum wage for full-time work — and I took it because I was too scared to ask for more. I'm now a couple of negotiations into my career, and I hope I'm doing better.


Day One

8 a.m. — The alarm rings, and I regret not going to sleep earlier last night. I get up, brush my teeth, and check my calendar to see if there are video meetings today. There aren't, so I change into an athleisure outfit. I've been blessed to have a job that I can do remotely on most days, but it's been almost four months, and I'm going cabin crazy. Luckily, my 10-month-old pup, P., greets me when I go downstairs. We get ready for a walk. His excitement every morning (minus the scratches all over my legs) makes my day. Mental note: I need to make an appointment for his grooming.

8:30 a.m. — We get home, I wipe P.'s paws, feed him, and prep his snacks. He loves frozen bananas and frozen peanut butter balls. Then I get ready with iced coffee and scrambled eggs. I'm a monster without coffee in the morning.

9 a.m. — I log into Microsoft Teams and open my inbox to be bombarded by notifications. Anyone else find there's never been more HR emails, team meetings, company town halls, and global updates? I start my day by creating a prioritized to-do list.

11:30 a.m. — Time flies when you have too many emails. My inbox contains folder within folder within folder. If you need to dig up an email from three years ago on one decision we made, I'm your gal. I try to keep my inbox below 15 emails and respond to almost everything within 24 to 48 hours. I quickly heat up burnt butter and sage pasta from the night before and give myself a top up of iced coffee (I make a huge batch every weekend).


12 p.m. — Time to join Zoom. I'm working on a PR and digital marketing certification. During this pandemic, I used my extra time to take all the online classes that are offered through work. I eat my pasta while listening to my course. P. gives me puppy eyes, so I feed him bacon dog treats.

1:15 p.m. — Woo! The doorbell rings, and my mood immediately picks up. My outdoor rug and pillows, as well as a waterproof furniture cover, have arrived. The patio chairs and table are missing, though, so I check my personal email and realize they cancelled my order. It's time to browse Wayfair. I find three favourites, but I can't make a final decision, so I leave the page open and get back to work.

3 p.m. — It's time for a break to play tug of war and fetch with P.

6 p.m. — I put a burger patty in the oven and feed P. He eats like I've never fed him before. He can smell the burger and now the puppy eyes are back.

7:15 p.m. — Oops, I missed our regular 7 p.m. walk, which is probably why P. is staring at me while I rewatch Modern Family on Netflix. Off we go!

8 p.m. — We're home, exhausted and sweaty. I wipe P.'s paws before we both lay on the couch, and I turn on Modern Family again. I need something to cool down, so I grab chocolate ice cream for myself and toss P. a frozen banana.

9:30 p.m. — I put frozen peanut butter balls in P.'s crate, and he runs in for bed. Within 15 minutes, he's dead asleep. I head upstairs to get ready for bed, too.

Daily Total: $0


Day Two

7:40 a.m. — I wake up naturally and roll over to check my phone. Any time I wake up on my own, I have anxiety that my alarm clock didn't work, and I've overslept. But I'm actually up early, so I scroll through TikTok and Instagram, and play a little Candy Crush Saga. There are no video meetings today, so I'm back in shorts and a T-shirt. P. and I are off for a walk. I come home, feed P. and get breakfast for myself.

9:15 a.m. — Oops, lost track of time doing the dishes and I'm late to start work. I usually log in exactly at 9 a.m. That's okay, my first team meeting is at 9:30 a.m., so I text my friends and check Instagram.

9:30 a.m. — I log onto the meeting and mute myself.

10 a.m. — Fuck, the meeting ran late, and I'm in back-to-backs. Now every meeting is delayed.

12:30 p.m. — I've got a 30-minute mini break for lunch. I can't be bothered to cook, so I put a frozen pizza in the oven and pop a few peanut butter cups in my mouth as I wait impatiently for my pizza to cook.

1 p.m. — I'm back on calls but getting distracted. I open my browser to make a decision on my patio furniture. I go with super-cozy outdoor couches and get the confirmation email saying delivery could be in three to four weeks. I hope it's sooner. I just want to sit on my patio with a glass of wine and read a book! Now that I'm online shopping, I go to Banana Republic and Ted Baker. The sales are insane, so I pile up my shopping cart. When I go to cash out, I realize my total is a couple thousand dollars, so I close the site immediately without buying anything. $251.98


4:45 p.m. — Browsing on Instagram, I get ads for the Banana Republic dresses I put in my cart. It's creepy how stalker-ish the internet can be.

6 p.m. — I always feed P. first, because I never want him begging while I cook. I heat up the rest of my frozen pizza from lunch and catch up on MasterChef Australia. Does anyone else think food tastes better when you're watching cooking shows?

6:50 p.m. — We get ready for our nightly walk. P. chases birds and squirrels, and I get a little sunburned before returning home. Mental note: I need to buy more baby wipes and doggie poop bags.

