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How a young miner living in a small town spends his $92,000 salary

Riding a snowmobile on a sunny day.

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Name: Patrick Adams
Age: 29
Annual income: $92,000
Savings: $16,000 in TFSA, $29,000 in RRSP
Debt: $180,000 mortgage; $70,000 second mortgage*
What he does: Miner
Where he lives: King Kirkland, Ont.

Top financial concern: "I am well aware that the pension from the government will not be enough. [My goal] is to retire nicely and comfortably."
 

In Kirkland Lake, Ont., Patrick Adams has found happiness. Seven years ago, after graduating from Mohawk College in Hamilton in TV broadcasting, a friend got a job in one of the town's local mines. Mr. Adams joined him on his trip north – and never left. He started in a job with Canadian Tire and eventually found entry-level mining jobs. Now he works underground in a mine and pulls in $92,000 a year.

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"My work schedule is fantastic," says Adams, who works less than half the year, while banking a fair bit of overtime.

In the past few years, Mr. Adams has married, had two kids, and bought two properties. His 2,000-square-foot home is a cushy bungalow, flanked by his ATV, boat, snowmobile and two vehicles. "It's very nice that I have this lifestyle up here," says Mr. Adams. "I have trails right outside my front door. I take it all in up here."

Mr. Adams is also keen on building his wealth. He and his wife have $60,000 in savings, which include TFSAs and RRSPs. They also have a rental property, which generates about $7,500 after the mortgage payments. Mr. Adams saves $150 a month in emergency funds for unexpected "mechanical failures," and puts $320 a month into a vacation/reno fund. The family vacations in Southern Ontario and heads south to the Dominican Republic for winter breaks.

Mr. Adams is also building up his retirement savings. His firm offers a group RRSP and he's also started investing with a robo adviser. "I am well aware that the pension from the government will not be enough," he says. "[My goal] is to retire nicely and comfortably. I don't need an extravagant lifestyle."

Mr. Adams shies away from the extravagance he sometimes sees in town. "They make $120,000 a year and everyone drives a new truck," he says. "Yet they live paycheque to paycheque." Instead, Mr. Adams and his wife price shop and try to save on food bills, clothes and eating out. "We did our own veggie garden in the backyard this year." But it only "saved about $5," he jokes.

Mr. Adams says he hopes to certify as a mine health and safety officer – a role that could open up career possibilities if the mine should ever close. "I'd like to have money to carry me over into whatever career happens next."

His typical monthly expenses

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$840 on mortgage. "It's a 2,000-square-foot bungalow. I also have a $70,000 mortgage on our second property. The tenants take care of that – their rent is $850 a month. We see that as a long-term education plan for our kids."

$140 on Internet, Netflix and Android box.

$700 on child care. "It's $70 a day for both children. [They go] 10 times a month to a daycare."

$220 on hydro.

$175 for oil fill-up. "We have oil heat up here. It's $700 per fill up and we have three fill-ups per winter."

$22 on hardwood pellets.

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$46 on life insurance.

$100 on car insurance. "We have a snowmobile, an ATV, a 2008 Honda CRV and 2008 Ford Escape. We're not an $80,000 truck family. I plan on driving [the CRV] until the wheels come off."

$300 on gas. "There's lots of travel up here. It's 75 km to work – which is 45 minutes in no traffic, just bears, moose and wolves."

$400 on groceries. "We have an expensive grocery store – a brick of cheese up here is almost $10. But a Giant Tiger just opened up. We price shop and we don't worry about brand names. There's a Food Basics an hour away but the highways aren't the best in winter."

$60 on alcohol. "We're not big drinkers. We like O'Darby's in coffee or a bottle of wine when friends come over."

$75 on eating out. "I go out with my wife to the one nice restaurant in town for a three-course meal. It's $150 once every two months. We only have four restaurants in town and it's all deep fried."

$56 on coffee. "I go to Tim Horton's. Whoever drives buys the coffee."

$50 on dog food. "We have one dog – he was our practice baby. He's a 75-pound lab/shepherd mix."

$5 on dog grooming. "He gets his nails clipped every two months and it's $10."

$600 a year on curling club membership. "We play curling once a week. We have a couple of drinks and get into the zone."

$320 on vacation fund. "We've gone to Toronto for the Ex and Blue Jays games – and shopping. We've been to the Dominican [Republic] twice over the past couple of years.

$75 for cellphone.

$40 on clothing. "There are not a lot of fancy dressers up here – lots of camo and hunting jackets. Our clothes last a while. We get bags of kids' clothes from family and friends. My dress shoes last five years and I have a sweater that has lasted six years. I like Mountain Equipment Co-op."

$150 on emergency fund. "I've got my own emergency fund for mechanical failures."

$100 on robo advisers. "It's a Wealthsimple savings account – I'm just trying it out."

$4,000 on boat this year. "It was a used fishing boat."

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*(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Mr. Adams had a second mortgage of $220,000. It has since been changed to $70,000.)

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