This apparel-company owner makes $90,200 a year. How does he spend it?

“I try to keep six months of expenses set aside just in case”

By Tara DeBoer| Photography by Lucy Lu
This apparel-company owner makes $90,200 a year. How does he spend it?

Who: Eric Van Giessen, 32 What he does: He’s a sociology PhD student and teaching assistant at York University and the owner of art-and-apparel company Queero Gear What he makes: $90,200 Where he lives: A one-bedroom apartment in Upper Jarvis

Regular Expenses

Rent and hydro: $1,900 a month. “It’s a good rate for downtown but $1,100 more than my previous place by Allan Gardens.”

Cell: $100 a month. “This plan with Freedom Mobile helps pay off my phone.”

Internet: $35 a month. “I got a special six-month intro deal with TekSavvy.”

Transportation: $150 a month. “If I’m not working from home or at the Toronto Reference Library, I take the TTC to campus. The rest of my transit bills go to renting cars for my business.”

Groceries: $500 a month. “I get a food box from HelloFresh. They have good vegetarian options, and it’s less wasteful. I also can’t live without sour cream and onion chips.”

Tuition: $5,200 a year. “I get some financial support from my program, so this figure is subsidized.”


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Eating out: $300 a month. “I love going for Thai food or Indian food and grabbing an afternoon flat white from a coffee shop.”

Pet care: $175 a month. “My Goldendoodle, Mabel Rose, brings me a lot of joy. Her costs are mostly food and insurance. I do her grooming myself.”

Health and wellness: $30 a month. “I have a gym membership at Hone Fitness, and I get two massages a month, which are covered by insurance—one of the perks of being a PhD student.”

Entertainment: $125 a month. “I have an AGO membership at a student rate. For music, I just listen to Spotify, but one day I’d love to see Beyoncé in concert.”

Style: $60 every other month. “I get a haircut every other month. I rarely spend money on new clothes.”


Business expenses: $2,500 a month. “I sell original handmade Lino prints, mugs and apparel that promote queer love and joy. The prints have been an escape from staring at my screen all day as a student. My costs are for materials, packaging and vending at pop-ups.”

Charity: $125 a month. “My dad passed away from cancer in 2016, and my mom had a stroke at 50, so I give to the Canadian Cancer Society and to Heart and Stroke. I also donate to the Dale Ministries in Parkdale as well as to an LGBTQ+ church in British Columbia.”

Savings: $1,000 a month. “I try to keep six months of living expenses set aside just in case. I do want to purchase property at some point, and I want to go to an all-inclusive where I can sit on the beach and read novels, but that’s not within my reach right now.”

Recent Splurges

Inkjet printer: $3,500. “This allows me to print my digital illustrations.”

Eric Van Giessen, owner of the art-and-apparel company Queero Gear, in his kitchen
Art hanging on the walls in Eric Van Giessen's apartment
Eric Van Giessen and his Goldendoodle in his Upper Jarvis apartment


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