9 p.m. — I put P. to bed, then head upstairs. I do a face mask and a body scrub because I have a bit more time tonight. I fall asleep happy knowing my skin's happy!

Daily Total: $251.98

Day Three

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I rinse and repeat the morning routine. After our walk, I change into a cute dress and put on eyeliner because I've got video meetings and appointments today.

8:30 a.m. — I quickly feed P., pour my iced coffee, pop two Oreos in my mouth, and get started on work emails.

9:45 a.m. — I grab my purse, mask and P. We're off to the vet for P.'s checkup. It's a quick 15-minute walk. I wait outside the door and call the receptionist to let her know we're here, but it's tough for her to hear me through my mask. She comes out, and I pass P. to her, because the clinic isn't allowing parents to go in with the pups. I'm immediately worried. P isn't great with other people. I wait by the window before the receptionist calls to let me know it'll be a while, and I should grab a coffee and come back in 45 minutes.


10:10 a.m. — I walk to an espresso shop and stand in line to get my flat white. The barista is awesome, so I tip him. I walk home instead of anxiously waiting by the vet. $4.89

10:35 a.m. — I'm at home and answering emails.

11:35 a.m. — P. is ready to be picked up. The vet suggests stocking up on his preventative medication for heartworm, ticks and fleas, so I don't have to come in frequently. I pay for half a year's worth over the phone. $341.37

11:50 a.m. — P. has never looked happier. He falls into a nap next to me on the couch. I make a sandwich and log on to my online class and quickly check my work inbox to make sure there are no fires to put out.

5:45 p.m. — I go to the fridge and pull out two sausages, which I fry up for fancy hot dogs with aioli, cheese, fried onions, ketchup, mustard, and relish. I feed P. before eating in front of the TV.

7 p.m. — I walk P. and put him to bed early because the vet visit took it out of him.

8:30 p.m. — I FaceTime a friend to get life updates. She's in Montreal, and our jobs have been affected by the pandemic in totally different ways. She got a raise, while my office is on a hiring freeze. She invites P. and I over for a fun weekend. I wonder when we can travel again?


9:30 p.m. — I practise a work presentation I'm giving tomorrow and refine my pages before I get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $346.26

Day Four

7 a.m. — My alarm rings, and I'm up. I put on a chic business dress and go for a walk with P. It's awkward picking up his poop in a dress.

8 a.m. — I'm ready and setting up my webcam. I put P. in his crate because he sometimes whines while I'm on calls. He looks at me with puppy eyes, but I'm too nervous about the presentation to respond.

8:30 a.m. — Everyone's logged on, and we're off to the races.

12 p.m. — The meeting ends, and I honestly don't know why I was so worried. My new management team is awesome. They were engaged and asked insightful questions. P. couldn't be more excited to get out of his crate. I make dumplings for lunch. I burned too much nervous energy today, so I turn on my work phone's ringer in case any important emails come in and relax with old seasons of NCIS for the rest of the afternoon. I'm emotionally drained.

3 p.m. — I can't believe I'm still watching TV.

4 p.m. — I browse metro.ca and buy my groceries for the week online. Thank god for grocery delivery. I'm too lazy to line up for food. $97.13

6 p.m. — I get texts from my besties, and we make a plan to drive north of the city for brunch, which feels safer than meeting in the city, where not everyone is following the recommended distancing guidelines. We miss face-to-face interaction, especially because most of us are single and live alone. Self-care spots and salons have reopened, so I also make one appointment for a massage, which is much-needed because my work-from-home posture sucks, and another for lash extensions (I'll finally look like a girl again!). I put myself on my hairstylist's waitlist.


6:30 p.m. — I quickly feed P. and make more dumplings for dinner. Man, I've been bad at cooking this week. Mom's texting. Mental note: Call her later tonight. I eat dinner while watching more NCIS. I may be addicted.

9:15 p.m. — After P. is in his crate, I call my mom. I never want to call her, but when we start talking, I remember how much I miss her and how much I care about her opinions. She lives abroad and normally visits once a year and stays way too long, but she wasn't able to make it this summer due to COVID-19. She can't wait for the pandemic to be over, so she can fly over to see me. I feel the same.

12 a.m. — I remember why I don't call my mom at night — because the call never ends! I quickly get to bed.

Daily Total: $97.13

Day Five

8 a.m. — Time for our daily shuffle. I get up, brush my teeth, and change into a tank and shorts, because it's Friday. I feed and walk P., eat breakfast, and drink my delicious iced coffee.

9 a.m. — I log onto my email and we've got a town hall. My internet has been wonky, and the live stream isn't working. I do chores while listening to company updates: water my houseplants, vacuum, look after my herb garden.

12 p.m. — My office offers half-day Fridays, so I log off. I make a quick omelette with cheese, peppers, bacon and Google off-leash parks for P.

