They make a combined $120,000. How are they spending during the pandemic?
Who: Sowjanya Vadapalli, 28 and Prashanth Bhogaraju, 35
What they do: She’s a QA analyst at Neogov; he’s a 3-D animator at Guru
What they make: She makes $45,000 a year; he makes $72,000 a year
Where they live: A one-bedroom plus den near Exhibition Place
Prashanth and Sowjanya grew up in Hyderabad, India. In 2012, Prashanth moved to Toronto to study animation at Seneca, hoping to eventually score a career in the video game industry. During a trip back to Hyderabad to visit friends and family, in 2013, he met Sowjanya through a mutual friend. They hit it off and started a long-distance relationship six months later—Prashanth in Toronto, Sowjanya in Hyderabad, where she studied commerce at Osmania University.
Both Prashanth and Sowjanya graduated in 2014. Over the next few years, he worked as a 3-D animator at several software companies in Toronto, making roughly $60,000 a year, while Sowjanya found work in banking and IT in Hyderabad, earning $100,000 a year. The couple got married in 2016 during a 1,000-person wedding in Hyderabad. A year later, after Sowjanya moved to Toronto, they found a one-bedroom at Yonge and Bloor for $1,800 a month.
In late 2019, Prashanth started his current job as a 3-D animator at Guru. After working a short-term contract as a quality engineer at a software company, making $28 an hour, Sowjanya eventually found her current job at Neogov, for $45,000 a year. Just recently, they moved into a more spacious apartment near Exhibition Place, taking advantage of lower rental prices during the pandemic.
In the short term, Prashanth and Sowjanya would like to save roughly $50,000 for a down payment on a house—either a townhouse or semi. After that, they plan to start a family.
Rent $2,050. “We recently moved from an apartment near Yonge and Bloor after rental prices dropped,” says Prashanth. “We wanted to find something with a bit more room in a nicer building.”
Utilities $60 a month.
Internet $75 a month, with Bell. “We got a better plan during Covid because we started working from home,” says Prashanth.
Car $670 a month, including lease and insurance, for their 2018 Honda Civic. “Now that I’m working from home, I’m saving about $150 a month on downtown parking,” says Prashanth.
Groceries $400 a month, from Iqbal Foods, Metro or No Frills. “We both like cooking,” says Prashanth. “Sowjanya makes Indian curries with chicken and lamb, and really tasty biryani.”
Eating out $300 a month, for Italian at East Side Marios and Japenese at Edo, Indian at Charminar. “We missed eating out during lockdown,” says Sowjanya. “We’re not totally comfortable eating indoors, so we try to sit on patios.”
Phone plan $232 a month, for 10 gb of data each and unlimited Canada-wide calling and texts.
Photography equipment $800, for studio lighting. “I’m also a freelance photographer and I like to have the best equipment,” says Prashanth. “I mostly do portrait and fashion photography, along with a few weddings to earn some extra cash.”
Makeup $250, for concealer, lipstick, brushes and eyeshadow from Sephora, for Sowjanya.
Clothing $600, for summer shorts, hats, and shoes. “When the province entered Stage 3, we rushed to the malls in Niagara and Barrie,” says Sowjanya. “It was such a rejuvenating experience after being stuck in lockdown.”
Cellphones $2,000, for an iPhone 11 Pro Max for Sowjanya and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra for Prashanth.