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Name: Nataleigh Ballantyne

Age: 27

Annual income: Around $60,000

Savings: $1,000 currently in bank

Debt: $200 on credit card

What she does: Engagement manager, youth financial entrepreneurship firm

Where she lives: Toronto

Nataleigh Ballantyne could be a poster child for fiscal responsibility – her job requires promoting financial literacy among teenagers, plus she comes from a fiscally responsible family. “My mother really believes in the power of being financially independent, successful and educated,” she says. “[My mom said,] ‘Save 10 per cent of everything you make.’ It was a conversation that was quite predominant in my upbringing.”

She spent her university years working every summer and interning every semester. But when it comes to her lifestyle, she concedes that things aren’t as regimented as they could be. Ms. Ballantyne loves to eat out with friends in her trendy Queen West neighbourhood, splurges on phone cases, and dotes on her French bulldog. “I’m a big fan of ‘treat yourself,’” she says.

And more spending lies ahead. Ms. Ballantyne has hit the matrimonial phase of her life, with weddings in Ontario, Halifax and Georgia this year alone that will cost roughly $1,000 each. She’d also like to do some more extensive travelling overseas, but the costs concern her. “I worry that I’ll never be able to get ahead,” she says.

At the same time, Ms. Ballantyne commands a good salary (“I wish I had more to show for it”), has $2,000 in mutual funds and plans to set up her group RRSP through work. And she has an ingrained savings ethic: “It’s not about how much you make – it’s about how much you save – though I wish I had started saving earlier,” she says. “I wish I’d listened to my parents. I should have started saving earlier. My mom was totally right.”

Top financial concern: “I would love to buy a condo downtown – I’m a big city person. But there’s a big fear of being house poor. The average condo downtown is $419,000.”

Her typical monthly expenses:

$825 on rent ($1,650 split with a roommate)

$60 for hydro.

$160-200 on groceries. “I’m not huge on lots of produce – we’re pretty good at getting frozen chicken breasts that will last.”

$240 on eating out. “I eat out two to three times a week – I’m a big pubs person.”

$200 a month for savings. She has no RRSPs and no TFSA. She does not have a condo savings fund, and is hoping her parents will help her pay the downpayment.

$20 on coffee. “I go to Tim’s three times a week on my way to work. I’m pretty good about taking my coffee to the car.”

$60 on cell phone service.

$80 a month for Internet and TV. “We have Rogers and it’s $160 a month.”

$8-10 a month for Netflix.

$240 on alcohol. “We get bottle of wine for the house, plus cocktails after work.”

$40 on online courses. “I do design or web courses – I do eight to 10 a year.”

$66 on a gym membership. “I always plan to cancel because I have a gym in my building … so I’m just lighting money on fire.”

$150 on gas. “I have a 2012 Dodge Journey V6. I drive to work in Etobicoke.”

$160 a month on car insurance.

$160 on clothing, accessories, make-up. “I’m a big Winners, HomeSense person, and then Ardene for phone cases – I love phone cases, I have over 20 – and Forever 21. I’m a convenience shopper.”

$50 on pets. “We buy a big bag of dog food that’s $100. One dog is a French bulldog-Boston terrier and one is a Shar Pei beagle. We do a yearly check-up (at the vet) for $200.” (She splits these costs with her roommate.)

$310 on weddings/trips/holidays

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