1 p.m. — P. has been naughty on walks lately. He won't heel and pulls aggressively towards other dogs and people, so I'm hoping this off-leash park will give him a bit of freedom. We arrive and he dashes around. I have a bag full of treats to entice him to come back, but he doesn't even make eye contact with me when I hold up his favourite salmon snacks.

1:30 p.m. — I chase P. around the park, trying to get him back on leash. It's super-embarrassing, and I realize we can't do off-leash parks for now. I finally rein him in, and we walk home. A friend calls and asks if I want to be spontaneous and have brunch tomorrow. Hellz yes. Two brunches a week isn't too much, right?

2 p.m. — I've never been more exhausted. I wipe P.'s paws and take a nap.

5:30 p.m. — I wake up hungry and make myself steak tacos with a glass of white wine. It's Friday!

6 p.m. — I feed P. and stuff my face with tacos. P. looks at me longingly, so I feed him a piece of steak. I've never seen his eyes glimmer so brightly.

7 p.m. — We go for our walk, and a friend calls me while we're out. Only during a pandemic can people surprise call me for no reason. We chat about dating during the pandemic. You can no longer casually grab a coffee with someone you meet on Bumble, because of the risk associated with it. So you have to take the time to get to know someone and only venture out into the world to meet face-to-face if you really think there's a chance of something more. But the biggest hurdle for me has been video dating. I've never loved FaceTime or video chatting. I struggle with it at work, too. Plus, I miss the natural banter that happens when you meet someone in person, reading body language, and the overall ritual of going out to meet someone. I will say, though, that more people have approached me in real life when I'm walking my dog than ever before.


8:45 p.m. — P. goes into his crate, and I get ready for bed. And by "ready for bed," I mean "mindlessly watch TV for two more hours."

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — My alarm rings. No, not today. It's Saturday.

8:15 a.m. — I hate my alarm. I turn it off.

9 a.m. — I finally get up.

9:30 a.m. — P. and I get home from our walk. I prep extra snacks for him. today. I haven't left him alone for long in three months, so I want to make sure I keep him engaged while I'm at brunch. I hope he doesn't destroy my furniture. Mental note: Google Furbo dog cameras and seriously consider buying one when I go back to the office.

11:40 a.m. — My friend is here to pick me up! I've never been more excited to spend money.

12:10 p.m. — We arrive at Kost, which has a patio 44 storeys above the city. We're wearing masks, but most people didn't seem to get the memo. It's significantly more crowded than I thought it would be, but I'm still happy to be outside, in the sun, enjoying a meal. I have coffee and two eggs, chorizo, roast potatoes, and a tortilla with pico de gallo and lime crema. Food tastes better when it's served to you. People seem more socially awkward than before the pandemic. Our server really hangs around to chit chat. $31.19

3:45 p.m. — Back at home, I open the door and brace myself for a mess. But P.'s great. The house is pristine. We cuddle on the couch and watch TV.


6:10 p.m. — I make a huge pot of pasta for the week and toast some garlic bread. Since my kitchen's already dirty, I make my batch of iced coffee and treat myself to a glass. I guess I won't be sleeping tonight.

7 p.m. — We go for an extra long stroll and pass too many For Sale signs. Who knew the real-estate market would be so hot during a pandemic? My curiosity gets the best of me, and I look up listings, mostly for reno inspiration. I've been wanting to redo my kitchen for two years.

10 p.m. — My sister calls me. She's in Australia, so there's a hefty time difference between us. We catch up and make travel plans — my wanderlust grows. She says she can do my reno for me when she visits, and I quietly doubt her in my mind.

1 a.m. — We say goodbye, and I get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $31.19

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I've got pep in my step from waking up naturally.

10:45 a.m. — My bestie arrives to drive to Unionville for our girl's brunch. There's so much traffic driving on the Gardiner that you'd never know the city is still in semi-lockdown.

12 p.m. — We arrive at Smash Kitchen, and the patio is beautiful. I order a chorizo omelette and it's what dreams are made of. I could've cooked it at home, but it tastes so much better with company. $27.61

2 p.m. — I love the sun until I don't. My shoulders are a little burnt, but I have no complaints. We hug goodbye and, man, have I missed hugs.


3 p.m. — And I'm back home and, same as yesterday, P.'s been good. He's gotten used to me leaving, and part of me is sad that he doesn't miss me more.

6 p.m. — I heat up pasta for dinner while I mentally prepare for next week. I put on Netflix and browse Etsy, where I find cute mugs that I have personalized with illustrations of me and my besties. I place my order, and shipping is free. What a steal! $46.51

7 p.m. — Time to go for a walk. P. seems tired, and we're home within 15 mins. He doesn't love the sun, and he knows air con too well!

9:15 p.m. — I put P. to bed, scan work email, and do a face mask before getting into bed.

Daily Total: $74.12

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