Baby's First Budget

The Lalastack Of Clothing

As a Manolo Blahnik clad Carrie Bradshaw once said, “I like my money right where I can see it… Hanging in my closet.” Me too, gf. 

… and in my fridge. 

… and I had a really long day, I should probably Uber home. 

… Oops, we don’t have any food; better order something!

… Sound familiar? 

Living in Toronto is expensive. 

Just the living costs alone can be enough to invite anxiety to bubble up, and the possibility of ever owning a home in the city - let alone one with a yard or privacy, is a laughable thought. Then, there’s the circumstance of being young in the city of Toronto. You’re at U of T, the best school in the country! You’re ambitious, and you work hard. Maybe you play hard too, to manage the stress. The idea of balance is dangled over our heads constantly as students, with all our elders reminding us that this is supposed to be the most fun time of our lives. 

But, going out is expensive! Alcohol costs money, food costs money, transit costs money! 

Tuition and rent cost a lot of money. I’m trying to make every dollar count this year. I’ll tell you, like I would tell anyone who asked, I’m bad at money. I can be impulsive, and with well-meaning, but too decadent for my own good taste in commercial “self care”, my laziness has gotten the better of my wallet. I work really hard. I’m blessed to be employed in both music and childcare - small jobs that keep me on my feet up to 7 days a week. On Tuesday’s, I work at 9, go to class at 1, and then work again until 8. I take the TTC an hour home, or sometimes an Uber for half that time, and almost 10x the price. 

This week, I wrote up a budget for myself. 

I really want to make it work! 

If you want to take this journey with me, the first step is to figure out how much money you bring in on a regular basis. 

Then, figure out all the money you have to spend in that same amount of time. 

For me, these costs fall into six categories. 

To ease the load a little, I further break down my costs into a weekly level. It’s the same thing, but smaller numbers look less scary ;)

The Home Fund

We all need somewhere to live. If you have experienced the joy and financial instability that is moving out of your parents’ house, chances are it’s taking up a lot of financial space in the budget. This fund is crucial. You have to pay your rent, and you have to pay your utilities. 

I also like to factor in the things that I need to buy on a regular basis to maintain my home. 

Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, toothpaste. 

This number is going to be a pretty definite thing, and it’ll help you designate the rest of your income to the other categories, respectively. 


The Transit Fund

I take the TTC every day. I hate the TTC. It is not a reliable form of transportation. This morning, I gave myself 20 extra minutes to get to work (on top of the 30+ minutes it already takes). The station was so packed that I missed my train. Then, another train came, and I couldn’t fit on that one either. Finally, I managed to squeeze on the third train. I was late to work. Anyway, the TTC costs money. I take more than 14 trips on the subway every week, and at $3.25 a pop, I’m looking at upwards of $45/week, or $180/month. Luckily, you can load a monthly pass onto your presto card, for $151.15/month, which saves a bit of coin. For me, this means I’m only going to be allowing myself to take Uber’s when it’s an emergency. Not when I’m tired and just don’t want to stand on a cramped train and transfer twice. Because honestly? That’s every day. 


The Music Fund

This is a cost associated with my degree. Basically, as a classical singer, I work with a pianist who coaches me in languages and music. She is insanely smart, talented, and educated, and I certainly would not make the drastic progress I have made over the course of my degree so far without her. 

Singers pay their coaches out of pocket, and the charges can go up to $400/month. 

Maybe for you, this category can represent any monthly school associated costs that you have - textbooks, technology, tutoring, etc. 

grocery bag with apple

The Food Fund

The key with this one is to think about your grocery bill, not your Uber eats receipt. I kept mine lower that I’ll probably be able to commit to long term. I love to eat. But, the amount that I’ve spent on food since beginning my degree is outrageous. I want to change!I’m allotting meals out to a different fund, because, as much as those meals are about nourishing yourself a trendy restaurant on King Street during Winterlicious, (ahem, my bf and I are going to Lee this Friday and I cannot wait) … they’re also about socializing and getting the right shot for Instagram. 


The Fun Fund

A more honest home for your Sunday brunch money. This is event tickets, this is alcohol and drugs, this is a new pair of boots from Nordstrom rack. This category is for money you want to spend, but that you don’t need to spend. Guilty pleasures to soothe your broken heart after midterms. Keep it at a modest balance. 

Women eating bruschetta together


The Savings Fund

Ah, the one I’ve always cheated. The one I borrow/steal money from, that I never replace. Savings are the financial padding that can give you some peace of mind. They are a privilege, but even if you can only afford to save $1 a day, it’s better than nothing. I have big dreams. There’s a lot of the world that I want to see. I’m never going to be able to see anything outside of the GTA if I don’t learn how to save some money. Maybe Scarborough has great food, but it’s no Paris! I have also taken the liberty of assigning any extra cash I earn in the month to my savings. Say I pick up some extra shifts. Does that mean an extra night out with the girls this month? No, it means an extra night out with the girls in a few years as we sip Aperol spritzes in an Italian piazza. More realistically, it could be a start at saving some scraps to put toward even more education one day! Yay!


There you have it. This is my optimistic ploy at handling my finances like a big girl. I won’t be perfect; good thing no one’s expecting me to be. Putting things in writing always holds you more accountable, especially if you’re a pushover like I am. So, write down some numbers! Think about your priorities, and make it happen. 

Make 2020 the year you stop paying $26 on Uber Eats for a $4 burger.