This administrative assistant makes $63,000 a year. How does she spend it during the pandemic?

By Roxy Kirshenbaum| Photography by Ebti Nabag
This administrative assistant makes $63,000 a year. How does she spend it during the pandemic?

Who Desiree D’Aguiar, 31
Where she lives A 600-square-foot basement studio apartment in Bathurst Manor 
What she does Administrative assistant at Sunnybrook Hospital and owner of Winifred Taylor, a designer swimwear company
What she makes $61,000 a year from Sunnybrook and $2,000 a year from her swimwear company

In 2012, D’Aguiar graduated from the fashion design program at George Brown. Then she worked as a womenswear designer at Roots, making $15 an hour, before getting a job in 2008 as a clerk in the health records department at Sunnybrook Hospital, earning $37,000 a year.

During her time at George Brown, D’Aguiar developed an interest in swimwear. In 2014, she started Winifred Taylor, a designer swimwear company named after her grandparents, combining her grandmother’s first name and her grandfather’s last name.

These days, D’Aguiar is an administrative assistant at Sunnybrook Hospital, making $61,000 a year. After work and on the weekends, she focuses on her swimwear line, designing all the products from her apartment. Eventually, D’Aguiar would like to save up enough money to work on Winifred Taylor full time.

Her short-term financial goal is to completely pay off her $11,000 credit card debt, made up of both business and personal spending. Over the course of the pandemic, D’Aguiar admits that she splurged a bit. “Prior to the pandemic, I didn’t realize how much time I spent away from my place, but once lockdown started, I spent more money trying to make it feel a bit homier.”

Regular Expenses

Rent $900 a month, including utilities. “I live alone in a basement apartment, where I’m able to live comfortably and work on designs for Winifred Taylor. I’ve got a cutting table, industrial overlock and straight stitch machines.”

Internet $67 a month, with Altima Telecom. 

Phone $108 a month, for an unlimited talk and text plan, with Telus. 


Groceries $250 a month, from Metro, No Frills and Whole Foods. “I used to buy yogurt bowls for breakfast at the hospital, but I’ve saved a lot by just buying the ingredients and making them at home. When I’m feeling lazy, sometimes I just end up buying a frozen pizza from Shoppers and eating that.” 

Delivery $250 a month, from Uber Eats and DoorDash. “I’ve been trying to curb my spending by only ordering in once a week. I usually like to get Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s or Crystal’s Eatery, a Jamaican and seafood restaurant in Vaughan.” 

This administrative assistant makes $63,000 a year. How does she spend it during the pandemic?

Car $550 a month, for gas, insurance and financing. “I bought a Mitsubishi Lancer in 2014 and I’m almost done paying it off. I named it Betty Badass. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t buy a brand-new car. I would have gone with something pre-owned with a shorter financing term.”

Debt payments $300 a month, for credit cards. 

Subscriptions $55 a month, for Squarespace and Spotify. “I use Squarespace for my business. It works as a website and a place to sell product. But I’m trying to move over to Shopify, since it’s a better platform.” 


Savings $150 a month, into a Wealthsimple savings account. “I’ve got an eco-friendly portfolio, which only invests in companies with environmental ideals. Once my car is paid for, I plan to put more money in my account each month.” 

Fabric $175 a month, from Chu Shing Textiles on Queen West. “I have a good rapport with the owner and the quality of the fabric is really good.” 

Recent Splurges

Winter boots $118, for North Face Thermoball booties, from Sport Chek. I wear them on my nature walks around the neighbourhood, just to get some exercise.

Bed accessories $200, for a plush comforter and body pillow, from Walmart. “I’m at my place a lot now and my favourite thing to do is cuddle up in my warm bed.” 

Gifts $55, for a royal-purple plush l0unge robe for her mother, from Amazon. “It looked really lush and luxurious and I wanted to get her something she’d be able to unwind in.”


High heels $277, for lilac Tejahn Burnett shoes. “I pre-ordered them and they’ll arrive on Valentine’s Day.”

Summer clothes $150, for a silk dress and lingerie-style bodysuit from Zara. “I tend to hibernate during the winter, wearing only onesies, leggings and sweats. So I like to buy summery clothing in the winter to gear up.”

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