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Gen Y Money Calgary new parents with mortgage look to control costs while wife is on maternity leave

Name: Alex Bershadsky

Age: 31

Annual income: in $85,000-$95,000 range

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Savings: $12,000 in tax-free savings account; $13,000 in registered retirement savings plan

Debt: $233,000 mortgage

What he does: Compliance and audit analyst

Where he lives: Calgary

Top financial concern: “My biggest goal is paying off the mortgage. And moving into a house in the same neighbourhood in the next three to four years. Hopefully we can refinance.”

Crunching numbers comes easily to Alex Bershadsky, given that he works as a compliance and audit analyst. “I document business processes from an accounting perspective across an organization,” he says. “I determine that there’s no fraud or financial misstatements. It’s a great career.”

A former Torontonian, Mr. Bershadsky moved to Calgary for work. He owns a three-bedroom townhouse with his wife and new baby; he bought the home in 2014, the same year he graduated.

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Normally, the couple split all of the bills 50-50, but with his wife on maternity leave until June of 2019, Mr. Bershadsky is paying for 70 per cent of the household expenses. His wife covers the rest from her savings and maternity benefits.

While she is home with the baby, the family has cut back on eating out. Their daughter is clothed in hand-me-downs, cloth diapers that were bought in bulk and laundered at home, and fed homemade baby food. “It’s a great way to save money in the long term,” says Mr. Bershadsky.

Eating out is minimal and amounts to around $40 each month. “For dinners we’ll get pho or go to a gourmet pizza place,” he says. The family’s food wastage is also minimized through Mealime, an app that provides recipes for 25-minute meals and generates shopping lists.

Splurges include ski passes and an annual membership to an executive fitness club where Mr. Bershadsky plays squash. His club membership is partially offset by his employer. “I get to stay healthy,” he says.

Mr. Bershadsky’s biggest expense is the $233,000 mortgage which he hopes to pay off in 10 years. He also wants to purchase another property in the next three to four years by refinancing the first home. “Both of these objectives are working against each other,” he laughs. “We’ll see how it works.”

In the meantime, he’s got a lot of financial stability, including a group RRSP which he tops up and in which his employer matches up to 65 per cent of his salary. He also has stock options. “I’m really lucky,” he says. After he adds two more professional designations to his name – his short-term goal – he’ll have greater earning potential.

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His typical monthly expenses:

$864.50* on mortgage. “We have a three-bedroom townhouse, bought in November, 2014. Before the mortgage stress test. I want to pay off the mortgage in 10 years by accelerating the payments.”

$119.70* on property tax.

$112.38* on home and car insurance.

$125 on home renovations/furnishing. “We recently did a big bathroom reno. We buy a new piece of furniture every six months or so.”

$148.84* on gas, electricity and water.

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$300 on annual car repairs. “I have a 2007 Jeep Compass. I inherited it. I can afford a new car, but I’m not going to buy one for a few years. It’s significantly cheaper keeping this one in shape.”

$130 on transit pass.

$29.40* on internet.

$8* on Netflix.

$60 on cellphone. “I am with Koodo.”

$10 on apps. “I can’t live without music, I like every genre of music. I get Google Play. I bought into the subscription model.”

$280 on groceries. “We’re both meat eaters – chicken and beef. We like to plan our meals so we don’t run into scenarios where we eat out. We use Mealime – it’s a great app. It asks you for your meal preferences and generates meal possibilities and grocery lists.”

$40 on eating out. “I like poke bowls – they’re $13 or $14 – or Tims for chili and potato wedges. I typically bring my lunch to work. On special occasions, we’ll go to a gourmet pizza place.”

$130 on alcohol. “I like Rolling Rock or craft lager. Or an Okanagan Spring variety pack.”

$10 on coffee. “Why would you pay for coffee if you have decent coffee at work?”

$500-$700 on skiing per season. “I love to ski as much as possible. I have all the gear – I bought it last year. I like to ski at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village.”

$67 on sports club. “It’s an executive sports club downtown. I play a lot of squash. My work gives me $1,000 in taxable benefits against the membership. I’m out of pocket $800 a year.”

$1,300 per year on trips. “Luckily, my in-laws have a property on Salt Spring Island. We pay for flights – it’s $400 each – and we spend another $500 for a week or two."

$40 on clothes. “I buy a pair of jeans every four months. Or a dress shirt for work every couple of months. I usually go to The Bay. I like Abercrombie & Fitch – they have great sales.”

$30 on baby toys/clothes. “We got a lot of baby clothes for free.”

*represents his share, equal to 70 per cent of total amount

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